New Year, New You

Here at Bridleway HQ, we have come up with our top five equestrian New Year’s resolutions to inspire you to make 2015 your best year yet!

1)    Find your new favourite Bridleway

Bridleways in the UK are actually more common than you might think and some provide beautiful scenic areas where you can ride your horse. Everyone loves a little adventure, so why not ride out just a little bit further and see what new routes you can discover? You can also check this handy map to find the Bridleways closest to you

2)    Learn more about horsemanship

Many equestrians consider their horse’s health to be more important than their own but aren’t as knowledgeable as they could be when it comes to illnesses. Finding out more about the most common illnesses, such as sweet itch and laminitis, can make all the difference when caring for your horse. It will also better equip you to recognise the tell-tale first signs of an illness which may help to ward it off.

3)    Try something new

Doing the same things over and over can get a little tedious, even for your horse! If you’re getting a bit bored with your riding programme, why not spice it up a bit and try something new? There are so many activities you can do with your horse from trail riding to eventing, to playing polo and endurance riding. While it might seem silly to try show jumping with your dressage horse, a break from routine might provide a much needed refresh for you and your equestrian friend.

4)    Spend more time in the saddle

This seems like the most obvious resolution for all equestrians, but it’s surprising how many feel that they don’t spend enough time riding their horse. We all wish we could find that extra half an hour to spend with our horses and the New Year is the perfect time to start. Even by getting up 10 minutes earlier or going to bed 10 minutes later, you can spend more time building a relationship with your horse and becoming a more experienced rider. Also, for those who have vowed to get in shape this year, horse riding is one of the best exercises for burning calories. Check out this calorie burning chart to see how much you could lose

5)    Treat yourself to a new equestrian wardrobe

We always seem to spend a lot of money on our horses, but never ourselves! Make 2015 the ‘year of you’ and update your equestrian wardrobe. Throw out those jodhpurs with the holes and the tired yard boots and swap for something more stylish like the Bridleway Banbury Cross Stich Jodhpurs and Zip Front Paddock Boots. Go on, treat yourself!

Keep Your Horse Safe This Firework Season

It’s that time of the year again when the nights draw in and we celebrate Guy Fawkes Night with fireworks. Although firework displays can be exciting, they can be a nightmare for horse owners.

A recent study by Petplan Equine found that 60% of animals became distressed by loud noises and flashing lights, making the firework season a stressful time of the year for horse owners. Check out these top tips to help keep your horse calm and safe during firework displays:

–         Try to find out details of any planned firework displays that are close to your stables. Explain to the organiser that you have horses nearby and ask them to ensure fireworks are set off in the opposite direction.

–         It can be tempting to move your horse away for the night, however, this can cause more stress to you and your equine friend. Try and keep your horse in a familiar environment and in its normal routine to help it feel safe and secure.

–         If your horse does react particularly badly to fireworks, try and arrange for them to stay in another familiar environment or with a trusted friend.

–         If your horse normally roams the fields, try to avoid causing stress by stabling him. You must ensure that all fencing and gates are secure as loud noises may cause your horse to panic and try to escape.

–         Covering your horse’s ears or leaving a radio on outside the stable can help muffle the sound of the fireworks and help keep your horse calm.

–         Distractions work a treat to help your horse stay calm and keep its mind away from the fireworks. Make sure he has plenty of hay to keep him busy.

–         Make sure you look after yourself. Staying with your horse through firework displays can help keep them calm, but try to keep your distance if they get startled to protect yourself from injury. Also, it is not advised to try and ride your horse during a display, if they become frightened you may lose control and put yourself at risk.

–         Finally, after the displays are over, check your fields for any stray fireworks or damage, as this could cause injury at a later date.

For more information about keeping your horse safe and fireworks laws, check out the Blue Cross firework fact sheet

Be Safe. Be Seen

It looks like summer is over, and with shorter days all part and parcel of the changing seasons, riding in dim light is something we understand can’t always be avoided. With this in mind it’s important to be sure to keep yourself and your horse or pony safe as the nights draw in by making sure you can be seen at all times.

On dark, poorly-lit roads it can be difficult for drivers to spot you on your horse. By wearing fluorescent clothing, drivers have a much better chance of seeing you straight away.

There’s a vast range of reflective gear available for both horse and rider in order to maximise visibility. Reflective wraps, such as our fleece lined Yellow Wraps, are an essential. These can be worn on horse’s legs or rider arms. Also available within our reflective range is our standout Yellow Exercise Sheet with Tail Flap, a lightweight, bright exercise sheet that can be used under the saddle of your horse or pony.

Another tip for making yourself more visible is to wear pale coloured gloves rather than darker shades, making your hand signals more likely to be seen. This gives drivers enough time to be able to react to your horse or pony’s movements.

Riding in the evening can be just as enjoyable as daytime riding. As long as you and your horse or pony can easily be seen, both of you can stay safe and sound.

Prepare your horse for all conditions this autumn

With the summer coming to a rather abrupt end, the colder season are fast approaching, bringing turbulent and inconsistent weather with them. With this in mind, you need to be fully prepared to ensure that your horse or pony remains in tip-top condition.

Horse care

The weather can change in an instant over this season and so extra care should be taken to ensure that your horse remains comfortable and happy. Regular grooming is a must to make sure that any mud and dirt is removed. This allows for your horse’s coat to fluff up, something it does naturally in order to retain heat.

Water is essential to their diet so be sure to take extra precautions when the temperature drops. Insulate any water pipes so that water doesn’t freeze, retaining a constant water supply. If water from the troughs is cold, add some hot water to encourage your horse to drink more.

Out in the elements

After grooming, keep your horse’s coat protected whilst out in the paddock with a suitable rug, such as our new Ontario Medium Turnout. This rug benefits from a 220g quilted fill to keep off the chills, and a 600 denier ripstop outer shell that protects against rain and wind as well as wear and tear.

Safely stabled

When your horse or pony isn’t turned out, keep them sheltered from the elements. If you have a stable, keep it clean and make sure that there are no holes in which rain and cold air can seep through.

Being still in a stable can mean that your horse’s body temperature can lower. This is where rugs come in – especially as we move towards the perilous winter months. A generously quilted rug, like our Montreal Stable Rug, which has a 200g fill and is cut extra deep with an ample overlap at the breast and a large tail flap, is a must for keeping your horse warm during the night.

An additional means of keeping your horse or pony warm during the night is bandaging their legs. Fleece bandages are a savvy choice, not only providing extra warmth but being lovely and soft providing maximum comfort too.

With these simple precautions in mind you can ensure your horse is happy, leaving you both free to appreciate the joys that autumn has to bring; from crisp mornings to colourful evening rides.

WIN a Grooming Tote Bag with your #Stelfie

Since the phenomenal success of the #selfie photo, we’ve seen each and every moment captured with one. From holiday selfies to birthday selfies and new born selfies to new pet selfies – now we want to see your stable selfies!

Snap a selfie of you and your mischievous mare, or perhaps just one of your particularly puzzled looking pony, and tweet it to us at @BridlewayGroup along with #stelfie (i.e. stable selfie).  All photos submitted will get entered into our competition to win a Bridleway Grooming Tote Bag AND make our Horsey Hall of Fame here at Bridleway HQ.

Good Luck!

Bridleway Groups #Stelfie Twitter Competition – Terms and Conditions

  1. The competition is open to all UK residents (except employees and families of the Promoter and its affiliate companies, agencies and anyone professionally connected with the promotion).
  2. Entrants have the chance to win a Bridleway V503 Grooming Tote bag in either red or royal blue.
  3. To enter, fans need to take a selfie of either them and their horse or pony or a selfie of just their horse and pony and then tweet the image to @BridlewayGroup with the hashtag #stelfie
  4. Entries will close at midnight Sunday 31st August 2014.
  5. Bridleway Group will pick one winner to receive a V503 Grooming Tote Bag. There is one Grooming Tote Bag worth £16.95 to give away.
  6. The winner will be notified by a reply to their #stelfie tweet by 12pm Wednesday 3rd September 2014 and need to confirm their address via a direct message to @BridlewayGroup. The prize will then be posted to the winner by the promoter.
  7. Full details of the prize will be supplied to the winner following notification.
  8.  Entries received after the closing date will not be valid for entry to this competition, although your details could be used for future marketing unless you have indicated otherwise.
  9. Events may occur that render the competition itself or the awarding of the prizes impossible due to reasons beyond the control of Bridleway Group and accordingly Bridleway Group may at its absolute discretion vary or amend the promotion and the entrant agrees that no liability shall attach to the Promoter as a result.
  10. Prizes are non transferable, and there are no cash alternatives.
  11. Competition wins cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.
  12. No purchase necessary.
  13. The decision of the Promotions Marketing Manger will be final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into.
  14. Entrants will be deemed to have accepted and agreed to be bound by these terms and conditions.
  15. Entrants are liable for their own costs to access telephone, mobile or computer networks, or for any postal correspondence.
  16. This promotion and these terms are governed by English law and subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts.
  17. Entrants are deemed to have accepted these terms and conditions by participating in this promotion. Promoter: Bridleway Group, 15 Southern Avenue, Leominster, Herefordshire. HR6 0QF.



Making the best of the sweet itch situation

This year has already been particularly bad for flies and midges due to the damp ground and warm weather, which is highly inconvenient for sweet itch sufferers.

Sweet itch is an uncomfortable condition caused by an allergy to the saliva of midges for which there is currently no cure. Furthermore, once a horse or pony develops this they are often plagued by it throughout their life and each spring, summer and autumn can turn out to be a rather distressing time for both equine and owner alike.

Knowing how to manage sweet itch is extremely important and key to making sure your animal is as comfortable as possible. There are two basic elements to consider; environment and protection.

Ensuring your horse or pony is kept in the best possible conditions is essential. Try to avoid marshy, boggy fields and make sure pastures are well drained and away from rotting vegetation like muck heaps, old hay and rotting leaves. If possible move them to a more exposed and windy plot, such as bare hillsides or a coastal site with a good onshore breeze. Alternatively, try to aim for chalk-based grassland rather than heavy clay pastures as this will have much fewer midges.

Stabling your horse during dusk and dawn helps to protect them during the peak feeding time for midges. Closing doors, windows and installing a ceiling fan will help to deter them further, however, this unfortunately won’t stop them completely.

To further protect your horse, dress them in a sweet itch or fly rug – a denser fabric will act as a thicker barrier. Sweet itch rugs tend to be a full combo, with ear holes to maximise coverage, they also usually have a full belly strap to cover this susceptible area and a large tail flap like our Sweet-Itch Bug Stoppa Rug here.

Fly rugs, alternatively, tend to be made of mesh with a looser weave to protect against biting insects. Bridleway’s Edmonton Fly Rug is sturdy but still lightweight, encouraging air to circulate and keep your horse cool. When shopping for a fly rug always take your horses shape into consideration as a broader horse may require shoulder darts. Measure from the centre of the chest to the point of their bum. If you’ve got a mischievous horse that tends to ruin their rugs then it’s best to look for a thicker mesh.

By taking this into consideration it will allow you to manage sweet itch to the best of your abilities and leave you with a happy horse or pony despite this uncomfortable condition.

Carolyn Barton, Wadswick Country Store

The Trials and Tribulations of Laminitis

With winter out the way and spring now sprung, summer is upon us, shining into stables and giving your paddocks a new lease of life. However, as every horse owner is aware this time of year is a challenge if your horse or pony is prone to laminitis.

Unfortunately laminitis can affect all breeds of horse, in actual fact it can affect every type of equidae. It can be extremely painful, which means it is imperative to know the causes, signs and best ways to treat it.

The Causes

The inflammation of the laminae can be triggered by a number of things, including trauma to the hoof through working or jumping on hard ground, failure to cleanse placenta after foaling, Cushing’s disease or as a side effect of corticosteroid medication.

That said, the vast majority of cases are linked to over eating and obesity.  Research shows that 80% of cases are preventable – so be alert of the first signs of laminitis. A quick response from you may avert a disaster.

The Signs

Spotting laminitis as soon as possible is key to treating your horse or pony efficiently and effectively, so you really need to know them.

Watch out for signs of stiffness or looking slightly pottery along with signs of discomfort – perhaps shifting weight from limb to limb. Sweating and rapid breathing can also be signs of pain so also check for an increased digital pulse.

The Treatment

If you spot any of these signs in your horse or pony it’s crucial that you stable them immediately on a very deep bed, give plenty of high fibre forage, and call the vet.

There are then a number of treatments that your vet might suggest, all of which will need a lot of time and attention from you. It’s important to follow your vet’s recommendations thoroughly in order to restore your equine’s health.

The Prevention

Of course, prevention is preferable to treatment and there are a number of precautions you can take to try and keep laminitis at bay.

Weight control is crucial when it comes to preventing the disease as over eating and obesity are common factors, so try to control your horse or pony’s weight throughout the year. Restrict their intake of soluble carbohydrates, starches, sugars and fructans. Fructans are a type of sugar that passes in to the hind gut undigested which can lead to a starch overload and are particularly high in grass during the spring and autumn, and on frosty grass – hence the increased cases of laminitis during those months. Use a grazing muzzle to limit grass intake and avoid gorging and/or strip graze.

Control the risks. Throughout the year feed your horse and pony a diet that is high in fibre. Avoid cereal mixes with a high sugar and high carbohydrate content and starchy straights such as oats, maize and barley; also steer clear of molassed chaffs and sugary stable licks.

The most important thing of all is to remember you know your horse or pony better than anyone, so make sure you make the time to visit them every day so that you can spot any signs.

Happy Hacking!

Carole White, Alan’s Ark 

Seasonal advice concerning hair loss and rubbing in the saddle area

Why do you get rubs and/or areas of hair loss under the saddle or girth?

Before you assume it has been caused by a poorly fitting saddle or illness, there are a few basic checks you should consider.

Do not over-tighten your girth.

The girth is designed for your horses’ comfort, not for you to fasten too tight! Yes, it is there to hold the saddle on the horse, but it should do this by holding the saddle firm and minimising movement without restricting the ability of the horse to expand its lungs sufficiently.

Make sure your saddle is positioned correctly

Your saddle should be positioned just behind the point of scapula. If it is placed too far forwards, the foreleg will be unable to move correctly leading to lack of gait quality and a short choppy stride. If the saddle is too long, pressure can be put onto the weakest part of the back. Similarly, if the saddle is too short for the rider, it will put weight onto a small surface area, putting a lot of strain onto the horse’s spine. All these can cause rubs leading to areas of hair loss and/or pressure sores.

Check all the stitching on the saddle, numnah, girth etc

Sometimes just the seam of a numnah can cause discomfort to your horse. Make sure the edges of the numnah or saddlecloth clear the edge of the saddle panel, as harsh nylon bindings found on most numnah’s and pads trapped under the edge of the saddle panel will definitely cause problems.

Make sure numnah’s and pads are not only clean and dry, but sit under the saddle without folds or wrinkles. A small fold under the saddle will treble the thickness of the numnah in a very small area, a definite pressure point!

Also consider the washing detergent you use, horses have been known to have allergic reactions to biological and budget products.

Take a look at your tack cleaning regime

We experience many cases in our workshop where, in particular, saddle panels and girths have obviously only experienced cursory attempts at cleaning leading to a build-up of sweat and dirt on the areas that come into contact with the horse, leaving a sandpaper like texture on the surface.

Is extra padding needed?

After winter, particularly one such as we have just experienced, horses will run up lighter, and although your saddle is still fitting well, an extra half pad sheepskin may be all that is required while your horse returns to form.

Modern numnahs are designed to grip the horse and saddle to minimise movement. Sometimes this in itself can make hair loss and rubbing worse. Try sticking a piece of smooth polythene under the numnah with double sided tape, or consider replacing the numnah with a thin cotton one until the problem is resolved.

The act of fitting a saddle is an attempt to provide a fixed platform on a moving, living animal; this will always be a compromise and friction will occur. It is our responsibility as owners to ensure that we do not miss the small things that can cause problems. In extreme cases we have to accept that the only solution is to stop riding the horse until the injuries are cured. Some horses will take any amount of their owner ‘overlooking’ small failures to notice possible problems. Some horses have very sensitive skin that will react to the slightest assault. Most horses are somewhere in between and will have no reaction one day to an irritation but a massive reaction the next day.

By following basic care and using a qualified saddle fitter to have regular (i.e. twice a year) checks on your saddle, you can be sure you are doing all you can to maximise your horse’s comfort and well-being while he or she is been ridden.

Tom Day, TDS Saddlers

Preparing Your Horse For Show Season

With show season almost upon us, it’s time to start thinking about getting your horse into mint condition so you can both perform to the best of your ability in the ring.

One of Bridleway’s stockists, Paula Bryan of Groomers Ltd shares her top tips on preparing for the season ahead.

Spend more time in the saddle

Now the days are gradually getting longer, there’s more time to get back in the saddle after a long miserable winter and blow out the cobwebs. A gentle 30 minute ride each morning or evening will help to slowly build up your horse’s strength and energy levels as well as revive your own fitness. It’s also a lovely way to reconnect with your horse after being out of action for a while.

It’s also a good idea to book your horse into a clinic to give them the once over and check for any injuries or other problems before your activity levels intensify.

Keep up to date with schedules

It is important to keep a note of the shows you will be attending in case there are any changes of times, locations, etc.  Good sources of local show information are the many regional equestrian magazines which can be found in most good tack shops and newsagents

Keeping up appearances

With all the nasty weather we’ve been having, chances are that your horse could do with a good spring clean! A key part of showing is the appearance of both horse and rider, so it’s important that this is not overlooked.

Give your horse a good groom and trim to ensure they are looking their best. Don’t neglect your own appearance either – dust off your riding jacket and send it to the cleaners if necessary.

The same goes for all your travel rugs, boots and bandages – make sure they are clean and in good condition. If not you may need to think about investing in new ones.

Whilst you’re at it, why not also spring clean your horsebox and get your oil, tyres and water levels checked? Show season means you are likely to be increasing your travelling and you need to make sure you and your horse are both comfortable and safe.

Check the condition of your tack

As well as giving your horse box the once over it is also advisable to check your saddlery and rugs for any damage. Give your tack a good clean with saddle soap, and use some good quality leather conditioner on anything that appears dry and brittle.