#letthemride This Is Why It Matters

You might be wondering why many of us Irish horsey folk have been sharing the #letthemride hashtag, posts and articles. So, I just thought it might be worth explaining why this is.

A few years ago a group of four female riders qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Due to circumstances this original team cannot go. One retired her horse and has not qualified another, one is pregnant and one has a horse that has been unwell.

However, a team of three was still possible by combining the fourth rider from the original team with two other riders that have reached the International MER needed to qualify for the Olympics. Seems simple right?

That International MER set by the FEI for Olympic qualification is 66%. Unfortunately the Irish governing body and the High Performance director set their own MER of 68%. (which is above what these riders had achieved). This resulted in them declaring that there was no team and permitting the fourth rider from the original team to ride as an individual.

This sets a higher standard for Ireland than the FEI does. This is at odds with the fact that an Irish rider went to WEG before and was not subject to such strict in country rules around scores.

So basically these two riders Dane Rawlins and James Connor have campaigned to earn their scores and have funded themselves in International competition to attain the International standard set by the Olympic Council only to have their own country deny them the right to compete.

Ireland has a team that they declined to enter and many of us do not feel that this is right. Why? It’s simple – to have the chance to compete as a nation at the highest level and to refuse it sets a negative and damaging precedent. It sends a bad message to our young riders, our aspiring riders and those on youth development squads. It sends a bad message to the average rider enjoying competing as an amateur and feeling inspired by seeing others work at the highest level. Above all else it goes against the fact that we all love an underdog story and the principle of the Olympics is to take part rather than to win. Do you remember Cool Runnings? That’s what this is about – representing your nation at the highest level you can.

So what can you do? We want to share the attached photo and the hashtag #letthemride internationally. The first appeal against the decision not to send the team was lost but the second appeal is ongoing and the outcome has not been decided yet – public sentiment is important here. If you agree that Horse Sport Ireland should #letthemride please save and then share the attached photo and hashtag thank you.

Credit – designed by Anita Craven

No one ever won a medal for not taking part….

Do you remember, back we were younger, before reality bit, when dreams still seemed possible? That is one of the joys of being a child – the ability to dream without restraint and without limitations.

For many of us, as we get older we realise that we may not have the ability to achieve those dreams – either from a lack of support, a lack of finance, a lack of ability or other factors. So we revise and we edit and we continue to dream our smaller, more adult, realistic dreams. I would imagine when we were younger, most of us who rode fantasised about one day representing our sport Internationally. I know I did spurred on by films such as International Velvet. Did anyone grow up in the 90’s and not watch The Mighty Ducks, Rocky and Cool Runnings ?

The truth is victory against all odds has always enthralled the public – we all love an underdog story. We all love to see a chance given and a chance taken. We know that fortune favours the brave and that sometimes luck will be on the side of the unexpected. This has not changed as evidenced by the success of films such as I Tonya and Eddie the Eagle.

As a child films like Cool Runnings taught us that every dog has his day. It taught us to always take a chance to participate even if defeat seemed likely. It taught us to be competitors, to be supporters, to be present. It taught us that no matter the odds against you – you show up. Did anyone ever win at anything by not taking part? No.

Now I want you to imagine having enough talent, dedication and support to compete Internationally at a sport you love. Imagine as a full fledged adult slapped daily in the face by real life and still managing to chase that Olympic Dream. Imagine funding your way around the world just to some day get your bite at the apple. Imagine achieving what you needed for Olympic qualification. Now imagine your own country turning around and saying No. No, you are not going because while your achievements to date merit Olympic qualification, we do not think you are good enough. This happened this year to two Irish dressage riders.

Is this the message we want to send to our future riders, our youth teams and our children? Is this the message we want to send to ourselves? Have we accepted that our new approach is that its better to not take part than to take part and not win?

I have a little thing I always do if I am betting on horse racing – I put a small amount on the horse with the worst odds. I’ve won hundreds doing it. I know by virtue of just being in that race that horse has a chance. The horses back in the stable are the horses going nowhere.

Do you still remember the song from Cool Runnings?

“Nuff people say they know they cant believe

Ireland, we have a dressage team”

Here’s the good news – read the press release below – these guys still have a chance – please share and share the hashtag #letthemride

https://dressage-news.com/2021/06/29/dawn-rawlins-and-james-connor-win-appeal-so-ireland-name-team-to-olympics/?fbclid=IwAR1tdlLHbSwuCPuqAETJOSlbdIxgAXaItEZSb39aoBVfM83qFfaE4XLketM

My Lovely Horse Rescue – facing the real and lesser known horse welfare crisis in Ireland

This week has seen a lot of debate on social media around Horse welfare in Ireland. I do not wish to publicly comment on the example in question as I do not believe in trial by social media.

However, what has struck me is the fact that so many people seem oblivious to the fact that animal abuse happens daily on our little island with many horses suffering and dying as a result of it. It is sadly not unusual, not under control and not preventable.

I recently spoke to Orla, PR manager for My Lovely Horse Rescue. This is a rescue that I know and have supported in the past. Orla kindly invited me to visit the center and meet the volunteers and animals which I look forward to doing once restrictions allow it. In the meantime, we had a chat about how the current Irish reality has affected this rescue.MLHR respond to calls for help from the public – during Winter the most common issues for equines center around animals that do not have sufficient feed, warmth and shelter.

MLHR rescue animals and follow on to rehab, adopt and rehome. They have approximately 450 animals in their care which includes around 200 equines. Like many rescues, MLHR receives just a small amount of funding from the government with the majority of their financial support coming from donations.

So, how has the current restrictions affected this?

🐴traditional social fundraising activities such as our local pub table quiz (a social outing i have always enjoyed) hasn’t been possible

🐴public collection and fund raising at competitions has not been possible

🐴 It has not been possible to take on new volunteers during this period. 🐴 less visibility of MLHR in the public eye

So – if horse welfare is close to your heart – how can we take action and help?

🐴To donate a one off or monthly amount – https://www.mylovelyhorserescue.com/donate.html

🐴 To adopt or foster an animal in need – https://www.mylovelyhorserescue.com/adoptfoster.html

🐴 If you would prefer to directly to contribute towards feed bills, Floods in Newbridge can facilitate this, just ask in store

🐴 If you would like to contribute to vet bills please contact MLHR who will pass on their vets contact details

🐴 Have you any equestrian items you don’t need? Rugs, headcollars, lead ropes, buckets, yard tools are all very much needed to care for animals. if you have items for donation, contact MLHR who can arrange to collect it

I have of course made my own donation to MLHR this morning. Its a small amount that hopefully goes towards helping an animal that needs it. Horses are neglected and abused daily by faceless people well outside of the public eye. It goes unseen and it continues. Maybe if everyone outraged by an example of it contributed a few euros, it would make a positive difference to some of these animals, who simply deserve better than the hand that life has dealt them

Product Review – Mountain Horse Alicia Coat

I buy a lot so when I say something is my new favourite thing, bear in mind its competed with a fair amount of things to get there.

After Christmas a friend and I had gone shopping and we had planned or ages to save up and head to TRI equestrian between Christmas and new year. In an effort to stop me buying random things I don’t need we had both come up with lists of what we actually needed. Top of my list was a long, warm and properly waterproof jacket for teaching in to replace an existing jacket that was no longer waterproof.

|The mountain horse Alicia coat caught my eye and to be honest at just over five feet tall I was tempted to write it off as a coat “for taller people who can pull off that sort of thing”. once I tried it on I was sold though as its incredibly warm and was like wearing a duvet. I checked the tags as I am tired of falling in love with things that are not actually waterproof – top tip, for something to be fully waterproof you are looking to see that it has listed taped seams as one of its benefits. Also check the waterproof rating – waterproof to 5000mm and to 10000mm and above are different.

https://www.evo.com/guides/outerwear-waterproof-ratings-and-breathability

This coat has a gorgeous snake print lining, I am raging that I didn’t buy the recent PS of Sweden Black Mamba as it would have been a perfect match! The lining flashes through really well on the vents on the underside of the coat when you open the poppers at the back to allow you to ride in it.

Its waterproof, its warm, its wonderfully long ( I look like a hobbit witch but I don’t care) and it has subtle reflective stitching (presumably so no one runs over a hobbit witch in the dark).

I was dubious about riding in it as its years since I’ve ridden in a long coat. This has vents at the back that can be opened by poppers, a two way zip and elasticated leg straps inside which is really important as it secures the coat to your leg so it doesn’t flap in the wind.

I started off riding my friends horse Leo in this coat as he is so tolerant of everything. I then tried it on Oisin and Sammy – Sammy hates things to suddenly touch him so I am careful about things like this but both horses were fine – I think the fact that the fabric is light and there are no heavy fixings really helps. This for me is great as it means I can transition from riding to coaching with the same coat.

My only critique of this coat is the neck which I find very high and tight especially if you want to wear something around your neck. I usually just leave the top open as I like to wear a neck snood – I wouldn’t have the most elegant neck so if you are more swanlike you may not have this issue!

My main job for this coat is for coaching and observing and its a winner. If I am coaching it keeps me warm from mid calf upwards and if I am sitting and watching anything my thighs are lovely and warm!

Horse adverts – phrases and terms

“Not at all mareish”

If you’re having mare problems

I feel bad for ya son

This horse has 99 problems

But being a b*tch ain’t one

“Has hunted”

Just because it has, doesn’t mean you should

“Good and quiet to hack”

Has failed at every other challenge and discipline bar ambling slowly up the road and back

“Hacks out”

Less nappy going up the road than into the arena

“Stunning”

Average

“Would make a great all-rounder”

Currently a barely average all rounder

“Price on Application”

Have you got mortgage approval?

“Relisted due to time wasters / tyre kickers”

Someone else bought it and sent it back / it has already failed at least one vetting

“Has a recent vet cert”

Here’s hoping you are thick enough to buy it without vetting it

“Forward / onward going / keen”

Speed of a Maserati, breaks don’t work.

“Quirky”

Equine sociopath

“Would make a great show pony / dressage prospect”

Can’t jump a stick

“Lightly backed and turned away”

We tried to break it, it tried to kill us, we survived unscathed and now hopeful that someone else wants to go there next

“Worth considering for breeding”

Lame mare

“Potential eventer”

Can’t leave a pole up

“Very Quiet “

Comatose

“Will make someone a lovely prospect”

Just not me., I don’t want it

“Still some growing to do”

Its at that poxy too big for a pony not big enough to make a horse stride height and looks like a spider baby as its head doesn’t ft its limbs- so yeah, here’s hoping it grows into itself.

“Very pretty”

Thank god, as its not a mover and has the personality of a wasp.

“Scopey”

Over jumps everything, bring parachute

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The Whole Tooth

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Of all the things that happened in 2020 if you would have told me that a tooth would be the biggest impact on my life I would have called you a liar. Unfortunately it was true. If you know me, you will know  I am not a dentist fan. It’s a perfectly rational fear – an unfriendly dentist in the past, a needle right into a nerve and a dry socket will do it to you. I had a tooth that was giving me issues that I was warned to be careful of years ago as the nerve was wrapped around the tooth roota. This got an infection a few years back which cleared up and I needed a root canal or extraction which I was dreading. My physio even suggested I talk to a psychotherapist but actually I felt I just needed to cop the f*ck on and man up – which I did. I headed to a friendly dentist who is the dad of a friend who did a temporary fix on the tooth to give him time to do some fillings on other teeth first and because I was heading away for a few days in January and there was a worry about another dry socket happening when I was away if they extracted beforehand.

Continue reading “The Whole Tooth”

Product Review – The VIP Pad

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The VIP Pad in Gold

The VIP Pad was one of those products I had heard a lot of good reviews about but was still cautious about purchasing simply due to the price tag. At £130 the Very Important Pad isn’t cheap so it was an investment. The appeal of the pad for me is very simple – while the other horses I ride wear a sheepskin half pad between their saddle and saddle pad – Sammy cant. Sammy has very wide shoulders and is more narrow through his barrel so my half pad causes the back of the saddle to pivot which is really not a good idea when you are jumping! In my first lesson with Sarah Ennis she told me to take it right off and she was dead right we are more secure without it!

Continue reading “Product Review – The VIP Pad”

Thoughts Horse People have when watching Tiger King

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  • $2000 for a tiger, That sounds… very reasonable. Are we talking about getting a good tiger for that price or more like a ‘project’ tiger that is more likely to try and kill you?
  • Look at these crazy people involved with big strong animals who can or will try to kill you. That sounds pretty familiar – its just we are dumb enough to also try to ride ours.
  • Carole Baskin. Crazy – yes. Crazier than some people I have met at horse shows – No.
  • How exactly are they training these animals to do all this because a few years in mines just about managing a circle
  • Carole needs to run an online course so I can learn how to get someone to volunteer to groom for me for free seven days a week while raving about how amazing I am
  • Joe has several husbands – I can barely get my mare not to hate me. There is a glitch in the matrix.
  • Don Lewis – The human version of Shergar
  • Joe’s hair is literally a human blanket clip
  • John – human version of that horse that just hates wearing a rug.
  • Is it just me or would Joe just blend right in at a western show?
  • Joe has a couple of shirts that would make a nice saddle pad.
  • I’d be more enthused about first aid refresher training if I got one of those bad ass EMS jackets at the end.
  • We all have a Carole Baskins in our lives – instead of “that b*tch Carole Baskins” its “that b*tch who cut me up in the warm up” or “that b*tch who said my horse was fat”

 

All content produced on my site is my own original content – please like and share if you enjoy it but please dont reproduce in any format without my prior permission thank you 

Product review – Greenfields Saddle pad from TRI Equestrian

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No filter! 🐴Ok, I think I have found the saddle pad version of the Penney’s Pippa OConnor dress. 😳

true story – look at this saddle pad – it’s nice and thick, it’s got a contrasting trim, it’s got binding to match and it fits well – clearance at the withers and the binding is not underneath the back of the saddle (one of my pet hates!!).

Here’s the thing – I saw this saddle pad on a friends horse and had to have it. As I was walking around the shop with it before I brought it to the till a friend bumped into me and saw it and she had to have one too! 😂 Is it a new expensive saddle pad brand? No, that’s the surprising part – it’s a Greenfields Saddle pad €23.95 from TRI Equestrian! Functional, well designed and very nice looking for about a third of what some of the brands go for – I’m very happy with this especially as Sammy can be hard to get jumping saddle pads to fit due to his big shoulders – others have slipped back or leaned on the withers or the loop for the girth straps are too far back but I’ve found the Turfmasters quilted pads don’t and neither does this 👍👌😃.

This comes in a few different colours. If the one you want is not on display try asking staff – I’d grabbed the last in this colour but they happily got my friend one from the stock room!

 

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Things I learned at Jumping Amsterdam

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Last weekend was a bit of a dream come true for me. After a very hectic Christmas with long days working in the yard and then a rollercoaster return to the day job I was grateful to have a few days off booked to get away from everything, to learn and to plan. While I was looking forward to heading to Jumping Amsterdam for the World Cup Dressage and Show jumping I honestly wasn’t expecting half of what I saw and what I learned. The finale of the dressage was something I will never forget – to see three dressage greats – Isabel Werth, Charlotte Dujardin and Edward Gal celebrate their results passaging side by side to a very excited crowd was emotional to say the least. (And no I wasn’t smoking the naughty stuff and feeling high – it was genuine emotion!).

 

So what did I learn?

 

Its not too expensive to go and see your idols in real life up close – our world cup tickets didn’t cost much at all so if you are on the fence about going to a show like this – get online and book it – you only live once. I will be heading to another as soon as I can!

 

Firstly that no matter what budget you head to a show like this with, its never going to be enough to buy half the things you decide you “need” when you see them. Quite a bit of time was spent practically licking the incredible lorries on sale. Jesus H if I win the lotto I know who to ring!

 

The camera really does alter perspective and size – Dorothee Schneider’s Sammy Davis Jr is much taller in real life than he appears on the tv! Edward Gal was shorter than I expected (still nearly a foot taller than me mind you!). Charlotte Dujardin’s mount has the nicest ears and the kindest expression she’s a picture to watch and just looks willing to please every step of the way.

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The qualification test for the Grand Prix Freestyle  is so worth watching. Seeing horse and riders completing a set test rather than their own designed freestyle really highlighted what each partnership excel at and find difficult. Even more interesting was watching which movements seemed universally challenging – notably passage to left canter at E and the canter half pass zig zag.

 

I’ve never witnessed riders physically work so hard in my life. For the qualification test we were lucky enough to have seats very close to ringside and could see every detail from the muscling on the horses to the riders aids. Glocks Zonik seemed quite hot in the qualification test and the physical strength of Edward Gal honestly shocked me – when that stallion needed him Edward picked him up and put him where he needed to be, every time. You could see the exertion on his face but every step of the way he helped that horse to go through. It was an eye opener and woke me up a lot. It made me realise – do you want to be an athlete, even an amateur athlete? Right, then start acting like one. Watching these riders made me realise its simple – to get better you need to push though, to work harder and to gain a little bit by bit over time.

 

The music in the arenas is fantastic – while you can hear it on TV the crowd and acoustics live were at a different level. The music choices are so varied but I found I absolutely loved Charlotte Frys higher love / diamonds mix up as it was so punchy and I don’t think I have ever seen a horse so in time to music as her trot work was.

 

If it kills me I want to learn to ride like a German before I die. I am an Isabel Werth fan and seeing her live with the bonus of her winning both days left me speechless. I am 5’2” and I have thighs so while I admire many riders, I simply cant identify physically with someone over six foot with long slim legs as unfortunately mine will never look or work in that way. Isabel Werth has thighs and my god does she know how to use them. Her half pass change of hand is like a boat gliding on water. Being honest at times she rode so off the seat and leg that the reins seemed like an inconvenience. The confidence that the German riders had in building their marks through steady impulsion, throughness and pure accuracy without relying on flamboyancy was a huge learning curve.

 

The best riders won. Sitting to watch every test in the qualification test and the freestyle showed that in both cases the riders that ended up at the top did not make mistakes in their tests. Their changes were correct, they at times had to work hard to get something but at all times they delivered the movement in question. This was valuable – its easy to ride a test that might have ‘felt’ good but I know when I’ve gotten bad marks I’ve had to honestly ask myself – was it accurate, did you ride the movement that was asked for where it was asked for and often times the answer was no.

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The turnout. I love turnout. I always feel that turning your horse out well is something everyone across the board can afford. Forget the glitzy saddle pads and tack for a minute – the turnout of these horses is pristine. Immaculate clips, gleaming coats, perfect plaits. Embarrassingly while I’ve turned out many other horses well, my own and those I groom need and are getting a makeover very soon! Sammy likes to poo down his tail classy devil that he is – currently he has a poo and shavings tail and unruly feathers that my backman David has told me to clip so that ‘the poor fecker might actually have warm dry legs for five minutes’. Samuels mane could give Tina Turner a run for her money with Oisins not far behind it and Setantas tail is like Rapunzel.

 

I enjoyed the show jumping much more than I expected. The atmosphere was so electric and the riders were such good sport and the music and compere just gets the whole crowd going.

 

Tack wise, for show jumping, anything goes! I tried out of curiosity to find consistencies in the tack or brands but nope – everything from Marcus Ehning in a simple snaffle to riders in combination bits that I’d need an instruction manual for. The only thing consistent was the goal – keep the horse forward and in control to the fences. So if your horse goes best in a happy mouth straight bar or a combination hackamore – feck it – you do you – whatever gets you both safely to the otherwise of the jump!

 

Sometimes lets be honest when jumping we have all had a whinge about a line being ‘too tight’ or an arena ‘too small’. To be blunt, we all need to STFU. These lads are jumping a 1.60m course in an arena smaller than my outdoor – the minimum FEI guidelines for indoor is 25 * 50m. There is no let up or breathing room on the course – every fence affects the line to the next its incredibly testing.

 

The jump off was nail biting. There’s a special kind of brave required to hit a long one at that height – it must feel like throwing your heart in the air and hoping the rest follows.

 

How many sports do you know where people have to retire by a certain age? I know a lot. I often wish I was in love with a sport that required inexpensive equipment that wasn’t alive. However our sport is one of few where men and woman compete equally on a level playing field and often into their later years. It’s a sport where riders of all ages can excel and you can be still doing it aged sixty with all your life experience behind you. In 1991 Isabel Werth won team and individual medals – 29 years later shes STILL making history! Marcus Ehning won team gold at the 1993 european young riders. 27 years later he is still competing at the very top. He rode a horse last Sunday and in just a simple snaffle when Marcus said sit and wait – oh it did! So while horses are an expensive life choice, at least if we survive the stress of it we can be doing it for years to come!

 

If you are lucky enough to have friends, family and / or a partner who enjoys horses with you – celebrate them. It’s a wonderful sport to enjoy and its even better to enjoy with others.