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Pinned Post - Feedback needed

Posted: 25 April 2018 - Comments (0)

Hi all,

I really appreciate everyone that reads and contributes to Shoestring Eventing. Please could you complete this short survey so I can have some constructive feedback on how I am doing? I would like to know what you like, dislike and ideas for improvement. Compliments, suggestions and criticisms equally welcome. It can be completed in 2-3 minutes and will be open for 10 days.


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BE at last - Bicton tomorrow

Posted: 20 April 2018 - Comments (0)

Finallywe kick off our season tomorrow at one of the nicest and best organised events on the circuit Biction Horse Trials. As a bonus it is relatively local a mere 2 and a bit hours away so no overnight stabling needed. We have some very leisurely times not even dressaging until after 3 and going cross country nearer 6.

Do I feel the most prepared definitely not! I had been slightly berating myself for being wet and entering the 90 rather than kicking on as we finished the season at 100 but it has been for the best. Not only does it mean I can enjoy it rather than test the confidence, the fact we haven't jumped on grass or done anything much in the way of fitness work matters less. It has certainly been less than ideal that with the touch of cellulitis Ellie has had a very quiet 10 days and hasn't been jumped for a couple of weeks. I had hoped to jump her tonight in the field at home but sadly the ground wasn't dry enough. Time to review my videos of the lessons with Austin and focus on what I learnt.

Be lovely to catch up with friends again and please do come and say hi if you see us there.

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Keeping the horses in tip top shape

Posted: 17 April 2018 - Comments (0)

The horses had a massage with my fantastic sponsor today Morwenna Foster. It really helps release tension in the muscles and can also be a great early indication of any potential problems by identifying tight spots, particularly if there is a change from last time they were done.

There are many benefits of equine massage as outlined in this H&H article and I consider myself extremely fortunate that Morwenna is able to support us.

It got me thinking though how important stable management is in ensuring the horses are able to give their best performance. I am very lucky that I have a huge team of people that fill key roles to give my horses the best chance of performing at their best. It was interesting that at one of our shows this month I was complimented on how well they had come out of winter, looking great in terms of body condition, muscle and shine. I don't think we pay enough attention to the care and management of the horses in considering performance.

I am sure I will miss some out but these are the things that are key to me in ensuring they are in the best condition to compete and perform.

Feet and foot care
They always say no foot no horse, this is one of the key components in keeping horses fit and well. A well balanced properly shod foot can make a huge difference to soundness, way of going and movement. It has been interesting to see the changes in Fliss's feet since she has come as her feet needed work. With time and expertease taking account of her foot confirmation and way of going her feet have changed dramatically, this in turn helps to ensure her foot fall is more even placing less stress on her joints. I use Equine Foot Care run by Simon Moore who is a FWCF (Fellow) and have the horses shod ever 5 weeks to ensure their feet are always in the best shape possible. I am sure I could 'save' money by changing to a cheaper farrier or extending the periods between shoeing but this would be a false economy and likely cost more in the end.

From one end to the other but teeth are equally important, poor dentistry can lead to many problems including eating problems, lameness and poor performance under saddle. I use an Equine dentist, either Gary Walters or when travelling away Bob Livock, both do a fabulous job. With Pip Bob discovered wolf tooth fragments that a previous equine dentist and two vets missed yet made a huge difference to her performance. My horses always have teeth done on a 6-9 month cycle.

Stable Management
By this I am talking the about stable environment. For me to keep it as airy and dust free as possible is key to ensure respiratory health. I am lucky to be sponsored by Cousin Jacks who provide a superb dust extracted and chopped straw bedding which gives a warm feeling but with minimal dust. I use haylage but again whatever forage it should be as dust free as possible and soaked if need be. I am a great believer in plenty of ventilation and like plenty of air flowing through the stables. Mucking out to minimise odours and maintain a clean and fresh bed is also a big help. I have to admit I am not a great groomer of the horses but they always have a quick flick over before riding and I always ensure it is clean under any tack or boots.

What you put into the horses you soon see on the outside, mine have fabulous coats and good muscle tone. This not only comes from the correct work but the right nutrition. I base my feeding on a forage based diet with the basis as much grazing as possible as this is their natural environment. I am lucky to have plenty of grazing and have managed even through this winter to keep Ellie out at night and Fliss most of the day. In summer Ellie is limited with the use of electric fencing. A big thank you to sponsors Suregrow who have helped me maintain the pastures in such great shape and ensured that I have had the grass and grazing to cope with the terrible winter. I also poo pick daily where possible. Both horses when in get ab lib haylage but quite a dry version that is dust free but not too rich. Their hard feed is based around Dengie Hi Fi or Alpha A depending on work. Ellie gets a handful morning and night with a vitamin supplement and the odd pony nut (a bag lasts her 2 months). Fliss gets a dipper and a half of Alpha A, 1/2 dipper of conditioning cubes and a Blue Chip balancer. I have to say since she has had the balancer I have been impressed with the condition and muscle she has put on. Whatever the work my feed will remain mainly fibre again as this is the most natural.

Tack Fit
Tack fit can hugely influence the way of going and muscle of the horses. I can refer you to my blogs on saddle fit (Nathaniel Underwood and Ellie Pitts) and bitting. Keeping the tack clean and numnahs washed is also important.

The vet
However well we look after the horses we will all need vets from time to time. I am lucky to have a great local practice (Rosevean Vets) and two super vets I regularly use Joe Ivey and Jenna Elliot. Even if it is just a jab their visits are important as it is good for them to be able to assess the horses and have a comparison for a future time where I may have concerns. It is great they are happy to discuss and listen to any concerns I have and offer practical advice and expertease to keep the horses in tip top shape. It shouldn't just be about treating them when they are sick but helping keep in tip top shape.

Since I had a years sponsorship with Supplement Solutions I have learnt the benefit of testing for worms rather than worming ad hoc. This prevents worming unnecessarily and ensure you worm at the right times.

As well as massages if I have any concerns the horses are seen by Dr Dave Siemens who is a leading chiropractor who works in both the UK and the USA. He has worked me my horses for a number of years making a big difference to their way of going as well as treating me from time to time. He also uses laser therapy for appropriate conditions.

I am sure I have missed out some major factors but all the above are key in my yard for keeping the horses as fit and healthy as possible.

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Busy weekend

Posted: 15 April 2018 - Comments (0)

With Ellie having a quiet weekend poor Fliss had to step up and do the brunt of the work this weekend. Ellie's big leg thankfully has returned to nearly normal so I am happy that Bicton is back on the agenda next weekend. My gut is she had a little bit of cellulitis from a very small scab in the heel on that leg. After day 2 the swelling reduced rapidly with a combination of hosing, gentle exercise and the use of ArcEquine. I schooled her normally this weekend and she felt fine.

On Saturday Fliss had a lesson with sponsor Stef Eardley. Having been focusing on forward with Fliss we found that we actually needed to contain the energy a little as she was rather free wheeling around at her pace. We focused on transitions and getting her to listen and react to the stop and go commands. I think partly she is starting to feel very well and strong in herself and we need to be able to work within the energy she is giving keeping her frame soft and out.

A little clip

The plan had been that today Ellie would have jumped at Colraine but being a bit cautious it was decided that Fliss could step in. Very impressed with British Show Jumping who having had Fliss's registration emailed to them on Thursday night had my registration number back before 9 on Friday morning! So no excuses there.

I entered the British Novice which was a nice flowing track. She warmed up well but then got a little keen although once in the arena there was enough to see to back her off. The class was A7 (separate jump off) which was nice and Fliss jumped a super round, a little green in places throwing some rather big jumps at times and also getting her legs in knot coming into the double having a pole but overall really pleased.

As she didn't find that difficult in terms of height we then entered the 95cm. Although in this class we made 2 mistakes I think the additional round did her the world of good. Once her canter is stronger she will cope so much better.

So plenty to work on but a big step in the right direction and delighted with how she is progressing as well as how well she behaved today.

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Plans or maybe not!

Posted: 11 April 2018 - Comments (0)

Well this was to be an upbeat blog as things are generally better and certainly less hopeless than it seemed in January. Our entry has been accepted into Bicton Horse trials in 10 days and I am hopeful it will run. We decided to step back to the BE90 for the first run before going back to 100s again next time. I am looking forward to Bicton as by stepping back it should be in my comfort zone and Ellie is going well. Probably the way the event calendar is looking we may not pick up eventing again until June focusing more on the show jumping.

All sounds good? Tonight when I went to tack Ellie up I find she has a fat leg, no sign of a knock, bang or hawthorne. It is a hind leg and swollen around the fetlock going up the leg, hosing and walking brought it down slightly. She is trotting out relatively sound so hopeful it is something and nothing. My instant reaction is always to shout for the vet but realistically I am far better waiting a few days, keeping cold, keeping her moving gently and I will be using ArcEquine on her. Obviously if the swelling increases or she becomes uncomfortable I will seek advice. Realistically for me to be happy to run at Bicton it must be normal by Monday. Horses it is never straightforward is it! To be fair to Ellie it the first time she has had a fat leg since I had her and she is a tough pony.

Poor Fliss will have to step up this weekend and have my lesson with Stef and debating taking her to her first BS show.

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Elementary dressage

Posted: 9 April 2018 - Comments (0)

There can't be many pony's as versatile as Ellie. Saturday she jumps some BS classes and on Sunday she is attempting her first Elementary dressage tests. Not only that but the tack for boths days is identical in terms of saddle, bridle and bit. The only change was the addition of a pair of gloves for me, this gave me the chance to try out my new Super X Country gloves. Now I am not a great gloves fan and avoid them where possible but actually really liked these, they are very thin but have a great grip, comfortable and I hardly knew they are there so a huge thumbs up from me.

It was the Threewaters riding club dressage show and it seemed a good opportunity to push us out of our comfort zone and try to step up a level. The classes were strong with some well established combinations. First up was Elementary 44, I was convinced I was going to forget the first halt up the centre line but did manage to remember this although a few of my shapes were not perfect, I seem to have a problem with smaller circles and getting the shape and size correct. However ignoring my mistakes Ellie tried so hard and I was delighted with a score of 67% for 4th place.

We then had Elementary 50. I am lucky I can read and learn a test in 10 minutes which I did after the first test, however I clearly should have found time for some practice as I realised we had done very few simple changes and medium canter to a 10 meter circle was going to be testing. Again Ellie tried so hard, I was a little tentative in the medium canters but overall the test resembled what it should look like and for the second time I remembered to stop at X at the beginning!

We scored 65% for 3rd (in a smaller class) but were in no way outclassed, with a bit of work I think we can manage a quite respectable test.

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