Four seasons in one weekend… Belton had it all… literally!

I was lucky enough to spend 2 days at one of my favourite events, Belton, last weekend. Despite having to battle with a flurry of snow on Saturday morning the organisers yet again put on an amazing event, which is really growing every year.

Set in beautiful parkland, with a majestic stone stately home nearly always in view, this is a real spectators event and on Sunday cars were still teeming into the event long after lunchtime. The cross country course, designed by Captain Mark Phillips, once again was up to height at all levels and tested both horse and rider in terms of their athleticism and ability to adjust stride length through the combinations and links of fences on course. It was interesting to see how his course designs developed from Novice up to Advanced, sometimes with similar, but smaller fences; with slightly easier lines at Novice. By clustering fences mid – way on the course, providing a Lycetts sponsorship area and café, with yet more combinations of fences the other side of this, spectators were provided with a great space to sit, enjoy a drink and take in the action. I think this approach makes eventing spectator and family friendly and I hope to see this idea at other major competitions as it really seemed to pay off, particularly as the weather on Sunday was glorious.

The CIC 3* and Advanced sections were showcases of International eventing at its best with a worldwide collection of nationalities in the top 5 of the Lycetts sponsored Grantham Cup CIC 3*. USA’s Christopher Burton and Mrs Sue Lawson and Carolyn and Anthony Townsend’s 10 year old Nobilis 18 took the top spot and with it the second leg of the Shearwater Insurance Tri Star Grand Slam with an impressive 34.50. France’s Thomas Carlile also added nothing to his dressage score of 38.40 to finish a close second with Quiro Hoy. Germany’s Bettina Hoy completed the top three with her ride Seigneur Medicott who rolled an unfortunate pole in the show jumping costing her second place.

The Polly Phillipps Memorial Trophy, awarded to the highest placed British rider in the Grantham Cup not eligible to wear a senior flag, was awarded to local favourite Ros Canter and her mother’s Zenshera who finished on 57.50 adding just 10.80 Cross Country time penalties to their dressage score.

Classic Moet and her partner, New Zealand’s Jonelle Price claimed top spot in Advanced section M followed closely by Britain’s Laura Collett and Cooley Again, with Oliver Townend and mount Samuel Thomas II coming a close 3rd. Completing his Belton Advanced 1, 2, 3 Oliver took 1st place in Advanced section O with Dunbeau and 2nd with ODT Ghareeb. 3rd place was taken by crowd favourite Andrew Nicholson and Perfect Stranger.

 

As expected, I spent a while checking out the range of over 100 trade stands. It was great to catch up with the team from Noble Outfitters, who I work quite closely with in my day job (to view some of the lovely pieces we sell click here) . They will soon be announcing some exciting news about a new Nobel Rider… so watch this space for news!


I was also keen to see the new belts on offer at Dalton’s.  . They have taken polo belt style, but updated and refined their designs into off the peg or bespoke team colour belts, keyrings, dog collars and leads. All of Dalton’s products are designed and individually manufactured by the founder of the company Emma Louise. The also stock classic snaffle and plain leather belts. Beautifully made and classic designs, they offer a slightly different take on the usual polo belt designs and are British made too! I’m now lusting after a black and white belt in my team colours – another add to the wish list!


Recipy  had a beautiful stand filled with some high end and luxurious combinations of leather, tweed, silk satin and fur. These fabrics have been featured by many other designers but I feel Reipy has the style edge for those wanting something just a little different, ladylike and eye-catching, with a great attention to detail. I spoke to Sarah Pickering – Paterson, Recipy’s design director who told me about her MA in fashion and how the collection was developed from this. Featured in the likes of Tatler, and British made, Recipy is great for town, country and would look amazing on the catwalk that is the first horse inspection.


Another fashion and style conscious brand, Voltaire Design,  were exhibiting at Belton. After having a sit on one of their bespoke dressage saddles I was interested in finding out more. Taking to their UK sports saddle specialist Mathieu Tireau it was great to hear just how much the design house takes into account when designing bespoke saddles. Voltaire Design relies on the long French tradition of saddle making. Interestingly they are the first saddle maker to get help from the fashion industry in terms of the design of their products. I particularly loved the distinctive blue gullet that flashed beneath their saddles. This is certainly saddle design for the 21st century and in hand with this goes their strong environmental values, unique to this brand. Speaking to Mathieu it is clear that their design ethos puts a horse’s comfort at the forefront of design and they work very closely to ensure that the back and shoulder is allowed freedom through the wide gullet and specially manufactured tree. So refreshing to see a design house that puts this first, while also enabling riders to gain the maximum comfort and support when riding in their chosen discipline. Obviously this doesn’t come cheap, but then nor does the endless quest to find the perfect fitting saddle. A definite add to my growing wish list and a brand worth checking out ‘in the flesh’ if you are in the market for a new saddle.


With shopping a plenty and more eventing action than any fan could want, Belton International is shaping up to be one of the best spring events in the UK. With plenty to keep non horsey family entertained, loads of room on course to spectate, and a select range of trade stands I will definitely be going back for a busman’s holiday next year!

5 steps to a clean winter horse!

With the wet winter our paddocks and hacking fields are less than desirable and it’s been tough keeping my horses in nice condition – even Wanda the super cob is fed up with mud and all that is entails. Our new farm in Suffolk sits on clay which makes it really hard to keep the horses clean. Although the heard have the odd ‘duvet day’ when they stay in, I do think it’s important that they get some time to leg stretch and graze, but this means I have to stay on top of their grooming and with less daylight hours I rely on products that works. So here is my no frills, easy peasy guide to the best products out there for the winter months.

Step 1 – Tails

I’ve been using Absorbine Show Sheen hair polish and detangler regularly on the horse’s tails. After exercise I spray their tails thoroughly, leave for a few minutes and then brush through. I’ve found that the spray really helps to repel the mud and if done regularly their tails only need the occasional wash. I’m also a fan of using baby oil which I apply from the tops of their tails and brush through with my fingers. Again it seems to keep the mud off and condition in.

After brushing through I put the girl’s tails into big plaits and tie them up with a chunky hair band, making sure I don’t put the band over their dock area. This keeps shavings and mud out of their tails and makes pre work grooming super-fast! The ponies out on the field also have the same treatment… they are quite spoilt!

Step 2 – Wash down

As I have moved home I sadly don’t have a hot wash area, however, I don’t like to over wet warm horses and like to get them cooled and dry as soon as I can. Sadly, I am still saving for a horse solarium and one day might be able to luxuriate under one with the mares after work! As a poor woman’s alternative I heat water in a kettle and use a couple of small capfuls of Naf’s Love the SKIN he’s in Skin Wash. A little goes a long way and you need to use minimal water so it’s easy to clean your horse and get them dry before they chill. Love the SKIN he’s in Skin Wash is a gentle unique blend of herbal ingredients, including Aloe Vera, designed to help support damaged or challenged skin affected by lumps, bumps, rashes or mild irritations. So great for the winter on a clipped horse like Wanda. I keep all of my old towels and have them cut into useable sizes for drying off and polishing… harder graft than a solarium but good exercise!

Step 3 – Foot care

With the wet and muddy winter all horses are prone to getting thrushy feet and loosing foot condition. As a daily post exercise routine I clean my horse’s feet and apply Kevin Bacons Hoof Dressing. The waxy formula protects heals and keeps the hoof wall in great condition. This product is really easy to apply and takes minutes, so I know I’m doing the best for my horse’s and keeping them primed and prepped for the 2016 eventing season.

Step 4 – Keep the mud off… buy a hood!

All of the horses are turned out in rugs with detachable hoods and liners to accommodate our changing weather. I personally use Premier Equine as the quality is very good and they fit Wanda’s wide shoulders very well. I also use Snuggly Hoods Turn Out Weatherproof Horse Head . I’ve used these for a couple of years now and find them hard wearing and great for keeping the mud off ears and difficult to brush faces. Wanda looks a little like mickey mouse in her hood but appreciates not having me brush her ears for hours!

Step 5 – Invest in Some Golly Galoshes!

At first sight I did wonder how Golly Galoshes would really help my winter regime but I was soon proved wrong. The galoshes are designed to be worn over your training or hacking boots or bandages. They are quick and easy to wash and so save your expensive kit from getting damaged by wet and mud or a damp sandy school. I’ve found by using Golly Galoshes my boots last for longer, are easy to keep clean.  I have also used them to protect bandaged wounds on turned out horses. I own the fluorescent pink style which also is high viz – so great for hacking safety too. A piece of kit I wouldn’t be without and worth looking into investing in as they are British made and robust!

SO that’s it… Add in some brushing with good quality brushes and a cactus cloth mitt to remove stubborn mud and we are done. Nobody likes mud and cold winter riding but with these products you feel like you are treating your horse and contributing to their well-being. It’s a win – win!

Note… These are products I use on a daily basis and I receive no financial gain as an incentive to endorse them.

 

B&W Eventing review the Nuumed Close Contact Saddle Cloth

Firstly HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope that you all had a great holiday and got to spend some quality time with your horses and family.

Starting this year with a flourish I have put together a vlog review on the Nuumed Close Contact, Wool Lined saddle cloth that I have recently trialled.

For anyone thinking of upgrading or replacing their saddle cloths this year Id say definitely don’t over look Nuumed. The quality, fit and cut are way superior to many of the other top end brands Ive tried and you are also supporting British manufacturing and design – so top marks for Nuumed.

Enjoy the video… you don’t get to see me (camera shy!)

For further details on the product visit http://www.nuumed.com

8 horsey jobs to do over the holidays…

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!

New for 2016 … Ariat launches 2 new boots with added styling

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

 

Are you a SMART Showjumper?

Smart TendonFetlock Boot.jpgI have been a fan of WoofWear boots for a long time after trialling their Smart overreach boots and XC boots. They always offer a stylish, practical and hard wearing option for riders across the disciplines and at all levels.

New to their range, released through stockists and online in December 2015 is the new Smart Show Jumping range.

Designed to absorb high speed impact, these contemporary looking tendon and fetlock boots are soft and flexible. Incorporating Woof Wear’s smart technology, the D3O® offers ‘protection on demand’ (basically if the materials are struck with force they strengthen molecularly to protect your horse’s legs even more). The boots are lightweight and stylish, hardwearing and functional with the durability expected from Woof Wear’s range. Designed primarily for Show Jumping but suitable for a range of disciplines. Something I will be looking out to buy for winter Show Jumping and the start of the season in 2016.

COLOURS: Black or White

SIZE: S/M, M/L and L/XL

RRP: Tendon £60.00 Fetlock £40.00

Available from stockists nationwide December 2015 and at www.woofwear.com