Hey Everyone! How crazy is this weather at the moment?! Are we in England, or???! I’ve FINALLY got round to writing a blog post and I have a lot to update you on. However, today I’m hopping on a plane to Italy for a weeks holiday, so a full update on each of the horses will be released upon my return!
Things have been super quiet this summer competing/training wise, hence why I haven’t really had anything to blog about but there’s been a lot of things happening in the background.
This blog post is actually more vlog based and it’s in collaboration with my super sponsor Chess Jones Equestrian. Back in March, we spent the day filming lots of various things and a plaiting demo was one of them and seems as it’s peak competition season at the moment I thought it would be rather fitting. So if you’re interested in how I plait my horses for competition, have a watch.
Enjoy and Arrivederci! :-) (Just practicing some Italian ready for my holiday, haha!)
Hey Everyone! Since the last blog post I’m pleased to report that things have been going smoothly… yay! Doogie is now qualified for the Elementary and Medium Gold summer regionals and we will now focus on training and the water treadmill before regionals in July. Duncan is enjoying being back in work and he’s getting stronger and fitter each week (I plan to do a blog post soon on the process of bringing a horse back into work!). And finally Tebby is enjoying life at the Newton Stud in Devon and they are now starting the AI process…. Eeek! (I will reveal the stallion we have chosen once she is scanned in foal.)
I wanted to focus this blog post on a couple of my “essential” must have products produced by Protexin Equine whom I’m fortunate to be supported by. Protexin produce a huge range of targeted probiotic supplements for horses and I’ve been using their products for nearly 3 years and I can’t recommend them enough. The first product I wanted to discuss is probably their most popular product called the Gut Balancer. Gut Balancer is an everyday prebiotic and probiotic supplement, which is added to the feed. It’s very palatable and easily digestible (it’s in powder form) – it also smells sooo nice and I’ve never had a horse turn their nose up at it! I feed Gut Balancer to all my horses for general wellbeing of their digestive system. I think of it as an Acti-mel/Yakult equivalent, for horses, haha! This product is also very good for horses which are prone to digestive problems such a colic, or for horses who suffer in general with loose droppings. Although the recommended dose is one scoop daily, in situations such as staying away competing or other stressful situations such as travelling long distances, this can be upped to two scoops daily (one am and pm). During the winter when Doogie was on antiobiotics (Karidox – 5 bottles of it!!) for the skin infection on his leg, I put him on the higher dose of two scoops a day for two reasons. The first was due to the antibiotics upsetting his stomach and making his droppings very lose and secondly after being on antibiotics for as many weeks as he was I decided it would give his digestive system some extra help and support. As a general everyday prebiotic/probiotic supplement this is perfect and also affordable! You can buy a 70 day supply (700g tub) direct from the Protexin website for £26.76 (link at the end of blog post).
Protexin also produce another product, which I use in conjunction with the gut balancer – called Quick Fix. Quick Fix is a more concentrated version of the Gut Balancer, which comes in a syringe form and instead of feeding it each day I only use it on competition days. The aim of Quick Fix is to rapidly re-establish the gut microflora, so for example when a horse gets excited and their droppings suddenly turn loose when you’re plating them up, it will almost instantly help turn them more solid. For example, Doogie is a prime candidate for this! As soon as he see’s the plaiting kit he gets super excited and his dropping become very loose, so now before he spots the plaiting kit I give him 5mls orally and this has solved the loose dropping situation! As well as giving Doogie 5mls of Quick Fix before I plait him up, I also give him 5mls when we arrive at the competition before I start to tack him up. Doogie definitely gets a bit nervous at competitions (particularly in warm ups with the other horses) and although it wouldn’t be hugely noticeable to someone who doesn’t know him I can definitely feel it but since giving him Quick Fix before I tack him up I’ve noticed that he seems much more relaxed in warm ups which then sets us up positively for the test. It’s almost like he gets butterflies in his tummy (we all now how that feels!) but it seems the Quick Fix helps massively… if only they could produce a human version?! For a horse like Tebby who would get “figity” whilst I was trying to plait her up I would give her 5mls before I plaited but I didn’t feel like she needed the “top up” when we arrived at a competition. Whereas Duncan doesn’t get nervous whilst I’m plaiting him up, but when he arrives at new venues/shows he gets very anxious so he gets a 10ml shot orally just before I get on to help him stay settled. You can give a maximum of 10mls of Quick Fix a day, however each horse is very different but hopefully my different routine with each horse will give you a guideline to how much/when you should administer the product to your horse. A 30ml syringe of Quick Fix is £10.28 direct from Protexin.
I hope from reading my review on these two products you are keen to try them out and see great results just like I have! You can buy them direct from the Protexin website https://www.equinepremium.com/quick-shopbut you will also find them in your local tack shop (check website to find local stockist). On the website you will also find their full range of products and I will be reviewing more products from the range in the future.
Thanks for reading! :-)
Welcome back to part 2… Onto March! I was hopeful that we would start to see some nice spring days but we started the month under a big blanket of snow… great! We are very fortunate to have an indoor arena at Froxfield Stud so luckily despite the “white stuff” we were still able to exercise the horses and things didn’t get too disrupted. Things were ticking along nicely and both horses were feeling great until one day I went to ride Tebby and I noticed she wasn’t quite herself to ride. I was desperately hoping for a foot abcess due to the lameness coming on so suddenly but unfortunately that wasn’t the case! A few days later she was diagnosed with an injury which would put her out for most of the 2018 season, which meant… decision time! We’re still unsure what caused the injury but the diagnosis would mean a long period of time on box rest which wouldn’t have suited Tebby so we decided it would be the perfect opportunity to let her enjoy the time off and we will be putting her in foal instead. Although initially I was gutted she would miss the nationals and the rest of the season, I’m now really excited to start the “baby” process (watch this space when I reveal which stallion we have chosen!). We then had a visit from my super sponsor, Chess Jones Equestrian LTD where we spent the day doing some filming and taking photos of the new SS18 collections for Eskadron and Pikeur. As part of the filming we did a two part series, one video is about how I train my horses and we also did a plaiting demo, which I’m going to include in a future blog post. So with Tebby about to head to Devon to become a resident at the Newton Stud, it meant I had a spare stable which I decided to bring Duncan into so that he could start doing some light work after him being turned away for a year. Duncan is a 9 year old KWPN by Painted Black… he’s a very special and talented horse but has been on the back burner the last year as we decided to turn him away for a year and let an old injury heal. Safe to say he’s definitely enjoying being back in work and I will talk about him and his progress in future blog posts.
And now we’re finally caught up and in April. Lighter evenings and better weather… happy Georgia! After a few months of some bad luck, things seem to be on the up. We’ve had super training sessions with Gareth, Doogie went out to compete in his first Medium and scored nearly 73% (video link below), Duncan is starting to get stronger and fitter and Tebby is having a great time at the Newton Stud. I think it’s very easy to only publicise the positives about our horses, but its reality for things not to go quite to plan sometimes and for me it’s been a huge learning curve. For example I will openly admit that I’m a bit clueless when it comes to breeding but I’ve already learnt so much about it and the process is only just beginning! So for now I think we’re up to date with everything, keep an eye out for my next blog. Thanks for reading :-)
Blimey, what a whirlwind few months! It’s safe to say that since the beginning of the year we’ve had a few ups and downs but here goes!
Let’s rewind back to (a very cold) January! The year started off just the way I had hoped, both Doogie (Keystone Diego) and Tebby (Laurentina) were feeling great and gained some super scores in the first shows of the year, which was great preparation for the Regional Championships the following month. During January we also managed to make it up to Gareth Hughes with both horses where we had some very productive lessons and apart from the freezing temperatures it was a great way to start the year!
Then came along February, which was a mixed month to say the least! We started off the month with a super show at the Merrist Wood Regional Championships with Tebby who was an absolute super star to qualify for nationals in both of her classes (Novice Gold & Novice Gold FS) with huge 70%+ scores…go Tebby! We were lucky enough that our sponsor, Chess Jones Equestrian LTD came to watch Tebby that and video her tests for her vlog series (link to vlog at the bottom of this post!). A few days after Tebby’s regional debut was Doogie’s turn to contest in the Elementary Gold FS class. Our class was the last of the day and we didn’t compete until nearly 8pm, and in sub zero temperatures you can imagine the motivation levels were not peaking too high, haha. Considering competing at this time is very usual for Doogie he didn’t let it phase him. After a super warm up we went into the arena to do our test and unfortunately we lost some of the spark we usually have in the arena which meant I played the test quite safe and we unfortunately had a mistake in one of our simple changes and when you have 3 judges that proves costly! Despite the test lacking a bit of “wow factor” he still paced 9th with a respectable score of just under 70%. We decided to split Doogie’s regionals up and do his Novice and Novice FS class a few weeks later at Wellington… however Doogie clearly decided that competing in the unusually freezing/snowy weather was not for him and a few days before the Wellington Regionals a teeny weeny cut on his fetlock got infected and caused his leg to blow up like a tree trunk! So clever Doogie managed to wiggle his way out of competing and got a few duvet days instead… fortunately a week later after some antibiotics he had a normal sized leg and was back on form raring to go. A shame to miss the regional as he would have had a great chance of qualifying for nationals – onwards and upwards!
Part 2 (March & April) coming tomorrow!
Evening all! This blog post is a little bit different to normal but I hope you enjoy it :-)
I recently had a visit from one of my sponsors, Chess Jones Equestrian Collection and she asked me some really good and interesting questions which I am happy to share with you below. Chess stocks all the premium brands (and lots of "matchy matchy"!!) including Eskadron, Equestrian Stockholm, Pikeur and Eurostar. You can check out her website by clicking the link http://chessjonesequestrian.com.
Tell us about the horses you have at the moment?
I currently have two horses, rising 7 year old Keystone Diego (Doogie) and also rising 7 year old Laurentina (Tebby). I’ve owned Doogie since he was a foal so he is very special to me and will hopefully one day be my first Grand Prix horse. I’ve owned Tebby for 1 year now and she’s the first mare that I’ve owned… I’ve always been a “gelding girl" through and through but Tebby has really convinced me and I would definitely buy another mare in the future! She’s a real sweetie and always tries 110%.
What are your plans with each horse for 2018?
Both horses have a very promising year ahead of them so I’m really excited! Regionals are just around the corner and between the two horses they are qualified for 5 classes so it will certainly be a busy few days! Doogie is qualified for the novice, novice freestyle and elementary freestyle and Tebby is qualified for the novice and novice freestyle. By the spring I would like to have both horses out competing at medium level and by the end of the summer and going into the autumn I will aim for some advanced mediums with them both.
What is your idea of a potential superstar dressage horse? What do you look out for when choosing your new partner?
I think one of the best qualities a horse can have is a forwards thinking brain and brave attitude, these combined with 3 quality paces would be my idea of a future super star. When I’m searching for a new horse, the main thing I look for is a trainable temperament! It makes it a much more enjoyable training process knowing the horse is always trying for you and not being a stubborn monkey!
How many times a month do you compete? Do you struggle with nerves and how do you overcome this?
During the summer I will be out competing most weekends. In the winter I tend not to compete from November – January. I think it’s mentally really important to take a small break from competing at some point in the year. I also find this time off from competing a great opportunity to fit in some extra lessons and really bring on the horses training and knowledge. I’m very lucky that I do not suffer with nerves, I make sure that I never put too much pressure on myself and I always accept the fact that horses are not machines and some days it just doesn’t go the way you had hoped.
What movement are you learning or struggling with at the moment with each horse? How are you planning on overcoming this?
Due to Doogies size (18.2 hands!!) he has struggled learning the flying change… he always really tries but some days he just cant get his legs in the right order. He has done a perfectly clean change each way over the past few months so we know mechanically he can do it, now we just have to wait for him to get stronger which is something you cant rush. To help strengthen him up we do lots of hill work whilst out hacking and he also goes on the water treadmill once a week. Tebby has found learning the flying change easy peesy, but at 16.1 hands she’s a lot smaller and more compact so it’s physically much easier for her. Tebby has always been a little bit “down hill” and although over the last year she has transformed there is still some work to do to teach her to come more “up” through her shoulder. She has a raised trotting pole session incorporated into her training plan once a week and we have found this really helpful.
How many times do you train with your instructor a month? Why this many? Do you feel this is enough for yourself and the horses?
I train with my instructor, Gareth Hughes twice a month and I feel this is sufficient for my horses and I. Everyone is different I suppose, but I really like to come away from the lesson and work on the exercises to really consolidate them before I next see Gareth.
What would you be doing now if you weren’t a Dressage Rider?
I would definitely be doing something sporty! I’m not the most academic person but I’ve always loved sport. Before I got into riding full time I played both hockey and golf to a high level so I guess either a hockey player or a golfer!
Have you always been into Dressage or did another discipline initially interest you more?
When I was younger I always wanted to be an event rider (my mum used to event) but once I started to jump for fun at home I quickly realised that jumping was not going to be my forte! So instead I became a “dressage diva” at about 10 years old and haven’t looked back since.
What is your favourite non horsey thing to do?
As everyone knows, working full time with horses is quite full on and it becomes more of a lifestyle rather than a job, but when I do get some free time I like spending it relaxing and catching up with family and friends.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement to date would definitely be riding at the Junior Europeans in 2013. We were originally a non-travelling reserve for the team but 2 days before the championships were due to start we got a call to say we were going… it was a whirlwind 48 hours but a great experience and we were also the 2nd best placed Brit!
You also teach. What level do you tend to teach at? What is the hardest thing about being an instructor?
I teach a huge variety of clients all at different levels, ranging from grass roots unaffiliated level up to affiliated PSG/Int 1 level. I’d say the hardest thing about teaching is trying not to run over 45 minutes! I get so into the lesson and helping the client that I forget to check my watch and before I know it it’s already been one hour! Oops!
What is your ultimate goal in Dressage?
A very stereotypical answer to this question would be to ride at the Olympics! Of course one day I would love to compete at the Olympics but I really love the training process of bringing on a young horse up through the levels. I find it a very rewarding process seeing a “gangly” 3 or 4 year old who can barely walk, trot and canter round the arena, progress and mature into a dressage superstar. So for me, as long as my horses and I are happy doing that, then I’m achieving my goal everyday.
Hello all! I hope you all had a great Christmas and are ready and raring to go for 2018! I certainly am :-)
I realised that I've not uploaded anything to my blog for about a month (bad Georgia!) but now that we are heading into the new year i'm going to be much more pro active at allocating time to write the blog posts! I've got some really cool ideas for the blog next year which I'm looking forwards to sharing with you all.
The last month has been pretty action packed and since the last blog i've been up to lots of fun things including taking a trip to Olympia to watch the World Cup Dressage, a quick 4 day trip to Marbella in the south of Spain to visit family (and enjoy some sunshine!!), lessons with Gareth Hughes and Doogie has just completed his six week course on the water treadmill. I'll go into more detail about his progress on the water treadmill in a future post... we've seen such a huge improvement in him that he is booked in for another 10 sessions! As well as all of this i've also been busy teaching and training my own horses. I've really enjoyed having a few months off competing and really bringing the horses training on - next year is looking very exciting! The competition season starts up again in a few weeks and the winter regionals are just around the corner in February.
So for now that's a wrap for this blog post and also a wrap for 2017! This year has flown by!! Keep an eye out for my next blog post which will be all about producing young horses. Speak soon! :-)
With the 2017 season complete I thought it would be nice to do a blog post to show you all my favourite photos from this season! It's been an actioned packed but very successful and fun season competing both 6yr old Keystone Diego (Doogie) and 6yr old Laurentina (Tebby). Both horses have really given it their all this season and between them they are now qualified for 5 classes at next years winter regionals in February! They have both consistently scored 70%+ throughout the year and Doogie has broken the 80% barrier three times - he's such a dude! To see all of the results from this years season, click on the "results" tab at the top of the website. A huge thank you goes to my sponsors, my home team (farrier, physio, vet, yard staff) and my incredibly supportive parents for making this all possible! :-) The 2018 season will start in January when we will be taking the horses to a few warm up shows before the regionals but for now we are busy training and on countdown to Christmas!! Enjoy :-)
Good Evening all, hope you are all well and enjoying this sunny and slightly chillier weather (it’s better than rain, right?!). I mentioned in a previous blog that I would soon do a product review on the Heiniger Saphir cordless clippers so here it is… Lots of pictures included at the bottom of the review!
I think a good place to start would be to talk about the quietness of the clippers. After using mains powered clippers for the past 5 years I really wonder why I didn’t switch to cordless/battery powered sooner! Although I never had a major problem with any horse and the noise of the mains powered clippers, when ever they first started up they would always jump and take a few minutes to get used to them and I found when clipping the slightly more “boney” arena’s such as the legs or head they would always be a bit fidgety because of the strong vibrations on the bone. Since using the Heiniger Saphir’s I have had no problems at all when starting the clippers, and when clipping area’s such as the legs and ears the horses have stood very still which makes life much much easier! For a young horse who has never been clipped before or a horse that is nervous when being clipped these clippers would be great for making it a good and positive experience for them which I think it crucial - the more positive experiences a horse has, the more confident they will become… simple!
Because the clippers are cordless, it makes clipping a breeeeeze! No annoying cable getting in the way, no worries about the horse treading on the cable and of course when you’re doing the trickier and more intricate parts such as the ears, elbows, legs and faces it takes much less time and I also think it makes clipping a lot safer because you haven’t got the hazard of the cable. The clippers weigh just 440g, and although that sounds a fair bit I did some research and the average mains powered clipper weights 1.25kg!! So that’s a third of the weight! The clippers are simple to turn on (simple slide on/off switch), the battery is easy to take out and put back in, plus it’s easy to put the blades on and take them off. Cleaning the clippers is simple (small brush is included), and so is the oiling process (oil also included). I usually oil the blades every 15-20 minutes whilst clipping.
Probably the most important thing to talk about is the battery! The clippers come with two batteries plus a charging stand and each battery will last approximately 45-50 minutes. The re charge time for the batteries is 40 minutes which means you can be charging one battery whilst using the other which is perfect if for example you’re doing a full clip which takes longer than a blanket clip. These clippers would also be perfect if you didn’t have any mains power at your yard and if you felt that 90 minutes wouldn’t be enough time for you to clip then you can buy additional batteries direct from Heiniger for £49.99.
These clippers are not just for horses, we have a springer spaniel who has a VERY fluffy coat which we clip with these clippers every few months. Clipping dogs is very different to horses, instead of clipping against the hair, you clip WITH the hair (yes it takes some getting used to!) and you do not take the coat as short as you would for a horse. The only thing I change when clipping the dog compared to the horses is the blades. I use the #7F blade for the dog, but for clipping the horses I found this blade quite useless (it’s very wide toothed) so instead I use #30F on the horses. I purchased my #30F blades from www.masterclip.co.uk for £15.99 and that includes free delivery.
My only criticism of these clippers is how hot the blades become when you’re using them (this a very common problem among all types/brands of clippers). To solve this I just have two sets of blades that I alternate every 30 mins and I keep checking them and make sure they don’t heat up too much and cause any discomfort to the horse!
Now the final thing to talk about is the price and whats included with the clippers. The cheapest place to purchase the clippers is direct from Heiniger (http://www.heiniger.co.uk/heiniger_saphir_clipper.html) where they are priced at £249.99. This includes the clippers, two batteries, the charging stand, clipper oil, clipper brush and a practical carry case. This price does not include any blades. If you would like to include blades then prices start at £269.99.
I highly recommend these Heiniger Saphir cordless clippers, they are a must have for anyone who owns a horse/pony! They're Practical, affordable, and very ease to use. I believe that mains powered clippers will soon be a thing of the past… :-)
Evening all! Although the competition season is over, things are still full steam ahead here at GDD. Today we had a visit from one of our sponsors, Protexin Equine to stock up on supplements before Christmas but the last few days i've been busy teaching, riding, and clipping so there hasn't been much to blog about, however i'm thinking about doing a product review on my new cordless clippers - the Heiniger Saphir's. Since using them this winter I don't know why I didn't switch to cordless clippers sooner... they are FAB! I thought this blog would be a good idea to show you an insight into my horses training program... Enjoy!
Variety is key, it really really is! All of my horses enjoy a varied training schedule which ranges from schooling, to hacking, to pole work/grid work and more! Here is a list of all the different "activities" that my horses do and my reasoning behind it.
Schooling - Well i'm not sure that this needs much explanation, but I will talk about how many schooling sessions a week my horses do later in this blog. A typical schooling session will last around 45 minutes.
Lunging - I think lunging is important as it gives the horse a chance to really stretch out and work nicely over their back. I like to lunge my horses so I can see how they are moving without a rider on... It's also a good way to detect any lameness or weaknesses. Im not a fan of pessoa's as I feel this restricts the horse too much, instead I use a simple lunging aid. (lunging aid pictured at the bottom of the blog in the slideshow!).
Hacking - In my opinion, the most important of them all! A great way of strengthening the muscles (especially if you can hack up lots of hills!) without the pressure of school work. This also gives the horse a chance to walk on different surfaces and undulations which will help to strength tendons and ligaments.
Pole work/Grid work/Jumping - Although I mainly focus on pole work, very occasionally some of my horses might try some jumping. I find pole work is a great way to teach the horse how to lengthen their stride and also to teach them how to come up and move more through their shoulders.
In hand groundwork - This is something that I am relatively new to and I started to incorporate it in my horses regime during the summer. I've already seen a big difference in their suppleness and I've found the in hand work a great way to give the horse confidence in showing where to place and cross their legs during exercises such a leg yields and shoulder-in's. I'm still "learning the ropes" with the in hand work, but with monthly help from in hand extraordinaire Diane Thurman-Baker I am always improving my technique and learning new exercises.
Water Treadmill - This is an extremely new addition to the regime and currently just Doogie will complete one water treadmill session a week (see my previous blog post to read how Doogie's first treadmill session went!)
My weekly plan is different for each of my horses, for example, Doogie benefits more from the in hand sessions whereas Tebby (Laurentina) benefits more from pole work sessions. Here's how a typical week might look like for each horse:
Monday - School
Tuesday - Hack
Wednesday - Lunge
Thursday - School
Friday - Hack & Water Treadmill
Saturday - In hand
Sunday - Day off
Monday - School
Tuesday - School
Wednesday - Hack
Thursday - Lunge
Friday - Pole work
Saturday - School
Sunday - Day off
My horses also enjoy daily turnout which I believe is mentally very good for them to have some down time and enjoy a nice roll. :-)
Wow, you definitely can’t beat these sunny autumnal days! If only the weather could be like this everyday through the winter…
Today has been a day of firsts, my first time driving the horsebox with a horse on board, plus it was Doogie’s (Keystone Diego) first time on the water treadmill at the equine rebalance therapy centre (which is based at Wellington Riding, nr Basingstoke). First up I had to drive Doogie and myself there and arrive in one piece which was a success (phew!) and then it was time to attempt to get Doogie on the treadmill... and with the encouragement of a few carrots he was on in no time! Next mission... to get him walking on the treadmill! As you can imagine, the whole experience is very alien like to the horses but it amazes me how well they adapt and cope in situations like this! After a few minutes of letting him walk and find his balance it was time to add some shallow water which again he accepted and adapted to very quickly ... no excuses to be scared of puddles when we're out hacking now Doogie! ;-) because this was just a taster session that we booked, our 15 minute session was nearly over but after a good 5-10 minutes walking in the fetlock deep water it was time to drain the water and stop the treadmill. Although Doogie still seemed fairly perky, you could definitely tell he was starting to become both physically and mentally shattered! He will definitely sleep well tonight :-)
After the success of the treadmill today we have booked him in for 6 sessions (one a week). I’m really interested to see how his strength improves over the 6 week course. With the 2017 competition season over, we decided that this would be the best time to start the treadmill and along with training at home and fortnightly visits to Gareth Hughes for lessons we should be raring to go for the 2018 season! Exciting!
For more information on the water treadmill feel free to leave and comment below or message me via social media or simply visit the Equine Rebalance website http://equinerebalancetherapycentre.co.uk/water-treadmill/. It is not as expensive as you would expect with a taster session (like Doogie did today) being just £15 and a block of 6 sessions being £175 (you pay for 5 and get the 6th free). I’ll leave you with a video of Doogie in his session today - each week the session will become longer and the water depth will increase.