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Mobile Apps for equestrians Posted: 20 February 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fitness Plans - Ellie Posted: 16 February 2017

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.

Shoestring Sponsors - How can they help you? Posted: 12 February 2017

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

New website and some good news Posted: 9 February 2017

I am delighted that the new website is now live, hopefully a similar feel but more mobile friendly, new search functions on the course pictures and glitch free from my end. Big thank you to Adrian from Rose IT Solutions for the fabulous work. Please do let me have any feedback, thoughts, criticisms or suggestions via the contact me page.

So moving on I have encouraging news regarding Ellie's reassessment. The report and video of the examination has now been seen by Richard Hepburn, specialist vet from B&W equine vets and he was most encouraging. To quote his conclusions :-

"The examination shows significant clinical improvement in neurological function. The magnitude of improvement is really encouraging for 6 weeks post medication, I would fully expect complete neurological resolution to occur over the next couple of months. Return to normal exercise consistent with Ellie's level of fitness"

This is fabulous news and means we can resume a normal fitness programme for a horse that has had 2 months break and hopefully I will have a fully fit and functioning pony in a couple of months. Ellie's main wish is that her hair will grow back and stops looking such a freak!

Horse and Rider Fitness Posted: 3 February 2017

Can someone tell me when we have had a relatively quiet winter why I chose this week to bring Ellie back into work. Yesterday I thought I would be blown from her back and today even I decided riding was a step too far!

Ellie can be seen here sporting her veterinary haircut. She is an angelic pony, considering the weather, she has been bright and bubbly but not actually put a foot out of place. At the moment we are only walking up to about 25 minutes and just slowly increasing this.

On my fitness front I am delighted with my progress. Since the beginning of January I have been hitting the gym hard both as something to focus my energies on and a good way of getting fitter. Today for the first time in my life I managed to run 2 miles on the treadmill, this is a miracle for my hip that used to prevent me running more than a few yards, I have also lost a stone in weight which should do nothing but help Ellie’s return to work.  

Suregrow Bursary Posted: 1 February 2017

Well today I can announce a new supporter for 2017 I am the very fortunate recipient of Suregrow’s eventing bursary for 2017.

Suregrow specialise in grassland products. Their range of products include fertiliser, grassland mineral and trace elements and grass seeds specifically selected for horse and pony paddocks. This is great as unlike farm products it is slow release meaning there won’t be a sudden flush of grass. Also the products are safe to spread whilst still using the fields.

I’m hoping in the future we can share some grass management tips and best practices for getting the best from your grazing.

If anyone is interested in making a purchase then we have an exclusive 5% discount code available just pop in SJB5 at the checkout. See Suregrow Website

Rebel is seen here modelling some of the lovely goodies that arrived from Suregrow yesterday.

25 January Posted: 25 January 2017

Sorry updates are not as frequent as normal. This is due to a combination of factors:-

  • Less news
  • Website issues
  • Busy organising clinics and camps for Fred Scala
Day off today which was a bonus as trying to use some of my leave up. Good news first, I had my physio session today, the first one since September, my back has just been seizing up again although I am never pain free the physio certainly helped free it up. However my hip movement and strength since he saw me last has significantly improved. Hopefully all the pilates and gym work is paying dividends.

On the slightly more worrying note we had Ellie’s first assessment yesterday a month after her treatment for her neurological issues. At this stage she should be showing a 50% improvement and whilst on some tests she was improved a couple still showed significant symptoms. Now realistically neither my local vet or myself have enough specialist knowledge to be able to say if this is normal progress or we should be worried, perhaps my pessimistic outlook is coming to the fore. Anyway we videoed the examination and have sent it to the specialist at B&W for him to assess, fingers crossed I am worrying for nothing.

In any case unless I hear different she will start work next week.

I realise the blog has been a bit quieter but I don’t want to waffle for wafflings sake! On the other hand I did post on Facebook last week and followers have given me a few ideas on things that they would be interested in me talking about so I will use that for some blogs while things are quieter. Also please feel free to send me any questions using the contact me page and I will endeavour to answer them here. Now is a great time to get in touch if you have a burning question.

15 January Posted: 15 January 2017

With winter kicking in it was time for foal rugs. They had a couple of nights in over the worst of the weather as it coincided with a little castration op for Tommy and they were introduced to rugs without much trouble.

Ellie is being assessed Monday week and then if all ok at that stage she can be brought back into work gently. My fitness and weight loss regime to compliment this is also going well with 8lbs off and for the first time since I smashed my hip I have been able to comfortably run a mile in the gym.

I think the most frustrating thing is that Posy has still not sold. I have to accept it is a difficult time of year and in some cases her BE record is putting people off. However she is a talented mare but just not my ride. The continuation of paying livery for her in a sales yard is causing quite a dent in my pocket. I am keen to look for something else for the season but can’t even look until the Posy situation is resolved.

7 January Posted: 7 January 2017

As part of Ellie's continued rehabilitation I was fortunate to be able to call on the fabulous services of sponsor Morwenna Foster- Equine sports massage therapist. Ellie's veterinary report actually highlighted the need to loosen her muscles to ensure tightness in the neck did not slow recovery.
Meanwhile Sarnie and the foals are doing well although weaning approaches in the next month or so. I keep trying to get some nice pictures of Kensa for popping on here however, as soon as the camera is whipped out all I have is a nose on the screen. As you can imagine this is not helpful, for the moment you will have to make do with a picture when I had her distracted with tea!

Kensa is allowed to share Sarnie’s bucket, but foster son or not Tommy as non flesh and blood is not!

Still struggling with boring weekends, tomorrow I have the excitement of taking the lorry out for a drive to ensure nothing seizes up or stops working due to lack of use. Then it is being tested anyway so fingers crossed that goes smoothly.

Posy is going really well in the sale yard but as yet no one has quite liked her enough to make the purchase which is so frustrating.

2 January 2017 Posted: 2 January 2017

Happy New Year to all. Also an opportunity to say a big thank you to the support the Shoestring community gives me.

It is a tricky new year for me, usually a time to set goals and plan for the year ahead but currently so much is up in the air, Posy is for sale and Ellie is recovering from her neurological problem. There is still no guarantee that Ellie will come back into work although signs are now far more hopeful than they were. So I haven’t ridden for 6 weeks and the pounds have piled on, I’m the heaviest I have been for a while and that clearly won’t help Elli’s recovery. So my first goal is to get in shape, eat sensibly and I have already started the gym, Mum kindly bought me some personal training vouchers for Christmas so hopefully I’m well on the way to a new me!

Horse wise though eventing isn’t looking promising, certainly unlikely I will be riding anything at the start of the season. However, I now have the bones of a new website in place which is exciting. Hopefully the look and feel will be much the same but it should be slicker and less glitchy. Goal number 2 is to get it running before the season starts. (That makes it sound like it is all my own work, this time it is in the hands of an expert!)

With this in mind if anyone has any course pictures that are not on the site please do email or message me with the pictures / links so I can have as comprehensive database as possible.

Lottery win seems needed now more than ever to get things back on an even keel!