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Although not all of us have time off work during the holiday period, the Christmas and New Year break is a great period to get OCD with your kit and have a good tidy up before the season begins.
Here are the top jobs that I will be doing over the next few days…
Trimming and Pulling
Although not every horse appreciates mane or tail pulling, now is a great time to get long manes in check before the competition season begins. Weather you pull or trim I’d always recommend doing this after exercise when horses are more inclined to stand still. Who wants to end up with a wonky mane or tail? At this time of year all my horses get a good tail trim. It keeps them tidy, out of the mud and by the start of the event season their tails will be at the perfect length. When the weather is particularly dire I coat tails in baby oil then plait and fold up, securing around the tail (not the dock) with a long elastic band. This way I minimise tail washing and wasting water.
Wash your grooming kit
I am really OCD about this but what’s the point in brushing your horse with a filthy brush? I’m lucky enough to have an old, second hand washing machine and I put all my brushes in this apart from the leather strapped ones. All the bags and boxes get cleaned out and washed too. I also stock up on plaiting kit and decant any sprays that no longer spray or damaged bottles. If you don’t have a specific horse washing machine then check out the padded washing bag by Moorland Rider. A brilliant piece of kit which means you can wash virtually anything In a domestic washing machine without the noise or the damage! If you want to wash by hand just use very warm water and soap with a scrubbing brush and leave the brushes to dry naturally once you have shaken off the excess water.
Throw out broken lead ropes
Lead ropes with broken fastenings, knots in the wrong places or that are frayed beyond repair need to be thrown away. They are just a safety risk. Treat your horse to a new one and if the clip still functions cut it off and use it to fasten a haynet or as a handy hook. I also wash all my ropes and oil the clips. They look smart and last longer. My kids lead ropes have a big knot put in the non-clip end so they can hold tight to naughty ponies – I also do this for ride and lead ponies.
Repair your Haynets
Bailing twine works well to do this and haynets are really easy to mend and make do. I tend to replace the fastening string with sturdier rope which is easier to tie and undo. I buy mine for outdoor or camping shops.
Replace and clean your Velcro
Easy to do if you have a sewing machine or a relative that can use one. I replace any worn Velcro on saddle cloths, rugs and leg wraps as it extends their use and saves money. I replace competition boots when the Velcro is beyond repair as in my opinion they need to fit well and be as sturdy as possible – if the Velcro has perished it’s likely the boot has too. I also use a Velcro cleaning brush on my competition and turnout boots to make sure they are as clean as possible before full on training and the season begins.
Re Stock your First Aid Kit
Like your grooming kit, its time to have a clear out! I tend to throw away anything like poltices that have been have half used and start afresh. Same goes for used medicines. I stock up on all the usual kit – hibiscrub, Vetwrap, poultice, tape, cotton wool roll, wound spray and also make sure that suitable scissors, plastic (for poulticing) and a thermometer are in the kit. I also check through the lorry kit and make sure that I have a suitable human one as well including painkillers, antihistamine and cool packs – all of which were used last year. For the start of the season I keep a torch and a head torch on the lorry for dark mornings and evenings.
Wash your hat liners!
A few of my hats have removable hat liners so I have been giving them a good clean and a wipe over. It’s a good time of year to check for damage and that your hat conforms to the new labelling rules if you intend to compete in 2016. I also wash all my hat covers and ear warmers, make any repairs and clean my hat bags – replacing hairnets and hairbands where I need to. Spur Straps get a good oil if they need it and the keepers are replaced if they are worn. My jackets also get a clean and repair now… instead of the week before the first event and I check over my boots, especially the zips as these can’t be prepared in a hurry.
Write a blog!
Writing about your riding, whether you publish publicly or not is a great way to reflect, plan, celebrate, share stories and communicate with other riders. All you need is an internet connection and there are many blog apps available so you can even write one from your phone. I’ve found blogging a great way to meet other people and tell stories about my life and owning horses. So stay tuned in 2016 for more equine fashion and trend reports, eventing tales and photos of what we are up to.
Have a brilliant New Year and thanks for all your support in 2016!
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New for 2016 … Ariat launches 2 new boots with added styling
I have long been a fan of Ariat boots for both the yard and competing and literally live in my contours and barnyard belle’s. I find this brand is hardwearing, has a great fit and is relatively affordable in the sense that they perform well and look great for many years.
Fresh for 2016 Ariat has launched 2 new styles to their range. Using their technical expertise and experience in manufacturing performance footwear, Ariat will be launching their new Heritage Ellipse Limited Edition Boots and Heritage Contour Dress Zip Boots.
Made from premium full-grain leather upper, these new Ariat styles epitomise style and performance. A contoured fit through the ankle allows for flexibility and a flattering appearance, while the full length elasticised panel on the lateral side features an elastic gusset on the inside knee for a sleek and streamlined fit.
Both Heritage styles also include a full leather lining, full-length zipper with keeper, elasticised laces, boot slide and a moisture-wicking sock liner. Further quality features that equestrians have come to expect from Ariat are the 4LR footbed technology and Duratread outsole ensures practicality.
The Heritage Ellipse Limited Edition features a high Spanish cut topline with added bling in the form of a Snake or Ostrich print cuff. The perfect boot for trend-setting riders, these boots will only available for Spring 2016 – making them a unique fashion investment and guaranteed to create a stir.
The plain toe cap Heritage Contour Dress Zip give a streamlined and immaculate appearance, suitable for all riding activities no matter what discipline, but particularly lending itself to the simplicity and style of the dressage arena.
The Ariat Heritage Ellipse Limited Edition Boots are available in Black Snake Print or Black Ostrich Print, in sizes: 3 – 8.5, RRP £269.99. The Heritage Contour Dress Zip Boots are available in black, in sizes: 3 – 8.5, RRP £259.99.
So keep a look out in 2016 for these new launches www.ariat.com
Now officially off- season and definitely a holiday feel in the air, it’s time to take stock of the year. I could say 2015 is a year I’d like to forget. It’s been a tough one, particularly the last few months which saw my little boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy and a very close family member being diagnosed with lung cancer – as it happens she has her first round of surgery tomorrow.
As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well I really hope it does! But I think it’s important to be mindful that despite all the stress I am still hanging on in there, and having some incredible highs as well as lows. Wanda is as well as ever and she and my filly Wilma give me so much joy… even when they are being utter divas with attitude.
The Eventing community as a whole has had a tough year. At one stage I did wonder what on earth would come next. It goes to show how strong riders can be and how solid the glue is that sticks the community together. Over the past 3 months I have been lucky to join the team working to produce The End of Season Event, a black tie ball hosted by the Eventing Riders Association. Held at the Royal Berkshire Polo Club, we developed a Blair theme, following the Europeans hosted in Scotland earlier in the year. The committee was a mix of really hard working people who also juggled their day jobs alongside planning the party. At face value to organise a ball for 200 seems a breeze, but add in a short timescale and some plans to raise money for charity then you have a massive task on your hands.
I could chat for ever about the ins and outs but it’s a big job and at times caused a good bit of stress… but you just keep going don’t you? If something seems the right thing to do you don’t stop even if you think why an earth am I adding to my workload here!
One of my massive motivations was to raise some money for the Eventing Family, which earlier in the year had supported the Teenage Cancer Trust and CRUK amongst other charities. Through some work I had been doing I’d met Hannah Francis, a young event rider who was diagnosed with cancer in May this year. She had opened an Instagram account, with her soft toy sidekick ‘Willberry Wonder Pony’, her companion during tough times in hospital. Hannah was looking to enlist 5000 followers on Instagram and I said I’d help out in any way I could. I don’t think either of us could have reckoned on how things have rolled and now Willberry is a veritable superstar. It would be rude to claim any credit in Hannah’s achievements whatsoever. She is remarkable and makes my daily gripes seem quite… well pathetic really. Hannah is the politest, sweetest young woman I think I have ever met. Always friendly and so brave with the way she has handled her illness. There is a lot to be learnt by her humble attitude, empathy for others and massive courage.
I was thrilled when Hannah was well enough to come to the ball, although I know she had been poorly in the day so it was a big ask. Lizzie, one of our committee members, had arranged 2 luxe cars to pick Hannah up from her hotel so she arrived in style. This was our first meeting, despite months of chatting and ‘knowing’ each other. I also got to meet Willberry!
Little did Hannah know she was going to receive the prestigious ERA ‘against all odds’ award that night. I had to be so careful she didn’t get wind of it and it was a massive surprise for Han! With all the committee on the stage, Han came up to collect her award. By this point I was in floods of tears. I make no apologies that I am a very emotional person. Sometimes it’s a pain in the arse… it really is… but what’s not human in caring and showing that you care? It was lovely to see Hannah’s face and for her to have some acknowledgement for the fundraising she has done. Hannah really is an example to us all.
So where is this blog heading, should it have more ‘meaning’… well I’m not entirely sure! It’s just a tale of a ball, a lovely girl and her little toy pony. But possibly more than that… It’s about all the things that so often get forgotten, about caring for people and making little things happen, or even making big things happen that create little changes. It’s about trusting human kindness, having compassion, being generous and charitable. But it’s also about not expecting reciprocation. Reciprocation is about ‘togetherness’ and being part of humanity but in reality I believe no one should ever owe you anything.
For sure, I can be horrid at times. I work too hard and it makes me a stress-head- moan- arse. But I’m learning… slowly… about what really matters. Life is way too precious to not take it head on.To Carpe Diem, Choose Life or Kick On or Just Do It. Whatever your inspiration, don’t waste what you have and what you can do with it. Be brave like Hannah and Willberry and spread some kindness. Live life xx