Top Tips!

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There are several different standards of riding hat available on the market today, with the most important current standards to be aware of being BS EN 1384, PAS 015 and Snell E2001, with PAS 015 and Snell E2001 providing a higher level of protection than that provided by BS EN 1384.  Many hat manufacturers such as Champion also submit their products for further testing by the British Standards Institute, where the tried and trusted Kitemark is awarded. What this means is that a Kitemarked riding hat offers additional safety reassurance as it is tested on a continual basis, with every batch produced passing through the BSI's rigorous testing system for each of the four main areas of testing: penetration, shock absorption, harness strength and stability. Many riding organisations, such as British Eventing and the P ony Club, require that riders wear hats that carry the BSI Kitemark, so this is important to look out for.  For more information on buying a hat that is right for you and your riding activity click here
Do your everyday boots have to double up for competition days too? If so, treat them to a real shine on competition days with Mountain Horse Nourish & Gleam. The luxurious formulation will really help achieve a show-ring gloss! Link http://www.mountainhorse.co.uk/index.php?p=products&;id=1328202552
When warming up, you shouldn't just be ambling; you should use this time to prepare your horse for the job ahead. You need to make sure he is supple, focused and listening to your aids. Flatwork exercises for your horse Maximise your potential with a good warm up with Mark Butker
If your horse brakes regularly after a fence and he tends to rush around a course of jumps - pull him up immediately after the fence. This should start teaching him to come back to you after each jump. Set up a course of fences with fair distances between each jump and practice coming to a halt within a few strides of each jump, then accelerating again towards the next. Keep the fences small to start with to build your confidence levels.  Schooling your horse on the flat is a great way to him to get him listening to you and, ultimately, improve his brakes.
* Use the corner to help set up the movement. * Look in the direction you are travelling. * If your horse is narrow you may need to ask for a greater angle, so that in a dressage test, the judge can see the shoulder-in. * A horse with a large chest will give the illusion of shoulder-in with less angle.  * The rider should not lean in either direction but remain straight at all times.  * Push your inside leg forward as drawing it back pushes the quarters out which is not shoulder-in. * Feel how lightly or strongly you need to apply the aids.  For example, if the horse moves his quarters in too far then less outside leg is required.
Slim down on socks  In summer, hot feet can really swell up - making it nearly impossible to get your boots on - which is not good at a stressful competition moment! So if your feet get uncomfortably hot and bothered thin socks can make all the difference. Try Mountain Horse's Competition Sox - they're micro fine but still have a bit of reinforcement in the foot part for your comfort.  They're also silky soft to help your long boots glide on easily.  Link http://www.mountainhorse.co.uk/index.php?p=products&;id=1282738901
  1. Have your saddle fit checked by a qualified saddle fitter every year at the very least, more often if your horse has a tendency to change shape.  Poor saddle fit is one of the main causes of back pain.  Imagine wearing an ill-fitting pair of shoes and then being asked to dance well in them - we can't say for sure but our best guess is that being ridden in an ill-fitting saddle could feel similarly painful.   2. Feel your horse's back regularly for any pain or tension, but also have a Chartered Physiotherapist check your horse's back periodically.  They have spent several years qualifying to practise their profession, so they are likely to be more accurate in their assessment than someone less experienced.  Personally I recommend every 3 months for a horse that is ridden 5 or 6 times a week, or every month for a horse that is being asked to compete at a high level.  3. Massage your horse's back yourself, once a week or once a month if you have the time.  You will get to know what is normal for him, and to recognise when things are starting to go wrong, at the same time as improving his comfort and performance.  Massage is easy to learn (get your copy of the Horse Massage for Horse Owners book and DVD from www.holistichorsehelp.com), enjoyable to practice, and best of all, your horse will love it!For more realted horse behaviour articles click here 
ESSENTIAL TIPS THAT BENEFIT BOTH HORSE AND RIDER Try and arrange for a friend to help and adjust the poles for you. Always use more than two poles as the horse may try to jump both rather than trotting through them. Inexperienced horses may stumble a little to begin with, however do not override them or become flustered, be patient they will sort their feet out. Adjust distances gradually, do not make your horse overstretch too soon as they will not be able to maintain a constant stride pattern therefore defeating the object of the exercise. If your horse your horse begins to rush into the poles use half halts on approaching the poles or gently trot around in a circle to relax the horses and steady the pace. The positive trot should be maintained after exiting the poles, use the power to elevate the trot in a compact frame. Sit up straight and do not look at the poles, keep a constant contact with a light hand to allow the horse freedom of movement in the head and neck. FLATWORK EXERCISES - CLICK HERE
And breathe… When the heat is on, look out for breathable fabrics. There's nothing worse than being hot and sticky, but fabrics that wick away moisture from the skin will keep you dry and comfortable. Usually manmade (such as polyester) these fabrics allow water vapour (sweat) to pass through to the outside where it evaporates away. Mountain Horse has a great selection. Check out the Aria Tech Top for example. CLICK on Link http://www.mountainhorse.co.uk/index.php?p=products&;id=1358260231
  The key to riding accurately even when at home lies in asking your horse to work correctly - Every time you school he should always be supple, straight, responsive and listening to your aids - instill discipline effectively. More riding tips - For loads of great flatwork tipsand lessons click here 
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