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.

Exclusive for EquiShopping customers

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.