Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Is Your Horse The Correct Weight?

This summer I have been trying hard to get Trooper to lose weight. It is very hard to keep track of your horse's weight. As weighing bridges for horses are very expensive and not all of us are lucky enough to have them on our own yards we need other methods to see how much they weigh. Knowing your horses weight is useful when looking at their daily food ration as they are supposed to eat 2 % of their body weight a day, for example, a 500 kg horse will consume 10 kg a day of food in total.

Just looking at your horse and seeing if you think it looks fat can be difficult when you are seeing them every day. Another way I often use to see if he has put on weight is how easily the saddle fastens up and which hole I can get it to fasten on.

I also have a weight tape that I like to use. I got this for free from Baileys Horse Feeds, I am not sure if they still give them out but it is worth sending them a message to ask! Click to go to the Baileys website! If not other feed companies may send them out. This is a good way to track your horses weight and it gives you a rough idea of what they weigh which would be very hard to estimate! A weight tape is like a tape measure to use but rather than centre-metres or inches it has what that horse weighs in kilograms. You wrap the tape around the horse's body at the withers and underneath where their girth is fastened. This can be seen on the picture below. Trooper currently weighs 484 kg which is a lot less than the start of the summer!

The weight tape around Trooper.

Another way to tell if your horse is the correct weight is by using condition scoring. There are reference diagrams to compare your horse to along with descriptions. Condition scores can be on a scale of 1-10 or more commonly 1-5. The BHS have a Condition Scoring file you can download for free telling you how to do it. Click here for the Google search and it is the top one! The images below are taken from their fact sheet.

Good condition score (3)
Fat condition score (4)

Below are some photographs of Trooper with the condition scores (before and after his weight loss regime!).

A photo of Trooper taken end of August.

A photo of trooper taken at the start of June.

The main difference I can see on trooper in these photographs is on his belly. I wish he had his head up in the photo so I could make a proper comparison but it is clear to see that he has lost weight. On the first photo, at his current weight, I would give him a condition score of 3, or maybe 3.5! But on the second photo at the start of the summer he was a condition score 4.

I am glad Trooper has lost weight now and I am sure he will be much healthier for it!

Love Laura

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Best Riding Gloves

My favourite type of riding gloves are the Mountain Horse Crochet Back gloves. I have had a number of pairs of these over the years. I like them because they are suitable to wear in the winter and the summer as the crochet back makes them cooler and in winter they still keep your hands warm. They wear in nicely and are comfy. They are quite thin leather so it is easy to feel the reins. They also come in a range of colours! They are from the Equestrian Clearance website where they are for sale for £9.99.

My Mountain Horse gloves have now got some holes in them, I think I have had them over 2 years, so I am going to get a new pair of gloves! I don't want fleece lined ones as I want to be able to wear them all year round. Even though I really like the Mountain Horse ones I want a change so I am going to look for some different ones.

The Mountain Horse gloves (image from equestrianclearance).

Some of the other gloves I have had in the past can be seen on the image below. They are both white as I used them when I did some competitions so they are not the most practical gloves to wear day-to-day.

Two pairs of white riding gloves I own.

The cotton gloves on the right are cheap and are good when you are first starting riding. However, they get worn out very quickly if you are riding quite often so I think if you want value for money it is worth spending a bit more on ones that will last longer. I do think they are good if you do occasional competitions as they will not get used very often and look smart. Click here to go to the Robinson's website where they sell for £2.70!

The SEGs gloves are good as they have a cotton back and a rubbery inside hand section. This gives them good grip. Click here to go to the Chester Jefferies website where there is a similar pair on sale for £22.50. I have had mine for a few years so I don't know if they still make them the same!

I think the gloves I have decided to get are the Roeckl Chester Riding Gloves. These come in lots of different sizes, there is a guide on their website of how to measure your hand to get the right size (click here for the guide!). They also come in a variety of sizes, I think I prefer the dark brown ones (pictured below). I think they are very nice and smart looking gloves. The cheapest I have found them for is on the Equine Country Store website click (click here) where they are £23.48. It is my birthday in a month so I am going to wait and get them for my birthday!

Roeckl Chester Riding Gloves (Image from equinecountrystore.co.uk)

If anyone wants to recommend any other gloves to me then I would be glad to hear about them!

Love Laura

Friday, 26 August 2011


I have spent this week doing work experience at a donkey sanctuary. I have already learnt a lot and I am going back next week as well! Before going I had no experience with donkeys and expected them to be very similar to horses. During my Equine Science degree we didn't learn anything about them either. I have found donkeys to be much more different from horses than I had expected.

Here are a five things I have learnt this week!

1. Donkeys eat a lot of straw! Coming from a horse background I am definitely not used to feeding straw. Donkeys have evolved to live of forage that is not as rich as the grass the horse eats. Therefore they can put on weight easily when given too much grass, hay, haylage etc.

2. Donkeys put on weight in different places than horses! When horses put on weight it is generally evenly distributed around the body. In donkeys they get "saddle bags" these are areas where the fat is. They can get them along the sides of the neck. On their back and sides they get fat concentrated in areas which looks like lots of lumps. When the have been fat it can also make their neck drop over to one side. I can stop worrying about that donkey I saw on holiday who looked like he had a broken neck now!

3. There are all sorts of breeds of donkey. I did know that there would be breeds of donkey but I didn't know what a variety there would be. In the sanctuary I was helping at there was a cheeky Miniature donkey and two big Poitous who are the size of a small horse and one of them had very long hair, they are about 14.2 hh!

4. Donkeys form very strong bonds with another donkey. Trooper has his best friend Joe, they spend all their time together in the field, yet if we separated them for any length of time they wouldn't mind. Donkeys on the other hand, form a very strong attachment to another donkey. They can get very upset or distressed if taken away from that donkey. Donkeys that come into the sanctuary are kept together and when they are sent out on foster they will not be separated from a donkey they are strongly attached to.

5. Donkeys can get a disease called Hyperlipemia. From what I understand of this disease, it can happen when donkeys get stressed. They stop eating and their body starts releasing fat. However, the body then doesn't stop releasing the fat and they can become very ill very quickly. This makes it very important to make sure a donkey eats if it has just been under stress. Horses and ponies can get this disease but it is much rarer, apart from in miniature breeds.

All the donkeys were so lovely and all have such strong personalities. The donkey sanctuary I was working at is just a small one. I am going to ask them if I can write a post on their donkeys but I keep forgetting! I want to ask first as they are rescued donkeys and have come from a variety of backgrounds. Hopefully I will be able to do a post on some of the donkeys that have stood out to me over the two weeks.

Here are a few photographs I took on my phone, hopefully next week I will get a bit of time when it's nice weather to take some photos on my proper camera!

The poitou.

The foal!

The foal and his mother.

Love Laura

Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Digestive System 2!

I have already talked about the digestive system with regards to anatomy (Click here for link!), now I am going to go into this in a bit more detail with regards to nutrition.

There are two types of digestion, physical and microbial. Physical digestion happens during things such as chewing, it is the mechanical break down of food. Prehension is the receiving of food into the mouth. This happens via the lips, tongue and teeth. Mastication is chewing, this is a strong reflex in horses as they chew grass thoroughly. They do not regurgitate grass back up to chew as cows and sheep do. Grass has a high silica content which is difficult to chew.

When the food has been chewed into balls it is called a bolus. Saliva is important for sticking it together, it also makes the food the correct pH for the enzymes and microbes to work. The gap between the front and back teeth is called the diastema, this is where the bit lies. This has happened due to lengthening of the face during evolution. It also helps to separate chewed food from unchewed food.

Degluttination is swallowing, this is a reflex action. There are voluntary and involuntary actions involved. The epiglottis blocks the trachea (the wind pipe), the larynx moves forwards and upwards to let digesta past and the tongue acts a plunger. In the involuntary actions, the soft palate elevtates, there is relaxation of the cardiac sphincter and peristalsis which squeezes the food along. Below is a video from YouTube showing how this works.

The stomach can be divided into four regions. Mainly protein digestion happens here, there is also a bit of storage and it regulates the flow of digesta. The oesophageal region of the stomach is non glandular, there is a small amount of fermentation of carbohydrates here. The cardiac region secretes mucus, this is good for protecting the stomach lining and stops acid damaging the epithelial cells. The fundic and pyloric regions have gastric pits which make the gastric juices. They have G cells which secrete a hormone called gastrin. The fundic region is glandular and secretes mucus. It is stimulated when the stomach stretches with food inside it. Gastrin is the produced and triggers other reactions. The pyloric sphincter controls the rate digesta can leave the stomach. This is why over feeding can cause colic, as the food will build up in the stomach.

The small intestines is the place where the majority of mammalian digestion occurs (this is the digestion not carried out by microbes). There is secretion of mucus, enzymes, alkalis, hormones and bile etc. here which help to neutralise the acid that has escaped from the stomach. A lot of mixing also happens here. The majority of carbohydrates and fats are digested in the small intestine. Problems can occur is the carbohydrates reach the caecum. The rate of movement is slowest in the ileum (the last section) as this is the carbohydrates last chance to be absorbed before the caecum. They are absorbed through the villi and microvilli which are finger-like projections that increase the surface area. 

Image of villi (image from technion.ac.il)

The caecum has an anaerobic environment because air is squeezed out as food falls into the bottom of the sack. The caecum contains friendly bacteria and protozoa, they are anaerobic and produce amino acids. It has a pH of 5, this is critical for the micro organisms to live as below this it will be too acidic and they will die. When they die, toxins are released which can get into the blood stream and cause laminitis. 

In the large intestine it is a major site of water re absorption. 

The horse's digestive system is quite complicated but an understanding of it will help with choosing the correct diet for your horse. 

Love Laura

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


Today's post is on Equimat rubber matting. I have this on the floor of my stable, I have had it for a long time, definitely over 5 years but I am not sure how long! Trooper has shavings for his bed but we are able to give him a thinner bed than we normally would due to the rubber matting. It also insulates the stable floor well in the winter so is good for when he lies down.

Below are some photos I have taken of our Equimat.

Here are some photos from their website which I have linked at the end of the post. As you can see ours isn't as bright green any more. It has gradually gone lighter and a bit more white in the areas which he urinates the most.

When I muck the stable out I usually leave it to dry for as long as possible before putting his bed down. With the rubber matting it dries out very quickly, it can take under an hour depending on the weather. Trooper's stable has a slight slope and some of the urine goes through the rubber matting and runs down to this side of his stable. At this side we have no rubber matting and put shavings down that can be taken out. This is then much nicer to put the clean bed back down onto. I muck it out with a plastic shavings fork as a metal one would stab into it.

Once a year, in the summer we lift up the rubber matting, power hose it, and clean out the stable floor underneath. Over time the rubber matting gets wider as it spreads out with use. We sometimes have to cut a bit off the edge before it is put back into the stable as it is not meant to go right up to the edges. Another great positive to Equimat is that it is light weight to lift up. I know a lot of people who have rubber matting that is very heavy and to bring it out of the stable to clean is very hard. One piece of this can be carried by one person. The only thing that makes it harder is that it is big and a bit bendy.

Trooper has respiratory problems and rubber matting is good for this as it reduces the need of lots of bedding.  He also stamps his feet and the Equimat has been able to withstand this well and has not ripped or torn. It is starting to get slightly worn near his door but I think this has just been squashed down with lots of use.

The Equimat comes in different sizes. Our stable has 4 larger squares, which jig-saw into each other in pairs. We then also have a smaller piece that jig-saw onto the end. They have very secure and there is no risk of them coming unattached. Below are more photos from their website that show this.

Equimat is expensive but I believe you will get your money back in the long run. There are prices on their website but prices start from £360 per stable. On their website it suggests you will get your money back in 18 months due to less bedding used. The also do trailer matting and wall matting but I have no experience of these.

Having rubber matting in our stable has definitely saved us money and made it easier to muck out, and in my opinion, Equimat is the best type of rubber matting.

Below is a link to their website.


Love Laura

Monday, 22 August 2011

A Few Updates!

This is a bit of everything post. First here is a link to a guest post I have written on Brays Of Our Lives. This is a blog about mules so there is lots to learn for someone like me who only knows about horses!


I have just started 2 weeks at the donkey sanctuary that is half an hour away from where I live. I have only been there one day but I am already seeing what big personalities the donkeys have and hopefully I will get chance to take some photographs so I can do some posts on them!  

Also it is my blog's 1 month birthday and I am really enjoying doing it! If you would like to follow me then please do!

Love Laura

Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Dangers Of Chinese Lanterns

When I went to catch my horse this morning I found them all investigating something in the field. When I got closer I saw it was a Chinese lantern that must have landed in our field over night. Although these lanterns are very pretty when people set them off, they do not think about where they end up and the negative effects they can have.

Chinese lanterns (Image from bitterwallet.com)

This is actually the second time I have found one of these lanterns in our field. The first time it was covered in blood after a horse had been trying to eat it. It reminded me of an article I had seen on Horse And Hound's website (link below).

*Link to Chinese lanterns article on Horse And Hound*

These lanterns are made from a thin wire and paper and horses could very easily get injured on this wire. All they have to do is stand on it or eat a bit of it and they could end up with a very serious injury. When I picked the lantern up to take out of the field more horses came up as they thought the rustling paper was a bag of feed. These lanterns have been banned in some other countries so hopefully as people start to realise the dangers they will become banned in the UK.

Trooper sniffing the lantern.

James grazing next to the lantern.

Trooper and James.

I definitely think that some regulations should be made regarding these lanterns as they are becoming very popular and may cause a lot of problems to horses and livestock.

*Additional Info* It has come to my attention that in the RSPCA have a petition that you can sign, they need 20,000 signatures so get signing!

A Facebook page has also been created, the link is below;

Love Laura

Friday, 19 August 2011

RAO (Heaves, COPD)

I have mentioned Trooper has a cough before and I thought I would do a post on Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO), this is a disease of the respiratory system. This condition used to be called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary (lung) Disease (COPD) in horses but they have changed the name to avoid confusion with the human condition COPD which is very different. RAO also has a number of other names including heaves, broken wind and chronic bronchitis. It is thought to be the single most common medical condition effecting horses in the UK.

Trooper has not been properly diagnosed with this condition but I am pretty sure he has it. He used to get a cough every year at the end of the winter before he was going to go out in the field at night. Once he was out at night it would go. The vet would come and see him for his cough and he has been on ventipulmin (to open the airways) and sputolosin (to bring up any mucus). He is also a very loud breather when you ride him but he does get himself a bit excited which will add to this.

As he is now 22 years old it has gradually been getting worse and this year it was quite bad as it was paired with him being quite over weight. We had the vet out this year because of his cough and she said his chest sounded clear. If he was to be diagnosed with RAO he would need endoscopes doing and he doesn't like the vet so I think this would be a bit tricky! When I was riding him I would go into trot and he would cough so I would have to walk again. Sometimes he would stretched his neck right out like race horses do when they are trying to get more air down their airways. He would also breathe a pattern of 3 sometimes, he would take 3 short breaths then there would be a break. I don't know if the noise was him breathing in or out though. I also think he has a bit of a"heave line", I tried to take a photo of this but as he is black and it isn't very severe it didn't show up well.

Photo of a heaves line (image from Knottenbelt, Pascoe and Saunders, Diseases and Disorders of the Horse)

He is much better now though as he has lost weight and that paired with Winergy Ventilate (Click here for Winergy Ventilate review!) have made him return back to normal. Also I should say he is on shavings not straw and isn't on any hay or haylage at the moment, only grass, so there is no need for anything to be soaked. However, his stable is next door to where the hay is kept which I don't think is helping it! As he gets older I think it is important we keep him as fit as possible in order to keep his respiratory system healthy.

RAO is the horse equivalent to asthma in humans. It is an allergy (type 1 hypersensitivity), to the spores of mould that are often seen in dusty hay. When horses eat the hay the spores will be concentrated around their nose and are easily breathed in. This leads to an inflammation in the lungs.

In humans, breathing in is an active movement in which muscles are used and breathing out is passive, due to the muscles relaxing the rib cage coming down pushing the air out. In horses, breathing out is half active and half passive, as is breathing in. When horses have RAO they often have forced expiration as they struggle to expel the air leading to a double breath out (which is what I think Trooper was doing when I was riding him and he was breathing in a pattern of 3). Horses can get heave lines due to the forced expiration. This can also lead to emphysema which is bursting of the alveoli in the lungs and is irreversible.

There are a number of other respiratory conditions that are contagious and very serious. These include strangles, equine influenza and rhodococcal infection. Veterinary advice should be sought if you think your horse has any kind of respiratory problem.

There are lots of horses that go on to have high performing careers with the condition. I think Trooper is much better now and it is very important we keep his weight under control. If anyone has an tips from their own experiences with RAO then please let me know!

Love Laura

Thursday, 18 August 2011

I Fell Off!!

I had my riding lesson yesterday and we decided to jump when I got inside as the jumps were already out from the previous lesson. Because I wasn't expecting to jump I didn't have my short whip or body protector and should have gone back to get them but I didn't.

I used to jump a lot but since going to university I have stopped because I have been away for months at a time and Trooper wasn't jumped while I was away. When I came home I did some smaller jumps but I could not do anything like we used to do as I wasn't confident enough and he wasn't used to it. When I jumped in the past he did have a bit of a history of refusing fences and I have been eliminated from lots of competitions (sometimes on the first jump). However, he did improve and after a few years he was doing really well in competitions until I decided to stop because of school work.

Me on Trooper a few years ago.

On my lesson we  started with trotting poles which he did nicely then we went on a single jump then a double. I felt fine going over these jumps and he was a very good boy. I wanted a placing pole as he kept getting his stride wrong into it and I felt more confident with this. He kept landing on the wrong leg on both reins which is a habit he always used to have in the arena so I need to try to keep him straighter. We then had a third jump to go over with one stride in between each one and he jumped that as well. He always goes very forward through the jumps and I have to try hard to slow him down.

The third jump was then put up a hole and that's when I got a bit nervous. It actually looked like a big jump to me now (even though it was only 2ft something!). He went into the placing pole and messed up the strides from the beginning. I wasn't riding him forwards as I was scared and he jumped the first two, then stopped dead and swerved and dropped his shoulder. I just saw his body and the saddle as I hit the floor! I can't remember the last time I fell off! It must have been over 5 years ago. I was a bit shocked. I wasn't hurt at all though and got back on him straight away.

After I had fallen off I didn't feel as nervous, as before I was scared I would fall off. And I had fallen off and it hadn't hurt so I was fine! My teacher sorted the jumps out so it was just a double and a bit smaller and then we worked our way back to to the same as it was when I fell off and he was fine!

I used to know exactly what he would and wouldn't jump so I would be ready for him if he put a stop in. But now I'm not sure. I am going to carry on doing a bit of jumping. Nothing big as I don't want to compete or anything but I think he enjoys it when he does it and it makes a change from schooling every day!

A few years ago when Trooper was at his best jumping stage (sorry it's a bit blurry!)

Love Laura

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

YouTube- Trooper and Joe

I took some video of Trooper and Joe coming in from the field the other day thinking it would be easy to edit it and put it together into one video. I was wrong! I had to convert the files and some files were too large and it was all just very tricky! However, I have managed to do it now and here is a little video of them both.

Joe comes in with Trooper every day. They are always together in the field and Joe is very well behaved and follows me up. When we get out the gate he just walks to his stable and waits to be let in. Trooper on the other hand runs to every other horse's stable to eat their feed if he hasn't got his head collar on! And yes, Trooper does drive me mad biting everything but I just can't stop him! I've tried everything!

Hope you enjoyed! I'm going to go and get ready for my riding lesson now :-)

Love Laura

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Top 5 Horse Text Books!

This morning I took a video of Trooper and Joe coming in from the field. I have literally spent aaaages trying to edit it so it is just the good bits and uploads it onto YouTube but everything is against me! I edited it in a certain software but needed an activation code or it would have had writing across it. Then I thought I would upload it to YouTube and convert it but the main video wont upload. So hopefully I will get this sorted at some point or I will take a new video that doesn't need editing and can go straight onto YouTube!

I thought a good post to do instead would be my top 5 horse text books. I don't sit and read text books but they are useful if you want to look up particular information. These are books I have used whilst studying for my degree or my BHS exams and I have found interesting or useful! The prices I have added on the end are what I found on Amazon, as are the images.

5. Horse Anatomy- A Pictorial Approach To Equine Structure by Peter Goody. £8.79.
This is a very detailed book full of equine anatomy. There are lots of different diagrams showing a wide variety of things such as muscles, bones, teeth and information on conformation. You wouldn't want to sit and read this book but it is interesting if you want to know a bit more about horse anatomy.

4. The BHS Complete Manual of Horse & Stable Management by Josephine Batty-Smith. £17.01
This is a massive book and I used it a lot when I was studied for my BHS exams. There are diagrams in it and it covers pretty much everything you can think of!

3. Equine Nutrition & Feeding by David Frape. £42.74

This covers everything you want to know about feeding such as anatomy, different horse's requirements, pasture management, the roles of vitamins and minerals and much more! But this book doesn't contain many pictures, just a few charts really which doesn't make it very nice to look at! I would only recommend you to buy this book if you are studying Equine Science/ Studies or your horse has special dietary needs and you want to learn more about it.

2. Equine Exercise Physiology by David Marlin and Kathryn Nankervis. £44.64
This book is very interesting and is a "must have" for any Equine Science/Studies student. The book focuses on the horse's physiology and the response to training. And it has lots of diagrams and black and white photographs to help explain things. For the average horse owner it probably isn't very useful, but if you compete at a higher level especially in cross country or racing then this will give you lots of help. Saying that, If I had to sit and read a text book, I think I could manage it with this one, so the average horse owner would still enjoy reading it and learning more about what elite horses can do!

1. Equine Reproductive Physiology, Breeding and Stud Management by Mina Davies Morel. £37.95.
This is my favourite text book from the ones I have. I might be slightly biased as Mina was my lecturer at university, but this book is filled with diagrams and black and white photographs which illustrate and explain the information. The book starts with anatomy, then talks you through from covering through pregnancy, birth, right up until weaning, it also talks about breeding methods including AI. This book is very scientifically based would appeal to a wide variety of people from students to small stud breeders to large stud breeders. It is a very interesting book and definitely one of the few text books I could read without falling asleep!

So there are a few books for you to look out for if you're wanting to learn a bit more about horses! I didn't realise I had paid this much for these books, maybe librarys will have them if you don't want to pay this much. (Think I'll go and cash mine in...I'll resist it, for now!)

And please follow if you are not already :-)

Love Laura

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Greenwich Park (2012 Olympics equestrian venue)

It is now less than 12 months until the Olympics and time to start getting excited! I have been very lucky as my family have been able to get tickets for the grand prix dressage and the cross country. I had applied for tickets but didn't get any but my family managed to get both lots they applied for. After speaking to other people I can't believe how lucky we have been and I'm soooo excited. This is especially after the Beijing Olympics where I had to go to sleep and set my alarm to wake up at 2.00 am to watch it on TV! I do think that some of the tickets for all the different sports should have been given to sport clubs so that people that actually do that sport would have a higher chance of getting tickets. I think that some people will have ended up with equestrian tickets that applied just to go to the Olympics and wont have a clue what is going on.

The equestrian sporting events are being held at Greenwich Park. This is a 180 acre park in the south east of London. It has a number of historic buildings including the Royal Navy Museum and the National Maritime Museum.The photographs look amazing as you can see the city in the background which is very unusual for a 2 day event.

Photograph of the test event at Greenwich (Image from london2012.com)

There has been a number of problems overcome before Greenwich got the go ahead for the Olympics. There were concerns about whether the park would be big enough to host the cross country phase of the eventing. There were also a lot of complaints when it was announced that the equestrian events would be held here. There were complaints that it would ruin the rare and protected grasslands and one man appeared in court charged with criminal damage after removing over 100 white markers that laid out the cross country path. The campaigners also found a law that caused the planning permission to be unlawful. The law dated from 1871 and meant that no fence or structure could be built on that land. Another regulation was found banning horses from Greenwich park but both have been overcome in order to gain permission for the Olympics to be held here.

Artists impression of what the arena will look like (Not sure what that horse is doing?!) 
(Image from hoof-in-town.com) 

We have just had the 3 day event test event at Greenwich. The cross country course was a 2 star event and half the distance that the original course will be. It will have given the course builders a good level of information about what changed need to be made to perfect the course. One of the main issues riders had was that the ground was too soft so drainage alterations will have to be made. Piggy French claimed the overall victory in this test event.

The test even was host to 9,000 spectators whereas the arena events in the Olympics with have 23,000 and the cross country will have 55,000 making it a lot more busy. They are said to currently be discussing crowd modelling and traffic work and more tickets may become available.

Artists impression of the show jumping (Image from mirror.co.uk)

I will be following the progress of the Olympics and I am very excited to be going to watch it! I think Greenwich will be the perfect venue for the Olympics. We are lucky to be able to hold it so close to the centre of London and I can't see there being any long term damage from the equestrian events taking place here.

Love Laura

Friday, 12 August 2011

Equestrian Jewellery

Here are some horsey themed jewellery from a variety of websites. Below the image is the name of the product, the price and where it is from!

ASOS; Orelia Horse Friendship bracelet; £10.00.

ASOS; Carousel Long Pendant Necklace with swinging horse charms; £12.00.

HiHo Silver; Sterling Silver Snaffle Earrings; £29.00.

Sculpture To Wear; Hunting Stirrup Pendant; £209.00

The Ripley Collection; Pair Of Boots Pendant and Chain; £26.00

Hope you enjoyed looking at these!

Love Laura!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Heat Stroke and Acclimatisation

After writing a post on thermoregulation I wanted to go further into heat stroke and how training and acclimatisation would help to prevent it. Most of this is with regards to exercising horses in hot climates.

Heat stoke is an emergency which requires immediate recognition and treatment. The horse will try to lose heat by rapid heat exchange or panting, they must be cooled down and electrolytes given to aid recovery. Humidity effects heat loss because there is more moisture in the air, therefore it is harder for the sweat to evaporate into the air due to a smaller difference gradient between the horse's body surface and the air. Humidity therefore limits sweat evaporation and heat loss.

There are a number of ways in which to prevent horses getting heatstroke, exhaustion and dehydration. Knowing the signs of dehydration is helpful. These are as follows;

  • Skin loses pliability (skin test)
  • Not wanting to graze or eat
  • Listlessness (lacking in energy)
  • Loss of normal colour from membranes of gums and eyes and reduced capillary refill time (the time it takes to go from white to pink after being pressed)
  • Muscles quiver
  • Weaker pulse
  • "Thumps"
  • Thick, patchy sweat
  • Panting (only with heat exhaustion)
Pinch test on the neck of a horse.

The pinch test can be done to check for dehydration. This is when a fold of skin on the neck is picked up between the finger and thumb. When it i released it should return to normal within 5 seconds. 

Horses should freely be allowed water until around an hour before a cross country competition. After the competition the neck and extremities should be sponged with water and allowed to evaporate, the loins and croup should be avoided to prevent the back from becoming stiff.

The aim of training a horse is to get the adequately fit so it can compete with a reduced level of fatigue, this also reduces fatigue related injuries such as rotational falls. Interval training is a good method of getting a horse fit, this is when short periods of exercise are carried out followed by a break and repeated. The speed and length of the exercise can be increased as their fitness improves.

Training has a number of effects on the respiratory system. When the horse is not active the alveoli become blocked by mucus and debris, exercise removes this from the lungs. This gives the horse a greater ability to get oxygen into the blood. The muscles that control breathing in the chest can develop. The blood supply to muscles increases and the muscles have an increased ability to store glycogen to use as energy. There is an increased amount of blood flowing to the skin for the same rise in temperature before training allowing more heat to be lost. There is also a rise in plasma levels in the blood which enhances sweat production and helps with the cardiovascular demands.

Training acts as a form of heat acclimatisation by putting a heat load on the body, this stimulates the heat loss mechanisms and they improve as they have to do it more often. More sweat is produced and it starts being produced at a lower intensity. There is also a better transfer of heat from the core of the body to the periphery allowing the horse to cool down more quickly.

Horses may have to perform under very different conditions when they travel for championships. High temperature and humidity are especially dangerous. They can cause heat related stress. Horses should be monitored and not pushed when they are showing signs of fatigue. Fans can help to cool them down as the moving air promotes evaporation. Water can be sponged over the horse and scraped off. The horses temperature may rise to 41 oC but it should be 39 oC within 30 to 40 minutes.

When horses sweat they lose electrolytes. This can cause thumps which is also called synchronous diaphragmatic flutter. This is when the diaphragm contacts in the same rhythm as the heart beat so the horse's flank synchronises with the pulse. Veterinary advice should be sought immediately. Electrolytes can be given in solution in drinking water before, during and after a competition. Salt (sodium chloride) can be given in water and as salt licks to help with this.

Hope you found this interesting!

Love Laura

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Riding Lesson and The Donkey Sanctuary

At the weekend I went to The Donkey Sanctuary open day in Buxton, Derbyshire. I was hoping to take some photos for my blog but it was rainy and grey and I also forgot my camera so it would have had to been on my phone so I decided not to! The donkey sanctuary was a smaller branch of the one in Devon. They had put the older and well behaved donkeys in a paddock that the general public was allowed into so we could walk around and see them all. They had collars round their necks saying their names and ages which was useful. They were so sweet! There was a baby called Sven who was really cute and a bit cheeky. I actually learnt quite a lot as I was expecting them to be very similar to horses and they were quite different. I did not know that donkeys live to an older age than horses. They also had one donkey who was a certain breed (I'm not sure what) and he was about 14.2 hh which I thought was really big for a donkey! I am hoping to do two weeks work experience with them in a few weeks so I am able to learn about their nutrition and help out with them.

If you get the chance to go and visit the main donkey sanctuary or an open day at a smaller one I would recommend it. They hold a lot of events to raise money and it is interesting for all age ranges.

Here is a link to their website if you would like to go on it.


Sven and his mother (photo from the donkey sanctuary website).

Today I have had a riding lesson on Trooper. It was my first riding lesson in a few months but he was really good. We did shoulder in, in both walk and trot. I had to do sitting trot which was very tiring so I kept having a rest and rising! I also had to do walk to "almost halt" and keep him stepping and not quite halting. This helped to get his hind legs underneath him and get him off the forehand and helped a lot. I also had to do some walk to canter and canter to walk on quite a small circle which he found hard and kept falling out. I had to try to imagine I was riding a square to keep hold of his shoulder more. I need to practice cantering on small circles and I am going to do more of the walk to almost halt as that improved him a lot after doing it.

Love Laura

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

YouTube- Totilas

This is Totilas, arguably the best dressage horse of all time, in his world record breaking test at Olympia. He got 92.3%!! I feel all inspired now, Trooper wont know what has hit him tomorrow!

Love Laura

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Keeping Cool!

As it's summer I thought I would write a post on thermoregulation in horses. This is is a snip-it taken from an essay I wrote in my first year at university during an equine performance physiology module. 

Horses can regulate their temperature and maintain it at a relatively constant level that is different to the temperature of the environment. The most active organs produce the most heat; this includes the muscles and the liver along with the digestive system.

The control of a horse’s temperature is an example of homeostasis; this means it has receptors, comparators, effectors and neural elements linking it together to keep it at a steady state. Mammals are able to manipulate heat exchange between themselves and the environment in four possible ways. Conduction happens when the horse is in contact with another solid object such as a rug or a numnah. Convection occurs when the horse sends its blood to the periphery of its body and heat is lost to the surrounding air, this cools the blood down, this blood then moves to the core of the body and cools the horse down. Radiation is due to heat loss from the horse into the atmosphere. And evaporation occurs when the horse sweats.

The receptors which monitor temperature are called thermoreceptors; there are two types of these detecting either hot or cold. There are thermoreceptors in the skin which detect changes in environmental temperature and ones in the hypothalamus region of the brain which detect changes in internal temperature.

During exercise basal metabolic rate increases ten to twenty times. This produces a large amount of heat that must be lost to maintain normal body temperature. One way to lose heat is to divert blood to the periphery of the body; this is done by vasodilation, and will increase the heat loss from the blood through the skin. This mechanism is controlled by the autonomous nervous system. Vasodilation increases conduction, convection and radiation and indirectly helps with the evaporation of sweat. 

Another way in which heat is lost is through sweating by the evaporation of water. Sweating is the main means of getting rid of heat in the horse. As body core temperature increases so does the sweat production. Sweat is converted from a liquid to a vapour when it reaches the skin; heat is lost in this process. A sweat gland is made of a coiled tube which opens on the skins surface; they are triggered by a raised temperature and adrenaline. Horses are able to sweat everywhere apart from the legs; however they sweat more in some areas such as the ears and the neck. Sweating is a continuous process and is only visible on the skin when the rate of sweating exceeds the rate of evaporation. If sweating occurs for a long period of time dehydration can occur. Most clothing adds resistance to the evaporation of sweat, however there are some effective materials that can be used that promote wicking or free movement away of water vapour. This is why horses often where a thin rug made out of this sort of material when they have been heavily worked as it will help them to cool off by wicking away the moisture. Sweat contains substantial amounts of calcium, potassium, bicarbonate, sodium chloride and magnesium. When fluid and electrolyte loss are severe the horse may lose the ability to sweat even in a high temperature, this is heat stroke.

Image from ehow.com

The thermal stress put on the horses in the hot weather may result in heat stress and exhaustion in some horses. Aggressive cooling of horses is important for the ones that had competed in hot conditions to bring their temperature back down to normal. Profuse sweating may have also led to performance limiting dehydration. 

After exercise moving air from fans can help to cool them down by promoting evaporation. Ice cold water can be sponged over the horse, and scraped off. There is little danger off the horse being cooled too rapidly as long as the temperature does not drop too far. To prevent this horses may be blanketed whilst being walked around after having the water put on them. When competing in hot temperatures it is not unusual for a horse to have a rectal temperature of 41 ᵒC, but it should be 39 ᵒC within 30 to 40 minutes.

Training acts as a form of heat acclimatisation. Heat stroke is a major problem in hot climates where horses are being exercised. I may do another post on these two things. 

Love Laura


P.S. I apologise for the larrrrge spacings between paragraphs on this post. Not too sure what happened and I couldn't correct it, but think it was from copying and pasting information from word that I was using before editing it!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Equestrian Clearance

I have recently been on the Equestrian Clearance website. I have bought things from it in the past but I have not been on it for a while. It is a website that has discounted equestrian products. They have lots of well known brands such as Joules, Ariat, Weatherbeeta, Caldene etc. The link to the website is below.


I have ordered some of these boots. As I may be doing a 2 week work placement at the donkey sanctuary and need boots with steel toe caps which I don't have. They said I could borrow some but thought I would buy some as I will use them at the farm anyway during the summer as at the moment I am just wearing my wellies or trainers if it is hot. They were £24.99 and are called K*TY (don't ask me how to say that, maybe kitty?) Steel Toe Cap Jodhpur Boots.They are made from hard wearing leather and have a rubber sole. The RRP is £39.99.

K*TY Steel Toe Cap Jodhpur Boots.


There are lots of other bargains on there too!

I love this union jack brush by Cottage Craft which is £3.50.
Cottage Craft Union Jack Dandy Brush.


I saw these Caldene Pearl Browbands too which are lurrvely but I don't think Trooper would thank me if I made him wear one! The are £22.99 and I think it would be a special occasion browband rather than an every day one!

Caldene Pearl Browband.


They've got lots of other things so go and have a look! Don't blame me if you spend all your money though!

Love Laura

Friday, 5 August 2011

Trooper And His Horsey Crew

I have ridden Trooper about 5 times this week trying in between the rain and heat! This morning it was a bit rainy so we went in the indoor arena. He coughed a few times and was stretching his neck out. I have had no problems with his breathing riding in the outdoor arena so I went out there instead and he was fine. I have only been giving him one scoop of Winergy Ventilate so he might need to go back onto two. I think over the winter he might need to have two every day as he will be ridden inside most times. Once I had got into the outdoor school he went lovely again. He is going very calmly and doing some lovely walk to canter transitions. His downwards transitions are still a bit all over the place. I am going to do a little bit of jumping next week and see how he goes. Since I went to university 3 years ago he has only done a small amount of jumping so he is not used to it any more and neither am I! I might try and book a lesson for next week too, with everything that keeps happening he has not been fit enough to have a proper lesson so hopefully I will get one soon.

Another slight problem we have had this week is that when we brought him in a few days ago he had a nosebleed. This was just out of one nostril and only a few drops of blood. If it was out of both nostrils it would have been more to worry about but one nostril usually just means a burst blood vessel. He has had nosebleeds recently from this same nostril so I think he might have a weak blood vessel in it. I was careful when I rode him and only walked and trotted the first time and he didn't have another nosebleed. I gradually increased the amount of work he was doing over the week and he has not had another nosebleed. I might look into this more and do a post on it.

Below is a photo taken on my phone so it isn't very good quality from when I turned Trooper out yesterday afternoon. This is Toby who he has been grooming a lot recently. Toby is out in the field during the day and in over night and Trooper is the opposite so they only get a short amount of time together at the moment.

Trooper and Toby.

Trooper's best friend is called Joe. He is always with him in the field and every morning Joe follows me up the field and I bring him in. Joe is very well behaved and walks round to his stable and waits to be let in without wearing a head collar. Trooper on the other hand escapes at the first opportunity. Joe is a few years older than Trooper and they have been best friends for many years. They both stay out of trouble together and don't like to join in with the other horses stampeding. Below are some photos of Troops and Joe.

Trooper and Joe looking a bit muddy.

They must have had a tiring night!

My Dad with Troops and Joe. 

Joe keeping Troops in line!

Love Laura
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