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2 days and counting

Posted: 1 Mar 2017 - Comments (0)
The event season starts on Saturday, or at least I hope it does if this weather does not take any early victims. I am excited that with the new website up and running and a slightly different format that course pictures will be even better this year.

As always this won't work without the support and help of the Shoestring community sending in the pictures. So please do keep sending them to me so we can share with all. Fingers crossed that everyone has a great season.

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First splat of 2017

Posted: 27 Feb 2017 - Comments (0)
Also the first time I have come off Ellie. We have started some light schooling work and all was going well until a cat popped up rather unexpectedly whilst doing a nice relaxed free walk, sadly I went one way whilst Ellie shot the other way! Even considering Ellie's relatively small size I am a tad sore today with a sprained thumb and a numb backside! The cat typically sauntered off with not a care in the world. As I have now had phesant, pigeon and cat related falls I rather think the local animal population are having fun at my expense!

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Looking after your paddocks

Posted: 25 Feb 2017 - Comments (0)
Just wanted to draw your attention to an article written by 2017 supporter SureGrow regarding looking after your paddocks.

See paddock tips on Shoestrings 'Top Tips' section

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Mobile Apps for equestrians

Posted: 20 Feb 2017 - Comments (0)
My last blog post got me to thinking about how much I now rely on my mobile phone and the mobile apps in my everyday equestrian life. It seems strange to remember the original purpose of the phone was to make and receive calls and it seems I’m not the only one. A recent social media post found many more apps suggested by Shoestring followers. So which are key to me?

Mobile Banking I guess as a ‘Shoestring’ Eventer a key app is my mobile banking, not only can I keep a close eye on what entries and training I can and can’t afford it also assists in paying for many equine services. My farrier, equine chiropractor and a number of entries are paid directly from the banking app.

Weather Apps I have a number of weather apps on my phone that help me decide what rugs the horses need to wear and also how drenched I am going to get out riding. I generally use the BBC weather app and Dark Sky which gives me a detailed rainfall prediction for my location in the next hour.

Facebook / Twitter Is this an essential app well maybe not but when we are out and about and at competitions it is the easiest way of keeping people up to date with the highs and lows of Shoestring life usually accompanied by some images courtesy of the camera app. The increased quality of the cameras has also made the course pictures so easy to record and send now.

Maps I use google maps a lot to assist with driving directions, I would rely on it in a car and usually use it as a lorry back up (that is until they design a truck version). I also recently downloaded some Ordinance Survey walker’s maps which has helped me navigate and find new rides in the area we are located currently, it has been a huge help.

Fitness Apps I use Runtastic to record length of rides as well as speed, I also find this invaluable for tracking any fast work as I can work out average mpm and distance covered. Several Shoestring followers have also recommended Edmondo. I also keep track of my daily steps through a simple little app called Stepz and try and make sure I achieve my 10,000 a day.

Flashlight I have a basic flashlight app that uses the flash on my phone to become a simple torch, very effective and useful in many situations.

Podcasts I have recently discovered Podcasts for the gym and am enjoying a number that I can learn from such as the recent Horsehour podcast on ulcers. I enjoy both horsehour podcasts and Eventing Podcast.

Equine Specific Shoestring followers recommend stable mate app to log shoeing, worming, vaccinations, dentist etc then get helpful reminders when each are due. You can log competitions and results too. Cross Country App helps record the course and distances and have a record to review before riding.

Coaches Eye This is a useful little app that records, review and compare video frame by frame or is slow motion to help improve technique or compare gait.

There are 100’s more out there in use by equestrians and sadly I can only see them becoming more and more relied on as time goes on! Love them or hate them they are here to stay and do make many things that little easier.

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Fitness Plans - Ellie

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 - Comments (0)
I have been asked a few times about getting a horse fit, so I will use Ellie as an example. In all she had 9 weeks off work before coming back into work. Now although she had time off for veterinary reasons, I was told by the vet to bring her back into work as a normal horse, therefore I haven't increased the initial period like I would post injury.

Ellie's is always turned out 12 hours a day in a large field where she can pootle stretch and at times gallop like a loon! I think the big unknown is how much this affects her fitness? In some ways she may be lung fit but there is a whole different emphasis on the body when you add a riders weight and this must not be ignored, their limbs and back have to adjust again to the different pressures.

Ellie was started on the roads doing 15 minutes and building it up gradually time wise. I can't avoid some hills and varying ground but I minimise this initially as best I can, however, as time goes on I feel a variety of terrain and gradients really helps the fitness process. By the end of week 2 my rides were around an hours and maybe more with a little trot work added. I do a little bit of leg yeilding and expect her to go in a loose outline or stretch on a long rein when hacking, spooks and monsters allowing! Generally I never trot on the road unless for safety or manners, my trot work is generally on lanes. One of the nice things with added technology is I generally record my ride in terms of distance, speed and time. Attached an image from last weekend (end of week 2) showing a reasonable ride with some trotting, generally in walk Ellie does a mile in just under 16 minutes. This ride did record a short bit of faster work when we shot off after meeting some monsters!

We are currently nearly finished week 3 which will continue with hacking and next week we will progress to starting some schooling. As the school I use is a 15 minute hack each way it will be combined with hacking and probably start off in 10 minute sessions building up a little in time and intensity, to start with working on big shapes and simple transitions. We are looking at doing a simple Prelim test in mid March which will be 7 weeks post back in work.

Probably week 7 or 8 she may start having a little pop and if all is still ok some clinics, lesson and harder work aiming at eventing again. At Ellie's level I wouldn't be looking to do any serious canter work. Much of the fitness work is on feel if she is tiring or something isn't right then we will step back and take longer at the end of the day I want a fit healthy pony.

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Shoestring Sponsors - How can they help you?

Posted: 12 Feb 2017 - Comments (0)
With the season fast approaching it seems a good time to let you know how Shoestring supporters and sponsors can help your year get off to a great start. Don’t forget that whilst all the companies and people mentioned below are associated with and help Shoestring Eventing I wouldn’t be working with any of them if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in their products and services.

Insurance – Equicover

If you are looking to insure your horse or next time your insurance is due for renewal do ask for a quote from Equicover. I have been insured with them since 2009 and sadly during that time seem to have had an unfair share of claims, all have been dealt with compassionately, promptly and with minimal fuss. Over the years I have got to know Penny, Kiran and the team at Equicover, this has only strengthened my confidence in the knowledge and understanding of the team that are behind the name. I have found their cover competitively priced so definitely worth checking out, they also provide quotes for trailers and lorries. Check out Equicover Website

Horse Boots – Woofwear

In my opinion Woofwear offer one of the best ranges of horse boots across the range of disciplines. All the boots are well made, wear and wash well yet the thought and technology that is behind the design is both innovative and stylish. I use their boots at home, for dressage, show jumping and cross county. Their ‘Smart’ range provides great protection in lightweight well fitting boots. I also use their gloves as for me the second skin type fit suits me so well and they offer great grip – do check out their range here

Cross Country Colours – SuperXcountry

Are you tired of your colours, fancy a change or looking for your first set of colours? I have had my colours from SuperXcountry and they are frequently admired, bright and distinctive exactly in the colours I wanted. The material is superb, cool and breathable washing well and maintaining its colour. They also do a super range of other products including lorry mascots, saddle cloths, shirts, beanies a huge range of silks. Check them out at superxcountry

Field maintenance – Suregrow

When the horses work hard their leisure time is important, I turn out a minimum of 12 hours a day on limited grazing and my fields by the end of winter are usually trashed (top left pick). Along with harrowing and rolling it is important to get the grass recovering as quickly as possible not only is it an important food source but the root system helps stabilise the field and provide better going for turnout and riding. Suregrow’s range of products is designed specifically for equestrian grazing which means it is a slow release formula which unlike tradition agricultural fertilisers releases the goodness more slowly and stops such a sudden flush of grass. It can also be spread while the field is in use. See Suregrow's website

Horse Maintenance – Morwenna Foster Sports Massage Therapist

We all have different maintenance regimes for our horses dependant on our experiences and the horses needs. For me I have been very fortunate to have access to Morwenna Foster an Equine Sports Massage Therapist who treats my horses regularly. I do see a difference after treatments and this is a key component of my horse’s fitness. If you are looking for a equine massage therapist in Cornwall contact Morwenna via Facebook

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