Tried and Tested: Derby House Medium Rug

I’m a big fan of letting horses be horses but I’m also very much a believer that if we expect our four legged friends to be athletes and perform for us then we have to treat them accordingly. As you will know from In Too Deep, I clipped Pea in preparation for the Area Qualifiers and when a layer of natural rug comes off, a layer needs replacing. Luckily, my favourite rug brand Derby House had very kindly lined us up with a medium weight rug to replace Pea’s lightweight when the time came.

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I chose the Pro Frenchie Print Medium Combo Turnout Rug – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you can’t have cute patterned rugs when you’ve got a cute little pony, when can you?  They even have accessories to match!  If you’re not a dog fan, they also have Christmas designs, unicorn print, plain colours as well as black and frequently add new prints to their collection (you might have seen last year’s cow print that Pea had!)

Derby House say this rug is “crafted from a tough 250gr diamond weave print that is durable, waterproof and breathable and 200 gram of warm polyfill you can be sure that your horse will be warm, protected and dry no matter what the weather has in store” and Pea would certainly agree.  She has been wearing hers for over a month now; we have had periods of torrential rain, a night of snow and a whole heap of mud and she has stayed warm, dry and clean throughout.

Leaning over wire fences and being a generally mischievous little scamp has challenged the ripstop outer of the rug.  It is scratched but the waterproofness hasn’t been compromised yet though it will need mending at the end of the season.  The classic Derby House design has robust neck buckles and chest clips.  In all the Derby House rugs I have had, I’ve never had an issue with the hardware and this rug is no different.

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If you are in the market for a cosy, well-designed rug for your four-legged friend this winter I highly recommend you give Derby House’s website a visit.

Tried and Tested: Derby House Lightweight Rug

Sadly the summer is over and the days of fly rugs seem a distant memory.  With the drop in temperature and the on/off torrential rain we have had recently, I decided it was time to get Pea in her waterproofs!  Luckily, back in the summer, Derby House (my favourite rug brand) very kindly gifted us one of their lightweights – perfect for this time of the year.

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It is a classic example of Derby House’s excellent rug design with a 0g weight and 600 Denier diamond weave fabric which is waterproof and breathable.  Pea can vouch for how waterproof this rug is because she’s been out night and day in all sorts of weather over the last few weeks. It has buckles on the neck (velcro would be useless in the winter) and adjustable clips on the chest (easy to secure or remove).  It is consistent with the fit of the other Derby House rugs I have had – I always know what I am going to get with them.  It doesn’t always completely cover Pea’s mane – she seems to shake it down but maybe that’s just the way she wears it!

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This particular rug is bright blue with a yellow trim.  Although this is from their summer collection and that is probably the reasoning behind the colours, I think it is great that when I drive past Pea early in the morning when the sun hasn’t yet come up, I can look for the blue and I’ll be able to spot her!  Check out the Derby House website to see their latest eye-catching rug designs (though if you’re looking for something more subtle they cater for that too).

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A little side note – Derby House are really passionate about improving their sustainability. They have 95% plastic free outbound packaging and have abolished plastic ‘windows’ from their rug bags.

Mid Year Goal Review

We have passed the halfway point of the year – can you actually believe it!?  I thought it was about time I reviewed my 2019 Goals and set myself some new ones to carry me through the rest of the year.

Old Goals

1. Get Strong

This is still somewhat of a work in progress – I’m far stronger than I was and the effect of having two legs that work has certainly had an impact on my riding!  There’s still plenty of room for improvement but the intention is all there with my exercise plan (which in practice is a bit hit and miss).  The problem I am finding is that I so often wipe myself out by doing too much and then don’t do enough the next day.. and the cycle continues!

2. Compete

I managed this one pretty well!  We’ve got two “away” competitions under our belts and two of the summer shows at home done.  There is one more summer show at home coming up and then I’ll need to start going further afield again!

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3. Move On

This was the not so subtle intention for us to buy our first house and as you may already know, we viewed four houses on the 4th January, did a second viewing on the 7th, after some toing and froing had an offer accepted on the 9th and got our keys on the 5th March.  Our house has space for the guinea pigs and is near to Pea; this goal is well and truly ticked off.

A more unexpected part of “moving on” was that I have just got myself a new job!  There isn’t much moving to do as it is in the same school as I have been working in since the end of October but it is a new role – back to full time teaching!

New Goals

1. Reduce

I’ve made a start on this goal but I think it is worth sharing.  Over the last few months I’ve become increasingly interested in becoming a bit more environmentally friendly.  My sister in law has grabbed this bull by it’s horns (in a kind, animal friendly way) and if you want to go all in, her Instagram is worth checking out.  If you’re a horsey being you should also check out Honest Riders and their “riders on a mission” hashtag.  On a personal level, I have swapped to solid shampoo, conditioner and soap from Lush, bought (and am using) a glass water bottle and am trying to make smarter shopping choices eg. buying a big pack of biscuits and splitting them rather than buying individually wrapped biscuit bars for packed lunches.

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So there we go!  I’m going to continue to try to get stronger and more fit, keep getting out and competing (despite having some real giving up thoughts around the June and most recent competitions), get stuck into my new job and continue my journey towards being more environmentally friendly.

If anyone has any environmentally friendly recommendations they would be much appreciated (particularly clothing brands!)

Yoga For Horses

Before you read this, I’m not an equine physiotherapist, I’m just sharing what I’ve been shown over the years by various physios.  I try to do Pea’s stretches most times I ride and she’s pretty flexible (though she wasn’t when I first started doing them!)  Read on for my reasons for stretching Pea, my top tips and our routine accompanied by pictures from our soggy, sweaty stretching session after hacking and schooling on Saturday (please forgive the state of us!)

Reasons to stretch your horse:

  • Improve flexibility and range of movement
  • Reduce stiffness
  • Strengthen tissue/protect from injury
  • Warm up or cool down
  • A nice bit of bonding time!

Top tips:

  • Don’t tie your horse up – either get someone to hold them or do your stretches in an safe space like a stable or arena!
  • Start each stretch with your horse stood squarely (where possible!)
  • Repeat everything on both sides
  • Be gentle!
  • For the treat/carrot stretches, encourage your horse to mouth the treat/carrot before you give it to them, otherwise they won’t be holding the stretch long enough!
  • Don’t force your horse to do more than they are comfortable with
  • Don’t do anything that might aggravate an injury and if you’re unsure, ask your vet or physio before doing any stretches

1. I start with neck/back stretches.  For the first one, I use a carrot or treat to encourage Pea to bend her neck around as far back as she can.

Future-Poppy Edit – If your horse gets too ‘good’ at this and snatches around without stretching, make them reach wider.

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2. I then get her to stretch down to the outside of her front hoof.

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3. By far my favourite stretch is holding the treat between Pea’s legs, she really stretches down and backwards.

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4. The next stretch involves standing in front of Pea and holding a treat up high so that she stretches her neck up and out.  In theory she should stick her head out straight but we tend to often have a sideways tilt.. something to work on!

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5. I also get her to tuck her head right in to her chest.

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6. Recently I have introduced some leg/shoulder stretches into our routine.  Firstly I stretch her front legs forward.  It is really important to be gentle with this and support the leg rather than force it.

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7. I then hold her knee up in front of her.  This one is good when you have just put your saddle on as it gets any skin folds away from the girth!

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8. I also stretch her hind legs forward – this is where it is important to be in a safe space, have someone to help you or have full trust that your horse isn’t going to walk off!

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The next stretches to add to our routine are a backwards hind leg stretch and the tummy tickle which makes the horse lift their back (I’ve been trying to find the spot on Pea but haven’t perfected it yet!)

Do you have any stretches you do with your horse?

Tried And Tested: Derby House Breeches

As I’ve said before, I love Derby House. I featured them in my Christmas Gift Guide, I get all my rugs from there and most of my boots. Recently, they contacted me and very kindly gave me the opportunity to have a pair of their breeches to try out and review (thank you!)  I chose the Derby House Elite High Waist Gel Full Seat Riding Breeches.  I have only recently started wearing breeches again after living in Tesco jeggings last year.  I’ve been looking for some new ones but it is so hard to know what is comfortable without actually trying them out.

Choice Reasons

I tossed up between trying some of the riding tights or the breeches but as it is now winter and my legs in particular need to be kept cosy, I went for the breeches.

First Impressions

When I opened the package I was immediately impressed by how quality the breeches looked.  They have a firm but not restrictive waistband, neat pockets and silky stretchy panels at the bottom.  I love that they are high waisted because they are perfect for tucking in a top and the waistband has belt loops though I found I didn’t need to wear one as they are so well shaped.  They have subtle Derby House branding but nothing that screams or shouts!  I’m so not a fashionista but these look good – they got the thumbs up from my other half!

A Bonus!

It was raining when I wore them for the first time and I was impressed to see that the droplets of rain sat on top of the breeches rather than soaking into them.  In fact as well as being water repellent, they have stayed pretty clean after a lot of wear – grooming dust/mud seems to brush right off.

Comfort

For me, breeches need to be comfortable enough to wear all day for plenty of walking, riding, hay net filling, mucking out, driving, even popping to the shops etc.  After some thorough testing, I can confirm that these jods are COMFY.

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Sticking Power

I have had a few pairs of ‘sticky bum’ jods before but nothing like these.  I actually felt like I was stuck to the saddle and my legs stayed in position better than normal. I have been feeling quite vulnerable since my hip replacement but they certainly gave me an extra feeling of security in the saddle.

Overall

At £49.99 I think these are great value, they have the look and feel of a much higher end brand.  I’m strongly considering getting some for competitions as well and will definitely check out the tights version in the summer.  My only criticism – I’m a black and grey kind of girl and currently these are only available in navy, merlot, beige and white (hint hint!)

If you want to get your hands on a pair click here!

 

Christmas Gift Guide 2018

Christmas is a time for friends, family and a bit of time off work HOWEVER it can also be a good excuse to give and receive some presents!  I have put together my top 8 picks for equestrians, equines and even non-horsey support teams.  I have chosen mostly small, British businesses – remember, when you buy from a small business, a real person does a little happy dance!

Click on each heading to be taken straight to the item.

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Gallop Guru – ‘Palomo’ Leather Saddle Handbag £175

I was lucky enough to receive one of these for my birthday several years ago.  It is great quality and totally eye catching – I have had lots of pointing, looking and ‘where did you get that?’ when I have worn it.  It is the perfect gift for the equestrian who isn’t afraid to express their passion for horses even when dressed up!  It is well worth checking all the other gorgeous items Gallop Guru have to offer.

Eqclusive – Brush Pack – £80-102

Christmas is a time to treat yourself and your four legged friends.  I have an Eqclusive brush pack and use at least some of the brushes on Pea every time I ride.  They were so worth the money.  If you’re after more of a stocking filler, my top picks would be the Schimmel brush and the New Generation Curry Comb.

Derby House – Pro Snowman Medium Combo Turnout Rug £54.99

I’m a big fan of Derby House rugs, they are good quality and they always have fun prints.  Pea has had a varied wardrobe of checks, spots and fair isle in the past and she has written to Father Christmas to ask if she can be bedecked with snowmen this Christmas.

Olivia Towers – Zip Jumper £46.99

I’m an avid follower of Olivia Towers’ vlogs and social media.  Her riding and mindset skills are inspirational.  I’ve ordered myself a ‘Believe it’s possible’ jumper which I know will both remind me to get my head in the game and will be great to ride in.  Do check out her other slogans and pieces.

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Horseshoe Hearts – Original Horseshoe Heart Good Luck Charm £23-6

I discovered this wonderful business on Instagram and if I could, I would fill my house with everything they sell!  I think that a heart would be a particularly nice present especially as you can personalise them.  Get your order in quickly as they close their order book on the 10th December!

Willberry Wonder Pony – Berry Pony – £20

Christmas is a time for charity and this charity is so worth supporting.  To keep the memory of Hannah Francis alive, I think every rider should have their own ‘Berry’ pony.  ‘Peaberry’ certainly helped me to put my life in perspective when I was in hospital.  All the proceeds go towards bone cancer research and granting equine wishes to seriously ill people.

Emily Cole – 2019 Calendar £7.99-9.99

If you’re a regular blog reader you will already know that I love Emily Cole’s work.  Her calendar is a 12 images in 1 present whammy but I would highly recommend having a search around her website at the prints and other items as there are pieces to match each rider and horse’s personalities and interests!

Daniel Skinner AKA Skint Dressage Daddy – From Nags To Numbnuts £6.99

If you’re not familiar with Skint Dressage Daddy, he’s the ultimate reluctant pony-parent (and writes a blog). His book makes the perfect present for other long suffering non-horsey partners and family members who will be able to laugh and cry (and swear) with Daniel through his guide while us equestrians try to defend ourselves!

What’s on your Christmas list this year?

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