Tag Archives: horse care

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

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.

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.

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.

 

Top 5 Tips For Training Your Horse

You and your horse are a team, working together and looking after one another to achieve your goals and dreams. However, training can be a long, tiring and frustrating process, full of ups and downs, good days and bad days. Bear these five simple training tips in mind though, and you and your partner will be well on the way to equestrian success.

1)     Always start from the ground up.

Don’t just jump straight on and expect your horse to know exactly what you want right away. Be sure to take your time and be patient, spend time on the ground with your horse, building up a bond and establishing trust through simple daily tasks like grooming and feeding. Rushing this stage will only lead to disappointment and a good relationship on the ground will definitely lead to a much happier riding experience for both of you.

2)    Never mount your horse with a rigid training plan in mind.

Having an area of focus for your training session is important, but it’s also necessary to gauge the mood of your horse. If your horse is struggling with a certain exercise, being adaptable with your schooling schedule will work wonders. Instead of forcing a task, change it. Have a back-up plan in mind and different exercises that are aimed at achieving the same goal, such as straightness or suppleness.

3)    Add variety to your weekly riding.

Horses, especially green youngsters, can get easily bored when faced with repetitive training tasks. Having a schedule is essential and many horses respond well to routine but adding subtle changes, such as trotting poles, are a great way to engage your horse in what you’re doing without intimidating and overwhelming them. Hacking out is also vital when trying to familiarise your horse with unusual surroundings and sounds, making them calmer when faced with the excitement of a competition, for example.

4)    Get an outsider’s opinion.

Sometimes when training a horse it can be hard to work out what’s going wrong and why. Bringing in a friendly but honest outsider, such as your trainer or another rider at the yard, and asking them to observe one of your sessions could be just what you need. From down on the ground they might notice things you don’t and offer you constructive criticism to help you improve.

5)    Finish all rides on a positive.

Finally, riding can be frustrating and tiring for both you and your horse and some sessions won’t go as well as others. When training, it is really important to remember the positives from a session, as well as how to improve on the negatives. Maybe your horse didn’t ace their flying changes, but how was their trot to canter transition? Did they feel confident? Taking pros and cons from each ride is a really handy way to work out where to focus your attention in a stress-free way.

 

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.

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