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 ...

Quick Guide To Turnout Rugs

Using a turnout rug will help protect your horse from harsh weather conditions such as the cold, rain, wind and snow…keeping them warm and dry while they’re out in their field. The type of turnout chosen depends on many factors ranging from the temperature and weather conditions to your horse’s lifestyle, his age and what breeding he is. Turnout Weights: Turnout rugs are generally available in three weights based on the amount of filling in the rug. This filling is measured in grams per square metre and the higher the fill number, the warmer the rug. Light weight turnouts have no filling and so are ideal for warmer conditions when your horse may need protection from passing showers. Medium weight turnouts have a filling of approximately 200gm and are best used in between seasons when conditions are beginning to get colder. Heavy weight turnouts have a filling of approximately 300+gm and are ideal for cold winter conditions. Turnout Styles: Turnout rugs come in a variety of styles: Standard - Typical rug shape that ends at the horse’s withers – no neck cover. Combo - Same shape as the standard rugs but features an integrated neck cover which cannot be removed. These keep as much of your horse as warm and dry as possible. Half Neck - This is a standard rug shape but with an extended neck. The aim of this design is to reduce the amount of pressure put on the withers and to offer a little extra coverage. Separate neck cover – you can also buy a standard turnout rug along with a separate neck cover, which enables you to choose whether to add the extra coverage or not depending on weather conditions. Weather Proof: A degree of common sense has to be applied to the performance expectations of your horse’s rug. No turnout, or human coat can be absolutely waterproof when subjected to hours of torrential rain. Today’s high tech materials will withstand and repel a high level of rain and weather but will eventually begin to allow some water through. With this in mind it is highly advisable to have at least one spare turnout rug to use on your horse while the other is drying in a barn or tack room. Rip Proof: How many times have you read the description of a turnout and been confused by the '1200D' reference that appears in the product title or description? When you see this, it’s simply referring to the strength of the outer fabric using a denier rating. The higher the denier rating, the stronger the fabric, for example, 1200 denier is stronger than 600 denier. Although many turnouts have tough, ‘ripstop’ outers, this does not mean that the material will never rip. Horses are large, powerful animals and their scratching or rubbing on branches or fences in a field can result in rugs getting snagged and entangled. Horses will always attempt to free themselves if they’re restrained so the rugs have to be designed to rip or give way when put under a large amount of pressure. If you had a choice between a damaged rug or damaged horse, which would you choose? Increasing Your Turnout’s Life Span: A good quality turnout should last for many years - accidents permitting. To increase the lifetime of a turnout it needs to be cleaned, repaired and reproofed at least once a year and stored away when not in use so that it doesn’t go mouldy or get munched by rodents! If you’re still unsure about anything related to turnouts or horse rugs in general, please email our friendly customer service team on customer.service@robinsonsequestrian.com or use our ‘Live Chat’ facility online.

Safe at all Times!

Aside from the safety point of view, which I'm sure we’ve all had drummed into us from magazines, the BHS, concerned parents and the highways agency, wearing reflective gear and lights while hacking on the roads is really a way of showing how much you care about your horse. If you think about it, as a human, we can ponder the pros and cons of hacking out, decide where to go and then choose whether or not to wear reflective gear and lights – which we’re reliably informed helps to keep us safer on the roads. However our horses have no concept of the potential danger they are being placed into each and every time we hack out on the road. They rely on us to keep them safe. Each time we decide not to wear any reflective clothing or lights we put them and in turn ourselves at increased risk. It’s quite astounding to see how much people truly care about their horses, they feed them, exercise them, rug them up and care for them when they get sick. Many of these same caring equestrians then put their equine partners in danger by taking them out onto busy main roads or dark, windy country lanes without any reflective gear! Research presented at the International Society of Equitation Science annual conference this year indicated that riders who wore lights as well as reflective clothing while out riding reported significantly fewer  ‘near misses’. Next time you’re about to go hacking out, take a minute to think about which one of you may get more injured as a result of an accident with a vehicle not being able to see you properly and at the very least, put a yellow tabard on!

Jodhpurs & Breeches – What’s The Difference?

Jodhpurs and breeches are horse-riding trousers designed to provide a more comfortable and safer ride. There aren’t a vast number of differences between the two, but the choice you make dictates the type of riding boots you need to wear. The major difference between jods and breeches is the length of the legs. On jodhpurs the legs go all the way down to the ankles, or beyond if they have elasticated underfoot stirrups.  Jods can be worn with long boots or short boots. When worn with jodhpur boots they can be secured in place using jodhpur clips which stop them from rising up the rider’s legs. On breeches though, the legs end halfway down the calves and feature touch tape or button fastenings at the hem of each leg – as they are shorter and so less bulky around the ankle area, they tend to be more comfortable when worn under long riding boots. Both jods and breeches are close fitting, made from a stretchy fabric and generally feature knee and seat reinforcements. The seat is covered with a fabric meant to grip the saddle in order to help keep the rider in place and it’s usual for a similar material to be positioned on the inside of the knees to enable the rider to keep a firmer grip on the horse. Unlike casual trousers, the leg seams are placed on the outside to prevent rubbing the horse or rider. The Rider Traditionally young riders start out wearing jods, as wearing them helps children get the correct leg position and grip. It also allows the instructor to see how the child’s heels are positioned. Jodhpurs are also the obligatory dress for many equestrian competitions for similar reasons – they allow judges to see the leg positioning of the rider. Not all breeches come with the knee patches that jodhpurs feature. This gives show riders the option to wear plain breeches if they prefer. Show jumpers tend to wear breeches with knee patches as it allows them to grip the horse better when jumping. Dressage riders though prefer a simple seat panel to keep them in the proper sitting position and they generally have no great need for the knee patches. What Colour? Traditionally both jods and breeches came in a range of cream shades. Now though, they can be found in a whole variety of colours and materials such as denim and cord. Despite this variety, most competitions adhere to a strict dress code that sometimes dictates what colour the riding trousers can be. Some riders wear jods or breeches that match their team colours, however it’s advisable to check with the competition organisers whether these colours are acceptable in the ring. History Jodhpurs are named after the city of Jodhpur in the Rajasthan area of India, where polo was the royal pastime. The riding trousers used became popular with the British and became known as jodhpurs. Breeches originated as part of male fashion and were highly popular in the 18th century. They used to be made in a wide fit called a ‘flare’ cut to provide comfort and room for movement.

Rag-Fork v Ragwort!

Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE 10 Facts About Ragwort 1. Ragwort is highly toxic to all grazing animals and is one of the most frequent causes of plant poisoning of livestock in Britain. Horses and ponies are particularly susceptible to Ragwort poisoning and it can often be fatal. 2. All parts of the Ragwort plant are poisonous all year round. 3. Ragwort is one of five injurious weeds specified in the Weeds Act 1959. This gives the Secretary of State the power to serve notice upon the occupier of any land on which Ragwort is growing, requiring them to take action within a specified time to prevent the weed from spreading to agricultural land. 4. Ragwort is highly palatable and toxic when cut and dried. 5. Eating a small amount of Ragwort over a long period of time can be just as damaging as eating one large amount. 6. Ragwort is deep rooted and a plant will regenerate if not completely removed. 7. Each plant can produce up to 150,000 seeds with a 70 per cent germination rate. Ragwort seeds can lay dormant in the soil for 20 years. 8. Ragwort is biennial with a rosette stage in the first year and flowering in the second year. 9. Younger animals are more susceptible than mature animals. 10. The effects of ragwort ingestion are not pleasant; the symptoms may include weight loss, poor and staring coat, staggering gait, impaired vision followed by circling, blindness, colliding with obstacles, severe abdominal pain, inability to swallow and ultimately complete paralysis, collapse and death. Owners of livestock may only become aware of a problem once these clinical signs appear and by which time it is too late. Rag-Fork: What is it? The Rag-Fork is a tool for digging out Ragwort quickly and easily. It uses an innovative leverage elbow action ensuring that the weed and its roots can be removed effortlessly, without the use of chemicals or herbicides. The compact and lightweight design also helps reduce the risk of back strain, even in the hardest of soils. It’s the fast and effective solution for control of Ragwort and other common field weeds and definitely makes light work of a back-breaking job! There’s more good news…your Rag-Fork comes with a lifetime guarantee! Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE The Rag-Fork Guide to Digging Up and Disposing of Ragwort 1. Always wear gloves. Ragwort is poisonous to humans too. 2. Take a bag or wheelbarrow to put the Ragwort in once dug up. Ragwort is more palatable to horses when dried. Always remove dug up Ragwort from your horses field. 3. Put your Rag-Fork next to the plant root, push down using the foot bar and then pull back and down towards you. There is no need to twist the fork. The fulcrum will push the root out of the ground. 4. Put the Ragwort plant in the bag or barrow and remove from your field 5. Put a little rock salt in the hole where the Ragwort plant was to dry up and remaining root strands. 6. Burn the Ragwort in a safe place. 7. Do this task as part of your daily field checks to keep on top of your Ragwort. Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE   10 Facts About Ragwort 1. Ragwort is highly toxic to all grazing animals and is one of the most frequent causes of plant poisoning of livestock in Britain. Horses and ponies are particularly susceptible to ragwort poisoning and it can often be fatal. 2. All parts of the ragwort plant are poisonous all year round. 3. Ragwort is one of five injurious weeds specified in the Weeds Act 1959. This gives the Secretary of State the power to serve notice upon the occupier of any land on which ragwort is growing, requiring them to take action within a specified time to prevent the weed from spreading to agricultural land. 4. Ragwort is highly palatable and toxic when cut and dried. 5. Eating a small amount of ragwort over a long period of time can be just as damaging as eating one large amount. 6. Ragwort is deep rooted and a plant will regenerate if not completely removed. 7. Each plant can produce up to 150,000 seeds with a 70 per cent germination rate. Ragwort seeds can lay dormant in the soil for 20 years. 8. Ragwort is biennial with a rosette stage in the first year and flowering in the second year. 9. Younger animals are more susceptible than mature animals. 10. The effects of ragwort ingestion are not pleasant; the symptoms may include weight loss, poor and staring coat, staggering gait, impaired vision followed by circling, blindness, colliding with obstacles, severe abdominal pain, inability to swallow and ultimately complete paralysis, collapse and death. Owners of livestock may only become aware of a problem once these clinical signs appear and by which time it is too late. Rag-Fork: What is it? The Rag-Fork is a tool for digging out Ragwort quickly and easily. It uses an innovative leverage elbow action ensuring that the weed and its roots can be removed effortlessly, without the use of chemicals or herbicides. The compact and lightweight design also helps reduce the risk of back strain, even in the hardest of soils. It’s the fast and effective solution for control of Ragwort and other common field weeds and definitely makes light work of a back-breaking job! There’s more good news…if you register your Rag-Fork purchase on the Rag-Fork website, in the unlikely event that your Rag-Fork is faulty or breaks whilst digging paddock or garden weeds, they will provide you with a replacement fork or a full refund! cThe Rag-Fork Guide to Digging Up and Disposing of Ragwort 1. Always wear gloves. Ragwort is poisonous to humans too. 2. Take a bag or wheelbarrow to put the ragwort in once dug up. Ragwort is more palatable to horses when dried. Always remove dug up ragwort from your horses field. 3. Put you Rag-Fork next to the plant root, push down using the foot bar and then pull back and down towards you. There is no need to twist the fork. The fulcrum will push the root out of the ground. 4. Put the ragwort plant in the bag or barrow and remove from your field 5. Put a little rock salt in the hole where the ragwort plant was to dry up and remaining root strands. 6. Burn the ragwort in a safe place. 7. Do this task as part of your daily field checks to keep on top of your ragwort.

Time to Spring Clean…At Last!

Here in the UK we don’t seem to have experienced much of a spring this year. In fact, it’s only during this past couple of weeks that those with the facilities to turn their horses out 24/7 have actually been able to do so! Anyway, if your yard is anything like mine, it’s in need of a little TLC after the pretty long winter and miserable spring we’ve endured. Here are a couple of tips to get you started: Remove cobwebs from the inside of the stable to minimise dust and open any windows or air vents to give the stable a good blow through. Sweep out the feed and tack room, moving feed bins out of the way and checking them for any damage caused by hungry rodents during the winter months. Check the roof for loose tiles and replace/repair where necessary. Hire a jet wash to blast away the grime and slippery moss from the yard. Clear out gutters to make sure rainwater can drain properly and isn’t running down wooden or brick walls and causing untold damage. Adjust any doors that don’t open or close properly and check hinges, locks and bolts for damage. Check and if necessary repair or replace damaged water taps and hosepipes. Check and if necessary repair or replace damaged buckets and feeders. Cracked plastic buckets can damage your horse. If you want to freshen up the wooden cladding, doors and windows in your stable with a coat of stain it’s best to wait until the summer when the wood can really dry out. Go through your grooming kit and throw away all those well chewed brushes with the bristles missing! Treat yourself and your horse to some new grooming equipment…you’ll both benefit from having tools that do the job properly. Tidy out the hay barn, getting rid of as much dust as you can so that fresh hay isn’t contaminated. Patrol your fields for any rubbish that may have blown in, especially into the hedgerows. Organise your brushes, rakes, forks and spades – replacing any tools that are beyond repair. Replace items in your first aid kit – both horse and human. Test fire alarms and update the emergency numbers book. Your stable (and its surrounding area) is the place your horse calls home. By having a good tidy around you’ll be creating a clean, comfortable environment for your horse to live and work in, helping to make him happier and healthy. Now put your feet up, pour yourself a brew and think about the months of great riding ahead…now that it looks like our summer has finally arrived!

Protect Your Body!

Whether you’re planning to go eventing, about to back a young horse or just go out hacking, consideration should always be given to body protection. Designed to absorb impact from a fall or kick from a horse, body protectors are compulsory for some competitions. But an increasing number of riders report feeling more confident - and therefore riding more positively - when wearing one in everyday situations from hacking to schooling over fences. Another reason many more riders are opting for body protection is that modern garments are more flexible and lightweight than their predecessors. Not only that, 21st century body protectors come in fun, fashionable colours (or plain if you prefer), are quick and easy to put on - and don’t necessarily cost as much as you may think. A good fit is the key to comfort and safety. BETA trains retailers, such as ourselves, to fit body protectors so that we can offer riders free, personalised fittings instore. What’s The Best Body Protector For You? BETA originally brought together riding organisations, doctors, riders, manufacturers and retailers to develop the now widely recognised BETA Body Protector Standard. The BETA Standard sets criteria for shock-absorption, controls the area of the body that must be covered and ensures there are minimal gaps between the protective foam panels. It encompasses three levels, each designed for different activities and denoted by a colour-coded label on the garment. Level 1 (black label) provides the lowest level of protection that is only considered appropriate for licensed jockeys while racing. Level 2 (brown label) offers a lower than normal level of protection so is considered suitable for low risk situations - not including jumping, riding on the roads, riding young or excitable horses or riding while inexperienced. Level 3 (purple label) is considered appropriate for general riding, competitions including eventing and working with horses. Level 3 body protectors should prevent minor bruising that would have produced stiffness and pain, reduce soft tissue injuries and prevent a limited number of rib fractures. Make The Most Of Your Body Protector Body protectors should be replaced at least every three to five years, after which the impact absorption properties of the foam may have started to decline. Garments bearing the now obsolete Level 5 or 7 labels will no longer be effective and should be replaced with a garment bearing the current BETA 2000 and 2009 Standard. If you should have a heavy fall, your body protector should be checked immediately for dents. The foam will expand back to its original shape within 30 minutes; but if a dent is showing on examination, then it’s likely that this part of the garment has lost its impact absorption properties and should be replaced. Hidden damage that a body protector may have sustained is also a good reason for avoiding second-hand garments or those with unknown histories. Taking good care of your body protector means that it will last longer within the three to five year recommended lifespan. So don’t leave it lying around at the yard or in the lorry to be chewed and trodden on. Spending too much time in a hot car or damp tackroom won’t do it any good either. When not in use, body protectors should be hung on a clothes hanger. Doing up zips ensures they keep their shape, while closing Velcro fastenings will help prevent them becoming clogged with horse hair and hay particles. Most body protectors are made from heat sensitive PVC nitrile foam, which is why they feel increasingly comfortable as they soften and mould to the wearer’s body. So try storing your protector in a warm (but not artificially hot) environment to ensure it’s nice and flexible for that early morning ride!

Discover The Facts About Fly Repellents

As we make the transition in to the warmer months of spring and summer, one major problem all horse owners will agree on is flies! Flies rely mainly on smell to find their prey (such as horses). Although other senses, such as sight may be used to varying extents - depending on the type of insect. Repellents work by releasing strong scent molecules, which confuse the insect by mixing in with and masking the smell of the horse, so they are unable to home in on the smell of the horse. Trying to find their ’victims’ through these added smells is like us trying to see a distant object through fog. Bearing all this in mind, the term 'repellent' is misleading, as these products don’t actually repel the insects but rather confuse their sense of smell. Although the flies may eventually leave, it’s not because they were driven away by the smell, but rather they simply moved on as they couldn’t find their way to their prey due to the additional smells produced by the 'repellent'. Fly repellents for horses are available as ready to use sprays, which tend to be the most convenient method of applying the repellent onto the majority of horses. Wipes, gels, roll ons and creams are ideal for use on horses that are anxious about the sprays, or for sensitive areas such as around the mouth, eyes and wounds. NAF Off Citronella Tags are a different type of weapon in the fight against flies. They’re long lasting, highly scented silicone tags that can be attached to tack, or plaited into manes and tails when the horse is turned out. Natural Fly Repellents These are solutions that you can apply to your horse throughout the day and they’ll repel flying insects such as midges. If you opt for a natural fly repellent, then it’s highly likely that the product is going to contain something called citronella. Citronella oil is extracted from lemon grass and has been used as a natural repellent for decades. Whilst citronella oil is an effective repellent, it does require application directly to the skin every few hours to be effective. In some cases, you might need something a little more effective than a natural fly repellent – especially if your horse suffers badly with sweet itch. This is where the synthetic repellents come in. Synthetic Fly Repellents Some people tend to be a bit wary of using products that contain man-made (synthetic) chemicals. However, if your horse is suffering from stress caused by flies and a natural repellent just isn’t keeping the insects at bay, it might be time to try something a little more powerful. Synthetic fly repellents typically contain a chemical called DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide). This is a highly effective repellent that was originally developed by the Armed Forces in order to repel insects in the jungle! Most synthetic fly repellents for horses will not contain more than 20% DEET, but this is enough to provide protection for a number of hours at a time. DEET repellents usually only need only be applied 2-4 times a day. Other Options If you can cover your horse’s face, ears and body with fly sheets and fly masks, this can help reduce the amount of flies that can reach the skin of your horse. Alternatively you can bring your horse in from the field when flies are most active – this tends to be dawn and dusk. If you do use insect repellents, a combination of a DEET repellent and a natural repellent is thought to work the best. Sweet Itch Sweet Itch is when your horse or pony has an allergic reaction to biting midges. The summer months are when Sweet Itch is most likely to occur as this is when midges are most active. Keep an eye on the condition of your horse’s skin, this way you’ll be able to act fast if you notice that your horse is reacting to midge bites. There are products available, such as Dermoline Sweet Itch Lotion and Killitch, that will treat the allergic reaction, soothe the skin and help to repel the midges.