Your Horse February 2022

Page 1

21 tips that will save you time this winter ›› Speed up yard jobs

›› Make every minute in

the saddle count

Should you buy a horse with one?


How long your horse can really go between meals


H w to feel How confident, positive and ride at your best

prevent a lost shoe DRESSAGE How to get results on a hot-head JUMPING 5 steps to success indoors



9 ways to


Why your headcollar might not be safe

February 2022 issue 487 £4.40

For people with a passion for horses

›› Why your mindset is key to achieving success in 2022

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e m o c l We I’M NOT OFTEN lost for words, but I was at Your Horse Live, when during a talk about headcollar safety by Equilibrium one person revealed that a horse on their yard, who had been turned out in a headcollar, drowned after getting it caught on his water trough. There was also a rider’s X-ray to see, which showed a collapsed lung (so serious the heart was being pushed out of place). It was caused by them being injured while on the ground with a horse who was tied up in a headcollar. Ouch. The latest facts and figures were discussed in that talk, and I share them on page 56. We all use a headcollar multiple times every day without giving it a second thought, but actually we should — for both our horse’s safety and our own. We also tackle the sarcoid debate in this issue: should you buy a horse if they have one, or avoid at all costs? My first horse had multiple sarcoids — at least a dozen — but he was fortunate that none got in the way of his tack. This was 20-odd years ago when treatment options and general understanding of what they are was poorer. I went to great lengths to cover the biggest one he had, in the middle of the top left side of his neck, to avoid


being stared at. I remember being summoned to see the official vet at one horse trials (via the loudspeaker) because a fellow competitor had complained. Mortifying! Thankfully, Marcus was passed with a full bill of health and went on to win — justice! Would I buy another horse if he ticked every box and was perfect on paper, other than having one small sarcoid? I can’t honestly say. In Marcus’ case it was a lot of work to keep them fly-free and covered, but we had so much fun together that it was worth the effort. Other riders have their say on page 78, sharing both positive and negative experiences, and we’d love to hear what you think too. Write to us at the email address below. It’s rare to be able to use pictures of the sea and an iceberg in Your Horse, but it fits our confidence feature perfectly (p30). I attended Charlie Unwin and Jason Webb’s ‘Meeting of Minds’ Tour and it was fascinating. Charlie’s iceberg analogy and making mental blueprints are two of my favourite takeway notes. Enjoy the issue!

Editor, Aimi Clark

What you need to know about headcollar safety (p56)

A word from the team... Freelance gear editor Allison Lowther: If your horse is a little onward bound — you know, all go and no whoa — dressage trainer Nikki Barker has some great exercises to try to help you achieve a calmer and more obedient horse. Page 48

Freelance horse care editor Stephanie Bateman: Is there anything more annoying than a lost shoe? I asked farrier Jack Climo how to help keep your horse’s shoes firmly on this winter. There’s plenty you can do to help. Page 74

International showjumper Yazmin Pinchen: I sometimes dread competing indoors, especially on a youngster, but there is so much you can do to tackle the challenges before you get there. Page 42

Yard manager Robyn Cherry: Riding and leading is a useful way to get two horses exercised at the same time when you’re short on time — useful in winter. I share my advice for doing it confidently and safely on page 36.

Independent nutritionist Donna Case: As a general rule, you should never leave your horse for longer than four hours without access to some sort of forage, including overnight. Nailing forage requirements is important. Page 70

Develop a mindset that works with you, not against (p30)

Add riding and leading to your repertoire of skills (p36)


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y a u b e F


In the frame… A herd of wild


Horse talk Latest news from the

Dülmen ponies take flight

FEATURES 16 Interview... Lottie Fry on Olympics, her obsession with horses and losing her mum when she was just 16

horse world


Meet young dressage star Lottie Fry

10 #Hack1000Miles How to stay motivated to ride this winter

14 Hack diary Natalie Clark and her first hack on a new horse

20 Work Horse The business director, dressage rider and mum of one

22 New column Rhea Freeman on

what social media brings to our lives

24 Your say You get in touch 26 Send a selfie You share your pics 114 Take Five Dan Skinner, the man

behind the blog Skint Dressage Daddy

Your horse’s


56 Headcollar safety Thought-

provoking research that anyone who handles horses needs to read

60 Vet notes What causes heat and

swelling in legs, and when you need to call the vet

64 Time savvy Useful hints and tips to

cut down on yard jobs and have more time in the saddle


Harness the underlying power of your mind

Your horse’s


30 Psychology Charlie Unwin explains how to optimise your confidence

forage is so bad for health, and how long between top ups is too long

74 Lost shoes Why horses lose shoes and buy a horse who has one? We weigh up the debate


Pinchen shares how to prepare at home for success indoors

44 Early education Ross Cooper on


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42 Fix it — indoor jumping Yazmin

and trainer Nikki Barker shows you key exercises to help a hot horse

On the cover

and what you can do to prevent it

78 Sarcoids Should you take the gamble

safely, and the benefits of the skill

48 Calm and focused Dressage rider

Get ready to compete indoors: leading British showjumper Yazmin Pinchen explains how

70 Forage o’clock Why running out of

36 Ride and lead Learn how to do it

the importance of getting the basics in place when training young horses


To win in this issue







98 Supplements and poultice kits WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

22/12/2021 12:40


Save 62% and pay just £5 for your first three issues when you subscribe to Your Horse See page 84

Ask The EXPERTS 88 Winter riding tips Schooling out on a hack • Giving your horse a holiday • Hacking a fresh horse

90 Herbal remedies Boost his

well-being • Easing stiffness • Help him to relax

92 Legal advice Sharing a horse • Loan agreements • Having a horse on trial

94 Winter advice Lowering the risk of

colic • Preventing mud fever • Dealing with wet, muddy legs

96 Spillers Help your OAP bloom with Senior Conditioning Mix

Your horse’s

GEAR and yours

100 What’s new? The best new products available now

102 Big Test

Warm and waterproof winter gloves for yard work

106 On Trend Hats and headbands to keep you snug

108 Buyer’s Guide Help him breathe easy with a respiratory supplement



How to help your horse keep his shoes on


The potential dangers of headcollars


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CAPTURED ON CAMERA ■ A herd of wild Dülmen ponies take flight. This German breed is classed as gravely endangered in its native land and was formerly known as the Merfelderbrücher. A herd of just 300 of these feral ponies roams in the Merfelder Burch near the town of Dülmen in north-west Germany. The site is open to visitors between spring and autumn. PHOTO: BILDAGENTUR ZOONAR GMBH/SHUTTERSTOCK


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Changes proposed for the Highway Code Proposed changes to the Highway Code could improve safety on the roads for horse riders. When Your Horse went to press, the review needed to go through parliament before the amendments could be officially implemented. Changes include identifying a ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’, which places those most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy. Horse riders and drivers of horse-drawn vehicles were placed in the same category as cyclists, below pedestrians. It also recommends that vehicles should pass horses at speeds under 10mph and allow at least two metres of space; drivers should wait behind and not overtake if it is unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances, and they should not sound their horn or rev their engine. Road users are advised that horse riders may need to ride in the centre of the lane for their own safety and visibility, and cyclists should not pass to the horse’s left. It also recommends that riders take the BHS Ride Safe Award. A consultation for the review launched in 2020, at which the BHS


An updated Highway Code could improve safety on the roads for riders


Here’s what you need to know about this month

For all the latest news from the horse world, visit

represented horse riders as part of the Highway Code Stakeholders Focus Group. The measures are subject to a 40-day

approval process now they have been laid to parliament; if approved, changes will apply from the end of January 2022.


Three equestrian greats awarded with honorary degrees

L-R: Khadijah Mellah, Justine Harrison and Ros Canter at the presentation at Chelmsford Cathedral


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Eventer Ros Canter, behaviourist Justine Harrison and jockey Khadijah Mellah were awarded honorary degrees by Writtle University College (WUC), in the college’s first in-person graduation ceremony since 2019. The presentation was held at Chelmsford Cathedral, where the trio’s contributions to the equestrian industry were highlighted. Khadijah Mellah won the Magnolia Cup at Goodwood in 2019, where she became the first British Muslim woman to win a UK horse race. “I hope I have encouraged the graduates to open doors to opportunities with confidence as they continue through life,” she said.

Reigning eventing world champion Ros Canter was “excited” to receive the honour; WUC’s stud bred one of her top horses, Lordships Graffalo, who was selected for the European Championships. “It was fun to visit the campus and stud with Lordships Graffalo, and see the real passion and understanding the students and staff have for the equine sector,” said Ros. Justine Harrison, a leading equine behaviourist, felt “extremely grateful” for the award. “It is particularly significant for me to receive this from Writtle University College, as the equine behavioural science team is leading the way with research-led practice.”


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Save your stamps to support and rare stamps, and it’s a really easy way to rescue horses recycle and help Redwings at the same time.”

Used stamps can support equestrian charities, as they can convert them into funds for their rescue horses, ponies, and donkeys. “Did you know that you can save your used postage stamps, send them to us and we can turn them into funds for our rescued residents?” said a spokesperson for Redwings. “We can accept UK stamps, foreign stamps

Rather than thowing away stamps from Christmas cards, why not send them to the charity and support a good cause. Stamps should be popped in an envelope and sent to Redwings Horse Sanctuary, Hapton, Norfolk, NR15 1SP. Other equestrian charities also accept them — contact your charity of choice to check before sending.

This month we love...

Three things from the equestrian world that caught our eye


Contributions to industry celebrated at BHS Annual Awards The BHS Annual Awards honoured several individuals for their contributions to the equestrian industry. In attendance were BHS Vice-Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, and BHS President Martin Clunes OBE. Among the worthy winners were scientist Dr David Marlin and police support volunteer Sarah Hills. Dr David Marlin received a Welfare Award for his life-long work delivering unbiased scientific research and advice to the equestrian industry. “No scientist gets this just on their own, many people have helped me contribute to horse welfare over the years,” said David. “I’m privileged to receive this award, and I’d like to thank everyone who helps me in the quest to improve horse welfare.”

A number of individuals received awards at the event

The Unsung Hero Award went to Sarah Hills, who volunteers for the Suffolk Constabulary. Her horse, Robbie, was Equine Personality of the Year. The pair have clocked up over 5,000 miles on duty (see p13). “We were one of the first [mounted police volunteers] and Robbie was used because of his look and feel — like a police horse — for their publications in the rural crime sector,” said Sarah, who fits in her volunteering around a 60-hour work week.

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Half-price membership to Dr David Marlin is offering Your Horse readers 50% off membership to his website, which provides a plethora of science-backed information on horserelated matters, including webinars, research findings, independent product

trials, and interviews; plus a community of fellow horse lovers. Sign up for six months and pay just £19.20. A pay-monthly membership is just £8 per month. Visit and quote YourHorse22. Offer ends 17/04/22.


Fifteen Thoroughbreds were rescued by World Horse Welfare from a Devon farm, where they had been left following an eviction. The landowner signed the horses over to the charity, thanks to the Control of Horses Act. Many were not used to being handled, but their round-up and relocation to two of the charity’s centres was straightforward. “They were all on the cusp, they were all lean. We didn’t want them to drop any


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Ever wondered what happens to the rescued horses and ponies you read about in the news? Wonder no more...

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more weight,” said World Horse Welfare field officer Jon Phipps. “If we didn’t remove them before deep winter, we would have had a serious welfare issue.” Each horse has been assessed and will be rehabilitated, in preparation for hopefully finding new homes.

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Find your mo Winter is packed full of excuses not to ride, but we all know putting in the work now brings rewards later. Finding the motivation is easier said than done — Mel Beale finds out how to stay focused and keep putting in the miles at this time of year

Buddy up with fellow yard members and hack together — an easy way to motivate yourself to ride


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our motivation I

T’S EASY TO slip into doing the bare minimum over the winter — but by doing so, you’re missing out on valuable time to prepare yourself and your horse for the better weather and longer days that spring will shortly bring. You’re also losing out on a few more miles to add to your #Hack1000Miles challenge. So how do you get motivated to put in the work now to enjoy the rewards later? Self-confessed “professional amateur” Adam Harvey juggles a full-time job as a chartered surveyor alongside competing two event horses up to three-star level. Both have had a winter holiday, so he needs to bring them back into work and get them out hacking in order to build up their fitness for the season ahead. It is a bit of a daunting prospect — the deadline for full fitness is April, when Adam wants to start competing — but the key is to have a goal and plan towards it. “I look at what I can do, what my goals are, and how I can achieve them,” says Adam, who has already selected events he wants to aim for, including the CCI3*-S European Cup, where he won team silver in 2019.


Make plans Adam will spend plenty of time hacking his horses to help improve their fitness, before progressing to schooling. “There’s a big farm where I keep my horses, so they do lots of walk and trot work up the hills; sometimes I’ll even do that in hand, for my own fitness as well,” he says. “Every time I get on, I know what I’m going to do and try to achieve. You can't always physically get it, but it’s crucial to have that goal for that ride so you have the motivation for yourself.” This applies to everyone: whether you are hacking to get your horse fit enough to compete or because you enjoy it. And remember that everyone has setbacks. Adam admits to becoming frustrated with himself when things aren’t quite on track.


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“Sometimes you’ve had a really long day at work, or you’ve not slept well the night before, or you just really want to be in bed or on the sofa, but you know you have to ride. Having goals helps you get up and ride,” he states.

Inspire yourself to keep riding this winter, even if the weather is off putting

Inspiring motivation


On the days when dreaming of cantering along the beach or hitting your 1,000th mile aren’t quite enough, there are other ways to find your ‘oomph’ to ride. Start by surrounding yourself with other people who are training for or achieving their goals — motivation can be infectious, so it may just rub off. Going to a show or attending a demo can also help to keep you focused and give you a push — if they can do it, why can’t you? If you can’t get out, then look online for video clips to watch. There are plenty out there in which top riders and amateurs alike share their stories. The Hack 1,000 Miles Facebook group is a supportive community where riders share the trials and tribulations not just of the challenge, but of owning horses too.

Find accountability If you’re stuck in a rut, then booking in a session with a local coach can help get you back on track. It doesn’t have to be dressage or jumping — there are trainers and clinics available now for almost everything. Variety is great not only for your horse but also for you. Trying new things can prevent you from becoming bored with your routine. If you have a busy schedule it can be easy to make excuses not to ride. But booking a lesson or making plans to

hack with a friend ensures that you make time and holds you accountable, so you are more likely to do it.

Stop making excuses Getting started can be the hardest part. You clearly can’t ride 1,000 miles in a day — little and often is the way to success, but it means you must keep chipping away at your goal. Maybe your goal isn’t 1,000; perhaps you’ve set yourself steppingstones to aim for or you just want

to see how far you can get in a year. It doesn’t matter: your goal is personal to you. When you look hard enough, you’ll always find an excuse not to ride; winter is packed full of excuses with just the weather alone but there are things you can do to help head those off (see box, below). Make sure you are having fun and enjoying your rides, and it’ll become easier to get out each time as you look forward to it — even if is wet and windy.

WINTER SAFETY TIPS Winter comes with a barrage of reasons not to mount up, but that won’t help you get anywhere if your goal is to ride 1,000 miles, canter down the beach or complete a showjumping course…



Choose routes with going that holds up in bad weather


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Wrap up warm. Few good rides start with your teeth chattering or toes going numb, so make sure to wear plenty of layers and decent winter socks and boots. You can help your horse stay warm too with an exercise sheet — there are many available on the market in high-vis colours, so you’ll stay seen, too.


Avoid the worst of the weather. At this time of

puddles. Or worse — your horse losing a shoe (see p74).

year, the weather can create dangerous conditions. Dark, cloudy days reduce visibility, ground conditions are unpredictable, and roads can be slippery, so it’s best to be cautious. Try to avoid riding in snow and heavy rain where possible, and don’t go too fast on frozen ground. Use the weather app on your phone to work out the best time of day to go for a ride.

Don’t forget to warm up and cool down. When it's chilly, it can be tempting to do fast work to get warm, but skipping your warm-up is more likely to result in injury to your horse. In the cold your horse needs an even more gradual warm-up, especially if he’s older or been stabled and might be feeling stiff.

Stick to familiar routes. If you are hacking out, keep to rides you know will stand up to the weather. There’s nothing worse than exploring a new bridleway to find yourself stuck in the mud or having to wade through deep

Make the most of the daylight. This is a tricky one, because the days are short right now. But safety is important and you need to hack out in the light. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to get back to the yard in the light too.





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Our #Hack1000Miles challengers have been busy this month…

Rosie Martin battles the elements on a four-mile ride Gemma Louise sees stunning views riding on Exmoor

Keily Townsend and River start hacking alone

We love a little bit of matchymatchy, just like Jackie Watson

Karen Brown and Clover hit the 300-mile mark

Jane Milton and Henry are all smiles

Sam Ottaway was initially devastated when her Irish Sport Horse mare Brodie was diagnosed with arthritis six years ago, and it brought their showjumping to a halt. In pursuit of a new challenge, Sam signed up for #Hack1000Miles. “I really wanted to do it within the year, but didn’t,” says Sam, who is based in Kent. “We started in February 2020, and then went into lockdown in March. The timing wasn’t great.” Disaster struck when Brodie became ill with primary sinusitis. “She went into the vets as an emergency on Easter Monday, and it was a good month before we could do anything,” explains Sam, who shared that Brodie’s treatment involved trepanation, where a hole is drilled into the skull. “She ended up with jugular vein thrombosis, which meant that her head swelled up. “The vein doesn’t really work anymore; luckily she has another one, but she still gets small swellings now and again.” Sam has had Brodie for 10 years and the pair are hacking again. The goal is to hit 1,000 miles within 18 months.

▲ Jai West explores bridleways bitless

Paula Parker and Aislinn Ball go for a 15-mile trek

Finn enjoys his first hack with Kirsty Clarke

‘I WORK 60 HOURS A WEEK’ Sarah Hills signed up as a police support volunteer on horseback with Suffolk Constabulary six years ago, a role she fulfills with her Clydesdale/cob Robbie. “We did six or seven training modules, so it became a personal challenge because I had to train as any special police officer would, and pass all the modules including DBS [Disclosure and Barring Service] checks,” says Sarah, 41. “It was six months before we were fully fledged and able to get out on the beat — or ‘clip-clopping


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around the countryside’ as I say.” Sarah estimates that she and Robbie have covered more than 5,000 miles while on duty. The #Hack1000Miles challenge took them 18 months, as Sarah juggled her volunteering around her job. “I work 60 to 70 hours a week, and I’m supposed to travel globally with my job,” says Sarah, a global director for an energy storage firm. “In my job I plan six months in advance, and pretty much do that with my home life, family and animals too.”


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‘This horse is braver than me’ Natalie Clark opts for a horse swap that on paper sounds tricky, but that in the saddle proves to be an inspired decision

“ T

HINGS HAVE CHANGED since I last wrote, because I am sadly no longer riding Apache. I’ve enjoyed writing about our progress and sharing how my confidence grew as I got to grips with his spooking. However, I was never truly happy riding him and so, when my sister took on an ex-racehorse and offered me the ride on him a few days a week, I grabbed the opportunity. Now I know what you’re thinking. On paper, a full Thoroughbred fresh off the track versus an experienced Irish Sport Horse. For someone who is riding again after a five-year break surely there’s no comparison — choose the latter! But ever since I was lucky enough to have my own ex-racehorse as a teenager, I have had a soft spot for Thoroughbreds — especially those looking for a second career as a riding horse. Plus, this time, the horse has been road tested by my sister, so I’m well-armed with facts about his behaviour before I climb on board. The thing is though, there isn’t much to say about his behaviour. Yes, he’s full blooded and gets a bit keen when he touches grass. He also likes to go fast. But he is rock solid in the heaviest of traffic, rarely spooks and loves to hack. Readers, I think I’m on to a winner. So I couldn’t wait to get back in the saddle of an ex-racehorse. As winter and the cold snap hit, cue a fresh King Muro, I look forward to our hack. When I first meet King, I can’t believe how much he resembles my old horse. It’s like someone has merged two of my old boys together to create King, a 16.2hh dark bay gelding. Only they’ve left out the wind sucking and the grumpiness in the stable. As I tack up for the first time, I feel a mix of nerves and excitement.


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I’m enjoying my new view between the ears on King Muro NATALIE CLARK is a publicist at the BBC. She started riding again last year after a long break.

My last ride on Apache: I’ll miss him!

Brave Thoroughbreds Our first hack is with two other horses from the yard: a cheeky coloured cob and a recently backed three-year-old. This could be fun… Just moments out of the yard gate our companions spook and skid to a halt, which means I need to lead. As I squeeze King forward, he strolls past the spooky bag in the hedge. If he notices it, he doesn’t care. We ride a loop around the local village; I feel so relaxed that I have to remind myself that this isn’t my old horse and King is completely new to me. Our second ride is more adventurous. I’m warned to avoid fields while I get to know him, and I don’t think much of the warning as we head out for our hack. It’s one of the windiest days of the month and there is lots for King to look at. As we reach the top of a hill, we head through a village with cars either side and strange objects — recycling bins, letterboxes, wind chimes — blowing in the wind. I feel myself tensing up and

take a few deep breaths to calm myself down. King marches on confidently. A flag outside a pub is waving furiously. A tarpaulin on a building site is flapping loudly. A lady heads towards us with an excitable dog at her heels. All this and cars are trying to pass us on the narrow road. King’s head is high as his stare moves between the four. I ask him to stand, because it feels safer to wait for the pedestrian and vehicles to pass before we tackle the flag and tarpaulin. Despite my concerns, King doesn’t bat an eyelid at any spooky obstacle. They say ex-racehorses are brave — and it turns out this one is braver than me!

Not much bothers him Later on the ride we wait to cross a busy main road. King stands perfectly while lorries, cars and even a double-decker bus whizz past. Not much seems to bother him. On the other side, we nip onto a grass track at the side of a field with horses turned out and I am reminded of the warning I was given, as King jogs along sideways with his head in the air. I sit very still: I don’t want to wind him up or make him think that this is an invitation to gallop. When we reach the road again he settles and walks home, albeit with a slight spring in his step. In the final few yards I realise I am riding one-handed, on the buckle. There’s something about King that feels like home for me.


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Lottie Fry The dressage sensation tells Julie Harding about her horse obsession, a super-successful 2021 and losing her mother, Laura, to cancer when she was just 16



OTTIE FRY’S FIRST memories involve being in an arena, as do her most recent recollections, and countless others in between. Despite spending a large proportion of her life in rectangles measuring 20x60m or less, commencing when she was a baby when her mother, Laura, would park her pram in an arena corner, Lottie has managed to branch out beyond the boards and become something of a global success. Elfin and elegant, Lottie popped up frequently on sand surfaces at key dressage contests last year, at various points on the planet — not least the Tokyo Olympics and European Championships in Hagen, Germany. Wherever she went, the size disparity between the 25-year-old and her imposing black stallion Everdale was as noteworthy as the impressive scores they netted. There was the 76.854% which, when added to the marks of Carl Hester (En Vogue) and Charlotte Dujardin (Gio), was sufficient to earn the Great Britain trio Olympic team bronze. Three personal bests for Everdale followed in Hagen, where a 78.146% saw the 12-year-old stallion finish fifth on the individual leaderboards, Lottie sandwiched between her Tokyo teammates (and actually beating her former trainer, Carl) in the special and the trio taking team silver. “This has to be the highlight year for me,” says affable Lottie, who beat numerous other names with high hopes


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“I was 16 when mum died... [She] was my inspiration in a lot of ways — for her work ethic and her riding and how she lived for the horses”

‘This has to be the highlight year for me’ — Lottie and Everdale had a spectacular 2021, helping Britain to claim Olympic team bronze and European team silver (pictured)


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when selected for that third Olympic squad slot — the only one really up for grabs with Carl and Charlotte virtual shoe-ins for the other two. “I was at a show with young horses when I got the selectors’ call,” Lottie reveals during a phone call from her apartment in Den Hout in the Netherlands, where she has lived for the past seven years. “I was panicking because I knew they were going to call in the afternoon and I was going to be riding. Luckily, the call came between rides.” The heat and humidity of a Japanese summer turned out to suit the insatiable Everdale. “A lot of the horses were tired after the flight, but Everdale came off the plane so fresh I had to get on and work him, and he certainly didn’t feel like he’d just flown thousands of miles. He’s never out of energy and he’s always so willing. He would work all day if he could.” This workaholic mentality and an abundance of joie de vivre meant that Lottie had no qualms about boxing him up again and heading to Hagen just six weeks after returning from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Lottie thanks a relaxed Everdale as they leave the Olympic arena


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fter spending hours in her pram watched over by Laura from the back of a horse, it was inevitable that Lottie Fry would pursue an equestrian career. There was no deviation. No desire during school years to become a vet or a physiotherapist, or to head off to university and study law. Simply an unwavering desire to be a dressage rider. “At first I had a lot of small, cheeky ponies and mum would lead me around on them. My first dressage pony, Hot N Spicy, was a former eventer in need of an easier life, while Grandma [Rosemary Shewen] found my first proper dressage pony, Haverkamps Jorik, advertised in a newspaper. Every day after school I would get home [to Aike Grange Stud in East Yorkshire], and although mum had already ridden 10, she would help me with my three. We would spend all evening riding and would then collapse in the house. Luckily by then Grandma had prepared the dinner.” Lottie’s life was good. Apart from horse-filled evenings, there were competition-filled weekends with the mother who had earned her Olympic stripes before Lottie was born, representing Team GB at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics aboard Quarryman. “I remember going to watch national championships and premier league shows with mum a few times. We would stay away in the lorry.” There were many bouts of laughter. “She was so much fun and had a great sense of humour. We got on so well, which I know isn’t always the case with mother and daughter training together. We never really had any differences,” says Lottie. “Mum was my inspiration in a lot of ways

Lottie celebrates an Olympic debut to remember with team-mates Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester as they collect their team bronze medals

— for her work ethic and her riding and how she lived for the horses.” In 2010 Lottie’s happy existence fractured. Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer. She fought bravely for two years, passing away aged 45 on 26 September 2012. “I was 16 when mum died. I was starting sixth form, and school [Driffield co-ed comprehensive] went to pot. I would spend all day riding. I left school at 17 and worked for Carl. He would train me in exchange for work. I was supposed to base myself with him full time, but he said that he had no room for another Charlotte, and that’s when he told me about Anne.”


hen Lottie first met Anne van Olst, the connection was instant. “Anne’s training methods are similar to Carl’s, so it was easy for me

to adjust. She works on the basics and we just clicked. Now she just has to look at me and I know what she’s going to say.” But back in 2014, when Lottie packed a bag and prepared to travel to Den Hout, she expected to be back in Yorkshire within six months. “I didn’t think I was leaving for ever. I arrived in Holland and thought how the roads looked different and the supermarkets weren’t a patch on those in the UK.” However, Van Olst Horses, with its 150 equines, was a horsey Shangri-La and settling in wasn’t at all difficult. “I love it in Holland, and I wouldn’t be where I am now without Anne. I love all the horses, too, like they’re my own. They are my downtime. Even on a Sunday, which is generally my day off, I mess around with them, groom them and cuddle them,” says Lottie, who has her own car, a Dachshund called Bami (which WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

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Lottie believes there is still more to come from her super horse Everdale — ‘His legs will go higher and the movements will get bigger’

means noodles in Dutch — she can understand the language but struggles to speak it), and admits to a weakness for kaassoufflé, a Dutch snack of melted cheese inside a thin dough-based wrap which is breaded and then deep-fried. “I introduce everyone who comes to the yard to kaassoufflé, and they all love them,” she laughs. After six months in Den Hout, Lottie didn’t mention leaving to Anne, and Anne didn’t mention leaving to Lottie. In fact, since moving to Holland, she has headed to the UK just a couple of times a year (except when Covid scuppered all travel), with a small suitcase intended for brief visits and not permanent stays. Her father, Simon, and step-mother Julie in Scarborough receive a visit, as does Rosemary in Devon. “In the beginning at Van Olst I was a working student. I would muck out and WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

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get horses ready for other riders, turn them out and then, in the afternoon, I would have lessons on a couple of three-year-olds and on Z Flemmenco (Dinky), who I had brought with me. After a few months I started to ride more horses, and in under a year I’d become a full-time rider. Anne helped me every day. As my riding improved, she gave me more opportunities with the more talented horses.” It was this gilded work journey that culminated in that trip to Japan. But there is so much more to Lottie than simply sitting on the back of horses day in, day out, coaxing fancy moves out of them. “I get on the yard before 6am. I feed the horses and start riding at around 6.45am and I ride all day. I’m not good at stopping. I’ll keep going and going until I’m so tired and will have to be told to go home.” Definitely a chip off the old block.


■ EVERDALE About: A black KWPN stallion by Lord Leatherdale out of Aliska K, by Negro, the sire of Valegro. First ridden by Lottie when he was seven (he’s now 12), he had previously been piloted by male riders. Lottie says: “The first time I sat on Everdale there was so much power and energy, but he was also so supple, light and balanced, and he gave me the most incredible feeling — like nothing I’d ever experienced before. On the yard, he’s so easy to do and he loves cuddles, but he’s like the king, so he has a big stable next to the tack room. “Every time I’m in there he will stand and wait for a carrot. By contrast, he’s so fresh in hand at vet checks that the manager, Niek, will usually present him. Even though Everdale is now getting personal bests, I feel that there’s more to come. His legs will go higher and the movements will get bigger.” ■ DARK LEGEND About: A black 13-year-old KWPN gelding by Zucchero, he was a reserve for the Olympics and the Europeans. Taken on by Lottie at the age of six, the pair were best Brits at the 2017 Young Rider Europeans, winners of the 2018 under-25 Europeans and members of the senior team which finished fourth at the 2019 Europeans. At Olympia last month, the pair finished second on 81.945% in the FEI Dressage World Cup Freestyle, and fourth in the Grand Prix with 74.526%. Lottie says: “Darkie was sharp, tense, nervous and spooky when I started riding him. I took him to hundreds of shows just to get him around the arena. At his first international, I had to retire him in both classes. Eventually, he began to trust me. He doesn’t have the same potential as Everdale, but he makes up for that with his big heart. The two are stabled next to each other and Darkie gets very jealous and angry when I’m riding other horses. He has to be the first one out in the morning or he gets very upset. He’s also obsessed with bananas.” ■ GLAMOURDALE About: A 10-year-old KWPN stallion, by Lord Leatherdale out of Thuja, by Negro. Lottie says: “I started riding him at six and I think he has the potential to be just as good as Everdale. He’s only been at grand prix for a year and is already scoring up to 78% with small mistakes. It was when he won the seven-year-old World Championships that everyone started to notice him. He’s the biggest show-off on the yard.”


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Zoe and Trevor winnin g at the BD Regional Champion ships in 2019 — they often trai n with Zoe’s baby son in the cor ner of the arena in his pushch air



a l a b


How I make it work: Running my own business gives me flexibility, plus my husband, Tom, shares some babycare duties and household chores Zoe Kiff is a mother-of-one who founded Honest Riders. She keeps her horse at livery, and competes in dressage.

About my job… I’m the founder and director of ecoconscious equestrian brand Honest Riders, which I created in 2017 when I realised that there was nowhere to buy crueltyfree, natural horsecare and sustainablyproduced clothing. I had ideas floating around in my head for years, but it was only after I moved to the south coast and started a marketing consultancy that I had the headspace to be able to take the leap and do something about it. Finally, encouraged by my amazing husband, Tom, I created Honest Riders.


What it involves... My daily life is so varied. One minute I’m designing a new product, the next I’m ordering and paying for stock. Given my marketing background, promotion is the easy part of the job, certainly compared to working out VAT payments! Running a retail business is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There’s no day off and I lose sleep worrying about sales. Even on the day I gave birth to our son, Cooper, 20 YOUR HORSE FEBRUARY 2022

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I was replying to customer comments on Instagram.

How I got here… After graduating from university, I worked as an account manager at a London-based advertising agency. The hours were long and I would be up at 5.30am to muck out before my daily commute to London. Three years in and I decided that the job was limiting my ability to ride and so I took a role in the e-commerce marketing department at Argos in Milton Keynes. This was just 30 minutes from home and meant more time to ride. I also loved the work, managing the email marketing programme. After three years, I was head-hunted by a London-based advertising agency. The money was good and the work was exciting (it included planning social media campaigns for the likes of Mini, IKEA and the National Trust). In 2012, after four years and suffering

from burnout, I took a month out to travel around New Zealand, where I got together with Tom, a professional sailor. By this point, I was quite senior in the agency world and had enough experience to set up my own marketing consultancy. Afterwards, launching Honest Riders was one of the best decisions I ever made. Despite how hard some days can be, I never miss working for someone else.

Horsey roots… My mum and grandma were both horsey and I started riding lessons aged four. I would ask for my own pony every birthday and Christmas, but wasn’t allowed one until I was 13. That pony was Breeze, a 12.2hh Welshie with bags of attitude. After joining our local Pony Club, I discovered a love for mounted games and I joined the Prince Phillip Cup team. A succession of whizzy games ponies followed, as well as travelling around the

“I ride six days a week, and try and multi-task by checking my emails while I’m warming up or cooling down” WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

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Do you have a demanding job and would be perfect for this page? Tell us more by emailing

Zoe juggles motherhood with working and competing

On a shoot with her sponsored riders: Zoe set up retail company Honest Riders in 2017

THE BACK-UP PLAN If I hadn’t been a businesswoman... country to compete. Eventually, I switched to showjumping and cross-country, taking part in Pony Club and area teams. While my friends all gradually lost interest, I was still as obsessed as I had been aged five — my bedroom walls were still covered in posters of Milton! When it came to leaving school, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was to go to university, so I begrudgingly picked the one nearest to home, which was Loughborough. After four years of fun (ahem, I mean hard work) I began to work, but I geared my entire career around maintaining the ability to ride. I kept the horses at home and commuted from there.

My horses… I currently have two — Hillbillyrock (Billy) and Platinum Barbarian (Trevor). Billy, an Irish Thoroughbred, is my old event horse who I bought with my own money when he was five. He’s 17hh and was extremely sharp and terrified of everything. When I tried him at a dealer’s yard, he bolted with the stable jockey and jumped a five-bar gate out of the arena. In my naivety, I thought: “Look at that jump. I’ll have him!” He never did take to eventing as he was too spooky in the showjumping. After a crashing fall I switched to dressage. Billy WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

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is now 28, and living a wonderful life on my parents’ farm. I bought Trevor, a 17hh, eight-year-old Oldenburg dressage horse by Bretton Woods and my horse of a lifetime, after seeing him in a field as a two-year-old. I wasn’t looking for a horse, but he marched over to me, I fell in love, and put down a deposit the next day. I backed him myself and have since been training him up the levels. We’re currently learning grand prix movements. All being well, we’ll come out at prix st georges level in the spring.

My busy schedule… Most days begin at 6.30am when I drive 25 minutes to Trevor’s livery yard. I ride him six days a week and try and multi-task by checking my emails while I’m warming up or cooling down. Tom is often abroad racing, so those days are really hard as all the baby care falls to me. We don’t have any family nearby, so Cooper often finds himself parked at the side of the arena in his pushchair. From 9.30am onwards I juggle Cooper with Honest Riders and, while he’s having a long nap at lunchtime, I’ll often create social media content. In the afternoon, I take the baby and our two dogs for a walk. Then, when Cooper is having his

I may have been an event rider. Would I have lasted? In hindsight, I’m probably where I’m supposed to be. Honest Riders really is my dream job. afternoon snooze, I might research new lines. Last year, for example, we launched our Honest Horse horsecare range, which is plastic-free, cruelty-free and made from natural ingredients in the UK. Between 5pm and 7pm is family time; we have dinner and then put Cooper to bed. I’ll do another couple of hours work then, such as finding new suppliers, creating new designs for our sustainable clothing range, or researching the latest innovations in eco-friendly packaging.

Juggling… Luckily, Tom is totally supportive of my riding and the business, as I am of his sailing ambitions. He will look after our baby while I go for a ride and we split household chores, although we have had to take on a cleaner once a week.

My pets… There isn’t much time for anything other than work, horses and the baby at the moment, but walking our two rescue dogs, Winnie and Coco, is one of my favourite ways to de-stress. FEBRUARY 2022 YOUR HORSE 21

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WHAT ARE THE UPSIDES OF BEING ONLINE? Social media entered our lives with a bang nearly 20 years ago, and has had a monumental impact at all levels — many of them positive BY RHEA FREEMAN Social media expert, Facebook Lead Trainer and #SheMeansBusiness accredited trainer, and an award-winning PR adviser, Rhea works with equestrian brands, associations, federations and riders, and also guest lectures at two universities. She produces an award-winning weekly podcast called the Small & Supercharged Podcast that shares social media and PR tips along with stories from equestrian and country brands. Visit or find @rheafreemanpr on Instagram.


OCIAL MEDIA IS here to stay, and with billions of people using the platforms we know and (sometimes) love each month, it has provided equestrian brands, riders and enthusiasts with so much. We could go back to the very start of social media (which was, amazingly, 1997 with a site called Six Degrees), but the birth of Facebook in 2004 is plenty far enough to set the scene pre- and postsocial media. Initially, Mark Zuckerberg created the site for Harvard students before Facebook became accessible to members of the public in 2006. YouTube launched in 2005, Twitter in 2006, Instagram in 2010, Snapchat in 2011, TikTok (outside China) in 2017 and now, we have a whole raft of different places for us to connect with people from all over the planet. It’s hard to remember a time before social media, because now it’s such an intrinsic part of our daily lives, but the main point has to be the level of connection we can have through it. And not just to people who live in our local area. In fact, social media has allowed us all to find like-minded souls and form

friendships with people from all corners of the world who, in pre-social media times, we would maybe never have met.

Sharing in real time Social media has done huge things within our industry too. It has allowed the brands that we all know to share so much more with us than ever before, and for us to get to know them and feel connected to them and their products or services. Sharing behind the scenes, product development, asking for opinions, sharing teasers of new products — the list goes on. Social media has allowed brands to share their worlds with us all in real time. This has then enabled us to connect with them on a deeper level. We know the people behind the brand because they’re on camera showing up rather than in an office somewhere. We can even use features like Lives to quiz people in the company about their products and whether or not they would work for us and our horses. For professional riders, social media has been huge too. In fact, anyone with active accounts on any platform is now their own ‘media outlet’ and can share what they want, when they want to, maybe

“When it comes to non-professional riders, social media provides a lot of opportunities” 22 YOUR HORSE FEBRUARY 2022

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even in real time. For riders, this has the potential to make them more attractive to brands when it comes to sponsorships because they can deliver true value beyond the designated season. It also allows riders to develop their own brands. And when it comes to non-professional riders, social media provides a lot of opportunities. In pre-social days, it was rare for a non-professional rider to gain serious brand endorsement. If you wrote a good letter and you caught someone on a good day or you aligned perfectly with a brand’s campaign, you might be lucky. But realistically, an amateur competing locally was unlikely to get the kind of exposure most brands would look for. WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

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How times have changed. Now, particularly on platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, we see a whole heap of non-professional riders — also known as influencers in this case — gaining support from some of the biggest brands in our industry. And what’s more, this support can extend far beyond free products — many make good money from working with these brands.

Individual benefits On a personal level too, social media has so much to offer. Facebook Groups allow us to find like-minded people who share our training ethos, our dedication to certain sports, or even our ability to laugh at ourselves. Yes, you might have found a few people in your local area previously, but this allows a real next level. Groups can also help us share learning, knowledge and stories that have the ability to help others with their trials and tribulations. Over on Instagram, the power of the # allows people to unite through shared experiences. Whether this is people attending the same equestrian event, people who take part in a particular discipline or just share a love of horses, we can help people to find us (and find other people) through these clear signposts, if we choose to apply them.

■ Next issue: negativity on social media and how you can take back control


1 2 3 4 5

Follow people you’re genuinely interested in, not just people you think will follow you back.

Follow hashtags on the relevant platforms and comment on posts using them that you can relate to.

Use hashtags on your content to help people find you. But always keep them relevant!

Look for groups on Facebook that have formed a community around shared interests.

Give it time. You’re unlikely to find your tribe overnight, but you’ll probably start finding people of interest fairly quickly.


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20/12/2021 16:45

YOUR say

We want to hear from you

✷ prize

Our star letter from Fiona Long sees her win a £20 voucher from Dodson & Horrell. This voucher can be used to buy any product from the extensive range of feeds from Dodson & Horrell. Visit


Unfortunately, we are unable to receive any letters by post. We reserve the right to edit letters where necessary.

‘Sitting in his stable is medicine in itself’ This is a thank you to my beautiful Connemara pony, Tosca. I was lucky to find Tosca in 2013, he was a shy little pony, but we just clicked. He has become my pony of a lifetime — a childhood dream and my treasure. We have done everything together. He’s a safe fun hack and his favourite place to go is our local beach. We’ve done fun rides, been on horsey holidays, and he loves to jump. I’m 63 and never thought that I would be doing one-day events, showjumping, and attending many Lucinda Green clinics — a lifetime ambition for me. My health deteriorated massively in 2018. I have had brain surgery twice, two heart attacks plus two cardiac arrests. I’ve had heart surgery and the consultant found that I was born with an electrical problem that to date hasn’t been fixed. Following sepsis in August 2021, I have been left in a state of constant joint and bone pain. This little pony has the heart of a lion and is my reason for getting up in the morning. Just sitting in his stable and reading a book or copy of Your Horse, with him standing with his head over mine, is medicine in itself. Horses have been in my life since the age of three, they bring such

Alice and her horse Gypsy on Brontë Moor

Showcasing talent

wonderful healing in their own way. Just to be with Tosca on my bad days fills me with hope, makes me feel happy and calm, and helps my pain and releases endorphins. He simply makes me smile, when smiling is hard. Fiona Long, Lancashire YOUR HORSE’S CARE

She’s a biscuit lover

A bit of a


Giving medication to your horse in paste form rather than in feed makes it easier to ensure all of it is administered, but you do have to get it into your horse. Vet Kieran O’Brien MRCVS advises how best to make the dosing acceptable for your horse

MEET THE EXPERT DR KIERAN O’BRIEN MA MVB(Hons) PhD MRCVS worked as a clinician and lecturer at the University of Bristol before joining Penbode Equine Vets in Devon 20 years ago. His special interests are respiratory and skin disorders, and pre-purchase examinations. He has been team vet for British and Irish endurance teams and officiated at many international events.


ESPITE YOUR BEST efforts, sometimes you must resort to giving drugs as a homemade paste using a syringe when administering medication to horses. Some drugs, for example wormers, are sold in paste form only. In part one, I discussed how best to give horses medication in their feed, and shared tricks to disguise it well (Your Horse, Spring 2021). However, it won’t always work.


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There are advantages to paste medication over the in-feed variety. The dose given can be very precise with no waste; the drug is taken in all at once; you can be certain the horse has had the full dose, and individual horses in a group can be treated without having to separate them. There are disadvantages too — the horse may strongly resent the syringe being put in his mouth; he may spit out some of the drug and he may become progressively more difficult to dose as WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

Missed part one? Buy the Spring issue of Your Horse at

the course of treatment progresses. It is important that the treatment is given in a way that is not unpleasant to the horse, so he will accept further treatments. Other than for drugs that come pre-loaded in a syringe (such as wormers) you will need an appropriate syringe. The tip of a conventional injecting syringe is too small for administering a homemade paste. Your vet will supply you with large 60ml syringe with a wide nozzle.

Elements of a good paste

A good homemade paste should be palatable and contain the drug in a small volume (no more than 30ml) so that the syringe fits easily in the hand. The temptation to fill the syringe should be avoided. Not only can this be very awkward to administer, but the larger the WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

volume deposited in the horse’s mouth, the easier it is for him to expel some of it. If a greater volume is required, it should be divided into smaller amounts. It is important that there is no food in the mouth before you start. You may need to tie the horse up, away from any food, for five minutes beforehand. If a wormer is to be given, the horse’s weight should be accurately measured with a weigh tape before the medication is administered, and the dosage setting on the syringe plunger adjusted appropriately. If the medication is supplied as a powder a suitable carrier must be chosen. Water is inappropriate as the resulting solution is too runny and will easily either be expelled or leak from the horse’s mouth. Low volume powders such as phenylbutazone can be mixed with

redcurrant jelly or seedless jam to give a sticky mixture. For larger volume powders, custard is a good choice — not too runny or sticky, palatable, and easy to mix. Natural yoghurt is good too, but should not be used with antibiotics as the bacterial culture it contains might partially ‘quench’ the antibiotic.

Control the head The conventional method of dosing horses, if you have no one to help you, is to stand facing the same way as the horse and place one arm under its chin and then over its nose to control the head. The other hand then introduces the syringe into the side of its mouth. The disadvantage of this approach is that the syringe is introduced into a closed mouth. It seems this ‘poking’ of the JANUARY 2022 YOUR HORSE 73

a stress-free way of making sure that she’s getting the medication she needs — thank you, Your Horse. Jayne Patterson, Suffolk

Like us on Facebook at 24 YOUR HORSE FEBRUARY 2022

VET ADVICE l HOMEMADE PASTES Kieran prefers to control the horse’s head using a headcollar when administering medicine via paste in a syringe


Your feature about giving medication in the January issue of Your Horse was perfectly timed. My 21-year-old mare has just been diagnosed with Cushing’s and trying to make sure she takes her medication was proving tricky. Your feature by vet Kieran O’Brien offered lots of advice and clever ways other owners had found successful with their horses. I tried a few of your suggestions on my mare until we found the answer. Who knew that she loves fig roll biscuits! I now have no problem at all — just pop her tablet into the filling of the biscuit and she’ll happily eat it. It’s such a relief that I’ve found

✷ letter

Tosca helps Fiona through tough times

Tweet us at

I’m writing this letter to let you all know about an incredible lady who deserves recognition for her hard work, determination and sheer courage to set up a business in the midst of Covid and make it a success. Kelsey Royston has always loved photography, and when Covid hit and she wasn’t working she took this time to improve her skills. She offered her photography skills to the local Kilnsey Show and ended up as the official photographer in the main equine ring — and that is when Pooch and Ponies Photography started. I met Kelsey through her Facebook page as she was advertising for a model who had a ball gown and access to a nice scenic background. I had a red ball gown, and our stables are next to the Brontë Moor, so it was perfect. Since the shoot we’ve worked on brand promotions together and I’ve recently accepted a position as brand ambassador with my horse Gypsy. Kelsey stands out through her sheer determination to make a business work in a lockdown, her bubbly personality, and her ability to deal with anything thrown at her. I had the idea to take Gypsy’s bridle off on the open moorland for some photos. Kelsey was playing horse noises on her phone to make sure Gypsy had her ears forward for the shot. If you’re looking for someone to take photographs of your horse, I highly recommend Kelsey — Alice Bond, West Yorkshire Follow us on WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

22/12/2021 08:52


Let’s talk about...

Amazing heavy horses

Heavier breeds of horses can hold their own in the competition arena

With more heavier breed horses making it to the top of various equestrian disciplines, we wanted to know if you feel the same way we do about these fabulous equines. Who better to ask than our Facebook followers — here are some of your thoughts on heavy breed horses.

Bubbles proves the point; he’s a little champion. Sasha Hughes

My six-year-old Belgian Draft loves learning dressage and other new things, as well as some jumping. Kaleigh Rose Chappell

I have a partClydesdale, she’s a phenomenal jumper. Bonnie Bimble

They can jump too! Here’s my 17-year-old Clydesdale gelding, Bulwark Bay, proving it’s not all about dressage. Sam Winn

My big guy enjoys jumping and dressage — although we are only just starting out in both. Karen Young

Dylan went to the Petplan Equine Area Festival Championships and came fourth — he loves to dance. Rebecca Gilbert


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It’s not so surprising that Shire horses have made it to grand prix level dressage. They were once the prized mounts for armored knights when what are now high school dressage moves were taught to be used in battle. Fiona Willstead

Our boy is 22, in full work and loving life. He’s danced his way up to elementary and jumped one metre. He’s won many championships in showing and concourse riding. He still acts like a four-year-old — he’s my horse of a lifetime. Amanda Lomax

Clydesdales are just awesome. Beckie Latham


22/12/2021 08:52

SEND a sel Keep your photos coming in to

Fun on the beach

Trying to take a nice photo at the beach with my Welshie, Curro.


Send inyour pics!

Time for bed

This is me and my horse Kallie, a 13-yearold Welsh D, after a very spooky hack. I think it must have taken it out of her.

Charli Anderson, Kent

Emma Ward-Reeder, York

He’s my fave

My daughter Tia with her fave riding school pony Sam — she loves him so much I thought she deserved a shout out. Hayley Dawson, Yorkshire

Playing to the camera

Murphy taking this selfie thing very seriously!

My heart horse

My bestie Beauty — she’s 20 and recently lost her eye. I’m amazed at how well she is coping. We’ve been through quite a bit in our time together — she’s my pony of a lifetime and heart horse for sure. Stacy Phelps, Lancs

Mike Herbert, Dorset

Simply the best

Annual birthday selfie with Shadrach. He’s been a saviour these past few years, while I was in an awful job. I now have a new job with more free time to get fit, healthy and back out on the cross-country. I’ve owned him since he was a year old — he’s now 13. Sophie Wilkinson, Co. Durham


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20/12/2021 17:03

We love seeing your photos, so each month we print a selection. This month our favourite wins a Bizzy Ball, a long-lasting, multifunctional toy for your horse. Find out more at

And smile

Here’s to 2022

Me and my beautiful 20-year-old ex-racehorse Matey. He ‘smiles’ on command and loves a good selfie. Vicki Stephen, Perthshire

Me and my girly Cheyanne, we’ve been together three years. It’s been a tough time working to regain my confidence after the loss of my old horse in an accident. It’s been a hard year, with my mental health issues and the loss of our old pony, Daisy, but this amazing horse has helped me through it. Paula Robinson, Durham

Never forgotten

This is Badger, he was 26 and my mum’s heart horse. He sadly passed away last year. He’s left a hole in our hearts that won’t ever be filled. He was such a cool dude with a massive personality. Niamh Ryan, Cambridgeshire

Fun times

After mine and Ernie’s first stressage test. Emma

Fancy dress

Me and my partner in crime, Nabucco, celebrating Halloween together.

Mead, Staffs

Natalie Scott, Spain

Cheeky chappy

I’ve had River for a year, he’s 14 but thinks he’s five. He’s a cheeky character but a real soppy boy. Keily Townsend, Hertfordshire

The joker

There’s always one… and it’s usually Woody! Jon Davies, Northants


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20/12/2021 17:03



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Your horse’s

TRAINING Expert advice for riders of all levels



Find out about the building blocks of any equine’s early education

pages to boost confidence and improve your performance


In this section p30











Advice from top sport psychologist Charlie Unwin on building a strong mentality Riding and leading can be hugely helpful: find out how to make it work safely Yazmin Pinchen tells you how to tackle indoor courses with confidence Ross Cooper explains the importance of positive early training, and how to do it Nikki Barker explains how to channel a hot horse’s energy positively on the flat



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Your outer game — confidence in your riding skills and behaviour

Your inner game — confidence in your mind and state


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MEET THE TRAINER CHARLIE UNWIN is a former modern pentathlon national champion, who competed at world championship level. Believing applied psychology to be a fundamental factor in his achievements, he gained an MSc in sport & exercise psychology and has since worked with clients including top riders, football and rugby players, Olympic athletes and the royal household. Charlie also applies the principles of human performance and psychology in business. Visit


ICEBERG EFFECT When your inner game is working in sync with your outer game, you’ll ride at your best. Performance psychologist Charlie Unwin explains why challenging your confidence, training your response to pressure and having a mental blueprint is key AS TOLD TO AIMI CLARK


ONFIDENCE IS A word that we use a lot. Your horse, of course, gets confidence from you. But where does confidence actually come from? The core of confidence is about being confident in yourself. Do you back yourself? It’s funny because we don’t often think about this — nothing forces us to reflect. What are the stories you tell yourself about yourself? Are those stories helping, or are they hindering you? Do they give you the confidence and courage you need to be a leader and provide guidance? This mirrors many other relationships, not just the one you


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Doubts happen when we’re under the most pressure, such as at a competition, because that’s when we ask questions

“Focus plays such an important role in psychology. As human beings, we’re at our happiest when we’re focused, and that’s in life in general, not just when we’re on a horse” 32 YOUR HORSE FEBRUARY 2022

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CONFIDENCE l PERFORMANCE PSYCHOLOGY have with your horse. Confidence in yourself is key, and being confident in yourself is based on three things:


Confidence in your skills

What can you do with your horse that makes you feel confident in your ability to handle it? When can you think, ‘this is the situation and this is how I handle it’. Or, ‘this is the technique and this is how to do it properly’.


Confidence in your mind

How well do you know your own mind? I bet you have been in a situation where you’re more than capable of doing something, but you doubt yourself. It could happen as you’re going up the centre line at A, or when you’re in the cross-country startbox. Very often, doubts happen when we’re under the most pressure, because that’s when we ask questions. So having confidence in your own mind — how you think, make decisions, solve problems and commit to a course of action — is really important.


Confidence in your state

You need to have confidence in how you feel — that could be emotions, nerves, excitement — and how do you deal with challenge? Managing your state — your energy — is really important. You’re not getting rid of nerves but channelling that energy into your focus and into your skills.

The first one, skills, is what we call your ‘outer game’, and then the ‘inner game’ is what’s happening in your head. Your inner game is either helping you to get the most from your skills or getting in the way. I treat it a bit like an iceberg. The top peeks above the surface of the water and that’s the bits that you can see — it’s your behaviour and skills, for example. What you can’t see below the surface is what’s driving that behaviour and those skills — and there’s a lot more below the surface than above.

Challenging your confidence I work with amazing people who sometimes do crazy things — and I’m not necessarily talking about in the equestrian world. Sometimes we put ourselves in a position in which we feel challenged, and there are two biological responses. Fight or flight is an instinctive reaction, but it’s not helpful when we have to perform. I call the other response the ‘challenge’ response. It’s the capacity to lean into a challenge — in other words, you are deliberate in the process when you allow your nervous system to respond. That qualifies you to breathe, to relax and to have a positive focus. These three things are really important in training your challenge response. What’s interesting is that when you look at what’s going on inside your body, with the challenge response the heart rate still goes up and blood pumps to the muscles, but your blood pressure stays


questions are greatly involved in training your challenge response. Alex Honnold is a free solo rock clim ber who climbed up El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in California without any ropes, in June 2017. You’re talking a few thousand feet of sheer granite and he climbed up the whole rock face with out any ropes in just under four hours. You might think he had a death wish, but if you watch the film Free Solo — be prepared for your hands to sweat — what’s really interesting is that it talks about this idea of expanding your comfort zone. Learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortab le. When Alex starts to train, what he can’t do is climb up with ropes and then one day say, “Right, now I can do that, I’m going to do it without rope s.” It doesn’t work like that. So what did he do? He got himself into challenging situations, with the ropes so that he was protected, and then he imagined what it would be like to be there without ropes. In the film, you can see him closing his eyes and imagining that, and as he does you can see his fingers tensing. He trained himself to respond differently to that thought.


Alex Honnold re-trained his response to challenging situations before climbing this rock face without ropes


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Train your response Sometimes we need to use our imagination to put ourselves in challenging situations in order to train a different response (see box, p33). It works. A good exercise is to make a list of all the things that challenge you and that you might face when you’re on your horse. Put the most challenging at the top. These are the ones where you’ve really got to be able to manage yourself — really relax and focus to be able to deal with the situation. On a bad day, the situations you find mildly challenging can catch you out. Go to the bottom of your list and start thinking about how exactly you want to respond in that situation. Give yourself really clear intent: how am I going to manage my inner game (your mind and state) and how am I going to manage the outer game (riding skills). What is your process in that situation? Once you feel confident doing this for the small challenges, within days you’ll want to address the big challenges. There’s no rush. Practise the process in the smaller challenges. You might find it empowering.


What a lot of us get wrong is the word ‘process’. It’s so easy to measure the outcome of what you do and see it as binary. Black or white; I can, or I can’t; I fail, or I succeed. The outcomes are important; we all want results with our horse or at a competition, and you can certainly take a lot of pride when you get those results. However, true results are in everyday processes. They’re the little things that you can take great satisfaction in doing well; little things that you need to track and measure to give yourself a pat on the back for doing well. It’s through the true results that you stay motivated and keen, and you can actually measure your own progress against satisfaction, for which I think horses are amazing.


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A house build is successful working from blueprints, and mental blueprints give focus and clear intent in your riding goals

Mental blueprints

that blueprints are a precise representation of exactly what it is you’re trying to do. It gives you focus and clear intent, and what that does is it allows us to correct something before we even realise that we’re correcting.

Focus plays such an important role in psychology. As human beings, we’re at our happiest when we’re focused, and that’s in life in general, not just when we’re on a horse or playing sport. Focus plays an important role in keeping blood in the right part of the brain, and not flooding the emotional brain. A way of thinking about this is to give yourself what I call mental blueprints. They’re little things that you do brilliantly. It could just be walking in a straight line, for example. Think about what a blueprint is. Someone’s representation of a building, for example, on a piece of paper that’s precise — it’s perfect. Does that mean that when it is built using that blueprint, that the building is perfect? No, because materials aren’t perfect. The ground isn’t perfect. Humans aren’t perfect. But what would happen if there wasn’t a blueprint? There would be gross errors. It’s important

Instinctive corrections

Celebrate the little successes in your everyday training on your way to a bigger result


low. It’s releasing a hormone called DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone), which seems to be released in people who are very good at dealing with very high stress situations. The difference is their capacity not to shy away from that situation; they are the people who are capable of leaning in and addressing the challenge. So, there is biology that sits behind that ability.



A good example of focus and clear intent is a rider I was working with at Badminton a few years ago. As he was coming up a step out of the water, there was a stride to a skinny fence and the horse pecked. It looked like there was no way the rider could save the situation, but he managed to get the horse back up with the energy it needed to be able to jump the skinny. An amazing horse for having the scope to be able to do that, let alone the trust. When I asked the rider about it afterwards, he said he didn’t remember what he did. His reaction was instinctive. When we have this blueprint in our mind, we have total clarity of what we’re trying to do. It’s not because the end result has to be perfect, it’s because without that blueprint we don’t make tiny corrections. From a human performance perspective, those corrections — like the Badminton rider’s — are intuitive. His correction was about seven times quicker than he would have been able to do consciously. The problem is if we don’t have that focus, we don’t have the clarity of getting to a point. Then when we deviate from that point, we notice the deviation more slowly and we overcorrect. If the Badminton rider had come out of the water thinking, “Don’t mess up, don’t mess up”, and he had not focused on the skinny, his response would have been more conscious and far slower, and he would have overcorrected. And what happens when we overcorrect in front of a skinny? The horse goes out to the side. Focus is important at every level. Give yourself little things to do brilliantly; have a blueprint in your mind and don’t worry about the expectation to be perfect. It’s about having clarity with intent. ■ Charlie was speaking at the Equilibrium Meeting of Minds Tour with Jason Webb. Look out for information about a 2022 tour at WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

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ROBYN CHERRY is yard manager at Tyre Hill Equestrian in Worcestershire. She began working on a racing yard aged 14 and has gone on to run her own yard, and to manage others of all sizes — including 300-horse equestrian centres. She holds the RDA equivalent of a BHSAI, and specialises in rehabilitating horses post-intensive care and post-injury.



Multiple horses to exercise and not enough daylight to do it in? Being able to ride and lead two horses at the same time is a great time-saving skill with many advantages. Robyn Cherry explains how to do it safely WORDS: STEPHANIE BATEMAN PHOTOS: SALLY NEWCOMB

OMETIMES THERE JUST aren’t enough hours in the day to ride more than one horse. Especially at this time of year, when the light fades fast but you still have more than one equine needing exercise. In this situation, being able to take both out at the same time — riding one and leading the other — is invaluable. If you’ve ever been to a polo match, you’ll notice that the grooms often ride a pony while leading two or more during the warm up before a game. This is because with so many horses to exercise, it simply isn’t possible to have enough riders to ride each horse. Riding and leading is also commonly seen on big yards where there are lots of horses to exercise every day. “At a big yard I managed, it was rare for us to hack with only one horse — we had so many to exercise that if you were hacking, you had at least two horses, if not more,” says yard manager and former polo groom Robyn Cherry. “That went for hunters, liveries, polo ponies, everything.” In polo, it’s normal for a groom to have up to 20 horses to exercise in one day, and that just isn’t possible without doing sets (exercising a group of horses in one go). “For me, I ride and lead my own two

horses because I like to get them done at the same time sometimes,” adds Robyn. “Being a groom, it’s hard fitting in your own horses around work, so when I’m short of time, but want to get them out for a good long ride, I take them together by riding one and leading one.”

When it’s useful Riding and leading is useful in other scenarios too. Maybe your child’s pony needs to go out during school hours but is too small for you to ride, or you’re bringing a horse back into work slowly or waiting for a saddle to be fitted. Of course, it’s also nice to be able to take your child out for a ride without you having to be on foot. “One of my horses, Bailey, did six months of riding and leading before he got his new saddle, to build up his topline and get his strength back up after not having been ridden for so long,” says Robyn. “I use it for young horses too, to get them out seeing the world, with the steadying influence of an older, more experienced horse at their side. It’s also useful to lead children or inexperienced riders, enabling them to experience a hack, and for nappy horses who prefer hacking with others.” In fact, riding and leading is such a


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7 key points 1

If you choose to lead with a lead rope, make sure it is attached to the outside bit ring and threaded through, not the inside ring.

2 3 4 5 6 7

Don’t allow the lead horse’s head to get in front of your knee. Ride with the lead horse on your left.

Consider putting over-reach and brushing boots on both horses. You and both horses should wear high vis.

Pick horses who know and like each other.

Don’t try to go too fast — walk and trot is best.

It’s useful to be able to exercise two horses at a time, providing you can do so safely and remain in control at all times


If you are confident at riding and leading, anoth er option is to swap horse s half way so that both horses are rid den. Simply tack up both horses wit h saddles and bridles, ensuring that the stirrups are secured on the lead ho rse and won’t flap around, and then you can swap over half way. Jus t make sure you choose a safe place to swap over.


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YOUR HORSE’S TRAINING useful skill that Robyn recommends all riders teach it to their horses, and the younger they start, the better. “The more horses do it, the better they are,” she says. “If I’m asked to bring on a youngster, I always make sure they get used to both being led and leading. It’s helped me in an awful lot of emergencies.”

Safety first Once horses understand what is being asked of them, riding and leading is a fairly straightforward skill to learn, but there are safety considerations. “Always have a bridle on the horse you’re leading,” says Robyn, as it will give you more control than a headcollar will. “Some people use a lead rope, but I prefer reins. I was taught to loop the reins through the offside bit ring to give you a little more control and to prevent them getting Practise in the safety of an enclosed space first

You’ll need to be able to give hand signals and thank drivers and stay in control of both horses 38 YOUR HORSE FEBRUARY 2022

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How to ride and lead safely ■ Practise first in a safe area at walk. Practise circles, stopping, starting, and sharp turns in both directions. Both horses need to be calm and confident around other horses as they will be in close proximity, and any scraps could put the rider in danger. Horses that know each other and are either stabled next door or turned out together tend to ride and lead well as a pair. ■ Once confident in walk, progress to trot, and make sure you’re confident doing the same shapes and turns in trot. Stay relaxed, keep your shoulders straight (some grooms who ride and lead a lot get back problems from twisting), and keep your left arm at your side. ■ To stop, simply put a little pressure on the lead horse’s reins — they should stop when the ridden horse does. ■ To turn left, use rein pressure to slow the lead horse a little, then turn the ridden horse across their path. ■ To turn right, turn the ridden horse and

looped around the horse’s nose.” If you do opt for a lead rope, make sure it is attached to the outside bit ring and threaded through the inside bit ring. This will give you a better contact with your lead horse. Make sure the rope is long enough and that the horse you’re on is steady. You must also be confident riding and steering with one hand before you attempt leading another horse. “The key when leading is to keep the

lead horse’s head at your knee,” advises Robyn. “If the horse you’re leading gets ahead of you, that is where you can start to lose control or have problems with the horses racing each other. Also ensure the reins aren’t looped around your hand, and that you aren’t leaving lots of slack to get caught around your boot or stirrup.” If, on the other hand, the lead horse drags behind, try a change of pace to trot to enthuse them. Longer term, teaching

Riding and leading two horses who know and like each other will make it easier for you


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gently guide the lead horse around with you using the reins. ■ The final thing to practise before going out on the roads is hand signals. Practise holding both sets of reins in each hand, and giving signals to turn right and left, slow down, and give thanks to drivers. If drivers don’t know what you’re doing, nobody is safe. This comes with practice, so spend a while in the school or riding around the yard before you tackle the open road. ■ The next stage is cantering. This is where a lot of people come unstuck as horses can get excited. “I would recommend only very experienced people ride and lead in canter,” says Robyn. “A relaxed, collected canter is key. Again, practise in the school or an enclosed field, and don’t allow the lead horse’s head to pass your knee. Take a friend on foot who can help if things go wrong. Be 100% confident before you try it and, crucially, stay within your comfort zone.”

them to respond to voice cues is vital for this — it’s tricky to carry and use a whip if riding and leading. Trotting can also help to settle a lead horse that feels spooky or excited. Hold the lead horse’s reins firmly, but never wrap them around your hand. If you know a horse is spooky, ride that one rather than lead — you’ll have more control. In the UK, we put the lead horse on the left, particularly on the road, as you have more control of the swing of a horse’s quarters if you’re sitting on it. “It’s a good idea to put overreach boots all round on both horses to start with, as an inexperienced ride and leader, or inexperienced horses, can result in lost shoes if the horses tread on each other,” says Robyn. “I also advise brushing boots on both horses for the same reason. If you will be on the road, wear bright clothing and hi-vis — on you and both horses — to ensure you are clearly seen.”

Remember to put high vis on your lead horse


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Having the lead horse at a right angle to you is one way to make mounting easier

HOW TO GET ON AND OFF In an ideal world, you’ll mount your ridden horse and a helper will pass you the lead rope for the lead horse. But if no such helpers are available, here’s how to do it...

the mounting block, which should now be in the middle. 3 Use the mounting block to get on your ■

5 Another method is to stand your lead ■

horse at a right angle to you, rather than parallel, to give you room to mount your ridden horse. This can be a good method if you need to keep your horses under closer control.

have plenty of room, not up against a wall or in a tight corner.

ridden horse as usual. The only difference is that as you put your reins into your left hand, you should now have the lead horse’s reins in your left hand too.

2 Walk both horses up to the mounting ■

4 At this moment, your horses should be ■

7 When dismounting, position your lead ■

stood almost parallel to each other with a mounting block in the middle of them. Once you are on, you can simply walk them both forward and away you go.

horse at a right angle from the ridden horse so that you have room to dismount. Place both sets of reins in your left hand and dismount.

1 Place your mounting block where you ■

block, one on either side of you. Your ridden horse should be on your right and your lead horse should be on your left, and they should be separated by you and

6 Again, once you have mounted, walk ■

both horses forward and away from the mounting block.


‘I sleep better knowing they’ve both had some exercise’ Riding and leading is essential to Katie Palmer being able to exercise her two ex-racehorses in the winter. “We have very little turnout because the clay ground gets too wet and boggy. The boys are loose in a yard during the day and stabled overnight, and they enjoy a daily ride,” says Katie, who owns 18-year-old chestnut Peter plus 12-year-old Blue. “Sometimes I just hack out for half an hour and then stand and let them graze for half an hour, then hack home. Other days we go further, and I always vary the route. “Blue mostly hacks but will do a few days trail hunting and then fun rides in the summer, so I like to keep him semi fit. Peter is retired due to an old injury, so he doesn’t go out every day but I think he likes to have a ‘job’. I know when he doesn’t want to come, because he disappears into his


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stable when I start tacking up. “They live as a pair so they’re easy to ride and lead, even though Peter is five inches bigger than Blue at 17.2hh. I would ride and lead when they were competing, so they’ve been doing it for a long time. “I’ve always ridden and led horses. I pair horses with a similar stride length to avoid one lagging behind, and make sure they like each other. I prefer to lead using a lunge rein, too, so that I know that whatever happens, I won’t lose the lead horse. The trick is carrying it so that it doesn’t get too long or in a tangle. “We walk, trot and canter. Cantering can get a bit exciting with the two of them next to each other, so I avoid going fast in open spaces and stick to tracks. I sleep better knowing that they have both had some exercise.”

Katie Palmer stick s to enclosed tracks for faster work with Peter an d Blue to keep excitement levels down


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Fix it...

Jumping indoors

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN: ● Ways to make the most of

small spaces ● How to handle busy

warm up rings ● Tips to tackle


Ever felt convinced that fences must be a hole or two higher when they’re built inside? If you’re feeling the pressure at your winter competitions, banish it with Yazmin Pinchen’s indoor jumping tips WORDS: BETHANY SEARBY PHOTO: MATTHEW ROBERTS


NDOOR ARENAS ARE a saviour when it comes to winter competing. Once inside, however, space is tighter, fences seem bigger and the atmosphere can be challenging. If your confidence jumping indoors needs a boost, showjumper Yazmin Pinchen

MEET THE TRAINER At just 14, YAZMIN PINCHEN qualified for the Children on Horses World Final in Mexico, which cemented her ambition to jump at the top. Since then, she’s jumped the Global Champions Tour circuit and has competed for Great Britain at five-star level on Nations Cup teams. Yazmin also trains Titanium Z, a Tangelo stallion owned by singer and former One Direction star, Liam Payne.

has the answer. “I must say, I sometimes dread competing in an indoor arena — especially on a youngster!” she says. “Regular venue hire is the ultimate way to train, but there’s so much you can do at home to tackle the challenges specific to jumping indoors.”

PROBLEM: Short on space FIX IT: Flatwork is 100% the most

important element of showjumping. The more quickly your horse reacts to your aids, the less space is wasted. Practising plenty of upward and downward transitions will improve his reactions but you also need to use the space wisely, which means eliminating corner cutting. Fixing this means using your inside leg to push him out towards the arena wall. Essentially, think the principles of leg-yield. To practise this, create a tramline a couple of metres in from the track. If you’re short on poles, prioritise the corners and short sides, creating right angles in each corner and placing poles inside the short side marker. Begin by trotting within the tramline, focusing on using your inside leg to push your horse towards the track and keep him there, feeling subtle ribcage bend and inside flexion the whole way round. Use half-halts to keep him balanced, especially in canter and ahead of corners — although you may find you need to use more inside leg than expected to support him. You’ll probably achieve a better than usual canter, too.


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PROBLEM: Fence height and fillers FIX IT: Even a filler your horse is

happy to jump outside automatically becomes more daunting indoors, and fences that look jumpable in the open can make a rider nervous. For all things confidence, gridwork is key. Once you’re in a grid, the striding is sorted and all you need to do is focus on your position, maintaining rhythm and riding forward over fences and fillers

your horse finds more challenging. Yazmin tends to stick to three fences — a cross-pole to vertical on a one-stride distance (7-8 paces), followed by an oxer another one or two strides (11-12 paces) away. She will also add one or two poles on a bounce stride (3-3.5 paces) before the cross-pole, and a canter pole between a two-stride distance (7-8 paces from the base of the first fence).

PROBLEM: Settling before

the bell FIX IT: Getting a nervy horse in the arena can be a challenge in itself, so always come armed with a helper, a treat and plenty of praise to coax him in. Remember you’re building a partnership, so you never want to start an argument. Before the bell, focus a tense horse with leg-yield and by flexing his head away from spooky objects. Once it sounds, use your thirty seconds to recreate that balanced pace from the first exercise before approaching fence one. Focus on maintaining this rhythm throughout, sitting up tall and resisting the temptation to chase fences, as your horse will get fast and flat.

PROBLEM: Busy collecting ring FIX IT: Small, hectic arenas might

not feel like the ideal place for a thorough warm-up, but working in and cooling off definitely aren’t areas to scrimp on. My advice? Arrive in plenty of time and use the space around the venue. You can do lots to warm up your horse’s muscles in walk — bending, flexing and leg-yielding like we’ve covered here, for a start — and then pick a quieter moment to ride in the collecting ring.


It can’t just be me who forgets to breathe, which only makes a rider and their horse tense. Make breathing a focus of your round — perhaps something you remind yourself to do after each fence. Or talk to your horse as you go; a tip guaranteed to keep you both feeling calm.


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FIRM foundations


A horse’s early education will set them up for life — or leave them struggling to fill in the gaps, if we fail to do the job properly. Ross Cooper explains the building blocks of equine education

MEET THE TRAINER ROSS COOPER of Rosca Horsemanship is a British Horseman, UKCC Coach, holistic therapist and equine behaviour consultant. He provides training and ridden coaching, specialising in bitless training, young horses, foundation groundwork and behavioural issues. He’s available for teaching in the UK and EU. Visit rosscooperofficial. or find Ross Cooper Horsemanship on Facebook.


E ALL HAVE taken exams, right? When we have, what do we do? For most of us, we revise, we learn, and we prepare. We do this on more than one occasion for the same test; the more we practise, the better we get, and the more ingrained the knowledge becomes. We make a base for the rest of our learning to stand upon, a worthwhile investment for ourselves. We invest in our education, but what about our horse’s education, how much do

we invest in them? Preparing our horses for an exam that spans a lifetime requires careful thought, consistency and consideration, and it all starts with the foundations. Foundation training in the philosophy of horsemanship is the basis for all we do with the horse, providing them with a basic, fundamental education for horsehuman interaction. When correctly done, this sets the horse up for a lifetime with humans, preparing them for a more advanced education in the future, building on what they already know.


Visualise each building block of a horse’s education set upon the previous one. If you get it right from the start, you need only teach the horse once


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“It takes years — not weeks or months — to produce a well-trained reliable riding horse, but unfortunately it has become commonplace to do the bare minimum”


Horses who do not receive the correct input in their early education will have ‘holes’ in their foundation. Such horses are commonly anxious or bracey, and make ‘guestimates’ when certain cues are given, because they have been asked more than they understand or are capable of.

These horses often are plied with training gadgets, spend time being passed from trainer to trainer, or are sold on. This is easily avoided by providing the right set-up for your horse in the first place, from a perspective of both comfort and safety.

Over the years I have witnessed horses that are handled or ridden by owners, staff and professionals that have not been given the correct tools to work with. This puts both horse and handler in a vulnerable position. To return to the house analogy (see p46), the danger here is that when a solid foundation has not been set, the walls begin to crumble.


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YOUR HORSE’S TRAINING As with the building of a house, a solid structure begins with foundations that are firm and solid on the ground, where any and all interactions with the horse begin. What happens to a house that does not have such a structure to support it? It becomes unstable, and over time, will fail. The principle of this approach to training is to make good all of what you do with your horse, at all stages, starting with the very basics before working your way up the scale of training. When done in unison with your horse, this promotes mental and physical relaxation, readiness and responsiveness. The focus should not be solely on what the horse can do physically, but we must be considerate to how he feels about what is being asked.

‘More than just lungeing’ Whatever your discipline, training the basics begins with your feet on the floor, with groundwork. This is a necessary part of your horse’s training before working on the foundations in the saddle, should this be a path you choose to take with them — not all horses need to be ridden, but a foundation on the ground still applies. Groundwork is more than just lungeing. It is more than just lungeing with poles. It is every single interaction you have with your horse while your feet are on the floor, and it begins the minute your eyes meet across the field. This aspect of training is the first building block to be laid down in your horse’s education, and is where trust and communication are first established, bridging the gap to the ridden equivalent. Consider what you may ask a horse to do under saddle: a half-halt, a balanced 20m circle of canter or a leg-yield. These are just a few examples that require the movement to be broken down into small segments for the horse to understand, which could be first established on the ground before the saddle is introduced. Working with the horse on the ground in this manner is too often overlooked. But it allows the progression of correct physiological muscle development,

suppleness, mental relaxation and understanding. For a horse to move correctly with cadence, impulsion and rhythm while responding to the rider’s cues, the latter must be present — the way they feel will always be visible in their physical behaviour and movement. There are many intricate, fun and beneficial exercises that can be done on the ground that set a horse up for understanding them with a rider. Also, certain exercises show up where the holes in a horse’s education are — or indeed the holes in their trainer’s education.

The critical component Time is an important component in the training of any horse and rider, and yet often it seems little of it is spent on the basics. Why? Because to many the basics are not very exciting. It takes years — not weeks or months, but years — to produce a well-trained reliable riding horse, but unfortunately it has become commonplace to do the bare minimum. This is not good horsemanship. You can sit, stand, stop and go, yet what happens when you begin to ask for a little more, or you get into a sticky situation that you or your horse have not been prepared for? Trouble happens. When a horse has been taught a certain amount from the ground, that knowledge can be transferred to work under saddle. Already you have provided more clarity for your horse about what is expected of them, and early ridden work will also be a great opportunity to use your newly improved skillset of timing, feel and co-ordination from your time spent on groundwork. Remember that all advanced ridden movements are developed from the foundations of a horse’s education, which began on the ground. Visualise each building block of a horse’s education set upon the previous one, with his long-term health, wellbeing and fitness in mind. If you get it right from the start, you need only teach the horse once.


I have my own foundation training programme with Rosca Horsemanship, setting each horse up with a universal education, so that they can continue in whichever direction their owners choose. I often incorporate leading exercises, straightness training, lateral movements and contact cues. This is all established (you guessed it!) on the ground, before being introduced in the saddle. There is never a one-size-fits-all approach to training — I adapt to the needs of each individual. All advanced manoeuvres, signals and cues come from those very basics that begin when you first halter your horse, and you cannot revisit them enough. If something is going amiss further down the line, retrace your steps and see where the holes in the foundations are. For me, to work with a horse to help them to understand is one thing, but to get them feeling good about it is the ultimate reward, and where we should aspire to be. By taking the time to invest thoroughly in your horse’s education, you can keep your horse from getting into trouble later down the line, and learn a more dynamic approach to working with them. Make foundations a priority and who knows, you may just enjoy them.

Whatever you want to do with your horse, training the basics starts with your feet on the ground


Remember , that groun says Ross, dwork is ev single inte ery raction yo uh with your horse while ave your feet are on the begins the floor and it minute yo ur eyes meet across the field


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YOUNG HORSES l EDUCATION Ridden lateral movements that need to be broken down into small segments for the horse to understand could be first established on the ground, but this is often overlooked


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s n o i t u l o s SCHOOLING ●

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN: Easy ways to get a hot-headed horse switched on and listening ● Expert tips to help you stay cool, calm and in control ● To hone your transitions and accuracy


excess energy Got a hot-headed horse with bags of talent? Unlock their full potential and become a more effective partnership, with help from dressage pro Nikki Barker WORDS: HELEN MILBANK PHOTOS: MATTHEW ROBERTS


E NEVER SAID riding horses was easy. If you want to succeed at dressage, you’ll need a little power under the bonnet — but that power has to be channelled into all the right places. And sometimes your horse may have his own ideas as to where his talents best lie… At this time of year, when it’s colder, there’s less time to ride and horses are standing in their stables

for longer, persuading a hot-headed type to knuckle down and work can be tricky. Here to help you get to grips with your horse’s quirks and become a safe, effective, confident partnership is international dressage rider and trainer Nikki Barker. Working with Jessica Knowles and her grey mare Indy, she’s going to be showing you some simple exercises to get your horse switched on, listening and sharp off your aids.


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SCHOOLING SOLUTIONS l POSITIVE ENERGY MEET THE TRAINER NIKKI BARKER is an international dressage rider and trainer who’s based near Newmarket. She’s sponsored by Knowles Equestrian and Spillers, find her on Facebook at Nikki Barker Dressage.

MEET THE RIDER & HORSE JESSICA KNOWLES has owned the lovely Indy (show name Lago Ironica) for four years. A PRE Andalusian, the nine-year-old mare competes at elementary level dressage and Jessica describes her as “very quirky”.

Embrace your horse’s talents to help you develop a winning relationship


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Exercise 1



Highly strung by nature and typically ‘Spanish’ in her frame, Indy finds it easy to collect, but working long and low is far trickier for her. So instead of asking her to stretch from the off, Jessica needs to work on getting her mare mentally and physically relaxed. As Nikki explains, if Jessica gives her a longer rein right now and asks her to reach forwards and down, she’ll run along on her forehand.

Nikki says: “If, Indy, a horse is a hot head in the warm up, I like to do lots of work in sitting trot as this will help steady them.”

How to ride it 1 While your warm up is a chance to get ■ your horse loosened up and listening, quite what you do will depend on your horse’s age and personality quirks. 2 As Indy’s quite a lively type, she finds it ■ hard to stretch from the off — she just wants to crack on. 3 If this sounds like your horse, ask him to ■ stretch at the middle or end of a schooling session rather than the start. Some horses will stretch far more effectively once they’re calm and relaxed. 4 Don’t warm up in a straight line, but ■ instead weave in lots of turns and shapes to keep your horse’s mind occupied and prevent him from simply running along.

Nikki suggests lots of work in sitting trot to help Indy settle

Exercise 2


Ride a three-loop serpentine in trot, and transition to walk every time you cross the centre line

Forward-going types like Indy like to take charge, so to help Jessica regain control and encourage her mare to steady up and stay in balance, Nikki suggests lots of transition exercises while working on a serpentine.

How to ride it 1 Start by riding a three-loop ■ serpentine, in trot.

2 Transition to walk every time you ■ cross the centre line.

3 Walk for three or four steps, then go ■ back up to trot.

4 Once you’re happy doing this ■ exercise in a three-loop serpentine, try doing it with four-loops. 5 Next, up the ante by asking for a ■ direct transition from trot to halt every time you cross the centre line. 6 Go from halt to trot, and continue on ■ your serpentine (this can be a threeor four-loop serpentine, depending on how flexible your horse is feeling). 7 Remember, your horse should stay ■ nice and sharp off your aids through each transition: this exercise is all about making him more reactive.


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SCHOOLING SOLUTIONS l POSITIVE ENERGY Ask your horse to extend for a few strides, and then collect


As Nikki sa ys: “This exercise is ag horse’s reac ood test of your tions and an easy one to do out hackin g. Pick a fence post as a marke r to ask for length ened trot strides, then colle ct at the n ext hedge, an d so on.”


transition is better than 100 po or ones,” explains Nikki. “You r horse must be sharp off your leg every time you ask for a transition at the centre line, so focus on quality, no t quantity.”

As Nikki explains, another great exercise to help a hot horse focus and balance is to mix short bursts of extended and collected trot.

How to ride it 1 First, trot on a 20m circle, asking your ■ horse to lengthen for a couple of strides, before collecting the trot up again. 2 Next, go large — still in trot — and ■ ask for a change within the pace at different markers.

3 Ask for lengthened strides, say from ■ M to F, then collect along the next side. 4 Remember, this exercise is all about ■ precision. If you’re going to ask your horse to collect at K, for example, make sure that’s where the change actually happens. 5 Progress to asking for changes of pace ■ within the canter and walk, too. 6 Whatever the pace, don’t ask for too ■ much forwardness — instead just collect and extend at your chosen markers.


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Exercise 4


Left: Ask for halt… Below: …and then a few steps of rein-back, before walking forward again

Riding a few steps of rein-back correctly has huge benefits, says Nikki. It gets your horse sitting more on his haunches, tests your control and your horse’s reaction to your aids, and helps develop suppleness.

How to ride it 1 Go large, in walk, and pick a spot to halt. ■ 2 Halt at your chosen spot, and then ask for ■ a couple of strides of rein-back.

3 Top tip: to improve the quality of the halt, ■

4 ■ 5 ■ 6 ■ 7 ■

8 ■

ask for a few steps of shoulder-in before the halt transition. This will help prepare your horse for the transition — you’re aiming for your horse to take his inside hind leg further underneath him. Struggling with shoulder-in? Ride a 10m circle in a corner, then ask for a few steps of shoulder-in as you hit the long side. This tight circle will encourage your horse to bend around his inside leg, helping him as he progresses to shoulder-in. Next, try this exercise in trot and, again, ride a few steps of shoulder-in first. Progress to asking for halt and then rein-back off the track in different areas of the school — for example on the centre line as you ride a 20m circle. For a shoulder-in reminder, visit yourhorse.

Encourage your horse to stretch as you cool down

Lessons lea ne d

❋ Got a hot horse? Do lots

of sitting trot in the warm up to settle him, and keep his mind busy by riding lots of turns and shapes in the arena. Avoid straight lines. ❋ Make three- or Nikki says... four-loop serpentines more challenging by asking for a transition each time you cross the centre line. ❋ Mix normal transitions with direct ones, making sure your horse is reactive and sharp off your leg every time. ❋ Avoid trotting or cantering around endlessly. Keep things focused: pick a marker at which to ask for a change within the pace. ❋ Be accurate and take charge: it’s easy to let a hot horse set the pace, so take control. ❋ Some horses find it easier to stretch at the end of a schooling session than the start. If yours is one of them, see how far you can get him to take his nose forward and down; imagine the reins are rods and you’re trying to push his nose out. 52 YOUR HORSE FEBRUARY 2022

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21/12/2021 10:17

Your horse’s

CARE Helping you to keep a happy, healthy horse



Could your horse’s headcollar cause serious injury? Find out here

pages packed with the latest advice from vets and other specialists

In this section p60













Headcollar safety deserves attention: find out what you need to know Vet Kyle Tindall-Read advises what to watch for to keep your horse’s legs healthy How to improve efficiency in the short winter days without cutting corners in care



Forage is the foundation of your horse’s diet; here’s how to optimise his ration Farrier Jack Climo on why horses lose shoes, and how to prevent it happening Exactly how much of a worry are sarcoids? We look at what you need to know


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22/12/2021 08:14


Because we use a headcollar multiple times daily, it’s easy to forget its role in you and your horse’s safety, but incidents can be fatal



t n i o p

That dependable piece of kit you put on your horse’s head every single day to lead, turn out, tie up, travel could cause an injury to him or you — sometimes even death. Aimi Clark finds out why headcollar safety needs to be on every owner’s radar


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In partnership with



Incidents involving a headcollar can injure both horse and handler, with the potential for them to be fatal


PICE WAS TIED up outside his stable when the sound of a door slamming closed startled him and he pulled back. On feeling the pressure of his lead rope pull tight he panicked and pulled even more — but neither the rope nor the headcollar broke. Instead, the wooden panel that he was attached to came loose and suddenly the frightened horse was free; he took flight across the yard, the wooden panel flailing around his front legs, scaring him more and causing him to go faster. “I’ve no idea how that panel of wood didn’t trip him up or hit him and cause a serious injury, but thankfully he couldn’t get far because the gate to the field was closed and we were able to catch him before any damage was done,” says his owner Carl Budd. “He was tied using a quick-release knot, but I couldn’t get to him quickly enough — it all happened so WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

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fast. I remember watching him running around with my head in my hands. I thought he was in big trouble.” Spice was caught, detached from the panel and checked over. Physically he appeared fine, but he was always tricky to tie up after that experience. “From that day, the slightest scare would cause him to pull back and if he felt pressure, he’d keep going until he was free. Snorting, eyes wide, the lot — he was clearly very scared and never forgot it,” adds Carl. “I didn’t notice any change in his ridden work, but I wouldn’t be surprised if carrying that heavy wooden panel made his poll sore for a few days. He was so lucky. It would have been so much better if the rope or headcollar had broken. Since then I have always tied up all my horses to baler twine which is half sawn through, so that it will break first, but I still wince if I see a horse pull back on its lead rope while tied up.”



Lack of research Injuries caused by headcollars are more common than you might think — and they don’t occur only in horses, but in their handlers too. In a 2019 study carried out by Dr David Marlin and Equilibrium Products, of the 5,615 survey responses, one in seven people said they had been injured, and one in three horses were hurt. Tragically, 167 horses were reported to have lost their lives as a result of an incident involving a headcollar. During a demo by Equilibrium’s sales director, Laura Szuca, at Your Horse Live in November, one attendee shared the story of a friend’s horse being turned out while wearing a headcollar. The horse had a drink from the water trough and his headcollar got caught on the tank. Unable to get free, he was later found dead in the field due to drowning. “When you consider the research that goes into saddles and bridles, it is quite FEBRUARY 2022 YOUR HORSE 57

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In a study, most incidents occurred when horses were tied up outside

surprising that there was no scientific research into headcollars,” says Laura. “And so we worked with Dr David on an independent project around headcollar and headcollar safety, and carried out the research to see what we could find out.” In the study, the types of accidents reported ranged from small cuts, bruising and abrasions, all the way up the scale to fractures and fatalities. It also looked at where accidents happen. “Often when we think about a headcollar and safety we associate it with a field. Actually the accidents were quite varied,” adds Laura. “The most significant place where an accident happens is while the horse is tied up outside. In the field follows, and then it’s when horses are tied up in the stable, in the lorry and being led. “So it’s really important, and I really want to stress this, that when you think about safety and headcollars, it’s not just

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when that horse is in the field. It’s when you’re doing anything with them.”

Protect yourself BETA chief medical officer Dr Diane Adamson, who is a major trauma consultant at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, has battled to save the lives of people injured when handling their horses on the ground. “You don’t want to see me in my working capacity because to get through and see me you’ve got to be pretty sick,” she warns. “I’ve seen injuries resulting from horses being tied up at field gates and the person not wearing a hat or gloves. I’m not a fun vampire and I’m not always well behaved — I don’t always put my hat on to turn my horse out in the field — but the reality is, the severity is always more when the incident happens on the ground [because safety gear isn’t worn].”

Common injuries that Dr Diane sees include open fractures to limbs and dislocated shoulders, the latter caused by horses rearing while led. She refers to a patient she treated with a collapsed lung. “On one side the lung was fully inflated, but the other side was jet black [on an X-ray]. That’s because the lung was completely collapsed and had started to push the heart over to the other side of the chest. That kills you, quite quickly — and that’s how this person got through to see me,” she says of the injury, which occurred while a horse was tied to a gate. Tracey Hopper nearly lost the top of her finger when the horse she was leading began to buck and leap around. “It happened so quickly and is such a blur that I can’t say for certain what happened. I never wrap a lead rein around my hand, yet in this instance it still caught my finger and nearly took it off,” she says.

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In partnership with


“I really want to stress that when you think about safety and headcollars, it’s not just when that horse is in the field. It’s when you’re doing anything with them” Laura Szuca

Falling in the lorry Carly Davison was driving two horses home from a showjumping show when she heard one of her charges go down in the back. “I’d never experienced it before, but I knew instantly what had happened. I felt it through the steering wheel, which pulled sideways as Classic fell,” she recalls. On pulling over and taking the ramp down, she found that Classic had got himself beneath the partition and partially underneath his travel companion. His headcollar and rope hadn’t broken, and as he was tied short, his head was still in the air. “He was essentially hanging off the tie ring. It wasn’t a nice sight,” says Carly. “He was tied using a quick-release rein and when I pulled it, as the pressure released and Classic went the rest of the way down,

it smacked me in the face and gave me a black eye. Luckily, it missed the actual eye, just catching the edge of the socket.” Once free, Classic was able to get to his feet and travelled the rest of the way home incident-free. “If he had been tied shorter, or the headcollar or rope had broken, he might not have gone down because he’d have been able to find his feet,” concludes Carly. “He was always a good traveller and continued to be good too. One thing I did do differently, though, was tie him longer.” For such a vital piece of kit that is used multiple times a day, every day, for myriad reasons, it’s easy to overlook a headcollar’s role in keeping you and your horse safe — but that needs to change. “Horses don’t necessarily go out to get themselves into mischief. They are generally just looking for a quiet, easy life and something happens, something scares them — they don’t even need to be a spooky horse — and then they find themselves pulling back,” says Laura Szuca. “Prevention is better than cure. It’s too late when an accident has happened. It could save their life.”

Anything that involves your horse being tied up or wearing a headcollar is a safety risk

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“I did let the horse go, but not quickly enough, and there was a lot of blood. I lost the fingernail and it has never grown back, but luckily with medical help the finger was saved.”


As part of his research, Dr David Marlin constructed a rig and set about systematically testing a wide range of headcollars. Each one was tested six times, and the point at which they broke recorded. Breaking points varied massively — up to an enormous 600kg. “To put it into context, 600kg is an average 16hh horse suspended in the air and that headcollar still hasn’t broken,” points out Equilibrium’s Laura Szuca. “That is why horses are being injured. At the bottom end, they’re potentially breaking too low.” The study found that webbing and nylon could withstand more force than any other material. Leather performed better, taking between 210kg and 220kg of force before breaking, but Laura argued that this is still too high. “One thing that made me feel uncomfortable as a horse owner was the foal slip, which took 120kgs of force to break. If you think how small a foal is, 120kg of force is a huge amount for that foal to be able to put down on that headcollar before it breaks,” she adds. The researchers concluded that horses were being injured and headcollars were breaking at too high a breaking point. But there also needs to be a balance, because a headcollar breaking at too low a pressure will lead to a lot of unnecessarily loose horses. “You have to find that balance, and that was done through a series of testing and field trials to work out how we come up with that magic number,” explains Laura. It led to the development of Equilibrium’s Stellar Safety Headcollar, which has a release mechanism of press stud fasteners on the side and releases at 83kg. ■ Find out more at

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YOUR HORSE’S CARE MEET THE EXPERT KYLE TINDALL READ BVSc MRCVS has worked for Durham Equine Practice since 2017. He qualified at the University of Liverpool and completed an externship at Rossdales Equine Hospital in Newmarket, and twice worked as a steward for the British Equine Veterinary Association Conference. He is interested in all aspects of first opinion equine practice. kyle.tindall-read@

notes VET

Cold hosing has a gentle massage effect and can help to reduce any heat and inflammation in the leg

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN: What causes heat and swelling ● How to recognise the signs ● Ways they are treated

t o H and puffy Swelling and heat in the horse’s legs can be a sign that something isn’t quite right. Vet Kyle Tindall-Read MRCVS discusses how to assess heat and swelling, some of the common causes and how to treat them 60 YOUR HORSE FEBRUARY 2022

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EAT AND SWELLING on your horse’s legs are relatively common, and there are several possible causes. It may be something as simple as fluid build-up from standing in his stable for prolonged periods or could be more serious, such as a tendon injury. If you notice that your horse has swelling in his limb, the first thing to do is assess it to decide if requires veterinary attention. To check the swelling, slowly run your hands over the swollen areas to feel for heat and gently palpate the region to identify any tenderness. If your horse flinches in response to your touch or his skin feels warmer in these areas than elsewhere on his legs, he may be experiencing an acute inflammatory reaction. If neither heat nor pain accompanies your horse’s swelling, he probably has a non-acute condition, such as windgalls or filled legs. An acute swelling that’s warm and tender to the touch suggests a recent injury or a developing infection. With infection, the area may feel hot and be painful to touch, so it’s worth checking your horse’s temperature and look carefully for any wounds such as small puncture wounds or any cuts that are oozing. An acute or new swelling, especially if accompanied by heat and in just one leg, is a reason to call your vet, as is swelling associated with lameness.

Long periods standing in a stable can cause legs to become swollen

Types of swelling ■ CELLULITIS Cellulitis, also called septic cellulitis, is a bacterial infection of the deeper layers of the skin. It can occur anywhere on the body, but in horses the infection commonly occurs in one of the hind legs. Cellulitis typically starts with sudden swelling that is warm and painful to the touch. Veterinary attention is required.

■ LYMPHANGITIS Lymphangitis is inflammation of the lymph vessels most usually in the limbs and typically appears as a hot, painful, extremely swollen limb, usually the hindleg. Severe lymphangitis can be difficult to treat and requires veterinary attention.

■ OEDEMA Oedema is an accumulation of lymphatic fluid under the skin that has settled to the lowest point of the body. They are usually painless and will disappear with increased circulation of the lymphatic system.



Sprains and strains involving tendons, ligaments or a joint capsule will often produce inflammation, pain, swelling and lameness, and require immediate veterinary attention.

■ WINDGALLS These are residual inflammations from old tendon and ligament injuries. They usually occur on the back of the leg, at or just above fetlock level. Windgalls normally occur on both hind legs, although they


occasionally appear on just one leg and sometimes can also be found in the front legs. They are usually painless and will often disappear during exercise and movement.

■ ABSCESSES Foot abscesses are associated with sudden onset severe lameness, and often cause legs to fill due to the inflammatory processes occurring in the foot. Your vet and/or farrier should be called out to locate and release the infection from the abscess, after which the foot should be poulticed to draw out any remaining infection.

■ FILLED LEGS Filled legs is the term used to describe a condition in which the length of a horse’s legs (more commonly the hind pair) appear swollen. It’s often the result of the horse standing in his stable for longer than normal and not doing enough exercise. Once the horse has started moving, the swelling often dissipates.



Degenerative joint disease (DJD) is the most common type of arthritis in horses. It is a chronic disease in which the cartilage on the ends of bones wears down, resulting in loss of joint mobility, swelling, heat and pain.

■ ARTHRITIS Arthritis is very common in horses, especially in the ageing population. It is a degenerative joint disease that causes pain and inflammation. Over time, the inflammation damages the cartilage within a joint beyond repair, leading to chronic pain.

If your horse’s leg or legs are swollen there could be a number of causes, including: ■ Long periods of confinement after exercise ■ Not enough movement ■ Too much protein in diet ■ Bruising

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Overexposure to moisture Overfeeding/obesity Trauma/injury Infection Insect bite Scrapes/wounds Inflammation of the skin Inflammation of the tissue Allergic reaction Inflammation of vessels Abscesses


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Diagnosis First, your vet will ask you questions about your horse’s overall health, the signs of his condition and their severity, how long they have lasted, and any related medical history. They will then perform a physical examination, assessing and feeling the legs and joints, and possibly watching the horse walk and trot to assess any lameness. Your vet may also check your horse’s temperature, and may opt to X-ray or scan your horse’s legs if injury or disease is likely. In the case of wounds, it’s also worth noting to your vet when your horse last had a tetanus shot.

If veterinary attention is needed, be ready to answer questions about your horse’s overall health

More movement, even just in-hand, can help swelling dissipate

Finding the cause

careful, however, not to wrap the bandage unevenly or too tightly, which can damage tendons. Always apply at least a one-inch-thick layer of quilting underneath the wrap. If you are unsure of your bandaging skills, ask someone experienced for guidance.

For mild cases of swelling that have been assessed by your vet and aren’t linked to a specific injury or illness, the following treatments may be used:

wound, and drain, thoroughly clean and possibly poultice any abscess your horse may have.

➤ Cold water/ice boots

In cases of cellulitis or lymphangitis, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. They may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications for any pain and swelling.

➤ More movement

➤ Massage and bandaging

➤ Check the diet

In order to improve the circulation and help any fluid dissipate, regular gentle massage can stimulate the circulation. Support bandages can be applied overnight when the horse is stabled to help prevent fluid accumulation. Be

Fat horses or those on a diet too high in protein can suffer from swollen limbs, so it’s worth speaking to your nutritionist to check your horse’s diet is appropriate for his condition and current workload.

Hosing your horse’s legs with cold water for up to 20 minutes will help to reduce any heat and inflammation while also offering a gentle massaging effect. Ice boots can also help to reduce heat and swelling — follow their instructions for correct times.

➤ Treating wounds If the swelling and/or heat is associated to a wound or abscess, your vet may want to clean and possibly stitch the


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➤ Medication

Exercise, daily turnout, regular sessions on the horse walker or in-hand walking will encourage swelling to dissipate and prevent accumulation.


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22/12/2021 09:14


e s i m i x a M the minutes


Time with our horses is precious, so what can we do to cut down on yard chores and free up more time for riding and caring for our horses this winter, asks Stephanie Bateman

OULDN’T IT BE lovely if there were more hours in a day? Or at least lighter hours for longer in winter, rather than the endless trudge of having to muck out in the dark, fetch horses in from the field wearing a head torch and schooling under spotlights even though it’s only 5pm. Unfortunately, we don’t have a magic wand to make this happen. But as fellow horse owners, it got the team at Your Horse HQ thinking — what do we do to save time on the yard, probably without even realising it? We put our heads together and shared our ideas — and now we’re sharing them with you too. After all, at this time of year every second counts and if you can shave off a few minutes here and there, it means more riding time. Result!

Planning how to spend your time will help you maximise every minute you have at the yard


One of the best ways to save time is to be organised. Invest in a calendar and work out your windows of opportunity to ride in the week. Do this on a Sunday evening ready for the week ahead and have a brief plan of what you’ll do, such as when to hack, school or lunge. This has the bonus of making you accountable for your actions. On the cold and wet mornings when you really don’t feel like getting out of bed in the dark, knowing that you have a to-do list to tick off in your diary is surprisingly motivating — and failing to do it is disappointing.

Get ahead by filling the week’s haynets in advance


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Remind yourself why you do this — it’s easy to lose sight of the enjoyment factor in mid-winter



Spend some time on weekends, when you’re less rushed, making up feeds (keep them in airtight containers to keep rodents out) and haynets in bulk to save you time in the week. Don’t mix the feeds with water until you’re ready to give them to your horse, so that they stay fresh. Some people like to add a clip to the haynet so that you simply clip it to the tie ring instead of having to tie it using the string — but make sure it doesn’t allow the net to hang too low as it empties, because there’s a real risk your horse will get a leg caught. Haybars are also time-saving as you simply drop the hay into them — and they’re a more natural way to feed your horse as the hay is on the ground.


Fitting rubber matting in your horse’s stable can help save time mucking out as you need less bedding. If your horse is stabled most of the day, consider putting the bed up in the morning (leave a little bit down for him to wee) and then skip out and put it down in the evening, so that he has a nice bed for the night. You could also deep-litter your horse’s bed, depending on how dirty they are and the bedding you use. Deeplittering means that you remove the droppings through the week but leave in the wet until the weekend when you remove it. It works for clean horses on an absorbent type of bedding such as shavings. If you opt to do this, your hoof care must be up to scratch to avoid potential problems like thrush and soles becoming soft, for example. Mud and wet conditions are also triggers, so regular picking out and cleaning of hooves is a must. Don’t try to save time in one area, only to make a problem somewhere else.



If you have to fill your horse’s field water tank by hand, invest in a couple of water containers which you can fill at weekends and leave down by the water trough for topping up throughout the week, saving you lots of trips back and forth to the tap. This is less effective if it freezes, but you could still pre-fill the containers and keep them somewhere undercover to prevent freezing, so that the only thing left to do is take them to the field.


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Having to visit the yard at both ends of the day can be very time-consuming, so sharing stable chores with a friend can greatly reduce the time you need to expend. Perhaps you can feed and turn out in the morning while your friend does the afternoon shift, bringing in and feeding in the evening?

Can you share stable duties with a horsey friend at the yard, so you both only have to visit once a day?




If you’re short on time to exercise your horse, you could consider finding a sharer to lighten the load all year round. Not only will they help you to keep your horse fit, but depending on your arrangement, they could also help with stable chores and even contribute financially.

Mucking out is a big time-waster in the winter months, so one option is to keep your horse or pony out at grass. Obviously, it’s not for everyone or every horse, or an option at every yard, but grass-kept horses save bags of time in mucking out, bringing in and turning out. Plus, it is the way horses are designed to live.



Mud equals grooming, so to cut down on the de-mudding process, turn your horse out in a full neck rug or even invest in a Lycra neck cover to help stop your horse getting covered in mud. Muddy manes are a nightmare! We’re not advising over-rugging here, though — rugs of all designs and sizes are available in a range of weights and a light weight might suit some breeds/ages better than a heavier weight of rug.

Coat shine, tail spray or baby oil applied to your horse’s coat and mane can also help prevent mud and dirt sticking to it and make it easier to brush off, saving time grooming. Avoid areas where your reins will touch though because you don’t want them to become slippery. Bear this in mind, too, if you like to be able to grab the mane should your horse spook or play around. Of course, there is no substitute for a good groom to keep your horse’s coat in peak condition, but you can cut out the mud-busting stage.

There are tail sprays available which help prevent mud sticking to the hair


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This is one of our favourites. An empty wheelbarrow trip is a wasted trip! On your way back from the muck heap, pick up your horse’s bedding — even if there’s more muck to remove. Then on your next trip from the muck heap, get his forage. Set water buckets to fill while you’re mucking out or filling haynets, then they’re ready to put in the stable when you need them. Just remember to keep an eye on the tap — spilled water is a slipping hazard in frosty conditions.

10 QUICK WIPE As much as we love tack-cleaning, we don’t always have time for a thorough clean in the week, so just give leather a quick wipe over after every ride and then do your full clean at the weekends, or when you have more time.


Organise your yard tools and equipment according to the items you use most, leaving them in handy places ready to use them. For example, have your headcollar and lead rope hanging outside your horse’s stable, alongside a hoof pick. A knife in the hay store for cutting twine is handy, as is a brush at the water tap for bucket-scrubbing. Keep all your mucking out tools together too — there’s nothing worse than searching for a lost broom when you’re frantically trying to get mucked out before work.



Horse rugs are a nightmare to wash, especially big, bulky ones that won’t fit in a domestic washing machine, and sending them away to be washed professionally can take ages. One option for keeping the lining clean is to put a cotton summer sheet on underneath. The summer sheet will get greasy instead of the big rug, and they are much easier to wash. You could also invest in two turnout rugs so that if one gets wet, you can hang it to dry and use the spare one while it does so.

Short on time? Save your proper tack clean for the weekend or a day when you’re not as busy


Winter can be a dark season, so invest in a head torch so you can still get on with jobs such as topping up field waters and poo-picking in the dark. Make sure you’ve got spare batteries somewhere handy too. If your horse is sensible and it’s safe to do so, you could also ride by torchlight in an arena.



If you go straight from the yard to work, keep a change of clean clothes in the car ready to change into, or wear overalls over the top of your work clothes so all you have to do is strip the top layer off. A hairbrush, dry shampoo and deodorant are a great shout too — although we don’t mind the smell of horse, your colleagues might!

15 Keep spare clothes at the yard so that you don’t have to go home to change first


If time is tight in the mornings, tie your horse up outside his stable while he eats his breakfast so that you can get on with mucking out. It’s easier to muck out when your horse isn’t in there and much better for him as he won’t be breathing in any dust. It also means two jobs are being ticked off at once.. FEBRUARY 2022 YOUR HORSE 67

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YOUR HORSE’S CARE Schooling sessions don’t have to be long: for example, adding poles is a great way to give focus and achieve a lot quickly

Make the most of your time in the saddle Daylight is limited in winter, so it’s important that when you find time to ride, you make the most of it. Finding motivation and inspiration when it’s dark and cold is tough, but there are ways to make even short rides count. Whether you are hacking out, lungeing or schooling, sticking to a plan and practising certain moves and exercises can ensure both you and your horse get something out of every session.

➤ Ride and lead

If you have more than one horse to exercise, try to ride and lead on hacks, if it’s safe to do so. It not only saves hours while making the most of valuable daylight, but if you saddle up both horses and swap halfway through, you know that both horses have been suitably exercised in one go. Find out more about riding and leading on page 36.

➤ Identify and set goals

To ensure you make the most out of each ride, write down goals for yourself, your horse, and your partnership. Make these goals realistic and break them down so that you can focus on one or two of them each session, even if you only have 20 minutes.

Pole work and cavaletti (you don’t need many) Leg-yielding

➤ Warm up and cool down

Even if you are limited on time, it’s important to warm up and cool down your horse thoroughly, especially when it is cold. When warming up in walk and trot, you could focus on getting your horse to stretch across his

➤ Bank of exercises

Make the most of the long, dark nights cosied up in front of the fire by making a list of the exercises you can do during a schooling session. Place the list somewhere that you can access before you ride, such as the tack room. It’s hard coming up with inspiration when you are short on time, but this way, you can look down the list while grabbing your tack and pick a few exercises to work on during your session. A few examples could include: ● Transitions between and within paces ● Circles — 30m, 20m, 15m and 10m ● Serpentines ● Shallow loops ● Shoulder-in and shoulder-fore 68 YOUR HORSE FEBRUARY 2022

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back and lower his head and neck into a long and low frame. This should take at least five minutes at the start and end of each session.

➤ Getting out and about

Hacking is not only good for our horse’s bodies, but it’s really important for their minds too. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time so you don’t get caught out in the fading light, and always wear hi-vis so you are seen by other road users. Make the most of your time hacking by practising transitions and lateral work as long as it’s safe to do so. Short sessions can be really effective if you ask the horse to knuckle down and work: do some lateral work, find some hills to work up and down for example. You don’t have to go fast or far to have a good session. Alternatively, visiting an all-weather track provides a safe place to do some short, faster sessions, providing your horse is fit enough. You don’t have to gallop!

➤ Lungeing Short hacks can be worthwhile if you ask your horse to knuckle down and work

Sometimes, a quick lunge is all you have time for, but you can make it fun by putting a few poles in the lunge pen to work your horse over. You could also practise transitions and different sized circles, or add a few ground poles, so your horse isn’t simply going round and round. WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

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Health H MASH EN







Contact us now for more advice and support 01270 782 223 |

YOUR HORSE’S CARE Leaving your horse without forage for long periods of time can trigger problems, such as gastric ulcers

t i F not




e n i l t s i a w Forage is the mainstay of our horse’s diet — including when managing their waistline. How can we ensure they are getting the correct amount to keep them healthy inside and out? Independent nutritionist Donna Case explains all


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In partnership with


MEET THE EXPERT DONNA CASE BSc (Hons) is an experienced, fully insured independent equine nutritionist who runs her consultancy The Horse Feed Guru out of Newmarket, working both nationally and internationally. She works with a variety of horses and ponies from competition horses to retired veterans. Visit


Feeding a scoop of soft chop forage half an hour prior to exercise wi ll help to reduce acid splas hback by creating a mat in the stomach, and will therefore help to reduce th e risk of gastric ulcers.


ORAGE IS THE foundation of your horse’s diet and can be fresh in the form of grass, or preserved in the form of hay and haylage. It should form the largest source of nutrition including energy (calories), fibre, protein and a certain amount of vitamins and minerals. If we think about how horses evolved as trickle-feeders, they have an innate need to chew for 16-18 hours a day. When the horse eats grass, hay or haylage, he has to chew for longer than when eating a typical mix or cube-based hard feed, which results in more saliva to help buffer the stomach and reduce the risk of gastric ulcers. This is just the very start in the role forage plays. It is no surprise therefore, that forage has such an important role in not only maintaining

your horse’s digestive health, but also his overall health and mental wellbeing.

Not enough forage? When problems occur with your horse — perhaps he has put on or lost weight or colicked — often people immediately turn to check the hard feed ration, but we must always ensure the forage ration is correct first. If your horse is not receiving enough, you may find that he struggles to maintain condition. Painful gastric ulcers become a high risk due to a lack of saliva production and an empty stomach, alongside other issues such as colic. Just because your horse is in moderate condition, or even overweight, does not mean that forage intake is sufficient, or ulcers are not present. These days we see many overweight horses suffering


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YOUR HORSE’S CARE from gastric ulcers because they go too long between forage feeding opportunities as a result of poorly devised weight control diets. While a diet is important for these horses, weight loss must be done in a safe manner. If the horse goes for too long without eating, not only are gastric ulcers a risk, but so is hyperlipidaemia, a condition in which the body goes into starvation mode and releases large quantities of stored lipids into the bloodstream. This can be life-threatening. We know that stereotypical behaviours such as cribbing may occur when forage is limited. Such a lack can also show in withdrawn, bored or depressed behaviour. Some horses may become difficult to handle as they are hungry, or potentially as a result of physical pain from ulcers. On top of this we know that the process of fibre digestion helps to create an internal ‘radiator’ effect which helps to keep your horse warm during the long, cold winter months. As you can see, there is not just one reason to ensure you nail your horse’s forage requirements.

How much forage is best?

Choosing a forage source

The amount of forage you will need to give will depend on its nutritional value and your horse’s overall condition and weight. The more nutrients you can supply from forage, the healthier he is likely to be. Your horse’s total diet should be between 1.5% and 2.5% (on a dry matter basis) of his bodyweight in a 24-hour period. Those with a moderate condition score typically will require around 2%, those dieting around 1.5% and those working harder or who struggle to maintain weight normally 2.5%. If you are able to, feed ad-lib forage if your horse’s condition score allows it. As a guide, a 500kg horse on the 1.5% ration would require around 9kg of hay per day once we have factored in the dry matter content, or 11-12kg of haylage. Grass also needs to be included in that figure, but during winter most of the ration will come from conserved forage. Selecting a higher energy hay or haylage for those who struggle to hold weight or are working harder makes sense. For good doers, it would be better to choose a lower energy one to enable you to feed slightly more.

Different types of hay and haylage can vary massively in terms of their energy levels. Farmers and suppliers tend to have good knowledge as to which of their forages are lower or higher in energy, so it is worth asking them. Analysis can be useful if you still aren’t sure, but remember it will vary from bale to bale. Haylage can be particularly useful for those with respiratory issues and also for fussy eaters. Remember if using it that it has a higher moisture content than hay, meaning you need to feed slightly more of it to meet fibre requirements. There are also many commercially available complete or partial forage replacers which can be useful to vary the diet and encourage browsing, particularly when in the stable for long periods. These have a controlled analysis, so you know the value of what you are feeding; this is particularly useful for those on weight loss programmes. Do remember that forage will fall short of certain vitamins and minerals, so add a balancer if your horse receives a low level of hard feed.

If your horse’s weight allows it, feeding ad lib off the floor is best: consider soaking it and choosing lower-energy hay for good doers

DID W? YOU KNO r horse

Preventing you s to lose eating because he need ic ulcers str ga r weight can trigge rvation (sta ia em da ipi and hyperl life be mode), which can are s rse Ho . threatening so designed to trickle feed, be st weight loss mu done safely.


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In partnership with



Avoid your horse going for more than four hours without forage to eat

to the stables much earlier in the morning or later in the evening than you anticipated. For greedy eaters, think of using small hole nets or double net to extend eating times. The partial use of straw-based forage replacers can be particularly useful to top up forage rations while being lower in calories than hay or haylage.


TIME BETWEEN MEALS When it comes to feeding forage, as a general rule of thumb, you should never leave your horse for longer than four hours without access to some sort of forage. For stabled horses this can become a challenge, so consider buddying up with a friend to provide hay/haylage nets little and often. You may find you need to get

Chaos was recovering from a serious bout of laminitis when she arrived at Judy Moss’s* yard, writes Aimi Clark. The Welsh section C mare was to be ridden by Judy’s young cousin and keep a retired eventer company. “Chaos belonged to a friend who had gone to university, leaving the pony in the care of her aunt who lived on a dairy farm and was not particularly horsey. She turned her out on luscious grazing and Chaos became seriously unwell with laminitis — she was lucky to survive,” says Judy. “I thought we’d be the ideal home for Chaos, because I’ve had horses for years. But in hindsight, I’d never had to look after a laminitis-prone pony and I went too far the other way — not feeding her enough, often enough, because I was worried about her piling on the weight.” Chaos was turned out in a small paddock overnight and not given any hay or hard feed when stabled during the day. “She lost weight fast and became quite lethargic. I called the vet worried something else was wrong. When they came out, their advice was simple: ‘Feed her’.” Judy started giving Chaos a feed balancer every day, and made sure she always had access to some hay — soaking it well beforehand to lower its calorie content. “It was a steep learning curve: there is much more to a pony losing weight than stopping its food,” says Judy. “I still feel guilty, because the poor pony was just hungry and needed to chew to keep her gut healthy. Thankfully she picked up straight away and has maintained a healthy weight, despite the fact that she always seems to be eating! She’s still with us now, 15 years later.”

*Name changed at person’s request

‘I still feel guilty — she was hungry’



As forage is the mainstay of a horse’s diet, its nutritional contents can make a significant difference to its overall dietary contribution for your horse. Dodson & Horrell offer a forage analysis testing service which is suitable for anyone wanting to find out the nutritional content of their forage sources. We can test your horse’s

grass, straw, hay or haylage and services available range from a basic analysis through to full mineral analysis testing. We recommend getting any new batches of forage tested and this is especially important for horses and ponies with clinical conditions where nutrition plays a key part in their ongoing health management.

For more information on our Forage Analysis Services, visit our website dodsonandhorrell. com. If you are unsure of which test is most suitable for your horse, our Nutritional Helpline team is able to help and to support with interpretation of results and subsequent nutritional advice where it’s needed.

Call our friendly nutritional team on 01270 782 223, LiveChat with them online at or email


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MEET THE EXPERT JACK CLIMO Dip WCF is a farrier based in Worcestershire. Jack qualified in November 2019 from Warwickshire College and returned home to Worcestershire to set up his own farriery business. He shoes all shapes and sizes of horses and ponies, from leisure horses to three-day eventers.

SHOELESS WONDER Lost shoes are one of a rider’s biggest bugbears. Farrier Jack Climo explains how to help prevent it happening to your horse WORDS: STEPHANIE BATEMAN PHOTOS: YOUR HORSE LIBRARY


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S THERE ANYTHING more annoying than when you get your horse in from the field to ride only to find he’s lost a shoe? Not only does it mean your ride is immediately put on the back burner, but you then have the problem of getting your farrier out ASAP to put it back on, and what to do with the shoe-less hoof in the meantime. So what can owners do to prevent it from happening? “When a horse loses a shoe it’s often a front shoe, and it’s caused by the back foot coming into contact with the front shoe, either through forging or overreaching,” explains farrier Jack

Avoid a lost shoe scuppering your riding plans — there are things you can do to help him keep them on

Climo. “A front shoe can also be pulled off if the horse’s other front foot stands on the inside of the hoof. There are odd cases when a hind shoe gets pulled off, such as if the other hind foot stands on the inside of the other shoe and pulls it off, or another horse stands on the shoe and pulls it off, such as if they are playing in the field together. The scariest thing for a farrier to watch is horses running around in big herds playing, because you can almost guarantee a lost shoe.” Shoes can also be lost or twisted if the horse gets its hoof stuck in something such as a fence, bucket or haynet, or goes into deep mud.

Prone to shoe-pulling? Some horses are more prone to losing shoes than others. “There’s a million reasons why some horses are more likely to pull shoes,” says Jack. “Conformation is a big indicator. If you’ve got a horse with a short back and long legs, they are more likely to pull shoes off. If you have a horse who tracks up well, they are also more likely.” Your horse’s shoeing cycle and how they are shod can also increase their risk of losing shoes. “Horses with a broken back pastern axis (long toes and low heels) are typically shod with more shoe sticking out of the back to offer heel protection and encourage heel growth,” explains Jack. “Having more steel sticking out of the back increases the risk of them standing on their heels with the back feet. You have to weigh up whether it’s more beneficial to support the poor conformation, or shoe the horse to prevent lost shoes. The problem is that only shoeing to prevent lost shoes and not to support the hoof will cause issues over time.”


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Shoeing cycles The duration of a cycle shoeing can affect their likelihood of pulling a shoe too. “They either lose them within the first week or in the last week before they are due to be shod,” states Jack. “When horses are freshly shod, there can be a lot of steel sticking out of the back of the shoe, as already mentioned, which means there is more of an edge for them to catch. At the end of the shoeing cycle, their feet will be longer, so they’ll be more likely to stand on their front feet with the hind feet because there is more surface area. With longer feet, it’s like walking with flippers and you have to lift the foot higher to break over. Ensuring an appropriate length of hoof is vital to prevent shoe loss.” Certain conditions such as ringbone or sidebone can increase a horse’s risk of losing shoes, too. “They cause the horse to overreach or forge because they will be hesitant to articulate the joints of the front feet, meaning that they are slower at getting out of the way of the hind feet.” A foot that frequently loses shoes will become weak and broken, and it will make it harder for the farrier to nail the shoe on, so prevention is better than cure.


Overreach is where the es toe of the hindfoot com el into contact with the he nt fro the of ion or pastern reg the ere wh is g gin For of. ho es toe of the hindfoot com the h wit t tac con into bottom (sole) of the front hoof.

Six things to


USE OVERREACH BOOTS Putting overreach boots on your horse when turned out or when doing fast work and jumping will hopefully prevent them from standing on the front shoe with the back hoof and pulling a shoe, but they must be fitted correctly. “Overreach boots are a big help but the correct fit is essential,” confirms Jack. “You need to make sure that the boot touches the floor at the back part of the foot — you shouldn’t be able to see the shoe at the back, otherwise the boot won’t protect the shoe.”


A foot that often loses shoes becomes harder to shoe


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TAKE CARE WHEN RIDING Most of the time, horses lose shoes when they are out at pasture, but there can be occasions when they lose them while being ridden, such as when galloping and jumping. “Tired horses who are loping along are more prone to over-reaching and pulling shoes,” explains Jack. “So, nursing a tired horse back to their stable safely by WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

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do to he

hings to

LOSING SHOES l PREVENTION TIPS The type of work you do and going you ride on can influence shoe loss

HOOF HEALTH “Throughout all the seasons, you are trying to keep an ideal moisture content throughout the hoof. This is difficult in this country because of the sudden extremes of weather we can experience,” says Jack. “In the summer, soak the feet and apply a thin oil layer, so that you help trap the water in but don’t prevent more moisture getting in. “In the winter, you want to keep the feet drier so wash the mud off

and then dry before applying a thicker hoof oil.” A crumbly, weak hoof will be more likely to lose shoes and can be a sign of a diet lacking in nutrients. “Hoof supplements can help — look for products with a high level of biotin and remember that it takes new hoof nine-12 months to grow fully from coronet band to the floor, so give it plenty of time to get in the horse’s system and work. Ask your farrier what they recommend for your horse’s feet.”

Foot quality can dictate how well a hoof can hold on to a shoe

do to help keep shoes on... keeping them up and together will help. They can stumble into themselves when they are tired.”


BE AWARE OF THE GOING Horses can lose shoes in a deep school or gallops, or in boggy ground, but it’s not the surface or mud that sucks the shoe off. “It’s where the surface is requiring a lot of effort from the horse to pull their feet out, so much so that their front feet can’t get out of the ground quickly enough for the hind feet and the hind feet end up coming into contact with the front and pulling a shoe,” says Jack. “Be careful when doing fast work on deep going, and make sure your horse is wearing overreach boots.”


GO STEADY ON INCLINES Horses that are turned out or frequently worked on inclines can have a higher tendency to lose shoes. “I’ve noticed that horses who are turned WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

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out in fairly level, flat paddocks are less likely to pull a shoe than those turned out on a hilly paddock, for the same reason as the deep going,” says Jack. “Going downhill also increases the chances of them pulling shoes off.”


CONSIDER THE TYPE OF WORK “Fast work such as galloping and jumping, where the horse is likely to overreach, and polo and polocrosse where the horse is galloping alongside other horses who can accidentally stand on the outside of their shoes, are big risk factors for pulled shoes,” says Jack.


HOOF MANAGEMENT Dirty bedding and strong urine can damage the hoof, so make sure you clean all hooves twice a day and remove mud and dirty bedding from the feet. “There’s also anecdotal evidence that the salt in mud can erode the hoof, so some farriers advise owners to wash the hoof of mud and dry it,” says Jack.


If your horse has a loose shoe, call your farrier and send them a photo of the shoe so they can assess what you should do. “They will either come straight out to deal with it, or tell you to remove the shoe safely [ask your farrier to show you how],” says Jack. “You could wrap it up with vet wrap and duct tape to prevent it getting looser or breaking any more foot up until the farrier can get there, as long as there are no nails penetrating the hoof and the shoe isn’t twisted. “Sometimes the odd nail can come out leaving that part of the shoe loose. If a horse has lost a shoe, don’t turn it out without a poultice boot or protective boot, especially if the ground is hard, as this will damage the hoof and could make it difficult for the farrier to shoe.”


22/12/2021 13:47



BREAKER? The word sarcoid is enough to put some prospective buyers off purchasing a horse, but for others an unsightly mass hasn’t stood in the way of a perfect partnership. So, are sarcoids worth the gamble for the right horse? Stephanie Bateman finds out



Anna Ernsting bought Bouncer with one sarcoid and several more soon appeared. They have gone on to have a happy life together


OULD I PURCHASE a horse with a sarcoid again? Yes,” states Anna Ernsting, who bought her Irish Draught gelding Bouncer with a banded sarcoid in July 2018. But there is a caveat — she would only complete the purchase if she felt confident that the sarcoid would respond to treatment, and the price of the horse reflected the issue. “Bouncer was such a lovely stamp and perfect for what I wanted, so I took a punt on him,” she says. “The sarcoid dropped off and healed but three months later, three more appeared in the same site, and then a month later another appeared in a different place. “Having previously had a pony with sarcoids which the vets eventually managed to remove with radiotherapy, I was not prepared to use these methods again on Bouncer. I found a lady who made her own herbal supplements


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SARCOIDS l BUYER BEWARE Would a sarcoid put you off buying a horse? Some don’t affect them, but others can have a severe impact on their quality of life

Clockwise from top left: a band around Bouncer’s sarcoid; after it had fallen off; the healed site

tailored to each horse which boost the horse’s immune system to push sarcoids out from the inside.” Anna started using the herbs in April 2019. By June, three more sarcoids appeared, but by the end of December,

every sarcoid had gone and healed. “I continued the herbs until the end of May 2020 and Bouncer has been free of sarcoids since,” adds Anna. Charlotte Cooper also gambled when she purchased Seamus aged five, despite knowing that he had a small sarcoid. “I saw him advertised when I was working in London, so my sister went to try him for me,” tells Charlotte. “She liked him and we had him vetted. The vet spotted the sarcoid on the inside of his off hind but felt it was not going to cause him any problems, and she was right. Ten years on and it’s not changed at all.” Charlotte adds that she is glad they took a chance on the Connemara pony, who is now 15. “It was a bit of a gamble and I feel very lucky. The sarcoid might have put other people off, but I’m glad I knew little enough about them to not be worried,” she says. “For the past 10 years, Seamus and I have taken part in fun rides and

Charlotte bought Seamus with a sarcoid on the inside of his off hind, which hasn’t changed in 10 years


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Sarcoids on the face and around the eyes are the most difficult and expensive to treat

enjoyed hunting, and he’s turned out to be a perfect pony for my needs.”

discomfort. It has definitely put me off having horses with sarcoids.”

Quality of life

Influential factors

But Annabelle King* feels differently. Sadly, there are some cases where sarcoids are so bad that they affect the horse’s quality of life and the kindest thing is to put the horse to sleep. This was the case when Annabelle bought a retired racehorse as a project from a local trainer. Although well behaved and settling into his new routine, Joey had two very big and aggressive sarcoids — one on his chest and one in his near side armpit. “My vets tried various treatments including creams and laser removal,” says Annabelle. “The sarcoid on Joey’s chest was eventually removed by laser, leaving a huge hole which took a long time to heal. Unfortunately, the sarcoid in Joey’s armpit, which grew into the size of a melon, wasn’t able to be lasered or removed as the roots were wrapped around an artery. “I tried a home remedy which did slightly reduce the size of the sarcoid, but eventually, due to its location, the sarcoid started to affect how Joey walked.” After months of unsuccessful attempts to treat the sarcoid, the decision was made to put Joey to sleep. “The sarcoid was so big and angry that it was causing serious discomfort and affecting Joey’s quality of life,” adds Annabelle. “He owed us nothing and didn’t deserve to be put through any more

Sarcoids are persistent and progressive skin lumps that occur mainly around the head, armpit, groin and belly. Luckily, they do not spread to other organs, but they are the most common skin tumour of horses, accounting for 40% of all equine cancers, affecting breeds of all ages and both sexes.

Wolverhampton, weighs up various elements. “I would start by looking at the sarcoids — how many there are, how aggressive they are and where are they located on the horse’s body,” she says. “Sarcoids on the face and around the eyes are the most difficult and expensive to treat, as are malignant (extensive and aggressive) sarcoids in the armpits, so I personally would avoid horses with them in those locations, but if there were one or two small ones on the belly or in the groin, I would be more likely to consider the horse.” Age is a consideration too. “If it was a three-year-old with a sarcoid, I’d be more worried than if it was a nine- or ten-year-old with no evidence of previous scarring from treatment,” adds Sue. “Youngsters have the potential to learn to grow them badly, whereas middle-aged horses who have only just started growing them, usually don’t get them as badly.”

“As long as owners are aware of the implications of taking on a horse with sarcoids, including the cost of treatment... then it’s up to them what decision they make”


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Vet Sue Taylor Unfortunately, sarcoids do not usually self-cure and affected horses often develop multiple sarcoids at once or serially. If they sit where the tack or rugs lie, they can become irritated and ulcerated, and in the summer, flies can become a nuisance because they can bleed and weep. It is therefore understandable that some potential owners are put off by them when looking for a new horse. When assessing a horse with sarcoids, vet Sue Taylor, who runs mixed animal veterinary hospital Connaught House in

“We aren’t put off” Sue Hurford is senior lecturer at Bridgend College and often buys horses with sarcoids for the college riding school. “As a college, we have taken on horses with sarcoids on many occasions,” she says. “Their sarcoids are often the reason the horse is offered to us in the first place. They habitually have not been sold due to the vetting issues and costs of treatment associated with sarcoids. “Many horses are offered to the college WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

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SARCOIDS l BUYER BEWARE for a nominal fee and in return are offered a long-term home under professional care, or they are placed with us on working livery as an alternative to sale.” Sue adds that the college has not experienced any issues caused by sarcoids in a working environment. “In fact, some horses that we’ve taken on who have sarcoids are some of our best college horses,” she says. “When sarcoids have been in places to be affected by tack

or when directed by our vet, we have treated them successfully. We wouldn’t be put off by a horse with sarcoids.”

develop an immunological resistance to them and some don’t have that ability at all,” says the vet. “For that reason, it would be ill-advised to breed from a horse that’s covered in sarcoids, as the offspring is likely to have them too.” It is believed that sarcoids are spread by flies, either from one location to another on the same horse, or from horse to another horse. “The vector is thought to be the bovine papilloma virus,” says Sue. “The only predictable thing about sarcoids is that they are unpredictable. Some get better, some get worse, some vanish.”

Genetics According to Sue Taylor, a horse’s immune system can play a big part in sarcoid formation, as can genetics. “I find that horses with weak immune systems tend to suffer from them more. Some horses have a genetic ability to

TREATMENT OPTIONS where a chemical is applied to the surface of the tumour and then exposed to a specific type of light which activates the chemical and kills tumour cells. ■ Surgical treatments include surgical excision, cryosurgery (freezing) and laser surgery, but without additional therapy, they have poor success rates. ■ Electrochemotherapy (ECT) involves injecting a chemotherapeutic drug (cisplatin) into the sarcoid followed by the application of high-voltage electric pulses (electroporation) under general anaesthetic, which increases the drug concentration into the sarcoid by 70 times.


There is no universal best treatment for sarcoids. As well as the type, factors affecting treatment options include the location and extent, treatment cost and the horse’s temperament. Treatment starts at around £500 and can reach thousands. ■ Medical treatments include the immune stimulant Bacillus CalmetteGuérin (BCG) vaccine; the injectable chemotherapy drugs cisplatin and Mitomycin C; the topical chemotherapy cream AW4-LUDES (‘Liverpool cream’); ointments containing extracts of the blood root plant, and various other natural remedies. Photodynamic treatment is

Each horse’s case of sarcoids is different — some don’t affect them and they go on to live a full and active life, whereas others are badly affected and it can have a severe impact on their quality of life. “If a client came to me and said they’d found their dream horse, perfect in every way but they had a few sarcoids on their belly, I’d probably tell them to take the

Sarcoids account for 40% of all equine cancers and if they sit where the tack or rugs lie, they can become irritated and ulcerated FEBRUARY 2022 YOUR HORSE 81

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YOUR HORSE’S CARE risk,” says Sue. “A horse covered in sarcoids at a young age, including ones on the face and eyes, or those with aggressive malignant sarcoids in the armpits, I’d be less positive about. “As long as owners are aware of the implications of taking a horse on with sarcoids, including the cost of treatment

and potential for them to come back and multiply, then it’s up to them what decision they make. “Sarcoids are a nuisance but they generally aren’t painful, and as long as they aren’t in a tricky spot, or change too much in size or texture, they don’t usually cause too many problems.”



➤ Verrucose – These are slow growing and have flat, scaly tumours and look like scars or ringworm. They are the least aggressive sarcoid type. ➤ Nodular – These are well-defined lumps, which may be covered by normal skin or may be ulcerated. They have a spherical appearance and may have a wide, flat base or narrow stem-like base. They have a medium growth rate and their behaviour may change over time. ➤ Fibroblastic – These are aggressive

tumours that grow rapidly and are locally invasive. They often occur in clusters of tumours of variable size and shape. They have an irregular appearance and because they grow rapidly are often ulcerated. ➤ Mixed sarcoids are combinations of the above three types. ➤ Occasionally horses develop malignant sarcoids, which are highly aggressive and spread locally via lymph vessels, producing lines of sarcoids spreading from the original site.


‘A chance I was ready to take’ When Dawn Fitch bought her 16.2hh Connemara x Thoroughbred Twilight after loaning him, he had a sarcoid on his stifle. “He had it banded by his previous owners, but it grew back pretty quickly,” says Dawn. “Around 18 months ago, I noticed it was a bit more prominent and red — previously it had just been fairly flat and flaky. I did some research and started him on a supplement. It fell off after 11 days and so far, there is no sign of it returning. “I fed the maximum dose for the first bag and he’s still on it now, but just the maintenance dose. “My decision to buy him was an easy one — I couldn’t let a horse like him, who has given me back my love of riding, go anywhere. I know there is a risk that his sarcoid may come back or he may get others, but that was reflected in his price and is a chance I was willing to take on what is my horse of a lifetime.”

Scaly verrucose sarcoids are common on the chest area

‘Treatment didn’t work’ Mary Finnegan* has owned her mare Samba for 27 years. “I first saw Samba after she’d been left at a riding school by a dealer,” says Mary. “My first impression wasn’t good; she was not the size or type I wanted, and had sarcoids: one on her nose and a big one on her shoulder, plus a few less visible ones. “She was being sent to the sales and, being young and emotional, it upset me, so I agreed to try her. She was in poor condition but amazing to ride so my parents made a low offer and bought her.


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“We started treatment with two rounds of Liverpool cream. Sadly, it didn’t work and Samba found it uncomfortable. “Then began the supplements, detoxing, immune boosting, magical herbs, turmeric paste, thuja, ointments — you name it, I tried it. The sarcoids would fall off and usually regrow. “The two original ones on her nose and shoulder disappeared. Over the years some have been ligated (banded) and surgically removed or debulked, but mostly, if they are not bothering her, they are just protected from flies and left. “In the 16 years I have owned her, she has been lovely, in great health despite the sarcoids and sound. If I could go back, would I have walked away or asked for a different horse? No. She’s been fantastic. I love her to bits; every day is a blessing.”

*Name has been changed at the person’s request



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In partnership with

Ask The Experts Email your question to Turn the page to discover how herbs and oils can give your horse a boost this winter

Simple solutions for horse owners


Meet this month’s panel of experts

Need an answer? We’ll know someone who can help


Winter riding

Harri Green is an event rider and equestrian Pilates tutor. Follow her on Facebook @Core Performance Pilates.

Herbal remedies

Dena Schwartz is an aromatherapist, reflexologist, Reiki healer and zoopharmacognosist, visit theholistic

Legal advice

Jacqui Dark runs Equine Law UK and is experienced in horse ownership, competition, breeding and livery management, see

Vet care

Arnie Agnew is founding partner of Agnew Equine Ltd, an independent ambulatory equine vet practice serving Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire, see

Welcome to our Ask The Experts section. Over the next nine pages we help to solve your horsey problems, with help from trusted professionals. This month’s panel answer your questions on feeding herbs and oils, equine legal issues, riding over the winter months and vet care. If you’ve got a question you’d like answered, get in touch today. COMPILED BY HELEN MILBANK


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Ask The Experts RIDING ADVICE: Harri Green says…

‘I need direction!’


Any ideas for schooling out on a hack? I don’t have an arena and tend to let my horse just pootle along on hacks. Liz Noel, York Harri says: I’m a big fan of schooling on a hack. I teach all my lateral work in the woods with long tracks and find that taking away the markers in turn takes away the horse’s anticipation, and they learn the aids better than learning a routine where they do certain moves in a certain part of the arena. It’s tempting to just let a horse plod along on a long rein out hacking, and sometimes treat yourself, take the pressure off and enjoy that. But if you’d like to, there’s no end of schooling you can do on a hack.

Out hacking is a great place to ask your horse to move sideways off your leg

Three steps to make every ride count:


Shoulder-in is a hugely beneficial way of getting a sharp horse past something scary. See a plastic bag in the hedge coming? Get your horse focused on shoulder-in and you might find he’s less bothered by the ‘killer’ object. Maybe you’ve never even tried lateral work before, and so out hacking is a great place to ask your horse to move sideways off your leg: there’s no pressure of having to do it at a certain point in an arena, or running out of space. Transitions: do lots of these! Challenge yourself to do 30 downwards or upwards transitions during a hack; this can even be on the road. You can experiment, too, with just using your seat to ask your horse to halt or downwards transition if you fancy the challenge, as that’s certainly more of a test out hacking.

2 3

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In partnership with

Time to chill?


What are the pros and cons of giving a horse a break over winter? Jane Porter, via email

Harri says: Each horse needs to be considered as an individual when it comes to winter breaks. Some will relax, get fluffy and maybe even gain a bit of weight without work and routine. Whereas others lose condition and some, like my current mare, just don’t know what to do with themselves and wind themselves up. Each owner knows their horse best, and ultimately there are no hard and fast rules. It’s always nice to think that we’re resting our hard-working horses’ joints and tendons, and the rest of their body, and I certainly feel that for horses who


jump or do strenuous work, some sort of break over winter is beneficial.

Find the middle ground There’s always the mid-way option of just doing less work for a couple of months. Taking a break from schooling or jumping may be as beneficial as a full winter break. You may also want to consider your plans for your horse in the spring. Do you intend to do proper work in March, and will you have enough time to reintroduce that work and get your horse fit? Also consider the management factor; a horse wintering out in a big paddock full of grass with field mates is likely to be okay. But if you don’t have this facility and have to keep them in a stabling routine or a small paddock, it can be a less beneficial mental break for them. For some horses a winter break can be hugely beneficial

Younger horses much often come back had a g vin ha r fo r bette ; they er break over wint p a bit lo ve de , can grow up rhaps physically and pe lly. ta en mature m

Stop the hair-raising hacks Q

I’m limited for time to ride in the week, and so the first weekend hack is always a hair-raising experience. Any tips for keeping things calm and safe? Laura Munt, Milton Keynes Harri says: It can be tricky if your horse

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becomes fresh after not having much work in the week, and in this situation we need to have tolerance and understanding. The easiest option is to lunge before riding, but do bear in mind that lungeing increases fitness and horses become used to it, so you may find yourself trapped in a

pattern of needing to lunge before riding. It’s a good idea to school before you go out hacking: just a short session with plenty of transitions to keep your horse thinking about your aids. Maybe try a bit of time in canter in the school to get some fizz out of his system. If you’re lucky enough to have a walker, a short time on there could just help ease your horse safely into work, too.

22/12/2021 13:50

Ask The Experts HERBAL REMEDIES: Dena Schwartz…

Dena will offer a range of remedies and allow the horse to self-medicate

Nature’s healers


How can I tell which herbal remedies my horse needs to boost his well-being over the winter months? Esme Hammond, Berkshire

Dena says: There are so many amazing medicinal plants, and the best way to ensure your horse has access to the specific ones he needs is to contact a zoopharmacognosist. We will always do our best to help, and work with a large range of therapeutic essential oils, tinctures, extracts, dried herbs and powders. We will either visit your horse in person, or test their hair using kinesiology-style muscle testing (this service is offered via the post).

Assessing your horse’s needs Our first priority is to ascertain your horse’s physical and emotional needs and then, using our extensive knowledge of plant medicine, we will select the most appropriate therapeutic remedies based on those needs. We’ll then give you samples to offer your horse. We recommend offering each of the remedies individually for your horse to self-select. No two horses are the same, and we rely on our knowledge and experience, your horse’s intuitive ability to self-medicate, and your feedback as the owner or carer. We work together as a team to help your horse flourish, and are in essence giving them back the opportunity to self-medicate and maintain their wellness naturally as they would if they lived in the wild.

ZOO... SAY WHAT?! Zoopharmacognosy may be a bit of a mouthful of a word, but in simple terms it means ‘animal self-healing’. It is a method of enabling horses to self-medicate by offering them plant extracts that contain the same, or similar, constituents to those found in the wild, and allowing them to choose which to select. It may also be termed equine pharmacognosy. There is no official list of practitioners, so to find a local expert Google ‘animal aromatherapy near me’.

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In partnership with

Herbs, including cleavers, can be bought dry — and a selection offered

On the loose


My elderly mare really stiffens up overnight in the stable. Would any herbs help? Ella Garton, via email

Dena says: Cleavers would be my go-to herb for horses who stiffen up after a night in their stable, as well as for horses whose legs fill. This amazing herb is readily available in our hedgerows in spring and can be bought dry from organic suppliers throughout the year. Horses are very attracted to this herb, which is often regarded as a weed. They will naturally select it given the opportunity, eating it in both dried and fresh form. Cleavers supports the lymphatic system, and is also effective for urinary tract and skin complaints. It has a cleansing, cooling action on the blood, and enhances the function of the lymphatic system, helping it to flush out toxins, decrease congestion and, in turn, reduce inflammation.

How much? I like to let horses control their own dosage. Taking your horse to the plant is ideal, but if that’s not an option, try picking a good size bunch each day and leaving it in your horse’s stable for them to eat at their leisure. Alternatively, you can offer 30g to a 100g daily of dried cleavers.

Offer a few drops of passionflower tincture for your horse to lick

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Time to chill


Dena says: There are several herbs and oils I reach for when helping horses with stress and anxiety:

As a tincture, this is also excellent. Studies have shown it to be effective in treating restlessness, anxiety and nervousness. I recommend offering a few drops on your hand for your horse to lick or you could add a few drops to a second bucket of water, ensuring your horse has the choice of water with, and water without, the passionflower tincture.

Chamomile flower


This herb relaxes muscles, improves sleep and reduces anxiety. Offer it in its dried form every day. I find chamomile has a cumulative effect, so results continue to improve over time. If your mare struggles to relax under saddle offer chamomile half an hour to an hour before work.

When trying to reduce stress we need to approach the problem holistically. Herbs or magnesium supplements may help, but if the routine, environment, surroundings, tack or other issues are creating anxiety then those need addressing in order to help your horse relax fully.


Can you recommend anything to help my mare relax? Pat McHugh, Suffolk

22/12/2021 13:50

Ask The Experts LEGAL ADVICE: Jacqui Dark says…

Share nicely Q

My daughter is looking to enter into a share agreement, but I have no experience of this arrangement. Are there any pitfalls of which I should be aware? Carol White, Lanarkshire Jacqui says: My experience of the most common disagreements between sharers is where one isn’t fulfilling their side of the agreement or, alternatively, one wants to ride or care for the horse more than they’re entitled to under the share agreement. These disagreements tend to happen when sharers do not have a written agreement in place — so it’s hugely important to have one. It should fully detail exactly what each sharer is entitled

Seal the deal Q

My pony’s going out on loan to some friends. Is a verbal agreement enough or should I get everything in writing? Justine Beech, Cornwall Jacqui says: My strong advice would be to get an agreement in writing. Sadly, most disagreements involving loan agreements are where friends are involved, and because they’re friends they’ve opted not to enter into a formal written agreement. This means that if things go wrong later, without anything in writing, it is one person’s word against the other’s. It is essential a written agreement is drawn up before the loan takes place, which should be dated and signed by all parties. Template loan agreements can be found online, or a firm of solicitors, such as Equine Law UK, can be instructed to draft a loan agreement on your behalf.

Why it pays to sign If you take into account the cost of a loan agreement compared to the cost of litigating in connection with a dispute, it makes sense to enter into a loan

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Entering a share agreement? Be clear as to who’s responsible for what

to do with the horse in terms of handling, ridden work and stable care; when each sharer should be attending and caring for, or riding, the horse; what the responsibilities of each sharer are, and who pays for what.

agreement, despite the cost. It’s also far cheaper than the cost of alternative dispute resolution, which is a process that can be entered into before litigation but which can be costly. A loan agreement will be legally binding, provided it has been properly understood by both parties, signed and dated.


As a minimum, your loan agreement needs to cover the following: ■ For how long is the loan period? ■ Is it a free loan? ■ Who pays for the horse’s keep — farrier, vet fees, competition fees, worming and other ongoing costs? ■ Who is responsible for insuring the horse? ■ If the horse has an accident and a vet advises he should be destroyed, can the loanee authorise this if they are unable to contact the loaner? ■ Can either party terminate the loan agreement, and if so, in what circumstances? ■ What happens in the event of dispute?

22/12/2021 13:50

In partnership with

A trial period can be a good way to see if a potential new horse ‘fits’ before you buy

On trial


Are trials a thing of the past when you’re buying a horse? I always think they’re a good idea but my friends at the yard say they’re a nightmare insurance-wise. Hannah Beech, Kent

Jacqui says: Trials are less common these

days, but I don’t think they’re a thing of the past. Private sellers will often offer a trial,

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usually because they want to ensure the home is right before the sale takes place. It is possible to insure the horse or pony during the trial, provided you’re completely transparent with the insurer in confirming that the trial is with a view to purchase, so they know the animal is not yet in the ownership of the potential purchaser. Dealers tend not to offer a trial, but some offer a 30-day warranty, so you might be able to liaise with the dealer to make this into a trial period.

22/12/2021 13:50

Ask The Experts WINTER VET ADVICE: Arnie Agnew says…

Winter health plan


Last year, my horse had a bout of colic at the start of winter, and my vet thinks it was largely due to the routine change from lots of turnout to coming in at night. How can I help him stay relaxed and healthy this time? Sam Bartle, Lincolnshire

Arnie says: When the weather turns

colder, horses must adapt to changes in feed and lifestyle, which can have a negative impact on their digestive health. Reduced water intake, lower quality forage and less movement may all contribute to a very dangerous type of colic, called impaction colic. Impaction colic is an accumulation of feed or other dried indigestible material that obstructs the horse’s colon. More or less, this is constipation. When it is cold, horses are disinclined to drink — and frozen buckets don’t help. They’re not foraging on fresh grass either, which is 75% or more water, compared to hay, which contains far less than 20% water. The reality is that many horses are also exercised less in winter. Additionally, turnout time, space and movement are all typically more restricted due to winter conditions and less light. This inactivity slows the movement of food along the digestive tract, which can lead to the build-up of undigested material. To keep your horse happy and healthy over the winter months, follow this simple three-step plan: Provide constant access to water Make sure it is clean and fresh (keep it from freezing by adding warm water) and provide electrolytes and a mineral block to help encourage your horse to drink. Be sure to monitor your horse’s hydration level to ensure he is drinking enough; don’t just count empty buckets. Embrace the great outdoors Try to maintain an exercise routine as much as you can. If your paddocks are in decent shape, turn your horse out when possible and provide accessible water. A horse with his winter coat or a rug can live happily outside even in low temperatures,



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Constant access to water is a must all year, but especially in winter

especially with shelter. If full-time turnout isn’t an option, still try to keep your horse outside as much as possible. Keep him moving Set up your paddock in a way that encourages your horse to walk around. Try spreading out piles of hay, treats and his water so he has to move around to get them, as this regular movement helps to keep your horse’s digestion moving as it should. If time at pasture isn’t feasible,


seek an alternative, like a few hours in an indoor or outdoor ring, where the footing will likely be better. The extra movement will help kick-start his digestive system, and reduce winter boredom. Unfortunately, colic can happen no matter our best efforts. But thinking ahead to manage winter risks and keep your horse happy and in a healthy routine is the least we can do for our equine friends — even if it is cold and wet.

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In partnership with

Apply a barrier cream, such as Sudocrem, to protect the legs

Banish mud fever Q

What can I do now to help prevent mud fever before it starts? Caroline Barley, via email

Arnie says: Mud fever generally rears its head during winter and early spring, causing painful sores and scabs. In order to help protect the skin from moisture before there are signs of a problem, specialised barrier creams work by forming a protective layer between the leg and mud. Pig oil, or a good quality nappy rash cream, like Sudocrem, can

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work just as well and many owners swear by them. You could also consider turnout chaps to help keep the legs warm and dry when in the field. Legs with white socks are generally more predisposed to the condition, although mud fever is not choosy and will affect horses of all breeds, ages and colours. Certain soils and pastures appear to be more likely to cause skin damage than others, and lots of work in sandy arenas and schools can be quite traumatic to the skin.

To clip or not to clip? To help prevent mud fever, clipping the lower legs does mean they will dry more quickly, but there is some debate as to whether highly-feathered horses are less or more likely to suffer from mud fever. We do know that clipping heavily feathered horses has several benefits though, including making it easier to see the affected area, and allowing the hair and skin to dry faster. In addition, scabs will come away from the affected part and topical treatments can reach the necessary areas rather than being stuck in the hair.

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In partnership with

Ask The Experts WINTER VET ADVICE: Arnie Agnew says…

Wet, wet, wet... Q

My horse lives out and his legs are permanently wet and muddy. Some people at my yard say I should regularly hose them off, but others say leave the mud to dry. Help! Angie Randell, Northumberland

Gently dry your horse’s legs using a towel or towelling mitt

Arnie says: Because of the name you’d be forgiven for thinking mud is the cause of mud fever — but it isn’t! The real cause of mud fever is the bacteria Dermatophilus Congolensis, and often mixtures of different bacterial species, including Staphylococcal or Streptococcal strains. They get into the horse’s legs when the skin is softened due to being wet and then compromised by the rubbing of soil and grit on the cold, wet skin. When the skin is continually wet and chilled, the protective barrier of the skin breaks down, allowing the bacteria to enter and cause infection.


Put the hose away! Although it may feel counterintuitive to leave the mud there, I’d suggest you avoid hosing your horse’s legs down when he comes in. If you feel you must use a hose, be sure to dry your horse’s legs gently with a soft, clean, dry towel afterwards to warm them up quickly. My top tip when you bring your horse in is to leave the mud where it is and put on

indoor padded wraps to get the legs warm and dry. It is generally better to allow the mud to dry and then brush it off with a soft bristled brush in the morning.

Excessive leg washing will weaken the sk in and remove the natural gr ease that acts as a barrier, resu lting in cracks which can allo w the entry of bacteria. Avoi ding getting legs wet is the best way to prevent mud fever.

You and your horse will love SPILLERS™ Senior Conditioning Mix because: ■

Steam-flaked cereals and oil help build condition

Added glucosamine supports joint health

Probiotic live yeast aids gut health

Vitamin E helps support the immune system

For free, friendly advice on feeding your horse or pony ring the SPILLERS™ Care-Line on 01908 226626 or visit 96 YOUR HORSE FEBRUARY 2022

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The range of Cavalor Skin Care products is an essential weapon for every horse owner in the battle against micro-organisms Use Cavalor Derma Spray to disinfect minor wounds.) Use Cavalor Derma Wash to improve your horse’s general hygiene and deal with mould, viruses and bacteria. Cavalor Lurax is your universal solution to boost the recovery of wounds and soothe the effects of sunburn! Use Cavalor MudDoc to treat mud fever and restore the pastern cavities to complete health!

Because you care about your horse.



For a chance to get your hands on these goodies*, enter at


Six lucky winners will each win a bag of FibreBeet and Cooked Linseed from British Horse Feeds. These are ideal for weight gain and condition and work well when fed together. A super fibre conditioning feed, Fibre-Beet is a formulated blend containing all the benefits of the original Speedi-Beet product, with added high-quality alfalfa for optimum condition and to provide quality protein for muscle tone and function. Cooked Linseed is 100% whole linseed that has been cooked and micronised to provide the highest quality nutrition. Linseed is an ideal addition to any feeding regime as it is a key provider for protein and oil to help benefit performance, condition, skin and coat and general health.

Find out more at

❋Worth £46.98 each



Robinson Animal Healthcare is giving away a poultice kit each to 10 lucky winners. The kit contains all you need to treat an infected wound or abscess, including a pack of Animalintex, a pack of Animalintex Hoof Treatment and four Equiwrap Cohesive Bandages. Animalintex can be applied as a wet, hot or cold poultice, or as a dry dressing. It contains two active ingredients: boric acid to kill infection and promote faster healing; and tragacanth, a natural poulticing agent that draws out dirt and infection and reduces inflammation. Animalintex Hoof Treatment is designed specifically for foot poulticing — for ease of use each dressing is hoof-shaped. Worth Equiwrap Cohesive Bandage sticks to itself and will hold your poultice in place securely.

❋ £24.99 each

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Two lucky readers will each win a 650g Pro Digest, 5kg Pro Digest and a 5kg holder, a 15kg Pro Digest and a 15kg holder, plus a Horslyx polo shirt and a Horslyx beanie hat. Horslyx Pro Digest Balancer supports a healthy digestive system so your horse or pony can be in tip-top health from the inside out. Suitable for any equine but especially aimed at those prone to digestive upsets, the high specification Horslyx Balancer package includes the full spectrum of vitamins, minerals and trace elements to balance the Worth deficiencies in forage and grazing. UK only


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❋over £140


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21/12/2021 14:44

Your horse’s


& yours

The latest products and expert reviews you can trust



Mid-winter merch: the latest seasonal gear for you and your horse

pages of new and must-have gear, the latest trends and more

In this section p106









We bring you the latest winter warmers on the market for you and your horse Keep your mitts toasty and dry with this selection of gloves suitable for yard work p108 p102


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Combine style and snuggly comfort with these hats and headbands This month’s edition of our buyers’ guide brings you respiratory supplements


22/12/2021 09:30

YOUR HORSE’S GEAR WINTER WARMER The Dakota waterproof long winter riding coat will keep you warm and dry whatever the weather. This coat has a flattering cut and fits beautifully for wearing at the yard, plus a back zip makes it comfortable to ride in too. RRP £119.95 WESTLEIGHSSADDLERY.CO.UK

HELP HIS WEIGHT Magical minty Unicorn haylage from Silvermoor is low in sugar and high in fibre, making it ideal for laminitics and to aid weight management. The haylage has been sprinkled with Silvermoor’s signature unicorn minty flavouring to create an irresistible forage made with only UK native grasses, cocksfoot and timothy. RRP £11 for 15kg pack SILVERMOOR.COM

WHAT’S NEW? A look at the latest gear from the equine world

STAY WARM AND DRY IN THE SADDLE New for autumn and winter from Covalliero, the ladies quilted coat is the ideal solution when extra warmth is needed on those cold days. It is extra-long in length with a feminine, waisted cut and a removable hood with floral lining. A front two-way zip fastener and two slits with zip fasteners at the side make it suitable for riding — there are also elastic inner bands to attach the coat to your legs. This coat is waterresistant and is machine washable at 30°. It is available in a variety of colours. RRP £119 ZEBRAPRODUCTS.CO.UK


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WRAP UP Looking for a scarf that stands out from the crowd? Look no further than the Signature Stallion scarf from Waring Brooke. Made from luxury extra-fine merino wool, it was created by knitwear designer and brand founder Samantha Brooke. Inspired by paintings by Samantha’s late mother, the Signature Collection features animal motifs in the scarf designs. RRP £85 WARINGBROOKE.COM


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The stylish Mountain Horse Bond Softshell Breeches are made from a water repellent, warm softshell fabric that’s also dirt repellent and highly breathable. These breeches feature a soft fleece inside for your comfort and warmth and a handy mobile pocket on the right leg. Also, Spandex fabric provides stretch and allows for movement as you ride, enhancing the comfort. RRP £129 MOUNTAINHORSE.CO.UK

The outer material of the Felix Bühler Regular Neck Turnout Rug Perfect Fit has a Teflon coating for optimal water and dirt repellency as well as enhanced durability. It also features an adjustable triple-balance front fastening for improved fit and comfort for your horse. The rug has a regular cut neck combined with stretch inserts at the shoulder/neck area and generous shoulder gussets, plus internal padding at the withers. These features all provide added comfort during turnout. The rug is available with fillings from 0g to 300g. RRP From £119 (0g filling) KRAMER.CO.UK

DRY AS A BONE Keep your horse’s rugs in good condition with the Bennington Rug Drier — an effective and economical way of drying rugs. This is an essential piece of kit for the wet, winter months and means your horse won’t have to wear a damp rug again. The Bennington rug drier is electronically controlled to maintain the optimum temperature to dry rugs effectively, and also does a great job of warming and drying other items of clothing, including your own. RRP £445 (medium), £655 (large) BENNINGTONCARRIAGES.CO.UK

TASTY TREATS Treat your horse or pony to Valegro’s favourite new snack, Blueberry & Banana Treats from NAF. These treats have been formulated using only the best quality ingredients, combining the delicious flavour of banana with natural blueberry. RRP £3.99 for 1kg bag WWW.NAFEQUINE.EU


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MAINTAINING COMFORT The Tech Base Layer from Apt Cavalier is made from an innovative fabric which has thermoregulating properties to ensure muscles stay warm when you’re starting exercise, but wicks moisture away from the skin when they’ve warmed up. The top’s antibacterial sports mesh panel will help you stay at a comfortable temperature and the quarter zip will help too, should cool air be needed. It’s cut long in the body to ensure it stays tucked in and a good arm length helps stop cool air seeping in at the cuffs. RRP £50 APTCAVALIER.COM FEBRUARY 2022 YOUR HORSE 101

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Protect your hands from the elements with a pair of winter gloves


Winter gloves Make cold hands a thing of the past with one of these pairs of warm winter gloves that have been used and rated by our testers


OLD HANDS CAN make yard chores tricky and painful. Wearing gloves is the obvious solution, but it can be hard to find the right ones, which you don’t have to take off to do some jobs. To help you find a pair of gloves that will protect your hands from the elements whatever winter tasks you’re doing, our team of testers have put nine pairs through their paces. Each pair has been used for yard work over the past 10 weeks. Our testers assessed the gloves

for fit, warmth, whether it was easy to do all their yard chores wearing the gloves, and how comfortable they are to wear. Finally, the price of the gloves was considered and, taking into account their comments, they decided whether they would buy another pair and recommend them to other people.

How we score: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Each pair of gloves is given a mark out of five for fit, performance and value for money. This gives an overall score out of 15.


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HARRYHALL.COM FIT Lightweight, stretchy gloves that fit well, although a few of the fingers are a little short for me, so I can feel the seams of the glove on the top of my fingers. Easy to pull on and off, and a good cuff.


Some of the gloves claim to be waterproof. These gloves were subjected to our own waterproof test as well as being used for tasks such as washing off hooves and soaking hay. While wearing the gloves the back of them was held in water for one minute. Then the test was repeated with the palms of the gloves in water. Finally, the whole hand was submerged into water for a minute. Any comments about the glove’s waterproofness are in its individual test report.

VALUE FOR MONEY Good value, although I

would say the that the sizing of these gloves isn’t overly generous.


PERFORMANCE The Polartec material is soft and comfortable to wear. These gloves aren’t overly thick but are surprisingly warm. I initially thought that hay and bedding would stick to them, but I was wrong — any bits that did stick were easily brushed off. Doing all the usual yard tasks was easy and I didn’t need to remove the gloves at all.


★★★★ Performance

★★★★★ Value for money







HYEQUESTRIAN.COM FIT These gloves fit perfectly and are easy to pull on. They are lightweight and not too thick. The knitted cuff is comfortable. I’m not sure the touch-tape fastening is needed, but it looks smart. PERFORMANCE My hands stay lovely and warm while wearing these gloves. I don’t need to take them off to fasten rugs and other fiddly jobs. They have proved to be waterproof — particularly useful when removing ice from water troughs. Nothing sticks to them and I’ve worn them in some nasty weather and my hands have stayed dry. They are comfortable and not at all restrictive. Plus, the touchscreen-compatible fingers work well.


Best value

VALUE FOR MONEY Very good value — a great pair of practical winter gloves.


Waterproof gloves were subjected to an extra test


★★★★★ Performance

★★★★★ Value for money

★★★★★ FEBRUARY 2022 YOUR HORSE 103

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RRP £29.50 COLOUR Silver/ black SIZES XS-XXL






FIT These are a good fit, although some of the fingers are generous in length. They are easy to pull on and off and no other fastenings are needed to hold them in place. The gloves are thicker than others in the test, but they aren’t too bulky and it doesn’t affect the fit.

FIT These gloves are a good fit and easy to pull on and off. The generous elasticated cuff extends over your wrist to help hold the gloves in place. There is also an additional touch and close strap, which can be adjusted on the back of your hand. All the fingers are a good length and the thumb is also generous in length. The gloves are flexible and not bulky.

the glove is made from a reflective material. VALUE FOR MONEY Great value, practical winter gloves.


PERFORMANCE These are a bit like ski gloves — lovely and soft inside, and they keep your hands snug. I did have to take them off for fiddly jobs, but they have an elastic stay strap which you slip over your wrist and when you take them off they hang off your wrist, ready for you to slip them back on. These gloves have kept my hands dry while getting horses in from the field in the pouring rain. A nice extra is that the back of


★★★★ Performance

★★★★★ Value for money


PERFORMANCE Doing most jobs is easy wearing these gloves apart from more fiddly tasks such as doing up a bridle. This was mainly because I couldn’t use my thumb very well. The gloves are comfortable and warm to wear — and they are also waterproof. The generous cuff also helps to keep out the cold.

VALUE FOR MONEY These are a good pair of winter gloves, at a fair price.






RRP £45 COLOURS Granite grey, original navy SIZES XS-L





FIT These gloves fit nicely — no frills, just pull them on. The elastic cuff is deep and extends comfortably and snugly over your wrist. The lining inside is soft and doesn’t add any bulk to the gloves.

FIT The fit of these gloves is good — I found them a little snug and rigid to start, but this improved with wear. They are easy to pull on and off. The deep knitted cuff is snug and secure. I have the large (equivalent to a size 8); if they did a larger size it would have been good to compare the fit.

VALUE FOR MONEY For under £10 you won’t go far


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wrong with these gloves, especially for doing all the dirty jobs around the yard. They just aren’t the warmest option on the market.


PERFORMANCE A true pair of yard gloves that you can wear to do all your jobs — working gloves, as the name suggests. They keep your hands protected and fairly warm. On really cold days my hands did get cold. They are flexible and nothing really sticks to them. They are still in good condition, having been worn for mucking out, carting hay and other tough jobs.


★★★★★ Performance

★★★★ Value for money


PERFORMANCE I can’t fault them for warmth and comfort, even on very cold and windy days. The outer fabric is waterproof: I’ve worn them for washing off hooves and soaking haynets and my hands have remained dry. The softshell outer material seems to repel dirt and nothing sticks to them. I found the gloves a little thick when fastening rugs, but fine for all other yard jobs.

★★★★★ Performance

★★★★ Value for money

★★★★★ Rating



VALUE FOR MONEY These feature-rich gloves are pricey, but they do the job well. They are well-made and proving durable.





★★★★★ Performance

★★★★★ Value for money



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RRP £42.99 COLOUR Black SIZES 6-10.5



FIT I can’t fault the fit of these gloves. They are close fitting but not tight and the material stretches as your hand moves. The back of the glove extends nicely over your wrist and a touch-and-close fastening secures the glove in place.


VALUE FOR MONEY These are on the pricey side but they are a practical pair of winter gloves that do the job well. Fit

★★★★★ Performance

★★★★★ Value for money


PERFORMANCE Comfortable and warm to wear even in cold weather — the material against your skin is lovely and soft. What I really like about these gloves is that my hands don’t get too warm wearing them. The back of the glove, which is a softshell material, is definitely waterproof — water just runs off. However, there was a little leaking when the palm got wet. I can easily do all the jobs on the yard without having to take the gloves off, so my fingers don’t get cold.

VALUE FOR MONEY A great pair of gloves that definitely live up to the manufacturer’s claims, but they are expensive.


FIT A great fit — the material is slightly stretchy, which enhances the comfort and overall fit of the gloves. They are easy to pull on and take off, and there’s also an additional touch-and-close fastening around your wrist. The material is not too thick, and it’s flexible too. PERFORMANCE These gloves are comfortable to wear and keep my hands warm. The fleece inside the gloves is soft but it’s not too thick, so you easily carry out fiddly jobs such as fastening rugs without having to take the gloves off. I’ve worn them in all weathers, and they are water-resistant and windproof. Also, nothing sticks to them — a big plus when you’re filling haynets.



★★★★★ Performance

★★★★★ Value for money



EQUETECH.COM FIT These are smart gloves that fit really well and are true to size. The elasticated cuff and fastening around your wrist provides a secure fit. These gloves are lightweight and not bulky to wear. PERFORMANCE My hands stay lovely and warm when I’m wearing these gloves — the inner micro fleece lining is so cosy. They aren’t restrictive and I can do all my yard chores, including tacking up, without having to remove them. Another big plus point of these gloves is that they are waterproof — I’ve worn them while washing off hooves, handling wet rugs and out in the pouring rain, and my


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hands have remained dry whatever I’ve been doing while wearing them.

VALUE FOR MONEY These are a great pair of winter gloves — they do their job effectively and are well worth the money.






★★★★★ Performance

★★★★★ Value for money

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Keep out the cold with a practical and cosy headband


Hats and headbands Stay snug and look great in one of these handpicked winter hats and headbands


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COLOURS Black, navy, silver pine, taupe SIZES S (49-53cm), M (53-57cm)

COLOURS Purple, light grey, black, cream, rose HEATHOLDERS.CO.UK


A knitted beanie style hat that incorporates the HeatWeaver thermal lining. This luxurious, plush fur-like insulating fabric maximises the amount of warm air held close to the skin. As well as keeping you warm, the soft and silky feel is comfortable to wear all day long.

A practical and warm headband. The modern knit outer looks great with any outfit and the soft fleece inside is comfortable and will keep you snug. A great piece to have to hand during the coldest months to keep the cold out.


COLOURS Black, mulberry purple, fern green

COLOURS Black/pink & white pom pom,


baby pink/pink pom pom, charcoal/ blue pom pom, black/natural pom pom, grey/black pom pom, charcoal/lilac pom pom, baby pink/silver pom pom, heather grey/pink & white pom pom MOCHARA.CO.UK

This gorgeous headband is comfortable and stylish to wear. The classic knitted design looks great, and the fleece lining will keep your head warm while still being breathable and comfortable to wear all day.

Make your outfit really stand out from the crowd with this cotton knitted pom pom beanie. Available in a range of great colours, this hat will brighten up your day and add a touch of style to your outfit. Perfect to wear around the yard or for casual wear. The faux fur pom poms pop on and off, so you can buy extras to mix and match depending on your mood or outfit choice.

We love ! MAGAZI NE

WARING BROOKE SEALSKINZ WATERPROOF PERSONALISED PATTERNED COLD WEATHER LED HEADBAND RRP £25 ROLL CUFF BEANIE HAT COLOURS Navy/tan, navy/white, tan/taupe, black/taupe, baby blue/white, baby pink/white, burgundy/taupe, burgundy/ black, green/taupe, green/black WARINGBROOKE.COM

This bespoke monogrammed luxury headband is made from 100% super soft merino wool. Your headband is personalised with your initials that are made into a pattern throughout the design making the headband unique to you. It looks great and will keep you snug and warm on the coldest days.

RRP £35


A great looking beanie style hat with some really useful additional features that come into their own through the winter months. This beanie hat is 100% waterproof and has an LED light to keep you visible in low light conditions. A great all-around hat that will keep you warm, dry and safe whatever the weather. The LED has three brightness settings on the LED, battery life is 240 hours, and visibility is up to 500m. FEBRUARY 2022 YOUR HORSE 107

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YOUR HORSE’S GEAR Spending more time in his stable may challenge your horse’s respiratory system


Respiratory supplements Your horse’s delicate respiratory system is easily aggravated by changes in the environment. Feeding a respiratory supplement may provide the support it needs, particularly through the winter 108 YOUR HORSE FEBRUARY 2022

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ORE TIME IN his stable and less turnout in the fresh air over the winter months can have a negative impact on your horse’s breathing. Your horse’s respiratory system is very sensitive and even minor challenges, such as exposure to dusty bedding and hay, can affect his general health and performance. Symptoms can include a cough, snotty nose and a drop in performance. Gillian Higgins, from Horses Inside Out, explains: “Your horse’s lungs and respiratory system process air — fundamental in providing oxygen for life

and performance. Effective lung function is essential for optimum performance, so careful management of his respiratory system is needed. “Problems relating to the lower respiratory system are generally a result of viral, bacterial or allergic reactions, which can result in a drop in performance from your horse.” Making changes to your management can go a long way to helping your horse if his respiratory system is challenged. Some horses may also need additional support, and this is when a targeted supplement may be beneficial.

Maintaining a healthy respiratory system Here are a few management tips from Gillian that will help to minimise the risk of your horse suffering from respiratory problems: ■ Turnout as much as possible. This is the best way to minimise your horse’s exposure to dust and is his natural environment. ■ Feed from the floor to allow mucus to drain from the nostrils and keep the airways open to allow the respiratory tract to function as nature intended. ■ Steam hay. This is an effective way

Feeding a respiratory supplement

of minimising the dust, bacterial and mould content of hay. Soaking hay can also help to reduce the level of dust in it, or an alternative is to feed haylage. ■ Use a low-dust bedding ■ Keep your stable clean and well ventilated. Decomposing droppings and urine increase the levels of ammonia, which is linked to poor respiratory health. ■ Don’t muck out with your horse in the stable. This avoids the inhalation of dust, pollens and other allergens.

➤ ➤

Respiratory supplements aim to soothe and support your horse’s airways. Key ingredients to look for include antioxidants, such as selenium, vitamin E and vitamin C. Antioxidants are a key part of the body’s natural defences and have been shown to help support the lungs.

Other ingredients that can be included: ➤ Coltsfoot leaves — these help expel

➤ ➤ ➤

mucus and catarrh, as well as soothing your horse’s throat Echinacea — supports the immune system Liquorice root — this soothes the membranes in the respiratory tract. It also helps loosen and get rid of mucus Garlic — this is thought to cleanse the lungs and help expel mucus Lemon — this is rich in vitamin C, as well as antioxidants Aloe vera — to give his immune system a boost Eucalyptus — to help clear and soothe your horse’s airways Ginger — for nasal congestion and coughs

TARGETING KEY AREAS When you’re considering buying a respiratory supplement it’s worth considering what area of the respiratory system you are wanting to help, as some supplements will target certain problem areas rather than supporting the whole respiratory system.

■ Lungs

Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E will support general lung health ■ Immunity boost Choose a product with ingredients that will boost your horse’s immunity, such as echinacea and aloe vera

■ Nasal passages

Many products available will open your horse’s airways and help to clear mucus ■ Throat Some products include ingredients TURN THE such as PAGE FOR honey to PRODUCTS & PRICES soothe the throat FEBRUARY 2022 YOUR HORSE 109

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Shop for respira




RRP £37.50 for 500ml HILTONHERBS.COM

Excel ResPRO combines a highly concentrated antioxidant complex and nucleotides with vitamins C and K to provide natural support to the lung tissue and overall lung integrity. The primary antioxidant, extracted from melon, supports fitness and performance. Nucleotides — essential nutrients that are often depleted in horses under stress — support stress recovery. Vitamin C and vitamin K offer support during healing. Excel ResPRO’s combined ingredients offer powerful support to the respiratory system. It is ideal for horses sensitive to their environment, older horses and after respiratory challenge.

Freeway PLUS is a concentrated liquid feed supplement for competition horses to support healthy and efficient airways and maintain a strong resistance to seasonal allergies. It contains 100% human-grade plant tinctures for fast absorption and can be used during training, travelling, competing or periods of restricted turnout. It is formulated in accordance with FEI Clean Sport regulations, and all ingredients have been independently tested to be free of common feed contaminants and naturally occurring herbal prohibited substances.



RRP from £21.54 for 1 litre EQUINEPRODUCTSUKLTD.COM Breeze Up has been formulated to assist healthy breathing in environments where dust or pollen are present. It contains only natural ingredients and can be added to the feed or fed directly to your horse at the first signs of discomfort. It contains eucalyptus, menthol, honey and plant extracts.

Clarity maintains your horse’s natural lung defences and respiratory health for optimum comfort and performance. It includes powerful, beneficial herbs and antioxidants such as liquorice, coltsfoot, oregano, garlic and elderflower. It is ideal to feed during the winter months for horses who are sensitive to dust as it supports the mucosal lining that protects against particles, allowing your horse to perform at his best.




RRP £26.95 for 1000ml AVIFORM.CO.UK

The ultimate support for long-term respiratory health. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), alongside powerful antioxidants. This supplement aids the management of respiratory problems such as cough, nasal discharge and breathing problems. Results can be seen in as little as 14 days.

A completely natural complementary supplement containing ingredients known for their exceptional benefits to the respiratory system, which can open up the airways to ease your horse’s breathing. The horse’s respiratory system can sometimes become compromised due to changes in their environment, such as being stabled for long periods of time with irritation from the dust in hay and some bedding. Spring and summer can equally bring respiratory challenges for the horse, with tree or grass pollens and crop flowers such as rapeseed.


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RRP £46.99 for 1.75kg FEEDMARK.COM


22/12/2021 13:53


hop for respiratory supplements HIFORM BREATHE


RRP £25 for 500g, £98 for 2.5kg HIFORMEQUINE.CO.UK

RRP £32.99 for 1 litre NAFEQUINE.EU/UK

Formulated by equine nutritionists in Australia, using herbal extracts which may help prevent and relieve equine respiratory issues. This 100% natural supplement includes liquorice, fenugreek, thyme and marshmallow. These naturally occurring herbs have been used for thousands of years for their healing and soothing properties. Using human grade ingredients, Breathe has been designed to help horses who are spending prolonged periods of time in the stable or are exposed to high levels of dust.

Respirator provides valuable nutritional support to the respiratory mucosal immune system and the delicate capillary blood vessels that surround the lungs. Respirator contains a concentrated solution of natural antioxidants, alongside herbs such as ginger, rosehip and blueberries, chosen for their support of healthy lung function. Echinacea is also included, for immune system support. Respirator is also recommended where close contact with other horses showing respiratory stress may be a concern. Essential oils in Respirator Boost help maintain clear airways.



RRP £24.99 for 500ml HACKUP.CO.UK

RRP £8.50 for 500ml, £13.99 for 1 litre, £47.99 for 4 litres LINCOLNHORSECARE.COM

This palatable syrup contains all natural ingredients and is designed to support your horse’s breathing during exercise or at rest. It can be given just before work or daily to help maintain healthy airways. It contains traditional and proven remedies of honey and aloe vera for their soothing properties, apple cider vinegar, oil of eucalyptus and menthol.

A fast-acting syrup, formulated to utilise the natural properties of liquorice, glycerine and aniseed to calm and soothe the airways. This syrup provides support for horses who may be sensitive to dust, pollen and mould spores. It’s particularly supportive in winter when horses are stabled for longer periods. When pollen levels are high in summer, it gently soothes dry, tickly airways. The highly palatable formula makes it easy to administer, either by syringe or top dressed over a feed.



RRP £29.95 for 1 litre PROEQUINE.COM

RRP £17.50 for 5kg lick HORSLYX.COM

A powerful blend of plant extracts and oils to encourage full capacity lung function in horses and to support a healthy immune system. Airway contains garlic, eucalyptus, echinacea and British cold-pressed rapeseed oil, making it highly palatable and adding valuable omega oils and vitamin E. Airway is recommended for horses with an occasional unexplained cough and those exposed to a dusty environment or sensitive to even slightly dusty forage.

Respiratory Balancer contains menthol, aniseed and eucalyptus to support your horse’s airways and an antioxidant package containing vitamin C to help maintain immunity. It also contains a full spectrum of vitamins, minerals and trace elements required to balance any deficiencies in forage and grazing, along with high-quality proteins and linseed oil. Licking takes time and patience, which can also help reduce stress and boredom — perfect if your horse is in his stable for long periods.


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22/12/2021 13:53

Hack 1000 Miles Do something spectacular this year...

Every rider deserves a little excitement in their life — and that’s what #Hack1000Miles is all about. Brought to you by Your Horse, we champion hacking in every single issue, because we know that each mile is a great achievement. Plus, our online digital leaderboard is coming soon, so you can record your miles online. Sign up for our #Hack1000Miles newsletters and be the first to hear about digital leaderboard updates and milestone prizes. Come on in and join our community — it’s one of the best horsey decisions you’ll ever make.


1 2

You’ll grow in confidence in yourself, your horse and your riding.


You’ll love the adventure, exploring the great outdoors just you and your horse.


You’ll grow your bond too. That pony book you read as a child? The relationship with a horse you’ve always dreamed of? Hacking can create that for you.


You’ll feel happier too, because exercise, including riding, releases endorphins which instantly lift your mood.

It’s free to join, great fun and personal to you — this is your journey, go as far and as quickly as you want.

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Sign up via the web address below

✓ Opt in for newsletters and contact from us, so that we can send you our #Hack1000Miles Wall of Fame and latest updates about our digital leaderboard. ✓ Join the Hack 1000 Miles Facebook group and share your hacking stories and images — you might feature in Your Horse! ✓ Go hacking, and record your miles on your tracker card. Most importantly, have fun!


21/12/2021 13:02


HORSE MAGAZINE Your Horse magazine Kelsey Media, The Granary, Downs Court, Yalding Hill, Yalding, Maidstone, Kent, ME18 6AL EDITORIAL Little Grey Media Ltd Email: Editor: Aimi Clark Freelance Gear Editor: Allison Lowther Freelance Horse Care Editor: Stephanie Bateman Freelance Content Producer: Mel Beale Freelance Design: Geoff Johnson ADVERTISING & CREATIVE SOLUTIONS Commercial manager: Sharon Joanes Email: MANAGEMENT Chief Executive: Steve Wright Chief Operating Officer: Phil Weeden Managing Director: Kevin McCormick Publisher: Liz Reid Subscription Marketing Director: Gill Lambert Retail Director: Steve Brown Print Production Manager: Georgina Harris Print Production Controllers: Kelly Orriss and Anne Meader Senior Subscription Marketing Manager: Alex Havell Affiliate Marketing: Kate Chamberlain

Next month


On sale 3 Feb 2022

The jumping exercise she uses to improve confidence, agility and technique

SUBSCRIPTIONS 13 issues of Your Horse magazine are published per annum UK annual subscription price: £57.20 Europe annual subscription price: £69 North America annual subscription price: £69 Rest of World annual subscription price: £75 UK subscription and back issue orderline: 0845 241 5159 Overseas subscription orderline: 0044 (0) 1959 543 747 Toll free USA subscription orderline: 1-888-777-0275 UK customer service team: 01959 543 747 For customer service support, please visit: Customer service and subscription postal address: Your Horse magazine Customer Service Team Kelsey Media, The Granary, Downs Court, Yalding Hill, Yalding, Maidstone, Kent, ME18 6AL Find current subscription offers on our website: Already a subscriber? Manage your subscription online: CLASSIFIEDS Tel: 0906 802 0279 Email: (premium rate line, operated by Talk Media Sales on behalf of Kelsey Publishing Ltd. Calls cost 65p per minute from a BT landline; other networks and mobiles may vary. Lines open Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm) KELSEY CLASSIFIEDS Kelsey Media Your Horse magazine Customer Service Team Kelsey Media, The Granary, Downs Court, Yalding Hill, Yalding, Maidstone, Kent, ME18 6AL DISTRIBUTION Distribution in Great Britain Marketforce (UK), 2nd Floor, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HU Tel: 020 3787 9001 Distribution in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland Newspread Tel: +353 23 886 3850 PRINTING William Gibbons & Sons Ltd Kelsey Media 2021 © All rights reserved. Kelsey Media is a trading name of Kelsey Publishing Ltd. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden except with permission in writing from the publishers. Note to contributors: articles submitted for consideration by the editor must be the original work of the author and not previously published. Where photographs are included, which are not the property of the contributor, permission to reproduce them must have been obtained from the owner of the copyright. The editor cannot guarantee a personal response to all letters and emails received. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the Editor or the Publisher. Kelsey Publishing Ltd accepts no liability for products and services offered by third parties. Kelsey Media takes your personal data very seriously. For more information on our privacy policy, please visit If at any point you have any queries regarding Kelsey’s data policy you can email our Data Protection Officer at

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE ❋ How to ride perfect corners on the flat ❋ Stereotypies: why stopping vices may cause unnecessary stress ❋ Learn to tell the difference between fat and muscle

❋ Riding on the gallops: how to adapt a session to suit your horse ❋ The pros and cons of having horses at home ❋ How to deal with negativity on social media

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22/12/2021 10:09


Dan Skinner The voice behind the hilarious blog Skint Dressage Daddy shares the blog’s origin, how he came to write his books, and what happened at his first riding lesson

Mic Dan Skinner didn’t really take to riding, but has had great success writing about life as a ‘dressage dad’


How did your blog begin?

I’d say by accident — in that it was completely off the cuff. We were at one of my daughter’s first competitions, three or four years ago. I went along for support, and it was awful because there was nothing to do and it rained torrentially for two days. On the second day her first entry was at 8.30am and the second was 5.30pm. We had the entire day to kill, sat in this tiny, rented trailer. I was so miserable and bored. By the tenth cup of tea, I had nothing else to do so I started moaning about it on Facebook. I then forgot all about it, until at some point in the New Year I was moaning about something at home, and my other half said, “You’ve got a Facebook page for this now, go on about that there”. I started doing it more regularly, and before I knew it had lots of people following me, which was a surprise.

Were you surprised by the reception it received?

I always assumed that if anyone was going to read it, it would be other people like me — dads or horse husbands — but it’s almost exclusively mums and riders. It’s funny though — a lot of mums, riders and horse people comment and say, “John, you must read this” and the response usually is “I can’t be bothered to read all that”.

“Avoiding horses is a hobby in itself, I suppose”

What prompted you to write a book?

No exaggeration — it was people on Facebook asking. It wasn’t people saying, “Could you write a book, it’d be lovely for Christmas”, but “When’s the book coming out?” So, I kind of felt a bit like I had to do one. I started it but didn’t really think I’d finish it. Luckily — in inverted commas — I was made redundant and had time, so I finished it off.


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I get dragged down on occasion, and I go to competitions. I like to support her. She gets very bossy when we’re at the yard. She’ll tell me to hold buckets while they fill up with water, and go get hay. I do think she thinks that whatever awful things happen or however expensive things are, I won’t mind so much because I can write something about it. It’s a very thin silver lining.

None whatsoever. I don’t think I’d ever touched one before; I certainly hadn’t been on one or owned one. Maybe a merry-go-round as a child, that’s probably about it. Much cheaper — I wish I’d stuck with that.

People have been asking about the second book since the first one came out. I didn’t intend to do a second one. But then I didn’t think that I would still be writing the Skint Dressage Daddy stuff three years later. It was just something that happened. The first book I thought was ‘the’ book, but it’s still going and people were asking for a second, so I felt I should probably do one. I’m quite easily swayed!

In most cases, they don’t read it! A couple of years ago, when my daughter was a young teenager, I mentioned something about the book or blog posts and she said, “I can’t tell you how much I have no interest in it” or something like that. But now she’s a bit older, I keep getting concerned that she won’t like the fact that I’m writing about her. But by her

Do you spend a lot of time visiting the yard?

Did you have any interest or experience in horses before your daughter started riding?

Did you always plan for a sequel?

Your wife and daughter are both anonymous in your writing — how do they feel about it?

own admission, she has decided she’s more vain now, so she’s showing a bit more interest. She quite likes that she’s this anonymous famous person.

Have you given riding a go now?

Dan’s books From Nags to Numbnuts and the sequel Stable Condition are available on Amazon or from his website skintdressagedaddy. com

I have, under duress. I went two or three times, and I didn’t really get it — you sit there and walk around at about half a mile an hour. The guy was saying, “I’m quite impressed, you seem quite confident”. I thought, well I can walk faster than this, it’s just a bit higher. I was expecting to be galloping over fences, and we never got to that, so I stopped going.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Drinking heavily — is that a hobby? I did my pilot’s licence a few years ago and learned to fly. Nothing to do with horses anyway; avoiding horses is a hobby in itself, I suppose. WWW.YOURHORSE.CO.UK

21/12/2021 13:07

India Bussey and Billy Colman

Gain energy and support healthy gastric function A low starch, low sugar, high energy soaked feed

High in fibre containing Beta-Glucans Suitable for horses and ponies prone to gastric ulcers

Suitable for equines prone to gastric ulcers as part of a balanced diet High in fibre containing Beta-Glucans Contains prebiotics and a probiotic

Fully balanced with vitamins and minerals, no need to add a balancer* Contains a probiotic and a blend of prebiotics for healthy digestion No whole cereal grains, no molasses, no soya, no alfalfa

Contact our award-winning helpline nutritional advice 01362 822 902 | * When fed at recommended levels

Winter Warriors

10% OFF *

Your Trusted Team Ask in store for details *Terms and conditions apply. At participating retailers, whilst stocks last. Offer available from 1st January - 28th February 2022.

Nettex essentials, helping you win against winter.