Bouncing Back After A Fall

When you suffer a fall, no matter how bad it is, it can really have a lasting impact. It makes you question your abilities and it can break the trust between you and your horse. And that trust goes both ways. After a fall we tend to think of ourselves as not being able to trust our horse but a lot of people don’t realise that our horses can also lose trust in us. So depending on the situation it can take a lot of time to build yourself and your horse back up again – believe me, I would know after the amount of falls I’ve had even just this year! While I’m fully aware that my falls could have been so much worse (as we all know how bad they can be), it still didn’t lessen the impact they have had on my own confidence as a rider and I’ve definitely seen the impact they’ve had on Coco.

The good news is that there is always a way to get back to where you were. I mean, look at Jonty Evans after his catastrophic fall at Tattersalls last year. The man was in a coma for weeks and only a few weeks ago he was back jumping around the cross country field. And while I know we’re not all Jonty’s, he is still an amazing example of what the love for our sport can push us to do. We just need to allow ourselves the time we need to have that “I’m Back” moment.

If you’re struggling with your confidence after suffering a fall, here are some of my suggestions for helping yourself get your confidence back…

Take it one step at a time

Depending on the type of fall, this could mean any number of things. If you fell while jumping then it’s no harm to decide to take it easy for a little while. Why not stick to flatwork for a week or two and throw in some polework. This will not only help develop you as a rider but depending on why you fell it can also be a great place to start working on whatever issue may have caused the fall in the first place. Either way, don’t feel like you HAVE to start jumping straight away. The jumps aren’t going anywhere, they’ll be there for you when you’re ready.

Don’t let anyone pressure you into doing more than you’re ready for

It’s very easy for people to tell you what you should be doing. They imagine how they would act in your shoes and they feel that you would benefit by doing what worked for them. And you know what, maybe they’re right. Maybe their advice to get straight back into jumping or riding through the bucks that landed you on your arse is the best thing for you. And if you feel that will help get your confidence back then go for it..but if you don’t think that’s the best way to go, then don’t do it. It’s not worth shattering your confidence any further or even worse, giving yourself a more severe injury. You do you and don’t worry what anybody else thinks.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you’ve gotten to a point where you don’t feel like your confidence is getting any better then maybe it’s time to ask for help. This help can come in the form of a trusted instructor, a friend or even your yard manager. Talk it through and come up with a plan of action even if that plan is to maybe start from scratch in a riding school with a school master to build your confidence back up. Just don’t be afraid to do what you need to do.

Learn to trust your gut feeling

Sometimes you can find yourself in a situation where you feel like history may be repeating itself. The circumstances are all screaming “It’s going to happen again” and you have that gut feeling that something bad is going to happen. It’s natural instinct. Our bodies do this to protect ourselves from getting hurt again. There are times when we know we need to push past that feeling but there are also times when we need to respect that feeling and listen to it. If that feeling is so strong that it’s making you doubt yourself every stride then sometimes the best idea is to stop and try again another day. There’s absolutely no shame in it..it’s all part of the process.

Know when you’re ready to push yourself

This green oxer seriously terrified me

After all the hard work of building back your confidence, there comes a moment when you have to decide whether or not you’re ready to push yourself to try again. This is a vital part of the sport we love. We know it’s risky and we know that if we want to do what we love then we are going to have to try again some day. It might be jumping by yourself for the first time since your fall or it could be trying another canter after your horse bolted off the last time. Whatever it is, if you decide you’re going to go for it, then give it your all. There’s no point making a half attempt. You need to believe in yourself and know that you are 100% ready for whatever happens. It’s the only way you’ll be able to achieve that glorious “I’m Back” moment

My “I’m Back” Moment

I had my “I’m Back” moment at our show last weekend. Me and Coco were in the middle of the worst showjumping round of our lives. We had dropped two poles and after two refusals (where I nearly came off on the first one) I was struggling to even get her to pick up canter. I was nearly at the point of giving up and retiring but then I thought “No. I am going to get her over this double”. And with that, I settled her for a second, picked up a trot on a circle and asked for canter and straight off she picked up the right canter lead. We turned the corner for the double, I gave her a tap on the shoulder with my stick to tell her that I meant it this time and she soared through the bloody thing without thinking twice. After that I was just so happy she did it that I contemplated finishing the round on that (as my head was certainly not in the game for many reasons) but I thought again and said “No. You’re finishing this god awful course”. And we did. It wasn’t pretty by any means but by god did we finish it and I left the arena laughing.

While a part of me was disappointed in myself for riding so terribly and letting Coco down, I was also so damn proud of myself and Coco for finishing. It was a massive step for the two of us. Even a month ago and that round could have ended with Coco having a full blown strop and me on my arse at the bottom of the fence, confidence well and truly destroyed and me resigning myself to the fact that I was going to be a dressage rider for the rest of my life. How grim would that have been?

Walking out of the worst round of our lives with a huge smile

I hope that this post helps someone get their nerve back after a fall. It’s not an easy thing to do but with determination and a love for the sport, it is something anyone can do. Have you had any bad knocks to your confidence? If so, when did you have your “I’m Back” moment? Tell me about it in the comments, you never know who could be reading who could use the pick-me-up!

Thanks for reading,

Orla

Top 5 Horse Riding Sayings Explained!

It goes without saying, that some of the slang us horsey people use are next to ridiculous! There often comes a time when you hear yourself saying certain things to not only receive certain looks from your regular human, but quite often you do get big outbursts of laughter! 

I have pulled together some of my most frequently used sayings, some that anyone who is not fond of the equestrian world & their terms may find it difficult to begin to process how these sayings can even relate to a young woman or man and their horse! 

So, without any further hesitation, if you have a husband, a partner or older kids and you are often caught in the firing line of explaining certain sayings, look no further! 

I have picked my top 5 that I feel are in desperate need of an explanation! Keep scrolling to find out the real meaning behind these! And dont jump to any conclusions at a first glance!! 


I can’t Wait for The ride Later”

Us equestrians really do love our sport. If we could we would be with our animals every second of the day. But unfortunately work & life sometimes get in the way! The above saying often turns the head of those not horsey males especially when said out loud in an office! People, we are talking about exercising our HORSES!!! 

I have to wash his willy”

If horses were able to do this task, trust me we would happily let them & step away from this not so pleasant scenario. Keeping your horses bits clean & infection free is a must when you own a male horse (gelding). Unlucky for us equestrians, we have to get elbow deep literally with the cleaning of his “bits”. If you want more detail on this, do check out this blog post I wrote on the subject. For any non horsey people, it is quite the eye opener!

Your going in too deep”

Jumping your horse can be so majestic, but there are times when you just don’t get it right & it turns into quite a disaster. Walking into an equestrian centre & hearing a female instructor in particular screaming “your going in to deep” can be a head turner.

Any regular person may take a moment to think about what they had just heard, but trust me there is an explanation. See this image to the left, it simply means that your horse has not left enough space in front of the jump in order to clear the fence comfortably, in turn they have gone in too deep! 

He won’t come into my hands”

Having a contact with your horse whilst riding is a vital part of well, riding your horse! You do often see horses running around the place, heads in the air tongues hanging out of their mouths with very frustrated riders on their backs. I am one of those riders. Having your horse come into your hands can be difficult, and no it has nothing to do with washing your horses willy!! When we say this we are basically asking our horse to work from our legs up the contact! Practice makes perfect with this one. 

I Just rode him bareback down the lane”

Our horses wear a saddle when we ride them, or so any normal people think. But often us equestrian want to venture into the world of riding our horse without a saddle, and just sitting on their bare – back. This is where this saying comes in to play, for any of you filthy minded animals!!! Their can be massive benefits from riding your horse bareback, from correcting your position on the saddle, to strengthening your legs! It is something I love to do, I am often seen riding Dante bareback down my yard lane!! 


Anyone with a filthy mind is probably sitting back in disbelief that the above slander is quite PG when it comes to properly explaining it, and to anyone with kids I apologise for the 50 millions questions in advance!!

On the plus side, at least now you can have some peace of mind when you hear your beloved wife, girlfriend or boyfriend using any of the above terms in conversations!

Have you heard any other hilarious puns or horse riding slander used? Be sure to write them in the comments below & if you want any horse sayings translated please do let us know!

Until Next Time, 

Darielle 

April Jumping Exercise – Bounce It Bitch

Our Exercises are back!!

Our ever so popular exercises are making a comeback. What better way to jump back into the thriving summer season. First up is one of my all time favorites, Who doesn’t love a good pole jumping exercise, especially when it comes with so many good benefits.

One that can definitely be added to the training schedule. Scroll down to find out what to do & how to ride it.

The Set Up

You will need an arena, or a field. You will also need 2 sets of wings with an additional 7 ground poles.

As you will be riding this exercise in canter, you will need 3.5 large steps between the ground poles that are placed between your two fences. These measurements are made for Dante he is a large horse so if you are riding a pony they may need to be adjusted to 3 footsteps.

As per the image below, Set up two Vertical jumps either end of the exercise, these are marked with a blue X in the images below! I kept these jumps small enough, with the max height being 90cm.

See image below for arena set up!

What Is This Exercise Good For?

  • Helps with a Horse That rushes through combinations
  • Better Compulsion in The Canter
  • Getting your Horse To Listen & Pay Attention to you
  • Improves your eye for a stride
  • Builds Muscle on The Hind End

Step By Step Guide On How To Ride This Exercise

  1. Begin by warming your horse up as you normally would for any jumping exercise. I always focus on transition work with Dante. This gets Dante really listening to me & my leg aids. Once I have him listening I focus on pushing him forward & collecting him back in the canter on each rein. This really helps when it comes to pushing him for the stride that is needed or holding him back when riding certain jumping exercises.
  2. Start by Warming up firstly over a Cross pole or a small vertical seperate to this exercise. You dont want to overwhelm your horse by jumping straight into an exercise like this! When you are happy with how your horse is jumping, then you may begin.
  3. Approach the beginning of the exercise in a collected canter, you want to have a good bit of energy in the canter on your approach. Keeping a tight contact, be sure to always look up & down towards the end of the exercise. Never look down at the poles!
  4. If your horse has not done an exercise like this before, be prepared for them to look at the poles as they jump through, some may over exaggerate and leap over the poles, so be sure to sit up so that you can keep yourself centered and balance through the poles.
  5. The most important thing to take into consideration while riding this exercise is the landing after your first fence. You really need to sit back up as tall as you can straight away, wrapping your legs around your horse, this will help your horse stay balanced, as well as keeping your horse straight as you ride to the last fence.
  6. Repeat this exercise until you are happy with your horses approach to the first & last fence, you are looking for the same consistant pace in the canter. Your horse has to use a lot of muscle to lift in front over the poles you will also begin to see a massive improvement with their lift over fences, giving you a well rounded jump.

Try not to go overboard with the height of the fences with this exercise. The exercise is focused mainly on your horses canter & consistant rhythm through the exercise. Fences that are too high may also have a strain on your horses muscles. especially if they are not used working

If you find your horse is rushing in to this exercise put a canter pole before the exercise, likewise if they are rushing afterwards.

If you & your horse have aced this exercise, try giving it a go without the ground poles in between, this will really test out you & your horse and let you know if they really learned what you were trying to teach them!

Let me know how you get on, and be sure to tag us in any videos of you attempting this exercise! Have a look at our Instagram to Check out Dante’s attempts! And remember, always reward your horse if they do something correctly!

As always, Thanks for reading,

Darielle

Quick Tips: Get Your Horse Moving Forward Again After they Start Spooking/Napping

When Coco gets into a bad way with spooking she starts napping and walking backwards and hopping around the place – all so she can get as far away as possible from whatever she’s looking at. It can be very frustrating because no matter how much leg I put on, sometimes there’s just no way to get her to budge. During our last spook-a-thon during a schooling session however, I was taught a new method to get her moving forward again and I have to say I was very impressed with how well it worked so I thought I’d share it with you all! Check it out…

When your horse starts avoiding whatever it is they’re spooking at, turn their head away from whatever it is and ask them to move forward. Then quickly turn their head back the other direction while still asking them to move forward. Turn them away again and then back again. Continue to do this until they start walking forward as normal.

Hopefully that makes sense but if not, check out the video below where you can hear my instructor telling me what to do and you can see how it helped to work Coco out of her spook-fest and get her back jumping again.

I imagine the idea behind it is that you make it so difficult for your horse to do what they want to do that eventually they give up and decide that your way is much easier. I’m not saying that this is going to solve the problem entirely but if you’ve ever been in the situation where you’re exhausted  from fighting to try and get your horse to move forward when they start spooking – then this is definitely worth giving a go.

It’s worth trying anyway so if you need to give this method a go, make sure to let me know how you get on! Or if you have any other helpful tips you use for dealing with this issue I’d love to hear it…I need every tip I can get!
Thanks for reading,

Orla

Our Top 7 Must Have Spring Products

Spring is well & truly here people!! The longer evenings are starting to set in & we couldn’t be more excited. To get us into the spring spirit we decided to compile a list of our Top 7 go-to products.

Have a read & when you finish be sure not to do too much damage to that bank card…


1. Le Mieux Pro Sport PRO-SORB System Half Pad

This is a product not only anyone with a growing horse should consider, but it is something of great value also. The Pro Sport Pro-Sorb Half Pad is an extremely versatile half pad. It can be used as a front riser, a rear riser or a multi riser to help adjust the fit of a saddle. The best thing about it is that you can build up & take away the padding as your horse grows & develops their muscles. In turn you can take out the rear padding to keep it in the front & vice versa.

For both Dante & Coco, this pad had been unbelievable, with them growing and changing so much over the last two years saddles & saddle fitting was not always an easy task. The half pad itself also offers extra cushioning under the saddle for your horse, making sure they are comfortable while you ride! The Pad retails at €54 from Old Mill Saddlery and we can honestly say it is a purchase that is 100% worth while.

2. Soft Rope Lunging Aid

Yes, I know what you are all thinking, here we go with another lunging gadget that will give your horse that false outline etc. etc. This product though is a life saver. One that I swear by. It is a very simple yet effective “rope”. It goes over the horses back and under their belly clipping onto the bit either side of the mouth.

Basically how it works is when your horse goes to raise their head, pressure is applied to their mouth therefore they are encouraged to keep their heads lowered. It’s great for Encouraging a long & lower outline and allows your horse to stretch though their back. The product can also be shortened & lengthened depending on your horses needs, from the swivel clip attainments that clip onto the bit.

In Comparison to other training aids, I found this the best to use as your horse is not as restricted, they still have that freedom to move, I can honestly say that this was an investment worth making. Available to buy for €30 from the Equine Warehouse.

3. HY Impact Brushing Boots

These boots, well we both fell in love with their colours before we even began to put them to use on the horses! I am sure you will agree that the amazingly vibrant colours, from purple to navy are absolutely stunning.

The boots themselves are amazing value for money, and quite frankly one of the best pair of brushing boots I have bought to date. The quality of the Velcro straps on the boots is unbelievable, I would find it extremely hard to hear of anyone ever losing one. They are quite versatile also, they can be used on front or hind legs of your horse.

They are extremely protective and very lightweight, We Would say they are perfect for schooling out around Cross Country. As for cleaning, a quick wipe & there back to looking brand new again.

They are very affordable for the quality you are given, I thought they would more expensive, Available to purchase from Ladychapel stores, also online at €24 from HY Impact

4. Fly Veils

I’ve always seen Fly Veils as nothing more than an accessory, but over the last few weeks I have come to realise that they are so much more than that. For any longtime blog followers you’ll know that Coco is a spooker. She’s not always that bad but lately she has been a nightmare so my new instructor recommended I try a fly veil on her to see if it helps reduce her spooking. To my shock, I found it actually helps SO MUCH!


I tested the theory by riding her without one for a week and she went right back to being so bad that I even fell off (AGAIN) from a particularly bad spook. So a Fly Veil is my new absolute must have accessory for every ride. I do feel like I’m over dressing a bit when I put one on at home but needs must!

You can get many different types of fly veils, from plain basic ones to actual noise-cancelling fly veils from Le Mieux (which is now on my purchase list). Fly Veils can be bought anywhere from €10 to €45 depending on the brand and type you’re looking for.

5. The Roma Miracle Brush

Calling all owners of hairy horses…oh wait, that’s all of us haha! Either way I have the answer to all your problems. The Roma Miracle Brush is everything your grooming kit is missing. This basic bitch product was actually one of the most worth-while purchases I’ve ever made.
The easiest way to describe this brush is as an alternative plastic curry comb. It features very similar bristles to a plastic curry comb but they are much smaller and closer together so it removes the harshness from the brush. 

This brush is perfect for brushing away loose hairs while your horse is going through its shedding period but more importantly and the main reason I bought it…it is IDEAL for getting the hair off numnahs and rugs before putting them in for a wash.

With a bit of elbow grease, the brush removes about 99% of hairs meaning your washing machine won’t get clogged with horse hair, YAY!!

I bought mine at TRI Equestrian and its available to buy for just..wait for it…€3.75! Don’t even think twice, just buy it and you wont regret it!

6. Epona Tiger’s Tongue – Horse Groomer

This product seems to be the talk of the town! I picked one up to try one out to see what the hype was all about from TRI Equestrian at the price of €8.95. To be fair paying that much for a so called sponge had me quite skeptical until I learned what it could do, well It did not disappoint.

The Tiger’s Tongue Horse Groomer is a sponge that tackles a number of cleaning tasks when you go to groom your horse. From removing dirt, sweat marks or cleaning the horses hooves, this sponge seems to be able to do it all!

It is uniquely designed to work like a cat’s tongue, giving a deep clean while providing your horse with a stimulating massage. The Tiger’s Tongue wipes away dried up dirt not having you brushing for hours trying to get rid of the dusty residue the muck leaves, it gets rid of saddle/girth marks in seconds & the most useful one I found was that it cleans white markings and dirty horse hooves!

Something that would come in extremely handy if you’re at a show and notice a last minute dirt mark! It can also be used wet, which I have yet to do, but from all the raving reviews I cant imagine anything less that satisfactory!

7. Equine America Mouth & Bit Balm

The brand that I am falling more & more in love with, not just for their affordability but for their quality products. The Mouth & BIt Balm I stumbled across by accident & became quite curious towards it. Dante has quite the sensitive mouth, So Why not give this Balm a go see what its all about?

The balm itself softens, moisturizes & protects those prone to dry areas of your horses mouth, basically the area where the bit lies & the corners of your horses mouth.

It makes the bit slightly more comfortable for the horse, so this would be an ideal balm on a young horse helping them to mouth whilst introducing the bit for the first time, or if you yourself are introducing a newer bit to your older more opinionated horse.

Using this balm will give the horse more comfort, in turn helping with your horses performance giving you a happier horse!

Made from a mixture of natural ingredients from Coconut oil to peppermint oil, all the ingredients have been chosen for their ability to support the health, suppleness and softness of your horse’s mouth. It’s a massive thumbs up from me. Dante certainly does love the taste too! Available from Ladychapel Stores, as well on from the Equine America Website.


Have you been using any of the above products too?? Let us know in the comments below

As always, thanks for reading,

Darielle & Orla

The Negative Side of Horse Riding

There is a lot of negativity that comes with any sport, but unfortunately an awful lot comes with this one. I have had quite the F*%k you attitude towards this side of Horse Riding but I have only recently started to think off the reasons as too why it gets me so annoyed…

The negative never wins, but what it does do is make you stronger, not only as a person but as a rider. It really is amazing though what you can witness when you just sit back, watch and even just listen to certain equestrians….

Being To Hard On Yourself

Do you ever find yourself having “one of those days?” Those days where nothing is going right? Welcome to equestrianism… is that even a word?! We have all been there & being honest most of the time it’s all in our minds. These can be quite frustrating moments, you trying to solve the situation yet anything you do feels wrong and nothing you do to try fix it seems to work.

Us equestrians always try to strive for perfection, and sometimes trying too hard is what actually makes the task most difficult. Some of my best work has come from me genuinely enjoying the challenge. Sitting on my horse having fun, smiling & not being so critical towards myself.

Try to ride your horse to enjoy it, lets stop being so demanding on your bodies or our minds for that matter. If you are having a bad day, why not take a day off? Don’t forget your horse feels everything, your frustration becomes theirs & in turn they are channeling your energy into their movements. 

Negative Comments

Watch what you say, I cannot say this enough. People can be sensitive, you don’t know what certain people are going through or trying to achieve. Certain comments you say might might have a serious effect on people, even destroying their confidence without you even realising.

I think everyone has been on the end of a negative comment & it is hard to say how to deal with it. Some would say bite back, but I personally don’t think this is the best solution.

How I look at these situations, if someone is commenting negatively on you, they are either jealous of you or annoyed that they can’t be more like you or frustrated they haven’t achieved what you have. I have gotten a lot of slack from people telling me I am too small to ride Dante, or people degrading the level they think I should be riding at with him, even comments I have heard whilst riding him.

How I deal with these issues? Well put it this way, none of these people would sit on my horse, and if they did they probably wouldn’t manage to get anywhere near the progress I have gotten with him. As the saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. And for your own sanity, try not let these people get you down, they are only trying to build up their own self esteem by pulling you down!

Clicking with The Right Trainer

I have had my fair few share of trainers over the years since first buying Dante, but thank god I found Jeremy (my trainer now) when I did or I would basically be non-existent/horseless or stuck somewhere in a bush in the middle of a field… horseless….

Trainers these days really need to learn to be versatile when it comes to dealing with difficult horses or with difficult riders. Some trainers have a way of teaching but when they come across a horse or rider who won’t react or respond well to their training methods they loose the plot or get insulted. My advice, get rid of this trainer!

Likewise if you do group lessons or a lesson with 1 or 2 people weekly, if you feel you are being neglected in the lesson or not getting as much one on one action as anyone else, take a step back & think to yourself, are you even learning anything of quality from the lesson? Are you wasting your money for the sake of saying you do lessons?

Be selfish and think about yourself. It’s the only way to better your mind frame & your riding abilities. Getting a trainer you are comfortable with or someone who will drive & push you out of your comfort zone is what you are aiming for. Make some future goals & work towards them!

Attending Shows

I know this may be a weird one & you might think why is attending a show a negative side of horse riding? Well, it is not so much the show that’s negative, it’s more so of the attendees or organizers at certain shows or events.

Going to shows with your horse can be daunting, especially if you are going alone. You might find yourself in the situation were you don’t perform to the best of your ability but you have a great day due to the surroundings of club members or the people running the event. These are the places you need to be going not only for your own sanity but for that extra confidence boost.

Like anything, you come across events were you feel out of place or not good enough, and 80% of the time it always comes down to snobby looks you are receiving from fellow riders which in turn makes you feel out of place or makes you feel as if you shouldn’t be there to begin with. I have also come across certain venues have that “Why are you even here” Ora about them… I will leave this one up to your imagination!

My advice for anyone nervous about starting to compete or for anyone who has had the wrath of bad shows, join a riding club or visit unaffiliated events/shows with your horse. I have noticed jumping leagues that are ran through riding schools are the best to start with, people are doing them for fun not for the competition.

But I always believe that those who cant, always try make it difficult & next to impossible for others. We should be focusing on building each other up not tearing each other down. That being said, if you ever do see us at a show & need a hand, Just ask us, we would be happy to help!

The Internet

We all put ourselves out there on the internet which in turn leaves us all open for the good & bad comments. There are times when you really do have to think, is the criticism really necessary? It can be on a whole new level sometimes, especially when it comes to certain equestrians, it’s basically their way or the highway!!

The problem with the equestrian world is that whilst there may be a technical way of going about things, everyone always has a different way of approaching it that best suits or accommodates themselves, their horse & their situation. This does not often translate well on the internet, in-turn it unleashes a bucket load of trolls giving their opinions, negative comments, & basically tearing the said Equestrian down.

People post things online to show progress or to share with you a moment were they were happy, thrilled or ecstatic with their outcome, try keeping this in mind when commenting. Likewise when sharing a horse fail, people are using their platform to point out the problem & to sometimes openly admit defeat or to acknowledging they were incorrect. Think before you write an opinion underneath, some words of encouragement would be a lot more beneficial than a snarky remark!

Be kind to one another online, whilst you might not agree with certain things you see, try to keep a positive mind frame, your comments can leave a nasty impression not only on you as a person but the negative effect it might have on the person your commenting on could be shattering. Being on the other side & having to take horrible comments on board all day everyday, certainly can not be good for anyone’s mental health.

My positive Polly mind frame had been burst for a few days, but it is starting to come back stronger than ever. It is quite mad what a comment or even a negative person can do to you let alone how much it can mentally effect your riding.

So to anyone out there feeling low or to anyone being too hard on themselves, try not to be. Whether your working towards perfecting your trot for your trot poles or mastering your approach to your 1.35 fence, we should all be working together regardless of what level we are on to help build each other up, I am quite frankly sick of seeing so many equestrians tearing each other down.

Maybe I should start a my own “Positive Polly” Riding gang? Be sure to leave your thoughts below in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading & remember you are amazzzzing!!

Darielle 

Product Review – Zandona Chafe Belt

I have had a lot of questions from people lately in regards to this new contraption I have on Dante. From people coming upto me whilst he is wearing it asking what it is, to people asking me where I got it because they want to purchase one.

The Chafe belt as it is actually called, not the belly strap or the leg protector guard, I had some serious problems trying to explain down the phone to companies what I was looking for prior to purchasing!

So what actually is this Chafe Belt & What is its purpose? 

Why The Need For This Product on Dante?

Where my leg sits when I am sitting in the saddle is the reason behind this wonder belt. Dante has quite thin skin and after the 3 clips he has had over the winter, I began to notice a lot of chaffing from where my leg sits whilst riding. Whilst my leg does move back & forth, it doesn’t really drastically move from the spot it sits in.

See above the White Chaffing marks that have appeared either side on Dante.

I began to notice the hair around the area get thinner & thinner rubbing leaving almost a bald spot, in turn only aggravating the skin underneath, well he never reacted towards it but I was beginning to feel a lot of guilt. Everytime I finished riding I would put my Botanica Natural Herbal Cream on the area trying to encourage hair re-growth, but the problem realistically came down to the constant pressure on this area from my boot, and from me putting leg on Dante whilst riding.

It would clear if he had two /three days off in a row but as I began to ride again it would begin to look get aggravated so I began searching for a solution to fix the problem. and let me tell you, it certainly was not easy.

Trying to describe what I was looking for alone was quite the task, it didn’t help that I was making up my own names for the product, but upon a visit to local equestrian shop in Maynooth, Equestrian World I stumbled across exactly what I was searching for from their very helpful shop assistant.   

The Brand Zandona & The Superior Chafe Guard

The “Superior Chafe Guard Evo” is made in Italy by the equestrian brand Zandona. I accidentally stumbled across this brand, & I am delighted that I did! The purpose of their Chafe guard is to prevent and protect the skin against abrasions in the girth area/the area where your leg would sit whilst riding. It was made to protect the horse in the delicate areas which is often due to pressure from the riders leg regardless of whether or not spurs are used.

The elastic bandage of the Chafe Belt serves as a protection to prevent the area that is  subjected to rubbing from being further stressed and weakened. It is made with a resistant high quality elastic fabric with high breathable capacity, allowing the horses skin to breathe and consequently allows any areas effected time to regenerate and heal in optimal conditions.

A reinforcement fabric has also been placed to increase durability and reduce wear from use, since the area is very subject to continuous strains by the heel of the rider.

Whilst I wear the belt quite a good bit, I do give Dante off days with it also, like when I am hacking or doing light work.

How To Put it on your Horse

The product itself only comes with a few image guidelines on the back of the box vaguely showing you how to apply it, I can say that it was very quick to grasp onto the concept of how to put the belt on. definately was not rocket science! See my trust worthy steps below!

  • Start by placing the belt over your horses back, use the half way point where your horses saddle should sit as a guideline as to where it should be placed.
  • Their is a velcro strap that secures the belt together, once you are happy with the belts placement, secure the belt underneath your horses stomach, by putting the velcro over each other securely holding the belt in place. 
  • Continue to Tack your horse up as normal with your numnah/saddle. Whilst applying the girth, make sure to secure the girth into the two loops attached to the belt that are either side of the saddle. This will ensure the belt does not slip back giving you a bucking belt, Yes I may have learned that the hard way….. I won’t comment any further!
  • Finally for extra security there are also two clips that attach to the D rings either side of your saddle, make sure to pop them out from under your numnah so as they don’t dig into your horse. These are great to ensure the belt doesn’t move around. 
See Above the two Straps that your girth should feed through to keep the belt securely in place

My Thoughts on The Product?

This product was amazing. It was a god send, it definately fell into my hands at the right time. I was beginning to feel really guilty riding my horse, after I would get off he would have a slight mark from where my leg would lie, the marks were from just my riding boots alone!

Whilst the product itself is quite pricey, retailing at €130, I found that it was an investment defiantly worth making. Since buying this, I have used the Chafe belt almost everyday. Whilst I don’t ride with spurs, it certainly protects the softer layer of skin around the area where my legs sit.

The quality of the product has stood well, it still looks absolutely brand new. I have ridden in hail rain & snow quite literally last weekend & the belt never deteriorated once, or even slipped being so wet. I have only ridden in my riding boots, so If you were someone who rode in spurs a lot, the product might take a bit more wear & tear.  

As far as the product goes, it’s a massive thumbs up from me! I highly recommend the purchase, whilst it may be above some budgets, it certainly was a life saving product & great investment for me.  I have linked the product here is you are interested!

As always, Thanks for reading! If you have any questions relating this product be sure to drop us a mail, or ask in the comments below. 

Darielle 

5 Qualities of a Great Riding Instructor

These days everyone has an opinion on what the best method is to school a horse. No matter what the discipline, there are ‘experts’ lurking behind every corner waiting for their opportunity to give their two cents..or one hundred cents in some cases!! Yes, the equestrian industry is (unfortunately) filled with people who think they know best so when you finally make the decision to start lessons, it can be so difficult to know where to begin when trying to find the instructor that’s right for you.

I have had a lot of instructors over the years and from experience I’ve found some of the best trainers possess (at least) these five qualities.

You want to find an instructor who…

Boosts Your Confidence

I left this lesson beaming after flying this oxer

Let’s be honest, no one does lessons to come out feeling shit. Yes we all have bad days and there are times when a lesson ends and you feel so disappointed in yourself and how you rode. But if this is happening after every lesson, then I’m sorry to say, you may need to find yourself a new instructor. Your instructor is there to build your confidence and to teach you the skills you need to make you feel capable of achieving your goals. If you don’t think your instructor can do that, then you need to respectfully part ways so you can find someone who can teach you.

Challenges You

Bringing me out to jump some cross country in my first jumping lesson after my fall…

Some instructors can be a bit more cautious than others. They never risk a trip to the field in case your horse has a moment and they generally keep the jumps no higher than 80cm except for the very odd occasion when you do a ‘Chase me Charlie’ (which usually ends at an anticlimactic 90cm because no one is actually used to jumping any higher). They do the same old flatwork and then on to jumping routine. And for some, that’s absolutely perfect, they learn to expect and enjoy the same routine every week. But in my experience, if you want to start seeing progress in your horse and your riding, you need an instructor who’s going to challenge you. Someone who’s going to test you with trickier and more difficult exercises, someone who’s going to push the heights that bit higher every few weeks so you can see how good you can be. These are the instructors you want to be doing lessons with. These are the instructors that will make sure you get to where you want to go.

Tells You Like It Is

This is something that’s been discussed around the yard a bit lately. I cannot understand people who get offended when an instructor tells them they’re doing something wrong or people who blatantly ignore the advice of an instructor in a lesson because they don’t think it will work for their horse. You have chosen to pay this person to teach you, you’ve decided that this person knows more about riding horses than you do and when this person gives you their opinion, you get annoyed or offended and go running right back to the instructor who hasn’t improved your riding in years.

Definitely no sugar coating here!

Why waste the money if you’re not going to at least TRY what this new person is suggesting. Yes some instructors can be much more blunt than others but so what, they’re there to teach you. Not to blow smoke up your arse and tell you you’re brilliant. You are paying this person to improve you as a rider, at the very least get your money’s worth of knowledge out of them!

Uses Methods You Agree With

This kind of goes back to a point I made at the very start of this post – there are so many people out there who think they know best. And there are so many different methods that can be used to train a horse and a rider. Some are controversial, others are just downright cruelty, regardless you need to be sure you have confidence in your instructors training methods. If not, you need to find someone who’s methods you believe in and you can get on board with.

NB: Cruelty has no place in horsemanship and I absolutely do not condone it in any make shape or form

Know’s Their Shit And Can Actually Teach You That Shit

Sue Byrne demonstrating how NOT to ride

From time to time you may get the opportunity to have a lesson with a top international rider which can seem like an unmissable opportunity. To be fair it is quite exciting especially if that person is someone you’ve always looked up to as a professional rider. Unfortunately though it can end up that you don’t get as much from these lessons as you might have hoped for. Some top competition riders simply just don’t know how to teach and others are far too used to working with horses who know it all and just need some fine tuning. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t true for all of them, but it was my own experience and it has been a common complaint I’ve heard. The other issue with these instructors is that they generally don’t have the availability to teach you consistently so if you do find one you click with it can be hard to keep the progress. But fret not, there are plenty of highly qualified instructors out there who know their shit and are capable of actually teaching you that shit!


And there you have my five qualities to look for in a good instructor. Of course this is entirely subjective and just based off my own experiences but I don’t think I’ve gone too far wrong here. Some people yearn for a trainer that they can consider a friend but personally I wouldn’t say its an absolute requirement when it comes to finding someone who can teach you…although it is a plus because then you can rip the piss out of them like this…

Watch with sound so you can hear how happy she was with me hahaha!

What do you look for in a trainer? Let me know in the comments 🙂

Thanks for reading,

Orla