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Hoofbeats - The Blog 

Welcome to our blog page, HOOFBEATS, where we talk about the countryside with a main emphasis on training and caring for horses and ponies. If you would like to contribute ideas and information about your own experiences, we would be delighted to hear them. Please email to editor@horseandponyinfo.com or post to our Facebook Page, Horse and Pony Info. If you're into Twitter, you can contact us @horse_ponyinfo.

IMPORTANT - The opinions expressed here are from personal experience and we strongly advise you to contact your veterinary surgeon or your riding instructor if you are seriously worried about your horse. Prompt action is important.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Should he stay or should he go? Dealing with a nappy horse

Our new 'School Your Horse Help Desk' has been busy. Lorraine received several questions along the lines of the one below and we also got yet another one on our Facebook page. Nappy horses can be the bane of owners' lives and we ought to know as we've got one ourselves!

Reader's Question: "My new horse is extremely nappy. On a ride he stops, rears and spins round. He's good in every other way but it's starting to frighten me. I thought having my own horse was going to be fun. Do you have any advice for me - I don't know what to do." 

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, or if you just want to find out what Lorraine suggests, click here to read her answer.  

The first thing you've got to do is give the horse the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he is in pain so check back, teeth, saddle fit, the bit and anything else that might be upsetting him. Perhaps he's nappy because he's young, inexperienced and doesn't like going out on his own. He should have a sensible leader horse to start off with - this is also safer for you, the rider. But years later ours will still try to nap if he thinks he can get away with it and one dressage trainer described him as 'intelligent'! He is certainly cleverer than our other horses and learns quickly.

The disadvantage of owning a brainy horse is that he also learns bad habits (or what he can get away with) quickly too. Lorraine suggests in her answer that you need to keep a nappy horse moving forward at speed and this definitely worked for me on the road. When the gelding tried to stop and spin around, I pushed him into trot and kept him trotting until he was well past what he was objecting to. When he napped again, he had to trot again. It was much harder for him to stop and turn around when trotting. How do I know he is clever? Well, when he passes the half way point in the circuit of road, he goes forwards of his own accord without any messing as he knows he is heading home! No more napping once past that point.  

1:21 pm gmt 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Grand National - how to make the race less risky?
Yesterday's Aintree Grand National produced an unusually close photo finish. But the success of Paul Nicholls trained Neptune Collonges was overshadowed by the fatal injuries to two horses, including the winner of this year's Cheltenham Gold Cup. Paul Nicholls says lowering the fences even more will only result in horses going faster and more fallers.

How can what is probably one of the world's most famous races be made safer?
What is the answer to making the Grand National safer? Having read some of the racing sites today, there's a suggestion that Beecher's Brook be taken away or the drop on the far side lessened as horses don't expect that on the other side of a fence. The famous fence caused trouble this year again but, ironically, both horses fatally injured got up after this fence and ran on riderless to meet accidents further on. 

I agree with Paul Nicholls that lowering the fences again will make the jockeys go faster. The fences looked smaller this year but there were still two fatalities and a large amount of fallers. Too many runners causes all sorts of problems and the cavalry like charge to the first fence is always alarming! The fact that it's a handicap encourages owners to enter horses, which often have no hope of getting round, just because they want a runner in the race. Put these two together and you have major trouble. 

Always risks with horses
However, there will always be risks. There ARE always risks with horses. I myself have had two horses of mine put down because of broken legs: one was kicked out hunting and the other broke his hind hock in a paddock at a livery yard. 

My very first race meeting (aged 10), a horse unseated his rider and then galloped around riderless only to run straight into the winning post where he broke his neck in front of the stand. This was horrific for the crowd watching. You never know what a loose horse will do. 

I worked in the horse racing industry for many years and I wouldn't like to see the Grand National go but I believe more steps have to be taken to reduce the risks. 

1:53 pm gmt 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Results of Horse Photo and Quote Competition
Congratulations to Sophia Greppi with her wonderful photo. A personalised mug will be on its way to her soon. We asked entrants to edit a photo with a suitable horse quote and the six prize winners are well worth seeing. Click here to view.

If you would like to order a personalised mug for yourself or for a friend or member of your family, click here. They make original birthday presents or even a 'thank you' for that special person who has been minding your children, your horse, your dog or whatever to make your life a bit easier.

New 'Video of the Month'
We've been giggling all afternoon about this new 'Video of the Month'. If this horse was a human, he would definitely be on the stage. Watch him perform here on our Home page.

5:55 pm gmt 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

School Your Horse - with help from Lorraine Jennings
Advertisements/LorraineJennings.JPGThe first of April! Hopefully you haven't been caught out by too many 'April Fools'. I'm still considering whether I've been duped by a large headline about snow and sub-zero temperatures on the front of an Irish newspaper yesterday. Apparently we can expect blizzards and -9 degrees over Easter.

This is not what I want to hear as we removed the rugs from our horses during the 24 degrees last week. It is the first time I have ever been sunburnt in March and now they're threatening a spell of winter that never arrived in 2011/12. It had better be an April Fool and, guess what, this time I don't mind being caught out.

New School Your Horse Help Desk
Horse and Pony Info is delighted to welcome Lorraine Jennings to our online magazine. Lorraine is a rider, groom and writer with great experience and she will be running our 'School Your Horse' Help Desk. Lorraine already answers questions on http://hay-net.co.uk and has written for a number of equestrian publications. She has also been writing her own popular blog since 2010. Articles helping you to school your horse are also available for download from her website www.schoolyourhorse.com . We wish Lorraine the best of luck with her Help Desk and new website.
5:10 pm gmt 

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Horses racing on a frozen lake in Switzerland
copyright: Gilles Oster - Fotolia.com


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Reading on the beach or in the bath? - STAR PRODUCT OF THE MONTH

I'm addicted to reading and I love the NEW KINDLE OASIS because it's waterproof. Believe it or not, you can drop it into water and it will still work. No more worries about taking my Kindle to the beach or pool. It's ideal for my husband who likes to read - and fall asleep - in the bath! It's also got built-in Audible so I don't need to take two devices with me and can switch from reading to listening whenever I want.

(Suzanne - Editor of Horse and Pony Info) 

Watch out for laminitis in small ponies and Native Breeds. Keeping weight under control is vital.


Bitless riding is becoming more popular. Read our articles by three experienced bitless riders


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