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 are proud to be supporting Blair Horse Trials this weekend


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. 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


Tel 0845 299 7916

Mob 07866 725566

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 - 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


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...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Body protectors, shoulder protection, Point Two and exo cages - a controversial subject!

Anyone eventing at the moment will undoubtably have heard of Point Two air jackets or perhaps an exo bodycage.  So lets have a look at the general stance on these but first lets start with normal body protectors.

There's a huge range of body protectors avaliable but all of them are constructed from 'impact foam'.  The general advice at the moment is to replace body protectors every 3 years as the foam losses it's shock absorbent properties (yup, that's me overdue..).  That said, there are models that don't need replacing such as the Kan.

The vast majority have a zip up the front and thankfully the days of leg straps are virtually gone.  The distinguishing factors tend to be in the foam.  All body protectors for eventing have to satisfy the BETA level 3 criteria so the protection will be of a uniform minimum.  However, more expensive brands use more flexible foam or 'moulding foam' that greatly increase comfort.  Plus, some of the more expensive brands have put huge amounts of research into improving performance without producing a bulky monster of a body protector. The other way of improving flexibility is to use small squares such as Racesafe's (british junior team sponsor) RS 2000.  Apart from that, it's a matter of personal preference so check out the whole of equishopping range of body protectors.

Before we move on to the likes of point2's there is one addition to a standard body protector that will make the world of difference if you hit the deck - the hardest thing about learning to ride (and we're all learning) - is the ground....

Shoulder pads. Imagine how a lot of falls happen - being thrown forwards and landing on the shoulder region.  Wearing shoulder pads significantly reduces the risk of a broken collar bone if you land in this way.  What's more you'll barely notice you're wearing them.

Now for the latest phenomenon to hit the eventing world.  Point Two air jackets.  The jacket is just like a waistcoat but with a lanyard attached to the saddle.  When you fall the lanyard breaks and inflates the jacket in 0.1 seconds which then provides protection to all major thoracic upper dominal organs and the collar area of the neck.  Studies have shown that these are the most likely body parts to be hurt so you can't go far wrong.  Studies also showed that they wouldn't worsen a fall so any previous claims of this have a challenge now.

However, the Point Two does have to be worn over a conventional body protector as it won't inflate until you're well out of the saddle.  This means that if the horse where to fall with you or say, ran into a tree the jacket wouldn't be activated.  Of course there's also the claims against it as with all new products.  Some argue that the force required to break the lanyard means the trajectory of your fall is altered meaning you land closer to your horse (the danger zone) although this is purely people's idea.  I don't think anyone's sat down with formulas and calculator to work that critique out.  Critics also say the sound when the CO2 canister inflates the jacket would terrify a horse.  Having seen several canisters go off (including accidental ones when people didn't unclip before getting off!) I haven't seen any horses bothered by it although all horses are different...

Forum's usually have a lot to say about Point Twos and the Horse and Hound forum is no exception.  It raised concerns that if under normal circumstances you could have rescued yourself when thrown out of balance a long way that a Point Two would have activated by this point causing you to fall - mixed thoughts. How many times do you manage to pull yourself back if you've been thrown that far off. Considering the length of the lanyard is really quite long it would be a very impressive recovery.

On a more supportive note by all accounts Point Two gave out a small number of jackets for free to top professionals when they launched to get the jacket seen in action.  Now if you go to any BE event a huge proportion of competitors are wearing them - the uptake has been very encouraging and includes a large percentage of professionals who weren't given them for free.

The last but by no means least, is the Woof Wear exo cage.  It is what it says on the packet - a body protector with an aluminium exo skeleton inside.  However, they never really took off despite being researched heavily.  Few riders took them up and current rumors suggest that they have been taken out of production.  They have different aims to a point two: an air jacket won't protect against crushing injuries whereas an actual metal frame work will.  On the other hand a metal frame work provides far less protection from the bog standard bruising. Before you ask, no you can't wear both together.  People have attempted it but it doesn't quite work out as the cage moves the jacket too far away from the body.

So that's it.  There's such a wide choice of body protection available and thanks to BETA's standards we know that it all meets an appropriate standard.  Recent developments also mean we're safer than ever but at the end of the day if it's comfy you'll wear it so look in the place where's there a huge choice - equishopping!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm back!!

Typical.  Within 2 weeks of getting set up with equishopping I went away to the Atlas mountains in Morocco - I mean it is just round the corner!  Well, how could I refuse a place on a budget expedition especially during Dells mini mid-season holiday.  Within the  first few days I had several rather confused people call asking where I was - "I'm in Marrakech", "You're where??", "Yup, now put the phone down because it's costing you a pound a minute!"

Morocco is a long way from home in so many ways.  Firstly, the drugs trade is out to get 17 year old western boys.  Being offered drugs down strange alley ways which look distinctly like something out of a horror film before a murder isn't that great so when we set off for the Atlas mountains and left behind the hustle and bustle of Marrakech I was very relieved....

We trekked from north to south across the Atlas mountains stopping on the way to 'pop up' Jebel M'goun, one of the highest peaks in Africa and on another occasion to explore the many gorges that split open the mountains.  We camped, slept on roof tops and occasionally just slept on the ground.  However, invariably sleeping on the ground means you end up in a bush or with a scorpion crawling on you.... We also stayed with the Berber people in the mountains who have some ermm - varying health and safety ideas:


The Berber people must have spent quite a bit of time laughing at us though.  One such incident involved me getting lost in their crop fields which are tiered by the side of the river.  I ended up walking down a drainage gully with a group of school children laughing at me.... The second incident occurred when we decided to copy the Berbers who were diving into waterfalls in one of the gorges... They were diving head first in but that was where our injury free trip came to an end as I managed to twist my knee and a friend managed to hit both hands - which then swelled up for the dramatic look.

One of the highlights of the trek was definitely the summit of Jebel M'Goun which gave spectacular views of the surrounding region and is a definite photo opportunity: DSC02549

After a quick trip down to the northern sahara (50 degrees!!) we were heading back home.  We stayed a final day in Marrakech where we had a turkish massage - actually that just means being beaten up (people genuinely were in pain..) While we were there we also visited the 'Jardin Majorelle' which is totally bizarre as it's so quiet compared with the hubbub of the main city.


It also made me realise how much I love Britain.  Not just for the greenery, water and more civilised society but it's home.  Walking through security with a british passport means something what it is I don't quite know but perhaps "the village green preservation society" by the Kinks goes some way to explaining it... or is that just me?

Within 4 hours of being back in Britain I was back in the saddle to get ready for Chilham Castle our next run this weekend.  Chilham have built 2 new tracks for this year including a novice which everyone has high hopes for.  What's more, it's started raining so with aerating as well the going should be perfect!

I've also got a product of the week for you - a leather conditioner that really is genuinely quite savage and leaves a silver like shine - Fly Away's Patent Leather Shine.  Or you could just check out Equishopping's full range of tack cleaners...

I'm also told that Equishopping are sponsoring Blair Castle Horse Trials and there's a competition to win £100 worth of vouchers! Resut - I've got them in the eventing trap!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

equiShopping UK Newsletter 8 - August 2010

Our newsletter brings you  the best offers from equiShopping merchants. In this new release read about :  summer equestrian products,  posting horse classfieds for free, merchants offers, new additions to the equiShopping team...

Read our newsletter here

New additions to the equiShopping team....

Baby-foal It was with some trepidation that i awaited the birth of my second foal given the unfortunate accident of the last one, but i couldn’t be more pleased with the result so far. A fantastic colt pictured at 4 days old who has been described as the best ever produced at the stud....quick wrap him up in cotton wool!! The as yet unnamed colt really does have star quality and moves fantastically well so watch this space!

Please feel free to suggest names, if we choose your name you could win some equiShopping goodies!!

To help you think, he is by the equishopping stallion Great Times, known as GT or Teddy, by Good Times and out of Miraga who is by Queen of soldiers. Good luck!!










Friday, August 6, 2010

Apparently you can only lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink - the times are a changing!

We all know that well known saying but is it still true?

In the second article in this series on battling the heat we look at equine hydration.

The easiest way to prevent dehydration is to keep horses drinking at every opportunity.  Horses will usually drink more than they need but under stress not all of them will.  Just a 5% drop in water levels will result in decreased performance.  Studies have shown that the best horses from Pre-Novice to **** and from dressage to eventing are those that drink enough.  Dehydrated horses just can't perform.  

So what can we do to help? Equine America think they have the answer: Drink More - Equine America 

'Drink More' does exactly what it says on the packet - give it a go! It might just be that winning edge...

In our next article we'll be looking at electrolytes and what they actually are....

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wow! Now we’re getting serious: The science behind electrolyte imbalances..

Now we're getting a bit more in depth.  We've now seen what electrolytes are, how to give them, how to test for dehydration and how to encourage horses to drink.  Now lets look at what can happen if things do go wrong.  

In severe cases of electrolyte imbalance the result can be tying-up or azoturia which means a horse simply cannot use his muscles correctly and in worst case scenario's leads to horses collapsing.  This is because of a drop in potassium or sodium levels (urine test would tell you this) and is actually a break down of muscle fibers hence the full name - Rhabdomyolysis.  'Rhabdomyo' as the skeletal muscles are effected and -'lysis' because they are being broken down.

Those of you who've competed in hot or humid climates (which sometimes includes the U.K!!) may have heard of the 'horse exhaustion complex' which is simply heat stroke and dehydration together including electrolyte depletion - what it says on the packet.

Electrolyte deficiency can also result in 'asynchronous diaphragmatic flutter' or put simply 'thumps'.  This sounds similar to hiccups and the horses flanks will twitch.  It's a strong indication of an electrolyte imbalance but the actual process isn't really that harmful.

But that's only the more extreme cases and chances are you won't come across these situations.  On a brighter note though - how about kitting out the lorry with some new colour coordinated buckets for all that water! Check out these trendy designs which come in all the colours of the rainbow: Tubtrugs Multi Coloured Feed Buckets & Covers

Monday, August 2, 2010

So we now know how to help treat dehydration but how do we spot it? Plus, how on earth do you get horses to take electrolytes?

The best way to treat dehydration is to always take every
opportunity you can to water your horse – that is, encourage them to drink as
opposed to stick them under the hose...

It’s also vital as we discussed previously to get electrolytes into your horse – but how? They don’t taste great so why would horses want to
take them...

Adding electrolytes to your horses water probably isn’t the
best idea as the taste may reduce overall water intake which leaves you in a
worse position.  However, it is
possible to mask the taste using fruit juice – try apple juice.  Although I have seen it get to the
extent where one lorry had 3 different juices on board for different tastes of

Electrolytes also come as pastes that can be given orally
just like wormers.  However with
some horses this can be an uphill battle so it is possible to mix the oral
paste with apple puree to hide the taste and add it to feed. 

It’s best to try each technique and see which works for you.  Also, practising at home will make it
so much easier when it comes to competing and your horse might be a bit more

So how do we recognise dehydration?  Low level dehydration isn’t possible to
spot with simplistic tests but will still affect performance.  However, it is possible to see more
developed dehydration with some simple tests. 

The pinch test: On an area of loose supple skin, go for the
neck, pinch up the skin then release it. 
It should return quickly to its original state and not stay risen.  The down side to this test is that skin
suppleness varies from horse to horse so it is important to do this test
regularly in order to gauge the ‘normal’ return rate of that particular horse's skin. 

Eye sockets: A far less accurate test is to look at the
horses eye sockets – sunk in and deep would indicate dehydration.  However, there is great controversy
over the accuracy of this test...

In more severe cases the horses lips and mouth will actually
be dry and there will be a weak fast pulse combined with cool extremities.  If this is the case then there is more
serious cause for concern. 

In hot climates a horse may increase its water intake 4
fold.  Under normal conditions a
horse will drink more than it needs but a dehydrated horse will tend to drink
less hence the problem exacerbates itself....

On a simpler note – cool horses will sweat less so clipping
horses with thick coats may help to reduce electrolyte loss. 

In the next blog we’ll look in more detail at the effects of
electrolyte imbalances. 

While you're here
though! Check out our product of the week from Pink Equine: Synthetic Jumping Cambered Girth ON SALE Massive bargain - was £77 and is now reduced to £25! Plus there's far less cleaning involved! Go on, you really want o know what it is.....