Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Right Rug Fitting

It is necessary when buying and using your outdoor rugs to bear the following points in mind. Fit is all-important. Rugs are usually sized in three-inch increments.

The measurement refers to the centre of the chest of the horse along the body to the rear of the quarters where you expect the rug to finish. As horses of any given size vary so much in girth and build, it is essential to take these measurements before purchasing your rug.

A rug will not stay in place unless it fits properly. A badly fitted rug will slip and be strained to breaking point.

Horses come in a variety of shapes and sizes. If a horse is exceptionally broad in the back it may be necessary to buy the next size up in relation to its height. Alternatively, it may be necessary to look at several different styles.

It is essential that a rug should fit well on the withers and shoulders so that the horse can move freely underneath the fabric without the rug slipping back. If this happens the rug is put under strain and can cause sore areas.

Once you have ascertained that the rug fits well around the neck, pull the rug into position along the horse's back so that the coat lies flat.

With rugs using leg straps, take the left leg strap, pass between the hind legs and fasten it on the left-hand side. Take the right leg strap. pass it between the hind legs and through the loop made by the first strap and fasten to the right hand side.

Adjust the leg straps equally until there is room for the width of one hand (4-5") between the leg straps and the horse's thigh. This is to allow freedom of movement.

The leg straps are linked to prevent rubbing and act with each other to pull the rug into place. When the horse is grazing, the leg straps should be close to its thighs to keep the rug in position. If the rug is fitted as described it will have very little through movement and rolling. If the leg straps are too loose, the rug will slip.

When fitting a rug with cross surcingles,  care should be taken to ensure the straps of the cross surcingle cross in the centre of the horse's belly well forward of the horse's stifle. i.e. so that the crossed straps are on the roundest part of his body. Again there should be a hand's breadth between the straps and the horse.

photographs by kind permission of Shires

Friday, 18 December 2009


The first recorded and now legendary match, took place in Ireland from Buttevant Church to St. Marys Church, Doneraile, in Cork in 1752.

The riders raced from the steeple in one church to the steeple in the second church, hence the name steeple chasing was born.

During the 19th Century, steeple chasing became more sophisticated with enclosed courses and professionally trained horses and the traditional amateur was not able to compete at this level.

Therefore attempts were made to stage races for amateurs, from which professionals were excluded. Local Hunts undertook to organise amateur races and the Atherstone Hunt was the first hunt to organise a meeting annually from 1870. This hunt still has a meeting today usually at the end of each April.

There were no accepted rules for these races until 1913, when the Master of Hounds Point to Point Association formulated a list.

In 1935, Point to Point racing was brought under the umbrella of the National Hunt Committee which runs professional jump racing, who brought in a new set of regulations which generally still stand today.

Point to pointing has often led the way for National Hunt racing to follow. Ladies were allowed to race against men in all races except Mens’ Opens in 1974.

Sunday racing with betting started with point to points.

As point to point fences are six inches lower than National Hunt fences, many of the top horses like ‘Best Mate’ and ‘Denman’ began their careers in point to points. It is an invaluable training ground for young horses and riders.

Each year there is a limited number of races at National Hunt courses between February and May that are confined to point to pointers.

They differ from normal races as the horses are not handicapped by weight in order to equalize their abilities - so the best horses tend to win.

These are good betting opportunities but you have to know a lot about point to point form.  One effective method is to click on to where The Colonel will show you a way to win money on these races.

Content submitted by The Colonel.

Friday, 11 December 2009

The pros and cons of Haylage feed for your Horse.

Haylage is growing in popularity as the way of feeding roughage during the winter. This growth in popularity is partially due to the difficulty of finding dust free hay.

WHAT IS HAYLAGE? Like hay, Haylage is preserved grass. The grass is ensiled, or pickled, to create Haylage rather than dried to produce hay. The process does in many ways produce a product closer to natural grass. This is considered more beneficial than dry hay. It does however have some drawbacks.

Haylage tends to be richer than hay. Gut issues such as recurrent loose droppings can occur when Haylage is fed to the horse and it is felt this may be partly due to an increased acid nature of Haylage when compared with hay. The lower dry matter may also be a factor. Recent awareness of gastric upsets such as ulcers coincidently seems to tie in with the increased usage of Haylage.

Whilst there seems to be no confirmation of this as yet, it is strongly felt there is a need to balance the Haylage rich diet fed to your horse.

Some of the Feed Suppliers and manufacturers are producing natural balancing formulas to add to the Haylage to help overcome these problems. These balancers contain key active ingredients including: Antacids, Live probiotic yeast, Herbs including such items as ginger, liquorice and mint plus Vitamins and Minerals.

Ask your local feed supplier for advice. It is highly recommended that your local feed supplier be consulted on appropriate products to keep your horse healthy and happy.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Riding-wear for Dressage

Equestrian sports are steeped in tradition. Hunting groups are resplendant and Dressage riders no less so.

As a strictly governed sport, Dressage riders have a number of rules to follow regarding how they dress and behave. Dressage is judged subjectively, therefore correct turnout conveying the right impression are important.

For Dressage competitions, riders will wear white breeches, never jodhpurs. The breeches often feature slip-resistant leather 'seats' which creates friction with the saddle to keep the rider in place. Breeches are worn with a belt and are complemented with a white shirt and a stock tie with a small pin, worn under the Dressage Coat.

Dressage Coats are similar to Hunting Coats, usually solid black or occasionally navy, with metal buttons. The traditional Dressage Coat takes the form of a long jacket. In upper-levels of Dressage, riders wear a shadbelly or tailcoat with a colour vest or vest points at the front of the waist where the coat is cut short.

Gloves should be white or a light colour, enabling judges to see subtle hand movements.

Tall boots or field boots are acceptable although upper-level Dressage riders will choose tall dress boots. Spurs are required at the upper levels and a whip may be carried in some competitions but are not permitted in Eventing Dressage.

Long hair is usually secured with a hair net or show bow. A hair net will generally be chosen to blend with the hair colour of the Dressage rider, whereas a show bow is generally black.

Lower-level riders will be required to wear an approved riding helmet. At the upper levels, a top hat to match the Dressage tailcoat is more traditional when show rules allow.

Dressage tailcoats photographs are courtesy of Equetech and Shires.