10 Years of Bridleway Equestrian

Horses are at the heart of what we do.

Back in 2008, Bridleway Equestrian began as the vision of independent equestrian businesses. They wanted to share their equestrian experience and passion by creating a brand that truly understood the needs of horse and rider. By 2009, the concept was a reality and Bridleway Equestrian has continued to grow and reflect the aims of these retailers for the last decade.

Our Products

Everyone at Bridleway is passionate about horses and this helps us ensure that everything we develop is designed with the equestrian in mind. From over reach boots to winter riding tights, everything we create is designed to meet the needs of horse and rider. Whether it’s for rider, stable or field, we work hard to create and innovate products that serve their purpose well.

Over the last decade we’ve refined our ranges and brought in some great new additions. From our popular print rugs, to our seasonal rider clothing collections, we wanted to highlight some of our favourite things.

Rugs:

Back in 2015 we launched the first of our fun print rugs. Available on turnout and stable rugs, this horseshoe pattern led the way for all of our other exciting prints. Our two 2018/2019 duck prints (Fun Duck and Hunter Duck) proved very popular! Keep an eye out for our next print rugs, which will be released for Autumn/Winter.

Horseshoe print rug – 2015/16

As well the new prints, this year our turnout rugs have also benefitted from the addition of leg gussets. This super practical addition will help your horse move more freely when he’s galloping in the field.

Accessories:

Our best-selling product is our Quick Fit Over Reach Boots. They offer hardwearing, comfortable protection for your horse and are great value too, so it’s easy to see why they’re so popular! Originally only available in four colours, these popular boots and their Fleece Trimmed alternative now come in nine eye-catching colours. Very handy if you’re looking for a pair to go with your favourite matchy-matchy sets!

Quick Fit Over Reach Boots

Visibility

Rider safety is very important and high-visibility gear has always been a key part of our range. What began as a small collection of yellow visibility horse products has developed into a broad range of products for horse and rider.

Bridleway Yellow Exercise Sheet

Following feedback from retailers we decided to take a new direction for our hi-viz range. Research into the effectiveness of hi-viz colours showed that the best colour for standing out against green backgrounds, such as hedges or fields, is orange. So, in 2017 we brought out a new range, Visibility, which had a great range of orange accessories to kit out horse and rider from head to toe!

Visibility Gear for horse and rider

Rider Clothing

Bridleway Equestrian’s clothing ranges are designed with the busy equestrian lifestyle in mind. We understand that you want to look and feel great whether you’re mucking out or schooling your horse.

Our seasonal clothing collections ranges are stylish, practical and have something for every rider. These capsule collections offer coordinated colours and patterns to ensure that riders are comfortable and kitted out to tackle all weather. For our latest collection, mint and lilac colours are paired with a cool dark grey for a colour palette that’s fresh and fun.

Bridleway 2019 Colour Palette

For the 2019 collection, we’ve given our popular baselayers an upgrade. Still made with quick drying fabric and flat lock seams, these new baselayers now feature a short sleeve option, ¼ zip neck and a sporty contoured shape.

Here’s to the next 10 years!

We’re proud of how Bridleway Equestrian has grown over the last decade and we’re excited to continue innovating for the future. We’re already working on our next range of new products for horse and rider so keep an eye out online or at one of our fantastic retailer stores for their arrival.

Welcome to the family

Buying your first horse is an exciting time, but how can you prepare for his arrival? Here are some of our top tips.

You’ve found your perfect horse, and your vet has just called to say he’s passed his vetting with flying colours. Congratulations – the search is finally over and the countdown to your new horse’s move-in date is underway.

With the clock ticking, it’s time to think about what needs to be in place before you unload him in his new home. We’ve put together your ultimate first-time horsey shopping list to help give you and your new four-legged friend the best possible start together.

Food first

Horses spend the majority of their time eating forage – up to ten hours daily, in fact – so enabling this will be an important step in preparing for your new arrival. Find out whether hay is included in your livery package or, if not, ask your yard owner if they can recommend a local hay or haylage supplier.

Even if you plan to change your horse’s bucket feed, ask his previous owner what he eats and stock up on it. Dietary changes need to be made gradually over a couple of weeks to maintain gastric health, so it’s important not to switch to his new ration overnight.

TOP TIP

As with hay, bedding may also be included in your livery package, or you’ll need to make your own arrangements. Check with your horse’s previous owner to find out if he requires a dust-extracted variety.

What’s included?

If your horse comes with tack and rugs, this will reduce the amount of horsey shopping you need to do, although it’s not a bad idea to check all his items over for signs of wear and tear.

If he doesn’t come with tack, you’ll have to get a new saddle professionally fitted by a master saddler.  Ask you yard owner for recommendations, or check the Society of Master Saddlers registry.

If you need to buy or replace rugs, you’ll find a fantastic range on Bridleway’s website, from fly rugs to turnout rugs and coolers.

Did you know?

If your horse’s previous owner is keeping his bridle, why not call out a professional bridle fitter to find his perfect match. For a range of Bridleway bridles, click here.

Bon voyage

The day’s arrived, and you’re ready to pick your new horse up. In order to get him home safely, you’ll need a…

Some new horse owners encounter difficulty loading their horses, but that can be down to having a new handler. Look out for signs of tension, such as high head carriage and attempts to avoid the vehicle, and always be prepared to allow a little extra time coaxing him onto the ramp – rushing a horse who’s showing signs of nervousness rarely ends in your desired result.

Settle down

It can take horse a few weeks to settle in a new yard with new rules, handlers and companions, so it’s important not to put unnecessary pressure on him as he acclimatises to his new routine. It might be that you avoid riding him for a week or so, which may feel frustrating. However, in the future you’ll have all the riding time in the world, so why rush him?

For everything you’ll need for your new horse, visit bridlewayequestrian.com

 

5 ways to boost your horse’s summer coat

Spring is just around the corner – which usually means getting lost under a mountain of your horse’s loose hair. Make his coat transition a piece of cake with our top tips.

This time of year, you might find yourself wishing you’d just clipped your horse’s whole coat off. All it takes is a hint of warmer weather to fill the air with winter hairs – covering you, your clothes and your whole yard in the process.

Shedding season has its frustrations, but it’s important to remember that your horse’s coat plays a huge role in protecting his skin, keeping him warm and dry, and it can also give you a valuable insight into his wellbeing. A healthy horse has a beautiful, shiny coat because he has all the nutrients he requires to function – a dull, patchy or flaky coat might suggest he some kind of nutritional deficiency. Therefore, it pays to give the condition of his coat the attention it deserves and to do your bit to keep it looking and feeling its best. Here are five ways to help your horse shed his winter fluff and bring out the best in his summer coat.

1. Bath time

Bathing your horse is a great way to help him shed loose hair. However, if you’re worried about stripping the natural oils from his coat, try rubbing him over with a hot, damp cloth to dislodge some fluff and minimise any reducing of his waterproofing.

2. Go naked

When the weather’s warmed up, let your horse dislodge some of his winter hair himself by turning him out rugless. The shedding process can make horses feel itchy and although he might need a thorough groom after, he’ll appreciate the chance to have a roll and a scratch.

3. Supplement savvy

A shiny coat starts from within, and your horse requires protein, fats, minerals such as zinc and copper, and vitamins to grow healthy hair. Most of these can be found in general purpose feed supplements, while fats and proteins can be found in alfalfa or balancers. Oil is also a popular feed additive to promote coat health but it’s calorie-rich, so be mindful of how much you feed, especially if you’re watching your horse’s weight.

4. Worm-free zone

Internal parasites, such as worms, rob your horse of essential nutrients for optimum health, which can have a knock-on effect on his coat. Making sure he’s following a comprehensive worming plan will help mitigate this risk

5. Snug as a bug

Following a long grooming session or a full bath, your horse might appreciate a full-necked rain sheet to replace the waterproof coat oils lost in the process. Check out Bridleway’s rug range to find your horse’s perfect match.

For all your equestrian needs, visit bridlewayequestrian.com

Be your horse’s therapist – massage techniques that work

Like us, you probably feel that riding’s the best medicine money can buy – albeit pretty pricey, especially when on repeat prescription. You might come back from a hack relaxed and happy, but have you ever thought about giving something back to your horse? And no, we don’t just mean treats and fuss. Appealing to him as they may be, your horse could also really benefit from a bit of DIY massage. Here’s how to get started.

The benefits

While DIY massage shouldn’t replace your horses regular visits from a qualified equine massage therapist, using similar techniques can help:

  • Alleviate tension after exercise
  • Improve circulation
  • Aid suppleness and strength
  • Increase range of motion
  • Develop muscle tone

Here are some easy exercises for you to try.

Effleurage

In French, effleurage means ‘to skim’, which is effectively what you’ll be doing – moving your hands over your horse’s skin to warm up the muscles and prepare them for massage.

Keeping your hands in a relaxed position, use your palms to stroke slowly in the direction of your horse’s hair with a firm touch. Have one had placed on his body at all times while you skim with the other.

Petrissage

Used to go deeper into the muscle, alleviate tension and increase circulation, this technique is the ideal next step in your DIY massage and is best used on well-muscled areas such as your horses neck, saddle area and hindquarters.

Using the heel of your hand, place pressure on a muscle while moving in an upward motion, then gradually work your way along the muscle in this fashion. You can use your bodyweight to increase pressure and help refine your movements.

Percussion

This technique consists of a rapid, repetitive tapping that works deeper into your horse’s muscles and is a great circulation-boosting method. Again, percussion can be used on the neck, hindquarter and saddle areas, taking care to avoid any bonier parts of your horse.

There are a few different percussion techniques you can use. These include…

  • Cupping – making a rounded, cup shape with your hands and placing them lightly on your horse’s sides, lifting and dropping them in a regular rhythm as if you were patting him
  • Clapping – using the same rhythm as above, but flatten your hands
  • Hacking­ – repeat the same rhythm again­, using the side of your hand to apply the pressure. 

Each of these percussive techniques will have a different effect, and you horse may prefer some to others. You should introduce it gradually and practice on yourself first, so that you learn how it should feel.

Compression

This technique is helpful for releasing areas of tension, as it uses constant pressure to soften muscle. Horses tend to really enjoy this ­– you might even find that yours falls asleep!

Simply use your whole hand or arm to press on a muscle, holding the pressure until you feel your and sink into it slightly as it relaxes.

For all your equestrian needs, visit bridlewayequestrian.co.uk

Winter training tips from Bridleway Equestrian

Winter training exercises to get you and your horse ready for spring

If, like many, your horse has been enjoying a bit of a break over the winter, you might be hoping to kick-start the year with some productive time in the saddle. Here are some simple-but-effective exercises for you to try.

Exercise 1: Fitness first

Before asking your horse to tackle a long and difficult schooling session, it’s important you make sure his fitness levels are up to the task – particularly if he’s been completely out of work for a few weeks. It might mean three, four or more weeks of purely hacking, but it could mean the difference between your horse having a complete and successful competition season or picking up an injury along the way.

Once your horse is hacking comfortably for an hour or more a day with plenty of trot and canter work, incorporating hillwork will help boost his fitness. It works and strengthens all areas of his body, and combining it with transitions will go a long way to improving his muscle tone, too.

Try cantering up a hill, walking back down and repeating. Combined with the additional intensity of going uphill, these bursts of intensity followed by recovery – also known as interval training – will help strengthen your horse’s respiratory system and build him up to the sustained cardiovascular efforts he’ll have to make in competition.

Top tip: vary your hillwork by occasionally walking and trotting up hills as well as cantering, otherwise your horse may start to anticipate canter at the bottom of them.

Exercise 2: Side to side

Once your horse has attained a level of fitness that will allow you to school him for a sustained period, incorporating leg-yield in walk, trot and canter will help him become more flexible and supple through his shoulders, back and pelvis, while encouraging him to come through from behind in order to make the effort to cross his legs while maintaining his rhythm.

Start by asking for leg-yield from the three-quarter line to the track, and when you’re both comfortable, try from the track to the three quarter line, continuing straight for a few strides before leg-yielding back. To add a further challenge, try to reach the centre line as you leg-yield down the arena long side.

Exercise 3: Making shapes

If you’re hoping to get some jumping outings under your belt, cracking the code to the perfect canter and approach is a key part of your training. You can achieve this by riding a simple rectangle. This will help you achieve and maintain an active rhythm, while encouraging you to use your inside and outside aids evenly and engaging your horse’s hindquarters underneath him.

Working between the track and the centre line, place a marker just inside the track at M and F, and just inside the centre line at D and G. Place a pole horizontally at X. Each marker should prompt you to turn as if you’ve reached a T-junction – a 90° angle to follow the line of the rectangle shape. Focus on using your outside leg to prompt him to turn, rather than pulling him round with your inside rein. Try in walk first, before progressing to trot and canter, and try swapping your pole for a small jump.

For all your horsey needs, visit bridlewayequestrian.com

 

 

 

Winter feeding tips

Not sure about where to start with feeding your horse this winter? Our top tips will make organising his menu a breeze

Winter has arrived – shorter days, diminished grazing and, for many horses, more time in the stable means a complete change in routine as the cold weather rolls in. As your horse’s lifestyle adapts, so too do his dietary requirements and you’ll probably find yourself tweaking his daily ration to suit his altered hours of turnout and level of activity. Sound complicated? It needn’t be. All that’s required is a little consideration of his requirements and how winter changes the way you address them.

Fibre first

Fibre should make up the bulk of your horse’s diet, and his primary source of this particular nutrient forage – preferably ad-lib grass, hay or haylage. With reduced winter grazing and more time indoors, you need to ensure your horse is eating enough forage to keep his digestive system running smoothly, as insufficient quantities can lead to issues such as gastric ulcers.

To maintain his weight, your horse needs to consume 1.5 to 2% (dry matter) of his bodyweight in dry matter forage daily. With many paddocks containing little to no grass over winter, this needs to be replaced with good-quality hay or haylage. It’s a good idea to weigh out your horse’s winter forage ration to take the guesswork out of making up his haynets and put you more in control of maintaining a healthy weight for him.

Top tip

Horses have evolved to naturally lose a little condition – or ‘drop off’ –  over winter in preparation for the sugary grass in the spring. If your horse is going into winter a touch overweight, use the season to your advantage. Try turning him out in fewer or no rugs to encourage him to burn more calories keeping warm.

Nutrition mission

Reduced grazing means your horse will consume lower levels of vitamins and minerals from the grass – and what he does manage to nibble on will have a much lower nutritional value than in the summer months. Adding a comprehensive, general purpose vitamin and mineral supplement or balancer in his bucket feed at the recommended rate will cover all bases and ensure he gets the essential nutrients he needs at the right levels.

Top tip

Is you horse facing stable boredom? Why not inject a little fun into the way he eats his forage? Try giving him a forage block to nibble at, hide some carrots in his haynet, or give him several small piles or nets of forage to keep him moving.

Back to the grind?

If you’re planning to reduce your horse’s workload – maybe you’ve scheduled in a few weeks off for him ­– his daily calorie requirement will also be reduced. This could mean that his current amount of bucket feed will give him a calorie surplus, which will ultimately lead to weight gain. It might be that your horse can thrive on forage, chaff and a vitamin and mineral supplement or balancer alone for a time, but make sure you don’t cut his concentrated feed ration overnight – reduce the amount he eats gradually over at least a week.

For all your equestrian needs, visit bridlewayequestrian.com

Christmas with Bridleway Equestrian

With just over a month to go until Christmas, the team at Bridleway Equestrian have their tinsel and mince pies ready to go! To ensure you’re as prepared as possible for the holiday season, we’ve put together some fab gift ideas that will be perfect for the special horse or equestrian in your life (or just a great gift for yourself!)

For those who love a little bit of glitz

Both horse and rider can enjoy some glitz and glamour this Christmas with our sparkly style suggestions!

For the glamourous rider

Spoil them with a new pair of glitzy breeches, to add that little bit of extra luxury to their riding outfit. We suggest the Kinver Breeches, which feature gold embroidery and a matte floral silicone seat, or our Mendip Breeches, which have stylish silver glitter star print knee grips. Throw in a Sparkle Hat Cover in either royal, navy or pink to complete the look!

For the horse who loves to shine

Why not treat them to a cosy Fleece Lined Headcollar? With its attractive silver or gold sewn design your horse will look super elegant! Alternatively, the Classic Diamond Quilted Saddlecloths (available in Black, Navy or White) look effortlessly smart, and their gold cord trim provides an extra touch of sophistication.

For Matchy-Matchy enthusiasts

We all know them. You’ll never see this horse or pony in anything less than the perfect coordinated combo. Why not wrap them up a new matchy set? Our Signature range includes saddlecloths, bandages and fleece saddlecovers in five fabulous matching colours.

For the naughty pony

Have you got a cheeky horse who makes catching him seem more like you’re playing a game of tag? Choose a practical gift like the Break Free Headcollar, and you’ll not only be getting him something lovely and colourful, but you’ll have treated yourself to an easier life. With its reflective strips you’ll be able to spot your horse better at low light even if he’s playing hide and seek in the field.

For the spoilt pony

Does your horse have his own special stocking at Christmas? Well then, this category is probably for you! Alongside the carrots, why not treat your horse to something a little special. A sophisticated leather headcollar is always a winner. Choose between plain leather, leather with a nameplate, or our elegant Cowdray Headcollar and your horse will definitely look super smart. Fancy something with a bit more colour? Treat your horse to a new turnout rug –  there’s lots of options guaranteed to bring some fun to your horse’s field.

For those on a budget

Part of a Secret Santa with your horsey pals? Here are some great suggestions for under £15:

First look: Bridleway 2018/19 Collection

With the arrival of falling leaves comes Bridleway’s new clothing collection, offering some fantastic autumn/winter looks.

With easy-to-style pieces and great colours we just know you’ll adore this collection. To give you the low down, we’ve asked our designers to share their inspiration behind the range – straight from the horse’s mouth!

So, when designing a new range for Bridleway, what is most important to you?

“Practicality is key. When designing the new 2018 range, and all of our previous clothing, we always make sure that the clothing is fit for a busy equestrian lifestyle. Riders need to be comfortable as their wardrobe is always put to the test! The fabric and the fit play a big part in this, we test all of our styles and sizes on riders to ensure we achieve optimum comfort.”

We’ve seen some new colours make an appearance in this catalogue, what’s the story behind those?

“Well, practicality is great but we all want to look fabulous too! This year’s colour palette brings together a traditional navy with a sage green. We wanted to step away from the norm and bring in a new staple colour, and sage was the perfect option. It is smart and stylish, and also looks great with denim – making it perfect leisure wear too! All that topped off with pink lining and trims… Who doesn’t love a little pop of pink?! Not us!”

What did you have in mind when designing the new range?

“We wanted this compact range to provide everything you need for daily equestrian life. We focused on layering options, so that you are covered whatever the weather. Mornings can be cold, so this is where the Willow Padded Jacket and the Cherry Pom Pom Hat come in handy, but as the day goes on and you build up a sweat riding you can rely on the Rowan Midlayer & Sycamore Baselayer to keep you at the perfect temperature! The versatility of this range also means you can dust off the straw, swap your breeches for your favourite jeans and you’ll look great away from the yard too.”

The Collection:

From the sporty Sycamore Baselayer to the lightweight, padded Willow Jacket, meet the Bridleway 2018/19 clothing collection – making layering, and looking good, effortless.

Sycamore Baselayer

Sporty and functional with a round neck and flat lock seams, the Sycamore is the perfect foundation for any riding outfit. Multi-stretch fabric and moisture wicking properties ensure you can work hard without compromising on comfort.

Style suggestions:

Wear with a pair of riding tights or breeches, choosing additional top layers and accessories to match the weather. Looks great when co-ordinated with the Hickory Hat Cover or Cherry Pom Pom Hat.


Rowan Midlayer

Offering a flattering, fitted silhouette, this lightweight jacket is perfect for multi-layered looks. Whether you wear it riding, or as part of a casual, leisure look, this sporty top will help keep you at the optimum temperature.

Style suggestions:

Slip the Rowan Midlayer over the Sycamore baselayer to create a lightweight combo perfect for riding. In cooler weather, add the Pine Wind Soft Shell and a coordinated Cherry Pom Pom hat for extra warmth on the yard.


Pine Wind Shell Jacket

This smart jacket is at home anywhere you are. Wind resistant with a lined collar and colour-popping contrast trims, this navy jacket is a definite wardrobe winner.

Style suggestions:

Whilst this jacket works with any casual outfit, we love how great it looks styled with a baselayer, midlayer and a pair of comfy riding tights. With its pink accents, this jacket looks fabulous when coordinated with the Hickory Hat Cover and pink pom pom!


Willow Padded Jacket

Whether you’re headed to the shops or out riding, this padded jacket offers a flattering, contoured fit. Finished off with gorgeous pink accents, elasticated cuffs and a handy inside pocket – perfect for storing your phone or hiding some polos.

Style suggestions:

This jacket looks fantastic with denim, just add the Cherry Pom Pom Hat (we’d pick pink or sage) for the perfect cosy autumn/winter outfit. For riding, wear the Willow Jacket over a baselayer, with a pair of winter riding tights, and you’re ready for a cosy winter hack.


Maple Winter Riding Tights

An undoubtable winter essential. Fleece lined multi-stretch fabric and flat lock seams ensure your legs are comfortable and cosy on colder days. The streamlined leg cuffs are perfect for tucking into your favourite pair of boots.

Style suggestions:

Be warned, you’ll never want to take these off in winter. You can pair any of our new tops or jackets with these tights and know you’ve got the perfect riding outfit ready to go. Inject a bit of extra colour with the pink Cherry Pom Pom Hat or Hickory Hat Cover with pink pom pom, plus some Hemlock Socks for cosy toes.


Find this fantastic new collection at your local Bridleway Equestrian stockist or online!

Become a dressage maestro with these top training exercises

We all know achieving dressage success is no free-walk on a long rein in the park. It takes time, patience and productive training to achieve the marks you want. If you’ve found yourself in a bit of a schooling rut lately, never fear – follow these simple exercises to get your horse moving in a forward rhythm, a supple frame and with an elastic contact.

Warm-up: Long and low

Encouraging your horse to warm up in a long, low frame – stretching throughout his body with an extended neck – means you can coax him into a forward rhythm while asking him to seek the contact. Don’t start with your reins at washing-line length, though – allow him to gradually take the rein down as you work, incorporating simple shapes such as 20m circles and 5m loops to give him an active contact to work into and to occupy his mind. Don’t worry if he’s doesn’t have a beautifully arched neck, as you’re aiming for a forwardness and feeling your horse at the end of your rein. Besides, a curve in the neck doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve achieved a good contact!

Exercise 1: Bend and listen

This serpentine exercise is a real test of your warm-up. If your horse is moving forward and seeking the contact correctly, you should be able to gradually pick up a shorter rein and maintain that lovely, elastic feeling with an active step. Your job is to maintain this feeling around the curves of your serpentine and for your trot-walk-trot transitions over the centre line.

Start on either rein and establish an active trot and with horse listening to you. Preparing your turns is key, so make sure your line of vision anticipates the movements you’re about to make, your inside leg supports the turn, and your outside leg maintains impulsion and guards against falling out. Meanwhile, your outside hand should permit the stretch to the inside through his neck.

Before your transition, half-halt to prepare your horse and remind him to keep seeking the contact before asking him to come forwards to walk, keeping your core engaged and your leg secure to prevent hollowing. When you ask for trot again, make sure you don’t throw away the contact and keep looking for your next turn. Next, step things up by trying the exercise in canter.

Wrapping it up: Super circles

In order to ride a correct 10m circle, especially in canter, you’ll need a horse who’s forward enough to maintain his rhythm, supple enough to follow the curve of the circle through his body and accepting enough of the contact to guard against rushing, breaking and falling out. If you’ve not done this exercise before, start with a 15m circle and work your way down.

To ride a correct ten-metre circle, you need to leave the track just after A, touch D at the top of your circle and re-join the track again just before A. You might find you need to use more leg than on your serpentine curves, but don’t let this encourage you to collapse your position or throw away your reins – focus on riding your horse in a way that allows him to move forward and bend around the circle without rushing.

Heading to a dressage competition soon? Get yourself kitted out with Bridleway’s range of jackets, saddlecloths and more, visit bridlewayequestrian.com

Equine dehydration: what you need to know.

Dehydration in horses can be very serious, so being able to spot and prevent it, particularly during the warm summer months, is an absolute must. Making sure your horse has access to a clean, plentiful supply of water at all times is essential, but there’s certainly more you can do to make sure your horse avoids dehydration.

Spotting the signs

At best, your horse’s performance will be affected by dehydration, but in more severe cases it can lead to him exhibiting the symptoms of colic and you’ll need to call your vet.

Dehydrated horses can seem lethargic and produce thick, sticky saliva. Their urine is often darker and their mucus membranes, such as their lips, can become particularly red and congested.

Pinching the skin on your horse’s neck and counting the number of seconds it takes to spring back used to be a widespread method to check for dehydration, but recent research has since suggested that this is unreliable. Instead, checking for tacky gums is a more accurate, easy-to-test indicator of dehydration.

Did you know?

The most accurate way to test for dehydration is to have your vet examine a blood sample for the level of proteins in it – a high level indicates dehydration.

In the summertime

Horses are designed to cool down through sweating. By doing so, they also lose water and body salts, which contributes to dehydration. But, did you know your horse loses water through respiration, too? Therefore, exercising your horse in hot weather, causing him to sweat and increasing his respiration rate, contributes heavily to loss of water and can put him at risk of dehydration.

If you’re taking your horse out competing all day while the weather’s warm, there are plenty of steps you can take to keep him hydrated. Make sure he’s got access to water at all times just as you would at home, and try adding a flavouring such as apple juice if he’s reluctant to drink and if he won’t at all, try a slushy feed such as sugarbeet. Bring plenty with you, as washing him off after his class will help cool him down and reduce his need to sweat and he’s more likely to want to drink water that tastes more familiar to him, too.

Winter blues

It’s not just the summer months and exercise that pose a risk to him. The moisture in grass goes a long way to contributing to your horse’s daily water needs, so when this is scarce over the winter and is replaced with much drier hay, he’ll need to drink much more to stay hydrated. Horses can be put off by ice in their buckets, so you could try insulating his water bucket by putting it inside a tyre and packing round the edges with straw, or bobbing a tennis ball in it to prevent it freezing over.

What you feed can also help guard against dehydration. Again, feeding sugarbeet can help increase his water intake, but consider your horse’s forage ration, too. Haylege has a much higher moisture content than hay and will increase how much water he consumes, but you could also try soaking your hay.

Last but not least, it’s imperative you replace the body salts your horse loses through sweat and respiration – not just the water. You can do this by feeding an electrolyte supplement at the recommended rate.

For all your equestrian needs, visit www.bridlewayequestrian.com