Equestrian Blog

News and thoughts from around the equestrian community

Riding can often require a range of skills and owning horses is a massive responsibility. This is our resource to help you get the most from your passion with regular updates to deal with topical ...

Equestrian Clothing - Riding Boots, Jodhpur Boots and Half Chaps

When you first start out in riding everyone is told to wear boots with a small heel. Many riding schools have riding boots that you can borrow for your first few lessons. Your safety is absolutely paramount so investing in boots designed specifically for riding should be something you do as early as possible. Although wellies and walking boots may look like they are suitable for riding they are most definitely not. Both have very thick treads which can easily trap in the stirrup and in the event of a fall this can result in serious injury. There are many types of riding boot on the market so you can be sure to find a pair to suit your pocket and help make your riding as comfortable as possible. Years ago the only riding boots available in a suitable price range for a young novice rider were long rubber riding boots. Although these are still popular with many riders they can be hot in summer, sometimes too long in the leg for smaller jockeys and can make keeping your heels in the correct position difficult. The advantages of these though are they are inexpensive, tough and waterproof so keep your feet dry in wet weather. This makes them a good all round boot for yard and riding wear. The more modern alternative are short leather jodhpur boots teamed with half chaps or gaiters. These short jodhpur boots allow more flexion of the ankle but the chaps still support the lower leg and give protection from stirrup leathers. Although initial outlay for the two items may be slightly higher than a rubber riding boot, chaps can often be kept for several years as a young rider's calf size will not increase as quickly as their foot. The most expensive and in my opinion, best form of footwear for riding are long leather riding boots. These allow flexion of the ankle whilst still providing support to the whole foot and lower leg. They can last a lifetime if cared for correctly and are suitable for every riding activity you may wish to partake in. Although some leather boots are expensive there are many cheaper versions available which may fit a more modest budget, they are undoubtedly worth the money and can drastically improve your riding. This may sound impossible but wearing boots that actually allow your ankle to move freely will mean you can keep your heel down, which in turn keeps your lower leg more still. This will help to establish the rider in a more correct, thus secure position. Once a rider's position is secure, control of the horse is much easier resulting in a more positive outcome for horse and rider. Specially designed equestrian clothing will make your riding as safe and comfortable as possible. Take your safety seriously as accidents can and do happen, horse riding is a high risk sport. Limit your chances of injury by always wearing correctly fitted safety clothing and buy the best equipment you can afford. It can quite literally save your life.

When it all goes wrong...

We all love riding and caring for our horses and thankfully mishaps are few and far between, but riding and being involved with horses, is a risk sport and accidents can and do happen. Its easy to be complacent, and think that a serious accident will never happen to you or your horse but what if it does? Are you prepared? Do you know how to treat a cut on your horse? Do you know what to do if someone falls off whilst on a hack? PLAN! Knowing what to do in an emergency and having a plan of action already set up can mean you are less likely to panic. There are many organisations around that run First Aid courses, and attending one of these will give you all the knowledge you need to cope in any emergency situation. The BHS run Equine Specific First Aid courses, which are designed to deal specifically with the sort of injuries you are likely to encounter when dealing with horses and riders. Any first aid course you attend will always tell you the first priority is to assess and minimise any risks. When an accident involves horses you always need to be sure that more complications aren't going to arise from a loose horse, so ensure that someone immediately gains control of it to prevent further accident or injury. PREPARE! A human first aid kit's contents depend on how many people you need to cater for and where you are keeping it, but always make sure you keep supplies regularly checked and topped up. If you know where your first aid kit is, and how to contact the required emergency services you are far more likely to be of valuable assistance to those in need. Having a first aid kit will mean you know where all your medical equipment is and you won't have to run round looking for things in the event of an accident. You may decide to have separate kits for horses and humans or just one kit that has supplies for both (first aid equipment does tend to lend itself to man or beast!) A basic equine first aid kit should include the following Vet's telephone number Cotton wool Antiseptic solution eg Hibiscrub Sterile non adherent dressings Bandages Scissors It is advisable to also keep a clean bucket that is only used for cleaning wounds so you can avoid the risk of infection and contamination. SEEK MEDICAL ASSISTANCE Whilst most falls and accidents around horses incur only minor injuries, it is important to remember that a horse is a very large, powerful animal and any kick or fall can be serious. If you feel at all unwell after an accident it is always advisable to gain professional, medical advice. If a horse is injured, it is important that you know how to treat the injury.  Try to gain assistance so you have someone to hold the horse whilst you assess and treat the injury. Even the most placid horse can react violently when in pain which could result in injury to those around. Initially assess the wound and contact your vet for advice if you are at all unsure. Advice can often be given by them over the phone once initial information has been provided. Veterinary assistance is essential if: there is no one on scene with sufficient knowledge to assess the wound or injury there is excessive bleeding the wound is more than skin deep or more than a few cms long the injury is close to joints the wound is very dirty the horse is not vaccinated against tetanus  If you do not feel that veterinary attention is required, or whilst you are waiting for him to arrive you can clean the wound using clean water or a very dilute solution of Hibiscrub (approx 1:20), cover the wound with a clean non absorbent dressing, cover the wound with a firm bandage which isn't so tight as to restrict circulation. When applying bandages ensure that this is done over padding and the pressure is even throughout, there must be no wrinkles in the bandage and all fastenings should be at the same tension as the bandage itself. Take care not to position the fastening over the injury itself. AND LAST BUT DEFINITELY NOT LEAST! There are many ways to limit the risk to you and those around you whilst dealing with horses. Always stay responsive to potential dangers, don't leave a horse unattended on the yard even when tied up, accidents happen in an instant.  Don't leave any avoidable hazards on the yard, ie pichforks, wheelbarrows, empty bags. Remember to always wear a current standard hat whilst riding or handling horses and a body protector, if appropriate, as these can help reduce injury in the event of an accident. Most importantly, treat all horses, no matter how quiet or how well you know them, with respect, as they can ALWAYS take you by surprise. Even the smallest shetland pony is stronger than any man.

Prevention, Treatment and Maintenance of a Laminitic Horse

It is well known that springtime brings with it the threat of laminitis, there's lots of information available on this disease along with supplements, and gadgets to help limit the risk of your horse suffering from it. As an owner of a horse who suffers from this condition myself, it is a subject close to my heart. My aim with this blog is to explain laminitis in a simple easy to understand way, whilst giving you links to investigate further. Laminitis is a disease of the digital laminae of the hoof (foot of an ungulate). It is commonly thought of as a disease of small, fat ponies who have access to too much rich spring grass, and not enough exercise. This is not the case, it is a serious condition that can affect any equine (or cattle) at any time of year. My own horse is a lean thoroughbred cross, who at 19 contracted laminitis for the first time whilst in medium work on sparse grazing. Knowing what triggers laminitis can help you to prevent the onset or deal with the early stages effectively. Although it is not known for certain what causes laminitis, there are common situations which seem to bring laminitis on in some horses; prolonged hard work on unsuitable surfaces, some corticosteroid drugs given to susceptible horses and most commonly overeating. Trying to prevent any of these triggers will help to keep laminitis at bay. Knowing your horse and what is 'normal' for him is your biggest tool in helping to prevent and catch laminitis at its earliest stage. If your horse seems to be not quite himself, unwilling to walk or turn in his usual way, showing slight colicky signs or just generally uncomfortable on his feet he could be experiencing early signs of laminitis. These indicators will all usually present themselves before you notice the typical 'laminitis stance', heat in the feet or change to the digital pulse.   If you even suspect laminitis act immediately as delay can seriously hinder your horse's recovery. If possible stable your horse on a deep bed of shavings, but don't force him to walk. Allow him to lie down if he wants to as this will alleviate the pressure on your horse's feet. Seek veterinary advice as soon as possible, laminitis should be considered as much an emergency as colic to prevent the condition worsening. Preventing laminitis by careful management of your horse and his environment is vital. Slowly introduce him to the spring grass, starting with just an hour at first and gradually extending the time. Try strip grazing if you have a large field as this will limit the amount of grass your horse has access to. Make sure you also adjust your horse's hard feed to allow for the extra nutrition they are getting from their grazing, many horses won't need any more than grass at this time of year. If you do feel that he needs his diet supplementing be careful to choose a low starch, high fibre diet which is appropriate for his level of work.  The Laminitis Trust provides detailed information on the disease, look out for their Approval Mark on your horse's feed bags. By being vigilant and with correct management your horse should stay healthy and happy throughout the summer months. Act quickly if your horse starts to show signs of weight gain by restricting his grazing or fitting a grazing mask. If you are at all worried about your horse's health or you suspect the onset of laminitis ring your vet straight away. Laminitis is a serious disease which can cause long term damage to your horse's feet. Careful management of your horse's welfare will help to ensure that your horse stays safe and sound throughout the year.