Tag Archives: horse

Why I’m not clipping or rugging this winter

Ah, we’re knocking on the door of October! If you’ve not already done your first clip this year I’m sure you’re seriously thinking about getting it done sooner rather than later. September has been a scorcher and with an increasingly fluffy Saf still in full work I almost found myself reaching for the clippers. Before I committed though, I nipped out for a hack last week, in what turned out to be 25C. On returning I noticed that Saf was only slightly sweaty under her girth, and considering how warm it was, we’d done 3.5 miles and that we’d included our usual incline canter/gallop, I was pleasantly surprised.

 

Short term gain, long term pain?

Thinking back to last winter, I tried my first rugless test with Misty and Saffron which was a huge success. At that time I had done my usual chaser type clip on Saf and remember feeling guilty that I had deprived her of her winter protection. It also struck me as ugly (and I admit I’m not the best clipper in the world!) but to see Saf’s beautiful, shiny winter coat interrupted by that clip irritated me more than it should have. The short term benefit of clipping her in circa September to counteract the usual September warmth vs winter coat growth, seemed pointless when there was a long winter ahead. In fact, it’s far more beneficial for Saf to clip her in late winter / early spring and there’s no guilt involved in that instance.

10984232_10.kj153289556891263_3122162250835980475_n.png

 

Exceptions?

There are exceptions to my self-imposed rules. Last winter, Claire and I weaned ourselves and Saf and Mist down to no fill sheets only, and only used in certain circumstances. Any rugs with any sort of filling were put away. I felt a bare minimum rug was necessary due to our field having no shelter, but we listen to the horses and if they are happy in the rain, the rugs stay off. I will pop the sheet on Saf if it’s wet and I have a lesson first thing, there’s not a lot I can do with wet mud on the saddle area!

In case you’re wondering, Rosie Shetland and Raven aren’t mentioned as rugs are not on the radar for them. Rosie goes without saying, and Raven in her present state would just be unhappy if we tried. Penny is the only exception, due to being in her mid-thirties she is utterly mollycoddled but she does have her rug off as much as the weather allows and always has the lightest weight rug possible.

12194630_10153448391751263_933380953342145603_o

 

I won’t attempt to explain the thermoregulation system in the horse, but the lovely people Al Holistic Horse & Hoof Care have this very informative article: Thermoregulation in horses in a cold time of year

Anyone else turning their back on rugging and clipping their working horses this winter?

Emma & (a rather fluffy) Saf x

Schooling @ home: video

Working on our lesson homework. Had a couple of moments in the trot where I really felt Saf spring up under me which I took as being on the right track. Using a steady outside rein to keep the neck straight and an opening inside rein to ask her to mobilise her jaw. Love her!

Hot But Chilled Dressage

Well if I thought it was hot during my lesson on Saturday, we were in for a shock doing Prelim 7 on Sunday at Codham! Having given ourselves a bench mark last time, I was aiming for more relaxation and less tension from Saf, and for me to keep my hands softer. After a boiling hack there, Saf was on her best behaviour and stood happily tied to a tree eating her haynet. It was amazing for all of us to be ‘hands free’, without one of us having to hold onto her. Simple things! After a half hour rest we headed down to the warm up, which seemed less busy compared to last time.

13717472_1053070268141119_2405342983087338852_o.jpg

Saf started out tense and looky, but we had a happy canter on each rein which seemed to get it out of her system. She then worked really rather well. Wanted to keep the warm up to a minimum due to the heat, and we were soon called.

I was so pleased with her, I remembered to relax my hips and kept my hands light rather than the usual ninja grip I develop when I feel like she’s going to run off during the test. She was understandably happier and aside from a bit of nose poking at times and ducking in on a few corners in canter I was really pleased. Came out with a grin which is always good 🙂 61% which I was happy with and felt about right from where I was sitting and particularly pleased since it’s only our second time at this venue.

 

All the photos here: https://www.facebook.com/dragondressage14/photos

Emma & Saf x

Lesson – Relax those hips!

Scorchio lesson on Saturday morning. Spent today working on keeping my upper legs and hips loose and ‘off’. I need to allow Saf room to lift her back and she can’t do this if I’m squeezing her! I think I got a good feel for this so will try be aware of what’s going on there. We did a bit of work in canter as well, which felt lovely, I’m really learning to love Saf’s canter, which I never thought I’d do. Concentrating on keeping my hips and thighs relaxed is particularly important at this point, especially given that I tend to squeeze her if I feel she’s slowing down as mentioned in yesterday’s post.

I need to just ask Saf to do something, and then let her do the work. I’m too much of a ‘doer’ and end up doing more work than her and stifling her.

IMG_2459IMG_2495IMG_2578

Successful Schooling at Bluegate

Wandered over to Bluegate on Saturday (well, an hour’s wander!) to hire their gorgeous arena. It really is a treat to have a go on it, but the main reason for our visit was to get some nice, relaxed work from Saf away from her home environment. We’ve not been here since September last year but Saf felt at home at once. A little tense at first, but got down to work pretty quickly. Had a quick walk, trot and canter to warm up, concentrating on keeping Saf focused on me. It’s a very quiet place, but Saf used the horses being brought in as an excuse to have a gawp.

Once the tension settled, I felt I could get my leg on her a little more, without the feeling that she would wizz off. Got some lovely work towards the end where we had both lateral and topline flexion, but Saf would respond with the third evasion, namely speed. She insists that she can bend correctly and flex her neck at the same time, but she has to slow down, so I then have to ask for forwardness, which she responds to but shortens her topline, and so it goes on!

The thing is, we could do all this and really knuckle down and got the same kind of work we get at home, so absolutely over the moon with her today!

 

IMG_1966

IMG_2008

IMG_2044

IMG_2119

Loads more photos here: https://www.facebook.com/dragondressage14/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1043119889136157

First unaff at Codham

First competition at Codham Park on Saturday. Approx 1 hour 20 minute hack, which involved wading through a flood! This was our first time at Codham, and Saf was Tense with a capital T. We arrived an hour before my time, gave Saf a break after her hack, got changed and on to the warm up. Saf’s eyes were on stalks and the warm up was rather busier than we’ve encountered at Bluegate. There were more lorries, horses and people milling about in general but there was a nice atmosphere and it didn’t feel busy, if you know what I mean. I couldn’t really get any sense out of Saf in the warm up, she just refused to listen and I ran out of ideas after a while. Eventually I managed to gain some of her attention but wasn’t too hopeful as I was called.

You can see from the pix that she was just a ball of tension the whole time. I know it’s a new venue and we’ve not been out since September last year but it was really hard work and I felt like I’d been down the gym by the end of the test. She just kind of fixed her neck and I couldn’t get her to move it. In hindsight I probably should have tried letting her go a bit more but I’m convinced she’d have just shot off at 100mph! Never mind, it was a lovely place and we’ll definitely be back next time. Good points: Well I remembered the test, and she basically did everything she was asked (albeit fast!) and our halt was good.