Are you fully prepared this season?
With the season underway, experts share their advice to help ensure event riders are prepared and ready to go
If you have your horse insured already, it’s important to review your cover, particularly if you are moving up a level. Generally, policies will specify a ‘use group’, which will state the activities you are covered for and up to what level. If you were competing at BE100 previously but have or are considering a future move up to Novice, do make sure this is still included within your policy and if not, contact your insurer or broker to make the necessary changes.
Some policies have different use groups for affiliated and unaffiliated competitions, so if you are competing affiliated for the first time, make sure that your policy includes this. If you are competing beyond the use specified in the policy, you will not be covered if your horse injures itself while competing at the higher level, and in some cases you could invalidate your insurance entirely.
The other key thing to check is that the sum insured is still an accurate reflection of the actual value of your horse. With horse prices at a record high, it is easy to be under-insured, especially if your horse is now competing at a higher level. Similarly, if you are downgrading your horse, consider reducing the sum insured. Insurers will normally pay the ‘fair market value’ of your horse, up to the sum insured, so there is no point paying for additional cover that you may not get the benefit of. If in doubt, speak to your insurance broker who will be able to guide you and can speak to insurers if there is any doubt over whether the chosen sum insured is acceptable.
Insurance should always be tailored to your individual circumstances, so ask yourself the following questions:
- What would I do if I was held liable for an injury to a third party or damage to their property as a
result of my equine activities?
- Am I financially able to pay large vet bills or buy new horse if the worst happened?
- If I was seriously injured as a result of a riding accident, what financial implications would that have on me and my family?
- Can I afford to replace my saddlery and tack if it was stolen?
To ensure your safety, check in on the condition of your tack and identify potential safety issues for you and your horse before they happen. If you encounter any of the below, it’s worth contacting your nearest stockist for further advice or replacing the item.
MOUNTS AND GIRTH POINTS
- Elongated holes
- Make sure they are securely attached
- Check hinged bars or moveable clasps are functioning
SADDLE TREE (INTERNAL STRUCTURE)
- Look for excessive flexing
- Listen for unusual noises
- Look out for loose fixings
UNDERNEATH YOUR SADDLE
- Panels should have an even and soft feel and be the same on both sides (symmetry)
- Chamber or channel should be wide and even
- Overall condition of the surface grain
- Should be supple with a strong depth of colour
Seek ongoing professional advice on your horse’s saddle fit, where possible. To check the clearance, bearing and balance of a saddle, it needs to be positioned correctly. All fitting adjustments and alterations should be made according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Check that the channel of the saddle is clear of your horse’s wither and spine through the length of the saddle
- Your saddle should bear evenly on your horse’s back, providing a close fit. Run your hand between your horse and the panel of your saddle to check for even bearing
- Check that the deepest part of the saddle seat is central and level to ensure perfect saddle balance.
Bettalife PharmaPRO Total Equine Support offers complete joint, digestion and topline support in just one scoop per day, saving riders invaluable time in the feed room and giving them peace of mind that their horses are fully supported as workloads and routines change.
Fed at just one scoop per day and created from a research-driven formula, PharmaPRO contains a unique blend of 30% PharmaQuin, 30% PharmaTRAC and 40% PharmaPlast to provide optimum levels of 35 active ingredients, making it ideal for busy event riders wanting to support their horse’s joints, digestive system, topline, muscle and coat condition.
FEED: BAILEYS HORSE FEED
Requirements for nutrients increase with a horse’s workload, so even if you feel your horse doesn’t need extra calories, they will still need additional nutrients. Good-doers, especially those who are already fed a low-calorie balancer, will benefit from a change to a balancer formulated for higher levels of work, such as Performance Balancer, for building muscle and to supply the necessary protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to support work and recovery.
Horses who maintain condition on lower-energy feeds or reduced amounts of a mix or cube should have their diets topped up with a balancer to bring nutrient levels up and to suit workload, without necessarily increasing calorie levels.
Feeds that supply higher calorie levels, such as performance or conditioning mixes or cubes, must also be fed at recommended levels to ensure a fully balanced diet and that nutrient requirements are met.
When looking at what to include in your horse’s diet to get season-ready, it is recommended to cover two main areas: gut health and joint support.
Challenges with gut health can result in a loss in performance, which can have a knock-on effect across a horse’s entire body. NAF Five Star BioG is a new addition to the gut health range, providing total gut health and delivering Five Star Treatment thanks to NAF Five Star GastriAid. It is formed from biotics – proven to enhance the efficiency of the hindgut – prebiotics – help stimulate the growth of the existing good bacteria – probiotics – help stimulate growth of healthy bacteria, yeast and protozoa – and postbiotic – additional fuel for probiotics, supporting development and helping to reinforce the immune system, keeping the bad bacteria under control.
Support joint health by offering the right levels in the right synergy within a formulation. Look for antioxidant support, which helps flush out free radical toxins to enable articulation and support against accelerated wear and tear. NAF recommends Five Star Superflex and Five Star Superflex Senior, fortified with the right ratios of active ingredients and utilising NAF’s antioxidant expertise.
BUYING A HORSE: HORSEQUEST
Firstly, establish your brief. Assess how well the horse described in the advert is suited to your needs. What are your deal breakers? Where would you be happy to compromise if needed? It can be more beneficial to prioritise temperament and ability over height, age and location.
Next, make the call. Run through a list of everything you want to ask – experience, record, temperament, history, current work schedule – and don’t be afraid to ask everything at this stage. You can always ask the seller to send further information, photos or videos too. Is the advertiser private or trade? A private advertiser may know the horse’s full history but buying from a trade advertiser does give you more rights should there be a dispute.
When it’s time to visit the horse, take your trainer, or someone you trust, with you. They can be impartial and give their advice. We’d recommend taking a copy of the advert too.
DOS AND DON’TS
- Spend some time with the horse on the ground/being tacked up. This will quickly establish whether they have the temperament and manners you’re looking for, and whether you feel comfortable and capable to handle them yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for what you’d like to see them do. If for any reason you feel quite immediately that the horse isn’t for you, don’t feel you have to get on.
- Capture some video so you can watch it back when you get home and assess your partnership, or share videos with your trainer for a second opinion.
- If possible, arrange a second viewing. Ideally, this would be a venue away from where the horse is kept, or indeed a different discipline.
- Remember to ask to see the horse’s passport – make sure all the information matches up with the horse in front of you. Finally, if you think you’ve found your perfect match, your next port of call should be to arrange a vetting.
Riders need to feel good to perform at their best, which means technical, comfortable and stylish rider wear that responds to the body. We are continuously researching new fabrics and materials for sweat-wicking properties, stretch, UV protection and thermal properties, and use the latest materials to create technical tops and breeches, ensuring they can perform and endure the rigours of equestrian sport.
For cross country, we have colours to suit every taste, and fantastic options for horse and rider, including beautifully soft, sweat-wicking saddle pads to keep your horse comfortable.
EQUINE HEALTH TRACKING: ENDURO EQUINE
After huge success in the endurance market, the Enduro Equine Heart Rate Monitor and Ride Tracker app (EnduroFIT) have moved into eventing.
Reviewed by riders as ‘game-changing, affordable and easy to use’, this smart equine fitness tracker monitors the horse’s heart rate, speed/pace, distance and location, providing a detailed map and satellite view of the ride to monitor your horse’s fitness progress and improve your training. GB endurance rider Nicki Thorne says: “The app has helped me train better, be more competitive and more successful, but it also gives me welfare benefits for the horse – knowing that the horse’s heart rate is not elevated due to potential pain, injury or stress.”
The app enables riders to easily track their rides and monitor their horse’s heart rate at rest, during exercise and recovery to deliver true fitness insights to their smartphone and smartwatch while riding.
Free to download, the EnduroFIT Ride Tracker app is available from App Store and Google Play, while the Enduro Equine Heart Rate Monitor is available online from enduroequine.com.
Whatever level you compete at, and no matter how hard you are working your horse, fibre should be the foundation of the ration. Not only is fibre pivotal for digestive health but it also provides a whole host of nutrients, providing you pick the right fibre feed for your horse.
The amount of energy supplied depends on the digestibility of the fibre source. Dengie Alfa-A Oil provides as much energy as a competition mix but without the starch.
Feeding a double handful of a chopped alfalfa-based fibre feed in the 20-25 minutes before you ride is recommended to help prevent ‘acid splash’ in the non-glandular region of your horse’s stomach.
Protein is vital for growth, renewal and repair, which translates to strength and top line muscle condition for the competition horse. All of Dengie’s Alfa-A range of fibre feeds are based on pure alfalfa, which is
a valuable addition to the ration to help promote muscle development.
Hydration is key and both water and electrolytes are required to keep. your horse hydrated. Using a fibre mash such as Dengie Alfa-Beet can be helpful as a soaked feed and also as a fibre mash. Dengie Pure Grass Pellets can also be used as a tasty mash to add electrolytes too.
Dengie Performance Fibre combines precision-dried grasses and alfalfa with a light molasses and oil coating with added spearmint oil to provide an exceptionally clean fibre source for the performance horse.
TRAINING RANGE: EQUESTRIAN REFLECTIONS
Strategically placed mirrors can maximise individual training. Rider position is key for success and the use of mirrors allows instant correction of any positional inaccuracies. The Equestrian Reflections range is tailored to suit your training requirements, combining strength, durability and style. Its innovative three-point calibration system allows for a wide range of adjustments to give optimum clarity and visibility, offering a traditional base structure or bespoke fabrication. All units are installed by the Equestrian Reflections technical team and calibrated and adjusted on site with horse and rider to ensure accurate line of vision.