Category Archives: Care

Your guide to show rugs and coolers

Our guide to show rugs and coolers will ensure you’re kitted out for the competition season.

The world of rugs is vast and full of options, but our guide will have you show-ready in no time. From super-smart show rugs to lightweight coolers, find the ideal rug for you and your horse’s needs.

Show Rug vs. Cooler

Both show rugs and coolers offer great practical benefits for you and your horse:

Coolers:

  • Highly efficient at wicking moisture and sweat away
  • Made with lightweight technical or mesh fabric
  • Breathable
  • Quick drying

Show Rugs:

  • Wicking
  • Lightweight coverage
  • Smart style
  • Multipurpose
  • Protection against dust and flies
  • Perfect for layering on cold days

Coolers

As their name suggests, coolers are designed to help your horse cool down, so they’re perfect for your horse post-workout. Just as you need time to catch your breath without getting chilly after exercise, your horse needs a little help to prevent him from cooling down too quickly. Even in the summer, a cooler can be a great help for maintaining your horse’s ideal body temperature, whether on the journey back from competing, after a fast hack, or a visit to the gallops.

Whilst the materials used may vary, coolers all have one thing in common – breathability. They’re expertly designed to wick away moisture without your horse cooling down too fast. This prevents muscles from getting stiff or sore from tensing against the cold.

Mesh Scrim Coolers:

Mesh fabric is super lightweight and great for cooling your horse on warmer days. It wicks away moisture and dries quickly too, regulating your horse’s temperature and preventing chilling.

Waffle Coolers:

Waffle fabric is hardwearing and designed to provide a buffer against the cold, while wicking away moisture. This makes waffle coolers a practical choice for travelling.

Show Rugs

Show rugs help keep your horse looking neat and tidy as you travel and prepare for your latest competition.

Usually made of a light material, show rugs offer a balance between warmth and style. A good quality rug will be hardwearing enough to withstand use while travelling, but soft to keep your horse comfortable.

If your horse is prone to ruining all the hard work you put into plaiting his mane, choose a smart show rug with a detachable neck for additional protection.

Sheets

Ideal for keeping your horse spotless. They’re hardwearing and light enough to prevent over-heating but provide a little warmth for those chilly summer evenings or when he’s freshly bathed.

Fleece Rugs

Lightweight and smart, fleece rugs are not only great for shows and travelling, they’re useful for cooling, drying and stable wear too. The soft fleece fabric wicks away sweat to keep your horse dry and comfortable.

Quilted Rugs

With thermal properties, quilted rugs are ideal on colder show days. Soft to touch with a bonded lining that wicks away moisture, these rugs are also ideal for travelling, drying and stable wear.

Discover our full range of rugs and coolers on bridlewayequestrian.com

 

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 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

Pros and cons of boarding your horse that everyone should think about

Unless you’re lucky enough to have stabling at home, if you own a horse then it’s highly likely you keep him at livery. There are several different options available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to do your research when deciding which is right for you.

Grass livery is usually the cheapest and most basic way of housing your horse. However, because you’re only paying for a field, it best suits hardier types who can cope with living out all year round. This can sometimes also necessitate creative solutions for storage or facilities, and it’s important to consider what you’d do if your horse suddenly needed boxrest or reduced turnout.

DIY livery offers a stable and grazing, but you’re responsible for all aspects of your horse’s care.  This means carrying out tasks such as feeding and turning out in your own time, but some horses may find doing this at a different time to their neighbours unsettling. You’re also responsible for sourcing your own feed and bedding, giving you more flexibility but an additional expense.

Exactly what’s included in part livery will depend on your yard. It normally covers all day-to-day aspects of caring for your horse, including turning out, mucking out, and supervision for the vet and farrier, plus the cost of feed and bedding. This makes it a useful option if you work full-time because it’s labour-saving and gives you more time to enjoy the fun parts of horse ownership. If you’re short on time or going away for a time, you can also upgrade to full livery, which will include having your horse exercised by yard staff, too.

Once you’ve decided what type works for you, there are other things to consider…

  • Can your horse cope with hustle and bustle? A large yard can be all go, with lots of people and horses coming in and out every day. While some horses can thrive in this type of busy environment, others do better at a smaller, quieter yard with only a few other horses.
  • What facilities do you need? Different yards offer a range of facilities, such as indoor and outdoor arenas, wash boxes and horse-walkers. It’s likely that the more on offer, the higher the cost will be.
  • Do you sometimes need help with your horse? Some DIY yards will offer additional services, such as turning out, for an extra fee. While this isn’t usually cost-effective in the long-term, it can be useful on occasion.
  • What are the hidden costs? While DIY livery may seem cheaper, it’s worth factoring in how much money you spend on fuel driving to and from the yard, plus the wear-and-tear on your car. Once you’ve added this in, you may find that the cost isn’t too dissimilar to part livery.Whichever type of livery you choose for your horse, Bridleway has you covered for all your horsey needs. Visit bridlewayequestrian.co.uk.