Category Archives: Horse Advice

Important advice that can be applied across the equestrian sector, providing expert help and guidance on a selection of topics.

8 puissance

A History of the Puissance

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AGAINST THE WALL

A History of the Puissance

By Ellie Kelly, Horse Scout Team Press.

It is a leap of faith that requires the most extraordinary levels of trust between horse and human. If you have ever ridden down to a big fence you know that feeling- a mixture of excitement and adrenalin coupled with fear and trepidation. So jumping a 2.13m (7ft) wall whilst a crowd of thousands sit motionless, takes a certain kind of mind set, that of Horse Scout professionals!

The Puissance is one of the most famous and perhaps for spectators, the most exhilarating show jumping competitions in the world. It is always one of the first performances to sell out at the London International Horse Show where it traditionally takes place on Thursday evening. Olympia’s Puissance is one of the most famous and respected competitions worldwide and for this reason has attracted sponsorship from Porsche so it is now known at the Cayenne Puissance.

Essentially a high jump competition, the word “Puissance” was derived from the Anglo-French word meaning “power” which also reflects the requirements of a good Puissance horse, together with a large dose of pluck and trust in their rider.

Today’s Puissance competition is essentially the development of a horse high jump competition which began over one hundred years ago. Historical sources suggest that the event was contested once at the Olympic Games in 1900. Whilst the original version involved jumping a single, slightly sloping fence made from a hedge topped with timber rails, today the formula consists of “the wall” built of hollow red bricks made from wood. This is for safety reasons so that they tumble easily when the jump is knocked.

The World Record was set in 1991 when German Rider, Frank Sloothaak aboard Optiebeurs Golo, jumped 2.38m (7ft10 ins). Until that it was Nick Skelton who held the record which he achieved in 1978 when he and “Lastic” jumped 2.31m (7ft 7 ins) at Olympia. Nick still holds the Olympia Puissance record to this day. However records suggest that the record for the equestrian high jump stands at 2.46m (8ft 1ins) was achieved by Captain Alberto Larraguibel Morales in Chili, in 1949.

At The London International Horse Show,  the class involves a maximum of five rounds- the first round followed by four jump-offs. Accuracy, power and nerves of steel are key and there is certainly no room for even minute error for horse or rider, when jumping such colossal fences. There is always at least one other fence placed in the arena so riders jump a “warm-up” fence before coming to the great wall. The starting heights can vary and for the subsequent jump-offs, the jumps are raised for each round. The winner is of course the horse and rider who jumps that famous brick wall at the greatest height. In the event of equality after the fifth round, riders share first prize and sometimes riders choose to bow out gracefully whilst they are equal first and share top spot with their rivals. First prize is worth £20,000 so it is taken very seriously.

Show jumping’s most famous family- The Whitaker’s, have been particularly successful in this competition. John Whitaker holds the record for winning the most amount of Puissance’s at Olympia whilst his son Robert is a Puissance genius and holds the record for jumping the class bareback (without a saddle). Robert’s cousin Ellen Whitaker has been one of the most successful female Puissance competitors and her brother William holds the record for being the youngest winner of the Olympia Puissance.

Robert Whitaker has won over 20 Puissance competitions and 13 consecutively on the impressive chestnut Finbarr jumping over 2.26m (7ft 5)ins  on one occasion in Dublin. “To win any class at Olympia is fantastic but I think the Puissance is even more special.” Says Robert. “It’s a class the crowds love, Finbarr was particularly popular because he’s this big horse with an even bigger jump. Although he certainly had his own style and technique jumping that wall.”

Robert and his horse Waterstone hold the record for bare back puissance clearing just under 2.1m (7ft). “It was one of those occasions where everything just went to plan on the night as Waterstone had never jumped a puissance before or even practised at home” says Robert.

Image rights Horse and Hound

 

 


Olympia Horse Show

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Written by Ellie Kelly Horse Scout press

The greatest exhibition of horsemanship: Olympia Horse Show

Horses, champagne and shopping are three of my favourite things. It’s always a heady cocktail of all that with an extra helping of festive fever at The London International Horse Show. Did you know it remains the UK’s largest indoor horse show and around 3000 bottles of champagne are drunk each year?

Olympia always attracts leading riders but this year, the line-up is nothing short of orgasmic. SEVEN of the world’s top ten showjumpers, some of the GREATEST dressage riders of all time plus the current Driving WORLD CHAMPION. Then throw in some damn fine looking Chilean men doing crazy things on horseback and throng of flat and jump jockeys, most of whom are the most FAMOUS on the planet.

Christmas Jumpers

With more talent than your Aunt Roberta’s knitting skills, this year’s jumping entries will raise the roof. The British line-up includes Scott Brash, Ben Maher, leading British lady, Laura Renwick as well as John and Michael Whitaker who have almost a century’s worth of experience between them (ouch).

European challengers include former World No 1 Simon Delestre, current World No 3 and recent winner of the  Rolex IJRC Final, Kevin Staut, FEI World Cup winner Steve Guerdat, Olympic silver medallist Peder Fredricson and the effervescent Lorenzo de Luca who is always a favourite with the crowds.

Perfect piaffes and how to produce the next Valegro

Olympia would not be the same without indulging in the nations love affair with Carl and Charlotte. The pair have practically owned the place with their performances for years now. Whilst neither are competing in the FEI World Cup classes, they will be inspiring and motivating us with a Masterclass on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Wednesday Carl will be entertaining and educating on the process of making a Grand Prix horse with Charlotte as his guinea pig and at times the brunt of his wicked humour. It’s hot gossip that Charlotte will be bringing her FEI World Equestrian Games hopeful, Mount St John Freestyle for her Masterclass on Tuesday.

The FEI World Cup London leg is as hotly contested as ever. There is Patrick Kittel, Swedish Olympian and leader of the Western League, Dutch maestro, Edward Gal and the home team includes Hayley Watson-Greaves, Emile Faurie, Richard Davison, Gareth Hughes and Lara Butler.

Doing it for charity

The Markel Champions Challenge is all in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF). A cause close to most jockey’s hearts and some incredible jockeys go tête-à-tête in a relay show-jumping competition.

20-time Champion Jockey, Sir A P McCoy is coming out of retirement to lead the jump jockeys, in battle against the Flat jockeys led by none other than Frankie Dettori.  AP is not a man to rest on his laurels. “Last year, I watched from the side lines as my fellow jump jockeys got thrashed by Dettori’s boys. So this year I shall be picking my own team and shall be looking to the greats of the past to help me do this. Whilst we’ll be ultra-competitive, it’s all for such a great cause in the Injured Jockeys Fund.”

We all scream for Ex-treme

Hold your horses because once again, Olympia hosts three Driving competitions which has attracted some of the world’s best four-in-hand drivers. Thursday’s “Extreme Driving Top score” will warm up both the drivers and the spectators for the following two legs of the FEI World Cup.

As well as popular Ozzie and World champ Boyd Exell, British driver Dan Naprous will be staking a claim as will the most experienced and multi-medalled of any driver, Ijsbrand Chardon who has been at the top of the sport since the 80s.

 

All I want for Christmas…

Is an Animo show jacket, a Butet saddle and a Liberty Kelly poncho. With 225 shops embracing cutting edge fashion, bargain rugs and unique gifts, this place comes with a warning. Especially if you are anything like us and have hit the champagne bar beforehand. #shopresponsibly #tattinger

 

The Horse Scout Team will be at Olympia bringing news, views and inspiration.

 

Tickets to the London International Horse Show are still available for some performances and you can watch the best of dressage and show jumping action on the BBC.

https://www.olympiahorseshow.com/

 

 


NEW FEMALE TALENT FOR HORSE SCOUT: AMY MURPHY

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“There isn’t much life outside horses but I’ve never been one for shopping anyway” confesses racehorse trainer Amy Murphy. A familiar tale among Equestrians. Ellie Kelly caught up with Horse Scout’s latest advocate about racing dreams, being a woman in a man’s world and unhealthy eating habits.

At 24 years, many young people are still working out what to do with their life but Amy Murphy was already making waves in the racing world. Last August she gained her trainer’s license, departed from the security of a job as Assistant Trainer and set up a race yard, becoming the youngest trainer in Britain.  Her first season got off to a phenomenal start with nine winners and 12 placings from just 30 runners.

Amy Murphy Racing

Training racehorses was the dream from her early pony-mad childhood days. “I was in the Pony Club and did a lot of hunting but I was bitten by the racing bug” Amy explains. I started riding out for local trainers at 15 years old and I became fascinated by the training, buying, management and everything else involved in the industry. I loved the perfectionism and attention to minor details that could be the difference to winning or losing. So I decided that is what I wanted to do.”

Amy’s racing pedigree is excellent- her father Paul is a highly regarded breeder of Flat and National Hunt horses and she grew up on Whychnor Park Stud in Staffordshire deeply entrenched in the world of racing. “Whenever dad had a runner I was always sick that day so I could go to the races,” Murphy laughs. “But Dad was clear with me and told me that I had to get an education before I went into racing.”

Amy Murphy Racing

This started at Hartpury College where Amy completed a course in Equine Science. On finishing here she went straight into getting practical experience. ”I wanted to learn from the best” she says. This included a job with trainer Tom Dascombe before a winter spent in Sydney with leading female trainer Gai Waterhouse. On her return, Amy was then offered an enviable position as Assistant Trainer to Luca Cumani, arguably one of the best flat trainers in the world. This was followed by a stint with one of the best known National Hunt trainers, Nicky Henderson.

After less than a year training from her base Hamilton Stables in Newmarket, Amy has already amassed 27 horses with 12 owners- a mix of Flat and National Hunt horses. These include a Middle Eastern Royalty and Amy is just setting up an affordable racing club “so people can enjoy the social side without huge outlay” she explains. “It’s a small operation at the moment but my dream is to get the business off the ground and eventually be a big trainer with 100 horses” she says “In the short term it’s about keeping my horses healthy and fit”.

And being a woman in a heavily male dominated world? “It just makes me more determined” she states. “It’s certainly never put me off. Although racing is changing and woman are proving they can do it, both as trainers and jockeys.”

Amy Murphy Racing

A typical day starts around 5am and finishes around 6pm and Amy rides out on the gallops with the other stable staff. Unsurprisingly, Amy’s year round season allows for few days off. “It’s seven days a week most of the time but I take the odd Sunday off, which I like to spend with my family” she says.

As well as training and overseeing the day-to-day running of the yard, Amy deals with much of the admin and promoting the business. “Horse Scout will be a great asset to my business in terms of marketing and building up my network” she says.

LAST BOOK YOU READ- AP McCoy’s Autobiography.

HOW DO YOU START YOUR DAY- A Coffee with lots of sugar.

GUILTY PLEASURE- Galaxy chocolate. WHAT COULD YOU NOT

LIVE WITHOUT- My Labrador puppy, Milo.

BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR CAREER SO FAR- There are so many! Obviously all the trainers I have worked for but also my Dad, Paul Murphy. He has been a real mentor, particularly on the business side.

PHILOSPOHY-  You never stop learning. Anywhere I go, I walk in with open eyes.

To find out more about Amy Murphy or her racing club visit www.amymurphyracing.com

Amy Murphy Racing

 

 


PREPARING FOR BADMINTON: EXCLUSIVE INSIGHT

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Horse Scout catches up with two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech, to find out what the month prior to riding at Badminton involves.

 

Most event riders grow up dreaming of riding at the prestigious Badminton Horse Trials, based in the heart of the Cotswolds. It takes years, sometimes decades of training and hard graft to reach the required 4* level and earn those elusive FEI points to be applicable to enter.

Horse Scout asks two of their sponsored riders, Joseph Murphy and Gubby Leech to provide insight into the one month leading up to the big event.

 

The horse’s training

Joseph Murphy, Irish Olympic event rider, is entered to ride Sportsfield Othello, a 16 year old gelding by Ricardo Z and out of Moyview Lady and co-owned with the brilliantly supportive Alison Schmutz.

Joseph explained that the first two weeks of April are focused on reaching the horse’s fitness goals with a mixture of galloping and swimming to build cardiovascular fitness and stamina. He gallops ‘Frankie’ every 3rd and 5th day followed by a swim and always icing the legs afterwards to reduce inflammation and prevent injury. In fact, Joseph ices the legs of all his horses after they are ridden each day. This fortnight is a ‘scary time for injuries’ said Joseph, and when you would look to do any necessary veterinary work to ensure the horse is in optimal condition.

This intense fitness work will then taper right down and the last two weeks of April focus on technical training, practising dressage movements from the test, agility jumping and specific exercises to fine tune the horse.

jm2

Gubby Leech, British 4* event rider, is entered on Antoinette Denham-Harding’s 12 year old ISH gelding Xavier, by Clover Echo and out of Knightfield Sally.

Gubby is based at the quiet and beautiful Clarendon Park Estate in Wiltshire. He does all his fitness training on the forgiving old turf in the grounds of the estate. There is a perfectly steep hill that Gubby does repetitions galloping up and letting Xavier rest on the way down. They do fitness work every four days and will have their last gallop on the Saturday before Badminton week, with a ‘pipe opener’ after dressage on the Friday afternoon. Gubby said ‘Xavier is a strong and electric horse’ so he puts a lot of work into him to keep the extra fizz to a minimum! The technical training involves weekly dressage training with Lizzie Murray throughout April and showjumping training with William Fox-Pitt. Xavier is a keen horse in the ring, sometimes making up too much ground in combinations. Practising grid exercises at home helps him to shorten his stride in doubles and trebles, especially if the course builder likes to use short distances.

gubby2

The horse’s well-being

Joseph will turn ‘Frankie’ out every day on his own so he can have a pick of grass, relax and feel the sun on his back. Joseph chooses not to put protective boots on when turning Frankie out because he tends to be sensible in the field and he would rather keep the legs cool. Regular massages and some physiotherapy throughout April also help get Frankie in the best physical condition possible.

Gubby entrusts the multi-skilled Sue Devereux to keep Xavier in good condition. Sue is an equine vet, chiropractor and acupuncturist who will treat Xavier 2-3 times this April using a variety of techniques. In the stable, Xavier wears a magnetic rug and magnetic boots to optimise blood flow and recovery. He is turned out ‘bootless’ from the time he is ridden in the morning until 8pm when the horses get late feeds. This turnout time helps Xavier chill out and unwind.

Feeding

Joseph is very intuitive and he judges visually and by the feel of the horses on whether their feed needs increasing or decreasing. He monitors each horse closely to ensure it is fed the right mix of hard feed, haylage and supplements. Joseph slightly increases the feed on Frankie’s hardest days of work. Two weeks before Badminton Frankie’s feed regime will be set and won’t change leading up to the event. Joseph uses top quality feeds, Mervue supplements and he brings his own haylage over to Badminton from his base in Northern Ireland.

Like Joseph, Gubby also uses quality supplements to support the nutritional requirements of his horses.  Gubby uses an organic lucerne which is soaked first and helps keep Xavier hydrated, in addition to using high quality linseed, a balancer and electrolytes. Xavier receives 3 feeds a day whilst having his weight, condition and energy closely monitored. He can very quickly go off his food at competitions so it is a fine art making sure he gets what he needs!

jm3

Rider Fitness

Joseph rides all day long from the moment he wakes to the end of the day. He regularly competes 5 horses a day, even at Intermediate and Advanced level, meaning he is extremely fit from his time in the saddle. However, Joseph does extra core stability exercises to help improve his position, balance, core and overall fitness. He is following a 6 week core stability programme and he does the exercises before bed. Did you ever wonder what gives Andrew Nicholson, otherwise known as ‘Mr Stickability’ his amazingly secure seat? The answer is having a rock solid core.

Gubby is in the saddle riding horses back to back all day until the moment he gets home. Having two young children means most of his evening is spent overseeing bath-time and coaxing them to go to sleep! Gubby focuses on eating as healthy as possible, cutting out sugar and only has the occasional drink at special occasions, in order to maintain his perfect competition weight. His wife Sarah is an organic girl so the family gets fed very well!

 

Rider Mindset

Gubby has previously entered Badminton twice but sadly had to withdraw the horses before the event on both occasions. Combining this with a good Burghley experience in 2016 for this duo, Gubby feels ready. He is ‘in a good space, riding well and has a good partnership’ with his ride, Xavier.

gubby

Increasingly, top athletes are using Sports Psychologists to help give them the competitive edge. People talk about ‘marginal gains’ and this simply means that if you have a group of athletes, in this case riders, who are all equally talented on paper with equally talented horses, the rider who wins is the person who performs best on the day. Good sleep and being well rested, thriving under pressure, feeling confident, and focusing only on your performance and not worrying about those around you, are all factors that determine a rider’s overall performance. Doing these things well can make all the difference.

Joseph works with Charlie Unwin, Olympic Performance Psychologist across five sports. Since working with Charlie at the start of 2017, Joseph has been out winning most weekends this season and has never looked better! The work with Charlie helps Joseph to focus on what matters most when it comes to performance and to successfully block out all other distractions.

Horse Scout would like to thank Joseph and Gubby for sharing some of their practises and we wish them the best of luck for May! We look forward to an exciting four days of competition and wait in anticipation to see the new cross country course designed by Eric Winter. Only one question remains- who will be holding the famous Badminton trophy come Sunday afternoon?

 

Are you a member of Horse Scout yet? Sign up now for FREE www.horsescout.com

 

 


Why You Should Consider Horse Shopping in Ireland

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Contrary to belief, a day out horse shopping in Ireland can be a fun and highly cost-effective way to view a multitude of extremely well bred, potential and proven, Irish competition horses in a short space of time.

Within an hour of Dublin airport, you will find several highly reputable breeders, producers and competition yards with quality stock for sale at sensible prices.  Ireland is renowned for many things but breeding great horses and making Guinness easily come top of the list.

Next time you are looking for your next competition horse, consider a quick day trip to Ireland instead of planning several long drives around England and Scotland to view individual horses. Why not view 6-8 horses in one day to find the horse of your dreams?

Equally, if you’re looking to buy more than one horse, you could plan a weekend trip in order to visit a few big yards. Some breeders and producers will offer overnight hospitality so you’ll leave Ireland having made new friends as well as buying new horses to add to your current string.

If you want to set your pulse racing then you should visit one of the many esteemed sports horse sales in Ireland. The atmosphere was electric at Goresbridge Go For Gold and the Supreme Sale of Showjumpers in November, and I have no doubt the horses they sold will be gracing the top of the leader boards in the very near future.

 

How To Get There

The cheapest and quickest way of getting to Ireland is typically by aeroplane; flights from most regional airports start from just £18! No need to pack a good book as you’ll be landing before you know it; the flight takes approximately one hour. Most Irish breeders help arrange pick up from the airport or will collect you in person.

Ferry is another option and costs range from £50-£180 depending on how far in advance you book and what date you travel on. The ferry isn’t the quickest or cheapest means of getting to Ireland but having your own car does mean you can drive around Ireland at your own leisure and travel further afield to view horses.

Travelling by train is the third option with return tickets from your own local train station starting at approximately £78.

 

Three Quality Irish-Based Horses For Sale on Horse Scout

stafford

1.35m Perfect Young Rider HorseISH Bay Mare rising 8 years 16.1 hands.  Grade A mare with 375 points. She has multiple wins and placings at 1.30m – 1.35m level. She jumped clear in the Hankook 6/7 year old Grand final at Cavan Indoor Championships September 2016. She is a serious speed horse and tries her heart out in the ring. Would be a top horse for a competitive young rider or experienced amateur.

 

kaynolan

Super Rising 7YO CIC* Event HorseBeautiful grey ISH mare 17hh rising 7 years old by Carrick Diamond Lad. Placed 2nd as Reserve Champion at Dressage Ireland 4yr old Championships 2014.  Won at BE100, placed 2nd at Tullymurray CNC* – only her second ever 1* event.  6 Eventing Ireland points, 32 Dressage points. She would suit a competitive amateur rider or a professional to realise her full potential as she has been bred and produced to go all the way.

 

cat

Excellent 1.40m showjumper: Talented and experienced mare that has competed up to 1.40m level successfully in Ireland as an 8 yo. This big scopey mare has a good canter and a brilliant attitude in front of her fences. Proven to be brave and careful over her fences and should go on to jump even bigger tracks. Suitable ride for either amateur or professional rider.

 


Horses for sale this winter

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Horse Scout’s advice for buying horses this winter.

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Winter proves a perfect time for the acquisition of new horses for sale for Horse Scout riding professionals. This contrasts  first time and novice buyers ideal time of year to purchase a new horse unless they have a professional support system in place.

Professional yards overcome the difficulties of riding through the winter months with greater ease than the amateur home.  There is a tendency for better facilities: walkers, staff, lunge pens, structured daily routines, which undoubtably  enable professionals to slot any new horses into their set up with greater ease than smaller private homes.

The Horse Scout Team have found that all too often, first time and novice buyers encounter a negative experience with a new horse through the winter months. Contributing factors range from common and understandable mistakes such as: over feeding, unnecessary clipping out for aesthetics versus logic, poor warm-up options / lack of training support and poor turn out routines.

The  inability to maintain necessary work levels, (or that which the previous home and rider was able to facilitate) tends to be paramount. If you or your friends are having any concerns, we would recommend a winter livery option with a proven professional yard that works within the same discipline you have purchased your horse for.

International Event Rider and Hampshire based trainer Lucienne Elms confirms the relevance for a patient approach, especially with the youngsters or novice rider. “I always give the young horses the chance to relax and warm up on the lunge long and low,  with a loose set of side reins for 10-15mins over the winter. Especially if they have had a day off, it keeps their brains ‘on side’ as they are able to then relax and concentrate when my clients or I get back in the saddle. In my experience horses are two things: memory and instinct. It takes months, even years to train them; but seconds to form an unnecessary habit or bad experience. Clients being bucked off onto frozen ground is never something I want to hear, and when selling its always best to be honest about the ‘quirks’ or needs of the animals, that way these problems can be avoided. Prevention is better than cure!

Horse Scout Team would recommend when buying a horse for sale, it is always best to take a professional with you, ideally one that knows you, and your riding ability, to support your selection process and reduce the chance of being victimised by a sharp or underworked horse over the winter months.


this photograph was taken by Blackhearts imagery and will be replaced with one supplied by the rider if there are objections to this image.

Ibby Macpherson on Equine Hydro Therapy

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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.

louise_anne_bell_champion_working_hunter_producer_talks_to_horse_scout

Louise Anne Bell – Competes For Britain

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Louise Anne Bell - International dressage rider and working hunter champion 

Banbury, Oxfordshire

Not content with winning the Supreme Working Hunter Champion title 15 times at the Royal International Horse Show, Louise Bell turned her focus to dressage four years ago and now competes for Great Britain.

How did you get involved with working hunter classes?

I was around 17 and into eventing when I started to work for Daphne Wyatt who was into showing. Eventing was expensive and I discovered that I found showing easier and could be successful — I actually produced a horse of hers which she sold on and it went on to become Junior European champion!

What advice would you give to someone trying to make a similar transition?

Come to someone like me for help rather than muddle your way through! And make sure you have a quality horse — one that’s nearly a good flat show horse but has a good enough jump for a working hunter show class.

Any tips to impress the judges?

In showing, as the round isn’t timed you don’t need to jump a course quickly. You want to ride a rhythmical, flowing clear round that’s also stylish — and your horse must ride for a stranger. Be confident, stay focussed and walk your course as you would ride it.

Do you favour any specific bits or tack?

In showing you can use any number of bits, it doesn’t matter, just use what’s best for the horse.

How did you get into dressage?

I’ve always loved flatwork that’s why my show horses go so well. So when Horse & Hound asked me to take part in a swapping discipline challenge with Michael Eilberg I was really keen. But I soon discovered that dressage is a huge undertaking and I had to accept that I didn’t know anything and start from scratch.

What was the most difficult part of dressage for you personally?

Establishing the contact. In showing we want the lightest contact — as a lot of judges who get on won’t pick up a contact your horses have to go well without it. But I soon learnt that in order to get a horse engaged and going correctly you need a good contact. I went through phases of my contact being too strong and now it’s much lighter again. You have to learn how to use your body and your hands independently. It’s so difficult but awesome once you get it.

You must enjoy it — and are clearly good at it — as you made your small tour debut just two years after the challenge?

I get as much buzz out of dressage as jumping, if not more, and love doing things such as one-time changes. I guess I’m addicted to the training and the special bond it creates, probably because of the hours you have to put in! There’s so much attention to detail in everything that you do with dressage — the horse has to understand you in every way. It’s so intense.

Louise Anne Bell how did your two star working hunters — W Get Smart and Into the Blue — take to the transition to dressage?

I’ve had Into the Blue (Dynamo) since he was three and he’s now 10. He is adorable but demanding — a bit of a pre-madonna and very opinionated. Dynamo found dressage very hard at the start as he’s very spooky… As he finds everything a little too easy, I have to challenge his mind in ways not to indulge his spook! But once he has understood something he will try and please you… and maybe pop in a spook after! He loves one time changes, piaffe, and passage.

So he’s clearly doing well…

Yes… he’s now getting 70% at Inter 2 (and has qualified for nationals at Inter 2), is competing at PSG and will compete at Grand Prix in the autumn.

He won his first advanced at Hartpury few years ago, was second in Valencia and third in Saumur this year (medium tour) and fourth in Barcelona and Mallorca last year (small tour).

And W Get Smart?

He’s the 13-year-old Dutch-bred son of Pythagoras and out of a KWPN mare called Hester whose grandfather is Blakeney, a TB racehorse… He’s a real pleaser, but he sometimes takes control and being nearly 18 hands you can understand why he should really belong to a guy!

He found taking on dressage very easy winning both regional champs and winter champs in medium and advanced medium, but keeping him in self carriage is hard for me although he’s getting very good at it now — the advanced work in piaffe passage has helped him massively.

He’s currently not far behind Into the Blue and competing at Inter 2, coming ninth in Deauville recently.

Do you have any other horses?

I also have another young horse, Zack-ki Rosenlund, who is seven years old. He’s dressage bred but has jumping lines on mother side (Landgraf). I’m hoping he’ll do PSG next year small tour.

So you’re clearly more of a dressage rider than working hunter girl now?

I devote most of my time to dressage but I’m still a part time working hunter rider. My working hunter Catch the Beaver has now qualified for HOYs in the working hunters and recently won me my tenth National Supreme Working Hunter Championship, following in the great footsteps of my legends of the past — Rocky IV, Out of Sight, Cruise C and Cracker — who also won this title on more than one occasion.

You clearly have an eye for a good horse. What do you look for? (when buying a horse)

Temperament, but it’s also got to have presence…. a ‘look at me’ element.

The rest I can work on. It’s also got to have a great walk and great canter.

Any favourite dressage bloodlines?

No. Into the blue is jumping bred (by John Whitaker).

Who do you train dressage with now?

Michael Eilberg once a week. He jumped before he got into dressage so he’s understood me as a rider from day one.

What tips did he give you?

Listen… and do what i say!

And your ultimate goal?

Tokyo 2020. I can’t win medal in working hunter so maybe it’s meant to be dressage.

And why an ambassador for Horse Scout?

It’s a classy website with detailed information on horses and riders. It’s also a fantastic tool for us riders to get our work seen by the public and also great for transparency for buying and selling top quality horses.

Interview by Sam Lewis for Horse Scout

Find out more about Horse Scout Ambassador Louise Anne Bell

Get the most recent updates on Louise Anne Bell and find out more about opportunities to buy her horses and support her as a rider on Horse Scout profile pages for professional coaches, trainers and riders by using this link . 

 

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Abi Hutton - Senior Instructor and Rider 
Talland School of Equitation

Abigail Hutton – International Dressage Rider

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Abigail Hutton, International Dressage Rider based in Oxfordshire

Since arriving at Talland in 2009, Abigail’s rapid rise in the world of dressage has been nothing short of impressive. Here she talks to Horse Scout about her goals and tips for keeping competitive horses happy.

When did you start to ride competitively?

I come from a non-horsey family and I was happy hacker until I was about 23 when I went to work for a show jumper in Ireland. I had always been interested in dressage and in 2009 my life changed when Pammy Hutton offered me a scholarship to be a working pupil at The Talland School of Equitation in Gloucestershire.

So that’s where you met your husband Charlie Hutton, Pammy’s son?

Yes, I arrived on a Sunday and met Charlie on the Tuesday and that was that!

How difficult did you find the transition to dressage and did Charlie help?

I had to play catch up and was given a schoolmistress, Amo, to start out competing at medium advanced! I had some crap scores, but some good ones too, and eventually rode Amo to Inter 2 and in two regional championships. That opened up the doors to take on more rides.
Charlie is a huge help and I train frequently with him — he is brutally honest with me!

Do you train with anyone else?

I have regular sessions with Carl Hester and sometimes with my mother-in-law Pammy Hutton.

What do you struggle with most?

I guess I struggled with my seat and posture as I hadn’t ridden from a young age and i’m a natural sloucher. Putting your neck in back collar really makes you sit up. Also, I had a long battle with competition nerves and I just found that just going out more and more really helped. I’m going to start pilates too.
What are your career highlights over the last year or so?
I’ve ridden at three National Championships and represented Ireland at Hartpury, Hickstead and Saumur CDIs in 2015. I also placed in the top five at Hickstead International with Armagnac and had a win at Keysoe Premier League with my young horse, Giraldo, owned by Lotty Chatterton.

Tell us about your other top horses?

I have another 12-year-old horse called Don Dino, a 17.1hh Hanovarian gelding, which belonged to Charlie but as he has kissing spine the vet suggested he should have a lighter rider. He’s really talented and we have qualified for the Nationals at advanced medium.
Then there’s Starlet Blue, a nine-year-old mare owned by Judy Peploe. She’s premium graded in Germany but very inexperienced so we’re competing at novice and elementary.
I also ride Giraldo, a really special five-year-old gelding owned by Lotty Chatterton.   I’m off to Hickstead young horse champs with him (national and international class). He has been getting 80% scores and has a really amazing big uphill balanced canter and is really adjustable. And his brain and attitude… I’ve never known anything like it — he just loves to work!

What tips would you give to other riders?

Train hard but don’t take it too seriously — it has to be fun.
Most riders put too much pressure on themselves and their horses but that can make things worse. If you get a bad mark, it can only get better! And if you’re having a bad day when you’re schooling, just go for a canter.

What are your goals?

To keep riding for a living, have happy horses and have fun.
Of course I’d also like to win a national title, go on international big tour and ultimately ride for the Irish team at the Olympics.

Any tips to help keep horses sound and happy?

Horses thrive on routine but don’t be afraid to experiment. Some of my horses do a couple of days dressage, then a hack on Wednesday, then dressage again and have the weekend off. Others have a jump day or a canter day in the middle and Dino only does dressage twice a week — he hacks and canters the rest.
Be patient and take note of what makes your horse feel the best, but don’t worry about breaking it every once in a while — sometimes routine may alter for a show so you need to be relaxed about it!
I’m also a serious fan of getting your stirrups up and working in a light seat to get your horse forward and loose in the back — it’s also great fun! Dressage horses are being bred with so much power and energy now, I think you have to be up for a bit of adrenaline to keep them fresh in their minds and entertained. I also take Giraldo to the water treadmill once a week. (see our blog about Hydrotherapy)

Why Horse Scout?

It looks professional and is it’s clever how horses and riders connect and how you can see the history of a horse and who used to ride it. I also like the fact that there are some great horses for sale but many at realistic prices.

images provided by Judy Peploe

Find out more about Abigail Hutton on Horse Scout

Abi Hutton has a profile on Horse Scouts’ Professional Rider Pages which goes into detail about her career and what she can offer you.  It also has some lovely photos; click through and follow Abigail Hutton on Horse Scout.

 


Five facts about a snaffle: There’s no hiding away from the effect of the bit in your horses mouth.

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Bitting your horse is not to be taken lightly.  It is really important to understand how a bit functions in your horses mouth.  Lets start simple with snaffles.

Horse Scout Blogger was watching some babies out on their first competitive outing yesterday…. I love it, all starey eyed and long legs!! (well some of them anyway). This got me to thinking about the snaffle, and all its variations.  When you go into a tack shop and that multitude of variation set before you. An Aladdin’s cave; but only if you know what you are looking for and why. Knowing how the snaffle bit works is helpful in developing effective rein aids, and avoid either being ineffectual or too hard on your horse’s mouth. Although the basic action of most snaffle bits is the same, it sometimes takes trying a few different bits to find one your horse is comfortable with. After riding my mare in a French Link and finding her fussing with the bit, I changed to the loose ring, which was lighter, and seemed to be much more comfortable for her. Sometimes choosing the right bit, even if you are choosing among snaffles can take a bit of time.

1. Snaffle Basics

A snaffle bit has a straight or jointed mouthpiece with rings on each end of the mouthpiece. There are many different types of snaffle bits. However, the basic structure is the same for all, and the basic action in the horse’s mouth is very similar, with some subtle modifications. The snaffle bit is regarded as a relatively mild bit. The addition of variations can make it much harsher.

When the reins are pulled, pressure is applied to the area of the gums that have no teeth called the bars of the mouth. This gap is between the front teeth that crop grass, and the back teeth, that grind the food. A properly fitting bit sits comfortably within this gap, just forward of the grinding teeth. Occasionally, a horse will have problems carrying a bit comfortably this can be from small teeth called wolf teeth which may have to be removed.

2. How the Horse Reacts to the Signals

The simple snaffle applies pressure to the bars of the horse’s mouth. There is no pressure anywhere else on the horse’s head and no leverage comes into play as it does with a curbed bit or lever action (gag). When you pull straight back, the horse will understand that equal pressure on both sides of its mouth means to stop. A pull to the right, that applies pressure on the right bar, means turn to the right and a pull to the left, of course, means turn left. As you learn to refine your rein aids, combining them with using your seat and leg aids, you will learn to cue your horse for things like leg yields, half-passes, lead changes, changes of gait and other more advanced riding skills. While at first you may be simply ‘pulling’ the reins, you will in a short time learn to give much more subtle signals that can be felt by the horse, but are almost imperceptible to the average observer.

3. The Function of Bit Rings

The rings on a snaffle may be D shaped or have small piece sticking up or down like a full cheek snaffle and Fulmer snaffle. The rings may slide or they may be fixed to the mouthpiece. The shafts perpendicular to the mouthpiece on full cheek and driving bits prevent the bit from slipping through the horse’s mouth. Large leather or rubber type discs can be used to keep bit from chaffing the sides of the horse’s mouth as well. The rings can effect the weight of the bit and prevent the bit from pulling sideways through the horse’s mouth.

4. How Mouthpieces Differ

Bits with jointed mouthpieces will have a nutcracker effect, while straight mouthpieces spread the pressure evenly over tongue and bars. An egg butt snaffle will have oval rings, and the mouth piece will get thicker as it approaches the rings. These bits are amongst the most mild, because they distribute the pressure of the rein aid over a wider area of the bars. Generally the thicker the mouthpiece the milder the bit. However a horse with a large tongue or low palate might be uncomfortable in a bit with a thick mouthpiece. The French link is considered the mildest jointed snaffle. The Dr. Bristol, although it looks very similar, is much more severe, because of the way the plate in the middle of the bit lays in constant contact with the tongue—either flat or on an angle, depending on how the rider attaches the bit to the bridle.

5. Variety

Snaffles can be hollow to reduce weight, flexible, twisted, jointed with one or more links, have keys or rollers, be squared or oval, or have any combination of shapes and joints. Mullen mouth bits are the same width from end to end. Wire bits are quite thin and wire wrapped bits add to the sharpness of the pressure on the bars of the mouth. All of these variations are intended to enhance the rein aids. Different metals and material can be used to encourage the horse to accept the bit for its taste or encourage salivation. Copper, sweet iron, vulcanite and other synthetics can be used. Some bits, often used for teaching a young horse to hold the bit, are flavored.

Snaffles are often the first bit a horse will carry. Many will be ridden throughout their entire lives with a snaffle bit.