Category Archives: Seasonal Care

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

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

Handling the Heat – 10 Tips for Better Summer Riding

The UK is currently experiencing the longest heatwave it’s had in five years. Over lots of cool water and an ice cream or two, Bridleway’s team have been discussing how we, and our horses, have been coping with this beautiful but troublesome weather.

Here are our top 10 tips to help you handle the heat when riding this summer:

  1. Change your routine
    Ride in the coolest parts of the day, avoiding the midday sun. Get up early or wait a bit longer in the evening before riding to make sure you and your horse don’t overheat when you’re out. Consider stabling your horse during the hottest part of day too, as this will protect them from the sun and pesky flies.
  2. Use fly spray AFTER you tack up
    A good fly spray is a lifesaver for horse and rider in the summer months, as it is the peak season for horseflies and midges. However, remember to only apply to your horse’s coat after you’ve tacked up – fly spray under a confined area, like the saddle, can cause irritation when your horse sweats.
  3. Choose breathable fabric for your horse
    Even when riding during the cooler parts of the day, keeping your horse dry and cool is important. By choosing a saddlecloth and girth that are made with a breathable or wicking fabric, your horse will stay comfortable. Saddlecloths made from a quick-dry fabric will draw away moisture from your horse and keep him cool. Plus, an ergonomic girth like the Contour Comfort Girth allows greater airflow and reduces moisture, minimising the risk of rubbing or chafing.
  4. Protect yourself
    Whether you’re riding in an open arena, hacking out, or just doing yard work, remember to keep yourself protected too. Stay in the shade where possible, regularly top up your sun cream, and wear breathable clothing, like riding tights or a base layer. The base layer’s moisture wicking properties will keep you feeling fresh, and longer sleeves, whilst sounding counterproductive, will protect your skin from the sun and do a better job at keeping you cool than short sleeves.
  5. Stay hydrated
    Whilst long hacks aren’t advisable during the hottest parts of the day, if you are out for a while, take supplies with you in a handy bum bag. A bottle of water and an energy bar will keep you going and help replace the nutrients and water you’ll lose when you sweat. Offer your horse water on return from your ride and don’t forget to have a drink yourself.
  6. Use a fly veil
    Your horse’s ears are a sensitive spot that flies love to attack. Keeping them covered with a fly veil can protect them from biting insects and have the added benefits of blocking noise and looking good too (especially when paired with a matching saddlecloth!).
  7. Avoid still or stagnant water
    From puddles to ponds, areas of still water are a breeding ground for midges. If your usual hack takes you near a pond, try and find an alternative route to stop your horse getting pestered.
  8. Take it steady
    A lack of rain and constant sunshine dries out the ground, making for uncomfortable footing for your horse. When hacking, try to avoid riding too quickly on hard ground or rocky surfaces. Keep to a walk or trot, as this is less likely to cause damage to your horse’s legs. Stick to an arena for your faster paced schooling work.
  9. Don’t forget the cool down
    Once you’ve returned from your ride, take your time to cool your horse down properly. Sponging or hosing him off will help bring his temperature down and a good body wash brush and sweat scraper will help make the process easier. Don’t forget to reapply the fly spray once he’s dry and pop on a fly mask and lightweight fly sheet for extra protection.
  10. Make cooling treats for your horse
    After a warm ride, your horse will need to cool down and stay hydrated. Help him by using handy tricks that encourage him to drink more, such as adding apples for him to bob for in his water trough or bucket. Another fun idea is to create a frozen horse lick with water and chopped up apples and carrot. He’ll be cool, hydrated and kept amused with his very own ice lolly!

Hopefully these 10 tips will help you and your horse stay comfortable and make the most of this British heatwave.

For all of your summer equestrian needs, visit your local Bridleway stockist or  www.bridlewayequestrian.com

Bridleway Grooming Tote

Grooming routines your horse will love

Grooming your horse isn’t just about making him look squeaky-clean. Regular grooming will keep him comfortable while he’s wearing his tack, and promotes overall skin health and loosens his muscles. It also offers the chance to thoroughly check him over and help him shed any dead hairs. Plus, daily grooming allows for valuable bonding time and will build trust between you and your horse. Here’s how to make the time you spend grooming him extra special.

A shedload of hair

At this time of year, loose hair can make your horse hot, itchy and uncomfortable. Turning him out without a rug on, if the weather permits, will let him have a roll to dislodge some hair – which will give you the chance to give him a thorough groom when you bring him back in.

You can help him speed up the shedding process as you groom him. Use a rubber curry comb in vigorous circles to further dislodge any hair and help bring mud to the surface. Once you’ve done this all over, use a brush with stiff, long bristles, such as the Bridleway Long Bristled Dandy Brush, to flick away the hair and mud you’ve worked out of his coat. Finish by rubbing a hot, damp cloth over him to lift away any remaining hair and dirt to leave him with a clean coat. Add baby oil to the cloth to give him that extra sparkle.

Hot and bothered

With warmer weather on the way, your horse will really appreciate a cool down after a ride, particularly if he’s hot and sweaty. It’ll help loosen off his muscles after hard work, too.

Rather than just hosing him down, try using a wash brush to really work the sweat out of his coat to avoid leaving marks. Concentrate on where his saddle has been to help alleviate any tightness in the muscles post-exercise. When you’ve finished, don’t forget to use a sweat scraper to remove any excess water from his coat – the Bridleway Spotless range includes a good range of grooming equipment and matching grooming bag to keep your kit together.

Best of friends

What better way to unwind is there than spending time pampering your horse? Not only will this strengthen the bond between you both, but there are also added health benefits that come with it, such as boosted circulation and a sense of calm.

A great way to bond with your horse is to mimic the way another horse would groom him. You might often see your horse and his field mate stood side-by-side, grooming each other’s manes, necks and backs. Focus on grooming him in these areas, with short brush strokes. With any luck, he’ll turn his head and groom you in return!

Bridleway products and great advice can be found at your local Bridleway stockist, find your nearest at bridlewayequestrian.com

Top tips to keep your horse happy this summer!

Everybody loves summer – the weather’s warm, the fields are green and you can finally enjoy a long, relaxed hack to help unwind after a stressful day at work. However, summer does come with its downsides, so read on to find out our top tips for keeping your horse happy.

While your horse may be able to enjoy more time out in the field now that the ground has dried up, one of the downsides of summer is increased numbers of flies and midges. Fly spray can be a good deterrent, but sometimes a stronger approach is needed to repel pesky insects. Invest in a quality fly rug made from lightweight, breathable fabric, such as the Bridleway Edmonton combo fly rug or Sweet-itch Bug Stoppa rug, and team with a fly mask for head-to-tail protection. If possible, stable your horse at dawn and dusk, when the midges are at their worst, and keep him away from areas of standing water because these areas are a haven for biting insects.

British weather is notoriously changeable. If your horse needs protection from summer rain showers or a sudden chilly spell, a quality lightweight turnout rug, such as the Bridleway Ontario rug with its funky print, is perfect for keeping him dry and comfortable. Choose a rug made from breathable fabric and keep a careful eye on him to make sure he doesn’t get too hot under the midday sun.

One of the brilliant things about summer is that you can take your horse out and about to lots of shows and other fun activities. However, while these are great fun, working up a sweat can lead to dehydration and the loss of important mineral salts. Help replenish these by giving your horse an electrolyte supplement, which should be added to a bucket of water or a wet, slushy feed, such as soaked sugar beet. Don’t forget to take a water carrier and sweat scraper with you on your travels so you can wash away sweat, which might cause irritation if it’s left to dry on his skin, and bring down his body temperature, too. If you’re working him at home, a cooling spray with the hose will lower his body temperature, remove sweat and make him feel more comfortable.

It might be nice to feel warm again after months of cold weather, but the sun can be fierce. If your horse has areas of sensitive pink skin, consider investing in some sun protection cream to prevent him being burned. Avoid riding in the middle of the day, when the sun is at its strongest, or try to stick to shady areas and indoor arenas.

For all your horsey needs this summer, visit bridlewayequestrian.

Christmas Gifts For Every Rider

Here at Bridleway, we already have reindeer galloping through our dreams, jingle bells in our heads and we may have munched on a mince pie or two (it’s not too early, is it?) as we count down the days until Christmas.

With the festive season is on its way, there’s nothing we like better than helping others find that perfect gift for horse-loving friends and family, so here is our ultimate Christmas gift guide:

The all-weather rider

For all-weather riders, we have the perfect Christmas gifts for staying safe, dry and warm on darker nights.

Our yellow exercise sheet with tail flap is lightweight, bright and designed to ensure the rider is seen no matter what the weather – perfect for misty, morning rides. To keep ears cosy in the yard, our fleece ear warmer headband is warm, stylish and comfortable, there’s a matching neck warmer too.

 The fashion conscious rider

Buying the perfect gift for the fashion conscious rider can be tricky, but here are our top presents for your most on-trend friends. The Lavello bridlework range offers high quality-workmanship in long lasting Italian leather. Bridles feature ergonomic, pressure relief headpieces, padded for comfort and come complete with non-stretch rubber grip reins.

For everyday style, the jean-look Marlborough ladies breeches from our latest collection are made from a lightweight fabric and feature contrast stitching, a rear pocket design and our Bridleway logo. Available in white, navy and grey, these are a must for all on-trend riders.

 Treat someone special

For that special someone that deserves a Christmas treat with added luxury, why not spoil them (and their horse) with the luxurious Lambskin half lined saddlecloth. Designed to increase comfort and style for the rider, this saddlecloth is crafted from super soft Australian Merino lambskin.

If you’re looking to treat someone to a cosy, new winter rug, the heavy weight Vancouver combo has an ultra-modern sporty design and is perfect for extreme weather conditions. It features a 1200d ripstop outer and 350g fill to ensure a warm and dry horse no matter what the conditions.

 Stocking fillers

For a low-cost stocking filler, our dotty socks are one of our favourite new products. The fun, colourful design is on-trend and they are the perfect present to keep toes toasty and warm this winter.

Another option is our eye catching, best-selling quick fit over reach boots. These boots are designed to protect the horse’s heel bulb against knocks, and are available in a whole variety of bright colours including: black, pink, purple, white, brown, blue, orange and green.

 

 

How To Stop Your Horse Getting Spooked

With Halloween just around the corner we thought it was the perfect opportunity to look at why horses get spooked. Even when there’s not a ghost or ghoul in sight, horses can become fearful and riders need to understand how to manage those fears in an effective way.

Some horses have a naturally nervous disposition or can struggle with a particular phobia and need more encouragement to stay calm. It’s important to remember that these obstacles can be overcome.

It’s unlikely to be a blood-sucking vampire or werewolf that makes your horse nervous. In fact, horses are often more logical than their riders and their fears will usually be because they perceive danger – for example, a loud bang or an unrecognisable object. Horses will bolt or rear-up as a defence mechanism. This natural instinct could keep them alive in the wild, however it’s important that you don’t have to worry that they will be spooked by every little thing – putting you and your horse in potential danger.

Here are our top tips for managing your horse’s fears:

  • Keep calm and carry on

Understanding how your horse feels can help you to predict their behaviour and alert you to any nervousness. A calm and relaxed horse will have a level head, even breathing, no tension in their flanks or neck and soft eyes. Ensure you also remain calm, but alert and watchful for changes that suggest your horse is becoming stressed and likely to get spooked.

  • Watch out for ‘seasonal stressors’

With bonfire night and the festive season already on the horizon, now is the time to think about how these events could cause unnecessary stress. Fireworks are the main offender, as loud noises and bright lights can be very worrying for your horse. However, there are some simple tricks to ensure your horse feels comfortable. Leave a radio on to block out loud, sudden noises and leave some lights on to stop flashing fireworks scaring them. Stable toys can also be great for providing a distraction.

  • Everyday spooks

Some horses can be scared of everyday objects or even other animals. In this instance there is no quick fix and you may need to be patient in your approach. Encouraging your horse to get used to the ‘scary’ object can be one way to help them overcome their fear. To give them confidence, you could take another horse to lead on a route that includes the object or animal that makes them nervous. Or, encourage your horse to approach what causes the fear slowly, allowing them to back away if they choose to. Simply being near the perceived ‘danger’ can be enough, and you could always try sharing a carrot or apple, or singing a song to keep them calm and relaxed.

  • Take time to overcome their fears  

Horses, just like riders, can get over their fears and learn to be brave in the face of danger. They need a strong, confident rider to lead them but this doesn’t mean yelling, jerking the reins or forcing them to confront their fears head on. Your horse needs to build up trust and have confidence to follow you. Don’t rush, it will take time to help your horse overcome their fears, but by slowly introducing things that are scary they will eventually get used to them and over time they will become confident and relaxed.

Riding in a Winter Wonderland

At Bridleway we love riding in winter. There is no more dust, it doesn’t get too hot and what better place to see the seasons change than from your saddle?

The trees are already starting to show the first signs of autumn setting in and soon there will be a carpet of crunchy leaves to trot through. But nothing beats seeing the first snowflakes of winter, getting wrapped up and venturing out through freshly laid snow.

Winter riding can be an exhilarating experience, but it can also be cold, wet and miserable if you aren’t prepared for the conditions. Here we’ve compiled our top tips for surviving (and enjoying!) the winter season:

Warm up and cool down – As the temperature plummets, both you and your horse need to spend more time warming up and cooling down, so make sure you factor in extra time. It is also a good idea to invest in a fleece rug, which will make the ideal cooler for your horse after a heavy workout. You can then rug him up in his normal stable or turnout rug.

Stay hydrated – Ensuring both you and your horse stay hydrated may not seem as important in the colder months but it should still be a priority. Frosty nights can freeze your horse’s water trough, leaving him without fluids all night. If this happens, break the ice and also offer your horse some tepid water, as they will be more likely to drink if it’s not too cold.

Stay toasty and take supplies – It is also essential to be prepared for changing conditions through the winter months. Check the weather before planning to go riding and if heavy snow or thunder storms are forecast, it may be better to train indoors. If you are riding out in cold weather, ensure you take extra layers of clothing, some snacks and plenty to drink (a flask of hot chocolate can do wonders to warm you up after a long ride!).

Stay visible – Investing in the right kit is a must as the weather gets chillier and it is essential that you and your horse stay safe and visible in foggy mornings and dark evenings. Bright gear such as reflective leg wraps, tail guards and exercise sheets, can ensure you are seen by oncoming traffic and pedestrians.

Reward yourself – After a long day galloping across the great British countryside in winter time there is nothing better than a cosy, relaxing evening, so why not warm up in a hot bubble bath and enjoy some hearty, traditional British fayre. 

Off On Holiday? Keep Calm and Gallop On!

Whether heading off on holiday or taking part in a show, visiting a new place can be stressful if you’re worried about keeping your horse calm when venturing away from home. If your horse struggles to adapt to new places or is simply not used to traveling, don’t panic – with our simple tips you could soon be calm and relaxed no matter what adventures lie ahead: –

Stick to your everyday routine
Horses like routine, so avoid breaking it where possible even if you are on holiday or competing. If you do have to make changes, plan in advance and tweak your day-to-day routine while at home to give your horse time to adjust.

Safety in numbers
Why not bring a friend or companion for you and your horse? Having a friend to support you will help you to stay calm and allow you to maintain control if your horse becomes anxious. The same can be said for your horse; a companion horse can work wonders to ease their nerves.

Practice the situation
If you are entering a competition, take your horse to a practice show beforehand so you can learn how your horse reacts in that particular situation and adapt the care you provide. If you’re planning a horse-friendly holiday, why not ask a fellow horse-loving friend if your horses can swap stables for the night. This will give your horse the opportunity to get used to being in a new environment and you will be able to gauge how they feel.

Stay confident
Horses can be spooked if they feel a lack of confidence from their rider. If you are feeling at all nervous, remember the days and weeks of training you have put in with your horse and the strong relationship you have. Simply by taking some deep breaths and walking your horse in figures of eight can calm both of you down and focus any nervous energy on the activity in hand.

Create a distraction with stable toys
Stable toys are a relatively new phenomenon but a great way to maintain your horse’s attention with something recognisable from their home environment. Most involve food and encourage natural foraging behaviour. Footballs are also great toys and some racehorse trainers simply use empty containers filled with nuts to hold their horse’s attention. Generally horses only focus on one thing at a time, so if you can maintain their attention with a toy they recognise any worries over their new environment should soon be forgotten.

 

All About Rain Scald

Spring time may mean longer days and lighter evenings for riding, but it also brings with it warm, muddy and wet conditions which can be the perfect environment for certain diseases, such as rain scald, to thrive.

Here at Bridleway we have pulled together all you need to know about rain scald so that you can spot the signs and symptoms, however it is always advisable that you talk to your vet to confirm any diagnosis.

What is rain scald?

Rain scald is a common skin disease caused by a bacterial infection. The disease creates scabs on the surface of the skin and can be uncomfortable for the horse. Once identified it is easily treatable.

It often effects horses in wet and humid environments, where insects can bite and spread the disease.

What symptoms should I be looking out for?

Rain scald can be easily identified by looking at the affected area of skin which will be covered by crusty scabs; these can vary in size and often have matted tufts of hair attached.

Although the scabs can be uncomfortable for the horse, the affected area is not usually itchy. The disease can often appear on the horses back and neck, where the rain runs off the coat.

Treatment of rain scald

Although minor cases of rain scald can heal on their own it is advisable to treat all cases. Affected areas should be treated with an antibacterial rinse, then the scabs gently removed, allowing the skin to breathe.

Dry the skin by using clean towels to ensure the bacteria is not reintroduced to the affected area and finally apply an antibiotic topical cream to encourage healing. If possible, it is suggested that your horse is brought into a stable to ensure they stay dry until they have recovered.

It is always advised that a vet visits the horse and they may wish to send a skin sample to a lab to confirm the diagnosis. In severe cases antibiotics may also need to be prescribed. Recovery from rain scald can take several weeks, during which time you may not be able to ride your horse.

Don’t panic…

Rain scald is a common disease, so don’t panic if you spot the symptoms. What’s important is to speak to your vet and ensure your horse receives the right treatment quickly.