Tag Archives: Riding

Keep him supple with our schooling tips for hacking

Varying your riding environment is an important part of keeping your horse happy and interested in his work – you don’t want to stay at home doing the same things every day and neither would he. Using your hacking time to occupy his mind and work on any schooling issues in a fun, pressure-free environment is really beneficial, particularly if you don’t have easy access to an arena. Here are some tips to get you started

Long and low

Asking your horse to take up the contact and stretch into a long-and-low outline can be an effective warm up. Not only does it encourage him to relax into the contact, he’ll also raise and engage his back, working the muscles that support a correct ridden frame. Be sure to work him gradually down so that contact is maintained – if you just drop your reins, you’ll loose your connection.

Time to flex

Keeping your horse’s body straight and his gait forward, use your rein to ask him to flex from one side, then to the centre, then to the other side. This exercise will warm him up while testing his suppleness and obedience. It’ll also free up his neck, preparing him for any more complex questions you’ll ask of him later.

Side to side

The flat, stable surface of a quiet path is a perfect setting for asking your horse to leg-yield. This movement requires him to use his whole body and reinforces the idea that your leg aid doesn’t just mean go, but can also mean move away. This exercise requires straightness and engagement, so is a good indicator of how well he’s working. It’ll also reveal any corrections you need to make in your riding or his way of going. Make sure you check the path is clear of pedestrians both ways before attempting a leg-yield.

Shoulder showdown

Now he’s warmed up through his neck and back, you can start asking your horse to engage through his whole body by asking for shoulder-fore, Make use of hedges and fence lines to help guide your horse as you ask his front end to bend slightly away while keeping him travelling forwards. However, be sure not to allow him to over-bend.

Going in circles

Coming across an open field out on a hack is a huge bonus because you can use it as a giant school. Take the opportunity to play with the space, performing transitions, circles and changes of bend through serpentine work to encourage suppleness. Be vigilant to falling out, though, as there won’t be any fences to help prop your horse up!

Don’t forget visibility for you and your horse when you’re out and about. For high-viz and everything you’ll need out on a hack, visit bridlewayequestrian.com

How to achieve the perfect competition look for a horse show

Whether you’re strutting your stuff in the dressage ring, flying round a course of jumps or trying to impress the showing judge, you want your horse to look a million dollars. Here’s how to get him ring-ready…

Remove the mud

Use a dandy with stiff bristles to remove dried mud from your horse’s coat. Follow this with a long bristle dandy brush to remove any loose dirt and hair – firm, flicking strokes that follow the direction of the hair will help to bring dust to the surface.

 Bath time

If you want to get your horse squeaky clean, he’ll need a bath. Dilute a small measure of horse shampoo in a bucket of warm water and use a bodywash brush to work it into his coat and remove dirt and grease. Rinse him off using a hose, then remove excess water using a sweat scraper. Depending on how much shampoo you’ve used, you may need to rinse him several times before his coat is completely free from suds. Dunk his tail in a bucket of clean water so it’s wet, then rub in a blob of neat shampoo and rinse thoroughly. Leave him to dry in the sunshine, putting a cooler rug on him if it’s a bit chilly.

 Hooves

After you’ve picked out your horse’s hooves, use a hoof brush and some clean water to remove dirt from the outer hoof wall. This will leave them ready for a layer of hoof oil or lacquer to add shine just before you go in the ring. A clear oil works for any hoof colour, or you could choose a black one if he’s got darker hooves.

Adding shine

A body brush, which has slightly softer bristles, can be used to add shine. It’s used to lift grease from his skin, smoothing the natural oils from his coat along the shafts of the hair. When you come to doing his face and other delicate, bony areas, switch to a face brush. A final smooth-over with a microfiber cloth or grooming mitt will remove any leftover dust.

Mane and tail

Start by applying a liberal coating of detangler spray to the hair to loosen any tangles and add shine. Then, using a mane and tail comb or brush, start to gently work your way from the tips to the roots. If you find any larger knots, work them free with your fingers instead of the brush or comb, as this method is less likely to break the strands.

Bridleway’s range of Spotless brushes has everything you need to get your horse sparkling clean from head to hoof. Visit bridlewayequestrian.com to find out more.

The Benefits of Horse Riding

If you’re looking to get fitter in 2016 here at Bridleway we don’t think there’s any better hobby to improve fitness than horse riding. Not that you’ll need a reason to hop in the saddle in the New Year, but from strengthening your muscles to keeping your heart healthy and lowering stress levels, horse riding really is great for mind, body and soul. Here are just some of the benefits you can enjoy as a horse rider:

Improved fitness

A study by the British Horse Foundation (BHF) and Bournemouth University has reported that horse riding and taking part in associated activities, such as mucking out, use up enough energy to be officially classed as moderate intensity exercise.

So there’s no need to join the crowds at the gym in January if you’re looking to improve your fitness. As a rider, simply increasing the amount or intensity of riding you do and adding a few extra chores to your list around the yard can make a big difference. Did you know that just an hour of horse riding can burn up to 650 calories*?

Strong muscles

You might take it for granted that you can remain balanced in the saddle, but this engages and strengthens all your core muscles. The faster you ride the more balance is required and the more you will rely on your core strength to stay in position. The inner thigh and pelvic muscles are also working hard every time you ride out, but don’t forget the shoulders and arms, they are focusing on telling the horse what to do and remain engaged for the entire ride – giving you an almost total body workout!

Keep your heart healthy

As well as toning your muscles, riding improves aerobic fitness too. This does depend on the type of riding you prefer – a slow canter that doesn’t put you out of breath won’t be improving your heart’s health. However, increase the speed and agility involved and you’ll be working all those important muscles and your heart too.

Relax your mind

Horse riding, or even just spending time around your horse, is a great way to de-stress. Petting an animal can actually bring down blood pressure, relaxing the body and mind, so what better excuse do you need to give your horse more affection than usual? For many people, simply being outdoors and feeling close to nature can also add to a happy and relaxed mood.

*TheHealthSite.com

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.

 

Explore Some Horse Holidays

With so many horse holidays to choose from, it can be difficult to decide where to go and what to do, so we’ve rounded-up some of the top riding holidays from UK-based luxury weekends away, to getting stuck-in on a working ranch in the US – they should provide a few ideas to get you started.

1)    A luxury country house escape 

For anyone looking for luxury in a riding holiday, a two-night stay at a Country House Hotel in Cheshire could be perfect. Enjoy a chance to improve your skills with tuition from an equestrian expert in the morning (tuition is available for all levels of ability) and then take in the wonderful Cheshire countryside during an afternoon of hacking. And you’ll even have time to relax and enjoy a beauty treatment or two.

2)    Young rider holidays

For young riders looking to take on their own adventure, why not visit Kilnsey Trekking and Riding Centre in North Yorkshire? These stables are the perfect starting point to explore the Yorkshire Dales National Park and discover the natural wildlife habitats and stunning scenery in this part of the UK. The centre offers Pony Club camps for young riders to spend a fun week learning new skills, and can accommodate children with and without their own horse or pony.

3)    The Inca Challenge

If you’re looking for a real adventure why not try trekking across the Inca trail? The British Horse Society (BHS) organises this challenge. The trek takes riders from Cusco in Peru to Machu Picchu and includes trails high-up in the Andes (not for the faint hearted!) and ends with a chance to explore the ancient ruins of the Inca civilisation. For a full itinerary and further information visit BHS.

4)    The Beach Riding Experience

With beautiful coastlines around the UK, riders don’t have to venture too far afield to enjoy impressive views and miles of open countryside. A favourite spot along the Dorset coast is Studland Beach. There are friendly stables in the village of Studland and from there riders can enjoy beach, forest, heath and coastal ridge rides. There is so much to do with horses and rides to suit all abilities.

5)    Learn How To Be A Real Cowboy

Kara Creek Ranch in Wyoming is a working ranch where the main activity is cattle management, much of which takes place on horseback. Guests will be able to get involved in day-to-day tasks on the ranch, which is open almost all summer. However the best times to visit are spring and autumn when the ranch is at its busiest. Acting like a real cowboy does involve getting stuck in (sometimes working eight hours a day), so this trip is for intermediate or advanced riders looking for a challenge and the trip of a lifetime. To find out more about ranch holidays (including more laid-back trips) visit: American Roundup.

Creating an on-trend holiday wardrobe

Riders looking to freshen-up their wardrobe ready for their equestrian holiday should check out our latest summer range. The new collection has been designed to set the trend for stylish, practical and fun riding. The season is based on vibrant, bright colours that co-ordinate across the range. To find your nearest retailer, visit our website.

 

Becoming A Confident Rider

Confidence is one of the key ingredients to riding, as your horse can only be as confident as you are. Feeling unsure in the saddle can turn your equestrian dreams into a nightmare, so here at Bridleway we have put together our top tips to help you become a truly confident rider and overcome any riding worries you might have.

Think positive

Confident riders always think positively, so don’t be afraid to turn your negative thoughts into positives as this will help your confidence grow. Instead of thinking “I am scared of hacking” try to think “I feel calm and confident when I go hacking”, as this will influence your riding style. Horses can sense your emotions, so if you feel nervous, he will feel nervous. However, if you feel confident and in control, your horse will pick up on this and will also gain confidence.

Get back in the saddle

If you’ve had a fall or your pony has bolted unexpectedly, it’s completely natural to feel a little anxious. The best thing to do is get back in the saddle and put the fall behind you. A good technique is to swap onto a quieter pony for a time as ‘bomb-proof’ ponies help you regain confidence until you’re ready to ride a trickier horse. Breathing exercises are also a great way to relax so before you move off, take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply as this will calm both you and your horse.

Choose a long rein

Before you start schooling or tackling a course of jumps, it’s a good idea to give your horse a long rein and guide him around using just contact from your legs and seat. A long rein helps your pony relax and get used to his surroundings, which is particularly useful in a new place or unfamiliar school. Beginning a riding session with a long rein will also warm up your horse and get you both focused before you begin riding, helping you both be as confident as possible.

Achieve your goals

Setting yourself realistic targets – whether it’s preparing for a tricky dressage test or entering your local show jumping competition – can really help you grow as a confident rider. You don’t need to aim to become an Olympic-ready rider overnight, instead write down which areas of riding you want to improve and focus on making small changes. For example, if you want to improve your dressage position, it’s a good idea to try riding without stirrups. If you want to feel confident out hacking, perhaps partner with someone you know is a confident hacker so that you can learn by their example. All riders have to start at the beginning so setting achievable targets and working towards those is the ideal confidence boost for your riding.