Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Equishopping's helping hand with your dressage test.

Right, so you're stepping up a level or just starting out, either way if you're eventing you'll need to practise your dressage test.  You've got to learn it first though....

When it comes to learning dressage tests trace them around a drawn out arena with your finger.  If you're sitting at the bus stop and have forgotten an arena diagram there's an easy nemonic to remember the arena markers in a 20x40.  Going clockwise from a - "All King Edwards Horses Can Manage Big Fences" sorted.  If that fails then find a rectangular rug and run round it on a mini scale.  You don't need to know everything by the letter as long as you know where you're going but it does help to know a few bits by the precise letter for reference.  When you go down the centre line it won't look quite the same as when you practiced it so you need some reference points.  Look for patterns and where double marks are as well.

When it comes to actually riding your test you should have identified the potential problem bits you need to practice.  Do practice them but don't do them in the same place or the same way or else you run the risk of horses prempting you in the test - they're clever things those beasties!

Also, use the angles of the arena, there are certain areas of the arena that judges can't see as well.  Particularly when your back is to the judge.  These are the moments you need to use to make your adjustments.  It surprising what you can hide in the briefest of moments.

When it comes to the actual test chances are there'll be a few surprises.  For example, horses suddenly realise that they're at an event and think it's best if they call to all their friends.  Even better, if you're on a younger one they might think the boards are actually jumps and they should be doing gridwork along the arenas.... Use these to your advantage! As long as you can keep them relaxed and not tense across the back you should be able to use their new found energy to get some better paces out of them with a lot more spring.  Secondly, the most important thing to remember is to ride forward.  Big bold riding will always score better than subdued nervous riding.  At the end of the day it's about putting on a show, so make it interesting and be confident.  You'd be surprised how far you can go on confidence.

Happy dressaging!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Making the most of the Badminton experiance.

It's that time of year again.  Advance bookings are open for Badminton and the entries are up.  Compared to other world class sporting events Badminton is excellent value.  Here at Equishopping though we thought we should give you a bit of a guide on how to make the most of time you have there.

For starters, if you're planning on driving there make sure you leave early! The queues to get in can take hours to get through at their worst and you don't want to miss any of the action! I really do mean that.  The traffic around Badminton is bad! I mean let's face it, Badminton village for 360 days a year is a quiet rural village home to a few horses and a handful of people then for the 5 days a year in the spring it is home to the one of the worlds biggest sporting events and is decended on by 100's of thousands of people.

The solution seems to be to stay over night.  Staying on site is expensive but you do get quite a bit for your hard earned cash.  Included in your pitch are 2 entry tickets for the ENTIRE duration of the event.  Plus, you can park a car elsewhere on the estate.  Staying on site has a real party atmosphere especially on the saturday night when the tales of the days XC are relived. The campsite has excellent facilities as well but perhaps isn't the quietest of places if you like a good nights kip.

Staying off site is also an option and there's lots of choice. Ideas range from staying at the Cotswold water park to camping at nearby sites.  Have a look on Google and see what catches your eye.

Apart from the world class eventing there is also a vast shopping area.  I kid you not when I say if you can't find it at Badminton you won't find it anywhere else.  Plus, quite a few companies offer discounts for Badminton so you can get some good bargains too.  However, the food is fairly expensive so you might want to consider a picnic.

When it comes to XC day we've got some top tips for you.  DO keep dogs on leads.  There's usually one or two dogs each year that end up chasing riders round the course - with well over £50,000 at stake your dog will rapidly become very very unpopular.  The water jump is a good place to see some drama and if you're lucky (depending on your view point) you might see a ducking or two... The course differs each year but go for the big combinations to see the most.  If you want to chance your luck and try and get on tele, smile lots and wave when you're standing near any of the televised bits of the course.  Once the day is over you can walk the course.  No, really, you can walk Badminton CCI**** XC course.  When you walk it you'll begin to realise that there's a reason the table is called the  "giants table".

If you want to buy showjumping grand stand tickets (MUST be booked in advance) then the best seats are usually those about 3 or 4 rows up along the sides.  Any higher and you can't see and if you go lower you won't be able to see the far side of the arena.  Alternatively, you get friendly with Queeny and get invited to the royal enclosure.  However, I'm told the view isn't as good...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A brief spectators guide to eventing.

Looking through the schedules on the BE website may tell you all you need to know as a competitor but what about spectators?  Which events are good to watch and which probably aren't the best for an action packed day of XC viewing.

Well, let's start a the top with Badminton.  The world's most famous CCI**** and now with new qualifying criteria so the level of competition is even higher.  Plus, this year being pre Olympics the number of foreign riders is astounding, including a large number from across the pond.  At around $4000 to fly a horse across the Atlantic it's only the very best of US and Canadian eventing that ever come to Badminton.  XC day tickets can be bought on the day for CASH (no debit cards etc) but it's cheaper to buy in advance.  The showjumping always gets fully booked very quickly so you need to get in there quick! Set in the stunning grounds of Badminton house and with some excellent viewing spots this really is a good one to take Gran to.  If you're lucky you might get on TV as well!!

 The festival of british eventing at Gatcombe is also an action packed weekend including the novice, intermediate and Open championships as well as some age classes there's never a shortage of rounds to watch.  Points on the course give good viewing of decent stretches of the course so you can have a rest and watch the event unfold.

I should also add that both Badminton and Gatcombe are huge shopping events as well as the eventing there.

Burghley later in the year is also a good bet.  Of course there's the usual discussion that Burghley XC may well be bigger than Badminton's so you could always go to both and see for yourself...

Blenheim now also has an 8+9yo *** class along side it's 2 normal *** classes so you get the opportunity to see a lot of high level action.  Whats more, Blenheim house is also pretty snazzy.

Looking further north.  Blair castle is huge fun.  Not only does it have international level competition right up to CCI*** but it also hosts a very popular showjumping show.  It also has a huge country fair on at the some time, one of the biggest in the country actually.  On top of all that, you can absail down the castle tower - ask equishopping's director about that particualr activity! Blair won a highly prestigious award from BETA a few years back for being a fabulous show case of equestrianism.  Equishopping also sponsor Blair and we reckon this year it will be even better!

Lower level events such as Weston Park also make fabulous entertainment and might be closer to you as well.  You'd be surprised how interesting and possibly scary it is for someone who has never seen eventing to watch even an intermediate class.  Happy spectating!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Supplements - the horse's pharmacy!

I won't for a minute pretend to be a nutritionist but I can give you a guiding hand to help you through equishopping's extensive range of feed supplements.  We have a large selection across many different brands - it's just a matter of finding the right supplement to help you on your way....

Let's start with a classic.  Garlic granules.  They work as a natural fly repellent.  The theory is that the garlic pases out of the horses sweat glands when they sweat and bingo, the flies dissapear- I guess flys don't like garlic... Well, perhaps the effect isn't that magical but it does help.

On the broader side of things.  A general feed supplement helps cover up the gaps in nutritional supply and top up the levels of "goodness" in your horses diet.  Just like us eating our "5 a day".  Especially important for the younger generations who are still developing - check out our youngstock feed supplements.

Moving down the body, hoof supplements! The saying "no foot no horse" couldn't be truer and let's face it, without a horse we're wouldn't want to be one of those would you.... Hoof supplements not only improve the quality of hoof growth but can speed it up to give your farrier more foot to work with.  Apart from the obvious health benefits of healthier feet you also won't lose shoes as often meaning things work out cheaper in the long run.

Echinacea is also great for boosting the immune system of horses that are either under the weather a bit or those suffering from that bit of stress and pressure from competing.  We've only covered a few different types of supplement but that should be enough to cover a lot of common problems and hopefully give you some cost effective and practical solutions.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Risk assessment and horses - facts and comedy.

Right, so take an animal that weighs over half a tonne, isn't bright enough not to poo in its own water and then use it to jump round a course of fixed fences at 30 miles an hour.  Who thought up that one!!?? I think it goes without saying that risk assesement is pretty important with horses.  Secondly, I won't pretend that I'm I'm an expert in safety and risk for a second... I mean let's face it teenage boys have a reputation to live up to!

So let's have a look at the classic horse inflicted injuries and how to avoid them.

First off, as prescribed by comic books, the kicked or bitten bum! Probably the easiest step to avoid this is to teach horses not to be so badly behaved or alternatively don't present them with a target.

Next on the list is probably the head butt.  Now we've all watched this one happen and reckon we would've seen it coming... then next thing you know is that it's you with the sore head.

More seriously though.  The easiest way to stop things going pear shaped is to avoid putting yourself in a position where horses could intentionally or unintentionally hurt you.  What about the riding front though?

Let's look at eventing.  Obviously the most likely cause of injury is falling off.  I mean that soily groundy thing is fairly hard.  When it comes to falls though you'll stand the best chance of bouncing and stealing a few lives off your cat if you're fit.  Fit people tend to come out of falls better.  Not only that but you'll react quicker so hopefully won't have as many in the first place.

Looking back at the yard now.  A lot of risky situations arise because of bad yard design.  We've all seen the situation where a horse squeezes past a door with inches to spare.  It may be fine most of the time but the one time it's not could be disastrous.  It's quite a simple task to look at the yard and think of lots of worst case scenarios.  It might just be a case of moving buckets to give yourself more space.  Simple changes for big improvements.

Hay bale storage is also a big one.  Take a real close look at how your hay or straw is stacked.  Falling bales should be a massive concern.  Bales should always be taken from the top so you don't end up with a top heavy pile aka the leaning tower of Pisa.  Also, try and avoid having stacks that could fall out onto the yard where people could be.  It's much safer for them to fall against a wall... Putting a few ropes around your bales as well could just be enough to keep everyone that bit safer as well.

And finally.  To end my sermon.  Non - horsey people are actually a bit of a hazard.  If you haven't had it drilled into you from the year dot it isn't obvious not to stand behind horses.  Even feeding horses off your hand in the wrong way is a bit risky - I mean fingers are at risk here!  Anyway, just keep an eye open for those safety things you take for granted.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The funky fun side of horses and work.

Here at Equishopping we reckon horses should be fun so we've compiled you an article especially on the fun side of horses.

For those of you with the office desk that could do with brightening up check out Equishopping's range of mousemats.  From the hilarious to the cute.  To accompany that mousemat how about a horsey mug as well?  Still on the work lines.  I don't know how popular tie pins are still but if they're your thing then check out our horsey tie pins to jazz up your suit.  Perhaps that one's only for the brave.

Also, for when we're all millionaires (pah, not likely with horses!!) grab yourself a new wallet.  While you're at it check out our watches too, I mean watches are a bit more subtle than turning up to work in breeches to show your love of horses...

How about some horsey bling for a saturday night? Hmm, perhaps not but have a look at our range of rings and earrings.  We even have a few pendants for those of you who like the bold look.

It's also half term this week for most kids.  Long journey coming up? Taking the family away? Well grab a horsey book to keep them occupied or perhaps to read yourself!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Buying your new equine friend.

So you've got the money together or sold your little brother and are now embarking on a quest to find your new equine superstar.

You'll find lots of articles on buying horses but I think it's important to distinguish the different scenarios and circumstances people find themselves in.  Put it this way.  You go about finding a happy hacker you in a very different way to how you would find a £30 grand+ international horse.  Both need a clever plan to get what you want at the price you can afford.

Let's start off at the lower end of the spectrum.  I won't bore you with the questions you should be asking. Age, health? etc etc... If you aren't that knowledgeable find someone who knows their stuff to go with you.  Now stop and think about that one.  They genuinely have to know their stuff.  It might not be the most obvious person and it might be someone younger.  Don't look down your nose at people and accept you have to pay people for their time.  It's worth getting someone decent to come with you.  Preferably someone who rides well themselves and has experience in buying AND selling.  Unfortunately, at the very bottom end of the spectrum you may have to drive miles looking and it's likely that you'll see lots and lots. Also, there's the chance you'll sit on a few nutters so sit your experienced helper on first.  When you do find what you want for heavens sake try and avoid "uming and ahing". Make a considered decision confidently and if you need time to think about it, be honest and ask for it but be realistic or someone else will snap it up.  However, make sure you have seen enough of the horse  ie do you really like him but you'd like to see him over some cross country jumps.  Talk to the vendor - ask if there are any references (ie if the last rider was a pony club member then talk to their DC) and check results.

People very often wonder about vettings on low value horses.  Passing a 5 stage vetting on any horse will leave both parties with the assurance that the horse is fit for purpose and hopefully lead to a happy ending.

Now let's look at the higher end of things.  The most common way of buying high value horses is through an agent.  Primarily because a lot of high value horses are never publicly advertised.  If you don't go through an agent you miss out on some potentials buys.  Key point.  There are a lot of agents out there so choose who you use carefully.   An agents fee is usually 10% of the purchase price so their services don't come cheap.  The best agents are very open about their fee which is important with such a large investment.

Hopefully if you're buying a pricey horse you'll know what you're on about and know your game.  The best bet then is to find something by word of mouth.  It's very important to have a very strict criteria.  When you  findi something you can evaluate how well it fits your criteria.  When you're generating your criteria look at yourself and your circumstances.  If you jump very well but don't get on so well on the flat then get something that covers your weaknesses.  Equally, some horses seem to need to see the physio every single day - but if you happen to have a mum who's a horse physio then this might not be a problem but yere.... you get the point.  Look at your circumstances.  Looking further ahead, certain things make horses easier to sell on.  It might seem a long way away and you may plan to never sell your superstar but it would be silly to not think about it at all.  All it means is avoiding things such as curbs or roached backs that may put potential buyers off.

You have the choice of buying from a professional rather than an amateur.  People have strong preferences but it's worth remembering that some amateurs ride fantastically and know far more tricks than their professional counterparts.  Some people feel that by buying from an amateur the horses are "produced to sell" less so are produced better.  You trade this off against the better riding and therefore producing of a professional.  This does explain to some extent the high prices certain professionals produce horses for.  If you take your time producing a horse and produce it very well on top of that it's not surprising horses go for phenomenal prices.

Another thing to bear in mind is that on the whole amateurs will make more mistakes than pro's so the horses tend to be that bit more forgiving.  If you are looking for a high level horse then chances are you'll have to buy from a professional though as they're the ones with the high level horses in the first place.

Happy horse hunting!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

We catch up with Oli Lawrence, Equishopping's sponsored rider.

"With half term just around the corner I should probably be studying hard but the fact that my "study periods" seem to be conveniently placed to ride is perhaps stopping that idea pick up pace... It does mean that I end up doing copious amounts of work very late at night or in the lorry - unfortunately my handwriting hasn't been improved by the M25. 

So following the school line of thought.  Everybody seems to be disappearing off to exotic destinations for half term or in a friends case, the not so glamourous Slough.  For me though  I'm putting the finishing touches to things for Isleham, our first event of the season. We're also off to Quainton stud for a couple of days for some juniors training which should be good fun and help iron out the glitches.   The rest of half term is also pretty busy but I might have omitted to tell mum just exactly how busy... Let's just take one day at a time... 

This season as well as Dell, Totem is going to be getting out and about.  He realised today that he can do flying changes. Brilliant, but I never taught him! I think I may just pronounce him as a middle aged child prodigy and leave it at that.  He also proved to be  quite the water baby out XC schooling with plenty of enthusiasm.  

Unfortunately, with horses there is that down side that you do occasionally get hurt.  Usually, it's a consequence of horses but I managed to walk into the doctors and get told off! Our local doctors seem to think my hands are a medical dilemma.  I mean having blue hands at random intervals is perfectly normal right? Apparently I don't take my health seriously enough.  I said I exercised heaps etc but got the look, I mean the look that only a doctor can give, far worse than even the ones your mum can give or the "I'm disappointed line" from a teacher.  Yup, it's a killer look.  On the injuries front, I decided to take some proactive steps and went to one of the BE fall training days at Newmarket which I learnt a huge amount from including the art of how to roll away when you get flung from a ginormous mechanical horse... just a standard Sunday really."

Why horses beat football hands down.

Contrary to common belief I reckon I can give a very balanced view on this one because I actually quite like football! However, I may just be a little biased to horses.....

The main problem with this one is that football's a bit cheaper than horses.  4 jumpers for goal posts and a ball vs well, ermmmm... a lorry, tack, horse, feed, field, stable, entry fees etc etc etc.  I think horses lose on that front - only slightly though!

Let's look at the people who play the different sports.  It's often said that horse sport is a lifestyle rather than a sport.  You can apply that view to most sports though.  I would tend to say getting up at 5 every morning to swim before work means swimmers have the lifestyle of a reptile rather than a human.  Horses may take up lots of time but by the time you start playing other sports full on they end up being time eaters as well.  Officially statistics show that the diversity of people within horse sport is vast.  I'm not talking about the demographics of grand prix dressage which are of course fairly skewed to the upper end of things but horses as a whole.  Football equally has a vast array of followers across the globe and throughout history.  The friends you make in both sports stick as well.  In football it's easier to see how friendships form in a team game but look at those in eventing and you see a different kind of strength behind friends.  Look at the high levels of equestrian sport and it becomes more apparent that despite internationals being the most competitive places on earth competitors are far better off together, not just because it helps psychologically but because we're better together.  We learn so much more by discussing things rather than tackling them on their own.

Then there's the similarities that you just can't deny.  At high levels both sports see money change hands in vast volumes. Whether it's the latest transfer fee or the most recent *** horse sold.  The cultures also similar in places, everyone knows how to have fun.  Perhaps footballers seem to get into the press more because of it though! That drinking culture that we're all banned from talking about is there in both sports as well.  Plus, there's the glory.  Score a goal in the champions league final or win Badminton, either way you end up heralded as a God in one form or another.

However, horse sport has that something special.  The "je ne sais quoi" that only the photo of someone dropping into the lake at Badminton or mid air over the puissance wall displays.  The thing is with horse sport is that you'll never be alone or else you'll be walking.  The most successful combinations are very often the best teams, the ones that click.  Watch the best horses with the best riders and you'll see what football lacks, the connection between horse and rider that is totally unreproducible anywhere else.  Let's face it.  Horses weren't born to do piaffes, jump steeplechases or jump ditches.  I reckon we're on to something special here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

How to keep things looking good this season.

Right, so the beginning of the season is right around the corner so chances are you’ve already got everything sorted – I hope....

However, we’ve got a few tactical things you can start doing now to make this season superuber easy.

I guess you’ve already cleaned out the lorry so let’s keep it sparkling clean.  The easiest way to do this is to put more shavings down in the horse compartment.  That way when horse inevitably go for a pee it won’t run right to the front and form a large puddle right at the door to the living... remember last year!.

I doubt anybody tack cleans as much as they should.  I know I just tend to wipe bridles over to make them shine rather than actually take them apart.  This does mean that the bits of leather that bend constantly ie around the bit don’t tend to get conditioned.  Next time you do take the bridle apart put lots and lots of saddle soap or whatever you use on the inside of these bends.  This usually extends the benefits of tack cleaning a while longer! It is worth remembering though that regularly cleaned tack is suppler and less likely to snap ie safer! Basically, let’s cut to the point, look up our range of tack cleaners and go and use them!! Pah, a lecture on tack cleaning from a teenage boy....that’s a first.

Secondly, organise the tack room! You’ve stocked up on everything for the season so it would be nice to be able to see what your hard earn cash has bought! Once again Equishopping can come to the rescue – check out our range of tack room storage solutions.

We also reckon that you might be in need of a helping hand with your mucking out kit.  Basically, if you turn up for your first over night stay of the season with a wheelbarrow with half a wheel and “go faster stripes” down the side to cover up the holes in it you’ll look like a bit of a pikey...

What’s more, have a browse of our stable disinfectant powders that not only kill any nasties out to get your carefully nurtured equine friends but they also stop the yard smelling as much.  A very worthwhile investment if ever there was one.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How other sports can help your riding.

To start this article we should first get to grips with the basic level of fitness required for riding.  Riding at a high level is serious sport.  Being fit won't just enable you to ride better it will mean you survive the inevitable falls -with a bit of luck.  Also the stronger you are the clearer your aids so everything becomes clearer.  However, riders seem to have zero free time so we need ways to exercise that fit in with the daily routine.

For starters, cycle to work or the yard.  When ever you can, take a bike or run especially if you're about town where it is often really is quicker to cycle than run.  Another great tip is to do some interval training while mucking out!! In other words, do 2 stables fast paced and another 2 normally.

Replacing your office chair with an exercise ball is another good option.  It means your core muscles never really rest as they're constantly keeping you stable on the unstable ball.  Good, effortless exercise that takes no extra time at all!

If you're at school the usual hockey, football and netball tend to keep you on your toes so you can worry much less.  There are also a number of stretches and exercises that can be done to specifically help individuals but these are best given out by phsiotherapists etc who will look at you as an individual.  The best way to approach exercises is to have a batch of 5 that you can do 4 times a week rather than loads that you'll never have a hope of doing...

The next point does need to be approached with some tact but weight is a major issue.  If you're overweight not only will you not ride as well but you won't be as safe in the saddle and you'll land with a significant thump... there's more than one reason jockeys are small.

So there you have it.  I haven't actually said anything specific, more given a general way of how to actually make the time to do things and get the most from the time you have.  Finally, "The key to sucess is not our natural ability but the attitide and environment we provide ourselves with".  Just some food for thought.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A simple guide to bits.

Most people have been through lectures on bitting that although informative sometimes need a bit of a reality check.  The vast majority of horses go well in a snaffle and that's all they'll ever need but then there are those that need a bit of thought when it comes to bitting. 

The next step up from a snaffle is usually something with a bit of poll pressure like a gag.  It's also worth noting when you use a three ring gag on the lowest hole that the sides can sometimes turn up leaving you with no brakes.  The solution seems to be to put a strap on the underside in the curb groove that goes between the two largest rings on the bit (use a spur strap).  However, check the rules before adding to bits as "home made" changes are sometimes not allowed. 

Looking at more specialist cases.  The waterford is a useful tool for horses that clamp down on the bit and run.  It's made of large metal bubbles so doesn't give the horse anything to lean or clamp down on. 

Although quite funky looking the Tom Thumb is also quite a handy bit and works well for those horses that you can never seem to find the right bit for.  Usually because it's such an unusual bit that no one's ever tried it before. 

The world of the double bridle is more for the dressage side of things but the same principles go.  Keep it simple.  So stick with the standard bridoon and weymouth unless you have to change things.  Looking at port sizes is also a good plan if your horse has a chunky tongue... Double bridles can be used XC or showjumping but you do need to be careful not to get your knitting in a knot.  Pelham roundings can help save the hassle of two sets of reins if you can't quite get your head round it. 

 Hackamores are again a specialised bit of kit but have kept more than one top end horse going in the past when they've had mouth injuries.  Some horses also just go better without a bit in their mouth.  Hackamores need a fair bit of attention to get the right fit and type though as they can exert some pretty harsh pressure if used incorrectly.  The bottom line being that the strongest bit in the right hands can be very kind but the softest bit in the wrong hands can be lethal.

There are lots of other types of bits and people classify bits in many different ways but that covers what most horses go in. It's also worth noting the usefullness of the Fulmer cheek.  It's not only useful for young horses that have steering issues but has been used for several ''cart horses in a breastplate'' who need that bit more encouragement to go round the corners.  Before I land myself in it, several top top horses have been ridden in Fulmer cheeks so it's not just for babies and lunies.  Happy bitting!!


Saturday, February 12, 2011

equiShopping newsletter - You can take a horse to water - (February 2011)

You can take a horse to water......

Horses are living beings and have a mind of their own. They can be very well bred, beautifully put together and have all of the talent, but if they don't like the job you're stuffed!!

That is why the argument people put forward about National Hunt Racing doesn't stack up; if they don't like it it's not worth pursuing because you can't change it and it's too expensive! Fortunately there are many different equestrian disciplines and just because they don't like one doesn't mean they won't like another; look at how many ex racehorses end up in playing polo, in the show ring or as top eventers, see and even if they don't compete horses can bring so much pleasure as hacks or companions.

The interesting thing is that whilst those of us who do expect our horses to perform can get frustrated , horses play a pivotal role in releasing frustrations in the most unlikely situations, dealing with both physical and psychological problems in the rapidly expanding field of equine therapy. - the magic of the horse!!


Special Offers

20% OFF ALL HORSE RUGS with Country First Direct

Isn't it about time you treated your horse to a new rug? Massive clearance sale on all Summer and Winter rugs.

Brands include Weethabeeta, Amigo, Masta, Rambo and many more. This amazing offer of 20% off all horse rugs is available throughout February

10% off & free P&P across the range from Flyaway

Please using the code VALENT. Offer available for 30days.

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5%off any order including sale items at Goyt Mill Saddlery

Enter the code MEQUISHOPFEB11 to qualify

Remember your Friends-Special Memory Horseshoe plaques and plinths from Horseco Ltd

We'll mount your own horseshoe and engrave your wording alongside. You can also send us a photo which we'll include FREE!!

Exclusive free p&p offer for equiShopping members - When you receive an "order received" advise Horseco that you are an equiShopping member to get the cost of postage and packing FREE saving 17.5% of the cost! This offer runs until the end of March 2011. View this offer

View more offers for Fast Tack Direct



New Products

NEW!! Beautiful magnetic therapy horseshoe bracelet from Gee Gee Images


Happy Hacker Aqueos Anti-Microbial Shampoo with Special Applicator

Fed up with water running down your arms and buckets being knocked over while washing your horse?

Try the new Aqueos shampoo and applicator, available from Happy Hacker

The shampoo is low foaming and leaves a nice soft coat. Think car wash for horses and that what the special applicator gives you. Attach to a hose and rinse your horse, switch a button and shampoo and switch again to rinse. The 2 litre bottle dilutes to 80 litres of product.

Type in 'happy' at the checkout and receive a 15% discount

New products from Flyaway

Max strength fly repellent

Natural lavender wash

Natural stain remover



Editors note

Well the cricket deteriorated, but lets hope that was lulling them into a false sense of security. England think they are on their way to winning the European Cup after winning a friendly and the rugby team are on course to win the Six Nations…. always look on the brightside! Good luck if you are competing this weekend

Friday, February 11, 2011

Horsey Casual Wear - You're in for a surprise!

So we've all heard the usual jokes and mickey takes at men wearing tight white breeches but horsey wear is making a comeback.  Not just the casual wear produced by the likes of Caldene and Pikeur but jodphurs as well! Take a walk down Bond street or some other indicator of the fashion world and you might be surprised to see people wearing jodphurs, yes, actual jodphurs for riding!

Let's look at the fashion side of things for riding.  Most riders tend to be on the slimmer side rather than the more rotund end of the spectrum.  Slim fitting clothes are the way to go.  The look at the moment seems to be long sleeved T-shirts under short sleeved ones for the layered look.  Hoodies are also big.  Gilets on top of hoodies are popular as well.  Infact you can now get hoodies with inbuilt hoods.

 Funky riding socks are also a must if not just for the talking point.  The going trend at the moment is to save the long boots for competing and stick with jodphur boots and gaiters at home.  The next step is too whip off the gaiters when you finish rding and show off the socks...

More and more riding coats are now acceptable to wear down the high street as well as in the warm up arena when it starts tipping it down or is freezing cold.  A wide brimed hat also goes down well especially in those truely british downpours.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Equishopping's other services!

I thought it was high time we highlighted the equishopping services that are really incredubly useful but that not everybody knows about.

For starters, not only do we do horse classifieds for free but we offer classified ads for a whole range of horse related things from lorries to job seekers.

We also offer web design services at very competitive rates.  Also if you're a merchant it means you're automatically hooked up to Equishopping's database so you save yourself some hassle.  Websites are also a great way for riders to get new sponsorship oportunities.  If your names not out there you'll never know!

We also offer an extensive business database so if you're looking for that local tackshop you just hadn't heard of then check it out!

Our banner advertising is also a fab way to gain maximum exposure to the lucrative equestrian market with excellent demographics for relatively little outlay.

We also do equestrian property classifieds - could one ad save you the expense of an estate agent? It doesn't hurt to try...

 For merchants we also offer an easy to use service with lots of different options to get you up and running with us and rolling in the pounds.  Of course I should also mention the crown jewel that is our state of the art price comparison site!!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Bridle Accessories - what you need to know.

Equishopping have a huge range of bridle accessories but how do you use them correctly and what are they for?

First off, martingale stops are a vital component of any set of reins used with a martingale.  If you don't have them on you run the risk of getting the reins tangled with your martingale in various nasty ways which inevitably don't end well... The advantage of rubber stops is that they can be taken off when you don't need them.  This is especially useful when you need to ride a dressage test- the dressage judges like to see the space between the horses jaw and neck uncluttered by martingale stops as it detracts from the outline.  If you have leather stops you can't take them off.

 Sheep skin nosebands can also be a useful tool.  You're not allowed sheepskins down either side of the horses head anymore but you are allowed a nose band.  They are also called shadow rollers as they stop racehorses on the flat trying to jump shadows... More commonly though, they're used with jumpers that don't focus on their fences as they force the horse to peek over them and focus with their head lower rather than run round with their head in the air... Merino sheepskin ones are the softest and last the longest.

Curb chain protectors are also useful if you use a curb chain.  It's very easy for curb chains to rub or get hair caught in them so a rubber cover is a simple solution.  Just remember to twist the curb chain twice so it lies flat before you fit the cover.

Bridle bags are also a great way of reducing mess in your tack room and keeping newly cleaned tack sparkling before you go down the centre line.

Ear covers are also useful for horses that get irritated by flys or those that seem to have supersonic hearing.  You can even get very funky florescent ones to keep you safe on the road!

 Fulmer loops are also something people forget.  If you've got long sides on a bit they're very usefull for keeping things tucked away and neat.  Also they give the bit more poll action when used properly.  It may not be the case that you need to change bit as you might just have to add a pair of fulmer loops.  Give it a go, you can't lose.

Pelham roundings are another useful tool.  They allow a double bit (ie bridoon and weymouth) to be used with a single rein.  From small kids who knit with their reins to eventers who need a simpler set up XC pelham roundings can be a life saver.

 Although blinkers aren't allowed to be used out competing they do have their uses.  Some horses are only hackable on the road with blinkers or alternatively it wouldn't be unheard of to take very young horses out hacking in blinkers.  However, opinions differ on blinkers...

That's it for bridle accessories.  The Equishopping range is fairly complete so we should have everything you can think up available.  Happy shopping.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The simple first aid kit.

First aid kits have always been one of those things we argue over.  What exactly should go in a first aid kit? Over the years various books from the Pony Club manual to the BHS have tried to define the perfect kit.  Now I won’t pretend to be a vet so please don’t have me struck down by lightening if I get things a bit wrong.  I’ll only try to highlight some of the things that really do come in helpful rather than perhaps the “medical essentials”.

For starters if you’re in a lorry it vital you keep several ice packs in the freezer.  If a limbs swollen no one not even a vet can make a decent diagnosis so ice is the first step.  If you’re in a trailer you can get instant ice packs that you submerge in water to make go cold.

Following that having lots of Gamgee, dressings and poultices are a must.  These must be kept clean and replaced if they aren’t used within a couple of months as they begin to go off.  Wound creams are also a good plan as they can help keep things at bay and stop problems developing before the vet can asses things.

A hoof boot is also very helpful if shoes are lost or for holding poultices on.  Certain hoof boots also allow horses to be worked if they’ve lost shoes but I’m not aware of the feasibility of using these across country but it has been done in desperate circumstances.

Sharp scissors are also vital.  The biggest cause of accidents are blunt scissors and knives so sharp is definitely safer.  Sharp scissors also mean you’ll be able to cut things rather than hack at them in an exasperated manner.

A little known fact is that poultices can also be used for cooling legs like ice packs if they are wetted and put in a freezer.  They also have the advantage of containing various salts so have pulling properties for thorns etc.

Vet wrap is a life saver as it allows even the most incompetent bandager to put on a bandage that could potentially save a horses life.  On a more day to day basis its the quickest way to do medical bandages for things like tendons if bandages are being put on and off constantly.

A box of disposable gloves will also save you a lot of hassle and mess, plus they’ll help keep any dirt on your hands out of wounds.  Antiseptic wipes also go hand in hand with gloves especially if there’s deep wounds about.  The last thing you want is infections getting in etc.

A roll of cotton wool is a great idea.  A more expensive make is probably better as it’s denser and holds together better so won’t leave strands of wool in any grazes.  Cotton wool is really good for things like Hibi Scrub as you can use it plentifully and use clean pieces each time.

Hibi Scrub is a good general purpose product to treat all manner of ills.  The info on it is on the bottle with clear instructions so you feel confident using it as well.

Tweezers are really useful as well.  From taking out thorns to taking stones out of stud holes I’m sure you’ll find a use for them. 

Although, that covers quite a lot if in doubt ask your vet who is far more qualified than anyone here at Equishopping.   However, whatever they suggest, Equishopping’s wide range of first aid supplies should be able to supply it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stable entertainment for your horse

We all know the scenario when either it’s wet or horses have hurt themselves and have to stay stabled which is generally bad news... However, Equishopping are here to help with our range of entertainment features coming to a stable near you!!

The feed ball is a classic stable toy and there’s a vast choice so check them out here.  Some are easier to roll than others so work better in a stable or harder to roll ones in the field so they aren’t rolled under fences quite so quickly.  The best feed to use in them is “pony nuts” or any other feed that comes in a pellet, nut or cube format.

Vitamin licks are good but shouldn’t really be used for general purpose entertainment.  Salt licks are better and usually take horses a while to get enough salt for the day out of.  They come in blocks that can be fixed to a wall in a dispenser or can be hung from the ceiling on a rope with a large know in the end.  With all licks though it’s important to make sure horses and especially ponies don’t take chunks out of them as they can choke on the large pieces.

A suede or turnip with a hole in hung from the ceiling can work well but not all horses like them.  Some have been known to bite them off the rope and fling them at innocent bystanders who walk by...

Stable mirrors are brilliant.  Did you know? – Horses can’t recognise their own reflection.  This means that they think they have company from their mirror image.  It is important that the mirror is plastic in case they take offense to their new found friends and give him a boot.  Glass and horses doesn’t mix.

Leaving the radio on is also quite entertaining for them.  Recent research into animal behaviour has shown that cats spend about 2 hours a day watching TV so a horse listening to a radio isn’t to far fetched.  Personally I think they prefer Radio 1 but when the likes of “Lady Gaga” or “The Prodigy” come on others on the yard beg to differ.... Opps!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Making this season easier and less stressful - part 2.

Hello. Welcome to the next instalment of the double bill of blogs looking at ways to smarten up your act and make your life easier. 

Most eventers tend to show jump in their XC hat with a black silk on.  The easiest way to neaten things up is to replace your silk.  As silks get older they lose their elasticity which means they’re more likely to fall of (embarrasing!) or they simply look tatty.  Equishopping has a range of traditional silks and also has a range of XC silks if you fancy jazzing up your XC colours. 

Also thinking on the elastic front.  The elastic in number bibs has a habit of stretching leaving you with a number bib which would fit a small rhino.  When you get a new number bib our top tip is to get some black electricians tap and adjust the bib to your size then tape it to that size.  That way you’ll have to high speed loose ends to smack you in the face. 

Chances are your first aid kit will need replenishing but I’ll do a separate blog on that in more detail.  For now though check out our first aid range for treating mud fever to scratches. 

It may seem like a strange idea but get a new torch for the lorry.  Torch technology has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years so you can pick up super bright long battery life LED torches for reasonably prices.  They make life so much easier at early season events when you’re leaving in the dark and leaving in blackness. 

Another small but highly significant item.  Spur straps.  If you’ve got leather ones and haven’t cleaned them over the winter they could be fairly stuffed.  If you’ve got webbing ones they might be coming to the end of their days as the do begin to fray after a while and no longer hold your spurs securely. 

It might not be relevant to everyone but by the end of the year your buckets might be looking a bit manky.  Either get a bucket and brush or pressure washer on them or replace them.  Rubbishy buckets aren’t a good start. 

Finally – Don’t forget your lucky pants!! 


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Relieving stress and making your life easier this season.

The new season’s coming up and chances are your packing the lorry for the first time this year.  If you’re anything like us they’ll be a few things that either need replacing or have simply disappeared off the face of the earth.

First off, there’s all those bits of tack like breastplates and stud girths that chances are won’t have been used through the winter.  Plus, some off the stuff may have only just lasted till the end of the season so are crying out to be replaced.  On that note have you checked your stud kit recently? If you haven’t stored your studs properly they’ll be rusted and anyway they’ll probably be worn down from use.  The easiest way to wreck your farrier’s carefully crafted stud holes is to use rusty, beaten up studs. Equishopping has a range of studs but our top tip is to shell out that bit more for the better studs.  You get what you pay for with studs.  Also getting self tapping studs will save you lots of hassle but only if  you can put studs in straight and are well practised or you’ll mess up your stud holes.

How about whips.  We all have our favourite stick and they’ll never be another one like it but sometimes you just have to let go... Sticks fixed up with duck tape really don’t good so check out our range of sticks.  From short jumping sticks to long elegant gold schooling whips we’ve got it.

Going down the body we come to over reach boots.  No I seem to have ended up with lots of right foot boots and one left foot one – I think some replacements could be next on the list.  Whether it’s XC boots that have served you well for years but have finally given up the ghost or your white dressage wraps that no longer shine so brightly we can help.  Just check out our selection of horse boots.

With the first dressage test of the season fast approaching there’s that minor issue of plaiting...ARGGHHH!!! However, we’ve got some quick tips to save you from the horror – or a bit of it at least... Buy some new plaiting bands as they will have perished over the winter and will snap when you try to use them.  Then BIN the old ones.  Whatever you do don’t keep them as “spares”.  Next step is to properly pull your horses mane.  Either using a metal pulling comb.  Seriously, don’t use a plastic one because the spines will snap off!  We also know that some horses totally abhore having their mares pulled so have a browse of our mane pulling range which includes products such as the “solo comb” that we think could make your life less stressful.

One final finishing touch.  Quarter markers are an easy way to make your horses apperance a whole lot smarter.  Some people somehow manage to do these with just a brush and a bucket of water but if like me this a step too far have a look at our quarter marker stencils that save you the hassle.

Next time we’ll have more ideas for smartening up your act and making your life easier but for now that’s it.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A lazy man’s guide to grooming.

The bottom line is who on earth wants to stand there brushing a horse for hours when you could be riding it? Read our guide to EFFECTIVE grooming without the fuss.

For starters.  Use a hosepipe.  Anything from the belly down I think is OK. Anything above that might be a bit harsh.  Plus, it’s actually safer as you can clean their belly without getting your head near their hooves.  From there on up a quick body brushing works wonders.

Moving to the tail.  For any light coloured tails use neat whitening shampoo and rub into the tail dry.  Leave for 5 min then wash out with copious amounts of water.  Then take human Tesco value conditioner or LOTS of mane and tail conditioner and rub into the tail.  In the case of human conditioner this needs washing out.  Not only does this clean the tail but it should detangle it as well.  If all the knots aren’t out under no circumstances attempt to brush the tail when it is wet – wait till it’s dry as it’s easier.

When it comes to pulling manes do it properly don’t cut them if they need to be plaited.  When I was younger I tried it and it doesn’t work – FACT.  So don’t for heavens sake go there.  If you don’t need to plait cutting does work but it has to be straight which is easier said than done.  It’s easier to cut a little too long and then pull the rest to get a better line and fall of mane.

Feet are best scrubbed with a stiff brush –not wire.  Hoof oil works well as an instant lift to presentation.  Faces or bums can be cleaned with “wet wipes” - the ones designed for babies!!

Fetlocks are best trimmed with a set of hand clippers and not cut too short.  Also when you’ve got the clippers out trim the base of the mane that would otherwise be under the saddle.  “Coat shine” also works –spray it all over then rub over in direction of coat with hands.  Quarter markers can be done with templates and when your plaits are done they can have any stray bits of mane smoothed down with hair gel out your bathroom cabinet.

With plaiting either find someone competent to bribe and muck out for them in return or learn.  No short cuts here.  Don’t put elastic bands at the bottom of the plaits though as they stop the horse stretching their neck.  DO use elastic bands (expensive ones that won’t snap) and don’t even contemplate sewing them.

Also the bottom line is that sparkly clean white numnahs and bandages  distract from all manner of sins.  Clean travel rugs help as well.

I’m now prepared to face the wrath of the BHS and Pony Club as I’m sure I’ve overlooked some of their golden rules.  Gulp. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rodi continues his life story.

Before I got hooked up doing the news we had got to the point in my breath taking autobiography where I'd been labelled a future star.  This time I'll recount my first experience of a show and that "horse bus" or lorry as it's more usually called.

So by now I was jumping what and when I was supposed to and the humans deemed it appropriate that I show my skills to the world.  The big wide world - YAHOOO!!! Unfortunately this meant going on the lorry.  Despite being a superbly balanced little tike I really didn't like the lorry.  Everyone was crowded together and if you stood in the wrong place the big guys gave you the evils.  I mean the evil evils - the kind that turn your insides to stone.  Plus, the humans said I was a messy eater so tied my hay net up really high.  It was great for them as I couldn't pull my hay all over the floor but it meant I couldn't see out the window!! All the others stood there chatting away about the M25 and how we'd just driven past the Dartford tunnel etc etc but I couldn't see any of it!! This not only meant my journey was incredibly boring but meant my sense of direction was totally confused.  Any how, on arriving the ramp was dropped and well, it was wicked.  In all senses of the word.  There were jumps everywhere and horses all over the shop, not to mention a lot of very swish people.  Apparently I'd been brought to quite a big show.  The bigger lads were doing their "big walk" trying to look good, personally I thought they looked a bit silly but they kind of pushed me a bit and told me to pick my feet up.  I did for a bit and did the walk and talked the talk, then of course I went and tripped over.  Just brilliant.  Now they were all laughing at me.

It wasn't long though before the humans had me all tacked up and I was trotting round the ring with lots of other young horses.  They all looked quite posh so I just jumped a bit, cantered round and then we were in.  OMG!! Where's all the others gone.  I'd gone into the arena and there wasn't just scary stuff everywhere but there weren't any other horses - I was  on my own!  Boy gave me a pat which by this time I'd realised meant a mixture of "get on with it" and "you'll be fine" the proportions of which depended on how much of an idiot I was being.  I cantered up to the first fence bold as brass but with my shoes in my mouth I was so nervous - the poles all fell down.... I gave most of the fences a good bit of breathing space just to be on the safe side.  I was coming to this doubly thing and jumped in perfectly then saw this dude with a camera pointing at me - I thought it was a gun!! I dived sideways but luckily boy kept me reasonably straight which left me right at the bottom of this rather chunky spread.  I did the only thing a super talented genius like me would do -  jump and hope for the best.  I launched myself upwards, flying like a super sonic squirrel and stretched as far as i could forward.  Unfortunately, Boy wasn't quite on the same wavelength as me so I gave him the bum shove to get him in the right place.  Tragically this pushed him rather too far forward so when I landed and flew through the finish in style the photo was ruined by him being on my ears... the plus side was though that I hadn't lost him.  I trotted out the gate very pleased with myself and got lots of pats from the humans - Boy even got told off for getting it wrong.  I felt a bit sorry for him  as I was a bit of a twit... I even got this strange blue flappy thing put on my bridle and got to gallop round the ring at top speed - gallop, gallop, buck, gallop, gallop, boing, bounce ping!! This is actually quite good fun.

I thought the others would be very pleased with me.  Instead when I tried to tell them about my exploits they laughed at me and said I had only done a baby class.  I am not a baby!! Apparently Toby had won some CSI thingy (apparently an international) so was staying the night there which everyone was quite excited about.  I wanted to say hi to him but he kept getting rushed away by important looking people and fancy horses flanking him... That's what I want to be like when I grow up... Rodi's name in stars!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rodi gets his teeth into the news.

Rodi decided that he wanted to put the life story on hold for now and bring you the latest news.  Who better to bring you the news from the horse world than a horse?!   

"Hello humans! Basically, the news is pretty scant at the moment.  I mean you give us our "holidays" over the winter which I must stress are vital but then you expect lots of news and happenings as well. you can't have it both ways... However, using my contacts across the globe I thought I'd bring you up to date with the horse version of the news.  So listen up - I've got a lunge session in 20 minutes followed by a physio booking - Im an athlete don't you know.

First off, you humans have changed our carefully designed dressage qualification system.  Now you want to do it on points instead of who wins what.  I'm sure the stables will be full of opinion at my next outing.  Come to think of it I don't know where my next outing is... personally I'd like to be on the Sun Shine Tour but perhaps I can dream on....

Plus, old Totilas has gone and got himself sold again. I did tell him when I saw him at WEG not to be so charming... all he had to do was stick his tongue out at the judge or decide he didn't like standing at stud... predictably he didn't take up those suggestions and was his usual goody to shoes.

While we're on the celebrity front, Monet Garden's really quite ill so we're all rooting for him to pull his socks up and get out there again.  The last I heard about him was that he was wearing some fancy shoe that he thought was rather ugly but still he feels comfy so its for the best.

Meanwhile, the hunt season continues after that abhorrent white stuff came down.  We also heard something about a Fernie hunt trial but we horses can;t be doing with human antics.  Before you ask, yes, us horses love hunting.  It's jolly good fun jumping those hedges and it's good for the horse banter as well.  The only trouble is that some of us get a bit exuberant.  I mean as a horse you have a set amount of energy so if you're not allowed to go for it you either have to vibrate or jump up and down to let it all out.

Oh and I have yet another example of humans taking all the credit for our success.  Marcus Ehning goes and announces he designed a new set of boots for those posh Veredus people.  What he failed to mention was the amount of input his entire yard gave! I mean they were actually trying to tell you something when they knocked fences down with those wacky initial designs you made them wear!

For now though that's it.  I'm off for my lunging.  Or alternatively I could bronck round the school and get his lunge line all twisted then pretend I'm going to eat him.... hehehe, most amusing!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rodi's life story part III...

We catch up with Rodi's life story so far: 

"Well, I needed a new jockey.  That was for sure.  The thing is though  it's not that easy just to swap them. They have this pride thing and it just won't go away. So, I set out to find Toby, the resident human expert, who promptly told me to strut my stuff round the field in front of a rather skinny boy.  So off I went round the field, a bit of canter and a few bucks here and there.  He still wasn't looking so I hopped a bit then charged and stopped, charged and skidded, charged and couldn't stop... BANG! I made the unfortunate discovery that trees are rather solid.  Boy as I shall call him laughed so I trotted over to him rather wonkily feeling rather dizzy.  He couldn't stop laughing, which when you're trying to impress someone is fairly disheartening... Then girl came out and joined in! I did the only thing I could do - I jumped the fence to go and sort them out and ask them to explain themselves.  Rodi, future super star, is not to be laughed at. On jumping the fence I realised it was significantly bigger than it looked on first inspection.  Fortunately there was no electric along the top so slithering over it with millimeters to spare looked cool rather than being exceedingly painful.  Much to my surprise boy and girl started arguing! Over me!!! "No, he's mine", "Well I backed him", "and you fell off him" well it went on like that for quite some time. In fact they were so busy that they forgot I'd just jumped out the field.  Seeing as they weren't bothered about it I wondered off to show the two colts my new found freedom.  I spent a good afternoon wandering around the fields - on the outside! That was until both boy and girl came running up to me and started hugging me and giving me carrots.  Things were looking up.  Apparently they'd been worried about me...

The next day, things were truly splendid.  Girl had to get me ready and actually cleaned me for once.  Then boy got on me and took me for a spin.  He then told the whole yard I'm talented and a future star - well thankyou.  That was until I saw one of the colts run round the field with it's rug over it's head which  looked really scary.  He called me a moron for being such a scardy cat and started telling me about the horrors I'd experience at a thing called a "show".  Sounds terrifying but it involves the lorry and Toby said if they put you on the lorry you've been good. Cool beans.  I had a roll to celebrate.  Well, I actually had a roll in the dirtiest bit of bed I could find.  Girl then saw me and declared me a delinquent.  Boy laughed and put me out in the field.  Apparently I couldn't get any dirtier - so this is how they treat super stars is it?!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rodi's life story continued... I'm getting the hang of this!

In our previous blog we introduced Rodi the talking (and very lively) horse to you.  Of course he couldn't wait to get his next epic adventure out onto the web so we let him loose with a laptop once more....


"My last installment saw me left in a stable with 2 mad colt looking things and a bucket of water.  Things improved slightly when someone took pity on "the cute little one" as they called me and threw some hay at me.  By this point I was a bit concerned as things weren't looking up.  That was until a small human thing wandered in and attempted to put a noose round my head - no chance! Next thing I know she gives me a carrot so I let her put the noose or i suppose "a halter" on my head.  Girl then decided that she'd try and pull me with said halter.  I don't know if you've ever had it done to you but next time you have a rope round your head and get pulled along by it you won't be too happy either... So I bit her.  Girl then smacked my nose.  Of course the 2 colts thought this was hilarious and roared with laughter.  In actual fact my nose was really sore.  I didn't try that one again.  After much pulling and tugging I realised that she actually wanted me to follow her.  Fast forward our story a bit and you end up with the situation of said girl trying to sit on me.  

    This time they had me on a long rope in a sand fighting ring with tall sides and scary pole things everywhere.  I didn't find out till later that this was actually not the case and that I happened to be in a jumping arena.  Well, anyway, she sat on me adorned with her chunky helmet and body wrapper that made her look somewhat portlier than normal.  Of course I removed her with immediate effect and deposited her in a neat pile at my feet ready for inspection.  Next thing I know there's lots of screaming and shouting and I'm back with the colts.  This time tied to a wall.  Great, things weren't looking up.  

I like to think that I showed tremendous talent that day but apparently I was just a rude piggy as girl called me.  That night the humans put a large bay horse in next door to me.  They threw the 2 mutleys (aka the colts) out in the rain which was most amusing.  The two of them fought with each other for a bit then decided the rain wasn't that warm and tried to hide under a tree.  It turns out that the big bay was called Toby and he'd been to this strange place called Geneva.  He spent all night trying to explain to me what these human people wanted.  They didn't half want much did they!! To walk and trot AND jump.   He was proper good at the jumping business I reckon, he'd been all over the world.  That week he told me stories about so many different places.  It all seemed so tricky though especially this dressage business but thankfully Toby didn't like dressage horses so he didn't talk about that much.  Then of course Toby was gone one morning and the 2 rapscallions were back.  They said they'd been chased by lions and bears and told me how they'd fought off goblins in their water troughs.  I listened for a while, personally I think their imaginations were running away with them.  

Any how, girl came back for round two.  This time wearing even more funny clothing and she had a big man with her. The big man was really nice though and patted me etc. and did all the stuff humans think make you feel better.  This time she sat on me and I walked off then trotted and then did a bit of cantering stuff.  I tripped a bit but she seemed pretty pleased with me.  She was awfully tense perched up there though, I mean anyone would think she had something to worry about! I remembered what Toby had said about jumping and started eying the fences up a bit.  The big man laughed at me and told me I wasn't ready for them.  I decided to prove him wrong.  I got in line with a big square one and charged! Girl seemed to scream a bit so I went a bit faster and launched myself into the air.  The good thing was I cleared it.  The bad thing was I seemed to have lost girl again.  This time I wasn't even trying to!! The big man ran up to me laughing which I suppose is a good thing and said something about being over keen and being like my brother - I have a brother!!?? Girl mean while got up and walked off limping.  I decided I needed to upgrade my jockey."  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rodi the talking horse.

For a while now Equishopping has had a talking horse called Rodi.  He's given you updates on everything from his new stable mates to his best buys for 2010.  However, the time has come for Rodi to gain his voice.  He's been nagging us for ages about writing his memoirs and since the highly successful launch of his very own company Rodi inc  we thought we'd let him have a bash.  Here goes!!

"SO.  These blasted humans have been writing about me for ages! Rodi this and Rodi that, yadee yadee yada etc etc. Well I think it's about time I spoke up a bit! I'll start with an introduction. 

I was born a few years back when the grass was greener and it didn't snow so much.  I grew up like most young foals in a field and in absolute fear of my mother - a fearsome beast! Thankfully I was sold soon after that and headed off over the green hills in a strange contraption with wheels.  I must confess that I found the "lorry" business really rather tricky.  For starters standing upright while going round this large circle of trees in the middle of the road without clinging on with your teeth isn't easy.  When I did try to use my teeth I sunk my little knashers into something nice and fleshy with a good bit of grip -oops!!.  Next thing I know I get a mouthful off this big bruiser next to me who I'd mistakenly bitten... It turns out he's some kind of important geeser in the showjumping world, not that that meant anything to me at the time.  I suppose I got my own back though when I set up "RODI INC."  and gave him the job title "the hefalump".  Personally I think the name hefalump suits him.  In my humble opinion he wasn't chosen for his good looks but insted someone decided to put a saddle on him and see if he would jump.  Tragically he's rather good at it- as he reminds me daily.  

Then we were there! The back of the lorry came down and I stumbled out into the biggest yard I'd ever seen!! There were horses everywhere, all dressed in fancy saddles and bridles and some of them were doing some very strange dancey things in this rubber rectangle with fencing round.  They kind of pushed me into a stable and then left me... cheers guys. 

That was it.  I suppose this is home then.  No, "welcome, welcome, have a carrot and a hug" just a stable, a bit of dirty broken up wood powder stuff on the floor and a couple of hooligan colts for company.  That's when Rodi inc. started but more on that later.  

Now I suppose you're wondering what Rodi inc. is.  Rodi inc. is my personal company, or shall we say, moderately large global business run by a small army of horses and ponies across the globe.  With me, Rodi, at the helm.  We have various branches.  Ranging from international horse trading - you think you decide to buy a horse? I think you'll find that you just happened to find a suitably graded horse within its allocated transfer window with the correct national branch position.  It's not an easy job you know.  Our latest business venture is a more personal one.  These humans decided to use me as a front for their company, and they've been writing about me for rather a while.  It turns out that they're a bit mule ish at it and can't sell much - humans hey!  I decided to get involved personally - for a price of course.  Plus, when my memoirs are published  I'll be able to pay off my debts to the Zangasheide brothers after that night at Olympia.... that's another story though.  

Equishopping's sponsored rider Oli Lawrence's latest blog.

Equishopping catches up with the latest news from their sponsored rider Oli Lawrence.  

"Wow! My parents let me have a party on new years eve! The faith has been tested and come out the other side unharmed.  Well actually, I think going hunting after a party on new years eve with all the clearing up to do may have been pushing my luck a bit... 

The snow has only just departed so pretty much everything has been on hold.  However,  the usual activity is back better than ever and things are in full swing again.  The plus side of the snow meant I was imprisoned in the house with revision as my only source of entertainment.  I do have quite a few exams in January so perhaps someone up top had my best interests at heart...  Zooming back to the beginning of this month I had a break from was the South east eventers league (SEEL) ball with its bucking bronco and the predictable entertainment that brings! Big congrats to the organisers - a great evening.  

The usual pre season plans are beginning which as predicted results in mini arguments left, right and centre over issues from transport through to the origin of the HGV test... Before you ask, yup, that's the next mission - to pass my HGV test...gulp.  Mind you I have been driving a truck since I passed so the jumps not as bad as from a Mini! 

All the horses are back in work now and Grays for sale as my brother has stopped riding.  They've all been very well behaved coming back into work with the odd bounce and boing here and there but apart from that they've been very focussed, well apart from the terrifying snowmen that didn't melt for a few days!!"

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Years Resolutions and top buys for this year!

First off. HAPPY NEW YEAR.  Here at Equishopping we've got some great ideas to get 2011 off to a fabulous start.  

We've all made new years resolutions before, but do they really make a difference.  Here's a few of ours to get you thinking. 

Do 10 minutes of pilates a day.  Pilates is great for riding and really helps your core strength.  Alternatively, skipping is good intensive exercise.  10 minutes a day, every day adds up.  We spend hours getting our horses fit so it seems only right that we spend a bit of time getting ourselves up to scratch.  

Another suggestion of ours is when you're out hacking to put your stirrups up as far as they'll go.  Then do an entire hack out the saddle.  This really builds up your lower leg stability and strength.  There's nothing worse than seeing people's legs flapping all over the shop at the end of the course when they're tired.  

For those of you who are already fit and raring to go we've a suggestion.  Give your horse a hug for 10 seconds a day.  Not just a pat but actually give his or her face a rub etc etc.  It's all to easy to forget the emotional side of things when you're pushing for performance all the time.  10 seconds will seem like a veerryyy long time....

We've also selected a number of products that we think will make a difference to your 2011.  

Comfy protective gear is first on our list.  Body protectors don't have to be like wearing a straight jacket that weighs you down.  Check out the How's Racesafe RS 2010 with it's flexi panels and extreme light weight.  New eventing rules also mean that body protectors must have been produced since 2000 - if you're riding in an older one it needs replacing.  Sorry to break the bad news if you hadn't heard...

Following that theme a new hat thats both lighter and cooler will be great for summer.  Plus, its looks unbelievably better going showjumping in a proper hat rather than the beloved "egg head" hats eventers stick silks on to attempt to improve the look of... 

The next suggestion we borrowed from a rather exasperated dressage judge.  What she wanted was people to tie their stocks properly.  However, after judging prelim dressage all day with no lunch break this request was phrased slightly less eloquently and with far more french! Equishopping't top tip to solve this problem is not to painstakingly practice tying your stock but to buy a new one.  Certain stocks are easier for certain people to tie.  What one person hates another will love.  

Well what about the tack room? Check out Equishopping's range of tack room fitments and accessories. You could well be surprised at the difference made by a couple of rug heaters or a set of drawers.  AHA! Another news resolution.  To keep the tack room tidy.   (much much much easier said than done.)

Finally, we've got a slightly unconnected suggestion.  Equine online dating.  Put it into google and you'll be offered a vast choice from expensive services to free ones from the local paper.  Now there was a time when online dating or anything like that was only for people with social and communication skills similar to the Disney character "Goofy" and looks to match other less attractive  comic characters.  Fear not, times have changed and it might just work.  Plus, if it works out I won't have to write anything about Valentines day which would be a great relief! Once again, happy new year!