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! wuin vex

Keep calm & carry on

an g hat ridin th wor

Our in-depth guide to buying and using equine calmers


BE A BETTER RIDER, get the best from your horse ✦ Equine emergency guide ✦ heart murmurs explained ✦ confident travelling ✦ veteran horse care ✦ vital signs

Be his hero!




on-the -sp nerve ot bust techni ing ques

How to handle any emergency with confidence

Succeed first time

Feel like a pro at your competition debut Heart murmurs

Our vet offers an upbeat prognosis


Your Horse 384 spring 2014

FREE 32-page spring survival guide inside!

Tips for travelling your horse without a hitch veteran care

Expert solutions to your veteran care questions

30-minute workout

Improve his rhythm and jumping stride in one speedy session

What’s normal?

A quick and easy guide to checking his vital signs

Riding & road safety - essential advice for drama-free hacks

Total Confidence Our Total Confidence series is well underway and our experts are enjoying sharing their tips and advice to boost your nerves in 2014. This month, they’re on hand to help you up the speed, go cross-country and think positive Coming up this month

meet OUR confidence coaches

Lucinda Green is an eventing legend and top trainer who runs XC the safe way clinics.

Rosie Jones is a Recommended Associate of Intelligent Horsemanship.

Sylvia Loch is one of the UK’s leading classical dressage riders and trainers.

Natasha Baker is a double Paralympic dressage rider and European Gold Medalist.

Charlie Unwin is an Olympic sports psychology coach with a special interest in riders.

Find out more about our coaches at

22 Rosie Jones looks at the confidence-building benefits of long-lining 24 Natasha Baker on how working without stirrups can give your riding a boost 24 Sylvia Loch ups the speed in a bid to improve your canter 25 Lucinda Green tackles drops 27 Charlie Unwin explains how to set achievable goals

Long-line with confidence

Long-lining is a fantastic confidence-building tool and a great skill to master. So why not take advantage of its many benefits with help and advice from our expert Rosie Jones Long-lining is great for boosting your nerves because, unlike lungeing, it actually replicates the feeling you get down the reins when riding. You can do everything from jumping to schooling figures all from the ground – thus filling you with confidence by allowing you to do the things that scare you, while safely on the ground! Long-lining is also a great way to see your horse from the ground and really get to grips with how he moves. This has a knock-on effect, as the better you understand him, the more confident you’ll feel when you’re back on board.

Get off to a winning start

Long-lining allows you to see how your horse moves from the ground, building an understanding that will help when you’re back on board

your horse spring 2014

Before you start long-lining, check your horse is comfortable with the lines (particularly if you’ve never long-lined him before). Start by rubbing the lines on him. If he’s ok with this, place one of the lines over his neck or back to see how he reacts. If he’s worried then simply remove the line and build up again slowly. Once he accepts the lines, make sure you’re clued up on how to long-line. If in doubt, enlist the help of a knowledgeable friend to show you how – three sessions with an expert should be all you need to feel confident and ‘in the know.’

Build trust at a distance

Once you’ve got the hang of longlining you can start to play around with different exercises. Using long-lines it’s quite easy to match your horse’s canter pace to your walk, and asking him to canter can be very relaxing to watch. It’s the perfect way to bond and build trust from the ground, while also giving him a leg stretch. You can also try jumping while your horse is on the long-line. To do this, set up some raised poles around your arena to start with, then up the height as you feel more confident. Your horse might get a little over excited but don’t let this worry you. Simply ask him to do something else for a while before taking him over them again.

Rosie’s top tip Play it safe!

Allow your long-lines to trail behind you – this is often easier than coiling them around your hand as it allows you to slip them more easily if you need to. But keep an eye on them so you don’t trip over. For more on long-lining check out our feature in last month’s issue. For a back issue call 0844 848 8872.

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Total Confidence

Doing things on the long-line that usually scare you when on board is a great way to build your confidence

Check that your horse is OK with long-lines by rubbing them over his body

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spring 2014 your horse


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

At the start of the lesson, Splash isn’t very round and struggles to use his hindquarters

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Road safety

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Nerve-busting techniques

Fit to ride

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First time success

Julie Frizzell’s

Dressage Masterclass

Every issue we give one reader a lesson with a pro – this month dressage coach Julie Frizzell helps Kirsty Laird improve the lift and straightness of her cob Splash to improve their dressage scores

Meet The Trainer Julie Frizzell is a dressage coach who offers a personalised approach to training. She specialises in teaching novice riders or those who lack confidence. Find out more at www.dressage

Meet The Rider Kirsty Laird and her cob Splash need help to improve his engagement and lift in all paces. He’s a big horse for Kirsty to ride and sometimes he can get quite long and flat in his way of going.

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Kirsty allows Splash to stretch forwards and down as part of their warm up

Think forwards and check your position As Kirsty warms up I want her to focus on getting Splash going forwards, first in walk and then trot and canter. He should be obedient to her legs aids and walk forwards with purpose. This is also an opportunity for me to check Kirsty’s position is secure and effective. Quite often if riders are nervous they can become tight in their position,

The lesson focus

●●To develop more roundness

and engagement

●●To ride accurate school

movements to improve your horse’s straightness ●●To focus on your riding position to help improve your canter transitions

which will block their horse’s movement. But I’m pleased to see she’s looking relaxed and Splash is moving nicely. At the beginning of every session I like to discuss the aim of the lesson, but it’s still important to be reactive, so that if issues arise we can deal with them. Today Kirsty wants to work on improving Splash’s lift and roundness as well as his straightness and bend. Splash is quite a big horse and there’s a lot of him to keep together, so I can see why it can be difficult to bring the best out in his paces. It’s also important for me to understand Splash’s temperament, as this will influence what exercises I’ll do. It’s all about building a three-way relationship between me, the coach, the rider and the horse.

Spring 2014 your horse

Rule on the roads

With the arrival of lighter nights and more time to ride out, ensure you and your horse stay safe on the roads with our essential guide to riding and road safety


or anyone who enjoys hacking out, riding on the roads is inevitable – and with busy streets the norm it’s more important than ever to understand and follow the rules of the road and work in harmony with other road users. For many riders, whether they live out in the sticks or in a more built up area, any time on the Tarmac can feel nerve wracking, but with the right gear and preparation you can ensure hacking out is safe and fun for you and your horse. your horse Spring 2014

Before you head out, it’s vital you’re kitted out to be safe and seen. Your usual riding kit of a current standard riding hat and correct footwear are a must, and a body protector can be a good option too. Check your tack is in good condition and, most importantly, make you and your horse visible to other road users - you can’t expect them to slow down if they can’t see you. There’s a large selection of high-vis clothing available for you and your horse, and these items are a must all year round. w w r hor se .co.u k

Better Riding

Wearing high-vis gear is essential all year round as it helps other road users spot you more quickly

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Spring 2014 your horse

Succeed on your first time out! The start of the competition season always brings a frisson of excitement, but if you’re heading to your first competition (of the year or ever!) there’s no need to feel nervous. Trainer Alison Short shares her advice for a successful competition debut

S OUR EXPERT Alison Short is a dressage trainer who’s guided a variety of horses and riders to competition success. She created the iRide series of audio downloads, which cover all aspects of training and competing. Find out more at www.

o you’ve entered some classes and the competition date is drawing near. You might be feeling excited, apprehensive, panicky, or a mixture of all three! If this is your first-ever event, you’re taking a new horse out for his first show, or are simply coming back to competition after a break, fear not. With preparation you’ll be ready to tackle those nerves and do your best on the big day. Performing in the competition spotlight does bring a little extra pressure for horse and rider, but you’ll be more likely to produce the work you know you’re both capable of if you can recreate that relaxed feeling you have at home. Make life easier by avoiding any big changes in the run-up to the show and preparing as much as you can the day before. Show gear can be stiff and uncomfortable, so practise riding in the clothing you plan to wear and avoid jackets and breeches that are too tight. Check that your clothing and tack comply with any competition rules, but resist the temptation to wear anything brand new or make any major tack alterations just before the competition.

words: andrea Oakes

Use a piece of old tight over each plait

Prepare in advance by plaiting the night before, then use bits of old tights to protect the plaits over night (see inset)

your horse Spring 2014

If you can stable your horse, plait him up the evening before and use extra bands to attach sections of cut up old tights over the plaits so bedding doesn’t stick to them. Fleecy stable bandages will help to keep freshlywashed legs clean and free from stains. Next create a timing plan, working backwards from the point at which you need to be ready to enter the arena. Allow enough time for visiting the show secretary and the loo, for warming up and for course walking, then build in extra time for unexpected mishaps or traffic. Spend a few moments thinking about competition day and what you hope to achieve. Each class is different – the judge, height of fences, course, test, weather conditions and so on – so it’s more realistic to set personal aims than goals based on results within the class. It’s easy to feel despondent and give up after your very first show if things don’t go to plan, so I encourage people to enter two, to provide an incentive to try again another day.

Show day secret weapons Alongside the essentials, it’s worth adding a few extras to your packing list to avoid last-minute flaps. Take spares such as bridle parts and stirrup leathers, plus a second headcollar and rope just in case. Spare bands are a must for rubbed-out plaits, while a quick squirt of coat gloss inside your long boots will make them easier to pull on. Other handy items include a lightweight mounting block, plus laminated dressage test sheets to prevent a soggy mess on a rainy day. A rain sheet or a fleece warm-up rug will help prevent your horse from getting over-fresh if the weather is wet or cold – choose something with Velcro fastenings at the front for quick removal.

Get ready in your gear before to save time and ensure you’ve got everything you need

Stay safe by packing a basic equine first-aid kit too, plus a high-viz jacket in case of trailer or lorry breakdowns during the journey.

Coping on competition day Get ahead on show day by changing into your show shirt, breeches and stock or tie before you leave the yard, then wearing loose clothing over the top to stay clean. The aim is to keep calm, so consider both your reversing skills and your ramp location when you arrive at the showground and choose where to park. If you get stressed-out about manoeuvring your trailer in a tight space, try not to do this before you ride – there’s usually a fellow competitor around who’ll be willing to help out. It’s safer to put your horse’s bridle on inside the trailer or lorry before unloading him. If he’s a little anxious, ask a friend to undo the ramp while you hold him so you can control his exit. Try to avoid leaving him alone in the trailer if you can help it, but if you must pop away always close any jockey doors as it’s not unknown for a panicking horse to try to climb out. Leaving your mobile number on the dashboard means you can be contacted if there’s a problem. w w r hor se .co.u k

Better Riding

Follow our advice for a successful competition day so you can head home smiling

Subscribe today Subscribe to Your Horse and get a HyVIZ waistcoat, headband and armband Worth over


ONLINE your horse Spring 2014

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The Editor says:

To help you and your horse stay safe we’ve joined up with the HyViz team to bring you this top quality HyViz package so you can be seen from head to toe! Subscribe today and get the adjustable HyViz mesh waistcoat (which is CE marked and certified to BS EN1150) plus the matching hat- and armband. With fab features, such as silver retro-reflective tape and a phone pocket on the waistcoat, you’ll feel safe and visible, whatever the weather. Imogen Johnson, Your Horse Editor

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TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Subscriptions will start with the next available issue. The minimum term is 13 issues. This offer is open until 13/03/2014 and is only available to new UK subscriptions received across all offer codes starting with BA. You will not receive a renewal reminder and the Direct Debit payments will continue to be taken unless you tell us otherwise. We also reserve the right to reclaim the gift/value of the gift if you cancel your subscription before the end of the agreed term as stated above. Calls from a BT landline will cost no more than 4p a minute. Call charges from other landline providers or mobile phones may vary. Order lines open 8am9.30pm (Mon-Fri), 8am-4pm (Sat). UK orders only. Overseas? Phone +44 1858 438824. Calls may be monitored or recorded for training purposes.

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Spring 2014 your horse

“It’s all go up here!” Event rider, trainer, course designer and overall equestrian legend, Ian Stark shares all about his amazing career and his plans for the new Ian Stark Equestrian Centre


check us out. After a thorough Bella inspection we’re allowed to meet Ian, who leads us to his cosy kitchen, a welcome haven from the bitter Scottish winds. He’s been chasing electricity companies all morning in an attempt to get the equestrian centre connected to a mains power supply. With his phone ringing out and paperwork engulfing the coffee table, his hectic schedule is easy to see. Despite this, he makes us feel welcome and pops the kettle

on, while I’m star struck as realisation hits – I’m sitting next to an eventing legend! Ian may now be retired from top level eventing, but with four Olympic silver medals and umpteen bronze, silver and gold World and European Championship medals to his name, as well as an MBE, an OBE and huge success in training and course design, I can’t wait to find out more about this man of many talents.

Words: Larissa Chapman, Photos: Matthew Roberts

ravelling along the driveway to the Ian Stark Equestrian Centre, nestled in the Scottish Borders, it’s clear to see the build we’ve been hearing so much about is still a work in progress – but even in its half-finished state it’s pretty impressive. The indoor arena stands tall and imposing, and as we stop to take it all in we’re greeted by Ian’s ‘guard dog’ – 17-year-old partially deaf, partially blind and very fluffy Bella, who hobbles over at snail speed to

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The Big Interview

Ian and his hunter Bacon Butty brave the elements to pose for our photo

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Spring 2014 your horse

From a desperate state of collapse to showing star with new owner Michelle Low, RSPCA rescue horse Molly’s come a long way

A second chance

The ever-growing equine welfare crisis means more horses than ever are being rescued from dreadful conditions, but the charities working to save them can’t keep them forever. We follow the stories of five horses who’ve come back from the brink to find their forever homes Words Andrea McHugh

Molly’s story

‘She was close to death’ When little cob Molly was found collapsed and abandoned in a field in Devon it was doubtful she’d survive. A member of the public had noticed her plight and when the RSPCA visited they found another little pony nudging her to encourage her to stand, but 13.3hh Molly was close to death. Kate Clement, yard manager at the RSPCA’s Gonsal Farm Equine Centre in Shrewsbury, takes up her story. “Molly was so ill when she was rescued she stayed at a local vet’s for a month of your horse Spring 2014

intensive treatment. Afterwards she was still weak and stayed with an outside boarder (like a foster home) for a further month until she eventually came to us in June 2013. “From the start she was a complete superstar and despite her ordeal trusted everyone. You don’t see a horse’s true personality until they start to feel better, and the ones that were really ill often turn out to be quite cheeky because they have an inner strength that enabled them to survive. “Molly was so lovely we took her to the Equifest showing event in Cambridgeshire and entered her in the Rescue Horse of the

Molly’s flair in the show ring found her a new owner

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Real life rescues

Year Championships, where we hoped she’d do well and perhaps find a new home. She was so good that people cried when they heard her story, they couldn’t believe she was the same horse. “Molly won her class and was then named Equifest Reserve Champion rescue horse 2013. We cheered like mad - it was a tribute to everyone’s hard work and dedication.” Winning was a fantastic achievement, but Molly also secured the ultimate prize – a loving new owner, in the form of Michelle Low, from Essex. “My sister and I had taken our miniature Shetlands to Equifest, where I visited the RSPCA stand,” says Michelle. “I saw Molly and instantly felt connected with her, so I kept going back to see her and eventually knew I wanted to take her home. The RSPCA arranged a home visit, after which I was allowed to take Molly home on six months’ trial. I love her to bits and wouldn’t change her for the world. “Molly is now five years old and gets on well with our other ponies – three miniature Shetlands, two Dales and a Dartmoor. We’ve begun to back her and she’s been really good, although she’s a little wary of people and new things at first. “The pictures of her when she was found still upset me (see panel above). I just don’t w w r hor se .co.u k

How the experts manage a serious welfare case “Caring for a collapsed horse like Molly involves intense work,” explains Kate Clement of the RSPCA. “However the horses seem to know we want to help. It’s like they’ve been fighting to stay alive for so long and allow us to do whatever it takes. We don’t have a winch so we have to get the horses up ourselves, but we pad the stable walls with bags of sheep wool to prevent injury if they collapse again. Some are down for weeks before they can stand, but when they get up and stay up it’s fantastic. We’re really careful what we feed horses who are this ill. We begin with tiny amounts of hay to check their digestive system is working and constantly monitor droppings. Hard feed is gradually introduced, offering small handfuls

understand how anyone could neglect her like that. She’s a lovely pony with no malice in her despite everything she’s been through. We took Molly to a small local show last year, and she did really well – I’m having to learn to run faster to keep up! I plan to

Molly couldn’t even hold herself upright

throughout the day and night, building up to ad-lib hay and hard feed. As soon as possible we allow them to go out on grass for half an hour at a time. Everything is done slowly and we are totally reliant on public donations for the treatment.”

show her this summer and go back to Equifest. It’ll be nice for the RSPCA team to meet her again, and to show people how rewarding it can be to take on a rescue. Molly’s fantastic and she’s certainly got a home for life with me.” Spring 2014 your horse


Keep your horse healthy and happy

Knowing how to dress a wound or bandage a leg will help you play the hero should your horse get in a scrape

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Page 78

Know your horse’s vital signs

Hydrotherapy explained

Page 80

Transport your horse with confidence

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Understand your horse’s emotions

Coping in a crisis If your horse is ill or injured he needs you to keep a cool head, think quickly and be his hero. Follow our expert vet advice to staying calm and confident in any equine crisis


OUR EXPERT Kerrie Winstanley is a vet at Castle Vets in County Durham, part of the XLVets group, visit the website

ur lives would be so much simpler if a broken horse meant a quick call to the AA and a dull wait by the side of the road. Instead, equine emergencies tend to be far more stressful and messy as we’re faced with the double whammy of an often nasty-looking injury and a frightened animal. In the face of a hopping lame horse, blood-spurting wound or bout of severe sickness it can be all too easy to freeze, your mind blank with panic. But get a system in place to help you cope and you’ll feel your confidence levels rise as your emergency plan swings into action. Over the following pages you’ll find all the help and advice you need to deal with everything from cuts and grazes to bouts of lameness and colic.

So keep this guide handy and feel fully prepared the next time the unexpected strikes.

Staying calm It’s human nature to panic in the face of an emergency situation, and all rational thought can be lost. But when you’re dealing with half a ton of stressed horse your safety is the most important factor – just take a deep breath and repeat after us ‘stop, secure the horse and think!’. Anything you can do to pre-empt how you’ll feel in a panic will help if it happens for real, and chances are your first thought will be ‘what’s the vet’s number?!’. So put their details into your phone, keep it well charged and ask every other owner on the yard to put their horses’ emergency contacts up on display.

Keep your vet’s details to hand so they’re easy to reach in an emergency

Once help is on its way, follow your vet’s advice with regards to emergency care – but whatever the situation, keep your horse as still and calm as possible. Emotions will be running high, and standing on the safe side of the stable door while he groans in pain with colic may go against the grain, but if you get injured you’ll be of no use to your horse.

Get kitted out

What’s normal?

Just like us, some horses run hot, while others naturally breathe faster than others, so jotting down your horse’s normal stats will help you detect when something’s amiss. Turn to page 77 for more on checking your horse’s vital signs.

If possible stable your horse while you wait for the vet

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Having a basic first-aid kit to hand will be a godsend in an emergency, so keep stocked up with: ●●Poultices ●●Adhesive wraps ●●Cotton wool ●●Sterile wound dressings ●●Antiseptic wound cream and spray, as well as soothing gels and ointments ●●Wound cleanser ●●Curved scissors (to trim hair from around a wound and cut poultices to shape) ●●Table salt ●●Adhesive tape ●●Thermometer and petroleum jelly (to lubricate the thermometer before inserting into the anus) ●●A large plastic syringe (available from eBay)

Spring 2014 your horse

Back to Basics

Have a good journey! Ahead of the competition season, read up on some easy ways to keep your horse safe when travelling and guarantee you feel confident behind the wheel – whatever happens en route


othing says ‘stress’ like the sound of a dying engine when you’re driving a horsebox along a country road, a queue of irate drivers behind you. But it’s a fact of life that lorries will break down, horses will occasionally thrash about en route and you’ll be at OUR EXPERT the mercy of the traffic when you’re transporting animals. Chances are, Jonty Evans is a top eventer, 99 times out of 100 you’ll arrive at a trainer and show with nothing to report – but if equestrian something does go wrong the trick to commentator keeping your cool is to be prepared. who competes internationally. “I’ve had my share of breakdowns!” Find out more at says eventer Jonty Evans, who runs a www.jontyevans. training and eventing yard and spends much of his life on the road with his horses. “I now have lorry insurance that includes breakdown cover – I wouldn’t dream of not having it. We’ve used it various times over the years and it’s always been a great service.” A number of companies offer Download ‘A guide for horsebox breakdown cover, as horsebox and trailer owners’ at www. well as trailer recovery assistance should something happen while /horsebox you’re towing. These include The Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer Owners (, Equine Rescue Services (www.equinerescue., the RAC ( and South Essex Insurance Brokers (www., so shop around for quotes. Many equestrian-specific insurers Expert tip will also offer advice on what to do in When travelling, have plenty of the event of a breakdown – something water and hay on that can be frightening when you’ve board just in case got horses on board. the trip turns out “In my experience, if you do break to be much longer than intended, down, getting your horses off the as well as spare lorry is rarely a good idea,” says Jonty. rugs in case you “Instead I’d always advise you keep suddenly have them on board as they’re safer there. to stay over somewhere. Call for help (keep a well

Travel advice

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charged mobile phone on you) and be aware of how much of an obstruction you are on the road. You might need to warn oncoming traffic, as being hit by another vehicle will make your breakdown a whole lot worse. “When we’re travelling to events we often have our dog in the lorry with us, so if this is the case with you, keep him in the vehicle unless it’s safe to move him. Keep control of any small children, too and try to keep the lorry ventilated – I find cold horses are less distressed than hot ones.”

Hit the road Hands up who’s left their trailer or lorry stood for months, then expected it to spring into life and perform like a well-oiled machine? “It’s important to keep your lorry as up to date as possible – both in terms of regular servicing and in terms of investing in a quality vehicle to start with,” says Jonty. “Commercial vehicles are often serviced every six weeks, and using a commercial mechanic on your lorry can be a huge help. Generally speaking, horseboxes are used far too infrequently, so don’t let yours stand idle.”

Horse Care Management

Look forward to the next journey your horse takes, safe in the knowledge you’re fully prepared and fit for the road

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Back to Basics

Understanding equine emotions Can horses feel happiness and other human emotions? Larry Bensusan helps you tap into your horse’s mind to find out what he’s really thinking Words Andrea Oakes


e looks content and is willing to go along with what you ask him, but is your horse really happy? What’s going through his mind as he stands there being groomed or nibbling at his hay? I’m often asked these questions by people eager to understand more about their horses and whether they’re doing their best as an owner. To get an insight into what makes horses tick, a quick look at equine and human brains is revealing. The area towards the front of the brain that allows us to reason and use our imagination is called the pre-frontal cortex. Humans have a well-developed pre-frontal cortex and can therefore conjure up a range of ‘imagined’ emotions such as jealousy, love and hatred. But the less developed pre-frontal cortex of horses means they can’t do the same – an important difference between our two species.

OUR EXPERT LARRY BENSUSAN uses a mix of complementary health methods to help horses with a range of problems. After treating thousands of equines, he gathered his thoughts on what makes them tick into the book Understanding Your Horse’s Emotions. See www.horses As herd animals, horses will naturally seek out the company of others

One thing we do share with our horses is an ability to feel fear, which is a primary emotion and a survival mechanism for both species. If we then consider that for every emotion there’s an opposite, it’s logical to assume that horses who aren’t frightened do have the capacity to feel happy or content.

Horses don’t think like we do, so avoid projecting your feelings onto his

Head of the herd So how can we help our horses achieve this feeling of contentment? Because they don’t experience the complex range of emotions we do, the good news is horses are quite easily pleased – and providing the basics such as food, water, companionship and security will go a long way towards making yours happy. It also makes sense to try to replicate a natural lifestyle. All horses are individuals with individual preferences, but being stabled all the time isn’t their natural environment. A fascinating study saw a group of horses rewarded with a piece of food if they pulled a lever, which then gave them either access to an open arena or the chance to join another horse. Unsurprisingly, every one of them chose the company of another horse rather than be alone. If a human takes over the role of companion, it’s important we behave as the head of the herd. To be happy, a horse has to feel secure in your company, which means he looks to you for strong leadership. There are strict rules in the herd format and any horse stepping outside of those rules is severely reprimanded. Just like the head of any successful business, you need to prove you’re leading your

horse in the right direction and that he can be confident in your care.

Understanding emotions Where we can go wrong is in projecting our own emotions onto our horses. If your horse is playing up, it’s natural to feel he’s purposefully annoying you. ‘He knows what he’s doing’ is something many riders say, yet a horse doesn’t have this ability for pre-meditative thought. Without that well-developed pre-frontal cortex he can’t reason, so it’s more likely that he’s simply confused and doesn’t understand what you’re asking. It’s also a mistake to muddle our emotions with those of our horses. As humans we like to be liked. Our horses offer us unconditional love, but this is not the same as the love we feel. Horses don’t need titbits, nor do they need rugging up just because the weather is forecast to be chilly one night.

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Horse Care Mind

Horses are easily pleased, and equine contentment hinges on whether his needs are being met

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Spring 2014 your horse

Open C

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Every issue the Your Horse Open Clinic delivers vital equine behaviour, management and vet advice, absolutely free, and this month our experts help you tackle: ✦ Handling his feet p89 ✦ Top-to-toe trimming p91 ✦ Heart murmurs p92 ✦ Veteran health p94 ✦ Coping with lymphangitis p98

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Happy foot handling will make life much easier


dvice from the UK’s top experts


Guest vet

Renske van der Rijt handles internal medicine at Pool House Equine Clinic

Jenny Ellis is a top groom with over 30 years of experience

Jason Webb is a behaviour pro who runs Australian Horsemanship

Handle his feet with confidence For a flight animal like your horse, surrendering control of his feet means a lot. Here, behaviour expert Jason Webb reveals why some struggle with this, and gives easy-to-follow advice to help you resolve any issues


horse’s feet are key to his survival, enabling him to run away from danger or kick out at it. When we handle his feet we remove this self-protection, so successful foot handling requires a high level of trust and respect. Aside from his natural instincts, a horse may be reluctant to let you handle his feet because he doesn’t understand, or has had a bad experience. It’s also possible he understands what’s asked, but because of a lack of leadership finds it easier to evade you. Ideally, he will have become accustomed to having his feet handled as a foal. Done correctly this will desensitise him. However you should only do what’s necessary to help your foal be caught, led and have his feet trimmed by the farrier. The rest of the time he should be with his friends, learning how to be a horse.

take control

If you have a problem handling your horse’s feet, there are two things you need to do before tackling the issue. The first is to make sure he’s fully desensitised, which means teaching him to deal with fear rather than run away from it (see my advice in the next section for how to desensitise your horse’s legs). The second is to establish control of your horse’s feet by making sure you can move him backwards, forwards and sideways. Both would make an article in themselves, but my quick guide can be found at


Follow jason’s method

You can only address your horse’s foot handling issues with calm, consistent training, and the first thing to do is desensitise his legs. This can be done using a ‘woggle’ (a lightly padded plastic tube) or schooling whip. Always wear a fastened riding hat when you’re working like this. Standing at the side of your horse’s body at a safe distance, move the woggle along his body and down his leg to just above the knee, then remove it. Repeat this, working gradually further down his leg each time and taking a break after five goes. If he moves, move with him and keep rubbing him up and down with the woggle until he stands and settles. If he moves too much, go back and do more desensitising. Once you’ve moved all the way down one leg, move on to the next, and when he’s accepting of this, move next to him and repeat the process with your hand. Repeat little and often and he’ll eventually become comfortable with you handling his legs – a few days is usually enough.

Shift his weight

Picking up your horse’s feet will become a lot easier if you teach him a cue to shift his weight. For the forelegs, I do this by applying pressure to the front of the pastern. If he doesn’t move, I push his coronet band with my thumb, an irritant which causes him to lift his foot. When he does, rest it in your hand for three seconds before putting it back down. Eventually your horse will associate you touching his pastern with picking his foot up. With the hind legs, face his tail and keep your closest hand on his

SuRvive in the unknown Jason helps your horse cope in new environments

Did you know? Making sure your horse is balanced and on level ground will help him feel more secure when you’re picking his feet up, while his ears provide a guide to how relaxed he’s feeling (if the ear nearest you is fixed on you he’s not relaxed!). If he leans on you when you pick his foot up, allowing his fetlock joint to flex will encourage him to shift his weight.

hip. Run your other hand down his quarters and hindleg, then apply pressure to the back of his fetlock, remembering he can kick you. The moment he moves his leg forward, release the pressure and either change legs or repeat. When I can move his foot forward, I look to put my hand under the hoof and lift his leg slightly out to the side to disengage his power. From here, I bring my other hand down to rub his leg and desensitise him. Working little and often gives best results.

spring 2014 your horse

Give a horse a home With equine charities full to bursting there’s never been a better time to rehome a rescue horse. We explain why it’s also hugely rewarding


hen eight well-known equine charities brought a handful of rescue horses along to Your Horse Live 2013 as part of the show’s brand new Rescue Village, they couldn’t have imagined the response. Inundated with people keen to find out more about taking on a rescue horse, by the end of the weekend every single one had been signed up to a new, loving home! Rehoming a rescue horse is a fantastic and much-needed process, and here to highlight the benefits is RSPCA chief inspector and equine co-ordinator Cathy Hyde. So read on to find out if it’s for you – and discover how one of the horses from last year’s Rescue Village is adjusting to life in her new home.

your horse Spring 2014

The Rescue Village

Walk away with your dream steed by rehoming a rescue horse

Spring 2014 your horse


Expert advice on buying wisely

Correct schooling, a good management regime – and a calming product – will all help to avoid situations like this!

your horse spring 2014

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New stuff!

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Gloves on test

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Three of the best half pads

Nerve-busting gear

Stay calm and take control! If your horse is prone to getting tense, excitable or nervous – especially as spring approaches – feeding a calmer may help him relax and settle. Here we explain how, why and when to use one so you can find the best product to soothe your horse’s jitters


espite our best efforts, some horses will naturally become sharp, spooky and difficult to handle from time to time – this behaviour is often sparked by a change of season (with spring grass turning usually angelic horses into little devils!). If this sounds familiar, a few simple changes to your horse’s management, such as increased turnout time, correct schooling and a fibre-based diet, may be all that’s needed to restore the status quo. But if you’ve exhausted these options and your horse still struggles to relax and concentrate, a calmer may help. There are a huge number of calmers available, which can make choosing one a puzzle. Some work by redressing an imbalance in your horse’s diet, such as a mineral deficiency, while others use a combination of herbs and other natural ingredients to soothe and calm. Here we tell you which product does what, so you can make the best choice for your horse.

Common calming ingredients – and what they do Tryptophan This essential amino acid is needed to form proteins and some hormones, including serotonin (the feel-good, anti-stress hormone, which also aids concentration). Your horse can’t produce tryptophan himself – it has to be provided in his diet.

Valerian Valerian is a well-known calming herb, which acts to make your horse less reactive so he stays alert, but is less likely to over-react in stressful situations. If you’re competing, bear in mind that valerian is a banned substance so you’ll need to stop feeding it at least three to five days before you compete.

Chamomile This herb can help take the edge off a nervous horse in a difficult situation, such as when he’s competing or travelling. Bear in mind that it’s toxic to the liver if used over a long time, so avoid feeding it for more than three months at a time.

B Vitamins

Calmers are available in powder or liquid form, as well as herbal mixes

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Vitamin B1 (thiamine) helps manage stress, and levels can be depleted by increased exercise, stress, illness or an increased metabolism, while B3 (niacin or nicotinic acid) is essential for a healthy circulation and digestive system. It works

in a similar way to valerian, with a calming, sedative effect. It’s included in many horse calmers and high levels are found in brewers’ yeast. Vitamins B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cyanocobalamin) are also found in a number of calming supplements. They can help ease moodiness, improve memory function and aid concentration.

Vitamin C This important anti-oxidant mops up ‘free radicals’ (nasty atoms that damage healthy cells) which build up in the body when it’s under stress. In large doses it can have a tranquilising effect and help to reduce anxiety.

Oxygen An increased level of oxygen in your horse’s bloodstream allows lactic acid, which builds up in muscles during exercise and stress, to be oxidised and dispersed. This can help his body to cope with both strenuous exercise and stress.

Calcium There are several calcium-based products available for tense, excitable horses. The roles of calcium and magnesium in the body are very closely linked and need to be carefully balanced. In a nutshell, calcium ‘excites’ nerves, causing muscles to contract, while magnesium calms a horse’s nerves and encourages his muscles to relax.

spring 2014 your horse

on sale Next month 13th in Your Horse, March kick-start your season! Better Riding ● I n-depth guide to

going affiliated ●E  njoy our endurance masterclass ●F  our ways to improve his walk

Horse Care ●G  ive your horse a

pre-season MoT ● Feed fizzy horses for success ● ‘Tying-up’ explained

Buyers’ Guide ●S  weet-itch treatment ●C  ompetition gear

& spring trends ● Three of the best bridles

Plus! Get a free A2 competition season wall planner!

Your Horse Spring issue 384  

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