Top Tips!

Many of our users have kindly been sending in their Top Tip's so we thought we would start sharing them with you.
If you have a TOP TIP you would like to share simply send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The only way your horse can 'speak' to you is through his behaviour.  That's why it's so important for us to do our best to 'listen' by trying to understand that behaviour and respond accordingly. Responsible ownership is not only about ensuring that your horse is well fed and well loved.  It's about trying to understand his needs, physical and emotional, and meeting them as best you can.Read more 'Brain or pain'   By  Sue Palmer Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist and Equine Behavioural Consultant Tel: 07976 413488 Web: www.holistichorsehelp.com
Top tips to keep your horse's back healthy 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 here), enjoyable to practice, and best of all, your horse will love it!Find out more / full details read more  
Fencing must be easily visible - if your horse is prone to spooking or barging then a tape fence is both visible and safe; Electric fencing is typically 50% less expensive to install than other types of fencing and provides an effective and portable solution for laminitic horses; Electric fencing is a psychological barrier and most horses will avoid it after their first contact; Some laminitics become distressed when separated from their field companions - electric fencing allows an area within a larger paddock to be fenced off, allowing horses to remain within sight of their companions; Managing laminitics sometimes requires fencing to be erected or moved quickly - with Gallagher's SmartFence, a 100 metre mobile fence can be erected in just five minutes; Make sure you have plenty of spare posts and clips - spacing posts further apart can help save time and money; Make sure the fence is taut by tensioning it with the Gallagher rope tensioner; Use the Gallagher rope gateway set  for a safe and simple gateway opening; For mobile horse fencing, use the Gallagher's new stirrup post for spacing purposes For horses, fencing wire should be placed at 65cm, 100cm and 135cm for maximum effectiveness; Make sure you use an efficient battery energiser designed for use with horses; Inadequate earthing is the main cause of low power so make sure you test your energiser's earthing system with a digital voltmeter or a Gallagher Smartfix; Discuss a year-round management programme with your vet - it is not uncommon for vet's to see more cases of laminitis in autumn and winter so it's important not to drop your guard; Watch out for sudden flushes of grass; Try to arrange mixed grazing with sheep to help keep the grass down; Fencing is a key factor in the management of laminitic horses CLICK HERE FOR MORE ADVICE
Prevention is always better than cure, the importance of regular thorough inspection of the horses legs and heels is vital to detect any scabs at the earliest phase. > Wash the infected area with an antibacterial wash. > Work it in to a lather and leave for a few minutes.  > Rinse off with tepid water removing any tufty hair and scabs.  > Dry the area thoroughly with a clean soft towel, do not over rub as this may damage the skin. > Liberally apply sulphur powder, this will dry the area and act as an antiseptic.  > In severe cases the veterinarian may suggest an antibiotic course.  There are many antibacterial creams and ointments available however the most important treatment is the cleaning and more importantly the drying of the legs. Understanding Mud Fever Read more
Tips for successful jumping lessons Thoroughly warm up you and your horse; Cold, tense muscles are more likely to sustain strains and injuries so allow sufficient time.   Perform flat work exercises including lengthening and shortening of the stride, ride loops and circles, use direct transitions from walk to canter to engage the hind legs.   Balance, responsiveness and suppleness are invaluable for a controlled canter which is key to successful jumping.   Gridwork is a gymnastic exercise for the horse and must be progressed at a level the horse is confident with.   Combine combinations and small courses for variation, always keeping the level well within your comfort zone.   Always finish when the horse is jumping well, do not be tempted to continue as a tired horse may make mistakes and resent the task.   For more tips and advice on riding and horse care click here 
If you have trouble riding a straight line place an object at the end of your straight line so that you have something to focus on and aim at. Make life easier for yourself by keeping your horse's pace consistent before, over and after he has tackled the pole on the ground and then the jump itself. Is your balance steady? Can you correct it if necessary? Practice keeping your balance riding through turns and over trotting poles before tackling this exercise. Are you anticipating the jump and getting ahead of your horse's movement? Remember that if the fence is small there is no need to get anxious or go into an over-enthusiastic jumping position. Once you can tackle a narrow fence happily, test your skills by building narrow fences in different parts of the school or as the second part of a double. Once you are proficient at riding narrow fences in the school you can tackle them on cross-country courses. Start small and don't overface yourself or your horse. You might also want to tackle jumping a corner - you'll find help on this later in this riding section. For more great tips on jumping narrow fences Read more
Going with a friend who has an experienced cross country horse as they can provide a lead if need be.  You should also go with an instructor you trust and who knows you and your horse relatively well. Don't be over ambitious - you don't need to jump big fences. Your first few sessions should be all about building your and your horse's confidence, exposing your horse to different types of fences and getting him happy with them. If all is going well, don't be tempted to over-stretch yourself or your horse. There is always another day! More tips for you to consider before you go out on the course Read more
Many riders can become unbalanced and insecure in the saddle when jumping a fence or ditch, however small, which is not only unnerving for the rider but uncomfortable for the horse.   Lack of a strong lower leg and a relaxed seat are both factors which make the rider rigid and unbalanced, transferring a negative message to the horse. Your weight should be down through your heels, which are lower than your toes, keeping the leg on the girth line hug the horse but do not grip like a vice.  Note:  Tension or over gripping will automatically lift the heel, so relax, drop your heels and feel the horses' movement.    Mental tension and anxiety also generate rigidity; therefore progress with jumping at a comfortable pace for both you and your horse. Maintaining confidence and a feeling of control at each stage will help relax your rein contact and reduce your tension. The horse will also become more comfortable and relaxed by not relating the jumping to your anxiety or fear.RISE TO THE CHALLENGE - with Horse Answers Today Quick troubleshooting tips for challenges faced by both Rider and Horse.DressageFlatworkShowingJumpingTraining Read more 
Riding with stirrups too long is often the cause for this along with tightness in the hips and seat. A very useful exercise to discover a natural seat and balance of the rider is to have a lunging lesson with their horse - without stirrups the rider will become more supple and move with the horses' natural pace. When the stirrups are reintroduced the rider should sit deeper in the saddle and therefore put the weight through the lower leg. For more riding tips click here 
To stop surcingles on outdoor rugs coming undone and causing unnecessary risk to your horse, wrap a few plaiting bands or a small rubber tap washer around the D catch to make them fit tighter and then put back through the slot. Very successful.
Top