Eventer Caroline Powell, ambassador for Bombers Bits, shares her tips on preparing for next year, and Kirstie Johnston shares her advice on using the winter to explore bitting options.
Caroline Powell says, “With the eventing season finished, now is the time to hone your skills and start preparing for the season ahead. My horses have all had a short break and been allowed to let themselves down mentally and physically. When I pick them up, I start with plenty of hacking, then we aim for indoor shows, cross-country schooling and dressage lessons. My training programmes are tailored to each horse individually, as a lot depends on their temperament, age and where they’re at in their career.
“The winter let-down period tends to pass quite quickly, and I know it won’t be long before my horses are back out at local events. The young horses will be aimed at BE100 and Novice, while the more established horses will be in Intermediate and above classes.”
Common schooling issues over winter
You may choose to give your horse a complete rest over winter, or simply reduce his workload. A break will help him to recuperate from the competitive season, but also to rest his mind, and enjoy time in the field.
“We usually see a loss in a horse’s flexibility, suppleness and strength over winter, as well as training regression, which can be reflected in the horse’s obedience, and more spirited behaviour. Additionally, if the stresses of travel and competition are reduced, there’s less chance of digestive disturbances and gastric ulcers over winter, providing adequate turn-out is given.
Some of the issues facing us in terms of our schooling during the winter training period
less physical flexibility, meaning turns to and from fences are likely to be affected
a lack of strength and suppleness – this can be overcome with regular slow hacking, utilising hills and schooling. It can also affect accuracy and technique when jumping, or working in a correct outline
the mental break can mean more spirited behaviour, spooks and exuberant canters
Assessing your bit
According to Kirstie Johnston of retailer Forelock & Load, using the winter to reflect about any problems you’ve had while schooling or competing is a great use of your time.
“Think about any changes to your horse’s management, schooling or bitting. The main reason for choosing now is there’s less pressure, as you’re not out competing and trying to fit in trialling a bit around a busy schedule.
“We can offer customers a comprehensive bitting service and hire, to make sure your horse is as comfortable and happy as possible.
“Once your horse is happy in the right mouthpiece on the flat, look at changing the bit ring when you start to do more jumping. The horse remains comfortable in the same mouthpiece he’s happy in, while the change of bit ring will give you a bit more leverage, or help with steering. I’m a huge fan of Bombers Bits, and what’s so refreshing is the hard work they’re putting in with the FEI, British Dressage (BD) and British Eventing (BE) to get these bits competition-legal.
“Bombers’ philosophy is pressure equals resistance – we want to remove the pressure, so there isn’t any resistance. The changes we’ve seen with a lot of our customers’ horses has been immense. Bomber Nel, the mastermind behind Bombers Bits, has spent years looking at horses, their skull and mouth conformation. This in turn has given him a phenomenal understanding of bitting and the horse’s needs. All Bombers Bits are handmade in their factory in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, which give them a huge advantage over the many other loriners that we see.
“In the shop, we’ve also noticed changes in equine conformation. Warmbloods have more Thoroughbred blood in them and, as a result, they’re finer and have a lighter head. These tall 17hh horses can often have a 125mm bit in their mouth, which would’ve been very uncommon ten or fifteen years ago.
“When we look at it from the horse’s perspective, if he dislikes tongue pressure and benefits from a bit that’s raised off his tongue, allowing plenty of room, we should harness it, and work with him. Over the last eighteen months, Bombers have made some huge developments, and we’ve seen tremendous results with the bits featuring a swivel mouthpiece. The swivel mouthpiece relieves tongue pressure, and your horse is able to place the mouthpiece where he feels it’s most comfortable.”
Which bit for cross country training and arena eventing
“A popular jumping bit is the Bombers 2.5 Ring Ported Barrel.The 2.5 ring allows for a bit of extra leverage, which can be further increased by tightening the back strap. It’ll also put pressure on the sides of the face to help assist with steering. The Ported Barrel mouth piece is a triple-jointed bit, which does allow lateral movement and room for the tongue.
“Another good bit to try is the Bombers DC Morgan Swivel. It removes pressure from your horse’s tongue. Due to the swivel of the mouthpiece your horse can place it where it’s most comfortable in his mouth. This bit comes in a variety of mouthpieces including sweet iron, titanium and Bomber Blue. Plus, a dressage-legal version without the rein loop is available, called the DC Dressage Swivel
“It’s important to remember that correct schooling is first and foremost, and time needs to be spent training through the winter months. We strongly recommend seeking professional help if you’re experiencing any difficulties, before changing your horse’s bit.”
Whatever your plans, enjoy your winter riding – now is the time to try something new.
Heading to Olympia’s shopping village? Here’s everything you need to know before you hit the tradestands
Olympia – go for the horses, stay for the 200-stand shopping village. We all love a tack shop, with row upon row of matchy matchy sets and the addictive scent of brand-new leather – they could probably bottle that and sell it, right? But there’s so much more to spend that Christmas cash that’s burning a hole in your pocket on. Read on for the round-up of retail highlights on offer.
Check the performance timetable to work out when your best shopping window is – if there’s something you don’t mind missing, use the time to get your shopping fix.
A gift horse
It’s not just beautiful saddles and bridles to be enticed by – all bases are covered, with experts on hand to tell you all there is to know about the latest products and gadgets. From feed and supplements to therapeutic rugs and technical boots, everything you’ve ever wanted can be found at Olympia – as well as things you never knew existed, but now definitely need.
You can usually find some great offers at shows like Olympia, so why not invest in that new winter turnout rug you’ve been promising your horse for years at a pleasantly reduced price? It’s also a great opportunity to try-before-you buy, so you can have a thorough look at and compare different products to get a true feel for what they’re like and if they’d be right for your horse, particularly because, in this day and age, so much of our shopping is done online.
So, whether your horse has a passion for fashion, a competitive streak or needs a spa day, there’s a stand for that.
Go on, it’s Christmas! Browse the vast swathes of equestrian clothing stands for the perfect pair of breeches, new winter-ready boots, a jacket to keep you toasty and dry on the yard or, if you’re feeling generous, a pair of gloves or socks for secret Santa.
If you fancy upping the ante, you’ll find a range of stands dedicated to country style and elegant attire. If tweed’s your thing, Olympia’s the perfect place to pick up a beautiful jacket or maybe you’re after some cosy cashmere to snuggle up in front of the fire in? Pick up some stunning accessories that’ll see you through the season – scarves and hats being the order of the day – and for a touch of luxury, why not take a peek at some jewellery? Surely just looking can’t hurt…
Don’t fancy carrying all your bags around the show? The Pony Club run a bag drop service, so you can keep your purchases safe for a small donation
Feel at home
You might describe yourself as horsey inside-and-out and it’s something that probably applies to your home, too. If you’re anything like us, that probably means saddles on the arm of the sofa, bridles on coathooks and maybe even the odd rug in the washing machine?
Olympia’s a great place to get some interior design inspo with an equestrian twist. As well as the undeniable pleasure of browsing stands full of cushions, throws and other beautiful things for the home, there’ll be equestrian art to ooh and ahh at, too.
It’s a dog’s life
You can’t spoil one four-legged friend and not the other! Spare a thought for your pooch at Olympia and head to some of the canine-friendly stands for treats, beds, collars, coats and more. There’s bound to be something he needs for Christmas…
A friend in need
With some worthy causes in attendance, Olympia presents the perfect opportunity to help them continue to support equines in need, while finding out about their incredible work. Buy some merchandise, make a donation or even adopt a charity’s resident to help give back to animals in crisis.
DID YOU KNOW?
If shopping’s your sole focus, you can pay a reduced ticket price purely for access to the village.
Don’t forget to visit the Horse&Rider team at stand B15 for top merchandise and more.
In horse racing, as with most sports, it’s not always clear that you’re watching a moment of history. You don’t always know that it’ll be the last time you see a great, such as Red Rum or Kauto Star, in action.
Of course, the opposite can be true – there’s an almost tangible energy in the air when those present know they’re seeing something special. Moments such as seeing Sprinter Sacre win the 2016 Champion Chase at Cheltenham, an event when even hardened punters and trainers who’d seen it all before had tears in their eyes.
Sprinter Sacre was a special horse, a superstar who had won the prestigious race in record-breaking fashion three years earlier. Injuries blighted Nicky Henderson’s horse, though, and in 2015 it wasn’t clear if Sprinter Sacre would race again, never mind win.
Emotional scenes at the 2016 Champion Chase
Lining up for the 2016 Champion Chase, many punters thought that the patched-up Sprinter Sacre had little chance, participating in the race in name only, perhaps even as a farewell run for one of Cheltenham’s greats. Sprinter Sacre didn’t read the script, though, rolling back the years and taking every fence like a slingshot. When Sprinter Sacre crossed the line there was electricity in the air at Prestbury Park. Trainer Nicky Henderson, who has seen it all and won it all, was visibly moved to tears. It was a magical moment for lovers of the sport.
Sprinter Sacre - The Season A Champion Resurrected - YouTube
Perhaps a similar tale might unfold for another of the great modern horses of National Hunt racing – the Irish hurdler, Faugheen. It’s difficult for some to appreciate the esteem in which the Irish hold “the Machine”, a serial winner until injuries started to catch up with him over the last couple of years. Faugheen had delivered so much, both for punters and purists.
Punters said farewell to Faugheen in March
At Cheltenham last March, however, there was to be no fairy-tale ending in the Champion Hurdle, a race he won in 2015. Faugheen was well beaten and came in a long distance behind winner, Buveur D’air. Nobody needed to say it out loud in the crowd, but it hung in the air, “Farewell, Faugheen. Thanks for the memories.”
But then, something strange happened a few weeks later. Faugheen was entered into the Irish Stayers Hurdle, run over a mile longer than his usual races. Not only did he win, he blitzed the opposition, beating the excellent Cheltenham winner, Penhill, by thirteen lengths. Faugheen was back, reinvented as a long-distance hurdler.
Faugheen favourite for the World Hurdle
Has the ten-year-old got enough for one last tilt at the top in a similar vein to Sprinter Sacre? Well, if you check the latest Cheltenham betting info 2019, you’ll see Faugheen posted as the 5/1 favourite for the World Hurdle. Of course, others could challenge, such as the aforementioned Penhill (6/1), Supasundae (10/1) and Apple’s Jade (12/1, all odds Bet365).
Could this race be one of those moments you’ll look back and remember?
Any horsey household knows that the run-up to Christmas can mean only one thing… Olympia’s here!
The annual London International Horse Show, more commonly known as Olympia, is an absolute staple in any equestrian calendar. Every year, thousands of visitors flock to the London Olympia Arena in Kensington for world-class dressage, showjumping, showing and driving. Each performance is also packed with iconic favourites, such as the Shetland Pony Grand National, and dazzling displays. The expansive retail village is also a must – jam-packed with more than 250 stands, it’s the perfect place for a spot of Christmas shopping.
TOP TIP – If you’re not able to visit the show, why not tune in from home? Classes will be broadcast live on FEI TV, with highlights and top classes shown on the BBC Red Button. Watch out for a full schedule nearer the time.
Ones to watch…
With so many top-class competitions to keep an eye on, we’ve rounded up all the unmissable action to help you plan your week…
Senior Showing Series Championships
A must-see for any showing fans, this world-class competition is part of the Tuesday morning session and is a great watch. After taking home reserve champion in 2013, Jayne Harper and her 20-year-old gelding, Crimewave II, bumped up to the top spot in 2017. Who will take home this highly sought-after championship this year?
World Cup Dressage Freestyle to Music
Adding some flair to the Tuesday evening performance is the Freestyle to Music competition. It’s the perfect opportunity to watch the world’s best dressage divas strut down the centre line in time to their favourite tunes, which can be anything from film scores to Guns N’ Roses! British rider Emile Faurie was just 0.15% off winner Patrik Kittel’s score last year, so it’ll be a battle to the top this time around.
DID YOU KNOW? Olympia is the only UK show to host three FEI World Cup Qualifiers in dressage, showjumping and driving.
The Wednesday evening Puissance is a firm favourite, where top combinations tackle the famous big red wall. British rider Laura Renwick was crowned champion last year with her horse, Top Dollar VI. They were the only combination to clear the spectacular 2.20m wall. Laura’s win was made even more memorable when HRH The Duchess of Cornwall made a guest appearance to present the prizes.
World Cup Driving Leg
Guaranteed to catch the crowd’s attention, fearless drivers from a variety of nations manoeuvre four galloping horses around technical courses at top speed. Only open to the top 10 drivers in the world, this prestigious competition is a highlight of the Friday afternoon and Saturday evening programmes.
An exciting twist on the other jumping classes, the Sunday afternoon Christmas Masters is a winner-takes-all competition for the seven leading riders of the show. The prize pot increases for every clear round jumped, with competitors choosing which fences are put up in each round. Dutchman Harrie Smoulders took the title in 2017, thanks to an impressive five clear rounds on his 13-year-old stallion, Corrada.
TOP TIP – The Pony Club runs a shop and drop facility, so you don’t need to take all your bags to your seat.
Morning performance from £16
Afternoon performance from £23
Evening performance from £23
Shopping village only £12
Don’t forget to visit the Horse&Rider team at stand B15 for top merchandise and more.
Feel you’re spending more time cleaning up after your horse than riding him? Take advantage of this latest innovation, designed to help you spend more time in the saddle.
Horses are messy, this much we know, and following your horse around cleaning up after him feels a somewhat labourious task. We’re all guilty of cutting corners now and then to save time however, it pays to take a look at the latest products on the market, such as the new Quick Pick, to see how you could optimise your regime.
It’s all in the detail
If your routine consists largely of shifting barrow after barrow, you’ll likely be acquainted with the associated aches and pains. Wrist stress injuries, such as repetitive strain injury, are one of these aches that could be avoided if you look out for some careful design details. The Quick Pick features foot plates, which can be anchored to the ground. This means you can ease the strain and use both hands while raking, reducing the risk of these potential perils.
If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, but when time comes at a premium it pays to be efficient. The Quick Pick offers twice the capacity of a standard scoop and its flip feature means the first heap of manure will drop to the back of the bucket leaving space for the next pile. This means you’ll be emptying it less often, but also with nothing rolling back out after collecting, you’ll be able to make the most of all available space.
Save the strain
Back strain is a common complaint among horse owners, whose day is often tasked with turning, lifting and twisting heavy objects. All of these things can lead to painful tweaks but it’s important not to neglect your back – you’ll soon regret it if you do! The Quick Pick’s design has back health at heart – sitting just above knee height it needn’t be lifted far off the floor to be moved. Similarly, when it comes to emptying, it has a strong easy empty rear handle, so can be emptied efficiently without twisting your body.
In addition, the tool can be used from a range of different positions depending on your strength or style, so you can avoid getting into any uncomfortable positions.
As poo-picking needs to be done whatever the weather, with the Quick Pick you can keep your boots clean with the integral boot scraper. By standing on the left footplate, you can scrape your right foot clean and vice versa.
The Quick Pick is built to use alongside the Quick Pick rake that combines a long and chunky handle with especially angled prongs, so you can flick droppings out of a number of surfaces including grass, shavings and sand. The Quick Pick is available in a range of colours, including pink, purple, red, blue, green and black – with the same colourways offered for the rake.
Body protectors manufactured to a new safety standard went on sale on 1 October. The 2018 standard comes after recent rule changes from many equestrian bodies stating that competitors must wear body protectors marked 2009 or later. In a statement on its website, the British Equestrian Trade Association said: “The disciplines that set a minimum standard for body protection have now changed their rules and all have indicated that they will accept the 2018 version.” There’s no time limit set on how long equestrian bodies will accept 2009 garments, although it’s likely that they’ll continue to allow their use until at least 2024.