Sunday 29 June 2008

Hickstead Derby course walk with Ben Maher


Why NOT to use barbed wire fencing with horses...

I see them all the time. Barbed wire all over the horses' fields. I hate it and having just seen the below at Fugly Of The Day blog I have to spread the word even more:

Barbed Wire Injury - a story of one filly

Please note that pictures in the link are not for fainthearted...go to page 1 to read full story in the link. Do look though and replace that barbed wire on your fields.

Wednesday 25 June 2008

Two Day Equine Specific First Aid Course - ESFAC

My last two days were spent on doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (hard work this one!!!), putting casualties of various accidents and with variety of horrific injuries in recovery positions (or half-recovery positions if pelvis was broken), decreasing blood loss when dealing with minor and major bleeds, dealing with dehydration, hypothermia, using Epi-pen on Anaphylaxis casualties, splinting broken limbs, wrapping protruding intestines in a cling film (to stop them from drying out and dying in the process!), dealing with burns and electric shocks, assessing head and spinal injuries, recognising Angina and Myocardial Infarction (or Heart Attack for short!), performing abdominal thrust and back blows, coping with an unconscious casualty with suspected spinal injuries fallen off on a cross-country course into a ditch, helping patients with hyperventilation to regain normal breathing and many many more.
All this thanks to fantastic team of First Aid trainers at Pro Medical. It was an intensive course starting at 9am and running until 5.30pm on the first day, homework, then second day again 9am to 5.45pm.

Thankfully...everything was in theory only and using these fellows:

The content of the ESFAC course as delivered over the last two days can be found on here:

I found it very useful, run with a sense of humour yet seriously in the same time. I learnt loads and feel much more comfortable to deal with riding accidents, no matter how freaky they may be. I would definitely recommend attending an ESFAC course and Jon Coe at Pro Medical certainly made the tough subject of saving lives very approachable.

It was a tiring First Aid marathon. After arriving home at 9.30pm I spent a couple of hours writing down my First Aid homework - answers to questions on 5 accident scenarios - then 6.30am start to the day the next morning, back into classroom, whole day lecturing and practising again, then final multiple choice test.

Now I just have to wait for my SAE to return to me and check whether I passed and am a qualified First Aider :)

Random Facts You Won't Find in the Downloads and Which I Noted Down (well, I made more notes but I though I might as well share some:):
  • As an Instructor you take 80% responsibility for what happens to your pupil;
  • "Have you seen what those Eventers do? They break collar bones, whole arm strapped to the torso and what do they do? They DRIVE their HGV lorries...good idea eh? NO! You wouldn't be admitted to do your driving licence with broken bones, would you?"
  • "First Aid kit in a yard's office isn't of much use if you have a rider needing it 6 miles away on the cross country course. Yards need to have First Aid kits available at various locations".
  • 3 minutes without breathing and your brain starts to die.
  • On Using First Aid Manikins: Clicker device gives audible confirmation of adequate compression depth - do not expect your real casualty to click; if the ydo, you most likely broke their ribs.
  • Don't take Bute yourself (yes, some people do!) - it's been banned for human use. It's an equine any other equine drugs/medicines/creams etc
  • Chocolate is an official drug. Swiss Olympic Dressage Team lost their silver medal because one of the riders gave her horse a half of a Mars bar as a treat. DO NOT FEED chocolate to horses.
  • Average speed of a falling rider is 60 miles/hour hence riding hats with British Standards Kitemark are tested to save lives during falls up to that speed. It does not matter how expensive your hat is. If it has BSI Kitemark it will be of the same safety standard whether it costs £50 or £150. Materials might be different of course.
  • "If you see someone with an intestine hanging out don't run and poke it back, don't cover it with clothing! Use cling film and wrap it up to keep it moist. Call 999."
  • DO NOT ALLOW CHILDREN to eat while wearing a body protector. It is designed to disperse and absorb energy. If a child starts choking all the back blows you do will be useless - in other words it is impossible to deliver an effective First Aid to a choking patient wearing a Body Protector.
  • "Rugby shirts were designed for Rugby - not to be worn over Body Protectors; they don't tear, are very hard wearing and you can only take them off over the head. Not the greatest qualities when you want to get through to the injured area on a patient with suspected spinal injuries (most common on a cross country course). Someone needs to design safe XC wear which unzips at the front."
  • "Do not collect someone's blood loss by sticking your hands under casualty's injured area - when treating open cuts/heavily bleeding wounds - why on earth would you do that??? - seen on a video).
  • Best ways to cool down babies and small children is to make them wear socks and gloves - the heat is then created in extremities while organs are being cooled down. babies CANNOT regulate their own temperature. They don't sweat and don't shiver.
  • "Head of a person in Anaphylactic shock can swell until it reaches the width of the shoulders; eyes bulge out, the neck swells enormously".
  • DO NOT put anything in the mouth of a person having epileptic spasms. Never.
  • Recycle your old rugs - cut the buckles off, wash the rugs well and store them near arenas in case you need to insulate a fallen rider or transport them away from danger without unnecessary movement.
  • Do one puff at a time when using Asthma inhalers - you are not helping yourself by taking two quickly at the same time - exactly opposite!
  • Use a paper bag for victims of Hyperventilation.
  • Sugar eats away your tissues.
  • Many accidents could be avoided if riders maintained their sugar levels by avoiding chocolate bars and sweet carbonated drinks (like Coke). Sugar imbalances affect co-ordination an reflex.
  • Sparkling water re hydrates you faster due to CO2 content.
  • "Avoid going to competitions on your own - if you do there is nobody there to confirm what are "normal" readings for you like let's say speech or facial expressions; you may have a wonky smile but a First Aider will treat you as a casualty with partial facial paralysis....Seriously though, have someone with you! "
  • Landing on your feet - NOT SO GOOD! Great danger of back injuries especially in lumbar area.
  • Head injuries can manifest themselves up to 28 days after the initial trauma.
  • Head Injury - ask Short-Term Memory questions only!! Best question: "So what happened there?". Concussed patients often loose STM but have perfectly functionable Long Term Memory (LTM).
  • Bruising behind the ears and on the nape of the neck comes up instantly when the skull is fractured.
  • More riders should wear Gum Shields - they are there to minimise the impact.
  • Pelvic fracture - if aorta breaks (which is very likely in these fractures) all the blood is emptied into pelvis area in just below 1 minute causing death very quickly.
  • Femur Fracture - extremely dangerous, don't try to weight bear as you may end up with your knee up your hip bone!
  • Pneumothorax casualties - "the faster they breathe the faster they die" - regulate their breathing!
  • Don't try to apply butter on burns - useless. Put under cold running water.
And on a More Serious Note:

CPR Audio File
CPR For Babies Audio File
Breathing But Unconscious Audio File
Dealing With Burns Audio File
Wounds and Bleeding

All downloads from:


Argument Winning Award:

ESFAC student: "Should we not write down that we need to treat this case as 'this and that' [when discussing the assessment of a casualty in one of our homework's scenarios].
Jon Coe, The First Aid Trainer (after heated discussion): "Of course you can write it like that. It's your own opinion. You are entitled to your own opinion. I am only telling you the truth"...


Monday 23 June 2008

My First Ever Adventure with a Bread & Butter Pudding :)

I've done it! Ok, I don't cook very often but I love deserts. And I love Bread & Butter Pudding. Ricky found me this recipe and so here is the results:

All ready to be filled with Milk and Egg mixture:

All soaked in mixture and a minute away from being put into the oven:

And after 40 minutes, ready to eat:

It was Delicious :)

Revising to my Stage III on my prescious Day Off

Yes, I am actually doing it :))

Friday 20 June 2008

Olympia International Horse Show 2008 - Ticket Office Opens 23rd June

I have just received an email from Olympia Horse Show which advises on Ticket Office Opening on Monday the 23rd of June. It's one of my favourite London shows and certainly brightens up winter months!

Here are some Highlights from 2007.

Thursday 19 June 2008

Stage III Preparation - Element 2 - Saddlery

The second element (previous elements HERE) of Stage III Syllabus is Saddlery and here is what the BHS wants the candidates to know:
Know the correct principles and fitting of saddlery and bits in general use, including those used for training and competition work. Know how to organise a saddle room and its contents. Know how to to clean and store saddlery and rugs.

Assessment Criteria:

2.1.1. Demonstrate correct applications and fitting of tack commonly used in dressage competitions including double bridle.
2.1.2. Demonstrate correct applications and fitting of tack commonly used in cross-country competitions

2.2.1 Explain indications of incorrect fitting and/or inappropriate saddlery, and the possible consequences
2.3.1 Explain the action of a variety of bits in general use
2.4.1 Apply and fir variety of boots used for protection, suitable for various competitions
2.5.1 Describe the perfect Tack Room
2.6.1. Give examples of appropriate practise for storing tack & rugs

I would probably have to set up a new blog if I wanted to write all that is currently discussed on the matter of saddle fitting and the variety of bits!
What is understood by 'correct applications and fitting of tack' ? Well, at least there is no problems with boots in dressage as you are not allowed to have them on while competing. However, to ride in, dressage riders use a rather diverse range of leg protection, mostly all sorts of wraps, overreach boots/bell boots (for those BIG moving warmbloods :) not to mention turn out boots like Equi Chaps.
Have a look at Boots, Wraps or Chaps?
In Show-Jumping and Eventing there is a more headache giving choice ;) I included some examples when talking about Element 1 of Stage III Syllabus. How do boots need to be fitted? It seems that every manufacturer now has its own sizing and own guidelines!
For example, here is what Equilibrium advises on Size and Boot Fitting Matters

The Saddles

And onto saddles. Here is an excellent article by Sustainable Dressage on The Saddle - it's Construction, Function and Malfunction

Fitting The Saddle
- by Equilibrium

Here is also a video on Saddle Fitting but I wouldn't say all the information is spot on. Try to assess yourself and compare with the information in the above articles.
Here it is for you to watch:

How To Fit A Saddle

Modern saddles, from treeless to air inflated to Bespoke are certainly earning attention:

WOW Saddles
"WOW™ is totally new way of owning a saddle. For the first time one can buy a traditional looking saddle and by buying different components, alter all of its’ characteristics to suit different horses, riders and disciplines. WOW is the worlds first modular saddle."

The Sue Carson Bespoke Saddles
"Made to measure Sue Carson Saddles' reputation for balancing comfort, style and performance has attracted many professionals across the disciplines, including Peter Storr, Steph Croxford, Heidi Woodhead, Clea Phillipps, Steven Smith, Vere Phillipps and Malcolm Pyrah, many of whom have contributed to the development of the saddles."

The Bridle & The Bits

Yet again, you can't beat Sustainable Dressage blog on this topic - The Bridle & The Bit - How headstalls and bits fit and work.

Storing Tack and Rugs - Ideal Tack Room

The Very Best Tack Room Ideas

How to Clean and Organise Your Tack Room

Tack Room Accessories (I personally love well made Rug Rails - they certainly make the job of drying and storing rugs much easier).

Tack Room Equipment

Cleaning/maintaining Rugs & Tack

Rug Repairs
How to clean a Leather saddle
Tack Cleaning - Video

And another one:

How To Strip Clean Horse Tack


Wednesday 18 June 2008

I was very generous today...

...judging Prelim 1 and 17 at the Mini-Badminton event for Reading University's Riding Club - I even gave some 9s ;) They really tried hard and, all considering, some tests were ridden really well!
Guess what was the cause of the most common loss of marks?....Without fail - circles too small (despite practising 20m a lot!), inaccurate lines from marker to marker and cutting corners. More difficult elements - like timely transitions lifted the marks but what a shame.

We had some strange windy weather today making me feel rather chilly. Thankfully (ehmm) some of the children on my last lesson of the day decided to raise my blood temperature by performing various unscheduled movements (like cantering with full power around the arena straight into a kicking pony bum without the slightest indication of any desire to slow down). It took some persuasive instructions to get them to listen. Cheeky monkeys!

I received this quote via email today and thought it is worth sharing:

A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.

-- Vincent Thomas "Vince" Lombardi

Tuesday 17 June 2008

Chilling out on a boat :)

Early raise today so popped into a cool shower to wake myself up. The plan for the morning was to go to a chat/interview with potential new client.
Sunny morning turned into glorious afternoon and while on the way back home we decided to lunch on a pedal boat on the Serpentine - that's my holiday for a bit! ;)

Various bird life followed our boat in a hope for some food. They are very cheeky and always manage to convince me to feed them!

And now I shall be off to teach at Ealing. Late night for me tonight.

Monday 16 June 2008

Schooling the Big Man

After a lovely, long sleep (I only appreciate long sleeps when I am deprived of them for a while - the taste is fantastic :), breakfast in bed and some QT with my Dear (who, no would not want to go with me to 'do horses' today) I set off to Middlesex. I go there every other week to teach two lovely ladies with their own horses and to school Columbus - the Big Man!


Above: I do my Pilates stretches most days and today did them before the ride; Columbus spotted a polo next to my booklet and I had fun watching him investigating. Believe it or not he did not manage to scoop the polo off my bag, I had to actually serve it to him!

Our today's session was very successful and I must say I am impressed with his improvement. He is not the most clever of horses (ehmm) and you do have to explain things to him quite a few times and then again and then repeat ;)
I rode with some classical music in my ears today (plus 'garden State' and 'Lost' soundtracks to keep me calm and patient!) and it worked wonders. I seem to focus more when riding with music. It's almost as if the creative/feeling part of my brain gets switched off with double power.


Above: The Big Man tired after all the hard work.

The biggest problem Columbus have is stiffness in his body and most of my work is aimed at suppling him and making him more athletic. He is reasonably responsive and can get 'hot' and spooky at times which is actually good as I can use that surge of energy and channel it in the right direction.

I worked him a little longer today as he is getting marginally fitter so he was a tired chap afterwards. He needs it though as he is due some substantial weight loss!


Sunday 15 June 2008


There seem to be some peculiar virus going around London causing blocked sinuses and sneezing attacks which meant quite a few cancellations today. Ponies didn't complain - they landed additional roll- around time in the arenas :)

I, on the other hand, had the time to snap this and that on my phone camera (hence the quality is low!), read a bit of my BHSII book (as I am planning to take the exam this year) and try to analyse various conformational elements of dear equines (conformation analysis is my little hobby;).

A little video from today (oh, and I just discovered recently how to put a music background onto videos on Photobucket so I am having fun putting it all together;).


Saturday 14 June 2008

I really want to...

...have a horse to ride. Hamlet is still not 100% sound and even if he was I don't really have the time/money to ride him anymore. Pointless post really - I just need a miracle owner who doesn't care I am not a top-name, stables the horses at my places of work, paying all the bills and letting me compete. Oh, did I mention the owner also having the transport since I have none?

Friday 13 June 2008

Conformation of Sports Horses: Dressage, Show Jumping and Eventing

I have just read a fab entry (as always) on Behind The Bit blog on conformation of sports horses. There the author gives some excellent compilation of resources together with some very interesting links including:

What to Look for in a Dressage Horse

The Right Conformation for an Eventer

Conformation of Eventers

What to Look for in a Jumper
and The Mystery of the Hunter Bump

For more excellent information see Behind The Bit: Dressage versus Jumper Conformation
and Behind The Bit: Diagonal Advanced Placement in Equine Gaits

Catch Up...

I apologise for lack of posts but life has been a bit busy recently and I just couldn't quite find enough time to write a proper update.
Here we go then: the most exciting thing in the pipeline turned out to be taken over by someone else. Last week, myself and someone who wants to invest in a yard with me, eyed up a nice competition centre for rent. It was reasonably close to London and although bigger than we would ideally want as our first venture it offered possibilities for what we want to do. After initial conversation with the owner we concluded it could just be possible for us to have a go but as it happened someone was quicker and grabbed the place from under our noses.
Well, we will keep looking around. Preferably, I would like to pass my BHSII exam before renting/running own place but if something suitable appears on the horizon again I won't say no!

Renting a yard is one of the two possibilities I bear in mind for my next move (after BHSII). The second is to find a very good, inspirational, challenging full-time teaching position at a well established training yard/livery/coaching centre. Considering I would want a serious opportunities for training/competing to accompany the latter and judging by what is currently available on the equestrian job market the search would be very much down to a mega luck!

Meanwhile, the confirmations of my place at Equine Specific First Aid course and Stage III exam arrived last night, all at the places I booked for so that's good. I wouldn't fancy being sent to another part of the country which does happen sometimes if there are cancellations or over/under subscriptions.

What else? A couple of days ago I received an enquiry from a mother of a potential new client and will be going to meet the rider on Tuesday. The place where the rider's is based is quite unusual, in London's Zone 1 and about 15 minutes away from where I live but I will leave it as it is for now since I don't even know whether I will go for it yet.

Thursday 5 June 2008

The Official version of my intensive training courses is ready!

Thanks to Ricky all the details are now uploaded and 'live' on my website:

Your ideas, questions, feedback always welcome :)

Tuesday 3 June 2008

One step at a time...

Despite getting drenched to the bone whilst teaching today things are generally pretty much positive at the moment which I relish indeed :) Hall-Place decided to have a go with the courses so we just have to see whether there will be enough people willing to have a go.
I hope there will!
This morning I also finally made a booking for the 2 day Equine Specific First Aid course which will be held on the 24-25 June. Once I have done this I am going to join the BHS Register of Instructors.
Another thing booked is my Stage III exam. I really wanted to take it at Wildwoods EC on the 3rd of July but they have no places left so I went for Trent Park on the 11th of August.
In fact, I wish my III Sports Class was valid in the UK as I could just skip Stage III and go straight to Stage IV ;)
Anyway, one step at a time...
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