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!! 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 - (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!