Monday, 28 September 2015

In-hand Pole Work

My instructor and also Angela, the woman who gives Pea his massages, have both suggested previously about doing some pole work in hand with Pea. So today, after being at work and knowing the arenas would be rather busy to ride, I decided to do some in-hand pole exercises. I might need to do some research for more exercises though!

We started by walking over some individual poles before moving on to a row as seen in the picture. The row consists of a couple of poles spaced a bit apart, some closer together and also a raised pole. There are also a couple of poles dotted around which are two poles together to encourage him to pick up a little bit more. I also placed a fan of poles out to walk over and also lunge him over but he finds them a bit more difficult! Definitely something to work on! 

It's a nice change to do some in hand work as I seem to end up either riding or just lunging which he gets a bit bored of! This way, it also lets me have a look at him and try different exercises as well as giving his brain something else to focus on. It's also a good exercise to do if your horse is injured (though check with your vet first!) or if you don't have time to ride as you can just spend 10 minutes or so walking over them. 

I'm going to try and do some in hand work like this a couple of times a month, especially now with winter coming. However, I am going to research some more exercises to do and their benefits, so if anyone has any then please send them my way!

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Friday, 25 September 2015

Getting Ready for Winter

As much as a slightly hate to admit it, winter is approaching and I'm secretly excited! I love winter (well for so long, then I long for warmer weather again - typically British!). Nights have slowly started drawing in with it now getting darker earlier and so I've started thinking about getting Pea's stable ready for when he comes in at night. He has his stable during the summer as well as he comes in during the day but he tends to have less bedding and eats hay. 

This year I'm planning on getting some rubber matting for his stable to make it a bit comfier for him. It will also help with mucking out and keep the stable a little bit warmer for him. He is bedded on easibed all year round and I will be adding a few more bags before he comes in at night so that he has a bigger bed as he will be in for longer than what he is during the summer. 

During the summer I put him on hay as it has fewer calories than haylage but I don't like leaving him in all day without anything to munch on and it's not good for horses either as they are trickle eaters and therefore it is best for them to eat little and often. He doesn't tend to eat a great deal of his hay but I like to have it in the stable so that there's something there for him. I will also occasionally hide some broken up carrots or a chopped up apple in there. During the winter he is fed haylage as last year he went off hay and lost quite a bit of weight! He doesn't have a lot of haylage and is fed on a high fibre one that has fewer calories and is better for him. He has his hay and haylage on the floor all year round as it is more natural and he gets a bit fussy over haynets!

I have also been regularly de-webbing his stable. There seems to be no end of spider webs made round his stable so I try, on a regular basis, to sweep them down and also to get rid of any dust that has settled. I'm also sorting out his rugs (I was slightly disorganised after last winter) and ensuring that heavier rugs are still on the shelf in the tack room whilst the lighter rugs are hung at the back of his stable for when they are needed. His fly rug has also been put away now. 

I'm also sorting out our storage and having a bit of a re-organisation/re-arrangement of things just to make things tidier and neater. 

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Monday, 21 September 2015

[Lesson] Cathy Lammie; 21st September

After having a few issues with Pea lately, I decided to book a lesson with Cathy to get her opinion on what to do with him. We walked round and he felt rather reluctant with me really having to work just to get him to walk forward as he felt as though he was practically dragging his feet! As soon as I asked for trot, he planted his feet and threw such a hissy fit! He started cow-kicking, reversing, stomping and was really having none of it when I tried to get him to move forward. After a few sharp taps with the whip and lots of leg he finally moved forwards and into trot. 

We trotted round a bit before coming back to walk where Cathy suggested that we again do pole work as it seems that that is what he needs. She mentioned that he is a bit stiff and potentially slightly arthritic and thus uses it as a means to try and escape work, where actually, if he loosens up a bit it won't be as hard. 

She first set out three poles spaced a short distance apart and we just trotted over them a few times before moving onto standard trotting poles closer together. The first few times, he kind of hopped over them before trotting properly and lifting his back legs. Cathy mentioned that he was hopping as a means of avoiding picking his back legs up properly as the first time he went over them he wasn't too bad but realised that it kind of hurt a little bit. I unconsciously tensed before the poles which caused him to lose a bit of confidence and thus tense himself. We then came round again and I focused on keeping my contact light but ensuring that I kept my leg on to encourage him to step up and under. In the end, he did them perfectly! 

Cathy explained that whilst I need to hold a consistent rein contact, I end up holding a bit too tight meaning that Pea can't lengthen his neck and come into a softer contact. Once I loosened my reins and held them steady but not too tight (similar to holding hands with someone), he went a lot better and began to give a better trot. 

We finished the lesson by working on some flexion as well as asking for him to come into the contact better. By the end of the lesson he literally felt like a different horse! I'm so glad that I booked the lesson and went through with it (it's hammered it down all day but luckily stopped just as I got on & I've been ill) as it's given me the confidence to really push on with him and hopefully get him out to lots of winter dressage. Cathy has suggested trying some bute an hour or two before riding him to see if it makes any difference so we'll see how tomorrow goes! 

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Saturday, 19 September 2015

[Book Review] Valegro, Champion Horse by Carl Hester

When I saw on Thursday that this book had just come out, I knew I had to order it and I'm so glad I did. Thanks to Amazon prime, the book arrived the following morning and by the evening I had finished reading it!! It is honestly so good and a definite must-read for all dressage fans, or in fact for any equestrian! 

The book is written by Carl Hester and so is from his view point and it chats from the beginning of when Valegro was born to now. I really like the layout as there are not pages and pages of words but instead short paragraphs on each page which link to lots and lots of amazing pictures! I love the photos as not only are there lots of Valegro competing, there are also 'behind the scenes' photos which I love! 

Another great asset to the book is the snippets written by a variety of people who have all come across Valegro in some way. Whether it's the breeders, the phyio, owners, judges, literally everyone it seems (only there's nothing from Charlotte!) has written a paragraph on their thoughts of Valegro and the impact he has made in their lives. 

As mentioned before, this book is a must read for everyone! Quite literally! It's so nice to read about his success and yet how much love everyone has for this horse, simply due to his 'down to earth' attitude! He is truly a one in a million horse!

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Pea has a Photoshoot!

I am feeling rather lucky right now that my best friend is an awesome photographer! She came a few weeks ago and took some photos of me and Pea and has now sent me the photos. They are truly amazing and I love them all! Pea wasn't the most cooperative as he'd been in all day and had a bath so he was more interested in eating the grass and wouldn't keep his head up for more than two seconds! 

Below are some of my favourites:

These will probably all end up on my instagram at some point (@lauracb_93) but are also on my facebook :)

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

*PS, I don't normally like to get on a horse without my riding hat but I made an exception for a photo and I was on him for less than 5 minutes!!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

[Product Review] LeMieux Wrapround Lambskin over-reach boots

After Pea had hind shoes put on earlier this year, I began to notice that he was clipping himself quite a bit. Before, it wasn't majorly noticeable as he didn't have hind shoes on so there was no noise nor was he cutting himself or anything. However, with shoes on you could hear him over-reaching and he also developed a small over-reach cut. I decided, therefore, to search into getting him some over-reach boots and when I saw the LeMieux lambskin ones, I couldn't resist! 

I ordered mine from VioVet and they arrived within two days - super speedy delivery! I was a bit worried at first because when I opened the packaging, the lambskin came away from the boot quite easily so I was slightly concerned that it wouldn't last. However, I'm glad to say that I've had these for a few months now and they're still in a very similar condition to when I got them and that the lambskin hasn't come off!

I've had these boots for around 4 months now and they've been worn quite regularly when schooling and lunging as well as for the odd hack. They've also been through the stream and worn in warm weather as well as the rain which has caused  puddles and a soft arena surface. I've never had any issues with these boots coming undone, slipping or interfering in any way. This is great for me as Pea can be funny about having boots on so I was worried when I first got them that Pea wouldn't take to them but luckily he's had no issues wearing them. 

Pea is a 15hh connemara x so normally wears a medium, but after consulting the sizing guides for these and seeing one or two other posts about these boots, it was decided that the Large is a better fit. I would therefore, definitely recommend that you look at the sizing guide before purchasing these to ensure you get the right fit! The large does fit Pea really well; they're not too long but being adjustable mean that they fit round well and give a secure fit. 

As I mentioned, these have been worn through the stream as well as having been hosed off after a ride and they've not lost shape/lost lambskin/damaged in any way! I leave them to dry wrapped round the stable bars and they always dry well and are fine to use the next day. 

I would definitely recommend these boots as they look smart and last well. 

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Saturday, 12 September 2015

[Laura Loves] Eskadron Walnut Matchy SetsBi

Following sites such as 'Fur Feather Meds' and 'Equissentials Dressage' along with others is quite detrimental to my bank balance as I'm constantly lusting over new matchy match sets. Eskadron is one of those companies that always brings out such lovely sets that I constantly fall in love with although I've never actually bought anything from! 

Their new range is no different and with a range of gorgeous colours available, you'll be spoilt for choice. One of the colours that I have my eye on is the 'Walnut' set. Initially, I wasn't too sure about the colour, but after seeing the colour on a grey pop up on my news feed I changed my mind and fell in love! 

There are various different pads on offer and below I have featured a couple of my favourites. These are priced at £55 each, although there is also a plain cotton pad for £25. Matching bandages are £20 as well as a fly veil for £25 (all prices are from 

Tri Colour
Big Square
Bi Colour

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Burghley Buys #1

I've decided to show what I bought from Burghley as I always like to see what others have bought (I'm majorly nosy) and I thought some of you might like to see too. I've split it into two posts so I'll show what I bought for Pea today and then show the rest another day. 

Pea was thoroughly spoilt this year. As I mentioned in my previous post, I decided to buy an Equilibrium Magnetic Pad for him as we're having various issues with back and hind-quarters stiffness so fingers crossed we might see some improvement with this! I also bought a Feedmark 'ActiVet' supplement to try too. 

It appears that I can never visit Burghley and not buy another rug! There are two stands in particular which are very good for rug offers, Alan Hill and Townfields Saddlery. I bought this one from Alan Hill and it's a medium weight (200g) full neck turnout for £49. His current MW has a large strip missing and patched over with an old rug but it's slightly past its use now so he kind of needed a new one! I'll still keep the other as a spare just in case but fingers crossed he looks after this!

Now we all know that I have a new found love for matchy matchy stuff so I could not resist heading over to the Horse Health stand and looking at the LeMieux range. I decided to go for this plum set which looks amazing! 

I also picked up a few mollichaff samples and Bailee's haylage samples for Pea to try as well as two bottles of my favourite mane and tail spray - NAF's silky mane and tail detangler. 

Keep your eyes peeled for the second part. 

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

Monday, 7 September 2015

Update on Mr Pea :)

Things with Pea have been a bit 'up in the air' so to speak lately. He still doesn't seem 100% right and stops when I first ask for trot, however once he eventually gets going he's not too bad. He's had the vet look at him regarding hind limb stiffness, seen the Physio, had a couple of massages, his teeth have been done in the last month and also his saddle so I've decided to just work through it for the next few weeks and see if he gets over it and it is just a behaviour issue or if there's something more to it. 

As it was Burghley over the weekend, and I live two minutes down the road, I spent a fortune on the little horse! I have bought him an Equilibrium magnetic pad to wear before exercise to relieve stiffness and muscle soreness. As I've just bought it, he's only wearing it for a short amount of time but I plan to build this up over time and hopefully he'll wear it overnight when he's stabled over winter. I would definitely recommend checking out 'Wychanger Barton Saddlery' if you're ever at a large horse event and they're there as they always have good offers on. The magnetic pad was only £80 and it normally retails for £125!!

I also popped to Feedmark to have a chat about a supplement as someone from my yard (plus a couple of others) really recommended them. We decided to try the 'ActiVet' supplement which claims to 'soothe veteran muscles and joints'. Whilst Pea is only 14, the woman from Feedmark explained that this works on the joints but as we're not completely certain that it is mainly the joints, it will also help with any muscle soreness. I explained that he had been on Glucosamine & MSM which I think helped slightly but not majorly and that it why she thought maybe trying this supplement might help more. I've bought a months tub as she explained that it takes around two weeks for the supplement to show any effect and then you have a further two weeks of continual use to see if the effects stay. 

Work wise, I'm working on trying to get Pea forwards more as well as doing lots of circles,
leg-yielding, transitions and polework. At the moment, we're mainly working in walk and trot but incorporating a few canter strides towards the end of a session when he's loosened up a lot more. As we've had many issues with canter, I don't want to push too much if there is a problem as I don't want to knock either of our confidence in the gait. We're currently doing one schooling session a week where we focus on suppleness so doing plenty of leg-yields and large circles and a second schooling session where we work over various poles to encourage his hind legs to lift a bit more and step under better. He also gets hacked out and lunged as normal, although he doesn't have the side reins on tight whilst lunging. 

I have a week off work next week so I might book in for a lesson and discuss with my instructor what she thinks but I'm hoping that the new supplement, magnetic pad and regular pole work will help! Fingers crossed anyway!

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx