Thursday, 31 July 2008

Young Instructor of the Year - the schedule

My formal invitation to the regional qualifier arrived yesterday and here is what awaits me on the 7th of August:


09:30 Introduction and explanation
10.00 Lunge lesson (each instructor will lunge for 30 minutes including changeover and discussion)
12.00 Lunch
12.40 Jumping lesson & feedback
13.20 Jumping lesson & feedback
14.00 Flatwork lesson & feedback
14.40 Flatwork lesson & feedback

(Two instructors will teach each lesson - one starting the lesson and one finishing)

15.20 Lessons Finish
16.00 Summary & highlights

The qualifier will be led by Tessa Martin-Bird FBHS.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Thank you to dressagemum...

...for regarding my blog as inspirational :) Dressagemum's blog is a fantastic compilation of training tales. Definite must read in a blogosphere.

Don't leave your things unattended...

Of course I do know that! And yet, for the last year I have been happily leaving my Big Bag, one that travels with me everywhere, in a reception at a riding school. Last night I was given a very good life lesson when someone helped themselves to my mobile phone and an ipod with lovely new headphones, a gift from Ricky :( I loved that little thing as it allowed me to listen to my audio books while moving from one place to another.
I now need another SIM card, change my phone number, save up to buy new ipod...What a pain!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Olympic Games 2008: Riders' countdown diaries - 13 days to go!

Only 13 days left to the Olympic Games in Beijing/Hong-Kong - SO Exciting :)
I've been reading riders' countdown diaries and hoping, that one day, by some magical miracle, I would be able to write one myself...


Friday, 25 July 2008

My application has been accepted :)

I received an email today to say that my application for the BHS Young Instructor of The Year 2008 has been accepted and that the invitation to the South East Qualifier is being posted to me.
So - keep your fingers crossed for me on the 7th of August. Even if I don't go any further than the qualifier I am sure it will be an interesting coaching day.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Creating Pelvic Balance Video - a must for quality riding


The longest teaching day

Today was my first ever 12 hours teaching marathon! I started at 10am and arrived home just before 10pm. Admittedly I had a lunch break and a couple of slots of cancelled clients. This is how my Tuesdays are going to look like for the next few weeks ;)
I better go to lie down now!

Monday, 21 July 2008

Rather glossy new online Magazine - British Equestrian Federation's 'Impulsion'

May Issue (I like the Judge's Eye View article on dressage judging on page 66 to 69):

August issue it's on its way according to the website: "The next and only the second issue of Impulsion magazine will be out in August 2008. Even more interactive, more visual, more exciting than the previous issue it will contain a review of all the Olympic equestrian disciplines, blogs on riders, horses, grooms, trainers and the teams behind the scenes that are going out to Hong Kong."
I am impressed by the look but I don't think I will be able to afford any of the products advertised there for quite a long time, if ever ;))

The equestrian world is going online wild!

Coaching Portfolio for those who pass PTT exam

Thanks to cooperation between UKCC (United Kingdom Coaching Certificate) and BEF (British Equestrian Federation) the Equestrian qualifications are having a face lift. So far, there is only generic Level 2 in use.
As I passed my PTT exam (Preliminary Teacher Test exam) before January 2007, in order to progress to BHSAI (Assistant Instructor), I had to log 500 hours of teaching practice into a special Log Book. This is now replaced by so called Coaching Portfolio. I had a proper look through it today. The Coaching Theory (Principles) module I did at Hartpury College last year had most of that content included.
What do you think? Is it going to make our sport a little more respected as far as coaching practises are concerned? I hope so. We are definitely behind most of the sports with the way the teaching of the skills is delivered. We are much less formal and structured and most of the instructions are based on the outcome not on the way of getting there.
I hope that further levels will be ready soon.

Life is hard...

or is it?...;) Four year old stretching out on the grass and soaking up the sun.


Friday, 18 July 2008

Stage III Preparation - Element 3 - Travelling Horses

3.1.1. Carry out appropriate checks on transport vehicles to ensure horses' safety and well being during loading and transportation and report discrepancies
3.2.1. Cary out checks on the loading horses' clothing and report its suitability

3.3.1. List equipment to be taken (water etc)

3.4.1. Explain to an assistant the loading procedure with regard to the safety of yourself, the horse and others

3.4.2. Explain to an assistant the unloading procedure with regard to the safety of yourself, the horse and others

3.5.1. Give examples of procedures for loading difficult horses with regard to the safety of yourself, the horse and others

3.6.1. Demonstrate how to safely load and secure a horse

3.6.2. Demonstrate how to safely unload the horse

The variety of horse transport vehicles available is overwhelming and the luxury of some is way beyond what many people expect from own house not to mention a trailer!
All of them, whatever make and standard of creature-comfort-additions have to comply with certain rules and regulations.

Safety checks are essential. Do check regularly and especially well a few days before travelling:
  • your horsebox or trailer's floor - "BEVA member Derek Landwehr, a vet in Surrey, was called to a horrific incident last year where a young event horse fell through the floor of a transporter that was travelling on the M4 (Horse & Hound news) Read More
  • tyre pressure, fuel, lights, breaks
  • towing bar
  • clean the inside and out (to get rid of dust)
  • check the towing vehicle: brakes, lights, tyre pressure, water,oil
  • 60 second Inspection
Horses' Clothing

This is a fun part ;) You can't beat the colours, variety and imagination as far as travel boots and equipment is concerned!
- Derby House - Travel Boots and Safety Equipment
- RideAway - Travel clothing
- Frogpool manor - Travel boots
- Frogpool Manor - Tailguards and bandages
- Robinsons - Travel Equipment

Equipment to be taken:
  • a map of route to the destination
  • mobile phone
  • numbers to Vet, insurance company, farrier, AA and RAC
  • entry forms, dressage sheets, horse's passport and other documentation necessary
  • First -Aid Kit
  • Grooming Kit
  • tack
  • a can of oil might be useful if the fastenings or catches on the trailer of box become stuck
  • water and water bucket
  • hay (enough for the journey there and back) [check out these hay accessories)
  • skip and small shovel (to clean the trailer before travelling back home)
  • rider's clothes
  • travel clothes and rugs; studs if needed. A piece of string is useful if the horse need to tied up at the venue. Actually, trailer ties can be even more useful (Sports Horse Products )
Preparing For Travel - VIDEO (Zanie Tanswell, former groom to Pippa Funnell, from her own and Chris King's eventing yard):


Below are two email newsletters I received from Jane Savoie on Safe Horse Transport.

"Dr Carole Holland, from West Palm Beach, FL sent me this report that I thought you might find interesting.
Safe trailering!

Horse Trailering
Author: Gerrit Rietveld - Animal Care Specialist/OMAFRA; Dr. Bob Wright - Lead Veterinarian

Factors Affecting Horses During Transport

Research has proved that horses experience significant stress associated with transport.
Dr. Carolyn Stull, a researcher with University of California, has defined stress as "...adverse effects in the environment or management system which force changes in an animal's physiolog or behaviour to avoid physiological malfunctioning, thus assisting the animal in coping with its environment." Dr. Stull measured horses' responses to challenges in their immediate environment by measuring physiological, biochemical, immunological, anatomical and behavioural parameters. According to Dr. Stull, ".... identifying and minimizing stressful situations allows for greater well being, health and reproductive efficiency of the horse as
well as protecting its performance and economic potential."

Cold or heat stress will affect the health of younger animals more than mature, healthy horses. The thermal comfort range for horses is estimated to be between -1°C and 24°C (30-75°F).
Horses can comfortably adjust to temperatures in this zone by altering hair coat, sweating, homeothermy, constricting or dilating blood vessels, or changing postures or behaviour. When temperatures fall below this range, the Lower Critical Temperature (LCT),r>the horse must divert food energy formerly used for performance or growth to producing metabolic heat. Add in factors such as wind and precipitation and this animal needs as much as an 80% increase in caloric requirement. This must be kept in mind when transporting horses in cold weather. Thin horses or younger stock, or horses that have been clipped, will need additional high quality feed and blankets when transported.

Extremely warm temperatures of 24-32°C (75-90°F) are equally threatening, as horses cannot
dissipate body heat quickly enough to maintain homeothermy. The Upper Critical Temperature (UCT) is dependent on humidity, which causes respiration and sweating mechanisms to be less effective. Feed intake will decrease and water intake must be assured to combat dehydration. Avoid travel in the warmest parts of the day and keep the trailer moving to help alleviate heat stress.

The type of trailer or van in which the horse finds itself, and the flooring on which it must stand, will have an impact on the horse's stress level. Slippery floors, combined with poor driving practices, will cause a horse to 'scramble' to maintain its balance. This is extremely stressful for the animal. The addition of rubber matting, sand, or wood shavings, will help to remedy the slippery floor problem and reduce the amount of vibration transmitted through the floorboards.

Research on the effects of transporting horses facing the front or back of the vehicle concluded that heart rates were lower on those animals facing the rear of the truck or trailer. The researchers concluded that horses were less physically stressed travelling backwards, as they tended to rest their rumps, dropping a hip, leaning over the forequarters, lowering the head and relaxing to the point of dozing off. They were also better able to balance and brace themselves during transport and vocalized less than their front-facing travel mates. Several other investigators, including Wentworth Tellington, and David Holmes, confirmed that horses facing backwards and untethered showed less signs of stress.

Isolation from stable-mates, or combining horses with others that may be aggressive, will contribute to transportation stress. The recently released Code of Practice for the Transportation of Livestock - Horses ( recommends segregating stallions from all other horses when they are shipped communally. Horses with shoes on the hind feet should be separated from those that are unshod. Younger and older, infirm horses should also be transported apart from other horses.

Long term stress (24-48 hr.) can influence a number of systems in the horse, including immune, digestive, and reproductive systems. It can influence hormones essential in reproduction, growth, energy, metabolism and response to disease or infection. These effects can continue for hours, or even days, after the stimulus from the stressor has been diminished or eliminated.

It is not advised to administer penicillin or phenylbutazone as a prophylactic measure to combat the effects of transportation-related stress. Raidal, et al., published a paper entitled
"Antibiotic prophylaxis of lower respiratory tract contamination in horses confined with head elevation for 24 or 48 hours" in a 1997 issue of the Australian Veterinary Journal.
The study demonstrated that the "prophylactic administration of penicillin before or during
confinement did not reliably reduce bacterial numbers or prevent the accumulation of purulent
(inflammatory) lower respiratory secretions in horses confined with their heads elevated."

Indiscriminate administration of antibiotics may contribute to antibiotic resistance.
Phenylbutazone is not indicated unless there is an underlying medical condition and will
mask a fever when used inappropriately.

It is paramount that the tow vehicle and trailer or van used to move horses are in the best repair
possible. All documentation should be current and valid. Failure to pass a roadside inspection will
require other arrangements to deliver the horses to their destination.

Travel Tips to Minimize the Stress Associated with Transporting Horses

* Train/teach your horse to load calmly well in advance of the event. A calm horse will
likely be more comfortable on the journey. Even if you never plan to travel with your horse, it
is advisable to teach it to load. Practice this several times a year; it may come in handy if
an emergency trip to the veterinarian is in order.
* Keep the trailer in good repair and in a clean condition. A trailer that travels quietly and smoothly will provide a more comfortable and less stressful ride for the horses.
* Ensure the tow vehicle is well maintained to avoid breakdowns. It is essential that the exhaust system is in good repair and fumes are expelled to the side of the vehicle. Fumes emitted straight back under the trailer may lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
* Ensure the trailer has good ventilation. Avoid draughts.
* For longer trips, plan to arrive several days earlier to permit horses' immune systems to stabilize before any major athletic endeavour.
* 'Long-tie' horses by the cheek ring of the halter. This allows maximum head movement
and facilitates sinus clearing and airway drainage.
* Transport horses with others they get along with whenever possible.
* Drive 'passenger-friendly'. Practice slow take-aways. Careful braking and smooth cornering are key elements to towing a trailer in a responsible manner. Always 'think ahead'.
* Plan ahead. Chart a route and time of day when traffic is minimal and the weather is conducive to horse comfort.
* Offer hay and water, but no grain. Water horses prior to departure and every four hours
for longer trips to help combat the threat of dehydration. Hay serves as a pacifier and helps
retain water in the gut during transit. Refrain from feeding grain, as stress affects gut function, causing grain to sit and ferment with the possible result of colic.

Trailer Safety Kit

Keep the following items in an emergency kit in the trailer or tow vehicle:

* Complete equine emergency kit
* Extra halters and lead shanks
* Sharp knife
* Wire cutters
* 100 ft of 1/2" rope
* small tool kit or 'leatherman' tool,
including wire cutter, knife, tweezers, etc.
* jumper cables
* two flashlights with extra batteries
* roll duct tape
* flares
* cell phone
* phone number directory with numbers for
your veterinarian and border crossing veterinarian
* trailer jack
* spare tire (complete with air)
* spare wheel bearing
* cash

Trailering horses can be a stressful endeavour for both horses and drivers, but practicing
a few preventative measures can make the trip safer and more enjoyable."

"Colette Sossaman, former manager of
Proud Meadows Farm in Texas, offers
these great tips!

Colette says:
1.) I feed DMG for at least one week prior to lift off, just a white powder that keeps the muscles loose. It's used for horses prone to tying up.

2.) I have my vet oil and electrolyte everyone the night before or the morning of travel,just to keep it all moving--just like you would for a case of colic, but on the front end of it, to be

3.) Have your vet give injectable Banamine before loading, and carry Banamine paste also. The amount you give depends on your horse's weight so always get your vet's opinion.

4.) I have tubes of "Jugs" electrolyte paste to administer at the layover spots, to keep them drinking.

5.) I mash everyone at night to get even more fluids in.

If you can't get DMG, you can use Mega-Sel which is a Vitamin E and Selenium supplement.

Happy and safe trailering!

DEFRA (Department For Environment Food and Rural Affairs)

"Animal welfare: Horse Transport


We know that there is considerable public concern about allegations that British ponies are exported to the continent for human consumption. We have not found, or been given, any evidence that ponies are regularly exported in this way. On the other hand, we cannot dismiss the possibility that there may be occasional incidents. Our random checks and surveillance at ports would, we are sure, pick up any routine trade, but it is more difficult for our staff to direct their efforts so as to pick up isolated incidents. We will continue to work with local authority staff to ensure that animals leave pony sales in suitable vehicles and accompanied by the correct documentation. This action is supplemented by checks at ports, which are targeted on times when ponies might be exported, such as the period after the pony sales.

Export Licences

If you want to export a horse or pony from Great Britain information on horse and pony export licences can be obtained from:

Defra Animal Welfare Core Team
Transport & Markets Team
Area 8B, 9 Millbank
c/o 17 Smith Square

Tel: 020 7238 5914

Animal welfare: Transporting animals during hot weather

High temperatures and humidity, particularly sudden changes in conditions, can pose a major threat to animal welfare. The following basic advice is to help farmers, transporters, pet owners and others avoid problems.

There is an legal obligation on those looking after animals to avoid causing them unnecessary suffering, and to avoid subjecting them to conditions where this is likely to occur. It is an offence if the welfare of an animal is compromised as a result of a failure to take appropriate action in response to extremes of temperature.

Transporting animals

Those transporting animals, including agricultural animals, should take action to avoid problems in hot weather. Things to consider include (although this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Factoring potential weather conditions into the planning of any journey (for example not loading or moving animals during the hottest parts of the day)
  • Improved ventilation of the vehicle
  • Increased space allowances
  • Providing water and electrolytes more frequently

In addition, contingency plans should be in place for every journey, and are particularly important in hot conditions as delays, which might be relatively insignificant under normal conditions, can become critical very quickly.

© Crown copyright



Horse Transport Search:

International Transport:

Guide to Safe Towing

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Back in the saddle ;)

Ok, so when I had nothing to ride for 3 weeks it was truly no riding at all. Yesterday, I asked at one of the centres I work at, whether they could give me some riding. The result: I rode 4 horses today and I am well and truly happily knackered :)
Another person is going on holiday soon and I can have her youngster and Elementary/Medium dressage horse to ride too.
Cue big smile on my face :)

Quote of the Day...(?)

Do not fear to step into the unknown For where there is risk, there is also reward.

-- Lori Hard

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Thoughts on the last few days

It was a strange week. This is mainly because I've seemed to think over and over again on some sort of ways and ideas for my next "career move" in the autumn so am walking in a bit of a bubble. I know a lot of things needs changing but although I do like variety I am not always a big fan of change. There is many things I like about my current workload and plenty of things I would miss if there were gone. On the other hand, there are things I don't like (like no holidays, no savings, no competing and a few more) and if I don't want to get stuck I need to move forward.

(Pic. View of my lap during lunch time - stable cat waiting for some leftovers ;)

It was a strange week also because... horses are horses. Columbus's owners are battling with lameness of their other pony and another person I teach there is on holiday so I had to miss them from my schedule. Another client's pony ended up with bad colic and is being retired.
Equestrian world is a funny one - horses need extra planning and good routine but truly you cannot plan much as they always keep you on your toes and make you move to your Plan B and C before you even managed to pull it together.

Speaking of togetherness, I am feeling very sorry for myself for not being able to spend time with my family. They are thousands of miles away and as I cannot afford to take time off work all I have of them are snippets into their lives through pictures, videos and phone conversations. As my young friend from Chicago would say, 'it sucks'.
My dear mum records all the equestrian events for me off EuroSport and sends me little packages every few weeks. She is a star.
Chatting over the phone is good but it's nothing like truly being there.

Pic. right. Another day, another lunch time - basking in the sun.

Riding is still non-existent. A few days ago I wrote about wanting to go for some full-time training. Well, I have been searching everywhere in the South East for a riding centre with a resident BD (British Dressage) Trainer but with no joy. They are either running livery yards and not bothering with riding centres or have their own professional yards. I wanted the set up to be such as it would create a possibility for me to teach and train in the same time.
My other thought was to go for BD Apprenticeship. However, it seems like it's dominated by teenagers living on-site and earning just enough for a morning bowl of cereal. I wrote to a couple of trainers in my area anyway to enquire about the possibilities, pay and level of training.
What I miss the most from my old show-jumping days is the quality in horse care and riding that you get on competition yards. It's something I grew up with and what for many years was my second nature. Riding schools have no desire no need to maintain such standards. Even riding school horses seem a different breed altogether.
Please keep your fingers crossed for a good training opportunity coming up - I am not getting any younger and it's very much a question of either now or never. Ideally, I would love to combine the training with my current teaching; will see how it goes.

When I am not raking my brains trying to figure out the best way forwards on my equine ladder I am having a great time indulging in my newly found little hobby - listening to audio books. Ricky has recently got one for me, the latest Jodi Picoult book 'Change of Heart'.
My Monday off was very much an audio adventure ;)

Monday, 14 July 2008

Stone Circle Livery - the first and only Organic livery in the UK

Some time ago I wrote a post on Stone Circle Livery. They published this charming video so I thought I will put it on here too :)


Sunday, 13 July 2008

Schooling video

This is an Arab x mare that I occasionally school for someone who takes lessons with me. She is a general fun horse doing mostly some jumping and xc; very reluctant to work longer and lower and argumentative with contact but is getting there. I since discovered she hated the breastplate the owner puts on her (wasn't necessary anyway!) and she is doing much better without it now. She can also be rather behind the leg and prefers to elevate rather than move forwards.
(Ignore my diagonals in trot as I was testing my control of her shoulders).

Friend filmed me while I was warming her up and I just received the video from her so did a little remix with music :)


Saturday, 12 July 2008

The links of London

The transport at the weekends is ridiculously disrupted. I am finding myself on various buses hoping to get places on time. Sometimes I manage sometimes I don't. It's frustrating.
I wonder how long am I going to tolerate London's unhorsiness (I know it's not a word but you know what I mean). In the same time, I grew to like so many little places around where I live. There is some charm to it and you can just walk for 10 minutes from my door and get lost in a bird chatter (especially if you have my spatial awareness ;), the world of nutty grey squirrels, the peacocks, the little black rabbits. It's a classic love and hate relationship that I have with this city!
The best thing is to escape London each morning. Step out of the train miles away. Breathe in the fresh air mixed with the smell of horses.
And sometimes the best thing is to come back to the city's vibrant being in the evening.

I think I am being philosophical tonight ;)

On an equine note, I am desperately missing riding. Everyone has some sort of life-drug they need: chocolate, alcohol, sleep, lazy mornings, adrenaline, pub name it...I have riding. My days are filled with so many teaching hours I no longer have time for my own training. In the last three weeks I rode twice.
There will be work decisions to make very soon...

Friday, 11 July 2008

"Just Dressage" magazine

Looks like dressage enthusiasts in the UK will shortly have their very own mag/website:

Friday, 4 July 2008

Equine Dentist

Part 1 - Inderstanding the horse's teeth

Part 2 - Mandible Movements

There is a very interesting information in Part 2 on feeding horses of haynets and how this affects their dentition, muscle development and later causes problems with contact and ridden work.

Part 3 - Teeth and the Young Horse

Part 4 - Teeth and the bridle

Part 5 - 5 top tips for excellent dentition

I am seriously thinking about...

...going for more full-time training . Not just yet and not earlier than autumn time. I am being cryptic as I want to chat seriously to Ricky about this first before I write an essey on here. I have a couple of trainers and a form of the training in mind and will update this blog in due course :)

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Need Your Help: Did you join ManageMyHorse after reading about it on this blog?

Some time ago I posted about this fantastic new site: blog entry on Manage My Horse.
I know for a fact (from the site owner), that quite a few of you joined Manage My Horse either via link on this blog or via the link on my website.
Now, here is the thing. Manage My Horse is running a competition in which a person who recommends the biggest amount of new members receives fantastic prizes (you can access the details on the competition after joining the site - registration and all features are FREE).
You see, most of these sort of competitions have prizes of no use to me but this one offers vouchers which, instead of original Dodson & Horrell feed prize, can be exchanged for training vouchers with the BHS. That I care a lot for!!

Therefore, I am after a BIG favour. If you joined/are going to join the MMH site after hearing about it on this blog or my website could you please please email me your name and phone number so the MMH owner can verify whether you are a legitimate member? (ridinginstructor at gmail dot com).

It's SO hard to pay for further training in this industry that those vouchers would be of amazing help to me.

Manage My Horse website is a very useful tool for any horse owner/rider/business person, it revolutionised my diary and how I budget my income/expenses. It helps to keep all the horse details handy and makes managing important dates (like worming, vaccinations, farrier visits etc) very easy. You can take a Tour on the website to learn about all the features available - there are lots.

What to do:

The way it works...

"Each member who recommends a friend that actually registers with will need to keep a record of the name, email address and contact telephone number of their ‘friend’. Before the closing date, 15th September, entrants must send an email to the competition email address ( with the list of their friends (and the all important contact details) and which prize they are entering for. The winner will then be picked at random from these entrants. In the subject line of your email please add: Barnsby Saddle, Mark Todd vouchers or Dodson and Horrell vouchers.

Note: Each new member recommended will need to add at least one new horse profile, in full, to their new account before the closing date. The winners list will then be validated to confirm that they are true members before prizes are awarded."

I hope to hear from you - your help will be forever appreciated!!!
Wiola (ridinginstructor at gmail dot com)

Just received my First Aid Certificate :)

Equine Specific First Aid course

I passed with a total mark of 57 out of maximum 60 getting 37 out of maximum 40 for Part 1 of the test (essays on 5 different accident scenarios) and 20 out of 20 for Part 2 - multiple choice test. Not bad :)
The Certificate is now valid until 28th June 2010 when I have to attend a One Day Refresher course to keep my qualifications up to date.
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