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.