Christmas gift guide 2019

So now that it’s November we can officially start to talk about Christmas!! 🎄 So I've put together a list of gift ideas, from companies that I love. Hopefully this will help with presents - we've still got several weeks left AND with Black Friday coming it's the perfect time to get shopping! There's everything here from affordable stocking fillers to big gifts for your significant other/parent/sibling/best friend/yard buddy/yourself 🎁
I've seen this fantastic EquiXtreme UK show kit mentioned a lot over the last year on social media so I thought I ought to also include it! This little pack is perfect for keeping with your competition gear the trailer or your tack room, as it has everything you could possibly need. It has little containers of their tack cleaner & conditioner, fly spray, hair polish, mane & tail detangler and their coat whitener to remove those last minute stains.

2. Bespoke & Personal brushes (starting from £18)
I won a collection of different Bespoke & Personal products from an Instagram competition and I absolutely adore my brushes, especially the goat hair body brush which is a great addition to a grooming kit for anyone AND no more losing brushes as you can have their name engraved on it! The dandy brush, mane comb and hoof pick are also some of my favourites pieces in my grooming kit.

Socks are always a trusty present to give at Christmas! These Kingsland ones come as a pack of 3 pairs of socks that have a super thin feel with a thicker footbed, and I guarantee they will be a success! 👣My oldest pair are over 5 years old and they still feel incredible under my boots.


10 tips for getting ready for winter

1. Get a head torch. You don't have to use the light on your phone and risk losing your phone in a puddle or worry about the battery running out AND you'll have both hands free for whatever tasks you need to do! 🔦

2. Always wear a hat — you lose most of your body heat through your head. Or if you're not the biggest fan of hats, then wear a wooly headband so that at least you feel a little bit warmer and your ears don't freeze.
3. Buy thermal liners for your wellies and fingerless gloves so you can still do fiddly jobs. Always wear a t-shirt or a vest that you can tuck in to your breeches/leggings/jeans and keep the warmth in. I know several friends who used to suffer from chilblains down their legs, but now they combat this with thermal breeches and waterproof over-trousers whenever its raining. 👖

4. Put hard surfacing or rubber matting around the field gates to prevent sinking into mud - this has made such a big difference already to us and it's only early November! No more muddy pathways to the paddocks where you have to do badly executed gymnastics moves in order to get your welly out of the mud!
5. A radiator for the tack room will prevent tack getting damp and mouldy which means you have to spend less time cleaning tack over the winter. 


Trends to watch out for: Eskadron Heritage 2019 collection

When someone asked if I could only ever have matchy from one single collection ever, which collection would I pick, I straight away answered that it would definitely be Eskadron's Heritage collections. Although the very first collection was not my cup of tea, since then it has always been the highlight of my year! And this year, it's no different - I mean holy moly! A beautiful palette of autumnal colours, I am not joking when I say that I want a set in every colour 🍁🍂
The colours of this collection are: deep taupe, black mocca, oxford navy and rosewood. And yes I did save the best till last, because this rosewood colour is out of this world beautiful. As someone who adores pink, this colour is literally perfection and we haven't seen this shade of pink ever before from any of the matchy brands that I know of. The deep taupe does remind me of Equestrian Stockholm champagne and PS of Sweden's ice coffee, but then with the choice of 6-7 different styles of saddle pads it's something that no other brand offers. I for one am very pleased that Eskadron have decided to stick their game plan of a few colours and lots of different styles of pads, it's what makes them unique and different to all the other brands! When the first leak of this collection came out I saw so many people shouting "boring" but I think they might have all changed their minds when the the proper photos arrived as well as the video (click HERE if you wanna see the video too!)


The supplements for my horses that I'm currently loving

It is a minefield out there with SO many different supplements for every possible ailment and most of us horse owners will have spent what feels like thousands of pounds trying to find those ones that actually work. Which is why I wanted to share the two supplements that have really impressed me over the last few months. Of course what works for my horses might not work for other horses, but I totally believe it is worth sharing information and success stories in the hope that they can help others too!

To start of with, it's the 4CYTE Epiitalis® Forte gel which I've been using for over a month with Vallu. The epiitalis gel is a revolutionary equine joint support supplement - one that you won't find it in any other joint supplement on the planet. The gel has three ingredients: epiitalis (an extract from the seed of biota orientalis), a soya oil gel and apple flavouring 🍏 So no hidden ingredients and no bulking ingredients. By the way, did you know that up to 60% of all equine lameness cases that vets see are due to joint disease? So not only has Vallu suffered from several tendon and ligament injuries, I am well aware of his age and that with time general wear and tear can take its toll on the horse's joints.
 What makes this supplement so special for me? Well, it's made a massive difference to Vallu. It feels like he's five years younger, he's moving his body as if he hasn't been off proper work for the last 6 months and he feels incredible to ride. But most importantly, this supplement has had a significant research into it, which has demonstrated that the active ingredients are effective. Most companies will bring out supplements with barely any research done, but not this one and I for one appreciate a company that is able to show why its product is so good 👏🏻


Why I'm so pleased to have my first mare

It's safe to say that 2019 hasn't been my best year. I have lost so much - my special rescue dog Toivo, my grandpa who bravely struggled against cancer passed away and then just before his funeral, I lost Basse after 15 years together. In just a span of 7 weeks, they were all gone. But then a little sass pot of pure goodness came into my life thanks to my mum's kindness... And enter Melisse! I don't think my mum will ever know just how much this means to me. Now although Melisse has been mentioned plenty of times on my Instagram, the blog's Facebook page and even here on the blog, she had always been more of my mum's horse rather than mine - I only rode her whenever mum has wanted me to, rather than actively training with her. But after everything that had happened and then finding out about Erik's injury last month, I was broken. For the first time in over 15 years I had no horse to ride. But now, I have my very first mare! And I am over the moon to have her, because she is so special 🌙✨
Now I know that sometimes mares aren’t always well liked and I know it's the same reasons why strong women aren’t - they have opinions, there's a certain amount of stubbornness in them and they require you to respect them in order to work with them. But I believe that those opinions aren't without a good reason, and maybe we just need to work harder to get the mare on your side. Although my boys aren't easy rides at all, there's something extra about a mare. I think it comes from the fact that mares just will not let you bulldoze over them, everything has to be a discussion and you have to prove yourself over and over again. But with a healthy dose of respect from the rider, I believe a mare's resilience will be an asset to the rider every time you need it.


uvex suxxeed diamond helmet

So after my latest fall a few weeks ago, I decided that it was about time that my head deserved a new helmet to protect it! I was about to go for another Samshield when some tiny part of my brain decided to have a look online to see what else is out there. KEPs are unfortunately too expensive for me and everyone has them and although I love Charles Owens helmets, they don't suit my head at all. I still wanted a well known and well respected brand, hence going for uvex. And when I saw this glamorous and super sparkly uvex suxxeed diamond helmet I knew that I had found the one that I wanted! ✨ It also helped that the shop I bought it from had a -25% discount code available which made it a much more feasible price.
 Uvex designed this beauty together with Swarovski with the crystals and pearls in a variety of colours sparkle and shine against the silky material of the rest of the helmet. I mean, drool... It's not often I'm left speechless, but when I opened my parcel I didn't say anything for a good ten minutes. It is that pretty! It's a starry sky of Swarovski crystals 🌌
But more importantly, with its impact-resistantance on the outside and shock-absorbance on the inside, I know my head is as safe as can be. Also with the uvex monomatic comfort buckle, the R-FAS strap system (to be totally honest this did take me a few minutes to get used to it - it is very different to other helmets!) and the dial size adjustment system at the back, this helmet can be adjusted precisely to the shape of your head in every dimension. Before I got the adjustment at the back correct for me, I did panic thinking that it didn't fit me at all but after playing around with all the fittings it suddenly then fit like a glove! It also has a uvex temperature regulation system inside that always keeps your head cool as well as a removable anti-bacterial, anti-allergenic and washable inner pad.


Horse bit fitting consultation

Bridle and bit fit, especially the headpiece fit and horses' comfort are issues that I've known about for ages and despite trying to my very best, a while ago I decided that I needed professional help with both Melisse and Vallu's bridles and bits. Whilst both seem comfortable in their bridles, I've not been entirely convinced that I have got the best possible bits which is why I decided to go for a Horse Bit Fit consultation - my local bit fitter is the lovely Lyn Beattie. Even though I consider myself and my family as experienced horse owners, I've spent hours trying to learn as much as possible about all the different types of bits and I've spent much money on purchasing many different bits, Lyn's advice was invaluable. She spent ages with us and advised which bits to try and explained how both of my horses needed slightly different settings in their bridles and in the end found the right bits for both! 🙌🏻
So each horse had a 1.5 hour consultation with Lyn. Both were looked at in the stable with the bridle on as well as when being ridden. The weather was NOT on our side - although we didn't get soaked through down to our skin, it was SO windy that neither of the horses were able to relax fully (I mean who would in the middle of a storm?!) which meant that it was a bit more difficult for Lyn to judge what the horses thought about the bits. I loved when Lyn went over both of the bridles, it felt like a lesson in bridle fitting which is exactly what I wanted, I needed for someone to point out what needed to be better, what was good, how each horse's mouth confirmation meant that they suit different bits, what to look for in a bridle, what to avoid, how to make a bridle fit a horse better, where exactly the bit should fit in their mouth etc. It was like having a tutor there for 3 hours explaining everything to you!


10 Questions For October

Thank you to the wonderful Viva Carlos for doing another set of brilliant questions. In case you don't follow her, you really should - I love her writing and have been following her blog for years!

1. What discipline do you ride? What would you ride if you could pick any other one?
I'm going to be sticking to dressage, but if I was braver then I'd love to give eventing a go. All my horses have been bought for dressage so I can't see myself doing any jumping shows with them, the boys can just about canter over poles, and Melisse gets so hyper that she jumps everything and forgets about steering and half-halts totally so I don't think we'd survive an actual round of jumps!

2. How many horses have you ridden in your entire riding career?
I have no idea! I'm guessing it must go well into the several hundreds... Considering I started actually riding when I was 7 years old and since then I've been lots of riding schools, had my own pony and own horses and ridden friend's and employee's horses, there's no way for me to be able to count how many I've been lucky enough to ride.
3. Most bizarre activity you’ve done with your/a horse?
Not my horses, but when I was at a summer confirmation camp organised by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland when I was 15 years old, one day we took all the horses out for a swim at a local lake  ðŸŒŠ I'd never ridden a horse bareback in a swim suit and swim with it before and don't think I will ever again - but it was SO COOL!


Tech Stirrups Athena product review

It's been a long time since I've last done a product review blog post but it's also been a while since I've bought something that I've thought would be good to review like this! I know when I get ready to purchase something either from a new brand or something which is expensive, I enjoy doing a bit of research before parting with my hard earned money so I always have a bit of a google and always read any blog posts about that particular product 💻🔍 So if anyone wants any more information about the Athena stirrups from Tech Stirrups, here is my review!


A bit of a bang

Ever since last Wednesday I've been a mess trying to wrap my head around the fact that both my horses are injured, and safe to say it's not been an easy few days. Over the weekend I was in Finland attending my grandfather's funeral after he passed away after losing the fight against cancer, yet at the same time all I could think about was that one of the vets was coming to see Erik on Monday afternoon.

On Wednesday morning when we went to turn out the horses, I noticed a new rather large area of swelling on the inside of Erik's front leg and with a more prodding I also found quite hard smaller lump in the middle of swelling. Thinking that he'd just banged himself overnight (clumsy horse) I turned him out and tried to think nothing of it - whilst at the same time going into a total melt down in my brain - and decided to give him days off over the weekend whilst we were away and hopefully it would have gone down and away on it's own. However seeing the leg on Thursday morning before our flight, I decided that there was no way I would be able to cope mentally unless a vet confirmed to me that there was nothing more serious going on. I had nightmares of broken bones and torn ligaments!
Luckily Monday afternoon came round quickly and we had the lovely Manuela from Wessex Equine come have a look at his leg. After hearing about what we thought had happened and my explanation of the swelling have gone down incrementally each day, but also that it is more swollen in the morning after a night in his stable and that the swelling goes down when he's been turned out, so after a quick examination of the leg, the vet wanted to see Erik moving. We did the usual walk and trot in a straight line on a hard surface, and then lunged in the arena - during which Erik was on his best behaviour and the vet agreed that he wasn't lame and was actually moving quite well! I'm REALLY pleased that he's not in any pain and is moving so well, he's not been on any painkillers so that the vet could see exactly how he's doing.


FLY OFF an alternative to fly spray - sponsored blog post

Over the summer do you get bored of having to use lots of different sprays and gels to keep the flies off your horse? I find it amazing how much spray I can get through in a few weeks and still there are tons of flies aggravating the horses. A few months ago I was contacted by a wonderful company called Fly-Off who have designed a new way of combating flies, and since then I've been testing out their product! 
Fly-Off have created a product which are leg straps that have little holding pouches for inserts. There are four different types of insets: Deet Extra, Citro Extra, Neem Extra and a standard insert. You can mix and match these inserts to effectively keep flies away 24/7, without you having to worry about the chemicals in fly sprays. Fly-Off uses repellents that have natural oils and aromas that to keep the flies away, and these specially infused inserts can be worn on the horses’ legs, fly rug, saddle or head collar. The inserts last for up to two weeks and have been proven to deter flies from anything up to 1m radius. What I really like about these straps and inserts is the they release repellent over 14 days, so for two weeks you don't have to do anything 👏🏻 They're also waterproof, and can be worn all the time so provide 24 hour protection for the horses. They've made a massive difference to Vallu who wore them inside in his stable too as he is very sensitive and easily agitated by the flies.


Trends to watch out for: Eskadron Classic AW19 collection

So I might be a little bit late to the party (thank you crazy work hours) but WOW what a strong collection Eskadron have created for this year's Classic autumn/winter collection. This whole set is giving me the vibes of an old collection from a few years ago when Eskadron also released a petrol colour 🌊 I think a teal blue colour is such a good strong colour to have in a collection because it suits every single horse, but an especially good one to use for an autumn/winter range. AND how nice is it to see an Eskadron collection that doesn't have any navy or white or cream in it?! 
Interestingly, for this collection Eskadron have decided to go for just three colours rather than their normal 4-5 different colours 🤔 This time the colours are: soft grey, caviar and teal blue and to be totally honest, I like all of them. I also think the design of the cotton emblem pad, the velvet and the big square glossy pads are so beautiful! Over the years Eskadron proven over and over again that they are 100% worth the price tag as their products just last and last, you really do get quality with Eskadron.


AE Blog Hop: 12 Tough Questions

Just in time for my week off from work that includes a trip to Finland and less horsey activities than I would like, here's a fun blog hop with some cracking questions! Thank you to Alberta Equest!

Q1:  What hobbies do you have outside of riding?
Life at the moment is VERY full on (I mean whose isn't, but I feel like at the moment I am juggling far more than I can cope with!) and having the horses at home means that whenever I'm not at work I'm very busy catching with things that I don't manage to do on work days! At the moment I'm trying to balance work/riding/blogging/family/friends/trips back home to Finland/sleeping with varying degrees of success 🙅🏼
Q2: What is your boarding situation?  Are you happy with it?
We have the horses at home, with 5 acres, a barn with 5 stables, a feed area, tack room and storage room and a 20x40m arena. I'm over the moon with happiness and eternally grateful to have another chance to carry on keeping the horses at home.


Riding exercise of the month: collected to extended transitions

This is one of my favorite exercises for developing great collected-extended-collected transitions. It's a very simple exercise that rewards your horse for beginning to explore their abilities that might be outside of their normal range - so that you can teach your horse that they can extend more! In this exercise, you're able to really focus on your position to maintain your softness and flexibility, but it also allows you to focus on those aids that help flow through the horse's back to maintain the looseness that keeps the energy thats needed for those extensions flowing.
Start out in working trot, go down the long side of the arena and at the last letter before the corner of the arena, ride a transition to collected walk and ride a walk half pirouette so that you can then ride back down the same long side. Using the lightest-possible aids, straighten your horse and transition back to the working trot. Before you get to the corner, transition to walk and make half a walk pirouette in the other direction. Once you're back on the long side, promptly back into trot and each time that you repeat the exercise, ask for more each time during the trot on the long side.


Trends to watch out for: PS of Sweden AW19 collection

So having had a few weeks to calm down after PS of Sweden's surprise publication of their new AW 2019 collection at the beginning of this month, I'm super excited to share with you more photos and comments about this brilliant collection! For me, this is THE collection this autumn - I love it in its entirety. The colours for the AW 2019 collection are: wine, grape, atlantic, jade, lush (pink), violet and raspberry.
 In a very interesting new tactic PS of Sweden have released ALL the names of the colours, but are doing several 'drops' over the next 3 months, unlike last year where they only shared the colours as they sold them. I think this is because now that people know which colours are coming, they're able to plan ahead and think about what colours and sets they want to purchase. At the moment it sounds like whilst grape and wine have already arrived now with drop #1, jade and lush will be arriving in September with drop #2 and finally atlantic, violet and raspberry with drop 3 in November. However, only the professional photos of the drop 1 colours of grape and wine have been released, but with leaks floating around on Facebook you'll be able to find the other colours very quickly!


Saying goodbye

"He's in the sun, the wind, the rain, he's in the air you breathe with every breath you take. He sings a song of hope and cheer, there's no more pain, no more fear. You'll see him in the clouds above, hear him whisper words of love. You'll be together before long, until then, listen for his song"
After 15 years together, yesterday morning I lost my best friend, my first horse and my greatest treasure 💔 They say the greatest act of love is letting go, so I did just that for him.
I just hope Basse knew how much I adored him and how lost I feel without him.
See you in the next world my love, please wait for me and come get me when the time is right 🌈


#rootd: orchid mauve

It's been a while since my last #rootd blog post, but I thought now that the AW19 collections are on their way, I should really get back into these posts especially since my own unicorn set arrived last week 🦄 Eskadron orchid mauve is one of those colours that I've been on the hunt for ever since FOMO (fear of missing out) started after being silly and deciding to not purchase this colour in 2017! And as much as I love my bright colours, I simply adore my pastel colours which is why a orchid mauve has been one of those sets that I've constantly been on the look out for.
 Saddle pad: Eskadron orchid mauve big square cotton
Bandages: Eskadron orchid mauve
Over reach boots: Anky white sparkly
Top:  Pikeur Hope
Breeches: Aztec Diamond Equestrian grey leggings


Dealing with the hot weather

The UK and the rest of Europe has been bathing in not just warm weather but an intense heat wave, and this week we've experienced the warmest day so far where in the early afternoon it was +35C here in Wiltshire! PLEASE be extra careful with your horses and ponies if you're out riding, hacking, training or competing this week as it looks like that the hot summer weather has truly arrived ☀️ Due to the cooler weather last week, horses are not used to the heat and are not acclimatised to working in such warm temperatures and with a sudden change like this, there is a huge risk for heat stroke. 
Here's what I do to deal with the hot weather:

1.) Either avoid riding in the hottest parts of the day (11am-6pm) and/or reduce the intensity and duration of your rides. It tends to get hot from 9am onwards and truly doesn't even start to cool down until 6pm. I know lots of people ride before work, but as I prefer having the horses turned out at 6am rather than riding them I ride after work late into the night, starting with the first horse at 7pm #nightowl 🌙 

2.) Remember to have lots of water. This seems like an obvious point to make but it is SO easy to forget to continuously drink throughout the day and you know just how important it is to stay hydrated. I have a glass of cold water before I get on each horse and another glass of water as soon as I've taken the horse's tack off, because that way I feel like I can successfully keep the dehydration at bay! It’s also essential that your horse has access to plenty of fresh water on hot days. Ours get fresh water when they come in from the paddocks at midday, another set at 3/4pm and once again the waters are changing during evening stables. If they've drunk lots over night they get extra water at 6am too. I also offer them new water straight after I've ridden as this is when they're most likely to drink! If you don't have automatic waters you do have to keep a close eye on their waters 🕵🏼


Trends to watch out for: Eskadron Platinum 2019 collection

Every single year Eskadron Platinum has been THE collection of the year for me, however this collection has left me a little underwhelmed - it has the feeling of being more like a Classic collection than a Platinum collection, there is less that I'd like of the vitality and glamour which what I think a Platinum collection should have! 🤔 If this had come out a few years ago before Equestrian Stockholm did olive, before PS of Sweden did orange and before Le Mieux did orange and olive colours then it'd be amazing - but right now it feels like it's just Eskadron trying to catch up with the other companies colour wise, and not actually bringing out anything 'new'. However, if you missed out on these colours before or are looking to complete your riding outfits with orange and olive coloured boots, Eskadron has got your back! And because this is Eskadron and it truly is my favourite equestrian brand of all time, let's have a better look at this collection.... ⤵️
So the official colours of this collection are off-white, martini-olive, navy and vermillion-orange - quite autumnal but beautiful colours nevertheless! 🍁🍂 Like mentioned above, when I first saw the leaked photos last week my initial thought was "this looks all very similar..." and then realised that martini-olive reminded me of PS of Sweden's capulet green and Equestrian Stockholm and Le Meiux's olive colours, and the vermillion-orange is almost identical to PS of Sweden's sunset orange from a few collections ago! It does make you wonder if Eskadron's marketing and research team have investigated what sold well with other equestrian brands and then simulated their own version. But having said that, I don't think these colours are too similar to what Eskadron have brought out recently (orange was done in many collections 4-5 years ago but hasn't been seen since!) and I don't believe I've ever seen Eskadron do an olive colour before, so these colours were needed - it just feels like a bit of a copy & paste job.


Aztec Diamond Equestrian - 'Behind The Scenes' press day & interview with Jordan McCabe

What a day this was! The lovely people at Aztec Diamond Equestrian and Sam Forrest PR invited me to an afternoon in London for a Behind The Scenes press day in the amazing Core Clapton building, in Upper Clapton  London. This equestrian brand has been hugely successful since launching in 2014, and now Aztec Diamond Equestrian are doing a 5 year anniversary re-brand and had invited the media to come to view the brand new collection at an exclusive “behind the scenes” media day. The event was held at an absolutely beautiful Edwardian space that is also used for yoga and wellness – it was such a nice place to visit, even if it took me hours to get there and hours to get back! One of the problems of living deep in the countryside in Wiltshire... But anyway, the lovely founder of the brand Jordan McCabe opened the doors for the media & bloggers to come along, meet her and her team and to see what goes on behind the scenes as they worked to create all the content the new collection for their new 5 year re-brand 🎉🎊
It was amazing to have Jordan walk me through the new collection on the rails, telling me about the styles, colours, new branding. She was incredibly busy, but still had the time to chat to me about the new products for ten minutes - you can tell just how passionate she is about all the products and how much it means to her to have these designs come to life! As a long time fan, it was lovely to see the new products but to also have the chance to touch & feel them and to see just how well made they are. My biggest worry with buying online products is that they won't feel as nice as you think they should when you're looking at the photos online, but trust me the AD stuff really is well made!


Yard & barn tour!

Despite how incredibly mind-blowingly crazy it seems, by mid July it'll have been a year that we've lived at our current place, as the horses and I arrived last year in the early hours of the morning of Friday 13th. It's incredible to think that a year has just whizzed past like that, but in that time we have built an entire brand new barn, fixed the house up, sorted out the arena and the paddocks! So it's been a very busy time, which is why I'm very excited to have finally show you a little yard/barn tour 📹

Click HERE for the video (for some reason the youtube link doesn't want to work 😳)


25 questions

Thanks Viva Carlos for the blog hop!

1. What is the first thing you do when you get to the barn?
I sing "goood morninggggg" 🎶 to them as I always get to the barn first thing in the morning at 5.30am to feed the horses. I give them their hard feed, give them their hay and check that everyone has enough water. Then I stumble back home to have a large cup of coffee! 

2. Is there a breed that you would never own?
I've always believed in never say never, but being my height and size I can't see myself owning or riding anything extremely small and dainty, so as much as I love the TB it probably won't happen. I'm hoping that at some point in my life I'll find myself with a very chunky Lusitano or a PRE, but they'll have to be at least 16.2hh.
3. Describe your last ride?
Like in the photo above, a bit wonky but the attempt was there! I last rode Vallu after a week of very little work due to the miserable weather we've been having and we were both a bit stiff and a bit wonky. I think we'll need several rides to get back on track and I desperately want to go for a nice hack next weekend, fingers crossed the weather becomes a bit more summer-y! ☀️

4. Have any irrational riding fears?
Not any irrational fear, but I do have a sense of self-preservation so I will not put myself in a situation with the horses where I or my horse might be in some danger. This means that if I'm going to a new place I want to go check out the place before taking my horse there, just to be on the safe side.

5. Describe your favorite lesson horse?
I don't have a favourite lesson horse since I've not been to riding school since I was about 10! But before I got my pony I was utterly in love with a grey pony at the last riding school I went to and I think this is where my love for greys comes from 🦄


Natural foraging & supplements for horses

Natural herbs are my choice in horse supplements, and letting the horse self-select what supplements they need is something I'm trying to work towards. When a horse is temporarily out of balance, natural herbs can give them what they needs to rebalance in a gentle, supportive way. Every summer I've fed dried cleaver and marigold to Vallu to help support his lymphatic system - he's had these in a separate feed bucket so that if he needs them he'll eat them, and if he doesn't eat them then I know to stop offering them. Amazingly, this form of self-selection is not something routinely offered by many horse owners, probably because we're so conditioned to giving them what we think they should be eating - rather than letting them choose for themselves 🤔 But this is where the line becomes blurry... I have been told by some of the best vets in Germany that Erik should have the best vitamin E to support his muscles because of the slight shivering he has in one of his hind legs, so that is something I will always add to his feed. But the rest? I need to up my game and find more natural alternatives to other supplements!
Horses living in the wild are able to keep themselves healthy by seeking the minerals and nutrients that their body needs by foraging for certain plants and herbs that they require at any particular time. Research has shown that horses will seek out particular plants to help with a particular condition and once they start to feel better, they'll return to normal grazing. For example, have you noticed your horse pulling at the sticky weed in the hedges? I have! It's because they know that it's good for them as sticky weed (galium aparine) which is also commonly known as cliver/goose grass/cleaver is a very useful herb for supporting the lymphatic system and is a diuretic. It's good for allergies, for supporting the liver and kidneys and cleanses the blood. This means that it is particularly good for flushing out swellings and inflammation! I learnt about this a few years ago when Vallu was injured and I had a friend come out to do Reiki on him and see what he'd pick from her "magic box of herbs & oils" and she introduced me to zoopharmacognosy.🌱


Introducing Digital Horse

I'm really pleased to announce on the blog that I have teamed up with Digital Horse and become their official guest blogger! 💙💫 If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you'll already know this but I wanted to make it's own blog post too. Digital Horse is THE social media hub for horses & equestrians and is made up of Liz & Rebecca, a mother and daughter team with a big passion for horses. It's a place where the conversation is about your horses, and won't be drowned out by adverts and negativity. It's been a long time since I've had the pleasure of getting nothing but love and support for every single thing that I've posted - a rare phenomenon which is why I'm SO proud to be a part of the team 😍 My first official blog post for DH will be on the website this week, so if you don't want to miss out on that, I recommend joining!

Having had the chance to meet & chat with the lovely founders of Digital Horse a few weeks ago at the Aztec Diamond Equestrian press day, we were talking about how important it is to keep Digital Horse as a safe community, where you can ask questions and talk to others about your day without being mercilessly attacked by other people. The problem of social media such as Facebook and Instagram is that when so much of your life becomes public, other people’s opinions can become difficult to avoid, especially when people seem to have so much time on their hands to comment and apparently some have forgotten the saying "if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything". In my case I'm lucky in that what I choose to put out into the world is entirely my own choice, and whilst I often don't post about the negative days, what I do share on Facebook and Instagram is carefully chose. I have my own horses at home, so most of my riding, horse care and the decisions I make happen on my own terms and I do not have the problems that others may do at livery yards. I get to choose exactly what gets shared & published, but others are less fortunate and therefore need to have a safe place where they can share how their day went and how their horses are doing without receiving any negativity.
When I see posts on Facebook asking for advice on how to deal with problems with their horses or simply asking for useful exercises when riding or different methods of lunging, but they have to add a ‘no nasty comments’ note at the beginning of the post it just breaks my heart. Having to worry about nasty comments or receiving hate when all you're doing is simply asking for help, guidance or more knowledge from others saddens me. How anyone can be hurtful and judgmental when another person is simply asking for help is beyond me. And the biggest problem is that there doesn't seem to be a solution, which is why I'm more than happy to have joined up with Digital Horse as their guest blogger to try and help people, especially the more vulnerable younger generations to find a safe and secure equestrian community where they'll never be bullied or attacked.


The benefits of field work & hacking out

Whenever it's a gorgeous hot summers day, I always feel like I shouldn't spend it in the arena training the horses but instead I want to go out into the fields or go out for a hack - they all deserve a bit of fun! 💚 Now that we've found a nice quiet local woodland to hack around, I've gained a bit of a hacking out obsession with Vallu. In fact last autumn I spent a lot of time with him 'hacking' around the field, but every single time I've gone there with him he has spooked/spun/tanked off with me, so I was a bit apprehensive about going back out into the 'real' world. The first time a few weeks ago he was a little look-y, but last weekend despite the new route he decided that actually this was fun and I had a lovely time. We all know how those first few rides somewhere 'different' can be so demoralising when it seems that the horses decide to forget everything they've ever known.... So I've not been brave enough to take Melisse outside of home, but I am VERY pleased that she has been hoof perfect in the big field! This made me think about all the benefits of field work & hacking out:


Trends to watch out for: HV Polo SS19 collection

I think one of two things must have happened - either I've been living under a rock, or despite the fact that I have signed up to follow HV Polo through their newsletters, on their FB and Instagram accounts (thank you FB and Instagram algorithms...) they've gone and released a new spring summer collection without much fanfare! 🎺
I've always loved HV Polo and some of my favourite clothing is from this brand but over the last few years I've clearly started to grow up as I've preferred slightly more muted designs and have steered away from HV Polo. Yet this SS19 collection is right up my street! 🌈 The colours of this collection include the lovely bright coral, the beautiful berry, navy and blue turquoise. I would have any of these sets any day of the week 😍


The unlikely return of Basse

"Good things come to those who wait. Better things come to those who don't give up, and the best things come to those who believe"

I've waited over 7 months for this moment 💜✨ I'm finally back on board my Basse for little rides - shoeless and sound! I have begged and prayed for a miracle and it seems to have happened, after over half a year out of work Basse looks and feels sound enough to do a little bit of work.
I've given this blog post the title of 'the unlikely return of Basse' simply because truthfully, a few months ago I was at the stage where I was seriously considering having to have him PTS because he was 1/5th lame in walk and a lot worse in trot - if he's not even sound enough for retirement and to spend his days in the field, then I don't want him to suffer. He went suddenly lame at the end of October 2018, and whilst I initially thought it might have been a muscle tear or some form of bruise or abscess, after two months I had a heart breaking moment where I realised that it was more likely that the navicular disease and the long term effects of having suffered a bout of laminitis were all catching up with him and causing arthritic changes in his legs. Although he has a heart of gold, he's not made from the best ingredients and I've always been prepared for the fact that there is a high chance I won't get him to 20+ years. 


Riding exercise of the month: shoulder-in to half-pass

From youngsters to advanced level horses, I believe that shoulder-in and half-pass should be in every horses' schooling routine. They are both incredibly useful exercises that helps improve the suppleness, help to achieve increased flexibility and to gain strength, but also improve the horse's concentration to your aids - which is especially great if you have a spooky or hot horse! When starting with shoulder-in, it's much easier to use the fence of the arena to help you to stay in a straight line, so this month's riding exercise of the month incorporates that into it. From the short side, ride the first half of the long side in shoulder-in, in the middle of the long side ride a 10 meter circle, followed by half-pass to the centre line. You can do this in walk, trot or canter, I like riding it in canter with Vallu and in trot with Erik, but sometimes I change it up depending on the day. 🤗
As you ride the shoulder in, think of being able to alter the angle with your seat and reins with a good amount of the flexion through the neck and with a tempo that stays consistent throughout the exercise, in order to develop the suppleness further. Once you reach E, ride a 10 meter circle which will help you prepare for the half pass and also gives you chance to make sure that your horse is in front of your leg! Straight away after the circle ride your half pass towards the centre line, and then repeat the exercise in either direction.


A year with Melisse

All I can think of to say is that how lucky we have been to have such a special mare land into our lives last year! ❤️ In case you don't remember, in May 2018 the day after I finished my Master's Thesis I went with my dad to go pick up this little firecracker from Helsinki and brought her home with us. As she's more my mum's horse, she doesn't feature that often on the blog but you might have seen her on my Instagram page or stories!
As a yearling! Photo from Sukuposti.fi
Last week we celebrated her sweet 16th and this made me want to write a blog post about how wonderful Melisse is and what a brilliant addition to our herd she is. Although some people might think we're crazy for having a fifth horse, to us she is perfect. Our boys needed a matriarch to rule the group and my mum needed a second horse to ride as Rama is not getting any younger - even though he's not anywhere near ready for retirement, he's the naughtiest one to turn out! But the boys all respect her and she just fits in well. It's nice to have a mare in the herd again!


Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

It's Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 this week and I've been inspired by lots of posts about it on Facebook & Instagram to write my own post, because I think people sometimes need a reminder that it is OK to talk about things like this (sharing is caring guys! 💕) Today I’m feeling 100%, but last week for several days I did not feel anything close to that. And I’m OK with that. I feel like people need to realise it’s okay to have bad days, as it’s human nature. What we should try to avoid is staying there on that bad day for the rest of the week! Last week I was in the midst of a troublesome bout of anxiety, I’ve felt like I’ve had butterflies in my stomach that are all consuming, and I’ve felt twitchy and totally on edge. I've ridden my horses less than I normally do as I don't want to spread this feeling to them, but then at the same time not riding them makes me feeling guilty and like a terrible horse mum... 
On a day where it feels like anything in the world must be less stressful than living your life. The sort of day when you have constant bad butterflies in your belly, where you’re either sobbing but you don't know why or you’re staring in silence at the wall, because you can’t quite bring yourself to do anything else. You’d like to switch off and take some time out to have the chance to recharge, recoup and hibernate and go back to your life when it’s all just a bit easier. I think that the main problem for me when I start to feel like this is that I feel entirely overwhelmed by the little things, that I am out of control and that that there simply is no way to gain back control again. Then there's also this irritating pressure that I put on myself to simply snap out of it, and it fills me up with anger at myself that I can’t snap out of it – I can’t have a productive day, feel and act normal. A lot of my feeling out of control last week has come from this blog and from my Instagram, as I had a few days away because I didn't have anything to write or talk about. But seeing my traffic and engagement dip down is very scary, it makes me feel like maybe no one wants to read my blog anymore and as if my Instagram account is boring everyone! Like it’s time to give up, pack away my Blogger account and go back to my normal everyday work life.


The Royal Windsor Horse Show 2019 & Grand Prix Freestyle to Music class

It's not often that I manage to organise an actual day off from our horses, but Friday was one of those rare occasions where I had the chance to drag my mother along to day 3 of the Royal Windsor Horse Show for the Al Shira'aa Grand Prix Freestyle to Music class. We arrived several hours early so that we could grab some lunch as well as check out all the stands (wow, there were loads!!) My absolute favourite stands were the Honest Riders, La Flex Equestrian, Carr & Day & Martin, Theraplate UK and the HorseHealth stand. Really really lovely people to chat to and everyone was so helpful and friendly that I had the best time wandering around! 🛍
The Grand Prix Freestyle to Music class started off with Nina Nilosaari with her horse KOM Ragdoll. I think this horse is wonderful, it has such a nice powerful trot but it did look a bit tired from yesterday's GP class. It also didn't help that as she was riding around the arena the horses did a massive spook at one corner and Nina fell on the neck... That can't have been easy to recover and get focused back on the test itself, so I can only commend her for the mental strength to do that! She was followed by Tommie Visser whose horse Chuppy Checker CL (what a name!) was one of my all time favourites in the class because it had a fabulous canter and Tommie rode a wonderful extended canter across the diagonal to a canter pirouette to one tempi flying changes, and just made it look so incredibly easy. Although the piaffes were quite slow, the trot half pass was the stuff of dreams 😍


When success is achieving relaxation

Isn't it funny how some people consider success only to be winning competitions and titles, whereas for some it's moments and events that go well which can be successful or not? For my, it's the those moments where you achieve something that you've work so hard towards for so long, that's what I call success. And the arena hire on Monday was a resounding one! 💙
 Although it may sometimes look it, my horses have never been easy. My pony was so quick and hot that in the beginning I fell off him every week, if not more often.  Basse was only a 4 year old when I got him and I had to learn how to ride a young horse and go up the levels with him, but his heart of gold and willingness to work with me made him entirely worth the time it took. Vallu was a "ready made" school master who I technically could have competed the advanced levels with, but his spooky/hot temperament and his injuries meant that I never quite got to go in the white boards with him. Erik is a wonderful combination of the two others before him, the talent of Vallu with the temperament of Basse - but on some days he needs that extra bit of hand holding and understanding. He's very weather sensitive (if it's raining AND windy I need to wear my best sticky breeches, that type of sensitive!) which makes him just that little bit harder to work with. But yesterday it finally felt like I'd cracked him and learnt at least a little bit of how to help him deal with anything different, like going to an arena hire, where there a million and one things to spook at.


Maintaining & improving muscle condition - sponsored blog post

Hi guys! 👋🏻 For a while now I've been wanting to expand the range of topics that my blog covers, just so that you get more out of it. The equestrian trends, riding outfit ideas and dressage training topics won't go away as I still love them and enjoy writing, editing, and taking photos for them, and I'm far too opinionated to stop writing my opinion & motivational posts, but I've decided it was about time that new topics could be shared on the blog! This started last month with the interview blogpost with my good friend Tinja who shared her knowledge and experiences as an international competition groom and now carries on with this wonderfully informative post from Lauren at Feedmark.
 And so I'm very excited to be bringing you another blog post that I hope is useful for you and your horse! Although I do have some knowledge about equine nutrition and I try to keep up to date with all the latest advances in nutrition and all the different feeds and supplements, I am still no expert in this topic which is why I'm thrilled that Feedmark have worked with me to produce this blog post, and a massive thanks to Lauren for writing this and sharing her knowledge with us! 🙌🏻 Just a little bit about Lauren so that you can get to know her: Lauren Harrold joined Feedmark in 2018 as an Equine Nutritionist, following her degree in Equine Science at Oxford Brookes University. She owns 2 horses, an ex-racehorse and part-bred Newforest mare that both regularly compete in dressage, but also enjoy hacking at their home on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. 🐴❤️
Anyway, onto the actual topic... Fitness, muscle and condition ⤵️

For many horse owners, the change of seasons from winter to spring means less mud, less mucking out, and more time to ride in the lighter evenings! Many horses have the winter off exercise, or at least a reduction in their workload due to their rider’s lack of time or facilities in the cold and dark winter months. So, it is around this time of year that the horse’s workload begins to increase with  view to improve fitness and condition, and some horse owners will also be thinking about their competition season ahead.


Just do one better each day

"The only person you need to be better than is the one you were yesterday" Rachel Hollis
The quote above got me thinking about how our aim to become better riders often feels like a roller coaster ride with its ups and downs & sometimes you definitely feel like you a loser when compared to other riders, who might be out there competing and winning every weekend, who you wish you could copy or even emulate after seeing their successes... But by the time you’re headed up the "Self-Improvement Mountain" for the millionth time, you might also be vomiting/going for a fear 💩 by the time you arrive at the competition venue, cursing yourself that you once again decided to go competing rather than staying at home. It made me question why so often our attempts to better ourselves are so uneven, and why they so frequently end in failure? There are a few reasons, but for me personally it's focusing on the big goal which can sometimes overwhelm me into inaction and over-thinking. Instead of just being pleased with the fact that my horse is going well at home, I want to dominate the world, win the regionals & go to the nationals! And so I draw up plans for leaving behind the 99% of other riders out there behind, and becoming part of the extraordinary semi-pro 1% of the best... But the enormity of my goals ends up overwhelming me into inaction, as a big & bold goal looks to most people's the brain as something so impossible that it’s actually scary.