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Total Confidence Every month our Total Confidence team of top riders and trainers help you tackle your riding and horse care demons, and this issue they explain how to spook-proof your horse, cope at a competition and more! 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 www.yourhorse.co.uk/tc

22 Sylvia Loch talks travers and its benefits for boosting control 24 Lucinda Green deals with competition day nerves 24 Charlie Unwin helps you achieve a positive mindset 25 Natasha Baker explains how to spook-proof your horse 27 Rosie Jones helps you build a trusting bond over fences, whatever your jumping goals

Take control with travers A fun lateral movement, travers will help boost your confidence as it leads to greater control, obedience and flexibility. Find out how to master it with help from your coach Sylvia Loch Having total control of your horse’s body and being able to control his feet and strengthen him behind is crucial for confidence, and mastering travers will allow you to achieve this. Also known as quarters-in, or haunches-in, it’s a lateral exercise where you ask your horse to Here’s a good example of a correct inside leg position, with a gentle ‘asking’ rein as you ride travers

stay on a straight line down the track with his quarters in off the track. The advantages of this movement include improved lateral bend and a more obedient horse who is listening to your leg aids. It’s not the easiest of exercises to master, but it really helps your horse to engage his hindlegs and

take more weight behind. This will gradually lead to a feeling of lightness in your hand too, but it takes time to perfect.

Learn the aids

To ask for travers, deepen your weight into your inside stirrup to ask your horse to move up the track and bend around your inside leg. Your outside leg encourages him to bring his quarters in from the track, while your outside rein maintains the angle and connection to his hind legs. Your inside rein then gently asks him to look in the direction of travel by flexing through his poll.

If you’re new to travers

I always suggest riders prepare for travers with a small circle first to achieve bend. Ridden up the track, this movement is a good introduction to the more gymnastic half-pass. If your horse isn’t listening or is having difficulty understanding what you want, simply ride the circle again and keep trying. Remember to take it literally one step at a time, and always start and end with a circle and then straighten up to finish.  

Feeling inspired?

For more great, confidence-boosting exercises, check out Sylvia’s latest book, The Balanced Horse. RRP £25.

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Total Confidence

Your horse must look where he’s going as his hindlegs step deeper underneath him to make travers a three- or four-track movement, as Sylvia demonstrates here

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APRIL 2014 your horse


Take the next step! With access to training at an all-time high there’s never been a better time to achieve your goals, so take advantage of what’s out there and make this the year you really go for it

I OUR EXPERT Vikki Hayton BHSI is a British Dressage trainer and judge who runs College Farm Equestrian Centre. Find out more at www.college farm.com

OUR EXPERT Olivia Szajna is British Eventing’s marketing and sponsorship manager who events on her horse Ozzie.

t’s easy to retreat into your comfort zone when you’re riding and stick to the things you know you and your horse can do well. But there’s fun to be had in pushing the boundaries, and making the effort to up your game can bring great rewards, whether that means tackling a clear round jumping course for the first time or taking on the challenges of an affiliated one-day event. An expert in helping riders achieve their goals is trainer Vikki Hayton, who specialises in dressage coaching at her Nottinghamshire-based yard. “There’s never been such a good system in place to help riders train and compete successfully as there is now,” says Vikki, who has ridden up to Grand Prix level. “Take British Dressage for example, which has now opened up its training to non-members. All you need to do is go to the British Dressage (BD) website, click on ‘regional activities’ and scroll down to ‘training and events’. In return for submitting your email address, BD will send you Much of BD’s training is open to non-members

Expert tip

If you like the idea of competing with friends, explore British Dressage’s new competition, Team Quest. See www.british dressage.co.uk/ competitions/ team_quest for more details.

your horse April 2014

details of local clinics, news and training days, all of which are open to non-members. “For some activities you don’t even need a horse to compete as many BD-registered centres will loan you one - it’s all part of a drive to encourage more riders to get involved, and at my yard non-horsey other halves are included too – we run ‘dog dressage’ competitions to keep them entertained! “If you’re not sure whether an affiliated competition is for you, British Dressage has launched ‘have a go’ days, again for non-members. Ideal for riders who are worried they’re not up to scratch, it’s a chance to come and do a test – and with the Intro test you don’t even need to canter – with BD judges and volunteers on hand to offer help and advice. Someone will read the test for you, you can have it videoed if you like, and the emphasis is very much on offering help and support. “You might come away from the day thinking ‘competing’s fun!’, or you might decide you need more in the way of instruction. But if you’re looking to simply improve your performance, rather than perform in front of the judges, I’d always recommend you choose a BDaccredited coach as they will follow a structured, tried and tested training system.” Whether you’re keen to take Vikki’s advice and develop your flatwork, or have your sights set on the cross-country course or show jumping ring this season, each affiliated organisation offers a great training package for members and non-members alike. So read on to discover what’s on offer to help you make your riding goals a reality – without spending a fortune on membership fees! w w w.you r hor se .co.u k


Go affiliated!

FREE! Turn to page 37 for your chance to get a free British Eventing Training Pass

Whatever your goals for 2014, we’re here to help you reach them

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April 2014 your horse


BETTER RIDING

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

At the beginning of the session Katherine’s heel and leg position need work

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Get fit to ride

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Ride a perfect warm-up

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30-minute gridwork session

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Have fun in the saddle

Beccy Broughton’s

Endurance Masterclass

Every issue we give one reader a lesson with a pro – this month Team GB endurance rider Beccy Broughton helps Katherine Mills use the arena to reach her long-distance goals Words Katy Islip Photography Nico Morgan

Transfer your skills to and from the arena

Meet The Trainer Beccy Broughton is an international endurance rider, UK Coaching Certificate (UKCC) endurance coach and an equine sports massage tutor – see www. beccybroughton. webs.com

Katherine tells me she doesn’t do much ‘schooling’ in the sense of tailored sessions in the school, but explains she asks her horses for specific canter leads and to leg yield out on rides. She also plays with the stride length and uses walk to canter transitions. This is great, as it means her horses will be used to listening to her and reacting quickly to her aids. In endurance, as in any discipline, you want your horse to be sensitive to your aids, because on the course you need them responsive and mentally ‘with’ you. Whatever level you’re aiming to ride at, working in the school and transferring what you do there to endurance rides is very important. Unfortunately not everyone has access to an arena – I didn’t until I moved

The lesson focus

●●To improve your position ●●To use schooling to

Meet The Rider Katherine Mills aims to qualify her six-year-old Hispano-Arab Arco to advanced competition level this year. She’s seeking advice on how to progress his training.

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improve your horse’s endurance performance ●●To keep your horse responsive and supple

Once Arco’s had a look at his surroundings he’s better able to listen to Katherine

here – so you have to use the space you have, or consider hiring a school occasionally. Going with friends will keep it fun and also spread the cost. As Katherine and Arco enter the school, I can see he’s a bit spooky. Katherine tells me he’s only been in an arena twice before, so I want her to relax and walk him around on both reins so he can have a good look at everything. Doing this when you’re somewhere new allows your horse to reassure himself he’s safe, so even if it means you ride a longer session it’s time well spent – if you try and make him work from the off his mind won’t be on the job. Once Arco settles I ask Katherine to pick up a 20m circle so I can assess how she and Arco work together and decide what we’ll be working on today.


Whether you’re about to go cross-country or ride a dressage test, your warm-up needs to give your horse every chance to switch on and work

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Better Riding

Perfect your warm-up! Being able to ride a winning warm-up will kick-start every competition day and help you combat common problems, from fizziness to lack of concentration. Our experts show you how

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OUR EXPERT Lauren Shannon is a four-star eventer and trainer who runs Shannon Eventing, see www.shannon eventing.com.

aybe you’ve just unloaded a super-fresh horse who’s looking wild-eyed at the competition scene in front of him, or maybe you’re en route to the arena for a 20-minute schooling session. Whatever the scenario it’s important your horse is soon switched on and listening to you, and that means developing an effective warm-up plan that’s tailored to his temperament and quirks. An expert in fine-tuning her warm-ups to ensure she gets the best out of every horse she rides, both at home and at a show, top eventer Lauren Shannon knows a thing or two about encouraging a horse to work at his finest. As a four-star event rider and trainer, she’s learned what works, and what doesn’t, for every personality trait. So whether your horse is the easily distracted type, or gets wound

up like a coil at the mere thought of a busy collecting ring, her advice will help you find the formula that works for him. “My biggest tip, whatever type of horse you’re riding, is to slow it down!” says Lauren. “At a competition everyone’s always in a rush, so give yourself plenty of time to get sorted before your class, and relax. “Chances are you’ve paid a lot of money to be there and it’s important to enjoy yourself. “Given the added pressure and distractions of a competition environment, you can only ever expect your horse to work at 70% of his potential, compared to the 100% he gives at home. So get to know his quirks and develop a warm-up plan that works for him, whatever his discipline – then be ready to adapt this on the day to the conditions and facilities at hand.”

Warm-up areas can be busy, so knowing what you plan to do will help you stay focused and calm

OUR EXPERT Carol Mailer is a show jumping trainer and regular YH contributor who teaches show jumpers and eventers of all abilities, from grass roots to international level.

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APRIl 2014 your horse


Do something different this year Love your horse but bored of your everyday routine? Chances are your horse is too. Enjoying positive new experiences can strengthen your bond, improve your relationship and increase the fun factor, so we’ve picked 25 inspiring ideas for you to try together

high and low tide times before you go and be aware that some beaches charge a small fee and require you to book ahead (such as the National Trust-owned Studland, which is £10 for a day pass – www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ studland-beach). Studland Stables is offering Your Horse readers 10% off mid-week livery or £10 off a mid-week guided beach ride – find out more at www.facebook.com/ studland.stables and mention Your Horse when booking (both offers are valid term-time only)

Photo: Alice Loder

Canter through the surf on a sunny day on one of Britain’s most picturesque beaches. The British Horse Society (www.bhs.org.uk) has a full list of horse-friendly beaches, but our favourite is Studland Beach in Dorset, where you can canter along a 4km stretch of sand, then head up through fields to Old Harry Rocks for a stunning view of the Purbecks. You could even stay the night, with livery available at the nearby Studland Stables, which also offers beach rides if you don’t have your own horse. Other great beaches include Camber Sands or East Wittering in Sussex. Always check

Capture a moment to treasure forever with a professional photoshoot

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Book a photoshoot

Organise a professional photoshoot for yourself and your horse – there are now plenty of photographers specialising in this, ranging from student Alice Loder, who took the gorgeous picture above, to Mark Beaumont, who has been a photographer for over 20 years and whose equine portraits have a real presence. Alternatively why not beg, borrow or steal a decent camera for a DIY session – check out our tips from Your Horse’s resident photographer Matthew Roberts here at www.yourhorse.co.uk/equinephotoadvice

We’ve teamed up with Mark to offer YH readers a 10% discount on a photoshoot – see www.markbeaumont.co.uk and quote ‘Your Horse’

Hit the beach and, if you’re lucky, soak up some sun!

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Photo: John Harding Photography @ Studland Stables

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Enjoy a ride on the beach, surfside!

3 Try dressage to music

You can now compete at freestyle dressage from Prelim upwards and many riders are discovering it’s a fun way of finding harmony with their horse. Not sure where to start? Simply pay a professional to compile music that fits the tempo of your horse’s footfall. Plan your routine, take a video of you riding it, then send it off to an expert service such as Equivisions who’ll match you to the ideal music (from £85) or choreograph your floor pattern (from £95). YH readers can get 10% off dressage to music mail orders at www.equivisions.co.uk – quote ‘Your Horse’ when ordering (offer valid to 1 May 2014)

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Better Riding

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Book a lesson with your horsey hero

Many Olympic riders give private or group lessons to supplement their income and you don’t have to be a budding superstar to book a place. Budget for around £60 for a group lesson with Richard Waygood at Bicton in Devon, or £72 with Mary King at Stockland Lovell Farm in Somerset. Find out more at www.bicton-arena.co.uk or www.stocklandlovell.com

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Is Mary’s your hero, why not book a lesson with her?

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Saddle up for a charity fun ride

Want to raise money for a good cause and hack somewhere different without the hassle of planning a route, getting lost and opening gates? Some charity fun rides take place on private land normally off-limits, which can offer superb hacking. For one of the best, check out The Lions Club of Windsor’s charity ride in Windsor Great Park, taking place this September and featuring optional novice and advanced level jumps around eight miles of magnificent royal parkland. Places cost £40 plus as much sponsorship as you can raise, and entries are restricted to 750 riders, so book well in advance. If you need stabling overnight the club can recommend livery nearby.

Letting your horse free-jump might just surprise you!

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Free-jump for fun

It doesn’t matter if you jump or not, why not see if your horse enjoys it? Free-jumping is a good way of assessing your horse’s natural jumping potential and can help his confidence as he can learn without any interference (and sometimes, let’s face it, the imbalance) of a rider! Set up a lane of jumps with the arena fence one side and some sort of barrier on the other (but don’t rest your poles on the fence). Start with a cross pole and keep the jumps low before building up to a comfortable, yet challenging, height.

Paint a portrait of your horse

Why not pack a picnic, pick up a pencil or paintbrush, set up a seat in one corner of your field and draw or paint your horse. Or take a picture of him and Photoshop it, playing around with borders, colours, sepia and black and white. Need help taking a good shot? Visit www.photoanswers.co.uk and click on ‘camera school’ for advice from YH sister magazine Practical Photography

Find out more about The Lions Club ride at www.windsorlions.co.uk/events/horse-ride

Long reining can open up new training possibilities

8 Learn to long rein and reap the rewards Fun or pleasure rides provide a great day in the saddle

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We’ve all had times when we can’t ride our horse, whether because of a girth gall, a saddle sent away for reflocking, or simply our achy bits playing up. Learning to long rein means you can keep exercising your horse in straight lines and circles, and

if you get really good at it, you can even jump or go for a hack. The benefits for your horse? Long reining can be ideal for a young or weak horse, and it’ll help him become more supple, work from behind and track up. APRIL 2014 your horse


Nicola and her horse of a lifetime, Opposition Buzz, who helped her to team Olympic silver at London 2012


The Big Interview

“I owe everything to Buzz” Ahead of an exciting eventing season, Olympic rider Nicola Wilson shares her plans for 2014 – and explains why Opposition Buzz is her one in a million

Words Larissa Chapman Photography Matthew Roberts

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ulling up at her picturesque North Yorkshire yard, we’re greeted by a very welcoming Nicola. Despite the bracing weather, she and her team are raring to go and refusing to let the monsoonlike rain dampen their spirits. As we take shelter and nosy around the yard, we spy a well-known face chilling out in his stable – the one and only Opposition Buzz. A stalwart figure on the eventing circuit, with an almost blemish-free record and a highly distinctive jumping style, it’s fair to say Opposition Buzz is one in a million, and he and Nicola have developed a winning partnership few riders ever get to experience. But Buzz (who’s known as Dodie around the yard) isn’t the only exciting prospect for Nicola as the 2014 eventing season picks up. She has several new horses coming through the ranks ready to follow in Buzz’s hoofprints, and she’s

excited for the months ahead. In addition to this, she’s recently been made ambassador for Saddle Up – the rider-dedicated arm of charity Spinal Research – and is also a patron of The Unicorn Centre RDA group in Middlesborough. It’s fair to say Nicola’s excited about the year to come, though she’s no stranger to success, having represented Great Britain at both European and World Championship level, and been part of the silvermedal winning team at the London 2012 Olympics. With so many accolades and achievements to her name, I couldn’t wait to sit down and find out more about the person behind the rider. Did you know, for example, that Nicola’s a bit of a boffin and graduated from university with a degree in Sport Studies and Business? Turn the page to find out how she juggled horses and studying… APRIL 2014 your horse


Ex-racers can be a challenge, but with the right training they’ll adapt to a new career as a fun riding horse

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Off the Track

Transform your ex-racer As more everyday riders take on ex-racers who don’t cut the racing mustard, we ask our expert Kath Pinington how we can ensure a smooth transition from a career on the track to life as a riding horse

E OUR EXPERT Kath Pinington has evented to four-star level and is the yard manager and trainer at the Thoroughbred Rehabilitation Centre (TRC) in Lancaster – a charity dedicated to racehorse welfare, ex-racehorse retraining and rehoming – www. thoroughbred rehabilitation centre.co.uk

asing your new ex-racer onto a new yard in a way that helps him settle quickly and calmly is essential to ensuring the best possible start to your relationship. So whether your horse is new to you, or you’re not progressing the way you’d like with your current ex-racer, use this easy guide to initial health assessments, essential care to help him settle, and ways to develop your relationship for a successful future. Retraining racehorses can be challenging, but also incredibly rewarding as you get to witness the transformation of a highly tuned athlete into a relaxed riding horse. The key to a successful start is to take your time and be prepared to adapt to your new horse. As the Thoroughbred breed is gentle and loves to please, building trust, establishing ground rules and listening will all be important.

Tailored isolation

Expert tip

To help you assess your ex-racer for his suitability to a second career try to find out as much history about him as possible. If he’s raced you can access information from the Racing Post site (www. racingpost.com).

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Most horses out of racing will normally be inoculated and healthy, but it’s sensible to take precautions with any new horse to ensure they’re free of viruses or infections before integrating them onto your yard. At the TRC we put new horses into isolation for three to seven days, something many yards will require you to do as standard practice (although the time of isolation may vary). During this time we’ll take the horse’s temperature, pulse and respiration while looking for any nasal discharge and generally ensuring the horse is showing signs of good health. You may also need to worm your new horse at this point but, if you’re unsure, speak to your vet about putting an effective worming plan into place.

Use the isolation period to spend time together – grooming or just being with him will help you bond

It’s important to remember at this point that your ex-racer will have come from the busy environment of a racing yard to complete isolation so ensure that he’s not completely alone. To do this you’ll need to discuss with your yard manager (or the friends you share your yard with) the possibility of moving a horse to a nearby stable. Having another horse in sight, but not within touching distance, will go a long to help prevent your horse becoming stressed. The isolation period doesn’t need to stop play – use this time to your advantage. Once he’s settled and relaxed, pay attention to his behaviour so you start to recognise what’s normal for him. Then, in the future, if your horse begins to display different behaviour, possibly due to pain or anxiety, you’ll be able to spot it and react appropriately. You can also use this time to bond by spending time with your horse or grooming him. Keep in mind that Thoroughbreds are thin skinned and, if their muscles are tight from racing, may find grooming uncomfortable. Use a soft brush and if initially your horse resists being groomed, don’t panic. Once he’s more settled and relaxed he might enjoy it more. april 2014 your horse


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april 2014 your horse


HORSE CARE

Keep your horse healthy and happy

Feed for success – without fizz

Help your horse focus – and keep a lid on his excitement – by watching what goes in his bucket, as top equine nutritionist Katie Williams explains how to maintain the correct feed-to-work ratio. Suddenly your pre-competition training will appear calmer!

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OUR EXPERT Katie Williams has been working as a nutritionist since 1998 and is the technical manager at Dengie. Her role combines technical support for customers and staff, product development and working closely with the production and quality control teams. To find out more visit www. dengie.com.

he start of the competition season is always an exciting time as memories of a wet, muddy winter gradually melt away and you look to the future, hoping all your hard work will be rewarded with success. However, nothing jars your training plans or knocks your confidence more than an over-excited, distracted horse. If this sounds familiar you need to take steps now to shape your horse’s workload and, importantly, his feeding regime to help tame any fizzy tendencies and help him focus and behave. Regular turnout, consistent ridden work, plenty of forage and a balanced diet that suits your horse’s needs are all vital tools in your pre-competition training kit. So read on for advice to help you strike the all-important feed-to-work balance and get off on the right hoof this season. Cereals provide a quick energy boost

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Hay and other ‘long-chop’ fibre feeds provide your horse with slow release energy – perfect if he’s a lively type

Balancing your horse’s energy levels Getting your horse’s energy levels balanced is crucial for ridden success. Too much energy and he’ll be like a wound up spring, too little and he’ll be lacking in sparkle and stamina. Energy isn’t something you can actually see or touch. It comes from several different sources and supplies two main types of ‘boost’, namely quick-release or slow-release. Energy from fibre is described as slow-release energy, mainly because it can take several days for the microbial population in your horse’s system to break down fibre and release the energy it contains. However, the time it takes for these microbes to digest fibre will vary. High-fibre feeds, such as sugar beet and alfalfa, for example, are much more easily digestible than straw. Cereals are the opposite of fibre because the starch they contain provides a quick-release source

of energy. Starch can be broken down easily by enzymes in the small intestine and will reach the bloodstream much faster. If your horse is fizzy, it’s best to feed him sources of slow-release energy (namely lots of forage, high-fibre and high-oil feeds) as these are less likely to exacerbate his over-excitable behaviour. However, just to confuse matters, you may wonder why foods such as porridge – which obviously originate from cereals – are recommended to help us riders stay fuller for longer? This is because in humans cereals provide slow-release energy, but in horses they represent a quickrelease source of energy. The reason? We humans can’t break down fibre, as we don’t have a well-developed population of fibre-digesting bugs, as our horses do. w w w.you r hor se .co.u k


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Worming advice

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Give your horse an MOT!

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Improve your bond

Page 98

Control poisonous plants in the Open Clinic

The right diet will help ensure your horse is fit, fun and controllable

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april 2014 your horse


Back to Basics

Get your pre-season checks underway to ensure your horse is fit and ready for whatever 2014 holds

Proud sponsors of Horse Care Back to Basics your horse April 2014


Horse Care Body

Time for an equine MOT? Whether you’re a keen hacker or an eventing pro, check off the points on our cut-out-and-keep pre-season health checker and hit the ground running

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old, wet weather, not much riding and a lack of grass over winter all contribute to a change in your horse’s health and fitness, so now’s the time to make sure you give him a thorough once-over from head to hoof – think

essential teeth checks, a vaccination overhaul and an effective fitness plan before the season starts. Here, equine veterinary surgeon Stuart Thorne from Fellowes Farm Equine Clinic in Cambridgeshire has all the essential information you need to get your year

on track, whether you aim to compete or simply enjoy riding. So ensure you get off on the right hoof and follow our quick and easy checklist. Just tick off each stage, and make a note of the date, then keep this information to hand for future reference.

Guard against nasties such as tetanus Now’s the ideal time of year to make sure your horse’s vaccines are up-to-date, and this is hugely important for two reasons. Firstly, for your horse’s health and to ensure he has a strong immune system, and secondly, if you’re competing and travelling to different competition venues you must be up-to-date. There’s no point training hard, packing the lorry and making the journey to your chosen competition only to be turned away because your vaccinations aren’t in order.

Remember when booking your vaccinations to be aware of upcoming events or competitions. Many riders and trainers notice their horses are a little off-colour and stiff after a jab, so book your vaccinations in advance of a big competition – at least two weeks is recommended. You shouldn’t go even a day over on his vaccinations, but you are allowed to bring them forward if you need to. Tick and date /

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Make sure your horse’s vaccines are up to date before you compete

Avoid any painful teething problems As the season begins and you start to work your horse more, you’ll notice if he becomes mouthy on his bit or reluctant to take his bridle. Regular check-ups every six months are essential, and organising one for the start of the season is a good idea. Your vet or equine dental technician (EDT) will be able to perform a check-up and a routine rasp, if necessary, to eliminate any sharp edges. A thorough pre-season dental check-up can help eliminate any pain-related issues

Tick and date /

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SPILLERS® Care-Line 01908 226626 careline@spillers-feeds.com l www.spillers-feeds.com April 2014 your horse


Back to Basics

We all dream of having a strong bond with our horses – here Charlotte Dennis tells you how

Proud sponsors of Horse Care Back to Basics your horse APRIL 2014

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Horse Care Mind

Boosting your bond Whether you’ve just bought a new horse or your existing partnership could do with a lift, international horsemanship trainer Charlotte Dennis is here to help you develop a strong, lasting relationship

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wning a horse is like any other relationship in that it takes time and commitment, but sometimes the stresses and strains of other areas of life leave your equine partnership somewhat neglected. With the summer months mercifully in sight, many of us can dare to dream of more time in the saddle, and with the new competition season upon us now’s the perfect time to start building a deeper, more trusting bond with your horse. After all, a solid bond from the ground will help you achieve more under saddle. As an international horsemanship trainer, Charlotte Dennis has a wealth of knowledge and experience on how to get the best from your horse and, as she explains, there’s nothing more rewarding than getting it right. So follow her simple tips and tricks to create a winning partnership.

Learn to read his language In order to build the solid foundations needed to progress and succeed with a new or existing horse, you need to understand when he’s happy and when he’s anxious. Your horse will communicate with you through his body language, and being able to read this will enable you to make him feel at ease. The following are common signs of contentment and distress:

Signs that he’s happy

●●Resting a hind leg ●●A head carriage that’s

below his withers ●●Regular, gentle breathing ●●Eyes blinking ●●Ears relaxed (ie not pricked up in panic or flat back in anger) ●●Eating calmly ●●Lying down ●●Accepting your presence around him

OUR EXPERT Charlotte Dennis is an equine behaviour expert who runs clinics and workshops from her Cotswold-based yard. She’s an NLP Master Practitioner, helping riders achieve their goals and up their confidence levels. Find out more at www.charlotte dennis.com

Signs that he’s anxious

●●Head up with ears pricked and alert ●●Ears back and teeth grinding ●●The whites of his eyes showing ●●Swishing tail ●●Stamping feet ●●Box walking or pacing ●●Not eating or snatching food aggressively ●●Windsucking or weaving

Ask the experts Talk through your horse care worries at our new show, Total Confidence Live (see p29)

SPILLERS® Care-Line 01908 226626 careline@spillers-feeds.com l www.spillers-feeds.com w w w.you r hor se .co.u k

april 2014 your horse


Open C

Exclusive horse care a

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: ✦ Riding in new environments p99 ✦ Spotting poisonous plants p101 ✦ Avoiding azoturia p102 ✦ Young horse care Q&A p104 ✦ Coping with a hernia p109

instant advice online To ensure you’ve got access to vet advice whenever you need it we’ve teamed up with the free online symptom checker service vethelpdirect.com. This clever service, run by qualified vets, is easy to use and totally free. To give it a try, just visit our website at www.yourhorse.co.uk/symptomchecker for free, on-the-spot expert vet advice.

How it works

You’ll be asked to select from a drop-down list of symptoms, then given immediate advice on if and when you should call the vet. It only takes seconds and it’s all part of our Open Clinic service!

4 top ways to learn Join live web chats with our experts and ask them your horse care questions Watch our how-to videos to help you learn whenever you see this symbol Spot the signs of a problem early with our handy symptom checker Got a question for an expert? Simply email it to us at getinvolved@yourhorse.co.uk

Some horses struggle to cope the first time they go somewhere new and will nap back to the ‘safety’ of others


Clinic

advice from the UK’s top experts

meet OUR EXPERTs

Gil Riley is managing equine vet 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

Take new venues in your stride Spring is the perfect time to get out and about, whether to a show, clinic or hack somewhere new – but a strange environment may put your horse on edge. Behaviour expert Jason Webb explains how to help him cope

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ravelling away from home can be a daunting prospect for both horse and rider, and the first thing you need to realise is that any changes in your behaviour will be transmitted to your horse. If you’re flustered, nervous and stressed then the likelihood is that your horse will follow suit! Aside from this, you have to appreciate it’s your horse’s natural instinct to be suspicious of new sights and sounds as this is how he evolved to survive in the wild. Horses who are suspicious in new places tend to be more inexperienced, whereas some horses get nervous just anticipating what they’re going to do. However good leadership can rectify both of these problems. The classic signs of a horse struggling to cope are his head going up, his body tensing or shivering and him fidgeting about. If he becomes more agitated his tail will come up and he’ll start high blowing (snorting). The more nervous a horse is, the more he’ll start to look for comfort with other horses or back at the horsebox, and this will happen unless he learns he’s safe with you as his leader.

Prepare for success

When it comes to helping your horse cope somewhere new, the most important thing you can do is prepare and practise for whatever it is you’re going out to do. If it’s a show, make sure you know exactly what’s required in your classes and practise riding in a small space with other horses. In the run-up to the event, leave yourself

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plenty of time for packing and loading up on the day, as this will stop you becoming stressed and flustered. With a new horse, always start with some low-energy, noncompetitive outings, such as a hack with friends or a local clinic. You also need to plan for when your horse gets excited. How are you going to react? What exercises are you going to use to calm him down? The main objective is to move your horse in a controlled way in order to release all the excess, nervous energy and adrenaline he has. If you stop him from moving, you’re bottling his energy up and he’ll end up exploding!

Jason’s method

To start dealing with ‘out and about’ excitement or nerves, try this exercise on the ground. Let your horse trot around you as if you were lungeing him on a small circle, changing direction every few circles. When you see him start to settle, stop and let him rest. If at any point he looks to pull away, rear or the like, remove his power by bringing his head back towards you and putting energy into his hindquarters to make them swing out of the circle, disengaging them and taking away his power. Keep repeating the exercise until you see him lower his head, slow down and relax. If your horse becomes excitable once you start riding him, this exercise can be done under saddle too. Allow him to move forward, but control the speed and direction by putting him onto a small circle with frequent changes of direction – this is far better than pulling on the bit to try and contain his energy. If he tries to take over

Napping Jason helps you build trust in order to manage a horse who naps

You need to be a confident leader your horse can rely on

Did you know? Handlers and riders have to be confident leaders in order to help and improve a nervous horse in a new environment. If you feel yourself becoming tense, focus on controlling your breathing – talking or humming will stop you holding your breath and help you stay relaxed.

by running out of the circle or grabbing the bit, disengage his hind end again to take away his power. Once you feel your horse starting to settle, you can start working him properly and prepare for your event. Be prepared for the possibility that your horse may become worse before you reach that breakthrough. Keep going and stay calm, consistent and decisive within the realms of being safe.

april 2014 your horse


Take your time choosing the right horse to match your confidence levels, riding goals and budget

your horse april 2014

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Buying a horse

Buy your dream horse No matter how many times you’ve done it, buying a new horse can be exciting and scary in equal measure. Make this the year you find your perfect equine partner with our stress-free guide

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ou may have spent years saving hard, been out shopping for all the basic essentials and even chosen your ideal livery yard, but before you get carried away and buy the first horse you see, it’s time to face the cold, hard truth – owning a horse is a huge commitment. There’s a lot to love about having one, and much fun to be had, but you owe it to your potential new horse to

be as prepared as possible in every sense of the word. Before you take the plunge, grab every chance you can to look after and ride other people’s horses, invest in regular lessons and up your care know-how so you’re fully ready for horse ownership. Your instructor is a great person to bounce ideas off – they’ll be able to tell you whether or not you’re ready to buy, and help you choose suitable horses to look at.

Make a wishlist to help narrow things down First off, spend time doing your homework in order to narrow down your search. Think carefully about which type of horse would be best for you – young with potential, older with experience, or a schoolmaster in your chosen discipline? Above all, be sensible and realistic about your own riding ability and what you plan to do with your new horse. There’s nothing worse than owning an animal you’re too scared to hack out or handle. It’s much better to partner up with a trustworthy, well-proven type you

can enjoy spending time with – remember horse owning is meant to be fun! Put your requirements down on paper and discuss your list with your instructor before you start looking, as they’ll be able to help you fine-tune it further. When the time finally comes to look, allow as long as it takes. There are plenty of horses for sale, but the sane, sound and sensibly priced ones sell quickly. It can help if you break your wishlist up into the following four categories:

1 Age and experience Everyone knows that an inexperienced horse and novice rider isn’t the best combination, yet this is still one of the most frequentlymade mistakes in the horse-buying world. You have to remember that every time you handle or ride your horse you’re training him, good or bad, and it’s very easy for a less

experienced owner to unintentionally reinforce unwanted or naughty behaviour. For most amateurs, a mature horse with a suitable level of training for the activities you want to do is the best choice. So think twice before turning down an older animal as they can make ideal first-time horses.

An older, more experienced horse can be a safe – and fun – bet

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april 2014 your horse


BUYERS’ GUIDE

Expert advice on buying wisely

Sweet itch can be a distressing condition for your horse so use our guide to find a product that could help to ease the irritation

your horse April 2014


Page 124

Page 126

Our pick of the latest products

Training and horse care DVDs

Page 128

Three of the best bridles

Page 132

Competition gear

Beat the itch

Sweet itch can make your horse’s life a misery as spring approaches, so here’s our pick of the best products to prevent, treat and manage it

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s spring fast approaches, and with it the start of the midge season, many horses will be at risk of a bout of sweet itch. This allergic reaction to midge saliva – the culicoides midge to be precise – results in intense

itching and swelling at the site of the bite, which your horse rubs. This can often lead to him damaging the skin, allowing infection in. The top of the tail and mane are usually the worst affected areas and horses will spend hours scratching, swishing their

tails and biting at themselves to try to relieve symptoms. Unfortunately, there’s no cure, but good management can help control the condition – and our pick of the latest products will help make the summer months more bearable for your horse.

A boost from within Feeding a supplement designed to soothe and protect your horse’s skin can help him fight sweet itch from the inside out. Many use

herbal ingredients that boost the immune system and help promote healthy hair re-growth should sweet itch strike.

Equimins Itchless Liquid Herbal Tincture £22.35 for 1 litre

KM Elite Ultimate Oil £10.99 for 1 litre A blend of high quality oils including coconut, rice bran, flax seed and sea buck, the ingredients contain a mix of Omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9, as well as essential fatty acids, minerals, antioxidants and antibacterial nutrients. All can help to relieve itching and encourage hair growth in affected horses.

This liquid, which contains marigold, dandelion, nettle, garlic and seaweed, can be used as a supplement to combat itching and promote a healthy coat and skin from within. It can also be diluted and used as a soothing body wash.

Hilton Herbs Bye Bye Itch £24 for 2kg This natural feed supplement helps support your horse’s normal response to seasonal irritants. It’s rich in essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are vital for maintaining healthy skin and encouraging natural resistance to midge bites. It also contains a blend of herbs that have a cleansing and cooling action.

NAF D-itch £19.95 for 500g D-itch uses a blend of naturally sourced antioxidants, such as hawthorn and ginger, to help flush out the build-up of toxins associated with hot, irritated skin. It also contains herbs and nutrients to promote strong, healthy skin from within.

April 2014 your horse


Join us at Badminton! Rub shoulders with eventing’s finest on our exclusive Your Horse reader weekend at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials this May

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ancy two nights in a luxury hotel, full weekend passes to the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (from 7-11 May) and the chance to wine and dine with a top rider? Then you’ll love the fantastic reader weekend trip we’ve got lined up to celebrate this world-class four-star event. It’s a must for eventing fans! We’ve teamed up with specialist tour company Travel Editions to provide a complete two-night break. Staying at the four-star Best Western Blunsdon Hotel (just a short drive from Badminton Horse Trials), you’ll arrive on Friday 9 May in

time for a private dinner with special guest speaker, former Olympic eventer Sharon Hunt (pictured right). Then it’s off to Badminton Horse Trials for two days of eventing action, with tickets to watch the cross-country on the Saturday and show jumping on the Sunday (with grandstand seating guaranteed). Plus you can enjoy an exclusive, guided course walk with Sharon on the Saturday morning.

See the world’s top riders, including William Fox-Pitt, as they battle for the Badminton crown

The package includes: ●●Full weekend admission to the

horse trials, including reserved undercover seating for Sunday’s show jumping phase ●●A two-night stay at the Best Western Blunsdon Hotel, with a private three-course dinner with guest speaker Sharon Hunt on the Friday (including wine) ●●A three-course dinner in the hotel’s restaurant on Saturday evening ●●All coach transfers to and from Badminton Horse Trials ●●Full English breakfast in the hotel ●●The services of a tour manager throughout your stay ●●A guided cross-country course walk with Olympic eventer Sharon Hunt on Saturday morning

Your weekend at-a-glance Friday 9 May Check in from 3pm at the hotel in time for a welcome reception and private dinner with wine at 6.30pm. Sharon Hunt is your after-dinner speaker. Saturday 10 May After breakfast, hop on the coach to Badminton for a full day of cross-country action, including a course walk with Sharon. Return early evening for dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.

The price

The price for our special Badminton Horse Trials weekend is £329 per person* for Your Horse subscribers – non-subscribers pay £339.

How to book

Simply call Travel Editions on 020 7251 0045 and quote ‘Your Horse’ – lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Or book online at www.traveleditions.co.uk

Sunday 11 May After an early breakfast, it’s time to return to Badminton Horse Trials, with reserved grandstand seating for the show jumping. Arrive back at the hotel early evening.

The finer points: * Price is based on two people sharing a double room. You’ll be asked for a £75 deposit, per person, at the time of booking. There is a £52 single room supplement, and children sharing their parents’ room pay a special rate (call 020 7251 0045 for details) • A special Sunday night rate is available, costing £52pp (sharing a twin room), or £78pp for a single room, for bed and breakfast • Full conditions apply, which will be sent with your confirmation • This tour is operated by Travel Editions, which is a member of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA No V3120) • As grandstand seating for the show jumping is limited, please book early to avoid disappointment • For more on the horse trials visit www.badminton-horse.co.uk

your horse April 2014


Pippa Funnell riding Redesigned at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in 2013

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April 2014 your horse

photoS: Kit Houghton/Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials

Exclusive reader offer!


on sale Next month 10th April in Your Horse... head-to-hoof horse care! Better Riding ●P  ost-injury workouts

●T  raining tips from the

mounted police ●E  asy ways to develop your contact

Horse Care ●D  isease prevention

& hoof health ●E  quine digestion explained ●C  alm stressy horses & solve napping

Buyers’ Guide ●D  ressage saddlecloths

tried & tested ●3  of the very best competition jackets ●M  ust-have health products

iz u ! q s h re t l uhea d ca l Pour ilore ice

ke or ta adv a T f

April 2014 issue of Your Horse  

In the mag this month, enjoy our in-depth guide to going affiliated, read Beccy Broughton's endurance masterclass, give your horse a pre-sea...

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