Back seat driving

Recently my riding ability has rocketed, with a mare full of tantrums I’m getting to the point where I can handle almost anything a horse throws at me. But I never realised how lazy I had gotten. And how much of the basics I’d forgotten.

After an abismal performance on my part at the dressage this weekend I asked my boss for a tidy up lesson. I had gotten sloppy, wiggly and tense. 

I ride zimmy, a full livery at work, at least four times a week. She is had work and extremely bendy, which I know is most riders dream, but she is like an eel and loves to use it the her advantage. Getting an outline on Zimmy recently has been near on impossible for me.

 Somewhere in practising my tests I’d forgetten to use my legs not just for going forward. And my lesson today made me realise that my laziness had made me a parasite. 

But at least I admit it, it is a hard to admit because horses are delicate and riding them harshly is cruel but it happens and no long term damage is caused if it’s sorted quickly. We all pick up bad habits and good horsemen/horsewomen will take comments as an opportunity to grow and develop as a rider. 

For me my problem is coordinating my legs and hands, I can’t push a horse into the hand whilst making little tweaks in the mouth and vise versa it has to be one or the other. My boss told me to tap left, right, left, right, left with my leg as I give and take left, right, left, right, left with the reins. It sounds so simple and god knows what I was trying to do before, but doing two things with different body parts on differnet sides of the body at different times is near on impossible. My hands on circles are also appalling I try to give and take with both reins and Zimmy just sticks her shoulder out and he neck becomes rigid. To stop this, my boss said to block her with the outside rein and give and take with the inside to push her straight along with constant tap tap taps of the leg to keep her bending nicely. AGAIN, ITS SO DAMN SIMPLE. This whole time I’d just been forcing her into a false hollow outline which she just fell out of just as quickly as I pulled her into it. 

As I say we all pick up habits and we all need them tidied up from time to time. I hadnt had a flatwork lesson for a long time before today so I knew I was going to be torn to shreds. 

But hey, everyday is a school day and I feel so much better for it! 

Catch you laters,

Eloise💕

Show time!: Cloud nine 

This weekend we had another show at the farm. 

Again I competed on my noble stead Zimmocha, but she wasn’t feeling it this weekend. She decided on the Saturday that it was too windy and she really didn’t like the flower pots around the arena and had other plans when it came to cantering KEH and sort of went KEGHA and we placed 3rd…….. Out of three. But I’m not angry or disappointed, she just wasn’t feeling it. On the Sunday however, I was just so tense from the test before that it showed in my riding. We placed 6th… But I’m just chuffed that the rosette is pink! 

But the real star girl this weekend was my gorgeous bay. Millie. Yes, Millie as in the hormonal, fence destroying, bronking moody mare. 

We won. 

I know, I’m on cloud nine. 

Without thinking I tacked her up as normal and headed over to the warm up arena and was stopped by my boss who told me I couldn’t ride in a pelum and martingale. (I had no idea, all I wanna do is jump) And I broke down, I was a mess. But I feel if I knew this before hand I wouldn’t have even entered. The shock in the sudden change of bit obviously took Millie by surprise as she didn’t yank my arms out!! She offered me a natural outline, which I wasn’t expecting so I didn’t hold he in it – so a lot of the comment mentioned her being quite hollow. But the judges overall comments started with “lots to like” which I am so incredibly happy with. 

Moving forward we start Millie’s hormone therapy today, which means we can build on these skills and our 61.52%. Not bad for our first ever show hey? 

Catch you laters 

Eloise💕

Millie

So I’ve mentioned Millie a lot in past posts but I’ve never really described her fully (I’ve only really made her out to be naughty) 

Millie is a huge part of my life. She’s my main goal and focus and although I’m often disheartened by her I know deep down it’ll take a lot for my to give up on her. She’s a playful, 15.2hh cob x shire. She’s what I call a “thermal bay” as she her coat changes from chestnut bay to dark bay depending on the weather. 

Before Millie I had only ever ridden riding school horses, I couldn’t sit to canter and I have no idea what contact was. 

So you’ll probably think I’m a total idiot when I say we got Millie three years ago when she was only six. You read that right, six years old. But my mum and I fell head over heal for her. We travelled four hours to view her and we know in the time it took her to pop her head over the stable door that we were going to have her. My mum and I exchanged glances and she told me to “keep a level head, just because she’s gorgeous doesn’t mean she’s right for us” 

Looking back, we didn’t keep a level head, she wasn’t right for us at all.

My mum had been out of the horsey world for a few years and I knew next to nothing about horses. So essentially we were two total novices about to bring on a youngster. We were totally bonkers. 

But Millie (her original stable name was Mimi which was THE first thing we changed) was a gorgeous, bare footed playful loveable lump who you just couldn’t not love. 

Then you’d sit on her, she didn’t know what anything meant. All leg aids meant go faster and she had zero bend in her. 

As we pushed her, she pushed us. She napped, ran backwards, bucks, bunny hops, flying bucks until our confidence was crushed. My mums especially with the motive “I’m too young to bounce” we had people out to school her, we had her checked for any pain, teeth, back, physios what seemed like every few days. 

Gradually Millie improved and my riding came on leaps and bounds. But it has still taken three years to sit to her powerhouse canter.

My goal is to jump, it’s what I want to do. It’s definitely what Millie wants. It’s what we will eventually do.

But she’s quick, very quick and equally as strong so getting her strides it’s still a problem. 

But in the spring something awful happens, she’s dangerous to ride. Four weeks ago she put me through the wooden fencing around the riding arena. Luckily I was only scraped and bruised. 

We are currently toying with regumate. Supplement don’t touch her. She’s marey all year around but worse and dangerous in the spring/ early summer. Cats have said it looks like she has mothered a foal which explains a lot -she thinks she should be out sh*gging not doing canter poles-. She also shows  a few signs of pain, in canter it feels like she’s trying to run from something despite all the bit changes you can imagine (the end of the saddle sits right near her ovaries and canter will put the most pressure on that area), leaning back when she naps makes her worse and brushing and towel drying her in that area makes her angry. 

Her vaccinations are due Monday so I will keep you updated on our next steps. 

But with Millie it’s not all doom and gloom, I love her and spending time with her. And we play, a lot. She chases me, “paws” at me when I sit in her field, and lunging her is more play than work as she runs in towards me and I run to her and just before to collide she playfully runs away. 

But she is much bigger than me and playing can end in pain (well for me anyway) ​

My face at the end is shock and concern because she HATES hurting me. 

If you have any tips for us please leave a comment, everything is welcome! 

Catch ya laters, 

Eloise💕

Upwards not forwards?

Stomach ulcers are something which are often forgotten about amoungst horse owners. They can be caused through stress, new grass or being starved for longer periods of time i.e. running out of hay when standing in. 

Ultimately, stomach ulcers are common because horses don’t have gal bladders like humans. When humans chew it triggers the gal bladder to release the stomach acids into the stomach for digestion. Stomach acids in an empty stomach can damage and ulcerate the stomach lining, hense why humans often get stomach ulcers by regularly chewing gum or stress. Anyway, horses don’t have this and stomach acids are constantly drip, drip, dripped into the stomach. Horses naturally graze – eat little amounts aaaaaaaalll day long (16 hours of the day in fact) so when the stomach is empty for too long stomach acids build up and cause damage.  

By domesticating horses we have: 

  • Reduced the time they spend eating. 
  • Regularly exercise them – splashing contents around the lining and reduce blood flow to the wall
  • Reduced the amount and variety of forage in the diet and restricted feed intake

And these can all cause and/or aggravate stomach ulcers. 

The clinical signs are variable and often subtle and may well be shared with a number of other conditions. The symptoms may include one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Poor performance (reluctance to move because it swashes acids around the stomach and aggravates the ulcers)
  • Reduced appetite (ironic, I know but it’s pain related) 
  • Altered temperament – difficult to ride, bucking, refusing at jumps (usually when your leg is on, you could literally be kicking the ulcers so the horse starts going upwards not forwards) 
  • Weight loss
  • Aggression or fear when you or horse clothing are around the stomach area (girth, belly straps, rollers ect)
  • Teeth grinding
  • Colic
  • Diarrhoea
  • Crib biting
  • Back pain
  • Peritonitis and death

There is a way to quickly home diagnose ulcers but the only way to know 100% if ulcers are present is by a vetenary scoping 

A video for the Stomach ulcer touch test 

Scoping isn’t a nice thing to watch/have your horse go through. Your horse is sedated and a probe with a camera on the end is inserted up their nostril. My mums horse, Norman, was recently diagnosed with stomach ulcers. Luckily, his were caught fairly early but they are visable on scoping images. 

Making our way to the stomach

The red mark is a stage 2 ulcer, the collection of white are stage 1 or the beginnings of ulcers

Like most conditions catching it early minalises the amount of work you have to put in after. My mum now gives medicine in the patients food and syringes of paste to give him half an hour before food to settle his acids. He’s now has three hay nets at night and half a scoop of HiFi 15 minutes before working (which he isn’t at all upset about). But after care is a lot more intense for severe cases.

Horses diagnosed with stomach ulcers will often been on a medicated food supplement for life. 

I hope this helps! 

Catch ya laters,

Eloise💕

Atypical myopathy: the lowdown 

Apart from ragwort there is something potentially deadly growing in your turn out feed. 

Atypical myopathy or “Sycamore poisoning” is a fatal disease of horses caused by eating Sycamore seeds (helicopters) or saplings. The disease results in muscle damage and particularly affects the muscles that enable the horses ability to stand and breathe. The heart muscle may also be affected. 

Due to the wet winter in my area and the carnage of Storm Doris the saplings and seeds are everywhere and the toxins they carry are higher than before. But not all saplings carry the toxins. Not all seeds carry the toxins, but why would you risk it? 

If you see saplings on your fields remove them immediately either by hand picking them or by mowing, making sure the cuttings are collected. Seeds will continue to germinate until late in May, so if you clear your paddocks bow be prepared to hand pick or mow again in a few weeks. 


Check for the presence of sycamores around your fields.  It has been estimated that seeds typically spread up to 3 times the height of the parent tree but in extreme weather conditions may potentially travel further. If you do have Sycamores within 100m of your paddocks then:

  • Regularly check for when seeds are falling (spring and autumn) 
  • Fence off areas where sycamore seeds are likely to fall until you can clear them completely.
  • Only turn horses out for a few hours each day and keep younger and older horses furthest away from the sycamores.
  • Provide extra forage (hay or haylage) especially where pasture is poor or grazing is tight.
  • Ensure the horses have access to fresh drinking water and aren’t drinking from streams or ponds under trees.

If treated quickly typical myopathy won’t leave any long term affects (apart from making you really paranoid about field maintenance). So here are the signs to look out for if you have sycamore in your area: 

  • Depression
  • Stiffness
  • Reluctance to move 
  • Muscle tremors
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Reluctance to work
  • Red or brown urine 
  • Colic like symptoms but no colic 
  • Low head carriage
  • Fast or irregular heart beat
  • Sudden collapse

In the most recent case I’ve seen, the horse was seen submerging his head in his water as though he was trying to cool his brain down. Then next thing he was flat out on the ground and wouldn’t get up even when his field companion was almost breaking his ribs “pawing” him in distress. 

Usually once you get to the colic like symptoms there isn’t much that can be down to save your horse so be vidulent with the urine and behaviour. Call the vet immediately if you notice any changes as it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Any question please post below.

Sorry this post has been so blunt but this means a lot to me as it took my bosses horse only three weeks back and he was quite dear to me. 

R.I.P ENZO ❤️️

Catch you laters,

Eloise💕

aaaaaaaaand breathe 

It’s been a while since I posted and it’s been a while since I’ve not felt stressed or agitated. 

A lot has happened, good and bad, that has left me drained. 

Two and a half weeks a go I had a jumping clinic with Richard Barton on my mare, Millie. All was going well, but this time of the year she can just change in an instant. She threw in a flying buck but I was so tense already I come straight over her head but lucky landing clean on my feet. I don’t know how but it felt incredible, I should have really made a “V” in the air with my arms like a gymnast. I got back on and we  continued with the canter poles. In the mood, Millie can be near on unstoppable. And I’m only 5ft2″ which isn’t enough to stop spring Millie. Long story short, she put me THROUGH the fence. And I don’t mean a jumping fence, I mean the double panneled perimeter fence around the arena. Looking back I am so lucky the fence was knotted so that it gave way instead of my bones. I’m lucky to just have cuts and bruises but I am so heart broken. 

In the summer, autumn and winter Millie and I make the most amazing team. We’ve had her since she was six, SO from just after she was backed so we knew we were so have a few teething problems but not like this. She’s dangerous, but only in the spring. We’ve made so much progress but now we have to start again, meaning we will be out for half of the competing season. I can’t give up on her. 

As we speak she is five hours away with Richard at “boot camp”. There he can suss her out and work out how to deal with her while his wife, Janet, can check her back and see if she is in any pain. Because everything about this screams “OVARIES” 

But enough of her for now before I get emotional, I will be sure to keep you all updated.

Now for the fun stuff. Just because Millie is out of the picture for shows doesn’t mean I have to be! My mum offered me her handsome but dopey Andalusian, Norman, to try out some dressage this weekend. It was my first time ever in the show ring so we just rode an intro test. We came out with a second place rossette, but just an ok percentage in the low fifties. 

Around four days prior to the show weekend I was told my favourite full livery, Zimmocha, was free for the show date and my boss really threw me in at the deep end entered me into a preliminary test. I was terrified. I had to canter with people watching in the same arena Millie tried to demolish. All I wanted to do was conquer my demons and it paid off. In the form of a blue ribbon and over 60% on my score sheet. Here’s me looking incredibly chuffed just after leaving the ring. -in a free walk on a long rein where appropriate of course – 


Although I am so proud of myself, Norman and Zimmy I am still so gutted I wasn’t doing this with my best friend Millie. Although, outlines and dressage aren’t her thing I’ve always loved the idea of the discipline to keep her brain engaged every once in a while. But I must admit the weekend has made me into quite the dressage diva. 

Sorry this has been a long one, but you did have a lot to catch up on. 

Catch you laters, 

Eloise💕

Why most horse owners HATE spring time

Picture it now – you’re out on a countryside walk with loved ones, surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, blossoms, glorious flowers and adorable little lambs skip along around you. Beautiful right? 

Then suddenly you hear the roaring of horse hooves and screams rapidly close in from behind. You turn. There, hurtling towards you is a sweaty horse with its nostrils and eyes wide with a rider barely holding on. 

That’s right, that’s horse is a grassatic. I call it grassatic because it was one thought that mental disposition was caused by the moon – Luna –  hence the term Lunatic. This is the same kinda thing but with horses and the spring grass. 

Not all horses experience this change. But most people will be sitting reading this and nodding. 

Ok, maybe my example at the beginning was a little extreme but I mean it when I say some horses can be like Jeckle and Hyde with the seasons. To the point where I now believe that when we bought my mare we actually acquired two horses – Millie and spring Millie -. 

It may be the lush green grass or it my even be that out four legged friends aren’t as innocent as we first thought and they know that spring has definitely sprung. If you know what I mean. 

Bucking, rearing, bolting and just being damn right rude are all symptoms Millie and some of her friends show this time of year and with show season right under our noses it can be a stressful time. Just two days ago, Millie bolted with me in the area and all I could do to stop her was to turn her on a circle which spiralled smaller and smaller until Millie was cantering on a fifty pence piece. (Incredible, I know and Hell would freeze over before I got her to do that intentionally) 

It can be scary, so please if your a non horsey person try and understand that your partner/sibling/son/daughter/friend may just want you to stay with them while they ride. You don’t have to do anything just sit and watch and you’ll instantly be a human safety blanket. And don’t even think about saying thinks like “well maybe you shouldn’t ride” or “maybe (s)he blames you” when something goes wrong. 

And if you are horsey and going through this, you’re not alone. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about, it’s natural. It’s spring, most animals are hungry and horny. And there’s not that long left of spring in the grand scheme of things. Just help each other and tell each other stories of your grassatic experiences. It’s helps to know you’re not alone. 

Catch ya laters

Eloise💕

F*ck off, flies! 

The last couple of days have been utterly glorious in Norwich and with my horses living so close to the river the flies are already hovering. 

I’m not 100% comfortable with putting my hooved heathens in fly rugs 24/7, as flies can get caught in the rug and sent them into a frenzy, and manufactured fly sprays are either chemically or expensive. 

So I’ve done the dirty work for you and done my research to bring you some D.I.Y fly sprays! Not ALL of them are totally chemical free but I feel much happier knowing exactly what’s going on my horses skin. 

1) 

5 caps of dettol – from a 500ml size bottle
250 ml of Avon Skin so Soft and fresh (I’ve found this only come in 500ml bottles and this ingredient can be halved if flies aren’t TOO bad) 

2 teaspoons of lavander oil

2 teaspoons of citronella 

2 teaspoons of eucalyptus oil

2 teaspoons of cedar wood oil

2 teaspoons of tea tree oil

2 teaspoons of bog myrtle oil (not essential but highly recommended for maximum mosquito repelling) 

Top up to make 1 litre with either water or cold tea and pop it in an appropriate spray bottle.
Shake well before spraying and throughout spraying because the natural oils will separate from the water very quickly! 

Can be used on people as well as horses and can be used on sensitive areas like the sheath. When using on your horse spray it on twice daily so it’s leaves a dewy mist over his/her coat.
2) 
5-10 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

5-10 drops Tea Tree or Melaleuca Alternifolia Essential Oil

5-10 drops Idaho Tansy Essential Oil

5-10 drops Eucalyptus Essential Oil

5-10 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil

5-10 drops Lavender Essential Oil

Drop each of the oils into a 32 oz spray bottle and mix with water! This spray is refreshing and smells lush! 

3) 

1 cup of apple cider vinegar

1 cup water

20 drops of doTERRA’s essential oil blend Terrashield

4)

leftover and dying geraniums –about 2 cups or 20 drops geranium oil

2 cloves of garlic or garlic granules

2 tablespoons neem oil-human grade

1 cup white vinegar

2 cups water

Blend for about 4 minutes, strain and put in spray bottle. Apply with a sponge around the eyes

This is cheap and easy especially if you have excess to the flowers.

Tips and tricks – especially if you want to make your own recipe 

1) There are two types of citronella oil, a natural, highly concentrated, yummy smelling oil and the highly flammable type used for tiki torches! Personally, I’d suggest using the first one! 

2) Dont be alarmed when I say this – dish soap may be your best friend when it comes to making your own fly fumigator! It acts as an emulsifier which keeps the water and oils mixed together to prevent you having to mix throughout spraying.

3) Add white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (depends on how you are with the smell) to give your horses coat a beautiful sheen. Two birds, one spray bottle. 

4) If your making you own recipe use a very very diluted mixture first. You can always add more oil. 

5) When using a new fly spray, manufactured, natural or D.I.Y don’t just cover your horse head to toes straight off. Do a patch test just incase of any reactions. 

I hope this helps! 

Send in your recipes! 

Catch ya laters,

Eloise💕


Riders wobbles

We’ve all been there. Too scared to get on your own horse, to the point you think up the most ridiculous excuses to not get on them. Sometimes it’s because your four legged friend has thrown their teddies out of the pram because trotting in an outline is just too much or because there’s just something about your riding you just cannot correct. 

Everyone’s had what I call a “wobble” and people who say they haven’t are lying.

It’s nothing to be embarrassed about because at the end of the day you’re sitting on a living animal which can often be scared to death by a leaf being too crispy under foot. 

Three years ago I got my first horse. Millie, who was six at the time, was very green. Once she got comfortable she knew how to push buttons and knew where mine and my mums weaknesses were. Shortly after she started running backwards, tossing her head and pulling the reins right out of our hands. No big deal, we worked her harder. 

Then the bucking, paddling and bunny hopping started. Riding lessons seemed to be more focus on teaching me to sit to her tantrums than on making her work properly. Riding Millie mostly consisted of tears, arguments and a sandy bottom from when I ended up on the floor. With this Millie made a bit of a name for herself at the yard. 

After a lesson in which she floored me four times in twenty minutes, each time upping her game, we turned her away for the summer as she was too dangerous for me to ride. As soon as September hit we dropped her off in Leeds to “boot camp” with Richard Barton, on our way to a family holiday in Scotland. 

Within two days Richard was jumping her. That’s when the wobbles really set in. I. Wasn’t. Good. Enough. I’m not strong enough, experienced enough. She deserves better. 

After two weeks Millie returned home and I rode her. Practising everything I was told to. And if it wasn’t perfect I got so angry with myself and took it out on Millie. “All of this is my fault” “Millie was only like this because I’m not riding her properly” was all I could think when I was on her. 

But I never gave up on her. I just couldn’t. If I gave her up I would give up riding altogether.

Now we’ve dipped our toes into jumping and she loves it. We can canter out on hacks and she’s a different horse. But I STILL get wobbles. 

When I rode a different horse for work I would spend the whole time tacking up repeating “This horse is not Millie” over and over in my head. And sometimes even have to do it now. 

Millie has so much power in her back end and canter for her is all or nothing making it incredibly difficult to sit to. Four weeks ago I jarred my back cantering her and it took me almost two weeks to get back on her again. People thought I was stupid because of how far we have come and a silly little thing like that would set me back but once it’s in your head, it sticks.

And it’s natural, completely and utterly natural to sometimes be so tense whilst riding that your whole body aches when you dismount. It’s natural to make excuses to not ride today and put it off and off and off. 

But you’ve got to celebrate the little victories. You rode your horse past that scary looking tree today? GO YOU. You walked your horse around the school after you said you weren’t going to ride at all today? GO YOU. You sat on your horse for the first time in a while today? YES GET IN THERE!! GO YOU! 

From my experiences, riding wobbles are formed when we look at the negatives. For example, your horse lost it because a bird flew out in front of you but (s)he also stood perfectly for cars and a tractor. Or, that was a really shitty transition BUT (s)he was genuinely listening to what you were asking of them. 

If you’re currently having a wobble, take your time, it will come but don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to someone you trust and ask for help. Be patient and take baby steps. 

Trust me, you’ll never look back! 

Catch ya laters,

Eloise💕