You cannot be serious…

I’m writing as what has possibly been one of the most stressful weeks of my life draws to a close. To be fair it has been a pretty rough few months. Like many, I will be glad when the days get longer and warmer as we know how much a difference that makes.

Amongst other things I have had some pretty heated arguments with my OH, which has left me in a bit of a spin. I am sure I’m not the only one who has had heated words about the time spent with horses and the financial & family implications this has. I hasten to add this wasn’t the whole reason for our argument but it was one area which came up in our heated exchanges. Familiar exchanges like ‘the horses were here before you came along’ vs. ‘your family should come first’, ‘my horses need me to care for them properly’ vs. ‘how much are they costing you’?

I am sure that many of you reading this have heard some or all of these comments at one point or another. It led me to wonder if other sports are the same. Do keen amateur tennis players get accused of spending hours playing, go golfers get chastised if they spend literally thousands on kit? I can’t give an answer to this but it would be interesting to know. I think anyone owning a horse accepts it as a lifestyle decision; it just happens that the rest of their families have to go along with it too.

As the argument simmered, and the ranting stopped the conditions were laid down… one got me thinking… ‘I don’t think you should take your competing so seriously’. It was one of those statements that made the conversation that followed blur as I pondered over what was actually being said.

Taking it too seriously. What did he mean? Have I been just a little too fastidious mucking out? Was the yard just too clean and tidy, my tack always grease free and shiny, the horses polished for just too many hours a day? After some introspection and a few more choice words I got to the point. It was all about being slightly more casual across the board. Enjoying my horses but not letting their upkeep become a mountain of work, having pleasure in my chosen hobby and above all heading out with a competitive frame of mind not a stressed one.

I have been mulling this over all week. It’s true I work hard to make sure everything is tip top. I don’t feel right cutting corners; I have really high standards and don’t stop until the job is done. But does my riding and enjoyment suffer because of this? I think the answer is possibly, but the jury is out for now as it is something I am mulling over (I overthink things too which is another flaw). The question is do I need to spend hours when things can be done well, leaving me time for a family life outside of the yard? Can I go to competitions not feeling like it is all that matters? Can I not beat myself up if I can’t make a training session as planed? I wonder if I am alone here?

From what I can see it seems that appears amateur riders are taking a more ‘professional’ or absorbed approach to their training, their kit, performance and how they care about their horses. In many ways this is a positive thing, there is nothing wrong with putting the effort in. But at what cost, both financially and in terms of personal pleasure? I’ve spoken to a few riders recently who are really concerned about competing, beyond what I would call normal pre competition nerves. Some are putting massive training pressures on themselves and getting frustrated when they feel things aren’t progressing. Others who are doing without to spend a fortune on kit that in honesty isn’t really going to improve performance, or comfort but they feel they need it to compete well. Don’t get me wrong, I love beautiful kit and will never scrimp where safety is concerned but getting into debt over a hobby just adds to the pressure to perform.

So where do I go from here with the season looming? I’m not really that sure. I think I need to edit things down. Look for what’s important to me, the fun stuff, the things that put a smile on my face, make me LOL with big fat capitals. Above all just enjoy my little horse; she’s there for me as much as I am there for her.

And above all just chill out… you cannot be serious? Erm… yes I can!

See you in the start box

Xx

nik

little d xc me

Smarter than most…Woof Wear Smart Overreach Boots Review

For ages I’ve been on the lookout for overreach boots that actually protect and last more than a season’s worth of wear. I was lucky enough to test Woof Wear Smart Over Reach Boots and was pleasantly pleased with them after a string of overreach purchases that really didn’t come up to scratch. I compete on my horses in a mixture of affiliated dressage, show jumping and eventing so overreach boots are an essential piece of kit for everyday and competition use. As any horse owner knows, an overreach is one of those annoying injuries that causes a lot of soreness, despite sometimes being quite minimal. They are just something all of us would prefer to avoid. For this reason I prefer to use overreach boots as a precaution to this type of injury.

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For some time I have tried to source some overreach boots that work withstand the rigours of cross country, regular use and washing but would also stay in place and not spin. The Woof Wear boot utilises the technological material of Poron® Xrd™ foam in the key strike area. Upon impact the Poron Xrd foam stiffens to give added protection. The area surrounding the hoof wall is made from a material called PU which again is softer so the boots mould to the feet easily and protect the coronet band. Woof Wear wisely terms this technology ‘protection on demand’. Because of this high tech material the boots are lightweight and feel flexible so minimise rubbing on the horse. The beautifully cushioned neoprene lining and band at the top of the boot is soft enough not to rub but still offers protection.

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Inside the boots is an anti-spin nodule that rests in the cleft of the heel and prevents the boot from spinning. This works brilliantly and for the first time I noticed the boots didn’t spin, which was one of my criticisms of previous boot purchases. The boots have a stylish finish which looks high tech but is also subtle. They look protective before you’ve even put them on.

One element I really appreciated was the quality of the fastenings and details such as the neat little leather loop at the end of the Velcro. This small feature makes the boots easy to fasten and undo after cross country when you may have muddy hands and boots.

I trialled the boots when schooling and they fitted well and did their job. Woof Wear is very keen to promote correct fit and there is a useful video on their website. The boots should be fitted snugly, protect the heel bulbs but be too long so that they are pushed up when riding on deep surfaces. I would say that correct fit is essential with this product but it is easy to achieve in a range of fittings. As a final test I used the Smart Over reach boots on my horse for the SJ and XC phases of a BE100+ event. I was really pleased with their performance. They didn’t move but protected her, they also didn’t spin and I felt they wouldn’t be a trip hazard which has been the case for other designs.

A final test was washing the boots. They lived up to expectations and looked like new after being washed with all my other cross country kit. They were quick to dry and use again.

With most manufacturers producing an array of overreach boots to choose from it is tricky to make the right decision and end up with a product that ‘ticks all the boxes’. My horse literally has more pairs of boots than me… which says a lot and I’ve wasted money on boots that really don’t live up to claims or expectations.

However, the Woof Wear Smart Over reach boots are a top class mixture of great design and technology that offer stylish protection for competition and home use. For the dressage divas they are also available with a sheepskin trim which again may be useful for a very sensitive horse. Price wise the boots aren’t bargain basement but for what they offer they are very fairly priced and great value when comparing the materials, design and tech to other brands.

I would highly recommend the boots; they are a must for anyone wanting to protect their horses while not compromising on style. It’s led me to look at using other Woof Wear products, if they perform as well as the smart over reach boots I am a definite brand devotee!

RRP – £35 for small up to £40 for large

http://www.woofwear.com/for-horses/overreach-boots/smart-overreach-boot_small.html

It’s All in the Preparation… Pre-Season Tack Checks for the Eventer

We are so near you can almost hear the 5,4,3,2,1, GO! The eventing season is weeks away and team Black and White will be kicking off our campaign at Isleham 7th March. At home I am starting to make sure all my kit is in order and giving my tack a little t.l.c. This is important for any rider, but especially for eventers, who can put their saddles and bridles under extra strain when riding cross country. To get ahead of the game I took some time out to get a few tack care pro tips from Kate Hardt, the MD of Northumbria Equine.

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Kate has had a lifetime’s experience working with horses and serving as an apprentice saddler and as a mounted police officer. Her company, Northumbria Equine UK makes a range of bespoke and off the peg tack including saddles, brides and martingales and personalised pieces to commission. They really can make anything you desire, and at a very affordable price too! Kate’s exclusive range of tack is available from www.northumbriaequineuk.co.uk

A gorgeous jump saddle by Northumbria Equine
A gorgeous jump saddle by Northumbria Equine

In my latest blog Kate talks about the basic checks that any rider needs to consider before heading out competing this season.

Cleaning and preparation

Now the winter is very slowly drawing to a close – we find ourselves already getting those entries in for events. Our horse’s fitness regime is already being discussed and one of the last things thought about is tack – other than tack junkies who always think about it (now that I can understand!)

Competition bridles, saddles, breastplates and martingales that may have been stored in the winter need to have a good strip down and check over. Some areas are often missed, the smallest, most crucial areas too…

Billet hooks

When strip cleaning your bridle work, always check the leather that the billet hook protrudes from. Very often they get missed when cleaning as it’s a bit fiddly, we do neglect this little bit of leather. It too, needs to be cleaned and treated – if that goes, your hook goes, your bit or reins go…. you get the idea!

Repairs

Check all of the stitching meticulously, check the stitching on those girth straps and the holes – have they stretched? If so consider getting replacements.

Check your tree, flocking, everything. Saddles ideally need a check twice a year as your horse should add muscle. For peace of mind and your horse’s wellbeing it is worth calling in the experts.

If anything needs repair – get it sent in to your saddler – now is the time. Saddlers are busy people – it is hunt season and they will be up to their necks in work.

If your kit has had a fair amount of wear and it needs some repair work – you may want to think about getting it replaced. With some items, the prep work involved prior to repair – can mean that the item could have been made from scratch in that time and may not be much more expensive to replace with new.

Leather oil & Cleaning

Try not to use leather oil all the time when cleaning tack. I used to see this all the time some years ago, not so much now thankfully. Leather oil when used to excess wrecks leather. It separates the fibres in the leather and causes stretch. It also gives quite a nasty feel to the leather and makes it very spongy. I find the only time I really need leather oil is occasionally if something feels a little dry (leather girth perhaps after a soaking and several hours mud bath on a long and sticky day hunting), or when leather has been soaked.

If leather gets very wet, the best thing to do is get a sponge cloth – squeezed out, wipe the saddlery over with this and WHILST WET apply leather oil then allow to dry. This should reduce the chance of leather drying out too much and getting too horribly water-stained. If your saddlery gets wet, it is vital that you look after it as soon as you get back – it won’t repair itself!

Once you have checked your saddlery thoroughly, always use a good quality leather care, plenty of them out there and lots in spray form, so tack cleaning is easier than ever. I always use tack cleaning spray too – it gets those horrid chunks of grease (jockeys) off your saddle flaps and inside of reins etc. Finish off with a decent soap or leather balm then assemble your saddlery again and hey presto, you are one job down on the list.

I know not everyone cleans tack every day – not even I, however, I do use glycerine spray soap on our saddles before we ride out – if nothing else it give me the grip I need to prevent me from performing high level gymnastics that I could never manage at school!

Regular hunting has its benefits – your tack gets cleaned before and after each meet – and can look fab at the end of the season! Do consider once a week if you can – and invite a few friends over for a tack cleaning party with a few bottles of the red stuff – makes it far easier to stomach!

Sound advice from an absolute pro! Thanks to Kate for her help putting together this blog. Happy tack checking 🙂

Not always happy hacking… what to do if you have an accident

It’s been a while since I have written a blog for B&W Eventing. The rather tired excuse of ‘I’ve been busy’ really is the only one I have to give, but is very true. But with the New Year a memory it’s time to kick on and think eventing. Over the winter Wanda has been ticking over and we welcomed out new member to the team, Weenie. Weens is a former 2 star event horse on loan to me by Nicole Mills. I will be blogging more about her later.

photo courtesey baileys horse feeds

As the weather hasn’t treated us kindly our paddocks and farm tracks are a compete mess. Regretfully this has made me return to the roads in order to get Wanda fit.

As many of you know I had a nasty accident in November 2013 on Wanda when we were hacking. We were hit by an overtaking car and I was hurt quite badly. Wanda is also not that keen on road work and the whole incident has made her quite nervous. Together we try our best to look after each other but it’s so disappointing as I used to ride everywhere on her, even when I was very heavily pregnant.

The whole accident has made me very aware of road safety and I have been really well supported by Hanna Campbell, a Director and Solicitor at the legal firm HorseSolicitor. I’ve asked Hanna to share her expertise and write a brief guide of what you should do in the event of an accident. It is really worth taking the time to read and digest as from my experience it is hard to remember what to do when in shock and having to handle an upset or injured horse (let alone if you are hurt too).

For more information about Horse Solicitor visit www.horsesolicitor.co.uk

Stay safe, remember to wear your high viz and enjoy your roadwork!

X

Nikki

Horse Solicitors Guide to what to do in the event of an equine road accident

At HorseSolicitor, as specialist equine lawyers, we deal in a variety of horse related accident injury claims. The majority of the hacking related injury claims arise as a result of road traffic accidents (including hit and run untraced claims), dogs that fail to respond to recall, or scrambler bikes off-roading.

In all of the above mentioned hacking cases, the below steps should be taken immediately following the accident, to provide the rider with the best prospects of pursuing a successful claim for injury and any associated financial losses.

It goes without saying but in case of serious injury then someone needs to call 999

Even if it’s not a 999 scenario you should report the accident to the police using the 101number

Take details of any other parties involved in the accident. The more information you can get the better but you need at least their name, address and vehicle registration number (if relevant)

See it there are any witnesses who will give you their details. Here you want name, address and phone numbers.

Take photographs of the accident scene and any vehicles and animals involved. In the case of vehicles you should try to get pictures of the number plate, any damage, and its position on the road

Call HorseSolicitor (01446 794196) sooner rather than later. People are usually far more willing to admit liability for something they’ve done in the immediate aftermath than when you try to bring a claim 2 years down the line.

It is important to note that in untraced cases, where the person responsible for an accident drives off or cannot be traced, it is still possible to claim compensation if the accident results in personal injury. The vehicle does not have to hit the horse, merely frightening it through negligent driving and causing injury to rider as a result is enough. In untraced cases we do not know who the person responsible is and therefore cannot obtain their insurance details to make a claim against their insurer.

However, an organization called the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) exists to compensate victims of negligent untraced drivers (and uninsured drivers). MIB claims are subject to different rules and timescales to standard personal injury road traffic accident claims and expert advice is essential to avoid falling foul of the pitfalls.

HorseSolicitor specialises in MIB untraced driver and hit and run claims.

Types of claims that can be made to the MIB under the untraced drivers’ agreement include:

– Hit and run accidents

– Driver spooking a horse resulting in injury but failing to stop

– Objects negligently deposited on the road arising out of the use of a motor vehicle which results in injury

In all of the aforementioned cases, traced and untraced, a Claimant should keep a record of all losses incurred as a result of the accident because their claim will consist of 2 elements, general damages and special damages. General Damages relates to the compensation that a Claimant receives for their pain, suffering and loss of amenity. Special damages relates to the compensation that they will receive for their financial losses, which includes compensation for the gratuitous care that family and friends provide during the course of their rehabilitation.

By following the steps outlined you will ensure that you do not prejudice your case and that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. Whilst it is not always possible, particularly in cases that tragically involve the euthanasia of our client’s horse, it is our job to put the Claimant back into the position that he/she would have been, had the accident not occurred. As riders ourselves we are passionate about insuring justice for injured riders.

On contacting us we will be able to offer representation on a no-win no-fee basis if we feel that there are good prospects of making a successful claim. If a Claimant is unsure as to whether or not he/she has a case they should call us on 01446 794196 and one of the team will be able to advise.

Any questions in relation to the above should be sent to hanna@horsesolicitor.co.uk