Tuesday, 24 February 2015

[Laura Loves] Pikeur Spring/Summer 2015

Pikeur is one of those brands that I forever lust over, yet I have never actually bought from  and their Spring/Summer 15 collection is no different (although I may actually buy something this time!). I have come to notice that the majority of my riding wardrobe is navy so I really want to branch out into other colours (as contrary to my riding wardrobe - my normal wardrobe is full of colour!) and this seasons Pikeur have some truly gorgeous colours available! 

Latina Grip Breeches
These Latina Grip Breeches (£105 from Equine & Country) are my absolute favourite! I love this shade of green and front pockets are a must for me when it comes to breeches/jodhpurs! I think I may have to purchase these one pay day! They also have a polo shirt and sleeveless polo shirt in the same colour. 

Caralina Fleece
This fleece is available in a whole host of colours. The orange looks really nice in the photos on the model (£69.99 at Naylors) but I think I would have to see it in person to truly decide - though being ginger means I'm not sure if I could get away with it anyway! An alternative, however, is this grey one (£81 at Fur Feather Meds). Grey is another favourite colour of mine as it's such a classic colour. 

Ellina Softshell Jacket

I quite like the look of this jacket and feel that it would be perfect for Spring/Summer as it doesn't look too thick and would be suitable for this sudden outbursts that the English weather gods love! It's available in Navy, Orange and Green varying in price from £99.99 to £129. 

Sophie Star Sweater

This sweater is perfect both on and off the yard, or possibly even the gym! It looks slouchy in fit and rather comfy! I'm not normally a fan of pink, so again I would have to actually see it, but I think it looks really nice. It's priced at £54 on Fur Feather Meds and is also available in orange or lime (which looks more pale yellow on the website!). 

Blanca Softshell Gilet 
The final product is this gilet (£66 on Equine & Country) as no spring/summer collection is complete without one! They are the ideal item for those in between days. This one has the same softshell material which makes it wind-proof and waterproof whilst giving that bit of warmth when needed without the need for a coat. 

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Friday, 20 February 2015

The Best Way To Start A Day

Misty sunrises + pony ears = a great morning

Luckily for me, on a Friday I start work later (half 9) and as it is now a lot lighter in the mornings, I decided to take advantage and hack Pea out this morning. What better way to start a working day than by tacking your horse up and setting out at 6:45am in the sunrise. Not entirely sure Pea fully agreed with me when he realized he wasn't getting breakfast and was instead being worked! I decided to brave him in just his snaffle which I started to regret on my way down the drive but actually he was perfect! As some of you may be aware, we can only canter out hacking or on the lunge in a very large space and so we've not been able to do much cantering as I haven't hacked in a few weeks. Hence, this is why I was a bit concerned hacking him in just his snaffle, first thing in the morning when he's been in all night and hasn't had a proper canter for a few weeks! Going down the drive he was looking at everything, and as soon as I asked for trot he was more than happy to oblige! Therefore, when I reached the straight section that we canter I expected a buck or two but no! He was forward going, but perfectly fine to stop if I asked and no two feet stand offs at all! Happy days! If only I could spend every morning like this!

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Monday, 16 February 2015

What's In A Name?

This is a slightly different post, but after reading the story of the police horse who was called Brian but police wanted to rename it, it got me thinking..What's in a name? (In case you haven't heard, Thames Valley Police wanted to rename the horse something more war-like such as Hercules or Thor as they believed Brian was too wimpy - needless to say, people objected so the horse is sticking with Brian!).

I think it's safe to say that 'Paddy' is a very popular horse name! There is currently two Paddy's in Pea's field - himself and another (much larger one) and I know of quite a few others who also have a Paddy! It's traditionally quite an Irish name (Pea is connemara x so it's understandable) and so you will undoubtedly find quite a few Irish breds with the same name. As for the Pea, I genuinely have no idea where that part came from, but if I'm honest I love it! As many of you know, I very rarely call Paddy Pea, Paddy...I literally always refer to him as Pea. However, many people seem to think it's just the letter P so it's odd having to spell it out for people when entering competitions or phoning the vet/physio etc!

After a quick Google search, I have found a website which claims that:
           "people with the name [Paddy] are excited by change, adventure & 
excitement. They're dynamic, visionary & versatile, 
able to make constructive use of freedom. 
They fight being restricted by rules. Tend to be optimistic, energetic, intelligent 
& able to make friends easily. May be restless & rebellious."
She Knows

Obviously, that definition is aimed at humans rather than horses, however there are a few elements which do, surprisingly, fit Pea such as the rebellious bit (for definite!), excited by adventure - even though he takes it in his stride, and he is rather intelligent. I was having a conversation with both the Physio and someone at my yard about how he hates doing the same thing too often and when he's learnt things, he'll have the odd days where he refuses to do it! As my physio & instructor rightly said - he can do it, he just chooses not to today! The quote below is quite good as it links with what someone at my yard said about how Pea will not always do what he's learnt or whatever is a sign of intelligence as it means he's thinking of other things unlike some horses which once they learn they'll do that, no questions asked! 

Do you know what your horses' name means? Or what do you think of the name Brian - worthy of a police horse?

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Valentine's Gifts For Him

The final post in my Valentine's gifts is obviously going to feature a few gift ideas for men. Now I will admit straight away that I am awful at gifts for anyone to be honest, let alone men! So apologies in advance! 

#1: Cufflinks
Cufflinks come in such a variety of designs nowadays so there's plenty of designs to pick from. One site which I have featured quite a few times do numerous different designs and that is 'The Dog & Dobbin'. You can choose from various dog breeds or there are three different horse designs. My favourite is the 'steeplechase' design - you can also hint at a day at the races with these ;) (Ps, they even come gift boxed so you don't have to faff around with any wrapping! Bonus!)

#2: Shirt/Polo Top
To go with those cufflinks, he's going to need a shirt! Or how about adding a bit of equestrian style to his wardrobe with a polo shirt. You can probably already guess the company that is probably number one for this - yep, you guessed it - Joules! They have so many different colours and styles to choose from so you're sure you find something to suit!

#3: Travel Mug
Travel mugs are great for people always on the go or who have limited time in the morning. Zazzle is a great site that has hundreds of mugs, beer mugs and travel mugs with an equestrian theme for everyone in the family. They can also be customised for that added personal effect. 

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Valentine's Gifts For Her

I thought I would continue on with the Valentine's gift guide and offer some equestrian themed gifts for the female rider. Even if you don't have anyone to hint these at, it's always fun to treat yourself :)

#1: Jewellery
In my opinion, you can never go wrong with jewellery! There is something for everyone and so many places where you can pick up equestrian themed jewellery pieces. A few of my favourites are 'The Dog & Dobbin', 'Gemosi' and 'Harriet Glen Creations'. All were featured on my Christmas website guide and they offer such beautiful pieces. I love the rings by Harriet Glen, in particular the snaffle ring & hoof ring. Gemosi create gorgeous bracelets made individually from your horses hair whilst The Dog & Dobbin have something of everything! HiHo Silver also has a vast array of equestrian pieces with prices ranging from £20 to £400!
#2: Cushions
Everyone loves cushions, right?! They can be put anywhere - on the bed/sofa/chair/lorry/even the car! There's been an increase in equestrian cushions on the high street lately as well as a quick google search finding no end of online sites selling them! Asda & Tesco in particular do some great cushions at really affordable prices! In fact, there's a donkey cushion I have my eye on in Tesco that's only £4, though I haven't seen it in store :(

#3: Shoes
A girl can never have too many shoes, not even an equestrian! Whether it's a pair of country boots, riding boots or even deck shoes. Though, I'm personally after a pair of Fairfax & Favour boots which come in a variety of colours and also have different coloured tassels that you can buy for them! They are just so gorgeous!
Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Monday, 9 February 2015

Valentine's Gifts For Your Horse

Now, I'm pretty sure that it's a well known fact among equestrians that our main other half in our life is our horse. With Valentine's Day fast approaching, here are some gift ideas for your horse.

#1: Treats
The way to the majority of our horse's hearts will always be food. This is definitely true for Pea who always knows when I've not given him the other carrot that's in my pocket and he'll always fish out those that I've hidden in his hay within 5 minutes. One of his favourite treats (well I guess it is) is a horslyx. I have featured this on the blog before as they are great for all sorts of reasons such as stretches, distraction aids during vet visits or clipping or as a general treat. They come in a variety of sizes and flavours so are suited for a majority of horses.

Another company that is well known is Likit. Again, these produce various licks in an even wider variety of flavours as well as making treat balls and snack bars. Or if licks aren't for you or your horse then Spillers do a range of treats in different flavours with some having beneficial factors such as Meadow Herb with Biotin or with Glucosamine. The Bailey's treat tub is also a firm favourite of Pea's with him constantly trying to break into it or knock in on the floor in the hope they'll fall everywhere. The tub is also handy to use afterwards as either a wash bucket, skip bucket for when you pick out their feet or just as a storage tub.

#2: Bridle
Horze is a Scandinavian company who I feel are growing in popularity in the UK. They have a mix of collections which vary in price so will suit everyone's budget. My favourite is the Diamond bridle at just £41.99. Annoyingly it's in black only but luckily with a grey I suppose he suits both! The noseband piece goes over the top for extra comfort and it comes with a gorgeous sparkly browband!

However, if you don't want to buy a new bridle, there are many browband companies such as Bespoke Browbands or Equiture. Equiture have a whole range of gorgeous diamante browbands (and other products) which are available in a very large array of colours so definitely worth a look if you're after a new browband!

#3: Saddle
Doesn't everyone love a new saddle?! If only they weren't so expensive! I really want a dressage saddle, however with prices starting at about £700 for a nice one, I think I'll be a long time saving! Ideally I would love either an Ideal, Albion or WOW, but as I said, I might be a long time wishing!

#4: Fleece Rug
I think it has been mentioned a few times on here that I seem to have a bit of a weird obsession with fleece rugs. I mean, they are a fundamental staple in any equine wardrobe, but I think four is a bit excessive (though I have a 'use' for each one!). Fleece rugs have so many uses from keeping your horse warm travelling, chucking on whilst waiting in between competitions, keeping you warm when you're stuck waiting at the yard for a while, if you get one with wicking materials then they are great for cooling off... Get the drift? Fleece rugs are pretty important! Therefore, why not treat your trust equine to one? I really like this Le Mieux one and I think Premier Equine do a similar one. In fact, there's quite a few nice fleece rugs out but I should really stop looking! 

#5: Leather Headcollar

I think leather headcollars look great on any horse and just give that little bit of an extra smarter look. There are also brands bringing them out at cheaper prices which still look as good if you don't fancy splashing out too much money! I love this sheepskin one, again from Le Mieux, and it can looks great on some horses! Unfortunately, I don't think it would suit mine...*sigh*

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Sunday, 8 February 2015

[Lesson] 08.02.15

It has been such a long time since I last had a lesson with Pea as it was before he had his 3 month holiday! Oops! However, I finally got round to booking a lesson as I wanted to work on getting him to pick his hind legs up more and work more from behind. In a round about way, we did achieve this, however at a bit of a price in a way! 

I explained to Cathy what has happened since she last saw us with him having a holiday, how he's been returning to work and then when he had the physio. She watched us walk and trot round whilst I warmed him up and straight away noticed that he's rather shuffly behind and that the reason he's been tripping is because he doesn't like putting weight on his hind thus over-compensating and ending up tripping in front. She said that we need just focus on getting him to loosen up in walk and trot so no schooling or cantering in the school :( Basically, if we did, he would just get really uncomfortable and we would end up with way more issues than what we already have. So the plan is to work him in a large space in the arena (luckily I have super large arenas at my yard so I have to ignore working in the 'flatwork' area that's like a 20x60m sectioned area and work where the jumps are in the larger part) and just do large circles, sweeping turns, etc. We're going to do pole work once or twice a week depending on how he feels and then lunge, hack and ground-work. He's allowed to canter on the lunge providing it's a large circle and he's to be lunged loose - so no side reins, and then he can also canter out hacking as it's on the straight. 

Back to the lesson - Cathy ensured that we did pole work today so as to give me ideas of what to do with him and also to really get him to pick his back legs up. She set out four poles on the ground and told me to just walk him over them. It was actually quite difficult to get the right pace and energy as at first he was rather slow and lethargic or if I asked too much he would get too fast. We did get the right momentum most of the time though! The first few times he would pick up his front feet but was reluctant to pick his back feet up, however the more we did the exercise, the more he loosened up and began to pick his back feet up a bit higher. You could tell he found it difficult though as by the third or fourth pole it took a bit more encouragement to keep him going as it was obviously hard work for him. There were the odd times when he would get too close to the first pole which mucked him up a bit for the rest but as Cathy explained, due to their eyesight they can't actually see the poles directly in front of them. Instead, they see them on the approach and then have to figure out how to navigate them - ie they have to work out how far they are from them, when is the correct time to pick their feet up for them and then go over them. It's the same when jumping so she explained how important it is to not change anything on the approach, just ensure that you keep your leg on and keep the same momentum. Cathy also mentioned how some horses you just have to sit to get to the poles/jump whereas others you have to really ride them & that Pea falls into the latter! He was quite hard work to begin with and I could really feel my leg muscles working trying to get him a bit more enthusiastic so I really had to make sure I rode him not only to the poles, but over them and afterwards as well as he lost impulsion over the second half and then after it was more of a 'slump & stop' movement! 

Once he was happy going over the poles on the ground, she then raised two of them and we repeated the exercise, still in walk. He actually picked this exercise up quite quickly as I think he realised just how much he needed to pick his back legs up! Once we had done this one a few times, Cathy moved the poles slightly further apart and put them back down as ground poles so that we could trot over them. The first time, he did his usual thing of hopping over the first one and finding them all a bit iffy but after a few more times he started to get the hang of the exercise and stretch over them instead. We carried out the exercise on a figure of eight and I could really start to feel him open up and stretch over the poles. We then progressed to having the middle two poles raised before eventually having them all raised. By the end of the session he was definitely a lot more open and Cathy noticed just how expressive he can be with his trot, something she said she's never noticed before with him! So now we just need to ensure he keeps his trot open and hey presto! 

One thing that came to light is my position. Apparently, all this time, I've been tipping forward thus unbalancing Pea and making him carry extra weight. Being told to push your shoulders back more when you think they are back is quite weird but I could tell when I was trotting over the poles the difference! So definitely something to work on! I have really weak core strength - something which is quite shocking in a rider - so she's given me a few exercises to carry out. If you sit straight in the saddle it's 0 and then you lean forward in small increments to 5 and slowly come back up again to zero and then repeat it leaning backwards. It probably makes little sense but it really works on your tummy muscles and makes you realise where zero is! I also stick my head out apparently as she told me to bring it back more into my collar which I thought was far back but apparently not! I've also got a few exercises to try with my gym ball and then hopefully when I book a lesson next month I'll have a slightly stronger core! 

Sorry this is a bit of an essay! Below is a video featuring the pole exercises we did if you fancy a watch :)

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Pea's Physio Treatment

Pea had a visit from the physio today as he's been a bit stiff behind over the past week or two and I wanted a different opinion. Etti Cook is highly recommended where I live and she comes on a regular basis to the yard so it saves paying travelling costs. 

Etti took Pea's background and then saw him walk and trot up as well as turn on a tight circle. She agreed that he seemed slightly stiffer on one leg compared to the other but the stiffness was shown in both hind legs. As she felt along his back she noted that there was some tension, more so on the right side than the left, but she feels that it stems from his hind legs. When she picked his hind legs up to stretch them, he had a bit of a grumpy moment when she did it too much or too high which re-iterated the fact that his stiffness definitely stems from his hind legs. Last year, I had the vet out to Pea for his vaccinations and also got him checked then and he mentioned potential stiffness in his stifles. 

The plan is to gradually build his work back up again and do pole work in walk to get him to really use his hind quarters and lift them up which will help with his back. Hopefully the weather will warm up as well which will help but if he's not a great deal better by March then I'm going to get the vet out to have a better examination of his stifles as that is probably where the problem is. 

Fingers crossed it's not too serious but he should hopefully feel looser, he just needs to lift his hind legs more! 

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Sunday, 1 February 2015

[Monthly Review] January 2015

Is it just me, or does January feel like it drags?! I don't know if it's the weather or the fact it follows Christmas so it's back to work/school/etc or what but I honestly feel like it's gone a bit slow! But then, in some ways it's gone fast. I started a new job at the beginning of the month and I can't believe I've already been there a month, though it feels like I've been there ages!

6am wake up calls aren't bad with this face waiting!
January started well with Pea. He was eager to work and was moving forward nicely, though a little too forward resulting him running and falling onto the forehand. However, there were times when he did some really nice work and would start to listen. I concentrated on doing some leg-yield and rein back to get him to pay a bit more attention as well as opening up a bit more allowing him to soften. I also did some pole work with him such as raised poles and trying some of the exercises from Your Horse (you can read that here). The second exercise didn't work so well as I hadn't set them out properly and he was more insistent on bouncing over each pole. His trot work has improved over the month, especially when he listens!

I have also been lunging him more this month, both with side reins on and without. You can see the difference when he doesn't have the side-reins on as before he would really fall in but now, although he's still not fully balanced, he's not as bad. He's also learning to argue less about the side reins and relaxes into them a lot quicker. 

If you've read my last post (this one here) then you will know that we've had a bit of a setback the past week or two as Pea seems to have become quite stiff behind and isn't happy working so he's had the past week off. He does have the physio on Tuesday (3rd Feb) so fingers crossed that will help him and he'll be back to how he was before! I also have a lesson booked next weekend so I'm hoping the physio goes well and we can get cracking on getting him to go better :) 

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx