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Izabela Motyl. Photography Blog Part 1.

| Big Horse News | August 28, 2013

Photography Blog Part 1

 

Hi! This is my first blog post for The BIG Horse Blog so I will start by introducing myself. My name is Izabela Motyl and I’m an amateur competition rider, blogger, equine photographer and equine performance student at Hartpury College (UWE Bristol). I have my own blog and website at www.imequestrian.co.uk but decided to share my photography blog posts with The BIG Horse so their customers and fans can enjoy them too!

 

 

Photography is one of my biggest hobbies. Maybe I haven’t got superb professional equipment worth £1000000 but I have a nice little DSLR camera with set of two good lenses and always try hard to catch these unique moments. My personal opinion is that sometimes even a very good camera won’t help the photographer who hasn’t got a good eye, skills and creativity…

“Photography blog” is one of my newest ideas for blog posts to “join” equine related articles, product reviews and latest news regularly posted on my website. On The BIG Horse Blog you will have a chance to read my photography blog and see some of my work. Each photography blog post will consist of a few photos and a short description. If you would like to see more of my photos please have a look at my photography Facebook page: simply search for Izabela Motyl Photography or copy and paste this link: www.facebook.com/mtlphotography

            

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             HORSE PORTRAITS

Horse portraiture sounds like an easy task but I hate seeing and taking photos of horses clearly not looking attractive, interesting or funny. When I’m taking photos of horses’ heads or horses in general I try to make them look like they’re posing for my photos. I always aim for photos where the horse’s head looks attractive, proportional and attentive or… funny, funky and unusual!  Showing horses’ beauty and emotions is “a must” in my photography.

Here are a few examples of my horse portraits:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morgans Lady, chapter 2

| Big Horse News | July 25, 2013

Morgans Lady.

Chapter 2: Allow me to reintroduce myself…

It took me a good 6 weeks to adjust to my new routine at Home. My very first real home. It became apparent that I was a very special creature to my Mum; I was her very first own horse. She had been around horses her whole life but I was the first horse she could call her own. She was so proud of every little thing I did, it felt good to be appreciated and I tried really hard to impress her on a daily basis.
To begin with, I was fielded with Babylon Babe and Princess, my Best Field Companions. They accepted me into their herd quite happily. This pleased me as I was a bit of a lone ranger before. Every morning, Mum would turn up to give me a morning feed and then we would all get turned out together. Then every evening, I would be brought in from the field with the others and worked before being put to bed in a lovely, fresh stable with a big bowl of dinner.
I remember the first night I had carrots in my bowl, these bright orange things. They looked most peculiar and I shied away from my bowl snorting and stamping my front hoof on the ground. My Mum just laughed at me and asked if I had ever seen carrots before. She scooped one out of my bowl and held it out to me, quietly reassuring me that they were orange but tasty. I nervously approached her hand and took a nibble at it, it wasn’t too bad. I nodded my head in approval and continued to chomp on the carrot in her hand before returning to my dinner bowl.
Five nights a week I was lunged, the 6th night I was freeschooled and the 7th night was pamper and rest day. This lunging malarkey was new to me, I didn’t really understand it. I hated the contact to begin with but I gradually became accustomed to it and realised that this was a good exercise to let me stretch out. However, freeschooling was my favourite!! I would run around the school really stretching out and bronching and prancing as much as possible. It was my fun time; Mum called it “Morgan’s Mad Moments”. I did this routine for a solid month. Then one day, Mum tacked me up and hopped on board. We just walked around for ten minutes to start with to see how it went. Then we gradually worked up to trot and canter. I was getting used to these schooling sessions.
During week 4, it was apparent that my stay was to become more permanent; Mum called the vet out. I had what she called a vetting. She was at work that day but her Mum came to help the vet and I was not best pleased. I was brought in from the field away from my friends and made to do all these stupid movements and trotted around. Well, I put on quite a show. Prancing and snorting and generally misbehaving. The vet gave me the all clear but was concerned that my Mum wouldn’t be able to handle my “attitude”; I didn’t know what she was on about, my Mum thinks I’m an angel *snickering*.
My Mum wanted to know about the sores that were all over my coat that, although were healing,  were still patchy and some were still there. The vet confirmed it was rain scald and that my Mum should keep doing what she was doing and it would heal and my coat would improve. I was putting on weight and my summer coat started to come through; I was really coming into my own and my Mum and her friends would always say how beautiful I was looking. My summer coat goes dapply, it really is quite pretty if I may say so myself.
As the weeks went by, I settled into my new routine. I worked really heard to impress my Mum although that didn’t take much effort; she was totally smitten and bought me on week 6 of the 3 month trial. She said there was no way I was going back and the knowledge that I was to stay at Home with her made me the happiest mare alive. I really had landed on my hooves…
   

Having a Bath…

                                                                                                                                  

Prancing about….

Pretty and Pampered…

Morgans Lady. Her Story.

| Big Horse News | July 16, 2013

Chapter One: A Place Called Home                                                                             

I remember the very first day I met my Mum. She came with her own Mum to come and view me with the prospect of taking me on a 3 month trial with a view to buying me if we were well suited. Little did we know that this was the beginning of an amazing partnership.
I was really quite anxious as I had been taken away from my field companions, this was out of the ordinary and I don’t like interruptions to my routine. I was pacing the stable and calling to the paddock but none of them responded. Then, along came my Mum with her Mum; I could hear excited chatter and I could tell they were impressed with the set up at the stables I was living at. She had also seen pictures of me… a fancy ex racehorse at just 7 years old standing tall and doing cool things like jumping.
When my Mum saw me, I could see in her face that she was shocked at my appearance. I didn’t look how I did in the pictures. They weren’t recent pictures. Now, I was underweight and my ribs and pelvis were jutting out; I had lots of little sores all over my coat. She tried to hide her shock with a smile but I could tell she wasn’t expecting to see me like this.
They asked if they could see me being worked, so I was freeschooled. My Mum and her Mum stood and watched, I could hear murmurs of approval from her Mum, she liked how I moved. Then, much to my amazement, my Mum asked if she could come into the arena. In she walked, carefully locking the gate behind her; she was talking to me as she slowly walked up to me with her hand held out. I stood bolt upright, eyes wide and I was quivering because I was so anxious as to what was happening.
She was quite happily chatting away to me and giving me a fuss. Her Mum was talking to the handler about what would come with me etc should my Mum choose to take me on the trial. Then my Mum and her Mum were offered to be taken on a bit of a tour and to be shown around the facilities to which they willingly obliged. I didn’t want her to leave, she was nice to me and I felt like we already had a bond. I called after her and, to my surprise, she popped her head around the corner. I stood looking at her, unsure what was going to happen next. Then she excitedly said “I’m just going to go and say goodbye before we go back”. She practically skipped over to the arena and whispered in my ear:
“The next time I see you, I’ll be taking you home.”
And sure enough, she was true to her word. Two weeks later, she arrived with a lorry and a new headcollar, lead rope and travel boots to come and take me to this place she called “home”. I wasn’t ready, in fact I was covered in mud, they had forgotten that she was coming to collect me. I was dragged from the field and I could tell they were embarrassed, they offered to groom me before I was taken away but my Mum just said it was fine and she would sort me out when I got Home.
I was pacing the stable and my Mum’s family had come to help take me away. I could tell that the males in the group weren’t used to horses and could sense their fear. This made me more anxious. My Mum however, she was taking it all in her stride and chatted away to me the whole time about what was happening and what we were going to do, where we were going bla bla. She didn’t hesitate when getting me sorted to box up and then whisked me out of the stable and loaded me onto the lorry.
It wasn’t too long a journey to Home.         When we arrived, people were sat around waiting to see what was arriving as my Mum didn’t ever use a horse lorry. I thought she might be embarrassed because I wasn’t in a very presentable state. Alas, ever full of surprises, she came onto the lorry telling me I was such a good girl for being so brave.
She walked off that lorry with me feeling nothing but pride, sheer joy and unconditional love. I knew that I was Home.

Red from Redwings…..

| Big Horse News | June 5, 2013

Hello there neeeigh-bours!                                                                                                            

My name is Red and I am new to this blogging malarkey so be gentle with me!

Anyway, I’m here to tell you about my home. I’m top dog (horse) at Redwings Horse Sanctuary. I am their mascot and you’ll often see me strutting my stuff at one of the charity’s four Visitor Centres, giving High Fives with my hooves to excited kids (and reluctant adults who I chase around the centre until they eventually give in).

I’ve got quite a few fieldmates at Redwings. In fact there are 1,300 of us.

Many of us have come from lives of neglect, some of us were abandoned by our owners, and a few of us have even been abused in the past.

We’re the lucky ones though. There’s literally thousands of horses out there who need help… and places like Redwings just can’t cope with the demand. There are a few humans around who are breeding lots of horses without thinking about their futures. Some of them get dumped – especially young boys like me (ok, ok I’m no spring chicken, but you get the picture).  Last year, Redwings gave a home to 60+ abandoned horses from South Wales all in one go… And all of them were boys.

It seems that it’s mostly boys that are being abandoned. You see, if you like breeding large numbers of horses, you only need one boy to get lots of ladies growing peas in their pods (pregnant, basically!). So I’m sad to say that the boys that aren’t quite up to scratch are tossed to one side by their owners – like the bunch of boys from South Wales.

So, my first blog has taken a serious turn. I’d be fibbing if I said I wasn’t a sucker for a cute foal. My best new pal Bruce Moose, who is only a few weeks old, is a real dude. But I know that really it would have been better if his Mum, Maggie Moose, wasn’t put in foal by her previous owners in the first place. Bruce was born 10 months after his mum was rescued, and he is very lucky that he was born into the care of Redwings where he’s got a safe and bright future ahead of him.              

But there’s lots of foals out there, that are victims of overbreeding and haven’t got a bright future.

So, my new friends, what I’m really asking you is… If you’re thinking about breeding or buying a horse, why not REHOME one of my horsey pals from Redwings or from another horsey charity instead?

My human pals at Redwings are always posting pics of re-homed horses on Facebook. Go and have a look at some of the horses we’ve already re-homed and how much their new carers love them!

You will be making a massive, massive difference to all my buddies out there.  You’ll help to stop all this overbreeding and all the problems that go with it.

Lots of Love

Red x x

To find out more about re-homing a horse from Redwings go to www.redwings.co.uk   or    www.newc.co.uk

The Big Horse STORE.

| Big Horse News | May 8, 2013

The Big Horse Store…….May 2013

Hi Guys,

Great news, we have The big horse Store …. lots of great horsey stuff we hope you will love, Plus our own fantastic range of horsey mugs with sayings on that only us horsey people will understand.. ;-)

Chinese Martial Arts for FPs (fat Pony)

| Big Horse News | April 25, 2013

Chinese Martial Arts for FPs

 

It’s been a busy time here at FP Towers as the weather finally improves but with the sort of timing that only I can pull off, I have decided to be a bit lame and therefore have earned a 2 week holiday basking in the sunshine. However, the lazy life is not for the human so she has turned her attention to Haflinger #2, SFP (Scottish Fat Pony).

 

It is that time of the Middle Sized Pony’s development that he has had to be introduced to the ancient and noble art of “Lun-Ging.” This involves a rope, a long pointy stick and body armour for the human and a weird headcollar with metal bits for SFP. The winner of a Lun-Ging Match is whoever has managed to tangle the other party in the rope the most. Extra points are awarded if someone actually falls over.

Being a Grand Master in Lun-Ging, I imparted advice over the fence while the human busied herself sorting out SFP. Here are my top tips:

Human commands                                                             FP Translation

Walk on                                                                                 Turn in and go and see human

Trot on                                                                                   Walk fractionally faster

Canter!                                                                                  Turn round and walk the other way

Whoa!                                                                                    Canter

WHOAAAAA!                                                                      Gallop

*Flicks lunge whip behind me*                                        Drop shoulder and bolt

*Cracks lunge whip*                                                           Leave arena and is last seen in next county

*Drops whip and holds line in both hands*                   FP assisted surface skiing

Good boy                                                                                Ended lunge session in same postcode as human

 

Helpful? I think so. Sadly for SFP, he is only at Beginner Level and so the human won, however she is praying for a lottery win sometime soon so she can build a soundproof arena as SFP’s attention span is not the best. Either that or she is threatening to gaffer tape my mouth shut so I can’t say anything. How rude…..!!

Another week in the life of The Fat Pony….

| Big Horse News | April 9, 2013

Groceries, Pony Parties and Vicars….

Monday:

The human doesn’t like Mondays. At least, not Mondays in Winter, as she has to come and deal with us all in the dark due to a busy work schedule. This is the second week running she has forgotten the head torch and is therefore reduced to groping around in the feed room and hoping that she has fed us the right stuff. Therefore I was rather gratified to end up with racehorse mix this evening whereas SFP is grousing that he got the diet stuff. Added to which, MFP is a trip hazard in the dark and you can see why the human ends up plastered in mud every week. It is 4 weeks until the clocks change and the human is counting every single minute….

 

Tuesday:

Its been a busy time campaigning here at FP Towers culminating with a 3rd place in the Equestrian Social Media Awards in the category of “Best Talking Animal.” We are chuffed to bits with this award and would like to thank our fans for voting for us and the Judging Panel for placing us. We are always up against stiff competition so to come in the top three every year since the Awards’ inception is a huge honour!

 

Wednesday:

Well, THAT was fun! We have been holidaying in a different field while ours is “rested” (for that, read “completely re-sown, re-fenced and repaired”) and this means new hacks for yours truly. Today’s hack was planned to be to the next village but one and home again via a new bridlepath. The sun was out and the birds were singing and it was all perfect until we rounded the corner to find the local Hunt heading straight towards us. Now I am not one to give up joining a Pony Party easily and it was with some reluctance on my part that I allowed myself to be booted through a gate and up the side of a field in order to avoid the Hunt. Once through the gate, protest began and an exchange of opinions was aired. In the end, the human had to get off and drag me through the next couple of gates. At this point we notice that all the Hunt Followers binoculars on the hill road are not trained on the Hunt but on us. So I allow the human to get one foot in the stirrup and then go straight up like a cork out of a bottle before departing at warp speed.

She stayed on. We even got a round of applause. One-nil to the human *sigh*

 

Thursday:

If you are a friend of the human and you spy us out on a plod while in your car, by all means stop for a chat. Just don’t wind the passenger window all the way down and lean over to have your conversation. You may find your basket of local produce on the front seat being sampled by a pink nose. You didn’t want carrots in your stew anyway did you?

 

Friday:

Hello human. You know you were in a hurry this morning so left our buckets in the field? Bad move. I’d have a word with the manufacturers of the so called Indestructable Bucket as we have destructed it. The field is now festooned with bits of blue plastic so can we have pink next time please?

 

 

Saturday:

Itched so hard on the human that she fell over and MINTS fell out of her pocket. An unseemly tussle ensued and I can safely say that the paper wrapping doesn’t taste as good as the mints but I will have fresh breath for at least a week.

 

Sunday:

We are back to the next but one village to exorcise the demons from the Hunt Debacle on Wednesday. Except this time, it is Sunday and there is a service on in the local Church. As the bridlepath goes right past the back door, the sermon is interrupted by clip clopping by me and shouts of WHOA STOPPPPPP by the human. I don’t think the Vicar was too impressed by “All Things Bright and Beautiful” having a counter melody over the top by a FP lustily calling to the horses in the next valley either. Whoops….

The growing popularity of Horse Riding.

| Big Horse News | April 4, 2013

The growing popularity of horse riding

 

Horse riding is becoming increasingly popular, both as a sport and a hobby. More and more people are discovering the joy of sitting astride the saddle, and these days it is not necessary to own a horse in order to go riding. Stables and schools offer lessons from basic riding skills to jumping and dressage, so those who love horse riding can get their fix as often as they like.

 

Riding a horse is a fun and enjoyable way to unwind, particularly if you head out for a trek. And if you want to enter competitions there are plenty of options for you and your mount to practice your skills and work towards those rosettes.

 

So just why is horse riding so popular?

 

One of the main attractions is the fact that it can bring physical benefits for the rider. Good coordination and balance are vital when sat atop a horse, as well as good physical awareness and confidence. Muscles in the legs, back, shoulders and abdomen are in use at all times so horse riding can help toning. This does mean that newer riders will often have aches and pains after a lesson, but their bodies will soon get used to the exertion and over time new riders will get accustomed to it.

 

Horse riding, as with all sports, also has mental benefits. The chance to get out into the open air and do something purely for the enjoyment can be an incredible stress-buster. The solitude and peacefulness can work wonders for headaches and long days at the office. It also provides the chance to put your skills to the test and hone your decision-making, co-ordination and concentration. Riders who begin wondering how they will ever be able to clear a jump will be delighted to see their skills improve over the weeks and quickly realise that they can learn to be better with a bit of practice.

 

If you are thinking about getting started with horse riding lessons it pays to look around at several stables and find out about the instructors and their horses. You will want a calm horse when starting and one who is used to being ridden by novices. Lessons really are the best way to get started as the instructor will ensure that you get into good habits right from the start. Most schools will loan you the correct hard hat and a whip, but if you really start to take it seriously you should invest in your own equipment. Well-fitting boots and jodhpurs are must-haves for regular riders.

 

Most people will fall in love with horse riding almost as quickly as they can climb on. The feeling of freedom and the confidence you gain from a strong horse can transfer to everyday life and help you gain a whole new outlook on things. In horse riding as in life, sitting up tall, keeping your head high and looking things full in the face is a very good mantra to take with you at all times.

 

This guest post was contributed by Holly Powell on behalf of Edgemere  Equestrian Supplies, visit their website here.

Thankyou Holly.

Horsebox Advice.

| Big Horse Advice | March 20, 2013

Horsebox Advice from Kevin Parker At Kevin Parker Horseboxes LTD

    Unfortunately, we hear far too many horror stories from horsebox owners and when things go wrong, there is very little help out there! This page is just to point out some of the pitfalls and explain some of things you may need to consider when getting repair work done or even looking for a new horsebox. The following items listed a just a few key points and are mainly aimed at 7.5 tonne horseboxes, however many of these points are applicable to everything from 3.5 tonne to HGV horseboxes. Once or twice a week I aim to answer questions on facebook and I am always available for more urgent queries, there will be no sales talk, just advice and please feel free to call me on 01772860150 (Kevin). Probably the single most important item is vehicle weight. The market is flooded with horseboxes for sale that are far too heavy and this makes them difficult to sell. If you are buying a 7.5 tonne horsebox, you should aim for an unladen weight lower than 5.5 tonnes. Even if you are only travelling one horse, eventually you will need to sell the vehicle and it will be the first question potential buyers ask. Do not be fooled by adverts or websites stating weight ticket provided, it’s a clever sales hook and the weight tickets could say 6.5 tonnes or more. If a manufacturer is using ‘weight certificate provided’ as a sales hook, it would be reasonable to expect them to post weights for each horsebox they have built, not just the lightest. If they are not doing this, why not? Remember that one of the single heaviest items added to a horsebox is the heavy rubber floor mats and ramp mats. ·

If you are ordering a bespoke build and you have talked about general vehicle weights, you must consider every item you add will have weight implications and the manufacturer may not point this out. We hear this often; customers sign the handover sheet and miss the small print, so have no comeback! The cost of weighing a vehicle is very little and we would recommend you do this with your current horsebox loaded with horses and tack and then again empty. This will give you an accurate weight for your horses and tack. It is then a simple calculation adding this amount to the unladen weight of any new horsebox you are looking at; remember to allow some extra capacity for fuel, water and passengers.

Choosing the layout is very important too and it is also worth considering the day you will sell the vehicle. The largest slice of the customer cake will look for two horse or three pony boxes and if you stall for only one you will cut your potential slice down to just a few customers. Our best advice is stay as close to a standard layout as possible. At the very beginning you should also consider the chassis very carefully. There is more than half a tonne difference between the lightest and heaviest chassis. Without going into specific models this is quite a difficult subject, however, in general if you talk to a few mechanics they will give sound advice. Please remember that just because there are a lot of horseboxes built on one make of chassis, this does not make them the best. It is just as likely they have been picked for their cheapness to maximise profits. It is just not possible to repair or service any modern 7.5 tonne chassis without it having a tilt cab. Insist on a full tilt cab facility for ease of servicing and maintenance, as well as a cut through from the cab for quick and easy access to the horse area in an emergency. If a horsebox has a cut through to the cab, customers should ask if the cab strength has been replaced. The cab is structural and the mounting points for the safety belts are attached to it, so at the very least customers should expect a steel frame welded around the cut out. We have seen wood or aluminium used for this structurally critical part of the build. This is definitely something to check on.

Cross bearers, chassis rails, and ramp frames should be a suitable material without compromising the strength of the build. Each manufacturer will of course have a different approach depending on what they consider important in a build. All can be long lasting if approached correctly. Steel or stainless steel will offer the most strength with the lowest bearer height and in turn giving the lowest ramp and load height. Aluminium offers improved lightness but much less strength at the same dimensions as steel or stainless steel. To get the same strength this option increases the bearer heights and overall ramp and load height. It is worth stressing here that aluminium is the hardest to work with from an engineering point of view and builds can suffer severely when dissimilar metals are used, for example mixing steel hinges and spring mounting points on aluminium ramps is real recipe for disaster. You should ask how they have built the sub frame and ramp, what materials were used and how they have separated any dissimilar metals. Very few horsebox manufactures today use wood filled (GRP) sides, most have moved to custom made honeycombed or foam filled sides for new builds. These new panels are designed to be super smooth on the outer face for a quality paint finish. This totally removes the need to skin them in aluminium and saves hundreds of kilograms per vehicle. This new generation of vehicle sides have a far superior look and because they do not need unsightly joining strips down each side they look more modern. From our extensive paint shop experience, we know that these joining strips are where the paintwork breaks down with expansion and contraction, usually in the first couple of years. Also worth noting that not all horseboxes with these joining strips are new builds, lining a conversion with alloy sheets and joining strips makes them look coachbuilt and it’s hard to tell once painted. One way to tell is the overall weight; conversions disguised in this way tend to be very heavy!

With modern materials any horsebox should have a light ramp with a slip resistant surface and evenly spaced slip rails. Surfaces will vary between each manufacturer but beware! We have seen adverts misleading customers with statements like ‘ramps are lined in one piece DEFRA approved maximum slip resistant premium rubber matting’. The truth is DEFRA do not endorse any individual products. Again this is just a cleaver sales hook. The horsebox ramp needs to be very strong with large hinges and grease points. A compressed under-floor spring can have up to 6 tonnes of compression when the ramp is open and the potential to maim or worse is considerable. Worryingly, ramp faults are our most common repair! Customers should expect the horsebox roof to be fully insulated and preferably only white on the outer face to reflect heat; other colours absorb heat making the interior hotter. Aluminium (silver) is actually one of the worst colours for absorbing heat and making the interior hotter. The safety of horses in transit or loading and unloading is of paramount importance when considering the design and materials used in the build. The horse area and ramp strength should have no compromise just to boast the biggest payloads. Also when viewing the ramp and horse area look for sharp edges and ask if the cappings are sealed underneath to stop water ingress, its quicker to make a horse area or ramp if you miss out sealing them! If you are buying a horsebox to keep for years make sure you can see sealer adhesive under every capping or joint. Help from Kevin at Kevin Parker horseboxes Ltd Unfortunately, we hear far too many horror stories from horsebox owners and when things go wrong, there is very little help out there!

This page is just to point out some of the pitfalls and explain some of things you may need to consider when getting repair work done or even looking for a new horsebox. The following items listed a just a few key points and are mainly aimed at 7.5 tonne horseboxes, however many of these points are applicable to everything from 3.5 tonne to HGV horseboxes. Once or twice a week I aim to answer questions on facebook and I am always available for more urgent queries, there will be no sales talk, just advice and please feel free to call me on 01772860150 (Kevin). Probably the single most important item is vehicle weight.

The market is flooded with horseboxes for sale that are far too heavy and this makes them difficult to sell. If you are buying a 7.5 tonne horsebox, you should aim for an unladen weight lower than 5.5 tonnes. Even if you are only travelling one horse, eventually you will need to sell the vehicle and it will be the first question potential buyers ask. Do not be fooled by adverts or websites stating weight ticket provided, it’s a clever sales hook and the weight tickets could say 6.5 tonnes or more. If a manufacturer is using ‘weight certificate provided’ as a sales hook, it would be reasonable to expect them to post weights for each horsebox they have built, not just the lightest. If they are not doing this, why not? Remember that one of the single heaviest items added to a horsebox is the heavy rubber floor mats and ramp mats. · If you are ordering a bespoke build and you have talked about general vehicle weights, you must consider every item you add will have weight implications and the manufacturer may not point this out. We hear this often; customers sign the handover sheet and miss the small print, so have no comeback! The cost of weighing a vehicle is very little and we would recommend you do this with your current horsebox loaded with horses and tack and then again empty. This will give you an accurate weight for your horses and tack. It is then a simple calculation adding this amount to the unladen weight of any new horsebox you are looking at; remember to allow some extra capacity for fuel, water and passengers.

Choosing the layout is very important too and it is also worth considering the day you will sell the vehicle. The largest slice of the customer cake will look for two horse or three pony boxes and if you stall for only one you will cut your potential slice down to just a few customers. Our best advice is stay as close to a standard layout as possible. At the very beginning you should also consider the chassis very carefully. There is more than half a tonne difference between the lightest and heaviest chassis. Without going into specific models this is quite a difficult subject, however, in general if you talk to a few mechanics they will give sound advice. Please remember that just because there are a lot of horseboxes built on one make of chassis, this does not make them the best. It is just as likely they have been picked for their cheapness to maximise profits. It is just not possible to repair or service any modern 7.5 tonne chassis without it having a tilt cab. Insist on a full tilt cab facility for ease of servicing and maintenance, as well as a cut through from the cab for quick and easy access to the horse area in an emergency. If a horsebox has a cut through to the cab, customers should ask if the cab strength has been replaced. The cab is structural and the mounting points for the safety belts are attached to it, so at the very least customers should expect a steel frame welded around the cut out. We have seen wood or aluminium used for this structurally critical part of the build. This is definitely something to check on. Cross bearers, chassis rails, and ramp frames should be a suitable material without compromising the strength of the build. Each manufacturer will of course have a different approach depending on what they consider important in a build. All can be long lasting if approached correctly. Steel or stainless steel will offer the most strength with the lowest bearer height and in turn giving the lowest ramp and load height. Aluminium offers improved lightness but much less strength at the same dimensions as steel or stainless steel. To get the same strength this option increases the bearer heights and overall ramp and load height. It is worth stressing here that aluminium is the hardest to work with from an engineering point of view and builds can suffer severely when dissimilar metals are used, for example mixing steel hinges and spring mounting points on aluminium ramps is real recipe for disaster. You should ask how they have built the sub frame and ramp, what materials were used and how they have separated any dissimilar metals. Very few horsebox manufactures today use wood filled (GRP) sides, most have moved to custom made honeycombed or foam filled sides for new builds. These new panels are designed to be super smooth on the outer face for a quality paint finish. This totally removes the need to skin them in aluminium and saves hundreds of kilograms per vehicle. This new generation of vehicle sides have a far superior look and because they do not need unsightly joining strips down each side they look more modern. From our extensive paint shop experience, we know that these joining strips are where the paintwork breaks down with expansion and contraction, usually in the first couple of years. Also worth noting that not all horseboxes with these joining strips are new builds, lining a conversion with alloy sheets and joining strips makes them look coachbuilt and it’s hard to tell once painted. One way to tell is the overall weight; conversions disguised in this way tend to be very heavy! With modern materials any horsebox should have a light ramp with a slip resistant surface and evenly spaced slip rails. Surfaces will vary between each manufacturer but beware!

We have seen adverts misleading customers with statements like ‘ramps are lined in one piece DEFRA approved maximum slip resistant premium rubber matting’. The truth is DEFRA do not endorse any individual products. Again this is just a cleaver sales hook. The horsebox ramp needs to be very strong with large hinges and grease points. A compressed under-floor spring can have up to 6 tonnes of compression when the ramp is open and the potential to maim or worse is considerable. Worryingly, ramp faults are our most common repair!

Customers should expect the horsebox roof to be fully insulated and preferably only white on the outer face to reflect heat; other colours absorb heat making the interior hotter. Aluminium (silver) is actually one of the worst colours for absorbing heat and making the interior hotter. The safety of horses in transit or loading and unloading is of paramount importance when considering the design and materials used in the build. The horse area and ramp strength should have no compromise just to boast the biggest payloads. Also when viewing the ramp and horse area look for sharp edges and ask if the cappings are sealed underneath to stop water ingress, its quicker to make a horse area or ramp if you miss out sealing them! If you are buying a horsebox to keep for years make sure you can see sealer adhesive under every capping or joint.

Hope this has been of help and if you would like to speak to us call us on :     Tel: 01772 860150       Mob: 07956 222678

http://www.kevinparkerhorseboxesltd.co.uk

 

 

Natasha Adkinson….The Para-Dressage Pathway.

| Big Horse News | March 14, 2013

adkinson5

                                                                                                 

Natasha Adkinson

Reaching for the Stars!

 

2013 has already proved a memorable year for me, as after a rigorous selection procedure, involving a ridden section and interviews, I have been successfully re-selected back onto the World Class Programme. This is an incredible opportunity, as the programme will provide me with valuable support to progress along the Para-Dressage pathway.

 

Being on the Start and Potential Programme will provide me with expert advice including nutrition, psychology, physio, strength and conditioning and of course the chance to train with specialist trainers. I am so excited and determined to make the most of every opportunity.

 

I was born with VACTERL Syndrome, a congenital condition involving several different parts of the body; my joints dislocate frequently and spina bifida limits the use of my back and neck. A long and complex medical history, including severe anaemia, adds to the challenges I face as an elite athlete.

 

I have a full and intense daily schedule and sometimes it can be tricky fitting everything in. My horses are trained 6 times a week with one day off, including a mix of schooling and hacking so they don’t get bored. I also go to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield twice a week for strength and conditioning to train with Mark, my personal trainer. The gym helps to improve my strength and core but also my balance. I really enjoy going to the gym and I’m starting to feel a lot stronger. Jill gives me physio twice a week and she never fails to put a smile on my face. I have physio to maintain my body as my disability is deteriorating. If this doesn’t sound busy enough, I am also trying to balance being an athlete with being a student and studying for a degree in Human Geography at Sheffield Hallam University.

 

2012 was an incredible year for me and very successful. I was fortunate to get Undercover 7 (Danny), a 11 year old ex 3* eventer who is commonly known as the ‘BFG’, in April. He is my current competition horse and really does mean the world to me. My first competition was the Home Nationals and it was great to be part of the winning team. I was then chosen to represent Great Britain at the Bishop Burton CPEDI 2*, in the August, where I gained the title of ‘UK Leading Rider’. This made me even more motivated and determined to reach my goals and progress on my journey to Rio 2016.

I would never have even imagined that I would be where I am today and I am very grateful for every opportunity that I have been given. I am a very determined person and I want to become the best rider that I can possibly be. The future is very exciting as I hope to compete at the World Equestrian Games, the Europeans and the Paralympics. Bringing back a gold medal would be my ultimate dream of making Britain proud!

I am now on the Road to Rio and this year looks very exciting especially as I’ve got the Winter Championships this weekend.     Natasha Adkinson‘Pictures by courtesy of the Yorkshire Post’

If You Only Do One Thing This Month………..work on your canter.

| Big Horse Advice | March 11, 2013

If You Only Do One Thing This Month

 - work on your canter

 

Of all the paces canter is the one that causes most trouble – and yet in an average schooling session what’s the pace you use most? Most riders would say trot! If you’re having trouble with your canter next time you ride do more of it.

Canter aids are so important. Most riders know to put their outside leg back to tell their horse which leg to strike off with but what about their inside leg? It’s this leg that should tell your horse to go.  Good transitions come from clear aids. A good transition also creates a better canter. It’s well worth practising.

Practise on a 20m circle. Stay in sitting trot. Aim to ask for canter at A/C. Half a circle in canter is enough – it’s about the transition not the length of your canter. Put your outside leg back two strides before the letter – keep your fingers closed around your reins so your horse knows not to canter. As your body passes A/C use a nudge with your inside leg. It may take a few attempts – a tap with a schooling whip will also help to make your inside leg aid clearer – but with practise it sharpens up your transitions and helps to keep him balanced.

Is your horse crooked in canter? Ever wondered why? Once in canter what do you do with your outside leg? You should move it into its usual position but many riders leave theirs back which actually tells their horse to bring his quarters in. Next time you blame your horse for a crooked canter look at yourself first.

If your transitions are under control then it’s time to look at your canter. Your horse’s temperament can have a huge effect on what you do.

If your horse is sharp and finds canter exciting then you need to avoid stopping and starting which will just wind him up. Canter a 20m circle at E/B – ride 15 or 10m circles into the middle from all four tangent points (E, B and both times you cross the centre line). The break from the original circle will keep him thinking but the continuous canter will help him to relax about it.

Quality is far more important than quantity with a lazy horse. Start off small – one circuit of the school is enough. Take a rest to get your breath back before doing a second circuit. Repeat on both reins. Five single circuits on each rein with breaks will inspire your horse. It’s far less demoralising than doing five circuits in one go and yet far more effective.

If you only do one thing this month make sure it involves canter. There’s more to schooling than trotting endless circles. Your horse has three paces – use them all!

Good luck…

If you need more detail on your aids or how to teach your horse lateral work, counter canter or just straighten him up check out my site at www.schoolyourhorse.com or get in touch via Twitter (@pollson) or www.facebook.m/schoolyourhorse See you out there somewhere!

 

Lorraine Jennings.

 

My Week: The Fat Pony’s guide to behaving badly and eating lots….

| Big Horse News | February 18, 2013

Hi folks! I’m The Fat Pony or FP for short and I live in a field with my Companions SFP (Scottish Fat Pony) and MFP (Mini Fat Pony). I’ll be writing a regular blog for The Big Horse about life as a FP (it’s terrible hard work maintaining the image you know) and what I get up to.

The Fat Pony can also be found on Facebook and Twitter on a daily basis as well as in print via www.lulu.com

Monday:

6.00am: clean FP

6.30am: clean FP

7.00am: clean FP

7.30am: clean FP

8.00am: clean FP

8.30am: clean FP

9.00am: clean FP

9.29am: hears human coming with tack and goes for a roll in the mud.

9.30am: DIRTY FP!!!!!

Tuesday:

I was so pleased to see the human come home from work today that I had a “Mummyyyyyyyyy” moment and galloped all the way down the field. This looked cute until I realised the gradient made my brakes faulty and I took out SFP, MFP, the human, the water buckets, the electric fence and the Countess of Thing’s* gate before falling head first into the stream. The human is now out in the dark with a hammer and a mouth full of nails….

*The Countess of Thing is our Landlady. I think it has been a rude awakening to have us on the farm as opposed to dozens of quiet, well behaved polo ponies….

Wednesday:

I found some nice new friends on a hack today and proceeded to show them how good I am at handstands. Not content with this I then showed everyone that Fat Ponies have a secret 6th gear that even the human didn’t know about and overtook EVERYONE, including the Thoroughbred. The human pretended to be cross but I think she is secretly rather smug that I am almost certainly the fastest pony in the village…..

Thursday:

Low Flying Helicopters: tick

Tractors: tick

Big cows with horns: tick

Hikers with fluorescent backpacks: tick

Local idiot Porsche driver: tick

Kamikaze geese: tick

New bush in Countess of Thing’s garden: snort, piaffe, nervous breakdown…..

Friday:

I had a nice plod this morning especially when encountering an open car window from which were offered MINTS. This was an unexpected treat and the lucky lady who donated her polos got a lap full of drool as a thank you *slurppppppeeeee*

Saturday:

We all watched the human carefully connect two gate hooks to my fence and make sure it was MFP proof (she shins underneath), waited until the human had gone to watch the rugby and then carefully unpicked the gate hooks and went and had a party with the polo ponies. Sadly we were discovered by the Countess of Thing but it was a good party. The human is now rethinking the gate connections.

Sunday:

Apparently a day of rest. Really? REALLY??? I have been made to go up hill and down dale in search of the body beautiful, SFP has been taken for a walk round the village and MFP has been de-muddied, trimmed and all the brambles prised out of her tail. We are all exhausted and have gone to sleep for the duration.

If you only do one thing this month – Get your horse between your leg and hand

| Big Horse Advice | February 4, 2013

 How often have you heard the expression ‘leg into hand’? It’s a term often used in horses yet one that’s often misunderstood. Whilst it’s easy to get things right when you’re having a lesson when you’re on your own it’s far easier to get them wrong!

If your horse doesn’t feel as if he’s giving you 100% you may have been told to to ‘get him together’ a bit more. Understandably you’ve probably taken up the reins and put a lot more leg on in the hope that he’ll get his back end in gear but how often have you ended up rushing round the school with a horse that’s clearly more tense than energetic?

When you need more energy it’s important to remember you need to push your horse forward into your hand to get it – not pull him back. He may well forgive you a mistimed kick from your leg but every time you pull on his mouth he’ll tighten against you to protect himself. As his jaw tightens so will his body and his paces will become short and flat. It won’t matter how much leg you use – if your contact is too tight you’ll never get his body working correctly.

Getting your horse working correctly is easier than you think – you just have to stop thinking about it! What you need is an exercise that helps you to push him into your hand without you over trying and pulling back. Try this –

Trot large round the school. At E and B ride a transition to halt.  The aim of a good transition is to push your horse’s hindquarters under his body so his hips and shoulders get closer together and his back rounds. Any backward pressure on his mouth will make him tighten up his back and his body will stiffen – moving his shoulders and hips further apart. As his body gets longer his paces will flatten and he’ll lose energy.  That energy is vital to get you back up into trot again.

Sharp transitions are the key to this exercise. Balance is essential. Make sure your body is upright but relaxed – it is afterall what you expect your horse to do! Pull up through your body as if you’re trying to pull each vertebra apart  and look directly ahead not at the ground 20m ahead. If you stay balanced your horse will do the same.

Your horse will stay soft in his back if you stay soft in your hands and arms. Remember not to pull back. As you ask for halt tighten your fingers around your reins and point your thumbs down towards the bit rings. This stops you tightening in your elbow and setting your hand/arm against him.

Upwards transitions are as important as down! Although you want a good transition to trot again don’t be tempted to drop the contact to encourage your horse to trot on again – you’ll drop him straight onto his shoulders and make it impossible for him.

In time the aim of this exercise is to ride trot/halt/trot transitions at every marker. As soon as your horse becomes stationary trot on again so you don’t have time to think.  Focus on short, active transitions and you’ll soon be so busy thinking about moving between paces that you’ll stop thinking about anything else. Before you know it you’ll have a horse that is going freely forward from your leg into your hand.

Schooling is all about having a go at different things. Get this right and there’s no limit to the things you can achieve – but more on that next month …

Have a happy and successful 2013.

If you need more detail on your aids or how to teach your horse lateral work, counter canter or just straighten him up check out my site at www.schoolyourhorse.com or get in touch via Twitter (@pollson) or www.facebook.m/schoolyourhorse See you out there somewhere!

Lorraine Jennings.

 

Interview with J Broughton Photography

| Big Horse News | January 24, 2013

I was really pleased to be contacted by The Big Horse recently and asked to contribute to their blog. I'm an award winning family and equine photographer based in Bolton and working throughout the North West of England and my more of my work can be seen at 
www.jbroughton.co.uk 

I absolutely adore photographing horses and their owners, I love to see that bond between them and it has never been more obvious than in this shoot with Tracey and her horse Charlie and I felt really privileged to have been able to witness & capture it. We started the shoot in the stable where Tracey explained how Charlie had been badly treated before she owned him and how she gained his trust by talking gently and stroking and kissing his eyes and ears. When I arrived he was a little on edge and it was amazing to witness the calming effect that she has on him and I think it really shows in these images.



It doesn't often happen in a photoshoot but there was one shot that I just knew as I took it was "the" shot, the one that perfectly captured their relationship. I'm pleased to see that it now takes pride of place in Tracey's living room !

After spending some time around the stable we then set off for a short walk along the lane while it wasn't raining, in fact we were even lucky enough to have a hint of sunshine !



It seems that every owner has some sort of story to tell about their horses and their relationship with them and it's these stories that often inspire the shoot and give me a feeling of what needs to be captured, it's the stories that make equine photography so special to me.

You can see more of my work and get in touch either via my website 
www.jbroughton.co.uk or my Facebook Page 
www.facebook.com/jbroughtonphotography 

With kind regards,

Janet

GB Eventer Lauren Shannon – The Big Horse Interview

| Big Horse News | January 8, 2013

The Grueling Road to Success and Teaching the Next Generation

Eventing is one of the toughest sports there is and having a role model and mentor can make the difference between success and failure.   Experience counts for everything and if those with it can pass some of their knowledge on to the next generation, then the benefits are enormous.

Lauren Shannon, British 4 Star event rider knows this better than anyone, so as well as driving her own ambitions for Rio 2016, she is now devoting a significant amount of her time to teaching and advising others. Her pupils now range from those wanting to compete for fun in their spare time to the dedicated teenager who wants to follow in her footsteps and be picked for GB’s Junior or Young Riders team. 

Lauren, 25, is now an established rising star in Eventing; she was long listed for London 2012,  became part of Team GB’s 2012 Olympic Ambition programme, has won Best Under 25 Burghley 4* twice and was a Young Rider Gold Medalist aged 20.

But it has been a long, hard road to get here and her success was definitely helped by a decision she made at just 16.  Brought up in the US, she decided to move to the UK full time and  live with international eventers Mark and Tanya Kyle after they offered her a place working at their yard.

I knew that in order to make it happen I had to leave home and throw everything I had at this chance. Moving to the Kyles’ Yard meant I could throw myself into the riding and know that I would have help whenever I needed it. They were  my mentors and could show me the ropes. I had faith in their experience and knowledge and knew they would help me be the best I could be.”  

A Committed Teenager Away From Home:  Lauren then spent the rest of her teenage years away from her family, relentlessly working on her riding and training young event horses under the Kyles’ watchful eyes.  It was really tough and she was certainly thrown in at the deep end. They helped her find the right first horse to help her achieve her dreams; a young, quirky mare called Quixotic who accompanied Lauren when she moved to their yard in 2003.

A couple of years later in 2005, Lauren was indeed selected for the Junior and Young Rider teams but she couldn’t compete because of a broken collar bone. In 2006, Lauren was selected again with Quixotic and they won Team Gold with the British Young riders.  This was an amazing achievement baring in mind it was only 6 months after breaking her pelvis in a car crash. 

I know for a fact that I couldn’t have competed at all in 2006 without the Kyle’s help and guidance. To win a gold medal that year too felt like the biggest reward! Representing my country was an awesome feeling, and one I am adamant about repeating!”

Time to Go It Alone:   Lauren was then ready to set up her own eventing business and she took on her own yard within the Kyles complex so she could become independent without losing sight of her mentors should she need some advice or a lift to a competition if her own lorry decided not to start (which it happened on many an occasion!). 

A Big Leap Up to 4 star: A couple of years later in 2010, aged just 23, Lauren was competing in her first Burghley on two of her own, completely self produced horses; her first horse Quixotic and a gelding she had bought as a six year old from the Kyles, Zero Flight. She finished in 12th place with Zero Flight and became the highest placed British rider under 25 and highest placed rider competing at their first Burghley. She also won the HSBC FEI Classics TM Training Bursary which is awarded to the highest placed rider competing at their first four-star competition.

I was absolutely pole-axed,” said Lauren at the time “Everyone said ride to get round at your first Burghley but that is not my style – you have to want it and I had to ride to win.” 

After a few more encouraging 4 star results with Zero Flight coming 9th in his second Burghley (plus a second Best U25 Award) and Quixotic 17th at Badminton, she was selected for the World Class Development Squad and then long listed for the London Olympics with Zero Flight. An injury to her horse was a disappointment but the GB selectors asked her take part in London 2012 Ambition Programme which aimed to expose the next generation to their first Olympic experience.

I was asked to be one of five young eventers to go to London 2012.  So I saw it all first hand and went to London on my feet, but as part of a team, and I can definitely say that those few days spent at Greenwich has made me even more determined to aim for Rio 2016!”

Becoming A Role Model and New Challenges:  So as well as working on her own Olympic dreams, Lauren has begun to make a name for herself teaching and advising riders in the East Midlands. Becoming a role model and mentor herself to a new generation of eventers is proving a challenge which she is relishing; 

“I work closely with a number of young teenagers who are just coming out of juniors and need to step up to a more serious level. I want to help them be the best they can be, but I try and make sure they enjoy the journey too!  I get a huge amount of satisfaction watching them achieve their own personal goals whether it be getting to the Pony Club National Championships or completing their first double clear over the bigger tracks.   

I know how it feels to start out with just a dream! I hope someday to watch one of my gang ride their first Burghley.”   

As well as her pupils who come to her for lessons, the story has come full circle as Lauren feels she is  now ready to offer a working pupil place to a potential Young Rider for the 2013 Eventing season.  They would bring their own horse, live and work with her (she’s a very good cook too!) and hopefully tread the same path she did when she was a pupil at the Kyles. 

The way I’ve grown up in the British Eventing scene has been hugely rewarding and eye opening. it’s a tough old world out there, and its nice to know there is someone there to help all the time. I feel very sorry for all these kids coming up without the guidance I had. I already get so much out of watching the people I teach improve, and I would love to watch someone I mentor reach their goals.”

Lauren is based in Wymeswold, Leicestershire and has access to world class facilities for teaching and training. She also takes in horses for schooling, competing and selling.

 

You can follow Lauren on facebook and twitter to hear all about her news and views:

www.twitter.com/Shannoneventing

facebook.com/shannoneventing

And check out her website at:   www.shannoneventing.com 


Shannon Eventing

Mushill Farm
East Road
Wymeswold
Leics
LE12 6ST

If You Only do One Thing this Month – set yourself a realistic target

| Big Horse Advice | January 4, 2013

If You Only do One Thing this Month –

set yourself a realistic target

 

Who said New Year’s Resolutions had to be difficult? Why do you have to start a year depriving yourself of something only to fail miserably two weeks in and feel even worse than you did before? Dare to be different at the start of this New Year and don’t ‘resolve’ to do anything! Set yourself (and your horse) a positive target to aim for over the course of the year.

The thing about targets is they’re meant to be aimed at – whether you score a direct hit is irrelevant. Make small realistic goals that will help you reach your target and you’ll have fun trying. Remember nothing has to be done immediately – this is no overnight whim! You have the next 12 months ahead of you.

Your horse is only limited by your experience. Never doubt his ability to learn anything. Look at any professional rider and you’ll see them working their 4 year olds through lateral work or over fences you may think is way beyond their capabilities. When a rider is clear with their aids and knows exactly what they want to achieve their horse will always feel confident, relaxed and able to learn.

The best thing about a target is it gives you time. Decide what you want to do and if you’re unsure about it look up as much as you can online or in books. Have a few lessons – ask someone online if you can. There are plenty out there! (Find me at www.schoolyourhorse.com if you have any questions) Then work out your goals.

If you’re learning to ride you may well want to learn to canter by the end of the year. That’s an easily achievable goal – most novice riders can learn to canter in 12 months. A target needs to stretch you a bit more – aim to canter a 20m circle and a circuit of the school without a break. It’s challenging without being impossible.

Work through a series of goals to achieve that target by improving your position – read up on the canter aids so when it comes up you’re absolutely clear about what you’re asking your horse to do. Learning the theory of things isn’t a waste of time – it means when you come to put it into practise you’re all ready halfway there. Your instructor – and your horse – will thank you for it!

If you and your horse are competing happily at Preliminary why not try a few Novice tests this year? Each test you ride and work towards is a small goal. Set yourself a target of increasing your score by 5% from the start of the season to the end. (This is easily done if you improve your ring craft – don’t get hung up on your horse’s outline). Keep entering Preliminary tests too. Too many riders go up a level before they have a chance to reap the rewards at the previous one! There’s nothing wrong with winning. Enjoy it.

If you’ve always wanted to try lateral work give it a go this year. Don’t jump in feet first and confuse yourself and your horse. Slow things down and set yourself small goals that will get him more responsive first. Spend time sharpening him up to your leg aids. Work on getting yourself sitting quietly in the saddle so every aid you give really means something.

Anything needs to be straight before you bend it so work on the centre line and inside track for a few months so you’re absolutely sure your horse is listening to both legs and working into your contact before you even consider moving him sideways. Study the aids you need to give for leg yield, a turn on the forehand or shoulder in well before you use them on him. Time spent getting things right at the start makes everything else so much easier.

Every one has different hopes and dreams for their horse and their riding. Challenge yourself this year in a positive way. And be adventurous! Choose something you’d really like to have a go at but you’ve always thought would take too long to learn (or teach your horse). Don’t forget you have 52 weeks to get it right.

Have a happy and successful 2013.

If you need more detail on your aids or how to teach your horse lateral work, counter canter or just straighten him up check out my site at www.schoolyourhorse.com or get in touch via Twitter (@pollson) or www.facebook.m/schoolyourhorse See you out there somewhere!

Lorraine Jennings.

 

 

 

Horse Box Your Horse

| Big Horse News | December 20, 2012

horse box app

Like you, we’re horse owners, between us we’ve been caught short in every type of tricky situation, needing to contact a professional about our horse urgently, in the dark, in the rain and they ask us a question and our information is back at the stables…

So, we solved this problem by creating the simplest, easiest to use mobile horse owners app and named it “Horse Box”.

 

Here are two of our real life experiences of why we created the ‘Horse Box’ app….

horse box“My horse kicked out at a show, denting a door panel of a car, I panicked and couldn’t think what to do.”  Imagine how much easier dealing with that situation would have been if you had all of all of your horse’s details on you phone…

“We were at the yard and I could tell my horse as sick.” The “Horse Box” app makes a situation like this so much easier to deal with, all of your trusted equine contacts alongside all of your horse’s essential details.

That’s just two of the many reasons why “Horse Box” is perfect for all horse owners. Yet we knew that we could give the users more and so allow an unlimited amount of horses, which is for owners of more than one horse right up to those who maintain a stable.  All of your horses, all of your horses details in your pocket.

The app allows you to take and link photos to each of your horse’s profiles and allows you quickly view galleries of individual horses and share those pictures.

Alongside this, you can link all of your awards to your horses, so each horse has it’s own precious moments saved, view the five days ‘your location’ weather forecast, easily filter or sync all of your horse appointments to the Calendar so you never miss a date and refer quickly to the essential details from our Horse Passport logbook… the app is packed full of features, but the benefit is simple, all of your horse details in one place, “Horse Box”.

The “Horse Box” app is simple and easy to use, making it your quickest point of reference, you’re only ever a tap away from your horse.

Horse Box is available to download now on the Apple App Store and Android version is due out mid 2013.

Download the Horse Box App at bit.ly/horsebox

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The ” Edge of Glory ” tour 2012. Saturday 8th December.

| Big Horse News | December 10, 2012

edge of glory show

With Oliver Townend and Geoff Billington.

At Southview Cheshire. Been looking forward to this night for weeks. Turned up nice and early, parking wasnt to bad.

Walked into venue, definate chill to the air… brrrr. Had a walk about,  a look at the tradestands, got some cheesy chips, coffee and pick & mix and sat down and waited for show to start.

Feeling very warmed up by our hot food & drink and the crowds that had started to fill the venue we felt a tinge of excitement as the lights went off and the show started. The entrance to James Bond  was clever and funny… you could of gotten bigger guns boys…..!

The lunging lesson was more hysterical than informative with the Equestrian version of The Chuckle Brothers having a competitive competition with each other….one at each end of the arena.

The rest of the show was great with an appearance by the local pony clubs playing games and Oliver and Geoff joining in. Bit of cheating going on we think…….

Oliver presented 2 twins with an 18th birthday gift off a friend which was nice. The Showjumping was brilliant, They even jumped wheelie bins, with Oliver sat inside one at one time. Bit of “Im a Celeb” and ” Xfaxtor” thrown in with poor Geoff getting harshly judged by the Judging Panel  with Simon Cowel AKA Oliver….!

The horses looked and were amazing, so  groomed, preened and polished to perfection…how do they do that..?? We wish Geoff and his bride to be all the best for their oncoming wedding, hope they have a wonderful day.

Great night had by all, lovely start to our xmas festivities here at bighorse, look forward to the next time.

The dos and don’ts of towing a horse box

| Big Horse Advice | December 7, 2012

The dos and don’ts of towing a horse box

How often do you tow your horse box? Do you check the condition of your box regularly, and is your towing bar strong enough to cope with the extra weight of a box and horses? Towing a horse box can be a real challenge, especially if you only hitch up a handful of times every year. So here are a few dos and don’ts to towing a horse box that will hopefully keep you, your horse and other road users safe.

#1 – DO make sure your car is strong enough to tow

Make sure that the vehicle you use is powerful enough to cope with the job of towing. Not only is this basic common sense, but it is also enshrined in law, and if you tow a horse box with an underpowered vehicle not authorised to pull that amount of weight then you could be fined, and your insurance could also be invalidated.

UK legislation dictates that the laden weight of the trailer (including the weight of any load such as horses!) should not greater than 85% of the unladen weight of the car. You will also need to bear in mind additional weight such as tack, feed and water.

Some vehicles are specially designed for towing, and if you are going to be using your hitch and tow box regularly then it may be worth while looking for a 4×4 vehicle that is designed to tow larger trailers. They’re also much better at coping with muddy fields!

#2 – DO understand the principles of weight distribution

Towing an unevenly distributed weight can very quickly lead to a loss of control and the trailer starting to ‘snake’ – when it zigzags from side to side. This can be particularly risky when transporting a single horse in a two-horse box or trailer. In most two-horse boxes, there will be a removable partition in the middle. However, to prevent the horse from moving around too much and throwing the trailer’s centre of balance off, it is wise to leave the partition in place. The horse must be loaded onto the right-hand side of the box (behind the driver). This improves stability when cornering and makes the vehicle and trailer much more controllable.

#3 Do practice first…

If you’ve never towed a trailer before then practice with an unloaded trailer beforehand. You should include reversing and manoeuvring so that you can get used to the sensation of towing.

#4 – DON’T underestimate the effect towing has on your vehicle

You will be surprised just how much of a difference hitching a box to the back of your vehicle will make to its handling. So before you set off remember to ensure that your tyre pressures are correct, that all lights (including internal lights in the box if you’re travelling at night) and brakes are fully functional, particularly during the winter.

#5 DON’T forget your horse passport!

Since 1st August 2009 it has been law that you carry your equine passport with you whenever you are travelling with a horse, no matter what the destination or how far you’re travelling. Failure to do so could result in a £5,000 fine.

#6 DON’T forget about insurance

If the worst happens and your box is stolen or damaged, replacing it can be very expensive. Horse box insurance can give you the peace of mind knowing that your vehicle and also some contents such as tack are covered, and you won’t be facing a huge bill should they be lost or stolen. Horse box insurance can also include overnight stabling for your animals, which can be invaluable if you’re faced with an emergency!

If you only do one thing this month – Keep it the same but different!

| Big Horse Advice | December 1, 2012

Do you ever go in the school without a clue about what you’re going to do? There’s nothing worse than not knowing! It’s bad enough that you don’t know what you want to do but if your horse feels your doubt you might as well put him back in the stable.

There is very little in life that you’ll start without a clue as to what you’re going to do. Imagine leaving the house without knowing where you’re going? Or going for a hack without a route in mind? Why should a schooling session be any different? Before you even arrive at the yard make sure you have a plan.

Your plan doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be as easy or as tricky as you care to make it but make sure you have time! Nobody learns well in a tense environment so if you’re short on time choose something your horse can do well and enjoy it.

Plans involve goals – all riders need something to aim at – but make sure yours are achievable within a session. Don’t head out to tackle counter canter if your horse has only just understood your aids to canter – and if you’re planning to teach him to leg yield aim for one step at a time not the whole width of the school. Long term targets are great – they’re meant to be aimed at. Goals are meant to be scored.

Whereas your plan will keep each session different and interesting for you and your horse your warm up keeps things consistent and settled. Start with a set routine andhe’ll relax far quicker because he knows what’s coming. Even a lazy horse will make more of an effort if he knows you’re going to push him every time.

It’s important to use both reins equally – and all three paces. Many riders will have a quiet wander round on the buckle, spend 15 minutes in trot and then finish off with a couple of circuits in canter but this is your warm up and in it you need to ensure you’re using all of your horse’s muscles equally. Each pace uses different muscles so it stands to reason that you should use them all for the same amount of time.

Try this -

1. Walk two circuits on each rein on a long rein
2. Take up your reins and walk two figures of eight
3. Trot a 20m circle at A, B, C and E. Change the rein and do the same.
4. Canter a 20m circle at all four points on both reins.
5. Trot once large, walk and halt so your horse is in no doubt you’ve finished.

It’s not just your horse that will find the same warm up settling. There’s nothing quite like a routine to get you focused. If you start a session knowing exactly what you’re going to do it you’ll find it increases your confidence too.

No horse needs to be dominated. But they all respond well to consistency and positive riding. Small changes make a huge difference to the way you take charge. If you know what you’re going to do you’ll be more relaxed and more assertive. Your horse needs a leader. This month make sure it’s you.

Lorraine Jennings.

If You Only Do One Thing This Month

| Big Horse Advice | October 31, 2012

GetAttachment

Change the way you think about schooling! It doesn’t have to be boring. It’s not impossible. And just half an hour a week can make a real difference to your horse’s fitness – and yours.

Schooling is just another form of exercise. Anyone can do it and with any horse. A school is level, non slip and kind to your horse’s legs. Why wouldn’t you use it?

In winter the school is often the only place you can use during the week as daylight hours are few and far between. Knowing what to do is 90% of most riders’ trouble. You need a plan. Whether you decide to trot 30 circuits of the school, practise your dressage test or teach your young horse to canter make sure you have one before you put the tack on! (If you’re not sure what to do check out my blog at www.schoolyourhorse.com )

Don’t think you can’t school your horse because he won’t go on the bit. On the bit is a by-product of schooling; a combination of clear aids and good exercises; just as jumping a 3ft fence is. It’s not essential at the start and it isn’t necessary at the end. If your horse is balanced and moves forward from your aids (and stops when you ask!) then he’s responsive and well mannered. If that’s enough for you then what’s the problem? Learn to enjoy riding your horse for what you get out of it – not what other people expect you to do.

Whatever your level the basics principles of schooling a horse are the same. Your horse’s job is to do whatever you ask, whenever you ask – wherever you ask. It’s that simple. Your job is to make it easy for him to understand.

Consistency is the key to good schooling. The biggest cause of any schooling problem is tension: the biggest cause of tension is confusion. Make sure you and your horse understand each other by setting your rules and sticking with them. That applies to everything you do. Do you allow him to snack on the hedgerows when you’re hacking one day yet not the next? Let him walk off as you get on sometimes but tell him off on others? If you do it’s confusing and unreasonable. Decide what you find acceptable and stick to it. He’ll thank you for it.

Do you only feel as if you’ve achieved something if you leave the school sweating? Think again! Schooling doesn’t have to be hard work physically or mentally for either of you. Your whole aim is to get your horse out of his stable or field and moving. By doing that you’ll always improve his muscle tone and his stamina. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself while you’re at it either!

No person or horse learns well by being constantly battered with information. If you only do one thing this month do something you both enjoy. Something you find easy. Take time out to actually enjoy what you can do and you’ll both leave the school on a high. What’s more you might even want to go back in next time

Lorraine Jennings.

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Selling Horses

| Big Horse Advice | August 23, 2012

sell horsesMaking the decision to sell your horse can be a very hard. It is the first step in making a commitment to your horse that you will do everything you can to find him or her the best possible home in a reasonable amount of time, fairly priced and with reasonable expectations.

Now that you have decided that selling is the right thing to do for you and for your horse you need to decide how much you are willing to sell him/her for and how you are going to market him or her

You determine your asking price by reviewing what similar horses are selling for, evaluating his/her experience and training, age, specialty areas, achievements in competition and what you need to make you feel comfortable about the deal.

Continue reading »

Welcome To Our New Website

| Big Horse News | July 30, 2012

Will-the-big-horse

Hiya and a Big welcome to theBighorse.com

This site has been set up because of my love for horses..and in memory of my beloved and sadly lost horse “Will”.
Apart from buying and selling horses we are hoping to cover every aspect of the horse world, from clipping to equestrian propertys, so as a NEW site please give us your support.

Big thank you to all our followers on Twitter and Facebook. www.facebook.com/BighorseBighorse/

www.facebook.com/TheBigHorse/      www.twitter.com/Thebighorse2012

Guest blogger Lorraine Jennings  “If you only do one thing this month”  Great schooling tips for you and your horse……

Jan 2013  Read our interview with GB rider Lauren Shannon.

Check out our new advertisers HORSEBOX, a great app for your iphone.

JBroughton, Amazing photographer, read her blog now, and The Fat Pony,  Love him, read all about his weekly antics in his new blog on big horse.

A great story from JBroughton Equine Photography,  And the wonderful  Natasha Adkinsons Preparations For RIO 2016.

Having trouble with your horsebox, something not right? Check out the advice from Kevin, from Kevin Parker Horse boxes LTD.

Why horseback riding is becoming more popular……..

Have you looked at The Original Rug Bag yet…?

Have a look at the little barker bakery, Great horsey treats tried and tested by us, here at bighorse.

Great exciting news, look out for our BigHorse Store, coming soon, full of lots of horsey things that we hope you will like…………… ;-)

xXx

 

 

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