Clever idea for every budget savvy horse owner: The Equestrian Index Essentials Card

Here at this blog we are all about bringing you useful content and when I saw Equestrian Index’s idea I thought it definitely needs to be spread 🙂 Take a look at the information below (I asked for their Press Release), it might just saves you some pennies (that you can then save for lessons, or shows, fun rides etc 🙂 )

The Equestrian Index Essentials Card……ESSENTIALLY SAVING YOU MONEY!

Horses as a sport, profession or hobby are expensive. There are no two ways about it!

With The Equestrian Index there is now a way to save money when buying products and services for your yard, stable and horse.

EQIND

The Equestrian Index Essentials Card supports you every time you buy product from our partners so your annual savings could be really substantial! With our ever increasing partner network your card will bring you a wide variety of products at a discount – some you thought out of reach until now!

The Essentials Card not only gives you great savings throughout the year on essential equestrian purchases – and maybe a few luxuries as well – but will also benefit two Equine Charities. This year, with your help, we will be donating a percentage from every card purchased to RIDING FOR THE DISABLED ASSOCIATION and REDWINGS HORSE SANCTUARY.

So, if you use your card to claim the discounts on insurance, rugs, feed, bedding, safety equipment, passports, freeze marking, worm counts and all our other offers, you could save enough money for those elusive luxury items – like extra carrots or a horsebox!

Your Essentials Card is available at an introductory rate of £10* and is valid for 12 months. As we increase our partner network over the coming months you will have greater access to participating stores in your area! You can also recommend your favourite supplier to become a partner. Supporting local businesses on a national level!

Check out our Savings Calculator to see what less that £1 a month could save you and jump online now at www.equestrianindexessentials.com to get your card! You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook!

*Offer available until 31st May 2015 for more information contact info@equestrianindexessentials.com

Corporate Fundraising Co-ordinator for RDA, Sinead Walsh said: “We are very grateful to Equestrian Index for choosing RDA as one of the charities to benefit from the Essentials Card. This is a great way for people to show their support for us and save money at the same time.”

Ex-racehorse to Event Horse in progress: 3 months flatwork training – comparison video

Merehead comparison
Scroll down for video 🙂

 

Merehead: Foaled March 24th, 2006, Grey Gelding, Al Namix – Moneda (Cadoudal)

Merehead (Harry Derham)

 

National Hunt Racing

See Merehead’s racing photos here

I have just put together some footage from one of the first lessons I gave to Emma and Merehead (this was possibly the second time we worked together with this horse) and yesterday’s session. We’ve been meeting weekly since December last year and taking it slowly with the gangly chap. He has made a huge progress and I am so happy for this pair!

Two weeks ago they went to a local dressage show to do a walk and trot test (his canter is coming along nicely but he still eats up a long side in 4-5 strides so there was no point in asking him to contain himself in a small arena yet) just to see how he will behave and with a goal to just let him look around and potter around the warm up and arena. He took it all in his stride and will soon go out more.

Great job Emma!

Feature blogger Alice Rose – Brown reviews Star Stable – more than just a horse game for girls

Star Stable – more than just a horse game for girls

Right from the start Star Stable sets itself apart from other equestrian based MMORPS (massively multiplayer online role playing games) games with an interesting backstory that perfectly combines fantasy and equestrianism.

Although the game has been created with girls in mind, the fantasy elements and the option to name your horse something like “Thunderstone”, means Star Stable will also appeal to boys.

What is Star Stable about?

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The fully thought out backstory of Jorvik being a lifeless place before a mysterious girl on a horse fell from the sky is a fantastic way to spark a young child’s imagination. The interesting, informative introduction to the game encourages children to read and understand the virtual world they’re playing in. The excellent graphic design and the realistic horse movements give an impressive visual picture in a “cartoon realism” style.

As well as mastering horse care and riding skills players go on quests, solve mysteries, and make friends in Jorvik. The fantasy elements of the game and the chance to go on adventures with their trusty steed mean that older children won’t get bored but Star Stable still fits the family friendly demographic.

Getting started

Star Stable is quick to set up and as the game is browser based you avoid the long installation process that many online games involve – ideal if your child is desperate to get riding.

The website is simple and easy to navigate, your child, or even a technophobe parent, could easily get started. The website has a page for parents explaining the child safeguarding policies and the features of the game that ensure your security.

Creating your character

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Your avatar is fully customisable allowing players to choose their own face shape, hair colour and style, eye colour, and make up. You can then choose from a great selection of first and surnames. Choosing your horse is a similar process, you choose their body colour, mane colour, and their name from an extensive list of combinations including “Lemonflower”.

To prevent inappropriate user names players choose from a long list of predefined names for their avatar and their horse.

Membership options

The free version offers players the majority of the full game and they are able to play up until Level 4. For the full game experience players need to become paid members or “Star Riders”. Payment can either be made monthly at £4.95/month or for a one-off payment of £49.90 players can become lifetime Star Riders. There are also three month and six month membership options.

Full membership allows features including members-only clothing and equipment, access to other locations with Jorvik, and members-only quests.

Educational as well as fun

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The world is ever changing, allowing players to learn new skills and develop a stronger bond with their horse. Players have to achieve specific objectives to move through the levels of the game which challenges their skills and intellect. Caring for your horse is a key part of the game and players are responsible for feeding, grooming, and looking after their equine companion. Having a well looked after horse is encouraged as you’ll find it easier to complete challenges.

In-game chat is another feature that young players will love and helps to develop social skills between children of a similar age. Safe gaming features and automatic moderation of all chat conversations mean that parents can relax knowing their children are talking in a safe environment.

Leader boards and player-created riding clubs encourage healthy competition but it really is all fun between friends as other players are always happy to help you complete a difficult quest.

All in all Star Stable is a fantastic family friendly game for girls and boys a like that helps to develop many abilities including problem solving and social skills. The beautifully realistic graphics and well thought out plot will keep older players amused and the game offers excitement without the violence and peril often associated with online gaming.

Aspire Eventing Diary with Emma and Shahbash Part 2

Emma corners

Today myself, Shabby and Emma are sharing with you the struggles with corners, straightness and relaxation. If you ride a sensitive horse with balance issues, suppleness issues and/or one who worries about connection with the bit at any moment of a simple challenge like bend/corner/transition, you might see the difficulties Emma is having and appreciate her efforts to sit better to help her horse.

If you are only starting out with a similar horse I would really encourage you to spend some time on a very basic work, quiet uneventful work that allows the horse to find his own balance, rhythm and relaxation with rider on board (ideally in a light seat especially if the horse, like Shabby, has a tendency to brace through his back, shoulders and the neck) as well as on the lunge without any gadgets but with your helpful presence.

If you skip that phase, you are likely to have similar issues to Emma’s with Shabby and it can be very frustrating, disheartening and sometimes impossible to eradicate those issues once you are already competing the horse.

Lesson part 2

In the video below you see Emma working through a simple exercise made up of poles that create a corner and a plastic cup that gives the rider an idea where they should not be going 🙂

I chose this exercise because I am working on “switching on” Emma’s seat skills – she is an experienced rider but 99% of the time she rides horses that you might call speed boats! They are so in front of the leg it’s way too much for it to have any positive effect schooling wise and they don’t accept the contact in a calm, trustworthy manner i.e. they have no idea about basic throughness. They are either off the track or horses other people didn’t manage to deal with for one reason or another.

This exercise might suit you if you too are very quiet, non confrontational rider who needs to realise you can make a big difference to the horse’s way of going.

It might be also helpful if, like Emma, you have a good feel for what’s happening underneath you but for one reason or another, you just don’t act on that feel.

Main points we worked on during the session

– upper body control

–  early planning of all movements

– feeling the horse with whole body and acting on that feel to help him remain straighter and calmer

– keeping the trot at a speed in which Shabby is most accepting and calm

– staying independent of Shabby’s brace-brace moments (which makes the rider feel like sitting in a hammock), avoiding backward traction of the hand when they happen and encourage him to reach forward through his neck

– outside aids control in order to turn straight into the corner and ride straight out of the corner

Tomorrow, I will describe in more detail what you can do with this set up and will share variants of goals that the riders can set themselves in this exercise depending on their level of experience and skill set.

Intro to the New series! Aspire Equestrian Training Diary: Emma B and Shahbash (British Eventing)

Emma and Shabby

The British Eventing season has now officially started and I decided to bring you all a little insight into training and competing adventures of one of the riders I teach. It will hopefully be a fun, educational and maybe inspirational read for some of you who train and compete on less-than-perfect horses with text book problems…It will very much be a real life scenario of a hard working rider with big dreams, small budget and very busy days!

Who is Emma? 

Slightly speed and XC obsessed tiny rider, ex-racehorse enthusiast and manager of Brackenhill Stud (click HERE to check it out)

Me on Friday: OK, so let’s have a look at the dressage test…how long is Shabby’s optimal warm up for the test?

Emma: (suspicious silence) Honestly?

Me: Yes?

Emma: Well, it depends what time he gets off the lorry, sometimes a few minutes. Also, this is the earliest I have ever practised my dressage test 😉

Me: Ok, we have some work to do 😉

I have always noticed a tendency in the UK riders to generally practice very little…better still if one could say that one rode through the test once, in one’s head, on the way to the show and got placed.

Coming from a system where if you didn’t practice you were out from the competing team without much of a second glance, such approach has been a bit of a shock to me for a long time. Some twelve years later I got used to it a little. Perhaps it has something to do with being perceived as more talented if one doesn’t practice much? Something to do with a fear of failure? If all goes badly, you can always say it will be better next time when you actually put some effort in?

What do you think? How much effort do you put into preparation for your events?

emma and shabash

Emma’s first event of the season: Goring Heath BE100 with ex-racehorse Shahbash (more about Shabby very soon!)

Shabby’s training: a little power house, Shabby is a 12 years old Thoroughbred ex-racer. He is a tense horse with tendency to brace through the back and neck and has varied degree of bit acceptance depending on his mood which makes him volatile when it comes to many aspects of dressage. The goal of our training has been to improve Shabby’s suppleness and basic straightness as well as quality of his trot and balance in canter which we have done in the last 3 months. Still lots of work to be done.

We are now training towards improving his acceptance of the bit and overall relaxation under pressure.

Emma’s training: As far as the rider training, Emma has had a bit of a seat bootcamp in the last 3 months which is still in progress 🙂 She is a great rider to teach, always up for a challenge. I will explain what we work on as we go.

Below is a very short edit of what is yet to come.

I will try to bring you weekly training stories all the way to Goring Heath and if we all enjoy it, we will continue throughout the eventing season with both Shahbash and Merehead (and maybe a couple more horses) 🙂

Stay tuned and do let me know if this series is of your interest!

Wiola

Great news for all made-to-measure boots enthusiasts!

Tuffa offers made-to-measure options on all long boots!

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Tuffa Footwear has introduced a new made-to-measure boot service that applies to all long boots in Tuffa’s collection.

The new service allows the company to make a pair of boots, in the style of one of the existing lines, to fit the rider’s exact measurements. The rider needs to take 12 measurements to ensure that the boots fit perfectly, and then wait for just 10 weeks while the boots are being made!

“We do our best to cater for all sizes and shapes of rider as our Breckland and Broadland Boots prove,” says Michelle Girling from Tuffa Footwear. “The thing is that there are so many different sizes that it’s not feasible to carry stock of each possible variation, so we came up with an affordable alternative. For just £40 on top of the normal boot price, we can make the boot made-to-measure. We’re excited to be able to offer this service and know our customers are going to really appreciate it.”

The made-to-measure boot service is available on existing long boot styles and allows the boots’ measurements to be changed during production for the perfect fit. The cost is £40 plus the original cost of the boot, making made-to-measure boots a very affordable option.

For more information see www.tuffaboots.com or call 01953 880914.

Prepared by: Rhea Freeman PR rhea@rheafreemanpr.co.uk 07980 757910

Brand sponsorship for coaches?

I’ve just had this interesting chat on ‪#‎equestrianhour‬ on Twitter where I asked what people thought of the fact that there wasn’t much happening in terms of brands sponsoring freelance coaches/instructors. I am not necessarily talking about myself as I am just a little fish in a massive pond but I know of some wider-reach coaches who don’t compete often any more but see many clients and could potentially be fabulous brand ambassadors.

 I should add that I don't mean for coaches to become reps/sales people pushing certain brands onto clients.

Think about it – a little, smaller scale coach like me visits on average four different livery yards a week, two being rather large. They house a couple of hundred or more horses altogether. Most of these horses have owners who either have lessons with me or at least see me passing by.
Now, I don’t drive (driving coach is great too – think of racing cars…you can barely see the car for brands’ stickers 😉 ) so I also travel regularly on trains to London, Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire. Occasionally I also fly abroad to teach. Again – that’s some serious amount of people who see my breeches/jacket/backpack/thermos/boots etc etc on a daily basis.
The other day I was waiting for a train at a station (in my jods as usual 😉 when someone walked up to me and asked me if I rode (clue in clothing). We got chatting and it turned out she had two horses at advanced level and trained with Carl Hester (what are the chances of that by the way??).
The point is, people who ride notice other people who look remotely horsey whether they want to or not.
If a rider needs something in terms of clothing for themselves or for the horse, in terms of feeding or management – they will ask me for advice first. If I say, this and that is great, they will buy it 9 out of 10 times.
Now, let’s not forget that’s just a little me running my own little coaching programme. If you multiply this to match a situation of a much more accomplished trainer who perhaps doesn’t ride or compete that much any more but teaches many riders (who then go out and about) it seems obvious that she/he would potentially be a fabulous “sponsorship material”?

training
Out and about teaching…pictures by Pure Essence Photography from one of my clinics in Yorkshire

If you are an instructor – have you ever been approached by a brand who wanted visibility via your coaching presence?
If you are a rider taking lessons, have you ever asked your coach what bit best to use or where they got their boots from or their breeches from?
There isn’t a day someone doesn’t ask me what best to buy for this or that, where I got this or that from. If I say buy xyz because I think it would suit them great, they buy it.
So, as a coach, what are your experiences? Would sponsorship of things like clothing/boots/venue sponsorship so you could run clinics etc etc helpful for you?
Or perhaps, as a rider, you think it isn’t a good idea? Perhaps you look up only to competition riders to see what they wear, what their horses wear, what they feed?
Perhaps you only look up to coaches/riders who actively compete at higher levels?
I am genuinely very curious about it and although of course I would love to be sponsored myself, I am realistic and try to look at this situation with as little bias as possible.
If I had a product for riders or horses, the right coach with values I would want to promote in my product, would be the first person to approach to see how they could represent me so it makes me wonder why are most brands so focused on such saturated field as rider sponsorship is?
Your thoughts would be much appreciated! 

Talking to The Gait Post about inspirations, motivations, international experiences and the Aspire Academy :)

The GaitPostThe lovely Sarah from The Gait Post invited me for an interview for her great website and here is the result! If you read my answers to Sarah’s questions and would like to add yours please leave a comment below, I would love to know what you think 🙂

Here is a link to my interview but do check all the others too, great read!  http://www.thegaitpost.com/wiola-grabowska/

All the best,

Wiola