“Oh my god this feels amazing” I shrieked across the arena at a friend last week followed by “please say it doesn’t look terrible”!! No, I wasn’t doing anything incredible, there was no Piaffe or passage going on not even an accidental spook inspired one. I wasn’t doing anything remotely close to a dressage test movement. I’d simply, after trying to get it for almost half an hour managed to get a horse really long and low, stretching out taking the contact forward and working over the back which for at least six strides felt bloody amazing. Naturally I lost it about half a circle later and spent the rest of my time trying to find it again. See, that’s what happens when you love flatwork, the feeling of doing it even half right for half a circle is like crack cocaine and we need our fix. We are mad really.
When I was in school, the highlight of every week was riding a big chestnut mare called Jenny. Jenny got arthritis and in an effort to help the yard to treat her I started researching what could help. This was long before the days of being able to buy ready made and mixed herbal remedies for horse aliments in Ireland but after reading everything I could get my hands on I found a shop on Georges street in Dublin that had a wall full of A – Z herbs. The lovely man who owned it was fascinated by my use of the products for horses and became a big help. I started mixing tailored herb mixes for the big mare and for horses belonging to friends. These mixes helped and to this day I have remained fascinated by how the plants and herbs that we can so readily avail of can help to heal. There are many herbal remedies that can be used and I would encourage everyone to do their research. The herbs and plants listed below and those I have personally used and found beneficial. Often products come onto the equestrian market that are based on a specific plant, it is always worth checking the ingredients as it may be cheaper to simply source the key ingredient (ingredients are often listed under the latin name of the plant). As with everything, if you are competing, make sure to check the permitted substances list for your sport and governing bodies to ensure that any supplement you feed is permitted for competitors.
- Using cold water
You wouldn’t wash your own hair in cold water! Using warm water will allow your shampoos and products to lather much better. It also feels more pleasant for the horse. Mix your shampoo into warm water in a bucket and lather up and apply with a sponge or soft cloth
Having no idea which horse is yours without wearing glasses or contact lenses, you just know what colour blur it should be.
Experiencing the unique pain of a horses head bashing your glasses into your face.
I had been hearing a lot of good things about Decathlon recently. I had never been to any of the stores myself but a friend needed some water proof jodhpurs and recommended their Kipwarm ones to me. My old water proofs have given up the ghost and a new pair would be approx. €80 compared to the Kipwarm ones on sale for £26.99.
I ordered from the UK site and used Parcel Motel (www.parcelmotel.com) as my delivery address to get the UK sale price. I ordered a pair of the brown Kipwarm jodhpurs. I wasn’t sure of sizing so used the guide on the website. The order was despatched really fast and I had the product within three days!
The common problems I have with jods / breeches are – too long in the leg, too wide in the waist, uncomfortable stitching or patches on the knee, uncomfortable material, too thin for Winter, stitching going due to very wide horse. With these, I am delighted to say I had none of these problems. They are lined with a fleece type material and have a waterproof outer. The knee patches are really comfortable. The ends are a silky material – no buttons, no Velcro, no uncomfortable folding or bulk around the ankle.
After seeing how good the brown were I then bought a black pair at full price(http://www.fouganza.co.uk/kipwarm-warm-jodhpurs-black-id_8317560.html) and also picked up a couple of pairs of socks and a lightweight top. I have worn these riding, teaching, lunging and doing yard work and I love them. They jodhpurs are waterproof – I found this out when I accidentally sprayed my entire leg with a hose!
However – one point to note – these do look like leather. I have had a few people asking me why I am wearing leather trousers riding horses and I do feel a bit like an extra from the matrix in them but for the price and the comfort I really don’t mind. I also have purchased a pair of the denim style lighter jods and they are really lovely.
Another friend swears by the company for all sports equipment and loaned me a pair of the half chaps to try – these are really close contact, lightweight and best of all can be washed in the washing machine. Hers are almost two years old and are still looking good – not bad for £14.99 (http://www.fouganza.co.uk/black-pu-300-half-chaps-id_8011221.html)
Decathlon are definitely going into the deal category for me.
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- “Stop overriding”
- “You are riding on”
Honestly I am really not, this just kind of happens.
- It takes hours of practice
Just like getting skilled at Columns (I once got to level 150, it took about five hours and I could no longer see straight), dressage takes hours and hours doing the same exercises and movements, developing the right muscles and hoping for the penny to drop in the horse and riders head and for the co-ordination to kick in so that you get the right result.
This time last year, a friend and I were keen for an adventure on horseback so we headed down to Mount Juliet Estate in Thomastown in Co. Kilkenny for a cross country ride out. I had been to Mount Juliet before for a side saddle hack organised by the side saddle association and I was keen to head back to try out the equestrian facilities astride.