Tuesday, December 28, 2010

So what will 2011 bring?

First off, for the racing world the year could well open with Kauto Star winning the King George VI chase for the fifth time running.  A first for any four legged beast.  


The eventing season this year is also welcoming two new venues.  Both are major gains for the northern eventing scene with "Hopetoun International" hosting 2 international classes.  Burgham Horse festival will have classes up to novice as well as showjumping and showing.  By the way - the grand prix has a £12,000 prize pot!! Having eventing and showjumping classes on the same day always helps make the most of the day and helps the gate numbers, so there's plenty to be pleased with there.  


Eventing also sees some changes to withdrawals and entries this year - although the changes weren't as grand as some had hoped.  As always there's the worry of keeping sponsors and in particular the World Cup Series could have issues this coming year.  Personally I'd like to see more prize money on offer at events.  Eventing's not a cheap sport and never will be so it would be good to see some better prize money at the lower levels.  £100 may seem a lot but when it costs £70 to enter it's somewhat swallowed up... There's also been a re-shuffling of the entire junior system which offers greater training opportunities across the board.  


 On the hunting front there's always that chance of repealing the hunting ban.  The bottom line at the moment seems to be that even if it doesn't affect you directly the ban is a bit of a waste of money...and police time... I think it's fair to say that if things happen on that one they'll be a gargantuan party of vast proportions... although there could also be the unpleasant "anti" associated troubles as well...


The dressage world is also holding its breath as it awaits the Totilas story to unfold further.  Not just because Totilas will stand at stud but because he'll be out on the circuit with a different rider - gulp.  No pressure.  


Across the board, 2011 is a pre Olympic year.  Things matter now.  If you're going to win a 4* nows the time to do it.  However, to quote an old saying, "Form is temporary, Class is permanent".  I wouldn't be surprised to see a few of the old faces on that podium come 2012.  


Trouble is that's only the horse world... We all know too well the turmoil the world seems to be in at the moment.  2011 will see this unfold before us.  Will England stay on top or will we fall from grace?  Whatever happens in 2011 whether we like it or not we're all stuck in it together.  So on our little island in the North Sea perhaps we'll pull it out the bag, show the world and reveal that bit of class that really is permanent.  That is forever England.  


 



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We would LOVE your help!!

Equishopping.com really needs your votes in the Equestrian Social Media awards.  


We're going for quite a few sections.  



  • Section 2 - Facebook Campaign

  • Section 3 - Twitter Account

  • Section 11 - The 'talking animal' section.  This is of course Rodi, our resident talking horse's, favourite section.  

  • Section 12 - Most informative.  Check out some of our past blog articles.  We think they're extremely informative.  

  • Section 15 - The newcomers section.  The UK branch of Equishopping.com is still growing so we would love some votes in this section.  


To vote you need to follow the instructions HERE.  It'll only take you a few minutes to vote and we'd love to get into the top 10!


Voting closes in a few days time so VOTE, VOTE, VOTE -


Plus, everyone at Equishopping would like to wish all our readers a very merry Christmas!! (and of course a fabulous New Year.)  



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Olympia - Why Britain still hosts the best show world over.

There's been a lot of talk recently about how events are finding it difficult to run through a recession and the cost of equestrian sport etc etc... However, as we speak the christmas extravangaza that is Olympia rages on.  But why is Olympia so successful? 


The quality of the competition is the same as else where - Just look at the entries for the FEI World Cup Qualifier which has some of the best riders in the world.  With that competition goes the suspence.  


Having been to see the Nations Cup at the Dublin Horse show a few years back I remember very clearly watching Nick Skelton and Arco jump.  An absolutely packed stadium of rowdy and happy people fell totally silent to the extent where you really could have heard a pin drop as everyone watched with their heart in their mouths.  When he finished there was somewhat of an explosion.  Olympia's the same except there's a difference.  When you watch Olympia the crowd are genuinely happy and there's a party atmosphere so when you do get that elusive clear round in the top classes there's proper appaulause - like serious celebrations...


Then there's that location thing.  London may not be one of the most exotic location in the world compared to the sun, sea and sand location of some shows on the continent but its got something quite special.  I've always though it quite strange to go to London to watch showjumping.  Central london showjumping has that magic factor, only the British could put a show smack bang in the middle of our biggest city.  


Plus, at Olympia there's entertainment in excess.  Go anywhere else and, yes, they'll be stands and stallion parades but at Olympia there's all that and more.  Put it this way - Olympia got the cast of the critically acclaimed West End show "War Horse" to perform the finale.  They just go a step further.  By the way, if you haven't seen "War Horse" it's well worth going to see. You can buy tickets here.  


We've got the proof as well.  Check out Olympia's sponsors which range from the Hilton to Renault.  As a business venture Olympia's great as it's totally sustainable.  As long as we can get a World Cup qualifier there'll be other international classes.  So you can jump at Olympia and do some world ranking climbing if you play your cards right.  So Olympia makes for a very profitable week.  If we get the world's best turning up we'll pull in the crowds and the sponsors and the prize money will be there.  The rest looks after itself.  


So there you have it.  Oympia really is head and shoulders above the rest.  Not just for all those reasons but because it's a celebration of the horse as a leveler.  A private box will set you down a few bob at Olympia but those same wealthy individuals will rub shoulders with the small boy who got a ticket at the back with a bad view for his christmas present.  All of them will cheer when the Puissance wall is cleared at some some ridiculous height or when the world cup qualifier is won by a fraction of a second.  For an hour at least they're equals, both caught up in the contagious euphoria of Olympia.  Of course the horses go back to the stables and munch away at a carrot totally unaware of the service they've done the world.  



Friday, December 17, 2010

How to stay warm out competing and look smart too!

We've all faced the problem of going out competing and having to look smart in the cold weather.  Generally, our smart competition gear isn't the warmest of stuff.  However, Equishopping can save the day!!


First off for the showjumpers.  If you aren't jumping at Olympia then you can get away with wearing a smart jacket ie no hood, black or navy but insulated.  Those of you jumping for the crowds will have to freeze - Oh it's a hard life... This applies equally for eventers warming up.  Go and shell out on a decent smart jacket because it'll make everything soo much warmer and if you're warm, you'll ride better too!!  Plus, if it rains you'll be safe inside that cosy waterproof shell. 


 If jackets aren't your thing then a gillet or waistcoat can be worn over a show jacket before you go in and gives you much more freedom.  I'm told gillets meet the approval of the fashion police as well. 


Buy a new pair of gloves!! Firstly because any insulation in them will have be compressed over time and they simpy woin't be as warm anymore.  Secondly because glove manufacturers have heard our plight and started making warm but smart gloves - finally!  Check out a selection here


At the other end of the body - feet! In an ideal world we'd be able to fit thick socks into competition boots but unfortunately that would leave us with hugely oversized boots in summer.  The best bet then is to keep your boots in good condition.  Supple leather retains heat more than dry brittle leather.  Plus, if your boots crack and leak then your feet will be swimming in ice cold water. The solution, either clean your boots meticulously with Equishopping's wide range of leather care products or buy a new pair if they're past redemption. 


Now this next suggestion may seem fairly obvious but wear a belt! That way you can tuck your shirt into your breeches and it will actually stay tucked in and keep out the drafts! Check out Equishopping's range of belts, from the funky to the traditional. 


One final tip.  Wear a stock instead of a tie as it'll keep your neck warm just like a scarf. 


Happy competing!!



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Social Networking and Horses – How it can help you

Confused about Facebook and the strange bird symbol that is Twitter?  There’s a million reasons to have a go – especially when you have horses.  Now I’m not suggesting for a moment that you exploit Facebook’s incredible potential for stalkers but there is a lot to be gained from it...


The nature of competing generally means that you have friends from all corners of the country and possibly from across Europe as well.  With Britain being the centre of the eventing world it’s not surprising you only see some people at events as they travel sooo far.  Living in Kent miles away from anywhere I sympathise.  The answer, use Facebook and Twitter.  Now this may seem like a bizarre advertisement for social networking but the point is that it’s Christmas and wouldn’t it be great if you could have a chat with those people you never see but really like?


What’s more, the most up to date information generally hits Facebook or Twitter first before the official channels.  Also, you can get a realistic picture of what places are like before you get there.  Take the Facebook group that offers pictures of BE courses taken by its members.  It’s free as well and is genuine competition for other costly services such as Eventing World Wide’s course photos. 


Have you ever come across the scenario of talking to someone having been introduced to them but then forgetting their name as soon as you’ve heard it? With things like Facebook and Twitter you can see “friends of friends” and quickly find who that elusive person was.  However, I’m not suggesting you go as far as looking up someone’s number in the schedule to find their name and then finding them on Facebook as that’s probably a little bit too far.... Although it most certainly has been done. 


So, there you have it.  Lot’s of reason’s to sort this social networking out.  Go grab a phone wielding teenager and demand some help.  Bribe them a bit and they’ll help as long as you don’t expect them to add you as a friend! When you’re all sorted with it check out Equishopping there.  Not only do you get the latest news that way but you can get some great offers and enter competitions too.  Or more simply just click the logos at the top right of this page to go straight to Equishopping’s Facebook and Twitter pages.  


 



Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas presents that last.

We all know what it's like being given a new grooming kit for christmas... when there's nothing wrong with the one you've got and you get stuck with the new embarrassing pink sparkly one for the rest of the season.  So how about this year you give something that people genuinely like - it might not be a traditional christmas present but aren't the things that we use everyday most dear to us? It may seem at times that I'm perilously close to suggesting you give a chopping board or a saucepan to your sister but I reckon I've got some ideas up my sleeve!


Over the winter most eventers will end up showjumping quite a bit and chances are it'll be in their xc hat with a black silk stuck on.  Now there's nothing wrong with that but cool peaked hats with vents and the rest of the gizmos are a lot slicker than a chunky skull cap.  Plus, when the eventing season comes you'll look a lot better out showjumping.  It's also worth noting that you can't wear a beagler for the dressage at BE100 or below so you do need a "hard" hat.  A peaked one looks a lot better going down the centre line.  Check out Equishopping's selection of peaked hats here.  


The next thing is probably equivalent to buying a loved one a new set of kitchen knives but a DECENT shavings fork for example cannot fail to go down well.  BIN the old one and replace it.  It might not go down so well compared to a diamond but in freezing cold January when mucking out is at it's height you'll suddenly become very popular!


The next idea is more unusual.  A new stock pin.  Buy a decent quality one but please no blingy ones and sharpen the point.  When your recipient comes round to doing their stock up next they'll be pleasantly surprised that there's no battle of the Titans to put the pin through the stock.  You'll definitely get a smile for this one.  One warning though - sharpening a stock pin is actually quite tricky so it's definitely a case of 'it's the thought that counts'.  


 Another piece of advice.  Under no circumstances should you buy riders XC colours.  Riders are phenomenally picky in a kind of hypersensitive way about their XC colours so this is an impossible gift to buy.  Give them some money instead and point them our way!  


One final idea.  Buy some good quality saddle covers.  Lot's of yards have saddle covers but a set of quality ones will make you very popular.  Plus, they look a lot neater.  


Happy Shopping!!!


 



Friday, December 3, 2010

Oli's Diary - "Winter Wonderland - or not..."

When I was told it was snowing when we were still in November I didn't quite believe it.  Now that we're surrounded by a foot I don't have much choice... So recently I haven't got much to report on apart from sledging and the dire warnings I've had from all and sundry about the perils of driving in the snow... of course all the advice is contradictory.  The younger horses also learnt a lot, primarily that snow isn't a giant snack dropped from heaven and is in fact rather flavorless.  

Pre snow though there was quite a bit going on with the horses and they were out and about jumping.  At the same time, my university interviews have been on going - pretty good so far.  However, we did get back from Bristol at 3 in the morning (an 11 hour journey!) after the snow caused delays - everywhere! 


Gray is now for sale as I had to make the inevitable choice between him and Totem as my brother has drifted away from horses.  Grays also been out with the local bloodhounds which he took to like a toddler to a ball pool.  He also jumped his first hedge so I'd imagine he spent most of that evening telling the others on the yard about his dare devil exploits.  


Totem's also shaping up rather well on all fronts.  He went hunting for the first time (I think) which he coped with but did find it all rather interesting and a great opportunity for him to show off his extended trot!


Christmas time will be when Dell's wintery mince pie and mulled wine (he can dream) utopia comes to an end as he dons his work boots again.  I'll have to break that to him gently though...

For now that's it.  That said it's Christmas time and the revision filled (partly) holidays are fast approaching so I'm sure there'l be plenty to talk about.  



Looking after horses in the snow.

Most of the UK has now had snow for a couple of days ranging from several feet to an inch depending where you are.  If you've got more than a few inches of snow there's a chance your horses really are stable bound but fear not - we've got some helpful hits for you.  


First off is to go and get a sledge.  It may seem stupid but what's the point of carrying your water buckets, hay bales etc separately one at a time as you struggle through the snow.  Alternatively, put it on a sledge and do it all at once.  A large tarpaulin works quite well as well.  


Depending on how cold it is you might have had the problem of frozen water drinkers.  If they're automatic and the pipes are frozen then you're stuck unfortunately.  If you're using buckets or have been forced to use buckets chances are you'll have been breaking the ice on them.  The problem with this we've found is that horses don't like bits of ice in their water and stop drinking... typical. Solution, pour hot water into them from a kettle.  


The next problem you might have is that there's ice everywhere.  In an ideal world we'd all have bags of salt available but inevitably we don't.  Spreading a layer of horse urine soaked shavings on the yard may seem like a messy fix but it works.  In the olden days hospitals around the midlands were spreading salt that was about 10% mule urine!! (No shortage of bizarre facts from Google). 


If horses are in constantly it's also important to pick their feet out regularly as compacted decaying muck is ideal conditions for foot infections to thrive in.  Another problem you may have come across is horses fetlocks filling.  It's a perfectly normal condition for horses to get slightly filled fetlocks when they stand in.  The problems arise when they stand in days on end and can't even come out for a walk.  This stems from horses standing still for too long as their frog or "little hearts" aren't being compressed and helping the circulation in their lower legs.  What can help though is sweeping the bed right out the way and giving them a feed ball that they can chase round the stable in search of pony nuts.  It just keeps them moving a bit more and helps their circulation.  


 This next idea may seem incredibly immature but if you've got a foot of snow it might just help.  If you don't have a muck heap and use a "muck trailer" you may have had the problem that you haven't been able to get it out the yard to empty it.  It may seem a simple suggestion to put a muck heap somewhere else but that's not always practical for all yards.  What I have seen done is in a corner of the yard that's totally snow covered is to clear a section of it.  Then pile up as much snow as you can to build 3 walls and compress all the snow.  You end up with an area you can dump all your muck in.  It might seem a bad plan to have a muck heap in the middle of your yard but when the snow begins to melt the walls will be the last to melt so you'll have perfect access to your neat muck heap to dispose of.  Plus, having your muck heap close by instead of struggling through the snow can be quite a good plan to. 


So there you go, some sensible and some mad cap schemes to deal with the snow.  Of course now I've written this it's bound to melt straight away! (I live in hope...)


 



Friday, November 26, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Free advertising - you simply can't lose out!

It's not uncommon to hear people comment on the price of advertising horses.  Current prices are sky high and when you're selling a low value horse advertising can take a large chunk of your profits.  The theory behind paying more is that you are paying for a premium space where your ads are displayed to a maximum audience.  That's one business model.  Now look at it from another angle.  Here at Equishopping we let you advertise everything from horseboxes through to grade A jumpers's. For free.  So what's the idea behind it? It's not because no one would pay to advertise with us it's because we think we're far better off letting you advertise for free and you seeing what else we offer.  We're confident that's the best way forward because you'll like what you find.  The bottom line is - you simply can't lose! It's free and will take you about 3 minutes to do.  


One problem with a lot of free advertising sites is that they have a huge number of lower value horses without much balance.  At equishopping we like to keep the balance between high and low value.  That way we have buyers with the money coming our way but we keep our traffic up as we've something for everyone.  Simple really.  So, yes, we offer free advertising for the right reasons - no catches.  We hope you'll agree...


But how on earth do you write an advert.  Not just an average one but one that'll have the phone ringing all day long for the right reasons.  The first step is no be truthful in your description.  There's very little point trying to lure buyers in with over exaggerated claims that they'll soon see aren't true.  However, just because we don't exaggerate doesn't mean we can't make ads stand out.  The trouble is with exagerating is that everyone does it - how many times do you read "stunning" in an advert title - the reality could be somewhat dimmer.... Play to your strong points.  Every horse under the sun has some plus points even the most difficult of beasts.  


Video and photos are the best way to show off those strong points.  I mean decent photos though, in good lighting, taken on a good quality camera or you're wasting your time as no one can see what their potential purchase is.... The other point with videos is that unless horses haven't been backed or you've got lots of photos in the ad don't use a picture of the horse being held or of its head.  Go for the action shot that actually shows the horse working.  


It's also very important to have all the details in your advert.  There's nothing more annoying than having to call about a horse just to find out how big it is! Plus, most people just won't bother and move on... Furthermore, when you give contact details make it very clear when you'll be available or if people should leave a message for example.  If you don't get back to people or they can't get hold of you they'll very quickly lose interest... 


Go for it! If you use Equishopping you just can't lose.  What's stopping you?



Oli's Diary.

In the dim and distant past some of you may remember my first appearance on the Equishopping scene.  I originally did a blog to introduce myself which you can read here but things have come a long way since then so we thought it was time I started putting some of my diary onto the equishopping blog.  Of course all the past diaries are available on my own website.  However, while you're doing your christmas shopping (on equishopping!) spend a minute to check up on me because it'll make you smile.  Smiling's what keeps us all sane.  


We join the story at the end of the 2010 eventing season....


"My last blog told the tales of the build up to Aldon and what an event it was! The biggest plus was definitely our dressage which did us proud and even I thought was good - it's not often I think that! I also managed to finish bang on the optimum time XC which the commentator heralded as a feat of skill...I'm keeping quiet about the luck element there!! The video of Aldon and a few other bits and bobs from the end of the season can be found here.  As usual everything's so much better when there's a good party and friends about.  In traditional Aldon style there was no disappointment on that front! 




However, it's now the season of constant rain and the veil of eternal darkness descends... Don't I paint such a cheerie picture! At the moment I'm not fussed though as it's great just being able to go hunting and jumping under much less pressure and be a bit more human... the suggestion that I'll ever be totally normal would get laughed at so I won't go there!


I'm quite accustomed now to being brought down to earth with a clunk but as university interviews loom the world gets that bit more serious.  You definitely notice the difference in people at the moment when things begin to bite.  That said, anyone who has horses learns to have a sense of humour no matter the circumstances!  How else would we survive??!


On the jumping front, things are really going quite well.  Totem, the blank canvas, is proving to be surprisingly colourful and jumps quite phenomenally - my secret weapon! The only down side is that he steals all the compliments! Gray is also getting out and about as well and  is truely determined not to be overshadowed.  Meanwhile Dell's supposedly on holiday but has only recently come round to the idea of chilling out.  Until now he's been most offended that he hasn't been taken out.


For now that's it.  Although, I fear the next installment of comedy and eventfullness is just around the corner...."


 



Friday, November 19, 2010

Making your own hay steamer.

Now it would seem slightly controversial for a site that's trying to sell you a product to then tell you how to DIY it and avoid spending the money...but you'll see where this is going.  


We're talking hay steamers.  Yes, it is possible to make your own which will work reasonably well.  The details on how to do this are below.


Why use hay steamers?  The idea with hay steamers are that you don't get the nutrients washed out of the hay and don't get heavy water logged haynets everywhere.  Plus, the dust in the hay is stuck to the hay so doesn't affect the horses lungs... The traditional way of doing this is to get a kettle of boiling water and pour it into a bin bag with your hay in and close the neck of the bag.  However you can do much larger amounts successfully with you own design.  


Why buy a 'proper' hay steamer? A home made contraption is fairly bulky if your travelling so you end up going down the 'proper route' in order to fit it in your lorry.  Secondly, a home made version won't do anywhere near as good a job as a proper steamer so you need a proper one if your horse suffers form COPD.  Plus, when you're spending vast amounts of money keeping horses on the road isn't it better to spend a bit more to get the best? 


On a separate front, if you're a professional yard or are based at any commercial operation building your own isn't really an option because if it were to go wrong then the legal aspects get a bit tricky.  


How to make your own hay steamer. If the above doesn't apply to you building your own hay steamer is easy.  Take a wheelie bin or other large container and drill a small hole in the bottom of it.  Go to HomeBase and buy a wallpaper remover which pumps out steam.  The idea is to fit the nozzle of the wallpaper remover into the hole in the bottom of the container.  The hay then goes inside the container and is securely shut.  The wallpaper remover is plugged into a timer so you get the correct timing and can forget about your hay for the time being.  Very roughly you need about 10min per slice of hay.  Its also worth remembering that you might have to top up the water tank on the wallpaper remover as it won't keep producing steam for long enough.  


So there you have it, simples, but is it really right for you? 



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The eventing top 100 are out - a few thoughts...

It's that time of year again when BE publish the final point based standings for the season.  Check them out here.  You'll notice fairly promptly that Andrew Nicholson (the leader) has well over 2000 points whereas down in 70th you're looking at about 150 points.  That's a gargantuan difference in points- I'm thinking like...super human?!


Another interesting point is the difference and in some cases similarities between the grassroots riders foundation points table and the overall riders table for foundation points.   BE created a separate Grassroots table to give amateurs a chance against the 'pro's'... The thing is though, the so called amateurs really aren't that far behind the "pro's", give or take 20 points.  Bear in mind 20 points is only 2 PN wins.  So was it really worth splitting everything up? 


Someone said to me that they simply didn't stand a chance against the "pro's" for want of a better word.  Is that really the case? The tables don't suggest it or if they do it's a matter of a few wins either side.  When you're talking about 100 points plus that's not much of a difference.  Perhaps the real reasoning behind the so called gap is quality of horses or standard of riding - should we have BE100rich and BE100poor now? 


Looking at both sides of the argument - to split or not to split it seems both sides of the argument have strong points but the difficult task is to distinguish the factors that can't make this decision - you can't have BErich and poor based on how much a horse cost someone.  Whatsmore, there's so much more to producing horses.  It's also worth remembering that horses are the best levellers in the world - they really don't care whether they sleep in brand new luxury stables or in a converted cow shed.  As long as they're fed, warm and dry etc they're happy so perhaps the pro - am gap is less of a big deal.  Plus, if you keep thinking that any psychologist will tell you you're on the right tracks.  


Lets look higher up the levels to the likes of * and **.  Forgive me for not including **** in that but the number of amateurs competing at that level is quite low (sorry guys).  Perhaps the definition of amateur needs changing?  "Grassroots" only goes up to PN so once you're above that everyone's in the same boat.  The trouble in splitting amateurs off at the higher levels is that it's terribly difficult to define an 'amateur' and a 'professional'. Plus, there's also evidence that the higher up the levels you go the less desire there is for a split.  Personally I think a split would take something away from eventing.  Knowing where you stand in terms of the entire sport is no bad thing although I can't stand it when people say "oh, I've beaten so and so who went round Badminton last month".  Nooo! You're allowed to think that but it makes you sound so silly! 


So for now I think we've got it right.  A split lower down gives people a chance and higher up you're put in your place.  Plus, does it not mean so much more to come 10th in a proper Novice than come 5th in a protected amateurs Novice should it ever exist.  


Strangely enough the publication of the top 100 usually signals the time when most stores unleash the Christmas Demon of  tinsle adorned doors and elves in the fruit aisle a few weeks prematurely.  Equishopping's holding on until December but if you're after an early bargain check out our bargain page. Can you imagine having your christmas shopping done before the mad rush in the week before christmas? Sounds good...



Saturday, October 30, 2010

Caring for your horse during his holidays.

It's that time of year again when a lot of us give our horses a holiday.  With the eventing season over and the summer venues packed up for dressage and jumping it's easy to 'chuck 'em out in the field' as people put it.  Although it's not really that easy... 


The first conundrum you might face is shoes on or off? It's certainly cheaper to not shoe horses for their holidays but not all horses cope with having their shoes taken off.  Especially if they've been shod since the year dot. We all try and turn horses out as much as we can during their holidays but this has it's problems as well. Firstly, horses seem to have a habit of pulling shoes off when left to their own devices.  It might be worth trying something like the 'ShoeSecure' horse shoe shield which is designed to alleviate the problem.  While we're on the topic of legs - chaps for horses. With horses being turned out for longer periods the mud and wet can really begin to get to them resulting in mud fever for example.  Turnout boots seem to be the answer to this problem but they must be kept clean and dry (or at least start the day like that).  After that, washing any mud off the legs and then drying them should help.  


Looking outside the window, it's also a good idea to look at whether your rugs are actually that warm and dry.  Over the years the waterproof coatings can deteriorate and the insulation pack down leaving your trusty steed damp and cold.  Equishopping has a vast range of turnout rugs to choose from and there's a few bargains there as well! As your horses settle into their holidays and begin to enjoy the 'field factor' they might begin to get a little difficult to catch in the evenings.  Leaving a head collar on is OK as long as it's a leather one which will snap if they manage to get caught up in some bizarre predicament... Don't panic, Equishopping has some reasonably priced leather headcollars not just posh ones! 


When it comes to December time and your thinking of bringing horses back into work Equishopping can help again with it's database of healthcare professionals including physio's and osteopaths. Just like when humans start a fitness campaign, think Olympics or Marathons, they have regular health checks so that any small problems that you might not have noticed are caught early.  It's not unheard of either to have a 'horse MOT' done by the vet at the beginning of the season.  It's also worth considering having your horse's teeth looked at by a specialist not just your vet.  Certain horse dentists have studied overseas for several years to gain extensive qualifications unavailable in this country.  


If you're a travelling tack shop, aspiring pro or entrepreneur then the winter is the ideal time to get any website issues or sponsorship sorted when there's more time.  Help is at hand again here!  Equishopping  run a comprehensive web design plan so you can start the 2011 season with an online presence.  What's more, there's currently a 25% off offer on!


On that theme, it's also a good idea to take stock of any finances, no matter how scary they are! Are you really getting the best deal? We think Equishopping's insurance database gives you a solid place to start in your quest for cheaper insurance. 


For now that's it. Enjoy the holidays!! 



Friday, October 29, 2010

Saddle accessories - the little things make such a difference.

So you've jumped all summer in your fabulous jumping saddle and now it's the hunting season.  Trouble is you haven't ever ridden in your jumping saddle for 6 hours straight without changing horses etc.  It hurts your bum!! Solution - buy a seat saver.  Jumping saddles especially close contact ones weren't designed to be ridden in for long periods of time so it's not surprising.  They're designed for half hour slots of intensive exercise not long hunting days so don't feel hard done by.  


The next problem that will crop up will be about january when you start doing fittening work and get fed up of having saddles coated in mud.  Check out Equishopping's ride on saddle covers - that way all you have to do is get the washing machine dirty.


For those of you who have Wintec or Bates saddles you've also got the option of changing the gullet width as your horse changes shape.  Check out our saddle gullets.  If you've got a close contact saddle and can't change the width then have a look at our vast range of saddle pads


Given that you've just done a full season if you've forgotten to swap you're stirrups over there's a chance that they won't be the same lengths anymore.  If you're replacing leathers it's worth investing in a pair of actual single thickness dressage leathers for any dressage saddles as they really do help.


In all probability you won't be replacing your stirrups but if you do need to read on. Everybody wants to ride a safe stirrup which is great.  However, avoid peacock style stirrups if you're very heavy as they can bend (quite alarmingly as well).  Mums love them though because if you're younger your foot really can't get stuck.  Other than that bent leg stirrups (or swan leg) work well and there's various new 'bendy leg' designs but they aren't everyones taste despite receiving some good reviews.  


It may seem like a small detail but the actual stirrup tread makes a difference!  The most common are simple rubber ones which suffice for most people.  However, if you want that bit more grip go for a metal chess grater design but your soles won't last long! There's also the Mountain Horse SCS3 system that locks your foot in place on the stirrup.  The system has received very good reviews but be aware that certain Pony Clubs have taken a dislike to the system as they do hold your foot in place!!!!


For now that's it on the little things that make the difference.  "Every little helps!" - yup, Tesco have already started selling horse stuff.  However, Equishopping's merchants can beat them on price I'm very pleased to note!!! 



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Boots - Too much choice?

Check out Equishopping's range of boots.  I think it's about time we had a little guidance here as the range of boots keeps growing.  


Straight away you'll see there are numerous types but lets take the minimalist approach to start with.  It's all very well telling you you need x,y and z but that would make me a marketing spool rather than trying to offer advice.... For jumping most people will have a set of tendon boots.  Instead of buying so called flat work wraps or brushing boots why not just wear a pair of tendon boots although they won't look as neat.  Of course tendon boots can't replace XC boots which guard against all manner of grisly injuries.  The same goes with fetlock boots.  So it's worth paying more for a good set of tendon boots that you'll use everyday rather than cheaper boots for each separate discipline that aren't quite as good.  Plus, keep it simple - why have 5,000 pairs of boots?! If you're spending more, go for decent quality leather with leather inners and clean them each day.  You'll end up saving money and be better off with super supple boots.  Plus, many tendon boots call themselves 'open fronted', actually they've got a mahusive strap across the front so they're not.  Go for tendon boots that either have lots of thin straps across the front of have very thin webbing across the front, that way, in the nicest way possible, when a horse hits the poles they'll feel it - or else you're fighting a losing battle...


While we're on the subject of tendon boots its worth mentioning 'weighted boots'.  The idea being that you work a horse and jump him in these boots with normally lead inserts and he has to work harder to go about his work.  When you take them off the theory is that his legs spring up as they're so much easier to move.  The juries out on that one - go discuss.  


XC boots.  You may have seen horses going XC in what looks like armor covering al conceivable areas of their leg they could injure.  Basically with XC boots you get what you pay for, the same with saddles.  However, there are certain things to look out for.  Good drainage - it's not great to drop into the water and then have to carry half the water jump around the course with you . Also extra front and back leg protection on the boots is important such as carbon plates or extra padding.  Especially relevant for front boots is that there's sufficient protection to the legs both on the front from fence impacts and on the rear from strikes from hind shoes to the tendons. Easy fastenings - stay clear of metal buckles.  They are just too easy too get caught on legs and when they're covered in mud they're a nightmare to undo.... Velcro is better but most people tape the straps as well to prevent any untowards actions loosening them off.  


Oh god, I've just suggested that you don't buy certain products! Equishopping's manager might not take this kindly... enjoy the advice while it lasts!



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

equiShopping UK Newsletter 10 - October 2010

You can read our october newsletter here and find out about WEG, HOYS, autumn products, special offers, new merchants...



Sunday, October 17, 2010

WEG - A 5 minute round up.

Following our 5 minute summary of the World Equestrian Games (WEG) grab 5 minutes and check out our 5 minute summary.  


So the dressage was a success with 3 silvers for Laura Bechtolsheimer, also her high scores make her the most successful british dressage rider ever.  Team GB also claimed a team silver in the dressage - the first time Britain have ever won a team dressage medal.  The Inaugral Para-Dressage competition was a British run away victory by far with 13 medals, seven of which were gold, three silver and three bronze.  Lee Pearson led the nicknamed "Magnificent Seven" with 3 gold medals making them the most succesfull GB team at a championships ever!


The Showjumping team finished up 9th 


The Eventing team banished all critics winning team gold  led by William Fox-Pitt with an individual silver.  All counting team members jumped clear showjumping with Pippa Funnell finishing 5th despite a break from top level eventing.  Mary King finished up in 6th to add yet another placing to a career spanning era's and era's of eventing.  However, German's Michael Jung won by a clear mile - in fact several light years!


Britain didn't actually send a driving team to WEG but the endurance team finished 6th despite team medal hopes being dashed by GB's leading horse, Nazeeka, failing metabolic tests at the final vet gate.  Britains reining team packed a hefty punch for a small reining nation against the reining giants of America and Canada.  Both British riders finished in the top 20 with a 10th and 15th place.  Yeha!


The British reining team somersaulted their way to 8th place in the teams competition.  Britain's first ever WEG vaulting medal was won by Joanne Eccles with her father lunging performing a' candle in the wind' routine.  


As far as the individual disciplines go, thats it.  Things were a little different with WEG being held in the USA this year but was still a success all round.  There'll always be the problem for non olympic sports getting funding to travel over seas on both sides of the Atlantic but for Britain to make such an impact across the board is a major achievement.  To top it all off Britain topped the overall medal table by miles with 9 golds, 7 silvers and 3 bronze medals putting team GB a total of 5 medals above Germany who finished 2nd overall.  


Just like WEG representing equestrianism from all corners of the globe Equishopping hopes to branch out across Europe.  We've already started with horses advertised with us from a wide variety of countries - so how about joining one of the only free global market places?



Sunday, October 3, 2010

The World Equestrian Games...soo much better than the golf.

Type WEG into google and you'll be presented with some rather good news.  GB already have a medal in the dressage and as I type are one step closer to bagging some medals in the eventing.  That's not to mention the Show Jumping where things are looking up as well! Basically, it's going very well for Team GB.  Got 5 minutes spare? Well what are the World Equestrian Games? 








 


For starters they're being held at Kentucky in America this year.  Which means flying about 450 horses from Europe over the Atlantic.  No mean feat! There's also different classes.  The eventing team flew business class.  It's about 10,000 euros per horse and when the horses arrive there's a 42 hour quarantine period.  The logistics of the flights can be a little tricky as horses travel separately to riders which leaves riders somewhat preoccupied with wondering what their horse is up to a 10000 feet.....


There's 8 different competitions going on: Eventing, Dressage, Show Jumping, Reining, Driving, Para-Equestrian Dressage (first time), Endurance and Vaulting.  One controversial point is the availability of funding to non Olympic sports.... but that's an entirely different can of worms.  


I think an explanation is due for the lesser known sports.  Reining is western style riding's version of dressage.  Endurance is what it says on the can and Vaulting is literally gymnastics on horse back.  Driving consists of a series of tests much like eventing but without the jumping. You get the idea - lots of little bits added together. The actual driving is split into 3 separate competitions Driven Dressage, Marathon and Obstacle Cones Driving.  


Team GB's medal hopes? Well the dressage is already in the bag with a silver from Laura Bechtolsheimer although we didn't manage to beat Edward Gal's and Moorland Totilas' horde of 3 golds.  In reallity this means Laura won as Moorlands Totilas is verging on not being a horse, more some dressage machine that has the effect of making people cry spontaneously at the sight of him trotting down the centre line....


Team GB are well in contention for the Eventing but as always the final day will leave many people without finger nails... The Show Jumping competition is a fabulous opportunity for the British Showjumpers to render multiple critics speechless given some criticism over the past year. GB also have some strong contenders in the other disciplines to bolster our predicted medal tally.  However, placing beats on that is a dangerous business....


For anyone that wants to find out more check out the WEG website - www.alltechfeigames.com - be warned though, you'll have to put up with a frightfully annoying background voice in places....


Equishopping didn't sponsor WEG this time around but in the imminent future when we're a large multi-national company we'll have a think! However, we did sponsor Blair Castle this year which the BBC heralded as a showcase of Britain's Eventing prodigy - 2012 heeeere weeee come! Pheeew, whirl wind tour of WEG. Done.



Monday, September 27, 2010

Grooming kits - sooo much choice....

Grooming doesn't just get horses clean but it improves the bond between horse and human as well.  Although perhaps not to this extent: 








 


In all seriousness, isn't it about time you replaced your old tatty brushes?  You know, the ones that just keep going on and on but getting worse and worse at actually brushing anything....


Lets start at the top.  If you can afford it, the 'in' thing at the moment are full grooming kits.  That way you can colour coordinate everything from jackets and buckets to brushes and the lorry...


Of course we have an answer for those of you not so fortunate.  At the end of the day you can get by with just a body brush, dandy brush, hoof pick and comb - just don't let the BHS hear me say that... At the moment the secret weapon is a hose pipe with a spray gun.  Just make sure you've got all the sponges, sweat scrapers and hoof brushes you need. However, bear in mind that you've fairly likely to get the middle hoof if you use a hose pipe in December!!


While we're on the topic of winter which is literally about to batter summer out of existence its important to remember that conditions such as mud fever thrive in wet and muddy conditions.  It's worth investing in a good set of new brushes with some ping in the bristles as they'll make it far easier to get all that mud off - BANG and the dirt is gone....


A few things worth noting.  1. The bentley slip-not range really do work and stop grooming brushes acting like bars of soap. 2. You get what you pay for.  More expensive brushes are not only better ergonomically but the bristles will last longer and keep that fresh feel well into next season.  3. Get a big sturdy box for all your grooming kit.  That way the dog wont run off with it and you'll have an extra mounting block.  4. Rubber massage mits are a great way of removing loose hair and giving your horse a massage at the same time.  


When it comes to tails and manes its usually the case at this time of year that they need a bit of a tidy up.  That's fine if your horse doesn't mind having his mane pulled but if he does you're in for a battle.  Fear not! if you're a lucky one check out our range of mane combs, scissors and plaiting bands.  If you're not so lucky then we've got a few products up our sleeve to help you out.  So check out our range of mane pulling/thinning devices.  It might just save your life! 


If you're up for the challenge have a look through equishopping's entire range of grooming kit and see what the wackiest thing you can find is! My personal favorite and tip for the top is the vacuum groomer.  If you're lucky we might have a few competitions coming up to win some rather snazzy prizes (check out our last winner here) but the only way to find out about them is to subscribe! Or follow us on Facebook...


We'll look at clippers in a while but the next stop for our blog is a look at the World Equestrian Games which includes one of the largest flights of horses on record!!



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

equiShopping UK Newsletter 9 - September 2010

Rainy-rodyOur newsletter brings you  the best offers from equiShopping merchants.
In this new release read about : Editor at Blair Castle, competition winner, competition wear, featured products, new merchants,...

Those of you who have been performing a rain dance have had your wishes
granted in the last couple of weeks; some did too good a job though as evening racing at Goodwood was abandoned because of a waterlogged track!! We never quite get the balance right do we? Read more



Saddle fit and performance - a rider's point a view.

I won't pretend for a minute to be a saddler but what I do know is what I like.  Being 6' 2" I know from experience there's a difference between what some saddlers say fits and what doesn't.  "That fits nicely", "Actually I'd rather ride bareback than ride in that..." That said some saddlers are top knotch and even better there's the odd few that have ridden round 4*'s...


First point, if you've got long legs you're going to have trouble finding saddles that fit you.  Firstly, if you've a long hip to knee leg length then you end up having to have a very forward cut saddle to accommodate your leg with short stirrups.  If you've got a long knee to ankle length it's easier but that's not so common... The most forward cut saddles are XC saddles or event saddles.  The name suggests they're designed to go XC in but a lot of people SJ in them as well.  It's worth noting that I'm assuming people are riding in separate saddles for dressage and jumping.  


The next bit is down to personal preference.  Blocks and thigh supports.  There's a million different combinations out there.  One good feature of quite a few synthetic saddles is that you can adjust the position of the blocks (they're attached by velcro).  The degree of forward cutness varies hugely from saddle to saddle so you have to try them.  However, with adjustable blocks you need to have a second flap over the top to cover the velcro so you can't have a single flap saddle with this design.  There's a few different designs of block.  


Banana rolls are the long rolls that go down the front of the saddle around the front of the knee.  These are very obvious on the Wexford jumping saddle.  


On most single flap saddles you get thigh rolls.  The idea of these is not so they trap your thigh.  They shouldn't rest against your thigh when you sit in the saddle.  They are only supposed to come into action if you shift forward against them or if you lean against them when galloping.  The Bates momentum is a prime example of these.  That said, thigh rolls do come in varying sizes.  Smaller ones like on the momentum or larger ones on saddles like Antares or Devecoux but these tend to be custom made - at a price....


You also get calf blocks.  These are positioned on the back of the flap ie behind the calf.  I find that if these are under the flap of a double flap saddle the shape is to gentle and the block actually pushes your calf away from the saddle instead of 'blocking' it in.  When you have calf blocks on a single flap saddle they very much act as a barrier and you know when your leg hits them.  These are very clear on the Vinici jumping saddle.  


Now for the single vs double flap debate.... Having ridden in both types of saddle I prefer single flap saddles but unfortunately they tend to be more expensive so what I want isn't the deciding factor... The blocks on a single flap saddle are stuck on the outside so are far more defined and give  more feel.  The degree of 'feel' through a single flap is far greater and you do sit closer to the horse.  However, some people do prefer double flap saddles for backing youngsters for example.  With a double flap young horses feel less movement from the rider - OMG! There's someone on my back!!! PANIC!!! Plus, attaching things like side reins to a single flap saddle isn't the easiest thing in the world.  Top tip.  Single flap saddles also use short girths so that the buckles aren't under the riders leg - chances are you'll buy a single flap saddle and forget this (I did!).  


Now for another misconception.  Close contact saddles.  Close contact saddles use foam instead of flocking in the panels so can't be adjusted.  This also means the don't need re-flocking and you adjust the fit with saddle pads.  The set up at the pommel is also slightly different so that you are sat closer to the horse.  It makes a difference, if you get the chance, sit in a non close contact saddle then sit in a close contact one and you'll see.  The misconception is that all single flap saddles are close contact and double flap saddles aren't.  This isn't true.  However, the idea stems from modern commercial trends.  You can get single flap saddles that aren't close contact and double flap saddles which are close contact but they are quite rare... 


The next bit is fairly controversial and a huge number of people have very strong opinions on the matter.  Go to the local point to point and look at the length of jockey's stirrups.  Chances are the well behaved and careful horses will be ridden with longer stirrup leathers and the careless, easily tiring or difficult ones will be ridden with very short leathers.  The reasoning behind this is that should the difficult horse get itself in a tangle the short stirrups mean the jockey gets shot straight out the door but more importantly he is flung miles away from the drama.  The longer your stirrups the more secure you are, give or take a bit, look at dressage riders... Now think of eventing. We don't ride in flat racing saddles but with comparitvely short stirrups and large blocks on our saddles to STOP us falling off.  When event horses fall you're not going to get thrown as far away... The thinking is that excessively large blocks make this situation even worse.  So supposedly saddles that are a more SJ style with flatter knee rolls such as the John Whittaker saddle range will mean you fall off more easily in the event of a horse fall therefore being safer.  But, bear in mind that's just an opinion...


The best solution?  Find a saddler that knows their game.  That way we're all happy and safe.  I haven't said anything about dressage saddles.... patience, I'll have to do a part 2.  To be continued....



Thursday, September 9, 2010

BBC News - Machine in Newmarket helps jockeys fall safely

Now this is seriously cool!

"A racing school in Suffolk has been using a machine to teach jockeys to fall safely.  Experts said the exercise builds jockeys' muscle memory to avoid injuries when falling from horses.  The British Racing School in Newmarket has been given the fall simulator to use on up and coming jockeys.  Champion jockey John Francome, who was visiting the school, said it would "save lives and prevent no end of injuries".  The Injured Jockeys Fund purchased the machine with the help of the charity Alborada Trust.  "In my view, everyone who rides should go on this machine," Mr Francome said.  "The great thing is that it teaches riders to be proactive and do something when they come off as opposed to just waiting to hit the ground.  You don't become a sky diver without any training on how to land.  But nobody ever teaches you what to do when you fall off a horse, and if you can't manoeuvre yourself to fall off properly, you are a risk and should not be riding.  The jockeys learn to tuck their shoulders in and keep rolling to get away from the horse."" (BBC, 2010)

Check out the video here.  

Of course you can also help protect yourself in the event of a fall by wearing a correctly fitted and appropriate body protector.  Want some advice on body protectors?  Well check out our earlier article covering body protectors.  


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

So what is the HSBC FEI Eventing World Cup?

You'd be forgiven if you didn't understand what on earth the eventing world cup was.  It works a little differently from the football version.. 


For starters let's cut the title down.  It's sponsored by the bank HSBC and is run under FEI rules hence the long name.  It's composed of 12 events run all over the globe.  The idea is that no matter what continent you are on you have an equal chance of winning the series.  Despite there being 12 events, only your best two results count.  Of course that doesn't stop you running in more than 2 to try and get better results.... Despite the idea of equal footing if you're based in Britain you can get to about 7 events if you're prepared for a couple of days trek across Europe.  However, the new system (this year onwards) is far fairer than it used to be when they was a final held at the end of the series which was of course held in Europe - Bad luck if you live down under....


All 12 events are run as CIC*** (check out our earlier blog on the levels of eventing), although they are definitely top end CIC***s.  Points are awarded for each result - basically if you finish in the top 15.  That said, if there's over 40 horses in the class you start getting points lower down.  The massive plus side of the world cup is the guaranteed prize money.  The prize money is actually stipulated in the rules - a minimum of $25,000 prize pot per event.  What's more the top 15 at the end of the series take a share of $180,000 with the winner taking $50,000.  Compared to tennis and golf that's small talk but for eventing it's big money.  


There's quite a few more details in the actual rules but that's a general over view.  With regards to actual locations.  Every country is allowed to host on event but can apply for more if they host more than 5 CIC***s over a year - not many countries... The only other real stipulation is that there has to be a minimum of 20 combinations per event.  


As far as the World Cup goes that's it - follow that guide and at least you'll know roughly what's going on even if you can't list the past 10 winners and the number off runners of the tip of your tongue.... Next time we'll be looking at the World Equestrian Games or WEG.  We'll also be having a look at how successful the Equishopping sponsored Blair Castle International was. The director of Equishopping was seen abseiling down one of the turrets of the castle so it was set to be an action packed event from the off!!


 



equiShopping.com Blair competition winner 2010

The competition that was held in the information tent throughout the show was won
by Laura Cheadle from Inverness. She was the winner of £100 of
equiShopping vouchers, so she will be able to spend them with an
equiShopping merchant of her choice.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's in the pipeline for Equishopping - well the blog that is....

Thing's are looking up!  The blog is a success.  PHEWWW... More people than ever are subscribing so if you haven't go for it - right handside of this page.  Go on...


It actually occurred to me more than ever the other day how useful equishopping is.  Example.  Try putting sheep skin noseband into google.  I don't know if it's my browser but it offered me everything apart from what I was looking for including certain items that I couldn't really put in print.  Thankfully Equishopping proved the answer.  One simple search presented me with a choice of exactly what I was looking for.  One criticism of Equishopping has been that it hasn't beaten google on price.  This may be true but at least equishopping won't try and sell you sheepskin balaclavas for your event horse....


Some of you may have noticed that a few of the blog posts are being turned into articles on various sites.  Good news! Its not just my big head that thinks what I'm writing is stunning stuff....well I hope you like it anyway!


Equishopping is also going to be running more competitions in future.  The ones we've run in the past have produced some very happy winners:


"Just a note to let you know how pleased we are with the haysteamer it’s excellent and of course couldn’t have come at a better time with the shortage and poor quality of hay.  It’s been a  ‘God send’, it works well and is easy to use.  We’re happy to recommend it.


I hope equishopping is thriving and wish you continued success."


The only down side is that I'm not allowed to enter Equishopping's competitions!! Although perhaps the dog could.... In all seriousness, our Haysteamer competitions was a smash hit and is definitely a growing must have.


Don't forget we're on facebook as well - come on, you know you want to be our friend!


Plus, if there's any queries, rants, jubilations or just general hellos you only need drop me a line - oli@equishopping.com (promise I don't bite - unless...)


If you want to find out more about me - Oli Lawrence - check out my website.  I'm also toying with the idea of doing a blog from Dell's point of view.  I mean what's it like with 4 legs as a lean mean jumping machine?  I haven't asked him what he thinks yet though - hoping he won't give me the middle hoof!


 


 



Friday, August 27, 2010

Competition wear - what, when and how?

Chances are you've already got show kit but having just had to buy a new stock I realised how wide the equishopping range of competition wear is.


Thinking along credit crunch lines check out this jacket with 30% off.  For eventing, dressage and showjumping black and blue jackets are fine.  Tweed jackets are also fine although if you're hunting tweed is the norm.  The only exception is that at intermediate eventing and above you need a black or navy jacket.


The tails problem! It's actually only compulsory to wear top hat and tails at ** or above eventing.  That said, most people tend to wear them at * as well.  Despite BE discouraging this practice - whatever people tell you about not having to chances are you'll fit in more wearing one... Top tip for top hats.  Unless you're willing to shell out for a custom made Patey chances are your top hat won't fit perfectly.  Fear not! All you need to do is get a bit of foam tape used for fitting hats around the head band and it'll fit like glue. Sorted.


Helmet wise, eventers tend to wear 'skull' helmets with a coloured silk XC and swap to a black silk for the SJ.  Although quite a few have separate helmets specifically for showjumping which can of course be worn for the dressage as well- yes please!


As well as that if you're eventing at novice or above you can wear a 'beagler' for your dressage test.  It's worth noting that these aren't actually protective but some say they look more elegant....


Wow, that's just the hats and jackets! The choice is yours and mostly comes down to preference....


Before we move on though, check out Equishopping's range of hat covers and silks - there's some pretty funky ones!


Breeches wise it's cream, white or beige for nearly everything.  My only thing here would be getting white breeches clean - horses have that annoying habit of slobbering down the only clean clothes you have...


Finally we're down to the boots.  Seniors (above 17) are actually supposed to wear full length boots.  However, given the price if you couldn't run to a pair then boots and gaiters can look pretty good - will people really notice?... The advantages of a proper pair of long riding boots are fairly big though, they give a lot more support to the leg and will really help you get a more secure leg position which can only make you safer... worth thinking about.


Doh! I've missed two things out.  Underwear and shirts/tops.  White or cream is the usual for shirts.  I'm pretty sure there's no rules governing what pants you can wear so go for it.  Although, specific underwear for riding is more comfy!



Thursday, August 26, 2010

equiShopping.com are proud to be supporting Blair Horse Trials this weekend

Hello,


Blair Horse Trials

We are sponsoring the traders drinks reception
so hopefully you will be able to make it and we will see you tomorrow
night if you are there. Alternatively if you would like to have a chat
with us during the day you can get me on my mobile.


equiShopping.com is also sponsoring a couple of classes and running a competition for the public to win £100 worth of equiShopping vouchers to spend with our merchants which can be entered in the information tent.


Here's hoping we all have a successful weekend



Kind regards


Davina Thawley

Director

Tel 0845 299 7916

Mob 07866 725566


www.equishopping.com



Monday, August 23, 2010

All the little things that I bet you'll forget!!

So you've built up to it all season and you've entered you're first international! Congratulations! Just a few pointers.


First thing remember to register both horses and rider with the FEI. Chances are I'm the zillionith person to tell you but if you don't they won't recognise your result.


At FEI events it's compulsory for horses to wear a bridle number outside their stable at all times.  Most 3 days will give them to you with your rider packs but at one day internationals you're on your own!  Guess what? The tack shops know this too so don't get caught in the trap of having to fork out silly amounts for a bridle number.  Instead check out equishopping's range of bridle numbers!


Next thing.  If you haven't worn event grease before - more likely if you've only done a seasons worth of novices you'll go along to your first 3 day and find that all the horses wear event grease for the XC!  Never fear Equishopping has a choice of event grease!  Top tip - some event greases just don't come off! So if someone offers you a container of event grease don't use it (they're fed up with it)! Some brands are impossible to get off afterwards and you'll end up showjumping on the final day with event grease still on!


The longer XC at a 3 day is also a noticable difference to a one day.  If you really want to go the whole hog try these nasal strips.  They're designed to hold the airways open under stress when normally they would begin to collapse (to an extent)...bad news. Be warned though, they're seriously sticky so if the dog runs off with one its going to have it stuck in it's fur for weeks...


While we're on the subject of good buys.  You've probably already got an event watch if you're doing an international but on the off chance you need a new one.  They're sooooo much cheaper on Equishopping!! Check these event watches out.



Thursday, August 19, 2010

What are the levels of eventing?

You might take it for granted that everyone understands eventing and the various levels but not everyone does.  Trying to explain it to people isn't the easiest the things either.  If you weren't brought up learning to read from eventing schedules instead of 'chip and the magic key' don't worry, just keep reading...


All eventing run by British Eventing or the FEI is called affiliated eventing if it's not run by either of them it's called unaffiliated eventing.  The lowest level you can start affiliated eventing at is BE80 which as the name suggests has jumps at about 80cm high and a very simple dressage test.  You also get alot of help in these classes as they're designed to introduce people to eventing.


The next step up is BE90 (previously intro) and after that BE100 (previously Pre - Novice) with jumps at 90cm and 1m respectively.  At this point you also get BE100plus which has novice (the next level up) dressage and showjumping (although a bit easier) then a BE100 XC track.  BE100plus is the highest level a rider can ride at for the first time at BE events although this only applies to the rider so once you've done one you're sorted.  That is as long as you're over 17 as if you're younger you get your own special set of qualification restrictions but thats a whole other article....


After the BE100 comes novice with jumps around 1.15m and you start to get things like medium trot in the dressage tests.  Moving on from there you get intermediate which has showjumping fences at around 1.25m and bits and pieces like shoulder in in your dressage tests.  The XC at intermediate also becomes somewhat meatier and more technical.


The highest national level is advanced with fences at around 1.30m and flying changes in your dressage tests for example.


But thats not it.  International competitions have their own set of levels denoted by stars and letters.  * is an international novice, ** an international intermediate, *** an international advanced and above that **** ie Badminton, Burghley and Pau for example.


There are also 2 types of international competition.  A one day international (which normally has day before dressage so lasts 2 days - typical) is a CIC.  Whereas an international 3 day event is a CCI.  So an international intermediate 3 day event would be a CCI** and a one day international advanced would be a CIC***.


While we're on funny letters, if you ever look in the FEI rule book or on eventing ireland you'll see something like this "CNC* or CNC**" all it means is that it's a national class.  So a CNC** is just an intermediate and a CNC*** is just an advanced class.


There you go, looks simple now.  Trouble is it takes a while to get up to the higher grades... If you're reading this chances are you weren't brought up on eventing and want to get cracking.  I sympathies and if you want to follow my attempts to turn professional and move up the grades check out my website - www.olilawrence.co.uk As well as that check out one of the best guides on eventing by the Pony Club.



Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dodson & Horrell young rider bursary finalists - Equestrian news, equine news, horse news - Horse & Hound



via www.horseandhound.co.uk



Check me out! First ever mention in Horse and Hound magazine. Have a look on p76 in 12th august issue. If everyone crosses their fingers (and toes) hopefully I'l have some more luck on the 26th August when the winner is announced!



Under rugs, shoulder pads and anti rub solutions - time to start thinking about winter?

Winter may seem an awfully long way away but if you act now you might just be able to bag yourself a bargain.  By this time of year most merchants are a bit fed up of their winter range from last season so get rid of it at fairly cheap prices.  Prime example - check out equishopping's range of bargain stable rugs with up to 50% off!  You might not need them straight away but you'll save yourself the money later on...


One of the troubles that pops up when horses wear rugs for long periods of time is that they end up with rubs on their shoulders.  Fear not - equishopping has a huge range of anti rub shoulder guards for all shapes and sizes of horse.


The next problem that will crop up, probably straight after Christmas when all the shops are out of stock is that the rugs you have aren't warm enough.  Problem sorted - try an under rug.  It's a much cheaper solution than buying totally new ultra thick rugs for just a few months of the year.  There's also some good bargains to get on these as well!


I'll leave it there for now.  I'm looking out the window and can see glorious sunshine so winter couldn't seem further away.  I just couldn't not tell you about the bargains around even if it does mean reminding you of winter!!



The benefits of hunting and how to reduce the risks - boots or not?....

Apart from the moral issues which continue to fly around, albeit in a different form, hunting is still going strong.  Plus, with a free vote anticipated in the House of Commons to repeal  the hunting act hunting is going from strength to strength.  So there's those of us who have always hunted and always will do but what about the eventers and showjumpers of the world? What can be gained from hunting competition horses.


Everyone's come across the event horse or jumper who doesn't quite have the 'grit' or 'guts' to go up the grades and just looses it's nerve at higher levels.  Once horses get the idea of hunting, usually after a couple of outings, they get into the swing of it.  Now, take them jumping and see the difference.  A full seasons  hunting  will hopefully engrain the forward thinking herd instinct of horses. Quite why it is I'm not sure but once horses get into the hunting environment of large groups all jumping and cantering they suddenly seem to think life's a lot more fun!


What about the risks involved?  People seem very wary of taking horses hunting - they might get kicked or take some wear and tear from less than even surfaces.  People also have qualms about horses wearing boots out hunting as they feel that mud gets stuck under them.... Equishopping's got an answer though.  With such a wide range of boots there's definitely a type of boot to combat every concern.  If you're not going to wear boots then over reach boots could be a good compromise to protect the vulnerable heels of the foot, coronary band and help stop shoes being pulled off as mud doesn't tend to get stuck behind them.


If drainage through the boot is a concern check out the NEW equine range of boots which offer a range of choices from totally open fronted to let everything drain through, to completely closed with a range of linings to suit the most sensitive of horses. If you really want to go for the all round defense option try Westropp's knee and brushing boot combination although they do look slightly funny...


With decent boots you can stop worrying about half the issues you might have with hunting.  The most important thing with boots is that they fit well - that way less grit and mud gets down behind them and rubbing will be less of an issue.  Stopping mud getting behind the boots is a major issue for another reason in some areas of the country.Some mud isn't that nice and contains bacteria which can lead to mud fever.  It's just a question of weighing up the benefits and the risks - Oh God, that sounds a bit like health and safety....



Saturday, August 14, 2010

Haynets, grass, hay, haylage, sillage, sun.... come again?

It's that time of year again - harvest time... Although for the horse world the hay was cut a while back.  There's been talk all summer of a hay shortage so it's perhaps more important than ever to think about the choices between different forage.  Before we start worrying about hay and other options we all need some new haynets! Chances are this far into the season hay nets are looking pretty shabby so go and check out equishopping's huge (actually mahusive) range of haynets.  There's also some pretty clever haynets about such as those specifically designed with small holes to slow down horses eating - we all know the type, the ones who eat hay like its milkshake... Hay bags are also becoming popular as they reduce wastage and entertain horses a bit more.


Fo those of you, me very much included, who find filling haynets a total pain how about trying a haynet filler?


Or you could just skip the haynet filling all together and use a Hay Bar.  The other plus side is that the horses stretch their top line, eat in a more natural position and waste less hay .


So where does hay come from?  Hay, haylage and silage start out as very long grass.  The quality of the end product depends on the type of grass hence why hay prices vary so much.  The grass is then cut and left to dry in the sun.  This is where the products split up.  Silage is only left to dry for a short period, one or two days perhaps and then baled.  However, it's very unusual to feed Silage to horses as you risk things like botulism - cows on the other hand can cope.


Haylage is inbetween hay and silage.  It's left to dry for longer than silage but isn't totally dry like hay.  This means you get the best energy to weight ratio.  Hay is left untill it's totally dry.  Hence why you might see the occasional farmer jumping up and down angrily when it starts to rain....


With regards to feeding horses, haylage has more energy in it but is more expensive although you feed less of it than hay.  Haylage is also available from recognised feed manufacturers who use specific grass mixs to achieve quotable nutritional values.  The same cannot be said for hay so its a good plan to get a nutritional analysis done on your hay - most major feed companies will do this for you.


One final thing.  If the predicted hay shortage does happen then the prices are only going to go up - think £5 a bale (bad news) so stacking a barn full (or the garden shed) wouldn't be a bad plan...