Friday, 30 November 2012

A Very Foggy Day!

This afternoon while we were trying to catch Trooper there was really thick fog! Here is a video of us trying to find him in the field, a little stampede and Trooper generally messing around!

I am also having some issues with my blog at the moment as it says I have reached my Picasa storage limit for my photos on Blogger. Has this happened to anyone else and does anyone know how I can sort this out? The other problem I have had is that people have been telling me were unable to comment on my blog so if it doesn't work you can contact me on Twitter or Facebook, thanks!

Love Laura

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Christmas Stocking Fillers 2012

Following on from my last Christmas gift post, here is another one with lots of stocking fillers! First is this really cute keyring from Horze which is only 95p!

 Next are these Likit Treat Bars, they are £1 each and there is a choice of flavours for your horse to enjoy!

I also found these hand warmers in the shape of a horse's head, they are £3.99 from Equestrian Clearance and are reusable. Click here to go to the website!

Next is a 3D saddle keyring from Equestrian Clearance for £5.99.

Here is a mobile phone holder which is great for when you don't have a pocket and are out riding on your own. It is also £5.99 from Equestrian Clearance.

I also really like these fluffy socks from Joules, they can be bought here and cost £6.75.

Here is a DIY jewellery kit to make a bracelet out of horse hair which would be great for young girls. It is £7.50 and can be bought from Robinsons.

Love Laura

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Science Sunday; Psychology When Lacking Confidence

Psychology plays a major role in all sports but I think it is very important in horse riding. Not only do you need to have the confidence to do it but this is transferred into your horse and they will be more likely to try a jump if they can sense the rider is confident. Psychology is full of different theories that can be applied to people in different situations.

Self efficacy Self-efficacy is the perception of a persons’ ability to perform a task successfully it is a situation specific form of self-confidence. A psychologist called Albert Bandura brought together the concepts of confidence and expectations to give a clear idea of self-efficacy.  It focuses on the ability to overcome obstacles to give a successful performance. It is the theoretical basis for most performance based research in self-confidence in sports. Self-efficacy alone cannot make a person a successful athlete. They must also want to succeed and have the ability to succeed.  Athletes who believe in themselves tend to persevere especially under hard conditions.  Self-efficacy can be related to goal setting, therefore the athlete is more likely to set more challenging goals if he has a higher self-efficacy. It has also been found that in athletes, if they have a higher level of self-confidence they are more likely to succeed. 

Therefore when looking at a nervous rider they may not perform as well under pressure such as at a competition. They may be able to ride to a good standard when at home in their normal surroundings but find it harder when they get to a competition. It may affect their willingness to practise as they may be worried they will ride badly. It can cause a loss of motivation and the development of a negative attitude.

Improving low confidence Problems such as this may be improved by goal setting. Psychologists may set a personalised plan for the rider with various goals and strategies. There may also be an evaluation procedure to assess progress towards goals. This can help to enhance confidence and performance.

Imagery is another technique used to build self confidence. This is where people imaging themselves accomplishing tasks they have not been able to accomplish or have had difficulty doing. A rider may visualise themselves successfully jumping a 3 ft course or successfully performing accurate movements in the dressage arena.

Acting confidently is another technique used as well as thinking confidently. This involves thinking that we will achieve the goals. Our thoughts should be motivational rather than judgemental. By thinking confidently it should also make event more enjoyable.

Physical conditioning and training is also important. If you and your horse are in good shape and have carried out lots of training then it will also lead to feeling more confident. It is said that no mental training can overcome the physical skill needed. This is particularly important in athletic sports but can also be applied to horse riding as you and your horse need to be trained to take part in an event.

Preparation is important, it will give more of an idea of what is expected of the rider. A pre-competition plan may be established to take some of the strain out of the situation.

Vicarious exercises are when the person lacking confidence watches others carry out the task they are struggling with. This may allow them to gain a greater understanding of what to do and new techniques.

Verbal persuasion is when a coach or other members of a team encourage the athlete who lacks confidence. This may come from friends and family.

There are many different techniques used by a wide range of athletes in order to improve their confidence during sport. These can be adapted to be used by horse riders to improve their competition.

Love Laura

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Christmas Gifts; Equestrian Jewellery

Here are some equestrian jewellery pieces that would make great Christmas presents! I have put the cheapest ones first moving through to the more expensive ones!

First is a set of two types of stud earrings from Asos, this is currently half price down from £7 to £3.50.

Next are some horseshoe stud earrings from Asos from the brand Orelia, they are rose gold in colour and are £10.

 Next is a horseshoe necklace from Hot Diamonds, it is £40 and is sterling silver with real diamonds.
Here is another necklace, this one has a long chain and a rocking horse pendant, it is by Ted Baker at Asos, it is £49.00 and is rose gold in colour. 
This necklace is an unusual one and is an origami horse. It is black silver and is from Boticca and is £86.50.

Love Laura

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Science Sunday; The Stay Apparatus

Last year at university I didn't choose to take the anatomy module as I find anatomy quite hard to memorise. Those that did take the module had to write an essay on "the stay apparatus" and I thought it might be an interesting topic to talk about this Sunday.

The stay apparatus is why the horse can rest whilst standing. This is present in both the front and hind legs and is due to a number of muscles and ligaments that lock the leg into position and hold it there. This mechanism is slightly different in the fore and hind limbs but the basic idea behind it is the same for both.

The tendons and ligaments
The horses' leg below the knee or hock is supported by three elastic ligaments at the back. The suspensory ligament supports the fetlock and pastern joints. The superficial flexor tendon supports the fetlock and pastern joints. And the deep flexor tendon supports the fetlock, pastern and coffin joints.The superficial and deep flexor tendon are both supported by check ligaments. All three of these tendons work in a series, with the body weight pressing down through the joint, the fetlock joint moves down. The suspensory ligament tightens first, then the superficial flexor then the deep flexor and these hold the leg in place.

The front legs
In the front legs, above the knee, there are a number of muscles involved in enabling the horse to stand whilst resting. The serratus ventralis muscle is the major one attaching the limb to the body, it supports the body when relaxed. The weight of the body pressing down through the leg closes the shoulder joint. There are also some mechanisms involving muscles to stop the shoulder joint over flexing. The knee is able to weight bear without extra effort in its normal position. This is due to the vertical line going through the radius and large metacarpal bones. The knee is prevented from buckling forwards due to an inelastic tendon inserted onto the large metacarpal bone.

The hindlegs
In the hind legs there is a similar mechanism to stop the hock becoming too flexed. The greater the weight going through the limbs there is a greater tendency to flex the hip and the tighter it will lock. Little or no muscles are needed to maintain this posture. There is also a mechanism in which the pelvis locks on one side in order to allow the hind leg on the other side to rest. It is said that horses still need to rest their legs despite the stay apparatus as the amount of energy used is reduced but muscular effort is still required.

The stay apparatus in foals
When looking at newborn foals the stay apparatus has been looked at. Foals are born at a more advanced stage of development than human babies, it is also thought that they have an advantage over human babies when standing as they have four legs and not two. However, it is also thought that the foal may have the ability to have automatic limb control whereas the human baby needs to learn this. If the muscles in the legs failed to maintain a state of contraction then the foals collapse to the floor. It suggests that a moderate level of contraction needs to be maintained at rest in order to stay standing. The stay apparatus becomes better as the foal grows and develops.

The stay apparatus is not controlled by muscular control alone, and it is not entirely automatic. Balance is also involved and this includes the central nervous system. Reflexes are also involved.

Once the legs have locked into place, only limited muscle use is required. In order for them to unlock, the femoris muscle contracts to lift the patella up off the ridge it is resting on.

A lot of this information is from the book Horse Structure and Movement by Symthe and Goody. This is a really good book if you want to learn more about the anatomy of the horse and how it effects their movement.

Love Laura

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Science Sunday; How Horses Keep Warm

Hopefully I am going to start writing a regular equine science type post every Sunday. Today I am going to talk about how horses keep warm during the winter months. I have already written a post on this, (click here) but this one is going to go into more detail into their actual mechanisms of keeping warm. Over the summer I wrote a post on how horses keep cool, click here to read it!

Ways of keeping warm
A horse's body temperature is 37-38 degrees Celsius and their body will react in a way to maintain this temperature in the body and keep levels constant. The body temperature is important for the normal running of the body systems and changes may lead to problems. The most active organs produce the most heat, this includes the muscles, the liver and the digestive system. Receptors called thermoreceptors monitor the temperature of the horse, if they detect that the temperature is falling they will send messages to other areas of the body in order to do something to warm up the horse.

  • If a horse is cold then the hairs in their coat may stand on end, this is called piloerection. When the hairs stand up it traps a layer of air in the coat which helps as an extra layer of insulation. These hairs lye flat if the horse then gets too hot to let the heat quickly escape. The use of a rug on the horse will flatten down the hairs and prevent this from happening. 
  • Vasoconstriction may also happen, this is when the blood vessels constrict and reduce the amount of blood going to the surface of the horse's body. Due to this, less heat will be lost from the blood into the surrounding cold air.
  • The shape of a horse also helps to keep them warm. They have a large surface area to volume ratio meaning that for the amount of heat that is kept in the inside, less will be lost through the surface of their skin. Their legs also have a very low blood supply (which is why injuries here take longer to heal). This means that not much heat is lost from the blood flowing through these areas. 
  • Counter-current heat exchange also happens. This is when the blood that is on it's way back to the heart and lungs after being near the horse's skin is warmed before it gets there. This is due to it passing near by to the blood in arteries and the heat is transferred from one to the other.
  • Circulation shunts also happen in the feet of the horse to prevent them from becoming too cold. This is why your horse's feet don't freeze! This isn't well understood but it is thought that blood is moved to these areas to warm them up. 
  • The horses metabolism may also increase which would result in more heat being produced. 
  • Horses may also shiver if they get cold, this extra movement of muscles will help to produce heat and warm them up.
  • Horses also develop a thicker coat in the winter, this adds to the amount of insulation they have compared to the summer. 

Love Laura

Sunday, 4 November 2012

New Kittens

We have some new kittens on the farm at the moment. They were playing in the viewing area of the indoor arena while I was watching my Mum ride so I got a few photos of them. The black and white one is called Jess and I am not sure what the black one is called. They are both very friendly though and chasing leaves and wrappers around in practice for catching the mice!

Love Laura

Friday, 2 November 2012

Do I Have To Be Ridden?

Yesterday we went to ride Trooper in the afternoon and he was very tired... I'll let the pictures do the talking!

There was a Halloween party on the farm the night before so maybe he didn't get much sleep! Below is a photo of his saddle pad which we have had for years but it is nice so I thought I would include it.

Unfortunately he didn't manage to get out of being ridden, this is him heading down to the indoor arena. He woke up a bit once we got inside!

Love Laura
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