Category Archives: Equestrian Equipment

Often referred to as ‘tacking up’, horses can use a range of saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins and harnesses.

Ibby Macpherson on Equine Hydro Therapy


Abby Macpherson talks about Equine Hydrotherapy

Ever thought about the benefits of equine hydrotherapy? International event rider Ibby Macpherson chats to Horse Scout about how hydro can help heal injuries and keep healthy horses sound.


What made you launch an equine hydrotherapy business?
When my grandmother died she left me some money and instead of buying a horse (which was tempting) I decided to buy an equine hydrotherapy spa. I’ve been running it for nearly 10 years now. I guess it all started when William Fox Pitt gave me the incredible eventer Igor De Cluis, who was difficult to keep sound. He went in the spa once or twice a day to keep him on the road. It seemed to work — he took me around a few CIC three star events, including Blenheim and Boekelo.
Who’s a regular at your centre?
Numerous people including riders like Jodie Amos who sends her horses to me when they’ve had a big run. When they’re here they go to the hydro spa twice a day, get turned out (we have acres of land here) and have the Activo-Med (magnet therapy) rug on twice a day. It’s like having some R&R — even if there’s nothing wrong, it’s a great preventative measure.
How often do your horses have hydro?
All of my horses have hydro after an event or after they’ve galloped, again as a preventative measure.
And how useful is it in healing injuries?
I’ve seen amazing results for a variety of ailments, although the treatment should be relentless — twice a day, seven days a week. Quite a lot of owners who have used it say they wished they’d tried it before going down the needle route. It is very good at drawing out bruising and infection, but it is also very good at helping to heal fleshy open wounds.
What other treatments do you recommend for horses?
I also take my horses to a nearby water treadmill twice a week (we are hopefully going to put one in our centre here soon) — it’s really good for their core strength and for getting their back more mobile and supple without putting strain on their legs.
Can you briefly explain what the equine hydrotherapy looks like and whether the horses get nervous?
For the horses it’s like walking into a single trailer and after the front and back ramps are raised, it begins to fill with water. The level of the water depends on the injury but typically stops at just above their hocks with underwater jets providing gentle massage. We have a very good routine which seems to work when putting horses in the spa and everything is done very slowly and calmly to ensure that every horse is reassured and doesn’t get stressed.
And what’s the theory behind it?
It’s basically similar to rugby players getting in an ice bath. The cold water (around 2-5 degrees Celsius) initially reduces swelling by making the blood vessels constrict (vasoconstriction), flushing out toxins and afterwards a rush of fresh blood (vasodilation) accelerates the healing process increasing circulation. The water contains salt and Epsom salts so has many of the benefits of sea water.
What do you advise if riders don’t have access to a hydro centre?
Cold hosing is very superficial especially in summer, I’m a firm believer in icing and cold therapy, and that the quicker you cool legs down after a run, the better. You don’t have to buy expensive jelly ice boots, you can’t beat simple good old fashioned ice — the sort you make in ice cube bags. Just tuck some into their boots and apply for 20 minutes, using something like a j-cloth to prevent burning their skin.

Interview by Sam Lewis for Horse Scout

Ibby Macpherson has recently joined Horse Scout Professionals and has a professional profile on our site.  To find out more about Ibby Macpherson Eventing and Hydrotherapy click through on the link.


Talking to Ibby Macpherson


Horse Scout are Talking to Ibby Macpherson, International Event Rider, Northamptonshire

If you haven’t heard of Ibby Macpherson, it’s only a matter of time… A talented event rider who recently finished 5th at Branham CCI***, she tells Horse Scout why William Fox Pitt gave her a top horse, why she spent her inheritance money on a hydrotherapy spa and why she’s launched a new innovative event horse syndicate opportunity.

How did you learn to ride?

I think it was on a sheep! My parents owned a pedigree black sheep farm in Scotland.

Have you worked for anyone famous?

After competing in the Junior Europeans in 1999 and 2000, a few years later I became stable jockey for William Fox Pitt and his team. William, Alice and Granny Potts (William’s long-time head girl) are fantastic to work for, and they are still great friends today. I was lucky enough to school and jump all of the horses when William wasn’t at home and competed some of his young horses.

And William Fox Pitt gave you a horse?

Yes, I am incredibly lucky to have been given Igor De Cluis who was 8th at Le Lion D’Angers as a seven-year-old with William. I could never have afforded such a top class horse but he didn’t stand up to the pressure — soundness wise — at that level with William. I am eternally grateful to Judy and Jeremy Skinner and Margie and David Hall who owned him and gave me the opportunity. I had to be really fussy where I ran him, and made sure that he had hydrotherapy once or twice a day to keep him on the road, but he took me around a few three star events including Blenheim and Boekelo.

So tell us about your top horses now.

I don’t have many horses at the moment but the ones I do have are competitive at their relevant levels.

Ballingowan Diamond (Monty) is a 12-year-old, 16.2hh chestnut gelding (Welcome Diamond out of Phardante mare) with 329 BE points. Monte came fifth at the CCI*** Bramham this year; fourth in the CIC*** at Chatsworth 2016; and third at Hartpury CIC*** in 2015. I’m aiming him at either Burghley or Blenheim this autumn and hopefully Badminton in spring 2017.

Ballingowan Echo is another 12-year-old who is equally as talented but frustratingly we have had a few silly blips and his personality is very different… a bit more complex…. He has been quite competitive and won a few OIs. I’d like to take him around a CIC three star at the end of this year.

Evantos K is a 16.3hh seven-year-old gelding that I’ve had since he was four having bought him from Claire Robertson at Retreat Farm Stud. He has got it all… He’s a fantastic mover and a really scopey jumper. He’s Dutch with around 48% thoroughbred in him, so I think he has enough blood… I’m excited about him, but he is big and weak and is going to take time to mature and strengthen up. He has won four novices and was second in the CIC* at Rockingham. He was really good in his first intermediate at Aston but he is going to have a couple of months’ training at home aiming for hopefully Osberton seven-year-old CIC**.

Deoch an Doris. Doris is a very special to me! He is 13-year-old 16.1hh black gelding with a very big sense of humour. He’ll be with me for life — he was given to me by Jock Mcfarlane whose wife Mary trained me for a long time when I lived in Scotland. Doris was her dressage horse and after a long battle with cancer Mary sadly died. He is very naughty sometimes in the dressage arena adding some freestyle moves here and there but he is an incredibly powerful jumper with a fabulous technique. He’s 13 now but it’s taken his body time to adjust from being ridden on a surface to galloping and jumping on grass. He is a much admired ‘pocket rocket’ and I there is a lot to come!

Fread Needle is a 16.3hh five-year old gelding. He is out of Golden Needle by Bollin Terry, bred by my sister Rose and has done some BE100s this year, coming third at one. I don’t like doing lots with four and five-year-olds… I believe that quite a few horses don’t reach their full potential because they are pushed too young and their brains and/or bodies can’t cope with it. I’d rather they were slower starters and did more later on in life.

So do you compete any horses that you don’t own?

Yes, Dungeon Hill is a 16.3hh nine-year old gelding that I ride for Fee Wilson, in Dorset. I have a couple of spaces for some more horses to ride, but want to fill them with the right ones!!

What’s the aim of your new scheme, the Picnic Partnership?

I’m lucky because I own some lovely horses, but I cannot afford to keep and compete them all without some support. This new initiative not only helps me keep competing my horses, but it also enables people to get involved in the sport without committing to vast amounts of money and unexpected expenses. The initiative — which costs £400pp a month — enables members to have an interest in four horses from BE100 to four star (CCI****). They can come and watch training sessions and support us at competitions. I have a catering company which supplies a picnic for every event members go to — with wine! It’s a great opportunity because with four horses at various levels, there’s always something going on and it’s a fantastic chance to visit some fabulous venues throughout Britain.

Who do you train with?

Nigel Taylor and Fred Bergendorff (jumping); Andrew Fletcher and Hillary Westropp (flat); John Pitt helps as a performance manager; and Danielle Olding is a sports psychologist/life coach whom I find really helpful. I also do lots of Pilates with Tina Sheridon — it’s really helped to strengthen my riding over the last year making me more aware of my posture.

How do you keep your horses sound and happy? 

In terms of soundness, they all go in the hydrotherapy spa regularly as I have one here on site (I run an equine hydrotherapy spa business — see next week’s blog) and they’re also taken to a nearby water treadmill once a week which I think is very beneficial for their core strength and keeping them supple without putting pressure on their limbs. I’m also a firm believer in the Activo-Med range, particularly the pulse electromagnet massage therapy rug. My horses all live out at night from mid-March until the beginning of November (weather dependent). I think this is a good way to keep them happy in their heads and the constant movement maintains the suppleness in their bodies. I think it also helps to alleviate problems like gastric ulcers.

Why Horse Scout?

The horse sales side of it is clever but it’s also a very exciting equestrian initiative enabling industry networking at the highest level.
Interview by Sam Lewis

Find out more on Horse Scout

Do you know someone who deserves a powerful pat on the back? – RDA Nominations are now open


Nominations for the Riding For The Disabled Association 2015 Gala Awards are now OPEN

RDA Gala Awards 2015Nominate now to be part of the Gala Awards Wednesday 30 September 2015, The Long Room at Lords Cricket Ground, London

Tell us about the outstanding achievements of RDA participants, volunteers, horses and supporters. Send in your nominations using the forms below, to download just click on the link. There are two versions of each form, a Word document which can be filled in electronically and a PDF version for printing and submitting hand written nominations.

The six award categories are:

Volunteer of the Year – sponsored by Perkins Slade

Brilliant Idea – sponsored by Automotive Insulation

Business Partnership – sponsored by BETA

Most Improved Participant – sponsored by Childs Farm

Vet of the Year – sponsored by Merial Animal Health

Horse or Pony of the Year – sponsored by Snuggy Hoods

Guidance for Writing Citations

The closing date for nominations is 30 July 2015.

Awards will be presented by Clare Balding at the 2015 Gala Awards dinner at Lords Cricket Ground on Wednesday 30 September 2015.