Gee Gee and Me is an equestrian lifestyle blog that puts everything equine to the test, bringing to you honest reviews and the occasional Dear Diary post, about my personal journey with my Connemara pony.
To turn little Arnold out I have to walk through another horses paddock. Whenever possible, said horse’s owner and I time it so that Arnold goes out first and is brought in last; we try to be a finely turned operation. But we’re both realistic to understand life isn't always perfect, nor does it run to plan. For example when the farrier is due, or I ride first thing in a morning, I am then later turning out than normal.
As Arnold is just 4, and walking through the paddock of a horse that is eager to say hello can be very exciting. Arnold’s friend is a beautiful teenage thoroughbred, who is proof that ‘age is just a mere number’. He loves to frolic, touch noses and squeal with joy in Arnold’s presence. More often than not, Arnold joins in too and the rope has been pulled out of my hands altogether a couple of times and they've enjoyed an enthusiastic canter around the field. As fun as this is, nobody wants divots in their paddock and I needed to make sure I was the one in control, so I ordered a Pro-Safe Headcollar by LeMieux.
The Pro-Safe Headcollar is described as being ‘ideal for lively horses and ponies, stallions and young stock’ and has three settings, each offering different levels of control:
1. Worn as a normal headcollar, the chain is always present and acts as a deterrent towards negative behaviour without actually being in use.
2. Using the two rings together exerts an even pressure on either side of the nose for control.
3. The most effective setting is to use one ring directly; this applies pressure over the nose and underneath the jaw exerting the most control.
The headcollar has a padded, rubber foam noseband and poll cover providing shock absorbing comfort and Mr LeMieux explains the mechanism perfectly in a video on this link here.
Sizing - Arnold is turning out to be a little bit bigger than Oscar and I ordered a full size as his current cob headcollar is snug. Arnold is 15hh and the full size fits well on the smallest settings.
Although I have never used anything like this before, I knew if Arnold’s attention wasn't focused on me the situation could become dangerous. For us the Pro-Safe Headcollar is reserved for this one occasion only, and after one use I immediately noticed a difference. I use setting number two to apply pressure to both sizes of the nose. This pressure is only activated when negative behaviour is instigated, for example if Arnold were to pull away from me, once the horse yields to the pressure it is released. I always revert back to Arnold's normal headcollar if he is the first/last in the field, when travelling and tied up on the yard I immediately change the setting, or loop my lead rope is attached to, however this is a useful tool to have in my kit and well worth the investment of £29.95 for extra control when it is needed.
Although I work with HorseHealth.co.uk this product was a purchase I made and not a gift.
The My LeMieux Riderwear range gets more fabulous with each new release and I was so excited to get my hands on their first ever gilet, the Isola. Available in three stunning colours. navy, khaki and grey, they are guaranteed to match the Spring/Summer '19 Collection of horsewear perfectly and I have spent the last month putting the Isola Gilet in grey through its paces.
April has seen frosts, sleet and snow, gale force winds and the hottest Easter on record. I have worn the Isola Gilet underneath coats for extra warmth, over base layers and with only a t-shirt. It is lightweight, breathable and comfortable to wear, with a raised collar to protect against the elements and beautifully cut. Curving in at the waist for a flattering fit they are available in sizes extra-small to extra-large, I wear a size small and I am a size 10.
The grey Isola Gilet is finished with a lavender double way zipper and two hidden zips are the back, these give total freedom of movement when in the saddle. There are also two lavender zipped pockets for essentials, phone, keys, horse treats. The perfect addition to any equestrian wardrobe and a Spring/Summer must have.
Gift - thank you Derby House for sending Gee Gee and Me the Pro Mermaid Lightweight Turnout Rug and Head Collar. I have shared my love of Derby House rugs on more than one occasion on Gee Gee and Me, for me they tick so many boxes. I was a customer long before I ever wrote a review for them; they're a brand impossible not to celebrate for affordability, the cut and fit of their rugs, and the cute designs that are refreshed every season.
Spring/Summer '19 is fun and colourful; magical mermaids and pretty seashells are scattered against a teal green background, edged in hot pink. Zero fill, with a strong and robust 600 denier outer shell, it is perfect for those unpredictable days - think Storm Hannah, who just paid us a visit. Waterproof, yet breathable with a polyester lining to enhance coat shine and a fleece wither pad and generous tail flap for protection. There is a shoulder gusset for freedom of movement, all secured in place with two quick and easy front chest clips, belly surcingles and elasticated leg straps, perfection, all for £44.99.
The website is full of fantastic reviews from keepers of thoroughbreds to cobs, high praise indeed, look no further if you need a new lightweight sheet and I'd get one quick. From all the rain dances equestrians are currently performing, we must be due some heavy downfalls soon (fingers crossed). Much love, Jessica Gee Gee and Me.
Since 22nd March 2019 I have ridden over 70 miles with the boys, and spent over 20 hours in the saddle. How do I know this, because I have been using the free Equilab app to track my riding. I have been blown away by the data it records and have loved seeing other equine bloggers and vloggers share their experiences using it too; Roosa's Horsey Life, Tina Wallace - Life on the Left Rein and Inside Track Eventing to name a few.
What is Equilab...? Captures your ride; just like having someone on the ground, it monitors the gait, beat, stride and distance of each ride. Breaks down walk, trot and canter paces by the second - and colour coordinates them - tells you how many miles you've covered and your speed. Yes, Ronnie and Oscar once reached in excess of 16 mph...not bad for Irish leisure horses in their teens.
Tracks your progress; at the end of a ride, you can choose to rate the horse and rider performance, record the ground conditions and make notes. Alongside the information captured above, this allows you to compare training sessions and find patterns that work for you and your horse. Whether its fun, fitness, strength or conditioning there is a feature for it, simply select in the app; competition, dressage, eventing, gallop training, hacking...etc.
I have been concerned about the ground recently, the dry spring has meant some tracks we ride along are as hard as concrete and with Oscar's arthritis I am always aware of the negative impact this could have on his joints. Acceptable in August, but I am not sure how I feel about zero mud in April. For this reason I keep a close eye on the length of stride recorded in the app, just to make sure he isn't shortening. This gives me huge peace and just another tool in my box to keep Oscar sound, happy and comfortable, and I can't have too many of those.
Come home safe; kindly gifted to me and the only paid feature within the app, using GPS it shares your position live from the saddle with your chosen close ones, letting them follow you on a map. They know when you've finished a ride safely, and don't even have to download the app, you can simply add them from the contacts in your phone.
I predominantly hack, as I don't have access to a ménage unless I box over to a neighbouring village, so this is a feature I've really put to the test. I have found the maps to be 100% accurate and it's given me a confidence boost. My other half often says "text me when you're off" as I keep Oscar and Arnold privately, in reality it could take quite a long time before someone realised something was wrong if they didn't know my plans or location. It's a comforting feature and worth the subscription fee with a 7 day trail feature I'd encourage you to take full advantage of.
Organise your riding;plan and organise your riding and horse-care week by week. Add in the farrier, visits from the vet, competitions and rest days - my favourite - and if of benefit share this with your stable, yard or friends. These events can also be on repeat, for example if your horses have every Monday as a rest day.
A friend recently bought a horse back into work following a tendon injury, we weren't aware of the Equilab app at the time but this would have been the perfect tool to plan rehabilitation and recovery work. Not to mention a great place to keep a record to share with the vet at the next check up, rather than doing it by notebook or recalling from memory. Equally as useful when preparing for dressage regionals, or a one day event.
Connect to your team;anyone with the Equilab app that you are 'Friends' with can like and comment on your saved sessions. One of my friends said this feature had motivated her to start riding her horse more and I agree, you see your friends out hacking, training, schooling and think, yes I'll have some of that too, creating a fantastic community. It is also a smart way for trainers to check in with students in-between lessons.
Energy consumption;my rule is to 'feed a horse for the work he has done, not for the work he is going to do' and this feature helps us to understand whether our horse is in leisure, light, competition or hard work. By recording how many megajoules the horse burns, it estimates your horses daily feed requirements, a great tool to discuss with your equine nutritionist to ensure you're feeding correctly. It also records how many calories the rider burns, meaning the coffee and chocolate biscuit after riding is completely guilt free.
I have loved learning about how my followers use the Equilab app over the last month from comments on my Facebook and Instagram posts, Tina Wallace - Life on the Left Rein shared how fantastic it looked on her new Apple watch too. As soon as her bottom was in the saddle it vibrated and said 'Start Riding' so so clever!
Getting started couldn't be any easier, go to your app/play store and search; Equilab. Download for free and input your details, I opted to register with Facebook to make the process even quicker. Add your stable/horses and find your friends, enable the safety tracking with 7 days free trial and start riding... Much love, Jessica Gee Gee and Me.
I discovered Equino Chaps at HOYS many years ago, I remember trying on a pair and falling in love. Autumn was in full swing and I thought how incredible they would be to take me through winter, and into spring. I was so tempted to place an order but talked myself out of the idea as I hadn't intended to spend that much money on the day.
Each winter I admired Equino Chaps and it took the relentless Beast from the East - possibly 6 years after trying on my first pair - for me to place my order. Tell me this, if it was something for one of the horses they certainly wouldn't have to wait 6 years, more like 6 days for delivery! The snowfall came in time for a white Christmas, it was magical at first but it didn't stop until April. I remember bringing in perished little lambs over Easter, they had been turned out with the hope that spring was on its way following a few dry days only for the snow to return. I was thoroughly fed up of my thighs being pink and sore and the chilblains on my toes, so I placed my order. Made to measure and brown were my two specifications and I worked with Melanie to get the perfect fit.
Handmade in Britain, they're a small company that use premium grade calf skin leather in every single pair of chaps. The measurements are key as they're designed to be skin tight, this enables them to be worn when working on the yard and for riding in. I find the fit incredibly flattering and feel secure in the saddle when wearing them, they stay in place and allow a full range of movement to canter out of my seat and jump in, and they haven't lost any of their shape, despite having them for over a year.
I have a tendency to only wear my chaps in the winter months for insulation and protection, although the quality of the leather means they are breathable and can be worn in the summer months too. They have two buckles around the waist and zip up down the outside of each leg, secured with a buckle above each ankle and I wear them with jodhpur boots. The design means they're super easy to slip in and out of in the tack room, or the back of your trailer or lorry. They also don't require any special care or attention and I simply wipe mine down with a damp cloth, or tack cleaning sponge as they're regularly splattered in mud.
Of course you don't have to be as plain as me and you can choose almost any colour you like and personalise with piping and embroidery. Equino Chaps have an excellent Instagram page where they showcase clients custom designs if you're looking for inspiration.
I was blown away by Melanie's attention to detail and incredible customer service. I even sent her snaps of me wearing them once they had arrived for her to give me the thumbs up, as she knew what they meant to me after years of longing for a pair. Melanie wants this bespoke item to be 100% perfect for every client, and offers extensive after-care including a lifetime repair and alteration service. Now I own a pair, I don't see the price tag as frightening as it was back on the trade stand at HOYS all those years ago. They're a sensible investment, a dream to ride in and worth every single penny.
I was kindly sent the Grafter Brushing Boots in October '18.
I am under no obligation to feature them on Gee Gee and Me.
Horse Health give me as much time as I need to trial, test and provide feedback.
My review features my own personal thoughts on the product and I would not feature something I would not be willing to spend my own money on.
This week Horse Health have chosen the Grafter Brushing Boots as their 'Product of the Week' making it the perfect time to showcase them on Gee Gee and Me as they are discounted by 10%. I have had these boots since October and have used them throughout the process of backing baby Arnold, to riding him away so it is safe to say they've been put through their paces...
The LeMieux Grafter Brushing Boots are appropriately named, they've created a durable, soft, lightweight and breathable boot that will withstand daily work, without costing you the earth at £21.50 per pair. LeMieux have kept it simple; an inside panel for protection, secured in place by strong velcro tabs. Available in sizes Small to XLarge, and as always my Connemara ponies wear Medium all around. They're perfect for turnout, schooling, hacking, fast work and competition, coming in a range of colours whether you prefer the classics of black, brown and white or you like to match your saddle pad or XC silks.
Arnold has worn them from being long lined, to learning how to carry a human for the first time and popping his first jump. They have given me huge peace of mind he is adequately protected, from the occasional stumble in the early days as he figured out what his legs were doing, to more recently when he gets excited and leaps with enthusiasm and joy. I know there are a lot more innovative and exciting products out there, you only have to look at the Horse Health website. But for me having a boot that I can wash off with the hose pipe, whip off and throw on the floor guilt free after a muddy hack is perfect for everyday use and my tack room wouldn't be complete without them.
Making a clothing purchase from Honest Riders declares you a rider on a mission because a percentage of every sweatshirt, t-shirt and vest goes to one of three wonderful equine charities:
Retraining of Racehorses
Pablos Horse Sanctuary
World Horse Welfare
I purchased my first Sweatshirt last spring, opting for the humorous 'No Scope, No Hope' slogan. I remember being stopped at Badminton Horse Trials by someone who had seen the design and wanted to know how they could purchase one of their own. That's the thing, they look equally as stylish away from the yard, as they do with your breeches. My collection has recently grown, and now includes a Limited Edition 'Two Hearts' Sweatshirt and a 'Centre Line' t-shirt, spring I am ready for you...
The material used for the clothing is organic cotton from Fair Wear certified factories, it is beautifully soft to wear and there is a fit to suit every shape and style preference whether you're a Warmblood or more of a Thoroughbred. The meticulous attention to detail continues all the way through to the brands selection of hand picked Horse Care Products, also available on the website. These promise to be free from chemicals and animal testing, and include a brand Gee Gee and Me already love; Topline Naturals plus many more we want to try. These standards are complimented by a zero plastic policy and 100% recyclable packaging.
If you're not part of the fan club yet, I hope my adoration for Honest Riders and its exemplary ethics encourage you to click here and listen to Zoe's compelling interview via Podcast with Rhea if you haven't listened already.
My last blog post ended on a cliffhanger...and now the contents of my gift bag from the amazing Hiho & Co - Be All You Can Be Event is revealed...
I will start with the first product I pulled out of the gorgeous purple gift bag that channels my passion, or should that read my OCD? I adore keeping everything - with the exception of my farming chic Land Rover - squeaky clean and sparkling, so I was excited to get my hands on an Albion Leather Soap and Balm Duo Pot. Founded in 1985, Albion are a truly British brand and their name means Old England. The company are dedicated to their equestrian roots, recognised and known for their leather and how to care for it.
The soap element is gentle and perfect for cleaning excess sweat and mud from leather. This is complimented by the balm, a 200 years old Swiss formula, originally developed to care for leathers exposed to extreme conditions, to nourish and protect against the elements. I have often admired the product on show trade stands at events because the packaging of the larger pots is so stylish, they'd add class to any tack room and are something I would invest in following my taster pot. This week I've used it on my bridle, breastgirth and boots...its fabulous!
A day with Fairfax and Favor wouldn't be complete without tassels and a Premium Handbag Tassel was inside. I popped it straight on my car keys and it works just as well as a keyring as it does a handbag accessory. I adore the Fairfax and Favor brand, their dedicated team, the marketing, products, ethics...everything, I wish I had more of it in my wardrobe - if only the ponies didn't take up so much of my money, something I am sure those reading will empathise with.
Hiho Silver pulled out all of the stops and spoilt each of us with personalised Silver Letter Roller Bead Necklaces. My roller bead has engraved a big J a little j and is looped onto a pretty silver chain, presented in the most amazing purple boxed packaging. I won't lie I am a little bit in love with it, something I would buy as the perfect gift but never splurge on for myself, it filled me with delight to receive it.
A refreshing change from my usual coffee and earl grey addiction, Cupsmith's provided a taster of their Garden Mint Tea. The companies brand statement "for the finer drinks in life" suits this tea, it is naturally caffine free and the pyramid bags are biodegradable, happy to end their life on our compost heap. Served hot or cold from the fridge, this is delicious and a welcome change from the norm.
Finally the Joules Tiewell Embroidered Neckerchief got my Mumma and I in the mood for spring; bright, polka dot and jolly, Mrs C definitely models it better than I do! A classic, every wardrobe needs one, casual or formal it works and comes in red, yellow and navy.
Not forgetting the inspiring cards from Rhea Freeman and Sophie Callahan that are now positioned around the house for me to glance at daily; #girlpower and the discount for a Dressage Anywhere test, that could possibly be Arnold's first competition?!
Writing everything down makes me realise how much thought, hard work and generosity went into the event and the gift bags we were given to take home. I am incredibly grateful and feel like I have relived the day all over again. Now, until the next one...
You're holding them like a baby...yes, that's because they're precious. The Rockinghams.
After being glued to the fantastic coverage of 2018's Style, Skills and Silver InstaMeet on social media, I was determined not to miss 2019's event, Hiho & Co - Be All You Can Be. As a loyal follower of all things Rhea Freeman PR, I had plenty of notice to organise my life in time for the big day to make it happen...and a special mention to Rhea who endured a running commentary on my list of things to do. I appreciate as a wife, mother of twin boys, dogs and horses, it appears to be a walk in the park and in hindsight relatively small.
Holiday booked off work - tick
Arnold sent to boarding school - tick
Help organised for HRH Oscar - tick
Ticket purchased - tick
Monday 11th February 2019
I turned into the idyllic location of Blackdown Shepherds Huts, having just made it in time for the 9.30am start. The sunshine was streaming through the trees surrounding the hideaway shepherds huts and I felt the buzz of nervous excitement as I stepped out the car and headed into the barn, alone - what's that thing people say about doing one thing everyday that scares you.
I needn't have been nervous, Emma Warren of Hiho Silver warmly welcomed me like an old friend and handed me my name badge, hanging from a bespoke leather lanyard – thank you Chris from Mackenzie & George. I was whisked off for a freshly ground coffee served from a delightful Doris cup, decorated with the words of William Blake; "I will not reason and compare, my business is to create". How appropriate I thought as I took a sip, a deep breath and let my eyes wander around the room.
I was immediately drawn to my soul sister Becky Wren; Country Bumpkin Chic. We'd never met before, nor did we follow one another on social media prior to the day but arrived dressed almost identically. Not such a coincidence if you’re dressed in denim and tweed, only we were in leopard print midi dresses and leather jackets - just for the record, we were less Kat Slater and more Claudia Schiffer - I am certain we will remain firm friends following our day together. With Becky was Charlotte writer of the Forelock Journal, recently crowned Haynets Equestrian Blogger of the Year 2018 and lovely Gem of Gem Eventing.
It is impossible to write enough superlatives to justify how fabulous Lucy is. I fell in love with her, she is warm, passionate, funny, engaging, knowledgeable...I could go on, but having just declared my love for her, it could all come across as a bit much. So I'll stop. You get the idea, she is amazing!
Lucy made flatlays come to life and invited me into a whole new world that I hadn't been part of before. Our morning’s activity was to create and photograph a flatlay that is you; your blog, your business, your passion, your hobby, your personality. We were presented to a table covered in glossy magazines, colourful postcards, ribbons, fresh flowers, wild and wonderful accessories and Lucy's genius flatlay backgrounds - learn more about them here, and yes I've ordered one.
Siri "what is a flatlay photo...?"
Flatlay photography is an insanely easy way to showcase awesome items you own, tell a story, and wow your Instagram followers. Flat Lay is simple to do, can be shot almost anywhere, and can be as simple as emptying your handbag or arranging the items on your desk.
Here is my picture...the steps to the shepherds hut made the perfect backdrop for the wild meadow flowers bound with ribbon and allowed the Fairfax and Favor Rockingham Boots to take centre stage. With Rockingham being on my doorstep at home they couldn't suit me more and of course a horseshoe for good fortune. Simple and very different to what you're used to seeing on Gee Gee and Me.
Time for Lunch
Freshly cooked and served from the Towby Hut by Mr Emma Warren and Co, the menu was delicious and I had pheasant goujons sourced from a local shoot, served in a wrap with fresh yoghurt and salad, washed down with a Hullabaloos Lemonade. I found myself sat next to another amazing woman wearing leopard print too, Zoe the founder of Honest Riders, modelling her own Limited Edition Two Hearts Sweatshirt.
Over lunch we talked about her business, my blog, our history and future aspirations. I learnt Zoe is a beautiful person, a true force for good. I won't share too much as I placed an order on her website only last night and believe Honest Riders warrants its very own blog post so watch this space.
Five of us were given the opportunity to perfect our eye with Rachel, following the morning’s flatlay session. Before the practical activities got under way we were able to talk about what barriers we face and share our experiences. Rachel was an excellent coach and it turns out Al - the front-man of Blackdown Shepherds Huts - is also an excellent barista. As the wood burning stove roared and Emma appeared delivering cupcakes the setting was heavenly. To then top it all off we were surrounded by luxurious lines from Fairfax & Favor, Albion, Mackenzie & George, HihoSilver and Joules free for us to flatlay and photograph. Sadly, the only thing off limits was taking them home.
We regrouped for tea and scrumptious cake – thank you to my Mumma for preparing one earlier for me to bring - to discuss hot topics amongst small equine and country businesses, bloggers and influencers. You couldn't get a better panel to bounce off Sophie Callahan, Rhea Freeman, Emma Warren and Capture by Lucy who encouraged us all to have the confidence to be ourselves and happy in our own skin. Emma chanted the 'Be All You Can Be' motto and asked us to share this message with others who weren't able to make the event.
I travelled home feeling happy and content with an exciting list of ideas in my head, I had made many new friends and deepened existing relationships. I had also been prompted to take a step back and view Gee Gee and Me from a follower’s perspective:
My blog, founded in 2013 has always centred around trialling and testing the very best handpicked products and services our equestrian world has to offer. I have a loyal following - thank you all, you mean the world to me - and my opinion matters. I am proud that the fantastic page you’re reading now averages 30,000 hits per year with an ever growing following, and that Gee Gee and Me has inspired and supported so many aspiring bloggers to take their first step.
My Instagram is horses, horses, horses...or should that be Connemara's, Connermara's Connermara's!
My Facebook being a mix of both of the above.
And as incredible as the above three are, they've hit a glass ceiling and a reoccurring theme that I couldn't wiggle out of was the fact people want to see more of the person behind the camera - how about that to take me out of my comfort zone...well Friday I took a small step and before dashing off to work I took a selfie, knowing I didn't have the time to think about the imperfections I posted a picture of me in my kitchen, making coffee, showing off my Hiho Silver necklace from the insane goody bag I left with on Monday.
The next blog will be all about what’s inside...it’s worth the wait, I promise. In the meantime I am going to be a little kinder to myself and I hope you enjoy seeing a little more Jess alongside the Gee Gee's.
Botanica International were also kind enough to send me a pot of their Natural Herbal Cream, this took a little longer to put through its paces as fortunately, I don't have any mud rashes, ringworm, cuts or wounds to contend with - touching wood as I type! I do however have very sore human hands and Oscar, as always at this time of year has rubs, from almost everything and anything that touches his skin. As a result I have been lathering it on the both of us.
The Natural Herbal Cream is a unique combination of herbal ingredients, similar to those found in the Cleansing Wash, carefully selected and blended to repair blemishes and skin complaints. There is a noticeable scent of tea tree oil, that works alongside aloe vera, comfrey and lavender to perform their magic to support and maintain healthy skin.
The tub has a handy pump helping it stay hygienic, meaning no fingers inside the pot and because its not 'just for horses' I have found myself using it has a hand cream after I have washed out water buckets and feed bowls before my gloves go back on. The tub I have is the largest; 500ml and £29.95 - and can be purchased by clicking here - I will certainly be investing in another pot as soon as I am out as I think it will be perfect in the summer months as a fly repellent and fly bite treatment. Thank you Jessica Gee Gee and Me