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Your Horse 368 JANUARY 2013





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how ow to banish nerves… before getting on board

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his Sonic horsebox is worth a cool £28,900 – and it could be yours if you enter our fantastic competition today! The Sonic is compact and easy to drive and carries two horses in total luxury. It has the added benefit of a tack/changing/ sitting area, with two saddle racks, two bridle racks and two coat hooks so you can carry all your equipment with ease, totally your horse JANuAry 2013

separate from the horses’ area. There’s also additional storage over the cab. Equi-Trek has generously added a package of incredible extras including: ● Alloy wheels ● Mud flaps ● Head divider ● Corner seat with storage ● CCTV camera ● Digital reversing camera

Padded partition Padded walls ● Extra height partition ● Road tax until June 2013 We’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Equi-Trek, and to our fantastic competition sponsors, Petplan Equine, Musto, Animalife and Kent & Masters. So don’t miss your chance to win this fantastic prize and enter today! ● ●

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Our incredible competition is nearing its end so this is your last chance to enter and win this fab Equi-Trek horsebox with some amazing additional features.

To take a sneaky peak inside our prize horsebox, just go to /winahorsebox

“WE couLDn’T bELIEvE WE’D Won – ThIS yEar IT couLD bE you!” Earlier this year we handed the keys of last year’s Equi-Trek horsebox to winner Julie Atwell, her husband Tony and daughter Hayley.


hoW To EnTEr

For your chance to win… Go to and follow the instructions. Special terms and conditions apply - full terms and conditions on www. The competition closes at midday on 2 January, 2013. • For more information on the Equi-Trek range of horseboxes, go to or call 01484 852121 • Competition open to UK entrants only, who must be 18 or over and own a horse

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ayley was keen to get on the road and out competing with her ex-racer, Denni while Julie was hoping to buy a happy hacker type, and since collecting their incredible prize they’ve been having a whale of a time. Hayley and Denni have been getting out to their first eventing competitions while Julie fulfilled her aim of having her own horse again. She picked up her new mare Hettie a few months ago. “The horsebox has made all the difference to us, because now we can load up and go wherever we

want, whenever we want. It’s like driving a car and is brilliant for both the horses and us, it’s really comfortable and much easier to manage than a trailer.” says Julie. “Hayley’s been to her first events this year in it, and we’ve both enjoyed taking the horses out to fun rides as well. I couldn’t believe it when I won and had to doublecheck it was true – it’s an amazing prize and everyone should enter this year because someone has to win it. Lots of people have asked us if we’d sell ours and the answer’s definitely no!”

Performance Nutraceuticals

JANuAry 2013 your horse


Expert advice to help you become a braver rider, feel safe and enjoy every ride

your horse january 2013

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Dressage key skills this month Confidence and skillsjumping from the ground this month

Try equilates

improve your breathing

Take pride in your riding

Try using visualisation

perfect your posture

Tackle mounting issues

Tackle nerves from the ground We begin our journey to total confidence with the help of sports psychologist Debbie Percy


hatever your riding level or experience, it’s easy to have the odd confidence knock from time to time. It’s nothing to be ashamed of and you CAN get your confidence back, but for many riders the first hurdle is knowing where to start. This month one of your six Total Confidence coaches, sports psychologist Debbie Percy, recommends beginning the process by tackling your confidence demons from the ground. With her advice you’ll be feeling more confident in mind and body in no time, enabling you to love every second with your horse on the ground and in the saddle. You can try Debbie’s simple techniques and exercises at home - plus later on in the feature Richard Maxwell answers your confidence questions too. So, if you’re ready to beat your crisis of confidence, read on.

The imporTanCe of brain Training

Your brain is a muscle and like most muscles, you can train it with exercise. By following a few simple exercises you can programme your

brain to think more positively and teach yourself to be more confident – sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? Well it’s not! Before you can start training your brain to be more positive and confident, you need to go back to the root of your problems. As young children we’re honest. We ask questions like ‘why is that lady so fat?!’ then quickly learn, usually in the name of social etiquette, that saying this sort of thing isn’t appropriate. Essentially we’re re-programmed to lose the ability to be totally honest for fear of making a fool of ourselves, or others. As a result, as we get older, we embellish or twist the truth so many times there are lots of layers to get through in order to find the truth about why we might have lost our confidence, or why we’re having problems. So before we get started, we need to sit down and dig deep to get to the cause of our issues. As long as you’re able to be honest about why you’re struggling, and realistic about what you want to achieve, most problems can be easily fixed. Turn over to learn more about self-talk, the power of posture and more.

Learn more online ●

Tackling your confidence demons from the ground is the first step to riding success

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WATch And lEARn OnlinE Throughout the series you can watch videos from your coaches online. Head to and click on the name of the expert whose videos you’d like to see. This month Debbie talks you through some of her techniques including her posture and breathing exercises - enjoy!

chAT TO yOUR cOAchEs If, once you’ve read this feature, you’ve got questions for Debbie send them to us at or join Debbie for a special web chat on Monday 7 January 2013. Log on to debbiechat for times and to find out how you can take part.

OUR EXPERT Debbie perCy, of Jigsaw Equine, is a sports psychologist who specialises in helping riders to achieve their goals. Learn more about Debbie’s work at www.jigsaw

OUR RidER Laura WrighT who events on her horse Felix is full of confidence when jumping but loses her nerve when riding her dressage tests. She’s hoping that Debbie can help conquer her nerves today.

dOn’T miss... Turn to page 28 where richard maxwell tackles reader mounting worries!

january 2013 your horse

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Easy-to-follow expert advice for beginners to advanced riders

your horse JANuAry 2013

page 40

No horse, no problem

page 46

Master sitting trot

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page 56

page 48

Understand your aids

Team chasing

This month in Better Riding 34 private lesson Expert advice on improving your communication skills 40 no horse, no probleM 10 ways to carry on riding 46 Master sitting trot Six easy steps to success

48 teaM chasing Why this fast-moving, fun sport is worth a go 56 understand your aids Top tips on how to ride in harmony with your horse

Private Lesson Leading classical trainer Sylvia Loch helps you improve your lines of communication, gather your horse’s energy and put a spring in his step Words Larissa Chapman Photography Matthew Roberts Meet the trainer SyLvia Loch is one of the UK’s leading classical dressage trainers, founder of The Classical Riding Club, Honorary President of the Lusitano Breed Society of Great Britain and accredited trainer of the Portuguese National Federation. For more on her, visit www.classicalriding.; www. classical-dressage. net and www.

Loosening up a stiff horse Ellie tells me she often struggles at the start of a schooling session as Bunjie’s in his teens and feeling his age in his joints. Stiffness is a common problem, and I find riders – Ellie included – often make the mistake of warming up in a longer, lower outline, believing this will allow their horse’s body to loosen up ready for more collected work. However, if your horse isn’t ridden through properly from behind, you may inadvertently be putting him on his forehand by working him long and low and, in turn, putting pressure on his shoulders. Although, at first, I always like to look at a horse walking on a long rein just to see his natural paces, I’m all in favour of collecting up

the older horse – especially if he’s a little on the stiff side – and getting him working properly from the off. As Ellie’s discovered, Bunjie looks much better now we’ve got him more collected. I also see a lot of riders who, like Ellie, need to sit taller in the saddle and work on their core strength. ‘Imagine you can resist a punch to this area’ is how I like to describe it. A strong core – and by this I mean the group of deep, core muscles that link the upper and lower body – is vital to develop an independent seat and be able to feel your horse’s movement. So if you’re struggling with similar issues to Ellie and Bunjie, read on for my advice.

The lesson focus Meet the rider

at the start of the lesson, Bunjie is feeling a little stiff and Ellie’s struggling to hold him together

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ELLiE hENdErSoN has owned Bunjie for two years, and has a great bond with the 16-year-old dressage schoolmaster who she competes at Elementary level. They’re a confident partnership, but Ellie can struggle to combat Bunjie’s initial stiffness when they hit the arena and to contain his paces – especially in canter.

●●To establish a balanced outline from the off ●●To improve Ellie’s leadership qualities by developing her core

●●To teach Bunjie to collect and step under himself ●●To improve and add spring to his paces

Bunjie will loosen up quicker when he’s collected

JANuAry 2013 your horse

No horse? No problem! If you don’t have your own horse, or if your steed’s out of action, it’s still possible to spend valuable time in the saddle – YH Katy Islip tells you how with her top 10 ideas for upping your equine ante and improving your riding when you don’t have a horse to hand Pictures Matthew Roberts


f, like me, you’re not a horse owner, it can be hard to spend as much time as you’d like in the saddle, or simply hanging out with horses. Over the years I’ve taken every opportunity going to pat a pony or snaffle a quick ride, from spending hours as a leader running in circles at my riding school to pestering pony-owning school-mates. As a grown-up I’ve been lucky enough

to find myself a regular horse share to provide my equine fix, but there are plenty of other ways to get on board, improve your riding and spend more time with horses, without breaking the bank or making big commitments. It’s also useful to know what riding opportunities are out there should you want to keep your eye in while your horse is out of action due to lameness or during

a rest period. So, to help you get started, we’ve done our homework and pulled together 10 ideas to help you build your confidence, develop your riding skills and bag more horsey time, from schoolmaster lessons to sharing schemes (we’ve even had a go at some of them ourselves!). Dive in to find out how you could be mounting up more often, and let us know how you get on!

If, for whatever reason, you don’t have a horse, fear not! There are still plenty of ways you can ride your horse january 2013

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Horse-less riding

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Better Riding

january 2013 your horse

Pic: Kit HougHton

Ruth shows how sitting trot should be done

your horse JANuAry 2013

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Essential know-how

Better Riding

Sitting trot in style Effortless-looking sitting trot is tricky to master so we asked eventing and dressage superstar Ruth Edge to give you her secrets to sitting with style Words Andrea oakes


f you want to progress in dressage, eventing or showing, a balanced and effective position at sitting trot is key. But it’s not just you who’ll benefit from getting it right. Correct sitting trot is essential for smooth transitions between paces and can enhance communication between you and your horse, whatever your level or experience. In theory it sounds so easy – just sit quietly and move at one with your horse as he trots. However, this tricky combination of relaxation and control takes some practice and any weaknesses in your position or your horse’s way of going will quickly be revealed. If you’re prone to bumping, bouncing or becoming unbalanced, check out Ruth’s six-point plan.

1. Relax, don’t gRip

“A good sitting trot can’t be achieved with grip or tension,” says Ruth, who suggests some position pointers to help you feel part of your horse rather than as if you’re bouncing about on top of him. “Wrap your legs around him and keep your knees soft,” she advises. “Relax your hips and seat to absorb each stride, arching your back gently and pushing your tummy muscles slightly forwards. Look ahead, keeping your head and shoulders upright and still.” Ruth explains that the key to keeping the correct position is good core strength and flexibility through your hips. “If you’re not strong enough in your core muscles, you’ll absorb your horse’s movement through your neck instead of your seat,” she says, referring to the ‘nodding’ motion some riders adopt in sitting trot.

2. avoid common pRoblemS

Other common position faults include slipping behind the vertical, rounding your shoulders so your back loses its natural elasticity or collapsing the stomach muscles so the upper body position becomes weak. On a very bouncy horse or when trotting on a circle, it can be tempting to grip with the thighs, knees or calves. This can w w w.yo u r h o r s e .co.u k

actually worsen the situation – clamping the legs can shoot you further into the air like a clothes peg on a tennis ball. “Some saddles don’t help,” says Ruth. “Work with a saddler to find something that suits both you and your horse and doesn’t pitch you forwards or encourage your legs into the wrong place.”

3. maSteR the movement

The aim of sitting trot is to stay in close harmony with your horse, enabling him to maintain rhythm as he springs from one diagonal pair of legs to the other. “Many riders go wrong trying to work in sitting trot before their horse is going in the correct manner,” says Ruth. “If he’s not soft through his back and using his quarters to work from, he won’t be able to cope.” Ruth suggests attempting sitting trot on a horse who’s well established in his work. Too much, too soon on a young or inexperienced horse can cause tension behind the saddle and stiffness over the loins, leading to loss of swing and looseness. “Sitting can flatten your horse’s back, especially in transitions such as trot to walk,” she explains. “He won’t be able to move sufficiently forwards throughout the transition to stay in balance if he’s not strong enough. “It’s certainly easier to sit to a horse who’s supple and working correctly. A vicious circle can develop if horse and rider are both inexperienced – because the rider sits incorrectly, their horse tightens and flattens through his back and becomes more difficult to sit to.”

4. WoRk With youR hoRSe

If your horse is safe and suitable, Ruth recommends plenty of work on the lunge without stirrups to develop your balance. “To start with you’ll feel the need to grip on, but your seat will deepen with practice. Your body will strengthen to cope and you’ll probably find that your stirrups are too short when you take them back,” Ruth says. “Aim for quality

rather than quantity if both you and your horse are inexperienced,” adds Ruth. “Five minutes of good sitting trot is better than working away until you’re both tired. You’ll both get stronger together if you work in shorter bursts.” With a youngster, Ruth advises introducing periods of sitting trot very gradually. “An average four-year-old is not ready,” she says. “Try short sessions when your horse is of an age to be strong enough in his back to take your seat. You’ll know when he’s more able to cope because he won’t flatten or shorten his strides or lose rhythm when you sit.”

5. develop coRe StRength

Tightness in any part of your body can affect your ability to absorb impact in sitting trot, which can block energy from your horse’s quarters and affect his movement and rideability. To correct any weaknesses in your position, Ruth recommends Pilates or work with an exercise ball. (See our feature on page 72 for fitness tips.) “As your core stability improves, your body will learn to switch on groups of muscles to use as stabilisers,” she says. “Exercises are great but ideally you need someone watching you ride to point out if you’re doing things incorrectly, such as dropping a hip or shoulder or not keeping straight.”

6. peRfect youR poSition

“Sitting trot might be hard to start with, but your instructor will help you to work out when both you and your horse are ready for more,” says Ruth. “As you progress, try training in a school with mirrors or asking someone to video you as you ride so you can check you’re sitting straight and upright. “At the higher levels, sitting trot creates better communication between you and your horse and enables an extra level of engagement and collection,” she says. “It’s definitely worth working on.” ● For more riding advice, go online to ridingadvice JANuAry 2013 your horse

your horse January 2013

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Team chasing

Better Riding

The chase is on!

If you love going cross-country, at any level, you’ll enjoy team chasing – it can improve your horse’s technique, your skills as a rider, and you’ll have a blast! Words Jane Carley Photography PC Images and Angela Clark


t may have a reputation as an extreme sport, suited to only the very brave and bold, but in reality anyone who loves riding across country can learn to love team chasing and enjoy the many challenges this exhilarating sport offers. It helps teach horses to think for themselves and gain confidence over a variety of obstacles, which will stand

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them in good stead for the eventing or hunting fields – while riders need to be balanced and remain in control as they tackle a number of fences, at speed and in the close company of other horses and riders. With classes to suit everyone from the gung-ho to the slightly more nervous cross-country rider, it’s a way to inject some fun into your training and build a

strong, trusting partnership with your horse. If you’ve never thought team chasing was for you, you may be pleasantly surprised. Read on to find out what it’s all about, as well as how to: ● Get started over less demanding fences ● Invest in the right kit to keep you and your horse well protected ● Learn the basic rules of the sport

January 2013 your horse

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‘Pullquote tht ythty thty tty tty tyt tyt ty ty’ Understanding your aids is the first step to greater harmony with your horse

your horse january 2013

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Improve your aids

Better Riding

riding in harmony Top event rider Lucinda Fredericks explains how you can apply, adapt and refine your aids to help you achieve the perfect partnership with your horse Words Carolyn Henderson


MEET OUR EXPERT LUcinda Fredericks rode for the Australian Olympic team at London 2012 riding Flying Finish, but is best known for her partnership with Headley Britannia – the 15.3hh mare she rode to victory at both Burghley and Badminton Horse Trials.

hen horse and rider are perfectly in tune, their performance looks effortless – but it’s not only the pros who can reach this stage. Whatever your riding level, you can develop your aids to improve the harmony between you and your horse. And don’t be put off if you’re not a big dressage fan, as that’s not what this is about. The process of improving your aids is easy and you’ll feel great when you start getting results. Here Olympic event rider and trainer Lucinda Fredericks explains the simple steps you can take to understand and refine your aids. So if you want to learn to ride in harmony with your horse, read on to find out how to: ●●Perfect your position ●●Get your horse off the leg ●●Give clear instructions ●●Improve your timing

getting off to a balanced start The very first step is to get yourself into the right position in order to give your horse clear and correct aids. “You don’t just have to give the right signals, you have to make sure you don’t inadvertently give the wrong ones, perhaps by weighting one side more than the other without realising it,” says Lucinda. “No one’s perfect and bad habits are hard to break – I sometimes feel I should tie my left elbow in to my side! But as a baseline, you need to sit in the centre of your horse rather than over to one side and have stability through your core muscles. Straightness is paramount,

but what you think you’re feeling isn’t always what’s happening. That’s why arena mirrors are so brilliant, because you can constantly check. “I often tell pupils to stand in their stirrups, then sit more to a particular side. Although they’re then straight, it feels to them as if they’re crooked, so you have to build that new ‘feel’.”

Getting your horse ‘off the leg’ When it comes to aids you’ve got plenty to play with, from the natural leg, rein, voice and weight aids to the artificial whip and spur aids but the best ones are those used in their lightest form. It might be a cliché, but if your horse can feel a fly land on his side, he can feel a light touch of your leg so remember that, whatever his age or experience, every horse has the capacity to respond to light aids. Some horses are quicker to react to aids than others, perhaps because they’re naturally sensitive. Others are slower, which is often because they’ve switched off to constantly nagging legs. “You’ve got to have your horse ‘off the leg’,” says Lucinda. “This means that as soon as you give the aid, he must respond. “If he doesn’t, you’ve got to give a sharper aid rather than repeat a light one. With some horses, you might have to do that at the start of your schooling session, then w w w.yo u r h o r s e .co.u k

when he’s listening to you, you can lighten the aids. “When I start work, I want my horse travelling forwards. It’s like driving a car – the engine must be ticking over without you having your foot flat down on the accelerator all the time. “Other horses react as soon as you touch them with your leg and you might have to desensitise them a little, getting them to accept the feel of your leg round them without rushing off. “When your leg isn’t active, it should be draped round the horse’s sides, not nagging all the time.” It’s important to remember to always factor in the individual horse and circumstances. “You’ll find that some horses consistently need a leg aid at every stride to encourage more activity and suspension, though that means using the aids in a subtle way, not nagging.” Getting to know your horse and how he responds is key to knowing what aids work for him.

An EffEcTIvE lEg POsITIOn Horses are naturally more sensitive near the girth than behind it, and some researchers say applying leg aids near the girth stimulates a quicker reaction - it’s therefore important not to use your legs too far back when asking your horse to go forwards.

january 2013 your horse

Pammy Hutton

In a rare interview, the legendary trainer invites us into her world, where teaching is her passion – and horses and her family are everything Words Larissa Chapman Photography Matthew Roberts


f I were ever to write a book, I’d call it ‘for the love of the horse’ because I just love horses!” With a reputation as a straight-talking, no nonsense horsewoman it comes as a surprise to hear former top eventer and dressage rider Pammy Hutton speaking with such passion about the animal that has shaped her life. “I’m a wife and a mother first, but the drive to help riders improve and succeed is still a crucial part of my life,” she adds. Pulling up at The Talland International School of Equitation in Gloucestershire, the thermals are on as we dash for the warmth of the office to find our interviewee. We’ve arrived in the middle of a family crisis and a frantic Pammy is trying to sort it out, as well as teach, attend to her staff at the school and take phone calls from the bank. It’s very clear Pammy is nothing less than 100% committed to her entire team and focused on ensuring everybody is happy. With crisis averted and the situation stable, we head down to the far end of the

your horse January 2013

school to begin the interview. As we reach the seating area, Pammy looks set for the day with her flask and papers and a pack of sugar cubes for the horses. She’s a colourful character who’s led an equally colourful life and, as I perch on the soft leather chair with my pen poised, I can’t help feeling a rush of excitement (and perhaps just a tinge of nerves) as I ask Pammy all manner of questions, from her biggest challenges in life, to her proudest moments.

Can you tell us about your early riding memories?

I have very early memories of showing my grandmother’s ponies when I was four years old. I can’t remember what the ponies were called, but I can remember that most of them were grey, so they were probably called Misty. I do recall one pony from my childhood, a New Forest pony called Joby. He was possibly the laziest pony ever, but I managed to take him hunting and my goodness, could he move when we got out there.

Celebrity interview

Turn over for more of Pammy’s answers to your questions

your horse january 2013

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Real Life

‘We refused to walk away’ From re-homing abused and neglected horses to refusing to give up the search for stolen ponies, we meet three readers who rescued their horses from uncertain fates


hen it comes to a horse’s welfare, how far would you be prepared to go? We horse owners are a dedicated bunch, accustomed to making sacrifices where necessary to keep our animals healthy and happy. But how many of us would open our

hearts – and our homes – to a horse in need? Doing your best for an injured, ill or missing horse is a true test of commitment and can mean putting your own life on hold in order to save theirs. The people on these pages refused to walk away from horses who needed help. Read on for some truly selfless stories.

‘She has a home with us for life’ How two first-time owners rescued a mare destined for market

When they heard about the plight of a loyal Dutch Warmblood mare destined for market, Sue and Keith Gillingham, from Lincolnshire, were determined to help. They didn’t let the fact that they’d never owned a horse stand in the way of saving Lara from an uncertain fate. “Friends said it would be expensive, but we just had to rescue her,” explains Sue. “We didn’t want a nice horse to be put down, she didn’t deserve that.” It was during one of her weekly riding school lessons that Sue first found out about 17-year-old Lara. “The girl teaching

me was talking about an unwanted mare,” she says. “She would have given her a home, but couldn’t. The more I heard, the more I felt sorry for this horse who was basically going for meat. It was as if people had taken all they wanted from her and could no longer be bothered – it seemed so cruel.” Sue had taken up riding a few years previously and was at the point where she was thinking about buying a horse of her own. “I was only a novice and wanted a gentle hack,” she explained. “But when we heard that a horse needed to be rescued, Keith and I just had to help.” Arrangements were quickly made and a

★ Coming up in the following pages

p Rescued in time Keith and Sue with their beloved Lara

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Piebald cob Walt who found a happy new home after being one of the horses rescued from the Spindles Farm horror in 2008

p Stolen then found

Daisy the mare is back home after a horrendous ordeal when she was stolen then abandoned in a terrible state. Her foal and field companion are still missing

january 2013 your horse

The experTs

Fitness gurus Matt Hart and Anth Roland (right) of Torq Fitness advise athletes of all abilities and disciplines.

The dressage rider

As Your Horse’s Buyers’ Guide editor, Allison Lowther juggles a busy working life with her other ‘job’ as mum to horses Jester and Wishlist. She competes in dressage at Elementary level.

Rider fitness

Fit to ride?

Hands up who puts more effort into their horse’s fitness than their own? You’ll be amazed by what happens if you dust off your trainers, ditch the junk and see yourself less as a rider and more of an athlete (or at least try to!)


The evenTer

At the start of our fitness experiment, two-star event rider Emily Laughton wanted to find out if boosting her fitness would help her when riding and competing.

s 2012 dawned, we set two of the Your Horse team a challenge. Could they cut down on the chocolate and crisps and use their trainers for more than just the twice-daily dash between car and yard? It doesn’t sound too complicated a goal, but add in a full-time job, multiple horses to look after, dark nights and an attempt at a social life, and it can seem impossible to squeeze gym sessions into the timetable. Find the super-human effort needed to hone your fitness and diet, however, and the results are palpable. “We’re always

puzzled as to why riders don’t think of themselves as athletes,” say the experts at Torq Fitness in Shropshire, who offered to mentor our fitness guinea pigs, Buyers’ Guide editor and dressage rider Allison Lowther, and former editorial assistant and eventer Emily Laughton. “Riding is a partnership – 50/50. If you’re fitter you’ll function better – it’s as simple as that.” So have they stuck to their new healthy lifestyles and, if so, are they feeling the benefits in their riding? Read on to find out how they’ve been faring and what you can do to boost your own fitness.

‘I had a beTTer memory for my dressage TesTs’

At the start of the year, Allison was feeling tired and lacking in motivation due to a punishing daily routine familiar to many horse owners – namely early starts, two horses to muck out and ride and a busy day job. She was keen to improve her fitness and nutrition to combat this. The experts at Torq suggested strength-building exercises to develop her core and posture in the saddle, as well as cardio vascular work to up her energy and general fitness levels. Fired up by their advice, Allison joined the work gym, squeezing in three lunchtime workouts a week, used ‘bands’ at home for resistance training, and made commonsense changes to her eating habits. The result? “I had more energy, could concentrate for longer, had a better memory for my dressage tests and felt less tired after competitions,” she says. “My

body felt more toned and it was easier to maintain my position in the saddle.” Proof that improving your own fitness and nutritional needs is a boon for riders. But then reality kicked in. Ally damaged her shoulder slipping off the muck heap ramp and couldn’t exercise for weeks. A change in her working hours put an end to lunchtime gym sessions and now she’s struggling to fit exercise in. “I understand how important it is for riders to be fit – and I’ve learned that even if you improve your fitness just a tiny bit you’ll find a big improvement in your riding,” she says. “Ideally I’d exercise three times a week as I loved the feeling it gave me – but with two horses to look after I wouldn’t have time to sleep!” Allison’s verdict? Being fitter in mind and body has a huge impact on your riding, but trying to find the time is a struggle.

‘I was less puffed ouT oN cross-couNTry’


Go to www. fitness for more on Ally and Emily’s initial assessment in the Torq gym

While we were sad to see Emily leave the Your Horse team, her new career as a full-time rider has helped her continue a new, healthier regime. “Six months after our initial consultation, I went to the Torq gym for a re-test and my fitness levels had risen,” says Emily. “I’d joined the gym, and while it was easy to talk myself out of going, once I’d got into the swing of regularly using the treadmill, bike and rowing machine I could feel the effects in the saddle. All

last season I was less tired after a cross-country round. I now ride for five or six hours a day and it’s all physical work, but I’ve kept up my running and now even enjoy it!” Emily’s verdict? Eating more healthily and finding time for the odd run or gym session two or three times a week definitely gives your eventing performance a boost. I now realise I was impairing my horse Kishon’s performance by getting puffed out cross-country.

Turn the page for our top 10 fitness tips to boost your performance in the saddle JANUARY 2013 YoUR hoRse

Merlin and Zena in front of Buckingham Palace your horse january 2013

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London calling

On the beat!

From helping protect the Queen to grazing in the capital’s parks, the Metropolitan Police horse’s life is a varied one – we take a look behind the scenes to find out more Words Katy Islip Pictures Bob Langrish


arly every morning, as London stretches, yawns and prepares for the daily rush to begin, there’s one small area that’s already a hive of activity. Tucked just a few hundred metres from the tourist hotspot of Trafalgar Square, the 18 horses of Great Scotland Yard’s mounted unit have made short work of breakfast and are being prepared for the day’s activities. While city living would appear to pose a challenge in terms of horse-husbandry, the steeds of the mounted unit are kept happy and healthy with a varied routine. The Great Scotland Yard stables are pretty compact, but the multi-storey layout (complete with horse ramp) and innovations like a muck chute and hay wheelie-bins mean there’s still plenty of room for both the horses and officers. Your Horse writer Katy Islip took a look at what life as a mounted officer in the Metropolitan Police is like – turn over to find out what she discovered.

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january 2013 your horse


Expert advice on buying wisely

your horse January 2013

page 94

Christmas gifts

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page 102

First look

This month in Buyers’ Guide

page 106

Clippers and trimmers

88 WATERPROOF JACKETS We tell you which jackets really work 94 ChRiSTmAS giFTS Loads of present ideas for you and your horse

102 FiRST LOOK Five great new products 106 gET CLiPPing Top tips to hel p you choose the right clippers for you and your horse

Waterproof jackets We’ve been testing winter jackets and these seven are the ones we’re confident will make your cold weather riding much more bearable How we tested them

Each jacket was worn by three horse owners – YH Buyers’ Guide editor Allison Lowther, and readers Mary Gillespie and Teresa Lowther – for yard work and riding. Our testers assessed the fit of each jacket and its suitability and comfort in and out of the saddle. All the jackets chosen for this test claim to be waterproof, so we decided to test these claims by spraying each jacket for one minute, directing the water onto the shoulder area. YH deputy editor Helen drew the short straw and had the job of wearing all the jackets for this particular test! We used the Nomad 18V cordless

pressure washer which has a wash pressure of 98 psi (psi, or pounds per square inch, defines the force, or power, of the water). After each water test we checked the inside of the jacket to see if any water had leaked through. We also checked to see if Helen had got wet! We’re pleased to say that all seven jackets featured here passed our waterproof testing and left Helen nice and dry! This meant that the decision as to which jacket was our favourite came down to our testers’ opinions on the fit and comfort of each of the jackets, both for riding and yard work.

Are there any damp bits?

The supreme waterproof test

Know your jacket jargon You will often see waterproof and water-resistant labels on jackets and coats. So what’s the difference between these fabrics? Basically, the two terms refer to the extent to which water is stopped from entering the item.

Testing the waterproof claims of one of our jackets

Waterproof fabrics are designed to keep you dry even in the heaviest rain. Usually a nylonpolyester blend, waterproof fabric is extremely tightly woven and non-porous, with tightly sealed seams and welded or covered zippers. The best and most expensive waterproof fabric is

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breathable too, which means it allows air in and perspiration out, but won’t let water through. Water-resistant fabrics shed water because of their weave or because the outer has been treated. Water-resistant products resist the entry of water to a certain extent. How long the fabric will keep water out can vary from product to product, but eventually water will soak through in prolonged, heavy rain. With both of these fabrics, always make sure you read the care label before washing.

What did I do to deserve this?

January 2013 your horse

Christmas wishlist Struggling to know what to ask Santa for this Christmas? Here’s our pick of some great gifts we’d like to un-wrap on Christmas day

Under £50





1 HV Polo knitted hat, scarf and glove set £29.99 Available from leading saddlery stores or

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2 Horze unisex basic sweatshirt £31.60

3 Equestrian Vision DVD From £14.99


4 Tottie Cuff gloves £9.50

01274 711101 or

5 Boots Sanctuary Escape and Unwind gift box £20.50

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Christmas ideas

Buyers’ Guide

YoUr HorSE SUBSCriPTion For a gift that will last all year, why not give a subscription to Your Horse magazine. Find out more on page 105


6 7

8 9

6 Liemieux Prosport square £34.95 www.horsehealth.

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7 Perilla Alpaca socks £18


8 Mark Todd diamanté belt £36.50 01303 872277 or

9 Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Everything Selection £22

10 Fleck whip From £35

01352 763350 or www.zebraproducts.

january 2013 your horse

Bu y e r s’ Gu i de

your horse January 2013

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Clippers and trimmers

The right clippers

Buyers’ Guide

Invest in the right set of clippers and they’ll do a great job for years. To help you decide which set is right for you, we’ve produced this handy guide full of hints and tips


he task of choosing clippers seems daunting, given the array of designs and options available. There’s different motors, speed ratings, power levels and other features. And you need to think about the more subjective elements, such as how the

clippers feel in your hand, how easy they are to use and how well they clip. To help you cut through the world of clippers and trimmers, YH Buyers’ Guide editor Allison Lowther takes a closer look at what’s available and what to think about before buying.

Making your choice

Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible to “test-drive” new clippers before buying, but it’s worth asking your horsey friends which ones they use. They may even lend theirs to you so you can try to gauge first hand their noise level, weight, size, shape and whether they’re going to be suitable for you and your horse. Many reputable retailers will have a selection of clippers on display, so talk to them about your needs, ask if you can hold several different ones to get a feel for balance and weight and switch them on to give you an indication of what they sound like. Think about what weight, grip diameter and shape will be most comfortable for you.


If you aren’t planning to take off any of your horse’s coat but just need something to tidy him a little, such as removing those long hairs under his chin or trimming his feathers, then all you should need is a pair of good quality trimmers. These are designed for light use, such as tidying up around the face,

Trimmers are great for tidying up fiddly areas

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Clippers come in different sizes and shapes. The top ones have a much wider body which may suit larger hands. The other pair are shaped slightly making them more comfortable to hold if your hands are smaller.

ears or any awkward places. Their size makes them much easier to use in those hard-to-reach areas than a full size set of clippers so you can easily get under his gullet, above his eye sockets etc. A good set of trimmers can be a great way to introduce young or nervous horses to clipping. They’re usually much quieter with less vibration than full size clippers so if your horse is a little apprehensive this may be a good starting point. You can choose between mains or cordless – personally I would always go for cordless as there’s no need to worry about a cable getting in the way. Be realistic though, don’t expect a £50 set of trimmers to do a full clip – yes some people do! Most of the main manufacturers have a set of trimmers in their range so there’s a good choice including the Liveryman Element, Wolseley Hummingbird, Wahl Pro Series and Masterclip Showmate. Prices vary greatly but you can expect to pay from around £30 up to £70. January 2013 your horse


Keep your horse healthy and happy page 122

Kicking know how

page 124

Hay analysis

Rod-shaped bacteria like these cause infections including tetanus

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page 130

page 138

Feed Q&A

essential Know-how

This month in Horse Care 114 EqUinE infEcTiOns How to spot and treat them 122 EssEnTial knOw-hOw How to deal with a kicker 124 is yOUR hay Ok? The wet summer has left questions over hay quality

129 EssEnTial knOw-hOw How to boost his forage 130 EXPERT fEEd advicE Feedlines’ 10 most common questions 138 EssEnTial knOw-hOw A reminder of the basics

Under the microscope

When an infection strikes your horse, it pays to know what you’re up against. Read on to discover more about common infections, treatment options and how to protect your horse

Words Katy Islip


healthy horse is a happy horse, and it’s usually easy to tell when he’s a bit off-colour. However, it’s far harder to determine whether he’s just feeling a bit glum or falling ill. There are plenty of bugs and germs out there that love to get under your horse’s skin, with effects from irritating to deadly.

We’ve recruited vet Colin Mitchell to give us the low-down on a range of both common and some more unusual infections which can affect our horses. He also looks at treatment options and the best methods of protection, because, when it comes to your horse’s health, forewarned is definitely forearmed.


So what’s an infection?

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Put simply, an infection occurs when the body is unable to protect itself from micro-organisms, such as bacteria, viruses or fungi. In humans, an example of this would be the ’flu, versus a non-infectious disease such as asthma. An infectious disease doesn’t have to be contagious (ie it won’t necessarily pass from horse to horse), but if it is, there are different ways it can spread, and knowing how an infection spreads is the key to managing and containing an outbreak. One way is through direct contact, for example by horses touching or sniffing each other, or through an intermediate host such as a biting insect. Other conditions are spread by aerosol, when particles travel through the air – a single cough can transmit an infection to many other animals – or through shared items, from water troughs which

infections spread easily among groups

serve neighbouring fields, to tack or grooming brushes. When an infection is suspected, the first thing to do is have the diagnosis confirmed through laboratory tests, then work with your vet to keep your horse comfortable as he fights it off. Although recovery can be slow, most common infections can be dealt with by good nursing, careful hygiene and isolation, so the diagnosis of an infection isn’t the end of the world and may not even need treatment with drugs.

OUR EXPERT Colin MitCHell studied at Edinburgh Vet School and works in north-east England. He’s a partner at Scott Mitchell Associates, which is part of XLVets, an independent veterinary practice group. Colin’s an attending vet at Hexham and Newcastle racecourses and in 2004 attained the RCVS certificate in equine practice. To find out more visit www.scott mitchellassociates.

january 2013 your horse

your horse january 2013

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Feeding forage

Horse Care

Is his forage really healthy?

This year’s wet summer has put the dampeners on the hay and haylage crop, with experts predicting it could be low in essential nutrients. We look at what this means for you and your horse OUR EXPERT

Dr Annette LongLAnD is an independent equine nutritionist who runs Equine and Livestock Nutrition Services. She’s an expert on pasture, grazing and forage and a member of the WALTHAM® Laminitis Research Consortium – part of the WALTHAM Equine Studies group, which provides the scientific support behind the Spillers and Winergy brands.

After a record wet summer, some areas of the uK are faced with sub-standard hay

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gET HaylagE analysEd Haylage has a higher water content than hay, so it’s important to have it analysed to make sure you feed the correct dry matter, as opposed to the ‘wet’ weight of the haylage in the bale. this way you’ll know you’re meeting your horse’s energy and protein requirements.


f there’s one word we can use to describe the summer we’ve just had it’s wet. And all that rain has had a huge impact on the farming world. For many parts of the UK, it’s been the worst harvest for 20 years. Not only are rising horse feed costs predicted this winter, the quality of the forage in some areas has also been affected as the grass was too wet to bale. However, other regions that escaped the worst of the rain were luckier, and produced good, nutritious hay. “Depending on where you live, the appalling weather may have had a detrimental effect on hay and haylage quality,” explains equine nutritionist Dr Annette Longland. “In some wetter western regions, farmers had just two opportunities to make hay – the last week in July and a week or so in early September.” So what does this mean for us horse owners? In a nutshell, in some areas of the UK hay quality is poorer than usual this year, with some hays seriously deficient in protein. If this deficiency isn’t met elsewhere in his diet, it can affect your horse’s health, even if he’s getting sufficient calories – and signs of a lack of protein include: ●● Weight loss in adult horses ●● Muscle loss ●● Poor hair and hoof growth/quality

“For some horses, such as overweight animals, good-doers or those prone to laminitis, who are on restricted diets, the problem of inadequate protein intake can be exacerbated further,” says Annette. “These horses need sufficient protein to maintain their muscle mass and hoof quality, but at the same time a reduced calorie diet so they lose weight or maintain a good body condition score. This means they may need extra protein supplementation.”

Is your forAge fIt to eAt?

The problem with hay and haylage quality is that, to the layman’s eye, it can appear a good, healthy bale – but when analysed prove deficient in certain nutrients. Though we can’t blame this summer’s weather entirely for spoiling our 2012 crop, as hay quality varies every year from area to area and field to field. For example 2009 was a good year weather-wise, but five out of nine hays tested by Annette still had lower than average crude protein (CP) levels. “Low CP levels in hay is not a phenomenon peculiar just to this year,” explains Annette. “But it may be that more hays are low in CP this summer because they’ve been harvested later in their life cycle.”

Hay can appear healthy, but when analysed prove deficient in certain nutrients

january 2013 your horse

‘Should my horse be eating that?!’ Every week, hundreds of worried horse owners contact feed helplines for advice – here’s our round-up of the 10 questions most commonly asked. So if you’ve got a feed query and need an answer fast, read on


My horse is overweight and I’m worried about laminitis. What should I feed?

The experts at Dengie say: First off, a weight-loss plan is vital and should include an increase in exercise, as well as a caloriecontrolled diet. It’s important not to starve overweight horses and ponies because this increases the risk of other problems such as colic and gastric ulcers. So plenty of low-calorie fibre is vital – and using oat straw as part of your horse’s forage ration can be really helpful for providing chew time without too many calories. If you can’t source oat straw, use Dengie Hi-Fi Good Do-er as a partial hay or haylage replacer. Your horse’s total daily intake should be about 1.5% of his body weight to promote weight loss. When his forage ration has to be


limited, it’s advisable to divide his total ration into as many small meals throughout the day and night as possible to reduce the time his gut is empty, but this requires considerable dedication on your part! Grass is the greatest source of sugar in the typical leisure horse’s diet and will need to be restricted. This can be done by strip grazing, using a grazing muzzle or stabling your horse for longer periods. In our trials, using a muzzle reduced intake by about 75%, and this has been backed up by other studies. It is important that individuals on restricted rations still receive essential vitamins and minerals because these are needed for good health and condition. Supplements and balancers can be fed alongside Hi-Fi Lite to provide your horse with a balanced diet.


My horse is in his late 20s and has poor teeth, so can’t chew hay or haylage. What can I feed as an alternative to his haynet?

The experts at Dodson & Horrell say: In most circumstances, during the winter months, the calories your horse gets from fibre are predominantly provided by either hay or haylage. If you have an older horse who’s struggling to chew hay and haylage, this means his fibre intake is likely to be considerably reduced. Fibre is an essential dietary requirement for any horse. As a guide, your horse should look to receive 2% of his bodyweight as fibre each day (24 hours) to ensure healthy digestive function. It’s essential you replace the fibre your horse isn’t receiving, and one way to do this is by effectively creating what’s known as a ‘haynet in a bucket’ for him. The Veteran Horse Society your horse JANuAry 2013


recommends a common hay replacer which uses a combination of soaked high fibre nuts, quick soaking un-molassed sugar beet and a short chop, highly digestible chaff such as alfalfa. The feeding guideline for this hay replacer is 600g dry weight of each component per 100kg of your horse’s bodyweight. Therefore, if your horse has an ideal bodyweight of approximately 500kg, he would require 3kg of each product per day. Ideally this quantity should be divided into several small meals and spread throughout the day/ night to mimic grazing. If it isn’t practical to feed this frequently, divide the forage replacer into two to three large buckets and leave these with your horse to graze on in his stable or field. A useful and effective tip to slow down his consumption is to place a salt block within your horse’s feed bucket which encourages him to eat around it.

If you have a feeding question, call a helpline today

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Feeding Q&A

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Horse Care

JANuAry 2013 your horse

Next month in

On sale Dec 27

Have the best start to the New Year

with your horse as we help you revitalise your training and get back on track with your riding

Better riding

Ride the perfect winter warm-up when schooling or hacking, crack counter-canter and learn how to build and ride the perfect grid

“The horse that changed my life”

We meet the people whose lives have been transformed by one special horse

Buyers’ Guide

Find out how cosy down coats really are, learn how and why to use hay steamers, see if water resistant breeches really work, understand the importance of hi-vis, and discover some incredible riding holidays abroad!

1 yo u r h o r s e

Horse Care

We explore the horse’s delicate digestive system, debate how best to deal with vices, offer top tips for going barefoot and bring you plenty of essential know-how


In month two of Total Confidence Emma Massingale helps you develop the bond between you and your horse while tackling your confidence and his

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