Staying Fit and Healthy For Equestrians

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Eating healthy and staying fit as an equestrian is very important not only for the horse but for you! Feeling strong and healthy will help improve your mood and your horses.

  • Workout: These exercises help improve your core, posture and leg position.
  • Do these exercises for 30 seconds each.

1: leg spreaders   2: leg lifts  3: supine bicycle

4: plank   5: squats  6: wall squats   7: hip raise

If you don’t know how to do these there’s many YouTube videos showing you how to do all of these positions. 👊🏻

Eating healthy: Here’s tips and ideas of healthy foods you can eat for less!

Most local grocery stores have fruits, veggies and healthy options for great prices.

Snack ideas: A handful of veggie chips, any fruit, a spoonful of peanut butter, protein bar are all things I love to snack on before I head to the barn or just in the afternoon.

Main course meals: A big salad with some protein like almonds or avocado if you don’t eat meat and chicken, beef or bacon if you do. I also love gluten free pastas, steamed veggies or a yummy soup!

Feeling refreshed and calm: I use Young Living’s Stress Away Essential oil to help me relax and you can even put it in your Epsom salt and add it to your bath!! There’s many different oils you can use, my favorites are Lavender, Stress Away and Lemon, they smell amazing in a bath. There’s many ways you can use YL oils on your horse at the barn like mixing  coconut oil, Lavender and Copaiba oil in a small mason jar to make a calming blend for your horse!!! My horse also likes smelling Sacred Mountain oil straight out of the bottle. If you’re interested in oils for you and your horse check out my cousin and I’s website theoilystable.com for more!!

We also have an Instagram if you’d like to see what we’re posting!! 

How To Find Confidence Again After A Bad Fall Or Ride

Finding Confidence: I have had a hard past two months with my horse from pitching fits to rearing up and hitting my face, sometimes rides like that make us lose confidence or get scared to get back on our horse. Those two months I got angry or cried because I didn’t understand why my horse was acting this way instead of paying attention and fixing the problem. It took me setting goals and understanding why my horse was angry with me but every rider is different. I takes spending time with your horse, riding for fun, being positive and asking your trainer questions and letting them know your scared or don’t feel confident. I still get scared every now and then but I know I would never quit or give up on my horse because this is my passion and what I love doing.

How To Recover From a Bad Fall: I haven’t fallen in a while but when I have it has scared me or made me lose some confidence but every fall is different or more serious. If you’ve had a bad fall and you’re not sure you want to get back on tell your trainer because sometimes you could be really hurt or scared. If you have been hurt from a fall then you should take things slow and do things on the ground with your horse to regain your strength or confidence. I have  had a few scary falls where I didn’t get that chance to tell my old trainer how I felt after, I totally regret that because I was scared for a while after that. Taking things slow and getting to trust your horse again is the best way to recover from a fall.

Product Review: Barnes Tack Room

I think it’s safe to say we all want the best for our horses and are willing to do whatever we need to do to achieve that. Our horses do so much for us and they deserve to be as comfortable and happy as possible. As a result, we go to great lengths finding quality tack that not only looks stylish but also fits our horses well and allows them maximum comfort and performance. I wanted to share with you this amazing up and coming tack company I’ve recently discovered that far exceeds any expectations I’ve ever had about my tack.

Barnes Tack Room is probably the most amazing thing to happen to equestrians and I’m so excited for them to become more well known! They have put so much attention into the details and have come up with some innovative designs to really allow the horse and rider to be their best. Everything is made out of the best quality leather I’ve ever seen and it gets better – it’s reasonably priced!

I recently received a leather girth and stirrup leathers from them and let me just say – I’m obsessed. I’m a tough sell on leather girths. Quite frankly, I’ve never been a fan of them. Every leather girth I’ve used has been so stiff and just didn’t really seem to allow the horse freedom of movement – even after oiling multiple times. When I took my leather girth from Barnes Tack Room out of the box I was completely blown away. The leather was so soft and supple and it was like no girth I’d ever seen. It felt like it had been used hundreds of times before but it was brand new! My horses love it. It fits the shape of their body perfectly and you can tell just by the feel of it that it is so comfortable for them!

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One of a kind – the beautiful detailing and comfort for the horse make this girth something special!

Not only are their products wonderful, so is their customer service. I’ve lost count of how many bad experiences I’ve had with tack companies – even some of the more well known ones! It’s like no one truly values making customers happy anymore! It’s so refreshing to see a company that values their customer service just as much as creating quality products!

I highly recommend checking out Barnes Tack Room. Their instagram is @barnestackroom and their website is barnestackroom.com! They have so many beautiful, innovative, and functional products that I know you guys will love! I myself have a bridle and martingale on the way and am definitely seeing a few more bridles and maybe a saddle from them in the future!

P.S. I have more awesome news: I have a code for 10% off your order! It’s StephanieBTR10%

Clinic Etiquette: 101

As the off season comes to a close, clinic season is in full swing. If you’re like me, you’re shaking your head and wiping your eyes, wondering where the time has gone. 2017? Really? I swear I blinked in 2014 and suddenly here we are, three years later. The winter months (I say winter jokingly, it is south Texas, after all!) should be used for R&R: rest and reconditioning. Jumping on the clinic train during these brief peaceful months is of utmost importance for the upcoming season, and while we train as much as possible during clinics, not a lot of importance is placed on understanding proper etiquette for them. Fresh off a clinic, I decided to write about clinic etiquette 101, as much for myself as others.

  1. Proper turn out is like underwear …

You shouldn’t go anywhere without it! While true “turn out” attire varies by discipline and seriousness of clinic, there are some minimum standards that should be met in order to show respect for your clinician, your trainer, and your horse. For you, a fresh, clean face with minimal make up (you remember the adage you’re never fully dressed without a smile?) portrays a sense of professionalism. Contour away and turn up the eye shadow any other time, but in a lesson, try to keep it subtle. Neutral or dark breeches are always a solid choice, paired with a matching collared shirt (short or long sleeve), create a sophisticated and timeless image. Tall boots/paddock boots with half chaps are great, as long as they’ve been given a good spit shine! Also, always mind your melon with an approved helmet 🙂 For your horse, bathed, neat, and clean is the key. A white or black saddle pad with matching leg protection (this depends on your normal turn out for training) and neatly trimmed points, including a brushed tail and pulled mane. Button braids always make a smart impression, but aren’t always necessary, while a horse with a long mane should always be presented in a running braid. Don’t forget to give all your tack a once over with the tack soap! Respect for your equipment = respect for your horse! While some clinics are less “traditional”, it’s always best to air on the side of caution (muted/demure colors) when presenting yourself unless you know for a fact how informal you can be through previous experience.

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Example of informal clinic attire. I’ve previously had many lessons with this clinician, and he constantly jokes that he won’t train me if I wear pink!

2. Timeliness 

Clinics run like shows, sometimes early and sometimes late. Be sure to ask. My rule of thumb is to be on 10 minutes before my scheduled ride time. Give yourself ample room for grooming and tacking up to not feel rushed. Even with that time frame, you have plenty of time to walk around and do your own little warm up. Try to watch at least one ride before yours to see what the structure of your lesson could be like. If the clinician expects you to be warmed up before the lesson, make sure to take the time to do so and schedule accordingly. They’ll want to get to work right. Be sure to confer with your trainer to make sure you’re on schedule and always check your girth, just in case!

3. Notetaking

Now, before the awe-inspiring invention of smartphones, recording a ride and all the things learned was much more of an undertaking. People actually had to take notes! The horror! What I will say is videos ARE helpful, but having a designated person to take notes if possible (trainer/parents/best friend) is always a fantastic extra layer to add to your clinic experience. Additionally, some clinics require the attendance of all riders for all rides. Make the most of the experience by watching/listening intently for thing you can catalogue away in your mind to add to your repertoire. To do this, take as many notes as possible.

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My dad used to be my notetaker when I was younger, but that job was delegated to my lifelong best friend Erin. It’s a job we don’t take lightly and do for each other as much as possible. 

4. Respect

As I mentioned in #1, respect is everything. A well turned out pair is respectful to your clinician, but also is a courtesy to them. Your demeanor should reflect that as well. You’re a representation of your trainer, your stable, your parents, your horse, and especially yourself, so PLEASE do yourself a favor by representing an honest and appreciative attitude for all involved. Lead by example. Nothing is too hard for you to simply try it. Say yes ma’am, yes sir, listen with eye contact, ask questions, give everything a try, and if you’re auditing, don’t talk during lessons or whisper with buddies. You definitely have plenty of time to do that at the barn! This is a time to participate in higher learning to furthering your riding education.

5. Have an open mind, but be guided by your heart

Now, above I said that nothing is too hard. What I really mean by that is never ever say “I can’t do that,” or “it’s too hard!” Even if an exercise is new or complicated, it warrants at least a try. Nothing is ever perfect the first time, so focus on understanding the purpose of the exercise and keep trying. There is a “what if” clause in this tip. Not everything a clinician says or does you will agree with. Somethings can be downright wrong. If you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach, you know the one that feels like the bad kind of butterflies, listen to it. That’s the moral fiber of your heart telling you what you’re being told is wrong or against your personal values. Be aware of that. If you feel like you can’t say something to the clinician, it is of utmost importance to tell your trainer or your parents, whoever is there with you. On the other hand, if you know you’re strong enough to stand up for yourself and your horse, don’t be afraid to say you’re not sure if that’s a good idea. To be a bit crude, you’re paying them when it comes down to it, and they can’t make you do anything you feel is wrong. A good example of this is draw reins. I don’t use them (a blog post for another time) but I’ve had two clinicians ask me if I would like to use draw reins for their “benefits”. The first time, I was on a backyard appendix paint whose wither was 2 inches shorter than his haunches, and we were schooling 2nd level with difficulty in the left shoulder-in due to developing self-carriage. My clinician at the time wanted to make it easier for me (I was only 15), but I was able to ask my trainer and she concluded it would be best not to. The second time was yesterday with Joy, who I’ve carefully developed in a snaffle through the PSG. Our clinician suggested I use draw reins or a double bridle and I felt that iron butterfly feeling, knowing draw reins are against my classical beliefs and I’ve worked so hard to do everything in a snaffle. But, a double bridle used correctly is an instrument of high learning and is not against my beliefs. Now, at 22, I have to make those decisions myself, knowing what I know about Joy after our seven years together. Let’s be real for a second, you don’t owe anyone (any trainer or any person) anything. You do, however, owe your horse and must make responsible decisions as such for their well-being. They are your first priority. Keep an open mind, but ALWAYS make decisions based upon your heart’s instincts. Your ties should lie with your four-legged best bud.

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Celebration after a successful first passage tour with Alfredo Hernandez yesterday, who helped with experienced guidance for Joy’s first full ride in a double bridle and understood my reasoning against draw reins, making it a positive experience for all. 

Again, this is just a basic guide for Dressage clinics. I certainly do not claim to be an etiquette master for all disciplines or clinicians. Above all, have fun and learn a TON!

Happy riding, my dears. Until next time!

Bailey

OTTB or nah

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The majority of my instagram is dedicated to my journey with the many ottb’s (off the track thoroughbred) I train so naturally I get asked a lot of questions about my process. I’ve trained close to 10 ottb’s over the past few years for the hunter/jumper world. All of them come straight from the track (with the exception of one that I bought from my friend.) When you’re buying straight from the track there’s no videos of them going under saddle, no free jumping videos, no trials, or anything like that. All you have to work with are conformation photos and videos showing a walk and a jog. That’s not a lot to go on especially if you’ve never bought an ottb before!

So let’s start from the beginning. Most of my horses are found on Canter USA (canterusa.org) If you use Canter make sure to look under trainer listings to find the horses that are still waiting at the track for their new homes! Canter is my favorite place to go when I’m looking for my next prospect. They do a very good job at giving an in depth description on the horse including any vices, injuries, or physical limitations the horse might have. That’s not to say trust everything on there completely – there certainly are trainers that are not full disclosure type of people so you have to watch out for that.

I look for big, well balanced, uphill horses that have a kind eye. I prefer a younger horse with minimal starts (there’s less of a chance anything’s going on with their legs.) I steer away from any horses with injuries because all of my horses are for resale and when you start asking a lot of money for a horse then there’s really no room for previous injuries no matter how well the horse recovered. That’s not to say horses with injuries can’t go on to have successful careers, they most certainly can, but it’s just not something I can afford to deal with in what I’m doing. I like to zoom in on the legs in the conformation shots and make sure their legs are clean. I look for any signs of a bowed tendon, ankle rounding, splints, etc. If the horse passes my leg inspection then I’ll watch the videos of the horse jogging. The main thing I watch for is soundness. It’s hard to get a good idea of how they really move because they are so nervous and uptight at the track, but you can tell if they’re off or if their stifles or hocks are bothering them. I definitely don’t go any further with a horse if they appear to have stifle issues. Stifles can be tricky to manage, hocks are easier to deal with but even still not ideal. It just depends on how much maintenance you want to have! The movement on every ottb I’ve had makes drastic improvements after they leave the track so I don’t worry too much about short choppy strides in the video, although if you can find a horse with an already big stride at the track, that’s definitely a plus! If I like what I see then I’ll text the trainer of the horse and get a time within the next few days to go see the horse.

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When I’m at the track, I’ll ask any questions I have about the horse (I don’t like to ask questions through text because it’s too easy for trainers to lie), I run my hands over the horses legs to check for heat or anything out of ordinary, and I watch them jog. If everything looks good, then I take the horse home with me. I don’t do any sort of pre purchase on any horse I get off the track. There’s not ever any time to do it (I’ve seriously had to race people to the track for a horse. Maybe not like an intense head to head race down the interstate but I have bought a horse a few hours before someone else was supposed to buy him!) Some of the trainers are ruthless! They don’t care about any sob story you might have about why you think you deserve the horse over the other people interested. The first one to show up with money and a trailer is who gets the horse. That’s typically how it is in all of the horse industry though – not just at the track.

With exception to the last two horses I bought, my ottb’s have all been complete nuts their first few days at my barn. I had one horse that coliced for two days straight, one that bucked in his stall non stop, one that reared constantly so he could see into the stall beside him… I think you get the point. I hate to make it sound so terrible but that’s just how it goes sometimes. The hardest part to me is those first few days dealing with all the crazy antics but when they start settling down they are the best horses in the world.

I like to give my ottb’s a week or so off to hang out in the pasture with their new
friends. The following week I’ll get them out and start getting them used to cross ties and lunging. I don’t have a specific time frame I stick to when I’m training my horses. I do have a order in which I do things but you have to be flexible about when those things happen in order to successfully train a horse. I go off my gut and the horse doesn’t take the next step in training until I feel like it’s ready. Some horses progress quick and some are slower. Regardless of what brain your horse has, it’s important to remain calm and not get frustrated with them. After all, it is a huge culture shock to them to not be at the track or around racing anymore!

When I feel the horse is ready, I’ll get on them for the first time. It’s very brief and I might not even pick up a trot if the horse doesn’t feel up to it. Positive experience’s are so important for a young horse so slower is always better than trying to progress too quickly and scaring them. I like to introduce them to poles very early on in training. I have actually started letting my baby horses trot poles and jump their first fences on the lunge line and it has been working pretty well. It seems to really help with their confidence. In my experience, they always feel safer over a fence with a rider so if they realize they can jump it on their own too then they don’t really worry about any fence put in front of them! That approach may not work with all ottb’s but it certainly has worked with mine.

Thoroughbreds are hands down the best breed of horse I’ve ever worked with. Warmbloods are cool but thoroughbreds are cooler. You can’t beat their heart. If they respect you they will do absolutely anything for you. “No” just isn’t in their vocabulary. I am beyond thankful to get to work with these amazing animals everyday and I look forward to all my future ottb’s I’ve yet to meet!

-Stephanie

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A Few of my Good Buys

I’ve made some bad purchases in time. I would assume you have done the same. But, to save you all the pain of basically feeding you horse your crisp dollar bills, here are some brands that Finny and I give our stamp of approval.

  1. Tailored Sportsman Breeches: I can’t say enough about them. Bar far my favorite brand which completely surpassed my infatuation with Fits. Even though both brands set at a high-end price, I feel Tailoreds are worth the expense. In comparison to Fits (I am using Fits because it’s a company very often seen in the scene of eventing), my Tailoreds fit better and have held up better than my Fits ever did. I owned a white pair and within 5 shows, the pocket had ripped out. I wear my Tailoreds every ride for two years and they are still in impeccable condition. They are comfortable, fit great and look amazing. You don’t need 20 pairs of them so their high price is really worth it.
  2. 2. EIS (Equi in Style): I have worn many brands of shirts but I will always return to EIS. The fit is great and they are super breathable, so even though they are long sleeved, you can easily wear them in the summer.
  3. Ogilvy Equestrian: One of my absolute favorite saddle pad brands. My favorites are the jump profile pad and the dressage baby pad. I love love love the quality and the look and how customizable they are. Such a great buy.
  4. Eco Gold: Pretty much self-explanatory. Love the look, love the breathability, love the stability.
  5. Vespucci: My figure eight jump bridle is a Vespucci and it’s one of my favorite things I have for Finn. The leather is supple and soft and the color is beautiful. It wasn’t too expensive and it has help up extremely well.
  6. Charles Owen: Common, overused, still so amazing. I absolutely adore my Pro II Skull Cap and I think I always will. Still kicking myself for purchasing a Samshield as opposed to the leather look Ayr-8, but non the less, I love Charles Owen.
  7. Samshield: Still beautiful. Still lovely. Hard to fit my hair into. If you have a lot of hair, size up.
  8. Premier Equine: I just bought their cross country boots and gawh I am in love. I previously owned (and lost) Dalmars because they were all the rage at my first barn. I was never really happy with them because I am not a fan of how they are secured. Finn never had any problems with them, but they are known to cause rubs and to slip. I’ve borrowed my friend’s Premier Equines because I am extremely forgetful and I am so much happier with how they are secured and how light and airy they are. I am so excited to rock around this season with those on his feet!
  9. Equiline: This is a pretty higher end brand, but, if you have the money or want a really nice show coat, I couldn’t recommend them more. The fabric is stretchy with allows for a great fit and the coat is machine washable! How great is that? I needed a shadbelly for this coming season and went with Equiline. You can find their products for a much cheaper price at JustRiding.com
  10. Ariat: Ariat is kinda a no-brainer. Everyone has Ariat. Everyone loves Ariat. So I’m just going to hop on the bandwagon to say that I love it too. I have two pairs of their boots now and, for their price, they are super good boots! I will never stop wanting Parlantis, but Ariat is doing pretty darn good for right now!

I hope you all found this list helpful! Especially if you were on the ropes between buying one brand over the other or vice versa!

-Alex B.

Get the Food Right!

Hi fellow Prepsters!

For those of you who don’t know me, I am Lauren Knopp. I’m a 25 year old professional dressage rider and trainer based out of my family’s farm, IDA Farm, in Wellington, FL. I became a professional when I was 22, and started my own business when I was 24. We have 5 barns at IDA, and I manage one barn with 24 stalls. I have everything from people who just board their horse with me and use my services and also people who train with me. I have three of my own competition horses. Don Gregory is a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding schooling Grand Prix, Samoa 51 is a 7 year old schooling the fourth level, and Degas SSF is 9 and we are confirming the third level.

Now for the good stuff. Most people always write about a certain training issue to help fellow riders out, which is great and can be super helpful. However, in this blog post, I’m going to write about something that sometimes can be swept under the rug – nutrition for your equine partner.

Think of this as Nutrition 101, this is like a crash course. Of course, always talk to your nutritionist or veterinarian!

Nutrition for your equine is extremely important. Now, what you feed your horse will vary depending on health issues, the energy level you wish to achieve, the sport you do, and also your location.

I am a dressage rider, so my nutrition goals may be different than a polo player or a steeplechaser. Dressage horses require more fat and fiber and lower starch and sugar levels in order to have a steady energy level, we don’t want or need quick bursts of energy. We want a steady energy from our horses without the crazy “high” from too much sugary grain. A polo pony or a steeplechaser may choose something with lower fat and higher sugar content for that added boost needed, not long-term energy.

I am lucky enough to represent Buckeye Nutrition and Master’s Circle hay and supplements. Between these two companies, I can be assured that my horse’s nutrition is taken care of. Buckeye has many great feeds. I feed Cadence Ultra, EQ8 Senior, and Safe –n – easy in my barn. I feed Buckeye Cadence Ultra to my competition horses. Cadence Ultra is a great feed with numerous benefits listed below:

Fortified with GRO ‘N WIN® technology Supplies elevated vitamins and chelated minerals along with balanced essential amino acids for superior protein quality to help maintain your horse’s muscle and bone integrity
Added ULTIMATE FINISH® Provides a controlled release of highly digestible fats
Calm Calories Higher levels of soybean oil increase energy density while maintaining low starch and sugar to help lessen hyperactivity
Heat-Processed A blend of extruded and pelleted feed increases digestibility to limit starch from reaching and upsetting the hindgut
Superior antioxidant content Supports the immune function of your horse
Elevated levels of biotin Supports optimum hoof health

This feed is 14% protein, 14% fat, and 23% NSC. I also add an additional 1.5 pounds of Gro – n – Win into their daily grain intake of 4 pounds of grain a day. I find that with Buckeye, my horses eat less grain, which makes me incredibly happy!

Next are supplements. Master’s Circle has 18 different supplements geared to help your horse reach his maximum potential. I have my three on their Joint Shield, Gastro Shield, and Electrolytes. I have noticed a HUGE difference in my horses since on their supplements, especially their Gastro Shield! It is important to not over supplement your horse, so make sure your fortified grain does not have something you are already supplementing.

Hay is also extremely important. Make sure your hay is good quality and consistent! It is also really important to check the sugar and starch levels in your hay. If your hay provider doesn’t have an analysis of the hay, then I would not use it until it is tested, especially if you have a horse with metabolic issues! I use Master’s Circle Township blend hay, which is a blend of Timothy, Orchard, and Brome hay, and it averages 8-9% protein and has a very low sugar/starch level! I feed my horses around 20 pounds of hay a day. You should feed your horse 10% of what their body weight is to make sure they are getting enough forage in their diet!

I hope this crash course has shined some light on equine nutrition, and has educated some of you! Training, care, and farrier play important roles, but the nutrition is one of the most important! To learn more about Buckeye visit www.buckeyenutrition.com and to learn more about Master’s Circle visit www.masterscircle.com and to learn more about me visit www.laurenknoppdressage.com

Until next time!

– L