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International Eventing Forum Preview

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International Eventing Forum Preview


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This goes out to all the eventing enthusiasts amongst  our thousands of members, here’s a date for your diary. That is if it’s not etched in your diary already.

When: Monday 5th February

What: The 2018 edition of the International Eventing Forum

Where: Hartpury College, Equine Centre

Once again, Hartpury College will open its state of the art facilities to eventing enthusiasts from Grassroots to 4* level. This year promises an all-star line up of riders, trainers and performance experts. There will be four key speakers throughout the day and in some cases, demonstrations involving well known riders. After each of the four sessions, there will be a chance for the audience to ask questions.

Sandy Phillips kicks off proceedings at 10 am with a focus on eventing dressage and reveals what the judge is really looking for. As a member of the US Olympic dressage team, Sandy competed in three World Championships. When she moved to England and married Captain Mark Phillips, she rode for the British team at the Europeans and the World Championships. Now she flies around the world as an FEI 3* and 4* Judge for Eventing and Fei4* Judge for dressage.

Eric Smiley will be discussing how the sport has changed and might progress in the future. Eric who competed for the Irish team and at many 4*’s, is also one of the founders of the IEF. With an FBHS after his name, he is one of the most highly qualified trainers in the eventing circle.

After lunch and a chance to network and gossip with your fellow eventing anoraks, Performance Psychologist, Charlie Unwin will take to the stage. Charlie will be highlighting the importance of mind management and explaining how we can train our minds to improve our performance, even under the pressure of a competition environment. You can discover more about what Charlie does in our blog: Mind Games.

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Frederik Bergendorff rounds off the forum, with a talk on “Preparing for the Top”. Frederik is the new Swedish Event Team manager and coach who helped his team to a bronze medal at the 2017 Europeans in Poland.

Tickets are cheaper to buy in advance but there will be some reserved for on the door. Prices start at just £45 for the whole day.

http://www.internationaleventingforum.com/2018-theme/tickets/

Written By Ellie Kelly

Horses for sale are sold correctly with Horse Scout

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Making sure your horses for sale are sold correctly with Horse Scout

The majority of us who have ever sold a horse will have experienced tyre kickers, joy riders, greedy agents and trainers with their own agenda. Then there are the international scammers who want to buy the horse from a video without questions- just send all your bank details to that man in Nigeria. It is these individuals who make the selling process an unpleasant experience.

The Legal aspect

Unfortunately when you come to sell a horse, whether you have owned it for a decade or a week you do not have many legal rights and buyers know this. If you are a commercial set up, individual or professional rider who has put expenses for horses through the books, then that makes you a dealer.  It makes no difference if you have owned the horse for years and are selling at a loss.

From a legal point of view, horses are considered as goods. Therefore the jurisdiction relating to the sale of goods applies to them. The law provides people buying from a dealer, significantly more protection than it does as against a private seller.

When someone buys from a seller acting in the course of their business, section 14 of the Sales of Goods Act 1979 will impose terms into the agreement for sale, such as that the horse is of satisfactory quality and fit for the purpose it is being bought for. What this means is that the purchaser has the right to annul the contract and return the horse if it is not in compliance with these terms. For example, if the horse has a behavioural problem that was present prior to the date of purchase, which the buyer only discover after the sale. The buyer is then entitled to a full refund and it is even up to the seller to pick the horse up at their own expense.

However, in the words of an world renowned and highly regarded horse dealer (who shall remain nameless) “you sell the horse not the rider”. Meaning that horses can be ruined very quickly by an unsuitable rider. The good news is that the seller does have some legal rights in this event.

The law regards the purchase of a horse as being the purchase of an unknown quantity. They call it “caveat emptor”, essentially meaning “buyer beware”. So the buyer is responsible for examining the horses thoroughly for suitability and quality before handing over any money. An agreement for the sale of a horse depends both on “express terms”- those specifically agreed between the parties and “implied terms”, which are the conditions implied by the law.

So if you are looking to sell a horse, we have come up with our tips on how to make the process as pain-free as possible. Some may seem obvious but we would hate to say “I told you so”.

  • Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy. If you want to establish and keep a good reputation, it’s never worth deceiving people. We are probably all fools for buying a horse in the first place but not many of us are as ignorant as we may seem, we do our due diligence and insincerity will always come back to haunt you. The horse world is a bitchy place and a hive of gossip and slander- a bad horse is not worth a lifetime of abuse. Remember as a horse seller, many buyers think of you as about as trustworthy as a used car salesman. So surprise them by being totally upfront about a horse’s weaknesses, imperfections and history. It’s a win-win situation and reverse psychology can be an effective tool.
  • Sell quality, correctly produced horses. Quality always sells and usually quickly, meaning less overheads. If you limit yourself to more quality than quantity, you will secure a solid reputation in the industry and have people banging down the door trying to buy your horses. Something ridden with pleasure, is seldom made without effort. You cannot make a Grand Prix dressage horse in two months but train him to stand still when the rider mounts, to load easily and jump around a course without head-butting the rider.

Resist buying it in the first place, solely because it is cheap. Find something desirable that preferably ticks the three boxes- temperament, talent and conformation.

If you do end up with a bad one, consider whether it is worth the effort of trying to make it a good horse. There are other dealers out there who won’t ask the questions and care less about their own reputation.

 

  • Lame horses lose time and money. This goes hand in hand with honesty. If you know it is not 100% on a circle then the vet examining it, certainly will and that just makes you look a fool. There are buyers out there, brave enough to take a punt so if the horse cannot be given time to recover, drop the price and be upfront.

 

  • Market your product. Buyers are unlikely to be convinced to come and look at a horse with blurred iPhone photos and a video filmed from 200 metres away. It can take time to make a horse presentable and make him stand square but it is worth it in the end, whatever the value. So lose the shabby pink headcollar and the muddy legs. Stand him on level ground and throw a few carrots in the air to make him smile for the camera. It’s like internet dating- first impressions do matter!

 

  • The skill of advert descriptions. Make it comprehensive but concise. Imagine you are a journalist or marketeer and try and hook your audience with the opening paragraph. Height, age, sex, purpose and a few buzz words to sum up temperament, looks or ability eg unbelievable scope, wow paces, ultimate schoolmaster. It won’t work on everyone but it helps if you seem positive and excited about the horse you are selling.

 

  • Price appropriately. If you really want to sell, ask a fair price for what the horse is worth today, not what it will be worth in three months’ time after intensive schooling and three wins under it’s belt. When working out price, consider the obvious- the horse’s age, history of soundness, level of training, rideability but also the time of year and your location. It is no myth that the same sound competition horse will command a higher price in affluent part of the country which is easily accessible, than it would if it was based on the North coast of Scotland. Remember everyone likes to feel they are getting a bit of a deal, so be prepared to take something off the asking price. On the other side of the coin (excuse the pun), too cheap will sound alarm bells.

 

  • Realism saves time. Ask the buyer early on, what they are looking for and an honest appraisal of their riding ability. Take a written note of this, it may be useful if you ever get caught in a legal battle over the unsuitability of a horse. Evaluate from their description, their background and their riding as to whether this horse will cope with the partnership. Measure your horse’s height with a real stick rather than relying on what it says in the passport, estimated when it was a yearling.

 

  • Be courteous and prompt Even with suspected time wasters. Respond within 24 hours, even if you cut and paste a ready-made “template”, including video links. Serious buyers will usually pick up the phone first but the downside of living in a digital age is that many people are almost scared of picking up the phone. Keep all prospective buyers in the loop about a horse’s status eg just won a British Novice, still for sale etc. Even if they decide your horse is not for them, be polite and wish them the best of luck in their search. They may end up coming back another time if they enjoyed dealing with you. Or if you know someone selling a horse which may be more suitable, it is always worth sharing. They are more likely to return the favour.

 

Testimonials

“We’ve used Horse Scout for selling horses and I have also been to see horses to buy. There is always a huge selection and you can target exactly what you are looking for.” – Emily King FEI 4* Event Rider. 

“We have advertised multiple horses with Horse Scout and have sold horses quickly and efficiently. We find that responders to the Horse Scout advertisements are genuine and knowledgable horse people which makes advertising with Horse Scout very appealing because you know the horses are going to capable caring homes. The personalised service Hannah and her team provide makes advertising quality horses easy” Alex and Suze Peternell International Event Rider

“I have been using horse scout for the past 8 months. It is a fantastic contribution to the successful running of my business. Easy to use, great service from Hannah. I would recommend to anyone.” Dan Sibley International Event Rider 

 

Written by Ellie Kelly

Photography credits to Libby Law

Emily King’s training trip to Marcus Ehning

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Emily King February 2016-1193

 

Emily King – My trip to Marcus Ehning

At just 21 Emily King has already made a strong impression on the Equestrian world. She entered her first BE event at the age of 12 and from the age of 15 was a regular member of British Junior and Young Rider Teams. Emily won individual silver at the Junior Europeans in 2012, the same year her mother won eventing team silver at the London Olympics and made her CCI4* debut in 2015, finishing fourth with Brookleigh, at the tender age of 19.

Horse Scout are lucky enough to have Emily on board as an advocate. Ellie Kelly caught up with the gutsy blonde, shortly after her return from time spent with German show jumping champion Marcus Ehning, who helped Germany win team gold at the Sydney Olympics and the World Equestrian Games in 2010. He has made it to the top of the FEI Longines World rankings and has partnered great horses such as For Pleasure, Plot Blue and Comme Il Faut.

“I’ve always admired Marcus as a rider and after I left school at 16 to focus on eventing, I have been away training at different yards every winter” explains Emily who has previously been to Pippa and William Funnell, German showjumper Marco Kutscher and Finnish eventer Piia Pantsu. She has spent two winters with Ben Maher and honed her flatwork skills with dressage riders Ferdi Eilberg and Kyra Kurkland.

Emily spent six weeks with Marcus, coming home just before Christmas. “I basically work as a groom and rider. I found my own accommodation and instead of payment, I received training” she explains. “It really was fantastic because I learn so much about their routine and management as well as the riding side.”

Emily took one horse with her, Quinlan Z, a six year old stallion who was purchased as a five year old last spring with the intention to event him but also use him as a breeding stallion.

“Marcus is such a great horseman. In the entire time I was there, I never once saw him get cross with a horse. He is always quiet and patient and it’s interesting as he is a very slight build and yet rides a real variety of horses, from big, powerful stallions to small, really blood types. When you ride his horses, they all go in the same way, because of the way they are produced by Marcus” Emily says.

“His training philosophy has a lot of emphasis on rhythm and he was encouraging me to keep the horse in a forward open rhythm, between fences and through turns. So the idea is that you take one less stride to every fence” she explains.

“What I also found interesting was that he likes to give the horse a lot of space in front of the fence, rather than ramming them into the bottom of the fence as you expect some show jumpers to do. This is to allow the horse the time and room to make a shape and teach good technique” says Emily. “It was amazing what a difference it made when I started to ride with this in mind. He is strict on rider position so I hope I have improved in this respect too.”

When it comes to management and the running of the yard, Emily says their attention to detail was on another level. “The grooms knew each horse inside out and whenever a horse came back from a show, it would be jogged up and undergo a flexion test. Every Monday, the vet would come and all 22 of Marcus’s top horses would be jogged up, flexed and seen on the lunge” she says. “His horses would be ridden for about 45 minutes or more as well as going on the walker and they always went out in the field each day.”

The 2018 event season is nearly upon us and Emily is excited to put all her winter training to practice. “This year is looking good so far. I have some lovely horses to ride and some exciting young ones. Then there is Dargun, who did his first CCI 3* last year and will be aimed at some ERM classes and maybe a CCI4* in the autumn. He has so much ability but is still young so I plan to take it slowly” she says.

Emily has been working with Horse Scout since Spring 2017 and has already reaped the benefits of all it has to offer. “We’ve used Horse Scout for selling horses and I have also been to see horses to buy. There is always a huge selection and you can target exactly what you are looking for. And I love following their social media.”

“I’ve also been riding in Jin Stirrups which Horse Scout introduced me to and I love” she says. “They are light and the grip is amazing. Even when it’s raining and muddy, they stick tight to your foot.”

Emily’s top tip

“Leave no stone unturned. Plan for every eventuality and be ready for anything that might be thrown at you at a show. That really gives me confidence.”

 

Written by Ellie Kelly
Photo credits Hannah Freeland Photography

Horse Scout catches up with showjumper Zoe Smith

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Horse Scout selected 19-year old Zoe Smith to become one of our sponsored riders, out of a huge number of talented young showjumpers on the AASE programme. Zoe is an International showjumper based in Lincolnshire and is certainly one to watch.

 

Hi Zoe, great to catch up with you since completing the AASE programme. How’s it all been going?
It has all been going really well, the horses are really benefiting from a much more structured yard and work scheme that was introduced to us at AASE.

How’s your season going so far?
The season has been going very well so far, both my young horse and top horse have come out of the winter premiers jumping very well. This lead nicely into our first international trip to Belgium where we picked up lots of placings in the U25 and 6yo tours.

It sounds like you’ve got off to a great start this Spring. Can you tell us a bit about the horses are you competing this season?
This season I have two main horses to compete;
The first is Que Sera III, 9yo gelding, by Caretino Glory out of a Goodtimes mare. He is quickly progressing up through the ranks, after starting at Newcomers level with us just over a year ago, he is now jumping 2* world ranking classes and double clears and placings at 1m40.

The second horse in my string is Garcia Lente a 6yo by Bodinus out of a Holland mare. He very quickly showed his class this year winning at the winter premiers, picking up numerous placings in Belgium and recently jumping double clear every day at Chepstow international. I’m very excited about this horse’s future, he could be very, very special!

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We noticed on social media that you were posting from Chepstow International recently, tell us about the show…
The show is the first international jumping competing of the year in the UK, it attracts many of Britain’s top riders such as Peter Charles, Keith Shore, Nigel Coupe, as well as American riders Julie Welles and Emma Heise.

The show ran over 5 days with three different heights at 2* level, two heights at 1* and then a 5yo and 6yo international tour with a Grand Prix for each respective tour. A 6yo class is typically around 1m25 and a 6yo Grand Prix is 1m30.
The competition is also used as a youth team trial so the selectors were also attending.

No pressure then! What did you get up to there, when you weren’t riding? If you’re staying over, are there parties or do you opt for an early night?
On the first night, there was a champagne reception to welcome everybody to the show and to give the sponsors and owners of the showground a chance to talk to the riders and their supporters. As this was the first international show of the year it was packed to the rafters! When not competing, most of the time was spent helping and supporting some of my friends with their horses and watching the other classes and riders.

We saw that you did brilliantly throughout the show; how did you choose which classes to enter and how did it go…
I was fortunate enough to jump the biggest of the 2* tours on Que Sera III picking up double clears and placings, leading on to our first world ranking class grand prix on the last day just picking up a couple of poles.

My super consistent 6yo picked up two equal firsts, a 4th in the accumulator and then 3rd in the Grand Prix.

For the international classes, you get to choose which height you would like to jump from the classes on offer the afternoon before, I really like this system as it gives you freedom to set your horse up for the grand prix in the best possible way that suits your horse. It also means that if a certain type of competition doesn’t suit a particular horse such as an accumulator/speed class, then you can jump a different height that day or give them a day off.

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OK so what next – more UK competitions to come or will you be overseas again?
I think we will be staying in the UK for a little while now to contend second round Newcomers and Foxhunter as well as talent seeker HOYS qualifiers. County shows are also starting up so there are more shows available to us these days. I’m also looking to take on a couple of young horses to bring on and build up my string. I am hoping to get back overseas again at the end of summer, as I feel both myself and the horses improved and benefited from the experience.

That sounds like a good plan and you’ve got loads to aim for. Finally, what are your goals for this season and are your horses currently on track?
After the year started a lot better than I ever anticipated, I think it’s time for me to create some new goals as a few of them have already been achieved! But the horses are definitely on track to achieve their individual goals for the season, including the upcoming second rounds and international shows, as well as my top horse almost having enough points to make him Grade B so he can contend for the bigger titles next year and this coming winter season.

Great job Zoe, we are proud to be supporting you and look forward to hearing how the rest of your season goes!

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

 

 

Oliver Townend for Horse Scout

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Eleanore Kelly catches up with Horse Scout Ambassador Oliver Townend, about his journey so far, finding good horses, paying the bills and his computer illiteracy.

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Oliver has had another momentous year. The Shropshire-based rider claimed the Number One spot in the British Eventing rankings for the third year running. He finished a staggering 1000 points ahead of any other rider on a total of 2,341 points. There were numerous top ten finishes at International events for Oliver this year, including becoming the first British rider to win Adelaide CIC3* on a horse he had only ridden a few times before competing! The icing on the cake for Oliver was winning the very first Event Rider Masters Series, pocketing £74,000 in the process.

“It was a huge relief to win it” explained Oliver, who has prepared and campaigned several horses with this series in mind. “To me the ERM is a huge step forward in the sport- it’s a concept that works and for the riders and owners the prize money is seriously attractive. It has certainly made a massive difference in terms of my income this year. I didn’t run the horses I knew would be competitive in this class and people expected me to win it from when it was announced. So it was a relief when I did.”

Oliver has always been famed for his grit and determination. Renowned for his ability to get the best out of notoriously difficult horses. In recent years with such success behind him, he has had the luxury of being able to buy and compete better quality horses but he still relishes the challenge of a difficult one. “I love what I do and always have but riding nice horses is the answer to everything for me now. If I am going to event, I want to be on good horses” he says. “It’s difficult to find them and we have to be open minded- new rides come from all angles. I buy quite a lot from Ireland of all ages but I still have room for more owners. I am still sent horses that are talented but perhaps don’t suit other riders and I make the best of those.”

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There are a number of stars in the Townend stable. “Too many to list but I really rate Cooley SRS, who is only 9 and finished third at Boekelo” he says. He also cites Cooley Masterclass and King Joules as “exceptionally talented”, the latter has been passed from Mary King and Andrew Nicholson with a reputation for being a tricky ride.

I remember interviewing Oliver for an article some years ago. He was still renting a yard and having to sell anything that was any good and ride all sorts, just to make ends meet. Whilst he may be riding a better string of horses, his attitude to the sport has remained unchanged. What seems to motivate Oliver is an insatiable hunger to win but he still relishes riding talented but often challenging horses. With such success behind him, a string of good horses and a beautiful farm in Shropshire he could be forgiven for resting on his laurels but he has lost none of the grit and determination over the years.

Oliver won Burghley and Badminton back in 2009 and can now add the ERM Series to his list of achievements. Yet two goals remain on the agenda- “I need to get to an Olympics” he says firmly, “and I hope to God that happens soon.”

Then there’s the Rolex Grand Slam, which was won for only the second time by German’s Michael Jung this year. Eventing’s most lucrative prize is awarded to the rider who can achieve the near impossible feat of winning Badminton, Burghley and Lexington consecutively. Oliver was on course in 2010 after winning Badminton and Burghley the previous year. Yet in the cruel nature of the sport, a death-defying fall at Lexington put paid to his chances. It was a fall so dramatic that the photos made the front pages of national newspapers.

“A chance at the Grand Slam and the Olympics are the long-term goals but it all comes down to life in the end.” He says. “For me, this is a business and I need to keep doing what I am doing to survive in the sport. That means I need to sell horses, sometimes good ones.”

As well as selling good horses to keep the wheels turning, Oliver is always on the lookout for new blood and finding the good ones is never easy. “That being said, we are in a really good place in the market right now and if you’ve got a good one it can be worth a fortune” he explains. “There sport is growing in popularity- there are lots of new nations competing and more money coming into, it all helps. I was really encouraged by the prices paid at the recent Go for Gold Sale”, which took place last month in Ireland offered a collection of Irish sport horses selected especially for eventing and ranging from three year olds to established eventers, including Euro Prince who represented Ireland in Rio 2016. Record prices were paid, including €160,000 given for a talented six year old, Cornascriebe Glenpatrick who was bought for Millie Dumas.

Oliver argues that such prices area a real step forward for the industry. “It costs a lot of money to produce horses for eventing, people forget that. Good horses should be making these prices for riders to get a return. It’s also great to see owners paying these prices for their riders, it shows a lot of commitment to the sport, which is what we need to win medals.”

Oliver has been impressed by the service provided by Horse Scout. “It’s an interesting concept for the equestrian community and definitely something our industry needs. Anything to help connect the equestrian industry is a welcome addition. Particularly for professional riders but also breeders and trainers who don’t have time to spend on social media all day. For up and coming young riders, it is a good way of getting their profile out there.”

“The site looks impressive and most importantly, it is easy to use- important for me as I’m computer illiterate! I can ride a difficult horse but I can hardly work out an ipad!” he laughs.

Stabilising Pilates for your stable

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Horse Scout Blogger is a great fan of Pilates as a way of increasing and maintaining good core strength. Using Yoga or pilates type exercises to improve fitness are as useful for your horse as for you.  Theses are exercises which have been adapted to take into account your horses structure.

  1. Core Strength

Core strengthening exercises strengthen and stabilise the spine and pelvic muscles as the horse responds to pressure over specific areas. If you have strong hands, you can apply pressure manually; if not, use a metal thimble over your thumb or finger. Perform three to five repetitions, allowing the muscles to relax for a few seconds after each exercise. Some horses, especially those that are girthy or cold-backed, may resent certain procedures. If resentment persists, omit the exercise until you’ve consulted with your veterinarian.

The following exercise stimulates lifting of the base of the neck, sternum, and withers through pressure on the ventral midline between the forelimbs. These movements are essential for self carriage.

Sternal, withers, and thoracic lifting exercise:

1. Stand facing the horse’s side, just behind the elbow.

2. Apply upward pressure to the sternum (breastbone) in the middle of your horse’s chest, between the pectoral muscles. Gradually slide your hand back between the forelimbs and behind the girth line while maintaining a steady upward pressure.

3. The horse responds by initially lifting through the sternum and withers. Then as the pressure moves further back, he responds by lifting in the thoracic area immediately behind the withers, and finally in the thoracic area under the saddle.

Note: the amount of pressure needed to stimulate a response will vary between horses, so start gently and increase pressure gradually, or use a slow stroking action until the horse responds.

  1. Balancing Exercises

Balancing exercises improve balance and stability by inducing the horse to use active muscular contractions to shift the centre of gravity toward his haunches and/or to resist displacement of his centre of gravity. A horse uses his muscles in some of the balancing exercises to shift his centre of gravity, while in others, he uses his muscles to resist a shift. Many of the balancing techniques used in horses are similar to those performed in Pilates and yoga training in people.

The next exercise stimulates activation of the pelvic stabiliser muscles to maintain the horse’s balance.

Tail pull:

1. Stand to one side of the hindquarters.

2. Take hold of the horse’s tail, pull it toward you by flexing your elbow. (The goal is not to pull the horse off balance, but to stimulate resistance in the pelvic stabilizer muscles.) You’ll see the muscles around the stifle contracting as the horse resists the pulling force.

3. You can gradually increase the amount of force applied to the tail or the number of repetitions as the muscles get stronger.

Remember to check with your veterinarian before including such exercises into your horse’s training regimen; this is especially important if the horse is recovering from an injury.

Core training exercises can be done without a warm-up–for example, in horses that are recovering from injury–because the horse controls the amount of motion, and loading of the joints is less than during locomotion.

Top Professionals and Top Showjumping Tips on Hose Scout

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Encouraging your horse to use his shoulder effectively when jumping.

Working with a professional Show Jumper in a training session to improve your horses jumping mechanics could easily involve particular techniques to encourage a better use of the shoulder, says Horse Scout Blogger.  These techniques teach your horse to produce a better bascule, and therefore, a softer landing. One such exercise is using an A frame with a ground pole to mark the final stride into the jump.

The A Frame

Once you have warmed up and started jumping introduce two poles leaning against the top rail of a simple upright fence.  Keep the distance between these wide to start with the ends that are on the ground forming the open end of a triangle shape.  (like a perspective line on a drawing….leading the horse in towards the jumping pole).

Approach steadily but with energy and allow your horse to see his stride to the ground pole.

Once the horse is used to the idea of the leading triangle you can begin to reduce the width of the top point.

Make sure your horse remains calm on approach.

Don’t rush things

You can take a few sessions before you get to the point that the top poles are almost touching.

Once they are in this position you will notice how the horse is able to engage his shoulders and for arms more flexibly and the bascule starts to become more rounded along with a greater lift to the shoulder area.

Are you looking for a show jumping coach then take a look at the Horse Scout Professional Listings.

Here are just some of the professionals we have listed:

William Whitaker: An International Showjumper based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. I have represented Great Britain on numerous occassions, including junior and young rider Europeans and senior nations cups. I currently have a team of horses ranging from youngsters to grand prix level. Best results include winning World Cup Qualifiers in Mechelen and more recently in Stuttgart. I also recently won the CSI 3* Grand Prix at the Glock Horse Performance Centre in Austria aboard Fandango.

Laura Jackson also based in Warwickshire and Remey Ellis from Hampshire a 22 year old Grand Prix Show Jumper based in Hampshire at the beautiful Blackwater Equestrian. She is available for teaching, schooling/competing, and competition/sales livery. A Professional Rider  whose up coming competitions schedule includes The Blue Chip Winter Championships Welsh Masters Bury Farm Spring Classic Chepstow International CSI 2* Royal Windsor Horse Show Bury Farm Summer Classic Arena UK International CSI 2* South of England Show Bolesworth International CSI 2* Hickstead Derby Meeting International CSI 4* South View British Masters International CSI 3*

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.

Rider Fitness Tips: 5 Top Tips to help Rider Balance and Posture

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5 Top Fitness Tips to help Rider Balance and Posture: Whatever you do off the horse, your muscles will remember when you’re on the horse. Start making a difference now!

Whatever discipline you follow with your horse: Make a difference to how you ride by improving your balance and posture.  It is as important to a top professional trainer as to the grass roots rider and will make a difference to how you ride.

Horse Scout Blogger is on the case: Being fit, independently of riding, mucking out, poo picking etc. will boost your riding and make things a whole lot easier for you and your horse. Your riding gets a boost from performing a regular exercise regimen at least twice per week, but you can also do little things in between to enhance your fitness.

  1. Walk instead:  walk just a little bit further when you are going shopping or to the office.  Park further away than usual, park your car away from the entrance and take a brisk walk to the door.
  2. Avoid the lift: Walking up even a single flight of stairs puts equestrians’ thighs and calves to work. Walk the stairs briskly and get a mini-aerobic workout, too. Doing two at a time is even better.  Lucinda Green’s top tip!
  3. A balance in life is one thing but balance is critical for success in equestrian sports. Develop balance every day by standing on one leg, then the other for 10 to 15 seconds whenever you’re brushing your teeth, having your coffee or whenever else the opportunity presents itself. Lightly grip a convenient surface (your shopping trolley in the queue for instance), until you can progress to doing this with no surface support.
  4. Don’t slouch: Good posture is critical for balance in the saddle, and for getting the long, lean look that catches judges’ eyes. But don’t just sit up straight in the saddle; do it at your desk and the dinner table, and walk with good posture, too. For those of us who are office bound there is a seat balance cushion….brilliant invention (if a bit prickly!).
  5. Your muscles have a memory and when it comes to posture and balance, whatever you do off the horse to help balance and posture, your muscles will remember when you’re on the horse.