Tag Archives: Saddle Advice

How well your will your horse perform -  Get ahead – 7 pointers for a well made head.

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What to look for in a well made head!

The ability to breathe deeply is critical to the success of a horse in any endeavor, so any conformation flaw that restricts breathing capacity is a fault across all breeds.

A horses head is proportional: the measurement from eye to eye is the same as the measurement from this line up to the top of the poll and the measurement from the same central point to the muzzle is 1 ½ times this measurement. Variations on this can occur because of breed types but generally speaking, like a human face, these are the ideals.

  1. Jaw size

The lower jaw should be clearly defined. The space between the two sides of the jawbone should be wide, with room for the larynx and muscle attachments. The width should be 7.2 cm, about the width of a fist.

The jaw is called narrow if the width is less than 7.2 cm.

The jaw is called large if it is greater than 7.2 cm. A large jaw gives head a false appearance of being short and adds weight to the head. Too large of a jaw can cause a reduction to the horse’s ability to flex at the poll to bring his head and neck into proper position for collection and to help balance.

  1. Muzzle

The muzzle should be well tapered, not coarse. Nostrils should be large and

able to flare to allow increased airflow in and out of the lungs. Mouth of the

horse should be such that the lips and front teeth meet evenly

  1. Jaw position

A parrot mouth is an overbite, where the upper jaw extends further out than the lower jaw. This can affect the horse’s ability to graze. Parrot mouth is common and can be managed with regular teeth floating by a veterinarian.

A monkey mouth, sow mouth, or bulldog mouth is an underbite, where the lower jaw extends further out than the upper jaw. This is less common than parrot mouth. This can affect the horse’s ability to graze. Monkey mouth is common and can be managed with regular teeth floating by a veterinarian.

  1. Throat latch

The ratio of the throat latch measurement in comparison to the length of the head is an important consideration. When looking at the horse’s neck is the ratio of the throatlatch to the length of the head. The throatlatch is measured from the poll to the windpipe and should be roughly half the length of the head as measured from the poll to the muzzle. If the throatlatch is longer and thicker than this, it restricts the horse from flexing at the poll. Horses with deep, coarse throatlatches can possibly have trouble breathing when asked to flex their head towards their chest.

  1. Forehead

A broad forehead provides increased sinus capacity, thus there is more room for air exchange through the air passages, and a large surface area for facial muscles that assist in opening the nostrils for good air flow. If the forehead is dished of looks dished it can indicate that vision may be restricted or that there is a dwarfism effect (particularly prevalent in miniature breeds).

  1. Eyes

The eyes should be large, bright, wide set and placed well to the outside of the head. They should be bright, clear and expressive with a good almond shape. Small or mis-set eyes will indicate a restriction to a horses sigh line.  Often horses with piggy eyes are dubbed bad tempered or stubborn but this is more than likely due to not being able to see as well as others horses.

  1. Ears

Ears are often said to indicate personality so a lop eared horse is generally thought to indicate a laid back attitude, very small ears are thought to indicate a sharp horse.  But just like any other part of a horses head the ears should be in proportion to the rest of the head and sit well on either side of the poll.  Most ears will conform to the breed standard, The only consideration with ears, apart from if they work properly is their affect on the way a bridle sits on the head, ears which are set back or bulbous at their base may get rubbed by the bridle.

 

Are you sitting comfortably ? choosing the right saddle

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Your choice of saddle is very important as your enjoyment of horse riding will depend on it. Indeed, a badly chose saddle can discomfort, or even injure, your horse, making both horse and rider less competitive.

The right saddle will give you comfort and allow you to sit in a position that suits your chosen discipline.

Each discipline is itself dependent on the body shape of both horse and rider, and on the frequency of riding.

Here, you can read our tips to help you make the right choice.

Choosing according to use

1- Beginner’s saddle

2- general Purpose saddle

3- Jumping saddle

4- Dressage saddle

5- Western and Endurance saddles

1) Features of a beginner’s saddle

-       Suited to those starting out in horse riding (particularly small children).

-       Comfortable (wider seat).

-       Classic position (more concave seat).

-       More pronounced, or even oversized, pommel and cantle, to keep a child sitting stably on the seat.

-       Monkey grip.

2) Features of a general purpose saddle

-       A multi-use saddle, not designed for any specific discipline.

-       A good position for working on the flat.

-       Comfortable for small jumps (flaps angled slightly forwards).

-       Pleasant for leisure riding.

-       Semi-concave seat.

- Wider seat, for greater comfort when hacking.

3) Features of a jumping saddle

-       The orientation of the flaps (angled forwards) allows the rider to ride with shorter stirrup leathers and to stay balanced when jumping.

-       Seat with thinner panels.

-       Knee rolls front and back to stabilise leg position.

4) Features of a dressage saddle

-       Long flaps to allow the legs to extend downwards (almost perpendicular to the seat).

-       Comfortable.

-       Concave seat (rider seated stably on the saddle).

-       Often, long straps (increasing contact between rider and horse).

5) Features of western riding or endurance saddle

-       Comfort for the rider: wide seat.

-       Comfort for the horse (rider’s weight well distributed, wide, larger panels).

-       Several places from which to hang saddlebags.

-       Good withers clearance, giving greater comfort for the horse.

Leather or synthetic?

The two materials each have both advantages and disadvantages. It all depends on how you use your saddle!

Leather

-       A natural, high-quality material

-       Traditional

-       Generally more attractive aesthetically

-       Long-lasting if well cared for

-       Slow to dry after heavy rain

-       Needs regular care

Synthetic

-       More economical

-       Easy care

-       Dries quickly after rain

-       Lightweight

-       Can heat up with friction

-       Shorter-lived, especially with intensive riding

Size

The seat should provide a space that is comfortable to sit on but not to large, so that the rider can sit as stably as possible.

Classic saddles have their size measured in inches, ranging from 14″ to 18.5″, in increments of 0.5″. The “normal” size is 17″ or 17.5″.

These listed saddle sizes should fit the listed waist sizes

  • 16” 14 Years
  • 16.5”   34 waist
  • 17” 36-38 waist
  • 17.5”   38-40 waist
  • 18”      42-44 waist
  • 18.5”   46-48 waist

Other factors also affect which saddle you need and I will cover these in following posts

Finding the right saddle for you – finding the right accommodation for your seating area.

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Finding the right saddle for you – finding the right accommodation for your seating area.

The weighty issue of obesity has now got it’s teeth into the equestrian industry and this time we’re not talking porky ponies but the knives are out for the rotund rider.

The average British woman is a size 16 and booties on saddles are becoming bigger, Finding saddles for the plus-sized riders which is equally good for the horse need proper research and a saddler and addle fitter who can appraise your needs honestly.

The size of the saddle is important to the rider’s comfort too. I know from experience that it’s no fun riding in a saddle even as little as half an inch too small. Having to keep scooting back in the saddle to stop from bumping on the pommel or horn, or having to worry about hanging over the cantle are not condusive to good riding!

The larger rider needs to look for a saddle which has specifically been designed with a longer, larger seat without making a longer saddle. Many weight-carrying horses are short-backed. The panel of the saddle will need to measure18” as a minimum to accommodate a larger sitting area. Wow have a Dressage saddle called Bounty but to date this is the only maker who has actually got a saddle to market for the larger seated rider.  Fuller Fillies where to have bought out a 22” saddle but I cannot actually find anymore about that makers actual saddle.  So I am not sure if it actually happened or not.

As with any horse and rider combination, the fit of the tack is essential. With a badly fitting saddle, a horse can get sore even with a lightweight rider. Care should be taken to make sure the tree of the saddle is the correct width for the horse, and that it is stuffed properly, so that pressure points aren’t caused when the rider sits in the saddle. This is true regardless of the weight of the rider, but weight distribution is especially important if the rider is heavy. Some of the newer gel and closed cell foam saddle pads can help with weight distribution, but they won’t make up for a badly fitting saddle.

A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour, would seem to compound this opinion as they found that a third of recreational riders are overweight (cue another pop at pleasure riders!)  They claim that as a consequence horses are suffering health problems, such as arthritis and lameness, and behavioural problems like bucking and rearing. Although in my opinion, the fact the horse can still get two hooves off the ground, should be taken as a good sign!

The study which analyzed 152 horses and their adult riders from Devon and Cornwall found that just 8 of them, (5%) weighed less than 10% of the weight of the horse, which adheres to recommended veterinary guidelines, 95 riders (62.5%) weighed between 10-15% of the horse’s weight, which they considered ‘satisfactory’ whilst 49 (32%) weighed more than 15% which they claim to be a welfare issue.

From this they concluded that because so many riders are, by their calculations, too heavy for their mounts there should be industry-wide guidelines to protect horses. They also suggest that larger riders need to ride bigger horses.

This plays into an old saying of mine, ‘If you want to look like you have a smaller bottom, get a bigger horse!’ But, joking aside, there are already too many people who are over-horsed because they get themselves a stonking big, athletic warmblood, rather than a gentle giant like a shire X or a heavyweight cob. As a result there is a glut of unhappy riders and unhappy horses. These horses may look gorgeous and shiny, groomed to within an inch of their lives and caccooned in designer rugs but unfortunately they’re hardly ridden because their owners are afraid to. Bigger can be better as long as it’s the right breed.

On the subject of breeds, shouldn’t that have been taken into consideration? Am I wrong in thinking that our stocky native breeds can bear a larger weight proportionate to their size?

And if you are a big rider, who carries your weight well because you’re well balanced, with a strong core and good hands, aren’t you less of a burden to a horse than a wisp of a rider who hasn’t got those attributes?  To my mind, big people can be light riders and vice versa. When it comes to hoofing it, just think back to the wonderful Lisa Reilly on Strictly Come Dancing-she’s a large lass but definitely displayed much more poise on the dance floor than many of her more reed-like competitors.

Also a well ridden, well schooled horse can carry weight better too.  Picture a big person on a horse engaging it’s stomach muscles and lifting it’s back Vs a skinny rider on a horse with it’s head in the air, back dropped, pulling itself along on the forehand-which do you think is the most damaging?

Riding is a sport, so yes I do believe we should be ‘fit to ride’ but that’s about more than dress size. There are big bottomed girls who can do it just as well so let’s keep the issue of rider weight in proportion.

Mounting the horse can be a problem for heavy riders, who may be less agile than their more slender counterparts. I’ve got short, stubby legs and so I need to use a mounting block to get my foot anywhere near the stirrup on my 16.2 hand TB gelding’s saddle. Using a mounting block makes it easier on me and on my horse — the saddle doesn’t get pulled over to the side, possibly damaging his back or withers, my foot doesn’t dig into his side as it does when I try and climb up from the ground. Don’t ever be embarrassed to use a mounting block, no matter what size you are!

 

Lets Look at Leg Yielding – 9 Top Tips to help you make use of this strengthening exercise.

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The aim of leg yielding: To demonstrate the suppleness and lateral responsiveness of the Horse.

Leg-yielding is performed in Working trot in FEI Competitions.

What is looks like

The Horse is almost straight, except for a slight flexion at the poll away from the direction in which it moves, so that the rider is just able to see the eyebrow and nostril on the inside. The inside legs pass and cross in front of the outside legs.

Leg-yielding is preparatory work for more complex movements and is a good first step in strengthening the horses back muscles. It should be included in the training of the horse before it is ready for Collected work. Later on, together with the more advanced shoulder-in movement.

It is the best means of making a horse supple, loose and unconstrained for and a will prepare the horse to move with freedom, elasticity and regularity of its paces bringing lightness and ease in its movements.

Leg yielding can be performed “on the diagonal” in which case the Horse should be as nearly as possible parallel to the long sides of the arena, although the forehand should be slightly in advance of the hindquarters. It can also be performed “along the wall” in which case the Horse should be at an angle of about thirty five (35) degrees to the direction in which he is moving.

How to Execute the Leg Yield (tracking right)

  1. Start in Working Trot, sitting
  2. When approaching the long side, half halt
  3. Shift weight to left seat bone
  4. Apply the left leg behind the girth – actively pushing sideways each time the left hind lifts and starts a forward/sideways step
  5. Right rein guides the direction of travel and prevents bulging of the right shoulder
  6. Right leg continues forward movement and prevents rushing away from the left leg
  7. Apply left rein for slight flexion – this is the last aid and is applied lightly
  8. Straighten and ride forward
  9. Please note that the horse is ridden straight between the reins.

Many variations of this exercise can be used to assist in preparation for more advanced lateral movement. If you are unfamiliar with the leg yield aids, you can practice this exercise at the walk to familiarize yourself with the appropriate application and timing of your aids. This exercise can be executed along the rail or on the inside of the arena as well.

Purpose of the Leg Yield

This movement is the precursor to the shoulder-in and half pass seen in the more advanced tests. The horse should remain supple and relaxed during the execution of this movement.

To supple the horse

To assist with initial straightening for other more advanced movements

Each of the above reasons relates to confirmation of or improvement of the horse’s balance. Half halts can be used as needed so long as appropriate releases and praise are used.

It is also a good exercise in warm up executed with the horse in a long low outline particularly where a horse is broken in the neck and tends to over bend and, therefore, is avoiding coming through along his top line.

Common Errors in Execution

  • Horse does not remain straight
  • Horse leads with hind quarters
  • Rider applies too much inside rein & not enough supporting rein
  • Horse is too steep sideways due to not enough forward driving aids.

 

Looking for sports horses in Ireland?  Lassban Sports Horses

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Lassban Sport Horses Ireland–The Back Yard — Ballykisteen Estate- Limerick Junction-Co.Tipperary – Birr, Offaly

International Sport Horse Breeding

From start-up in the early 1990′s Lassban Sport Horses continue to breed and produce international sport horses in Eventing, Showjumping and Dressage. From a herd of high performance Broodmares, young horses are selected and produced at home for the international market.

The team at Lassban are well known.

Seamus Merrigan has Showjumped to international level in Ireland and in Europe and Liam Maloney is a Dressage judge and trainer both national and FEI. Their combined knowledge and expereince allows them the freedom to include or exclude young horses from their competition programme.

Eventing

We at Lassban Sport Horses continue to support the Irish horse and it’s worthy place in international competition. Our Event broodmares are retained on the basis of performance, conformation, bloodlines and size.     Lassban Radovix one of our very succesful Event horses is now an Olympic hopefull for 2016. Many others are competing all over the world.

Showjumping

We select our Showjumping mares based on world class performance. An eclectic mix of European and Irish bloodlines resulting in quality Showjumpers of the future.

Dressage

All of out Broodmares are blessed with movement, conformation and size allowing us to have the scope to source international stallions both at home and abroard. The expertise of both Liam and Seamus allows Lassban to apraise the Dressage stock regardless of the breed.

Lassban Clover Roller - ISH High Roller X Charlaw (TB)

169 cm Black all quality stallion by the international Showjumper “High Roller” (G.Sire Cavalier) returned of lease from the Irish Army Equatation School this high performance stallion was destined for an international career to include the Olympics with jump, movement, size and looks, “Rolo” produces foals with all of his attributes.

Lassban Mister Imp - Master Imp X Sky Boy

Sensational young 15/16ths TB stallion by the legendary Master Imp out of Sky Blue Rose by Sky Boy. Jaw dropping movement and jump this stallion was third nationally in the young horse class Royal Dublin Society as a 3 year old.

How can I stop my horse pulling? …. 3 steps to go!

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Does your horse get offended when you pull on the reins to stop? Does he pin his ears, shake his head, and keep going?

Maybe he’s trying to tell you something: stop pulling on the reins! :-)

There is a way to get your horse to stop without pulling on the reins.

but first, you both have to be “in sync” together, working in tandem instead of against each other.

If you haven’t done this before, it may take a few tries to convince your horse that you want to work with him. Horses that are regularly pulled on seem to accept that the pressure has to be there before they should respond. They might learn to lean on the bit, pulling against you while you pull backward, hoping for the legs to stop.

Some horses are generous and eventually slow their feet, stop/starting until finally, all four legs come to a halt. Other horses might not be quite as forgiving and just keep going until you have to put more and more pressure on the mouth. Eventually, one of you wins but it’s never pretty!

We all dream of finding the halt that looks like we are in complete harmony with our horse. You know – the one that feels like the horse’s legs are your legs, and your mind is so coordinated with the horse that it looks like you are reading each other’s thoughts.

It does happen. The secret: ride from your seat.

Setup for a Correct Halt

1. Contact

Prepare several strides ahead of the intended location. Your reins should be a good length – not too long and not too short. There should be a steady enough contact on the bit to be able to communicate very subtle changes of pressure.

2. Begin a series of half-halts.

The half-halts start at the seat. In rhythm with the horse’s movement, resist with your lower back. Be sure to resist in rhythm. In other words, your lower back and seat will feel something like this: resist… flow… resist… flow… resist… flow.

2a. Use your legs.

During each flow moment, squeeze lightly with your calves. This helps the horse engage his hind end deeper underneath the body in preparation with the halt.

2b. Use the hands.

During each resist moment, squeeze the reins with your hands. You might squeeze both reins or just one rein (the outside rein being the usual rein) but in any case, do your best to use the hands after the leg aids. The rein pressure should occur in tandem with the resisting seat aid.

3.When you are ready for the halt, simply stop your seat.

Maintain contact with your legs and reins, but stop the activity. Don’t keep pulling on the reins.

If the horse is truly with you, his legs will stop lightly and in balance.

Horses that have been trained to respond to the half-halt will sigh in relief when you lighten up on your aids and use your seat in the halt. You might be surprised at how easily the legs will stop if you can improve your timing and releases.

Horses that have always been pulled on might not respond at all. They might be expecting to be hauled backward, thrown to the forehand, and dragged to a stop. If this is the case, be patient. If you haven’t done this before, it may take a few tries to convince your horse that you want to work with him.

You might have to bridge the learning gap by applying the half-halts several times, stopping your seat and then pulling to stop. In the end though, the pull should disappear completely from your vocabulary (exception: in an emergency stop).

Regardless of how you get there, the goal is to stop all four legs in a light, balanced manner that allows the horse to use his hind end when he takes that last step. Your horse might walk a few strides and then halt.

If you feel your horse’s front end lighten and into the halt, you know you are on the right track. If you discover the four legs stopped square and parallel to each other, pet and gush over him, and call it a day!

Sound talking : horse listening.

Perhaps you would benefit from some lessons, someone on the ground to help you keep on track.  Horse Scout has a great list of professional trainers, check them out here

Are you looking for a Professional Groom?

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Professional Groom with 4 years experience in Bethany Phillips from Braintree, is looking for a live in position. She has a car and holds a valid driving licence. She is available from May 1st 2015.

She lists her areas of expertise as :

  •  Problem horses / re-breaking
  • Competition riding – Unaffiliated
  • Turnout to a high standard
  • Riding, schooling and training
  • Sole charge / Head girl position
  • Sales preparation
  • Work with children
  • Dealing with clients and owners

If you are looking for a competent member of staff then contact Bethany with your requirements.

Horse Scout also has a number of work riders and grooms looking for placements. Click here for further information.

Horse Scouts 6 Top Tips – Warming up from the ground

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What is a warm-up? The term ‘warm-up’ accurately describes what happens when we transition the body from a resting state to a state suitable for activity: the muscles are literally ‘warmed up’, receive increased blood and oxygen supply, gain flexibility and therefore reduce stress on tendons and ligaments.

 

A warm-up will also ensure increased oxygen supply to the blood and the elevation of the heart rate from a resting rate to an activity rate. If you warm up your horse gradually—instead of ‘jump-starting’ his heart-rate—you will also have a calmer, more relaxed, and more willing horse.

 

Sufficient warm up before exercise, training, and competition is essential, in order to avoid injury to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Our bodies-rider’s and horse’s-are made up of mostly fluids! Warming up body fuids inside muscles reduces the internal friction of a muscle and therefore prevents injury. Mobility and elasticity of muscles is increased, which minimises the strain on ligaments and tendons.

Avoid muscle spasms, discomfort, stiff gaits and in extreme cases torn muscles or tendons or anxiety and unwillingness to work by warming your horse up properly at the beginning of every ride.

Before you even get your horse out of the stable you can start a warm up routine as part of his preparation to be ridden.

Here are 6 top tips to get that blood flowing; the bonus is that it will help get you warmed up too!

  1. A warm up should always start gently.  Getting the blood to start flowing around the body and warming up the muscles. You can start by grooming your horse, and this has an added benefit of giving you the chance to check for injuries and to ensure that all sweat and mud is removed so that it cannot irritate your horse as he starts work.
  1. Having brushed you horse all over start to concentrate on the back area using a technique similar to a Swedish massage, long light stokes using the warmth of your palm and flicking up and away at the end of the stroke.  Its called “Effleurage” you can see graphics on the internet if you search the word. Basically think of it as ironing out the (metaphorical) wrinkles by moulding your palm around the muscles, as you stoke away you will feel a warmth in your hand and he will be feeling the same warmth in his muscles.
  1. Before mounting him walk him around in circles and ask him to walk forward and backwards too.  This will really help if you have a horse with a cold back.
  2. As these movements will help to warm his back muscles up and increase the
  3. blood flow around his whole body.
  1. Finally, before bitting him up, use carrot stretches to help stretch his topline muscles and engage his core muscles. Make sure he has had time to finish his mouthful before setting off. More on carrot stretches later. As these are also excellent at the end of a ride and your horse will love you for feeding him carrots.

When viewing a horse for sale this crucial step is often left out or rushed because of the time element perhaps the seller is a busy yard owner and has to move on to the next sale or job or where buying privately the seller feels rushed because they don’t want to hold you up.  However this could be an important factor in your final decision and it really is best to allow the horse to fully warm up before you get your first impression of him. Perhaps if you go for a second viewing you could ask to take the horse through a full warm up and that way you could also asses his temperament, stable manners, etc from a relaxed and quiet moment or two together, I am sure that if the seller knows you are a serious purchaser they will allow you to do this.

If you are having a training session or clinic with a professional rider then make sure you build in time to do this initial warm up when you arrive, so there is plenty of time to get ready for the start of your lesson.

Mandy Frost holds Show Jumping Clinics at The Mullacott Centre – Mandy Frost is a BS Accredited UKCC Level 3 Coach and Coach of the Year 2009 and also lead coach for Devon Junior Academy as well as being part of the Excel Coaching Programme. As well as competing Nationally. Cost – group of 3 – £20 per person: two sharing – £30 per person: individual -£60

Lucinda Fredericks  Clinics can be organised outside of eventing season. The cost is £1,000 + VAT plus travel expenses. Clinics can be a mix of flatwork, jumping skills or cross country skills or can concentrate on one discipline and can be a mix of group work and private lessons. If you book a 3 day clinic one night can include a video/Talk/Q&A Session and dinner with Lucinda on one of the nights. Lucinda can offer private lessons to individuals or groups from complete beginners right up to advanced competition riders. Lessons can be undertaken at either at Rosegarth or at external locations for more people by booking a clinic day – Lucinda often travels to local XC courses and equestrian centres to offer tuition to small groups. For lessons on site at Rosegarth please note you will need to bring your own horse with you.  Lucinda has two sessions in in Dorset 18 & 28th February 2015 – Her charges are: Individual lessons – £80 for a 45 minute session: Group lesson with 4 people – £35 each for 1 hour: Group lesson for 6 people – £25 each for 1.5 hours charges subject to VAT

 

 

 

Are you looking for Choice – Horse Dealer and Breeder Caron Nichol has it all

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Since 2004 Carron Nicol, the International Show jumper, has run European Sports Horses Ltd, a large breeding, show jumping and dealing yard at Rumer Stud Farm, Long Marston Road, Welford-on-Avon, Warwickshire, CV37 8AF.

The stud has a very large selection of horses in excess of 50 available at all times ranging from foals to 12yrs. Horses are either bred by ourselves, (and they have some lovely Show Jumping stallions on our lists)  or imported from the continent. Each horse carries a one month exchange warranty. Feedback for her business in forums has been nothing but positive an being able to trial a horse for a month is a great way to make absolutely sure that you and your horse are a match.

They have 11 horses advertised with Horse Scout. One, Rosie, is a lovely looking 16.2, 5 year old mare grey KWPN by Lord Z jumping at grade C

They stand stallions Crusador,Mr Visto,Fantaland ,Bogarde,Brandon and Cassini Boy.

Rumer Stud Farm

The stud stands on 81 acres and offers excellent grazing for mares at stud.

24hr onsite supervision, Designated lorry parking, Floodlights on school

Horse walker, Individual turn out, Mirrors around school, Onsite communal tea

And they cater for, breaking & producing, breeding & stud, dealing & sales

Equestrian centre (show centres), livery – competition

Company director and international showjumper Carron Nicol has been riding since the age of five and has over 30 years experience running her own business. Carron competes on a regular basis and has won at international level representing Great Britain.Wins also include Horse of The Year Show and placings in The Hickstead Derby and the Hickstead Speed Derby as well as countless wins in International Trials.

Rumer Stud offers excellent trial facilities including a large 80 x 60m outdoor arena with a sand and rubber surface supplied by Mansfield Sand, an indoor school 46m x 20m with a surface supplied by Andrews Bowen and a 7½ furlong all weather gallop.

 

 

 Haylage – Hey! Do you know benefits of feeding Haylage?

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Benefits of feeding haylage

  1. It is dust free
  2. No need to soak
  3. It is convenient to handle
  4. Haylage has a high nutritional value
  5. Its more palatable to horses than hay
  6. Can easily be stored outside as it is packed in water resistant bags.
  7. Unopened bags of haylage keep for up to 18 months without any loss of feeding value.

Haylage is an ideal replacement for hay and excellent for feeding to horses with dust allergies and equine respiratory problems such as COPD, SPAOD and RAOD.

Haylages are made of grass that is cut before it goes to seed. It is semi-wilted grass sealed in a bag but without the dust and spores found in hay.

The benefits of this are that as there are no spores it does not cause or aggravate respiratory problems. Haylage also has a higher nutritional value than hay.

This is acheived by cutting good quality grass – but instead of allowing it to dry completely it is baled when the grass has wilted and the moisture content reduced to about 40 – 45%.

Although haylage will not usually contain dust or mould spores the moisture content will prevent any remaining mould spores becoming airborne – reducing the chance of respiratory problems.

The process of making haylage for horses takes about 24 hours in good drying weather – hay takes 4 – 5 days.

The bales are then compressed to half their original size, packed and heat sealed into plastic bags.

Natural fermentation inside the bag preserves the grass as haylage – which retains 90% of the feed value of fresh grass.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF HAYLAGE

Haylage can come in several forms to suit all types of horses and ponies – ryegrass,high fibre, alfalfa, sainfoin plus special mixes for racehorses and competition horses.

Cost is a factor which may discourage some horse owners from feeding haylage – but you may not need to feed as much haylage to your horse or pony as ordinary hay as haylage has a much higher nutritional value – as a result less hard feed may be needed as well – an additional saving.

Once opened the contents of a bale of haylage should be used as soon as possible as exposure to air gives the chance for mould to develop. A bale will usually keep for 7 days once it has been opened depending on weather conditions.

Sometimes when you open a bale of haylage you will see small white or cream round groups of yeasts on the haylage stems and blades that have a creamy consistency – not fluffy or powdery . These “colonies” are not moulds and do not produce spores – they will not harm the health of your horse or pony. If you make the change from hay to haylage make the change gradual – a horse is very sensitive to any changes in his diet.

HOW MUCH HAYLAGE SHOULD YOU FEED TO A HORSE OR PONY?

If you are used to feeding you’ll need to get used to handling haylage – you don’t want to end up under or overfeeding your horse or pony.

A typical 500 kilo, 16hh middleweight riding horse needs a minimum daily intake of roughage of about 1% of his body weight – this works out to 5 kilos of hay.

As haylage has a higher moisture content, the same riding horse would need a daily ration of 7 to 8.5 kilos of haylage.

Although you need to feed more haylage by weight, you need less by volume – haylage is much denser than hay because of the higher moisture content.

When you start out feeding haylage to your horse it’s best to weigh out the amount every day – until you get accustomed to estimating the volume.

As haylage has about a 10% higher nutritional value than hay less supplementary hard feed will be required to meet a horse or pony’s energy requirements. For further in-depth information about feeding Haylage visit Equi-net, They have some very interesting articles on keeping your horse healthy.

Many livery yards provide haylage for their horses and on Horse Scout we make it easy for you to decide whether a livery yard will suit you with our five star rating.  After all the more information a yard provides on Horse Scouts’ listings pages the better informed you are when looking for somewhere to keep your horse at livery or for training, rehabilitation or selling.