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 ...

Travel feature: the Peak District

The UK is home to some of the most stunning countryside in Europe and now is the time to see it. Spring ushers in all sorts of new sights and sounds that bring out the best in rural Britain. One of Britain's real treasures is the Peak District. For a long time, the peaks have been a favourite destination for walkers, bikers, Duke of Edinburgh students, cyclists and campers. However, they are also a fantastic place to ride. Cut loose or take it easy The Peak District National Park Authority is really committed to making the peaks the ideal place for horse riding and pony trekking. In total, there are no fewer than 65 miles of trails for trekking and they cater for all ages, abilities and attitudes when it comes to riding. The scenery is wonderful all year round, but spring time is particularly special thanks to the burgeoning greenery, the return of wildlife amid the rising temperatures and the colours of trees and flowers bursting into life. That makes the trails a superb place to relax and take it slowly in the saddle. For all that, the bridleway network means riders can cut loose when they want to – something that most don't get the opportunity to do in earnest unless they take a trip out into the open country, with its untamed meadows and well-maintained tracks. The most ambitious riders can join up with the Pennine Bridleway, which is a particularly impressive trail that traverses the wild moors of England's undulating heartland. Stretching for more than 250 miles and exposing riders to incredibly challenging terrains, this is best for experienced equestrians keen on long-distance and endurance riding. Equestrian centres There are a number of equestrian centres within the boundaries of the Peak District so finding a place to start is relatively easy. Those who fancy combining a trek with a holiday will find campsites, caravan sites, hostels and hotels in the region, while villages like Edale and Castleton boast gorgeous country pubs for a little extra atmosphere. Trails and tracks in the Peak District White Peak trails There are a number of trails around the White Peak area. This is a great place to visit if you are keen on wide open views, thanks to the patchwork system of fields it is home to. There are also valleys and gorges towards the north of the peak and traditional villages towards the south. The High Peak trail is one of the most famous trails, largely because its history is tied in with the industrial revolution. It is the site of one of the very first railways and as such there are a lot of heritage marvels to witness from the saddle. The Tissington trail is another White Peak trail that was once a railway and it features a stunning 600 metre tunnel on the way through to Ashbourne. Other trails of interest here include the Manifold track and Carsington Water, which also offers watersports, wildlife viewing spots and other attractions. Black Harry trails Right in the centre of the Peak District National Park, you'll find the Black Harry trails – an excellent network of trails perfect for horse riding around Longstone Edge. The available routes number ten in all and they criss-cross the landscape for around 13 miles. The name of the Black Harry trails has a grisly origin. Black Harry was a highwaymen who patrolled the deserted and spooky moors of Longstone Edge in the Eighteenth Century (the area was used by travellers from the very beginning of the Medieval era.) This notorious felon was eventually caught and executed for his crimes. When holidaying in the area, stop at one of the local pubs for a taste of Thornbridge Brewery's Black Harry ale that was made to celebrate the trails and their history. Monsal trail Horse riders gain stunning insight into Britain's industrial past when they trek through the Monsal trail, complete with restored tunnels that once gave the old railway safe passage through the peaks. This trail has seen a good deal of investment in recent times in order to make it more accessible to walkers, cyclists and those on horseback. Macclesfield Forest trails For a change of scenery, riders can access the concessionary bridleways in Macclesfield Forest, which is especially beautiful in spring and autumn because of the colours on show. For all that, the forest is spectacular all year round and it offers a wonderful contrast to the open views of some of the other trails in the peaks. Be on the lookout for wildlife because this is one of the UK's most treasured sites of biodiversity. Equipment and centres Finally, make sure you've got all the necessary horse riding equipment and clothing like jodhpurs and country boots for your trip or find a suitable place to hire your accessories. Always choose an equestrian centre that enjoys British Horse Society approval because this acts as testament to the safety and quality of service that they provide.

These Boots Were Made For Riding!

Long riding boots can be a considerable investment and as you’ll discover, there are now plenty to choose from. Hopefully, this post will help you to find a pair that will make your riding as comfortable as possible and fit your budget. Rubber Riding Boots Years ago the only riding boots available in a suitable price range for the young or 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 riders and can make keeping your heels in the correct position difficult as it’s not very easy to flex your ankle in them. The advantages of rubber riding boots though are that they’re inexpensive, tough and waterproof so will keep your feet dry in wet weather. This makes them a good all-round boot for yard and riding wear.   Leather Riding Boots In many riders’ opinion, the best form of footwear for riding are long leather riding boots. These allow flexion of the ankles while 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 more economic versions available which will fit a more modest budget. It may sound impossible but leather riding boots can actually help to improve your riding! Wearing boots that actually allow your ankle to move freely will mean you can keep your heels down, which in turn keeps your lower leg more still. This helps to establish the rider in a more correct and so secure position. Once a rider’s position is secure, control of the horse is much easier - a positive outcome for both horse and rider.Dress Boots These are traditional style, plain boots. They can be worn for show jumping, although they’re usually worn for dressage. Many modern dress style boots have higher, rounded tops on the outside which give a more elegant appearance.   Requisite Softy Leather Boots £88.99 Shires Norfolk Long Leather Boots  £129       Field Boots This style of boot has lacing at the top of the foot/ankle, which makes them more comfortable when riding with the shorter stirrup length used in all jumping disciplines. The position of the lacing allows the ankles to flex more easily and with this style of boot, it generally takes less time to break them in.          Riding Boots for Outside the Competition Ring Outside of the competition arena, riders can choose whichever style and colour boot they like. They can be black, brown, leather or suede, plain or patterned. Some of the latest designs are so stylish that they look equally good when worn with your everyday clothes for that ‘country’ look. These latest designs may have a more casual look but they still incorporate all of the excellent design features that we expect from riding boots. These include foot comfort, security in the stirrup and water-resistant coatings to the leather and membranes. If you plan to wear your boots while on the yard, make sure you pick a pair that will be comfortable for walking in as well as for riding. Stables can be pretty harsh environments for footwear due to the ammonia in urine and some modern day long boots are made from materials and coatings designed to resist the effects of the yard and prolong the life-span of your boot. Choosing the best riding boot depends on individual’s needs, wants and desires. We’re sure you’ll find the perfect pair from our huge footwear selection. Happy shopping!  

Stress-Free First Aid – Thanks To Mini Horslyx!

Every horse owner has been there – your horse appears from the field with a mystery cut, or scrapes himself on a fence when competing. No matter how it happened, horses aren’t always the most cooperative of animals when it comes to cleaning the wound. Delivering first aid to your injured equine can be a stressful experience. Not only will you be concerned for your wounded horse but an injured or sore equine can react irrationally by panicking or lashing out. Whether you’re carrying out the treatment or the vet is there, a distraction to keep things calmer would be a bonus! Mini Horslyx are a great way to occupy a horse, giving them something enjoyable to focus on rather than the unpleasant task in hand. The small, hand-held tub offers your horse the perfect reward for standing still in the form of a healthy, nutrient rich lick. Unlike carrots, apples or treats – which can be snatched or broken off – the composition of Mini Horslyx will keep your horse’s attention for long periods of time, enabling you to carry out the essential wound maintenance without him even noticing! Whether you’re cleaning a wound after surgery, washing a cut or scrape or managing mud fever, Mini Horslyx provides a healthy and nutritious way to distract your equine without having to provide concentrate feed or shot-lived treats. First Aid Kit Essentials: Cotton wool Antiseptic scrub or spray Ready-to-use poultice Wound ointment, gel or powder Non-stick dressings Gamgee and a selection of bandages Bandage tape Emergency contact numbers including your vet and farrier Utensils such as tweezers, scissors and a thermometer Mini Horslyx Each Mini Horslyx tub contains a range of high specification vitamins, minerals, trace elements and natural anti-oxidants to support the immune system, your equine friend will also receive the boost he needs, at the time he needs it most.   Mini Horslyx is available in Original, Mint, Respiratory or Garlic flavour and costs just £2.99 from Robinsons.  

Why Use A Riding Hat Camera?

More and more equestrian riders are increasingly using helmet mounted camcorders to capture the thrill and excitement of their sport. Your skills at show jumping, eventing and even having a good old gallop along the beach can all be recorded for you to watch again and again! It allows you to capture all the sights and sounds of your riding exploits. Get a rider’s eye view of exactly how you and your horse tackle a course. Get your trainer to wear the camera when you’re having your lesson. Riding with a visible hat camera while on the roads can act as a deterrent to uncourtious and sometimes ignorant drivers. Introducing The Equisafety Riding Hat Camera? It’s lightweight and features an adjustable belt attachment Fully waterproof so perfectly at home in the rain and the wind Single button control – simply press once and off you go It records until your memory card is full It takes 2 x AAA batteries – rechargeable ones can be used Features AVI video formatting There’s a built in microphone with a 12ft range It has a 360 degree rotation To view your recorded footage, simply plug the camera directly into your computer via the supplied USB connector, or you can put the memory card into a card reader and download your clips. The good news is that for a limited time only, you can save 20% on the RRP of £89.99. That means you only pay £71.99…a saving of £18!

The Healthy Horse?

It's important that you can spot signs of sickness in horses early, not only to prevent any problem from worsening, but also to avoid the potentially spiraling costs of vet bills. In order to determine when your horse is unwell, you need to observe them when they’re fit and healthy. It’s good practice to keep a record of the resting pulse, temperature and respiratory rate for your horse as this will help to identify when they’re not 100%. These are your horse's individual vital signs, known as TPR. The ‘normal’ vital signs for a resting horse are: Temperature – 36.5-38C Pulse – 30-40 beats/min Respiration – 8-12 breaths/min If you're not confident with carrying out the measurements of these vital signs alone, your vet should be happy to help. Maybe ask them to help you next time they’re visiting  your horse to give him his flu/tetanus jab.How To Take… Temperature: This should be taken using either a mercury or digital thermometer. Stand to one side of your horse and holding his tail, insert a lubricated thermometer into the rectum, holding it to one side so that that the thermometer sits against the rectal wall. Hold it there for one minute before removing it and reading and recording the temperature. Care should be taken when doing this as a horse may kick out so ideally the horse should be held by someone. Pulse: It’s worth practising taking your horse’s pulse, so that both you and your horse become used to it. The most common place to take the pulse is just where the facial artery passes under the lower jaw. A light pressure applied over the artery with two fingers should allow you to locate the pulse. Once located, count the beats for 15 seconds, then multiply by 4. Respiration: This can be observed by watching the side of the horse behind the last rib. Watch the side move in and out as the horse breathes and count how many times it does this in a minute. Alternatively, you can watch the nostrils or place a hand in front of the nostril to feel the air as the horse breaths out. Any deviation to these ‘norms’ may indicate that your horse is unwell, particularly if any combination of two of these signs are abnormal. For example, if your horse has a high temperature and an increased pulse.Signs Of Good Health Hooves/Legs - your horse should be capable of standing squarely with its weight evenly on all four feet. Resting a hind leg is normal, but not a fore leg. There should be no excessive heat or signs of swelling. Eyes – these should be bright, fully open and clean. Any sign of unusual discharge or a glazed, dull appearance should be looked into. Hydration – the average horse drinks between five and ten gallons (about 1.5 to 3 buckets) of water a day, although this obviously varies depending on other factors such as weather conditions and exercise regimes. To assess if your horse is dehydrated, take a pinch of skin on the neck area and if it takes longer than about a second, this could indicate dehydration. Manure – this should be firm and not loose or contain undigested grains. Any change from the normal amount should be investigated. Nostrils – these should be dry and clean. Excessive mucus could suggest that your horse is unwell. Condition – the coat should be sleek and shiny. Appetite – a healthy horse should have a good appetite and any deviation from this can often be one of the first indicators of illness. A loss of appetite may be affected in horses with teeth problems so check that your horse is not dropping large amounts of food as it chews. All of these indicators are only a guide. If your horse is behaving unusually or you are concerned about his health then trust your gut instincts and if in doubt, call the vet. 

Why Groom?

Grooming isn’t just about removing the dirt from your horse’s coat and making him look smart. Whether you ride your horse or not, they should receive daily care in the form of grooming. Here’s why:1. Grooming gets your hands on your horse. A good daily groom doesn’t have to take an hour. If you do it daily, your average time expenditure should actually be minimal. But during this daily routine you have an opportunity to get your hands on every inch of your horse and what better way to quickly assess your horse’s health? Touching your horse tells you so much more than just looking at it over the fence. Is the horse sensitive in a particular area? Are there any weird lumps or bumps? Any rashes, scratches, or swellings? A good grooming session will let you pick up on these things before they become a major issue.     2. Grooming acts as preventive medicine. A good grooming session increases blood flow to the skin’s surface, massages large muscle groups and daily hoof picking keeps the feet clean and helps prevent common hoof issues such as thrush, which is a fairly common bacterial disease of the sole. Horses out in the wild don’t have this luxury, but they have each other, and mutual grooming takes the place of brushes and combs. When you remove a horse from its natural environment and stick it alone in a stable, you need to take on the responsibilities of herd mates for the health of the individual.3. Grooming increases the human-animal bond. True, there are some horses out there that don’t like to be groomed. But the majority do tend to enjoy it and this is a great opportunity to bond with your riding companion. Engaging your horse in an activity where you are not requiring him to actually perform any work is a release from the demands we push on our horses. This is your chance to give back and let your horse relax. Quiet time with just you, your horse and a brush can communicate feelings of communal pleasantries that benefit both horse and rider. For those just starting a relationship with a new mount, this is a great way to build a bond and for those starting training with a young horse, grooming can re-assure an anxious animal.4. Grooming can be more than a brush in hand. Sometimes, if you don’t have time to ride, a grooming session can substitute. Practicing some ground exercises such as lateral neck flexions or picking up hooves and doing some leg extensions are great equine yoga moves to help with flexibility and balance. Some people take the time to practice ground manners or teach their horses tricks. It’s amazing what you can do with your horse if you only have twenty minutes in the evening after work.5. Grooming is excellent exercise — for you. So, this is a purely selfish reason for encouraging people to take the time to groom, but how many of you have worked up a sweat just brushing your horse? Working that body brush over the top line will definitely work your shoulders and triceps if you are doing it right! Who needs a gym membership when you have horses!  

Horse Grooming Tips

There are several reasons to groom your horse, but the most important one is for his well-being. A daily routine is necessary to maintain the health of his skin, coat and hooves. Grooming also allows you to bond with your horse and become familiar with his normal demeanor so you will be able to notice the first sign that something may be amiss.Grooming Checklist Before you start to beautify your equine, you’ll need to gather all of your horse grooming supplies. Keep in mind that for health reasons you need a separate grooming kit for each horse to reduce the risk of spreading disease and infection. It's also a good idea to keep all supplies in one location so that you're not scouring your stable every time you need a different brush, comb or hoof pick. If you don’t want to treat yourself to a grooming kit storage box, you could use a tote shopping bag. Here’s a list of grooming supplies that you’ll need to properly maintain your horse – if I’ve left anything out, let me know! • Dandy brush • Body brush • Rubber curry comb • Metal curry comb • Grooming mitt • Shedding blade • Sweat scraper • Mud brush • Grooming sponge • Soft face brush • Hoof brush • Mane comb • Bot knife • Detangler Spray • Sunscreen – if your horse has any pink bits on his nose! • Hoof pick with brush • Hoof oil or dressing • Hoof oil brush • Fly repellent spray • Coat shine spray You’ll need to wash your grooming tools with an anti-bacterial soap about once a week.Daily Grooming Routine Start by tying your horse up and picking his feet out. Remove his rugs or, if it’s really cold, fold them back over his quarters. Brush off obvious caked mud and dried sweat using a dandy brush. Next, take a body brush and metal curry comb and brush your horse thoroughly from head to toe. Use some elbow grease so you really make a difference. Use the curry comb to clean the body brush on every other downward stroke so that the brush doesn’t get a build-up of dirt that then gets spread over your horse!Give your horse a final polish with a stable rubber and then replace his rugs. Untie your horse and place his headcollar around his neck, so that you can carefully brush his head with a body brush or face brush. You might find that your horse actually enjoys this and he may appear to nod off to sleep. Finally, you can use three different sponges to clean your horse's dock, eyes and nose in turn. It’s a good idea to use three different coloured sponges and mark each one clearly with ‘nose’, ‘dock’ and ‘eyes’, so that you don’t forget which one to use on each area! Always consider the brushes you are using on a clipped horse. Soft ‘flick’ brushes or body brushes work best and it’s best to avoid anything too harsh. Watch your horse’s reaction when grooming, if he becomes unsettled or flinches, then the brush you are using may be too harsh.Grooming If Your Horse Lives Out The chances are that if your horse is living in his field all winter, he'll be pretty hairy, which means that if you want to keep him in work, you’re probably going to have to think about giving him a ‘mini’ clip such as a trace clip. Whatever you decide, his coat will still need your daily attention during the winter months. Brushing your horse too much can reduce the natural oils in his coat, which he’ll need to help protect him from the elements when he’s turned out 24/7.  However, you will need to give him a once-over with a dandy brush every day, so you can check him for lumps and bumps.     Don’t use the dandy brush on his mane and tail though as this will cause the hair to split. I’ve found that applying a detangler spray and combing it through the mane and tail every other day not only keeps the hair tangle free, it also helps to stop mud from sticking to it. You’ll also need to pay careful attention to his legs for signs of mud fever and ensure that you pick out his feet every day, checking for signs of thrush at the same time.  

Keep Warm!

Most of us are responsible horse people who put our horse’s health in front of our own. But remember, if we’re not healthy, we won’t be able to care for our horse. Choose the Right Winter Clothing For You! What a difference the right clothing can make. Before winter well and truly hits, you need to check your wardrobe to check it contains clothing which will help ease you through whatever winter has to dish out. Consider your ‘horse-life’ clothing requirements. What activities do you need to prepare for? Riding in an indoor arena, hacking out, night riding, stable chores? If you’re going to be working with horses in inclement weather for an undetermined amount of time, you really do need suitable gear. Do you own a good, wind resistant and waterproof jacket? Knee-high boots that don’t leak and flexible but insulated waterproof gloves? A hat is also a must, especially when you consider that 30% of your body’s heat is lost through the head. Hints & Tips Many equestrians believe that layering is the best option for outdoor winter wear. This gives you flexibility to add or remove layers, depending on the weather and your activity. You’ll find it’s much easier to shed clothing as you warm up but incredibly difficult to warm up once you’re chilled! Resist the temptation of putting on too many pairs of socks. You'll restrict circulation and actually cause your feet to get colder! For instant warming, hand or toe warmers, such as Little Hotties Foot Warmers, can’t be beaten! Mittens are warmer than gloves because fingers retain more heat when they touch each other, rather than when they're separated by tunnels of fabric. Drink plenty of liquids. When it’s below freezing the air will draw moisture out of you. If you’re dehydrated it's harder for your body to keep warm. Use a sheepskin saddle seat saver.  The fibres of the sheepskin and the air trapped between them warms up much more quickly than cold stiff saddle leather!  

We Love Online Promotions

We often issue promotions in the form of either ‘a percentage off’ or ‘£ savings’ and these are offered to customers via emails, advertisements or on-site banners. They can be redeemed online only by using the promotional code provided. There’s no cash alternative and unless stated, discounts are only applicable to full price items - sale and clearance items are not included. How to Use A ‘Promotional Code’ When using a promotional code, the code provided should be inputted into the ‘Promotional Code’ box at the bottom of the 'shopping trolley' page.  Some promotions will be subject to a minimum spend threshold – please refer to the original source of the promotion. Wherever a minimum spend threshold applies, the minimum spend does not include delivery costs. Once you’ve selected all of the products you wish to purchase, enter the promotional codeyou wish to use into the ‘promotional codes’ box at the bottom of the 'shopping trolley' page. Click ‘Apply’ and you will see the discount appear on the right. If it’s a free delivery offer you will need to calculate your shipping & delivery before applying the promotional code. Once you’re happy that the promotional code has been applied to your order, you can continue by clicking on ‘Proceed to Checkout’. If Your Promotional Code Doesn’t Work Have a look at the terms and conditions as well as the validity period of the promotional code you’re using. If the code is valid, your order is eligible and it’s still not working please contact our friendly customer service team on 0844 573 1001 and they’ll look into the problem for you. Expiry Dates & Exclusions All promotions will have a ‘valid until’ or ‘expiry’ date. Please refer to the original promotion source for this information. Please note that promotional codes cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer and they cannot be applied retrospectively to previous orders. The Usual Small Print www.robinsonsequestrian.com reserves the right to cancel or change any promotion or discount without prior notice, at any time.

Mud Glorious Mud?

Rain…rain…and a bit more rain! Personally, I can live with getting a bit wet but what I really hate is the mud. It’s pretty much an occupational hazard with horses and they appear to take great joy in rolling in it. However, in many equestrian’s eyes, the arrival of mud means only one thing…the onset of mud fever. What is mud fever? Mud fever can be caused by a number of bacteria that lie in wait in the soil. Once the soil gets wet, the spores are activated and pounce on any weakness in your horse’s skin. Some forms of mud fever can be contagious and shared equipment such as boots, wraps and grooming equipment can carry the mud fever disease. However, good hygiene should prevent cross-contamination. It can actually affect the whole body if it gets out of hand and isn’t treated. When it occurs along the backs of horses that are kept outside without rugs, it’s known as rain scald or rain rash. Happily, most forms of mud fever won’t infect healthy skin but if your horse spends time in wet and muddy conditions, his skin softens and chaps. As the skin softens, it’s more easily scratched or damaged and yes, you’ve guessed it, the bacterium finds its way in and sets off the mud fever! What does it look like? Signs of mud fever are seen at the back of the heels and pasterns, although this can extend to the fetlock and up the lower limb.  Signs can vary from a few small dry scabs through to multiple painful discharging lesions with swollen weeping areas.  Often, there are matted areas of hair and scabs, which when picked off leave ulcerated, moist lesions.  The inflammation caused by mud fever can on occasion result in lameness. It can be very uncomfortable and painful for your horse, so if you see it, deal with it straight away. Can mud fever be prevented? Prevention is by far better than cure when it comes to mud fever, as once your horse has had it, chances are it will come back again and again. Unfortunately we can’t do much about the weather but there are ways of letting your horse be a horse and minimising the risk of mud fever. Use specialist turnout boots to keep your horse’s legs as dry and mud-free as possible. Equilibrium Close Contact Chaps are designed just for that purpose, as are Shires Mud Socks and Freedom Stretch Turnout Boots. Use a barrier cream such as Equine America Fungatrol Cream, Lincoln Muddy Buddy Ointment or Nettex Muddy Marvel Barrier Cream. Apply this to vulnerable areas, particularly around the heels and lower pasterns. Check that your horse’s legs are clean and dry when you bring him in. Some people prefer to leave the mud and brush it off when it’s dry. If you do need to wash your horse’s legs off, it’s really important that they are dried off well. How to treat mud fever? Once your horse has mud fever, it can be very difficult and frustrating to get rid of and it can recur. There are many theories as to which treatments work best but overall it’s trial and error as to what treatment your horse responds best to. The most commonly known treatment involves the gentle removal of the scabs as it's been considered that the bacteria that causes mud fever live underneath the scabs and so effective treatment relies on removing the scabs to allow contact with topical treatment. Make sure these are disposed of and not just left in your stable bedding as these can remain infectious for almost 2 years! Then use diluted Hibiscrub or Lincoln Muddy Buddy Scrub to remove the scabs. Be careful though as some horses will be unhappy about this if they’re sore! Clean the area with warm water – not cold. Thoroughly dry the leg, then once dry, closely cut the hair around the affected area. Although feathers may in some cases help to stop your horse getting mud fever in the first place, once they have it you need clear access to treat the wound. Apply a mud fever treatment such as Lincoln Muddy Buddy Mud Kure Cream or Lincoln Muddy Buddy Mud Kure Powder to help kill the bacteria and heal the wound. Keep your horse’s legs clean and dry until the condition is fully cleared up, the skin has healed and the hair regrown. It’s then necessary to follow the advice given in ‘Can mud fever be prevented’. Remember, once your horse has had mud fever he could well be more susceptible to getting it again, so you need to remain extra vigilant and check his legs daily. What if treatment doesn’t work? Some types of bacterial infections might not respond to regular treatment and will prove difficult to get rid of. When this is the case, it’s best to call the vet. They will be able to take samples to test precisely what the cause of the mud fever is and administer antibiotics if necessary.