How to buy a horse, the Jouvin way….

Let me start by saying I have had a rocky road over the last few years with horses… for whatever reason I have ended up with unsuitable animals, mainly I think because as a vet nurse I’m naturally a rescuer and like to give animals a chance! But over the years this has resulted in me having unsuitable horses and a real confidence crisis. The girl who used to gallop off and jump 10 ditches in a row on Exmoor physically shaking at the thought of even getting on!, but all was not in vain, and the winding road eventually got me to where I needed to be…..

Through one of these rescue horses I discovered Normandy Cobs, and because of one of these rescue horses I found myself last year sitting at the kitchen table belonging to Georges Jouvin and his family. For that, I will be forever grateful.

I wasn’t looking for a horse to buy last year. I was way too broken. But these strangers extended me so much love and support that this year, after saving up every single penny I could, I returned to find my new steed, or as it has turned out, as destiny always does, for her to find me!

The Cob Normand, or Normandy Cob is a beautiful beast indeed, and can turn his or her hoof to almost anything. A rare and precious breed, sadly in decline they are a classy animal, incredibly versatile, and if anyone on this planet knows Normandies its Georges!

A breeder and enthusiast of over 50 years its quite clear to anyone who meets him that Georges lives and breathes these horses. His son Franck is also an incredibly talented and accomplished horseman, and works alongside his father and his own sons Charley and Mathis on the farm. And with Sally on translation duties ( among many other things!) and Georges wife Marie Rose making sure everyone is looked after they really do have a winning team!

In the UK buying horses is a complete minefield. Unfortunately there are many unscrupulous characters, keeping horses here is very expensive and so selling horses becomes a bit of a game. You might go to view a horse you like the look of, see it for maybe half an hour and then be expected to make a decision really fast. When do we ever spend real time with the horse, really find out what its like, or ask for a “confidence giving horse who we can have fun on”, rather than , “for example a 15hh to 16hh gelding, black with no vices”

So much emphasis seems placed on how the horse is bred, what colour it is, what sex it is, whether it comes with tack or not and how old it is! Not whether it is actually the right horse with the right skill set, personality and temperament for you!

By writing this blog I’m hoping to help you understand what to expect if you visit the stud looking for a horse. Some of the experience is obviously best left to discover yourselves , the process itself if one to be cherished without too many spoilers! But there are certain things I am willing to share, mainly because I wholeheartedly believe in what they do, in how they sell horses, and I feel so blessed to have stumbled upon this little gem in the depths of rural France, and this time round.. I can speak a bit more French!

The Jouvins’ Normandies can turn their hooves to anything, from sporty hunters to RDA types and everything in between, but not every horse will suit every person, and so, essentially, Georges likes to meet you! The horses are too rare and precious for it to go wrong. It has to go right, for the horse! And the horse takes priority. Always.

A couple of days spent on the stud with him and trust me, Georges and his team will have you figured out, It actually blew me away how figured out they had me even after I first met them, so much so that when the horse they had chosen for me was presented by Franck in his own unique way, it put tears in my eyes. Someone had finally listened, and understood. And got it right! They seemed to understand me, and my needs better than i understood myself! And not only that.. he had worked me out on my first visit, almost a year ago, and not shown this horse to anyone since. Because he knew she was for me!

I went with no preconceptions. All I knew is that I wanted one of the Jouvins’ Normandies, and i wanted it mainly for TREC GB and a little foreign breeds showing too.

Sitting down and deciding what you want in a horse is really important, and actually very difficult when you really, properly think about it. Going through this process forced me to be honest and decisive about what was really important.

I wanted a horse who had no bad experiences, who was confident in his or her own skin, who was a people person. A horse who had been started sympathetically but with good boundaries, one who hadn’t been over faced, but had a very solid basic foundation. I wanted a horse who was good on the ground, who was safe to have around the yard. I wanted a horse capable of stepping it up when I asked for it, but with a calm temperament to give confidence to me in sticky situations. And I wanted a horse that I could take away for a weekend with confidence to do TREC GB. This is a very challenging sport where the horse really has to be an all round good egg! I didn’t care how old that horse was, what colour it was, how big it was or what sex it was, just that it was the right horse for me.

All of the Jouvins’ Normandy cobs are blessed with a solid foundation. They are trained from foals with kindness and from decades of experience .They are bred in the first place for temperament ! When I asked Georges last year what is most important to him for breeding, he pointed at his own head and said ” tete!”, so this was already a given. These beautiful horses are exposed to everything they need to be for life. They are the lucky ones.. a horse produced like this will have a home for life.

With all this in mind, and with a list of ” ideals” in order of importance ( nice person being very top of the list) It was Franck who knew 100% which of the horses was mine…. and he who made the final decision..

And when I met her, I knew almost instantly why…..

Almond is not only a great example of a Normandy cob, but a great example of a JOUVIN Normandy Cob. She is a 16hh bay mare. And she is incredible.

Franck presented this horse to me in a way I have never ever been presented a horse before. Because I want her for TREC.. Franck took us off to the woods to do TREC!

She was up and down very steep inclines, through water, up on podiums, over logs, low branches. He showed me how bombproof she is, Ever the French gent, Franck even picked us some cherries from a tree! But most importantly, when I sat on her I felt like the world was my oyster.

Watching Franck take her up a hill into the woods and navigate all the undergrowth it dawned on me, that not only was this a TREC horse, but a national level potential TREC horse. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. I think the Jouvins must think I’m in a constant state of crying! But these were happy tears.

My best friend Lisa came to France with me, i wanted to share this experience with her. She said she hasn’t seen me looking so confident on a horse for years, and if anyone knows me, it’s Lisa!

Almond has only been with me for a week now, and I can’t believe how much we have already done together. Her manners are impeccable, she and I have been hacking out alone through the village numerous times, she is a sweet sweet person and I feel like the luckiest girl on the planet.

This horse instils complete confidence. Of course i have had to put the brave pants on to try these things out, riding in the lashing rain, riding when harvest is taking place and there are tractors everywhere, riding past flapping plastic and dogs and in new places…. but the trust I have in the process is such that, even this, for me, was easier than it ever has been and she really hasn’t let me down.

She’s no automaton, and certainly not a plod either.. she is forward going and she looks at things of course, all this is very new for her ! But I know that when she asks me a question, and I answer with “go on girl, you’re ok” , she accepts my decision and we carry on, with no tantrums, fireworks or dangerous behaviour!

And not only that.. she’s absolutely stunning. A real classy mare that I am proud to call my own. A beautiful Normandy Cob from the Jouvin stud representing their decades of hard work here in the UK….

The communication throughout has been really good, with thanks to Sally for that! Without her it would be very difficult indeed! The photos of vettings and updates on training and transport are of the utmost importance when you’re in another country, and the Jouvin stud is a transparent, honest and professional place. They really do want to provide a good service alongside the good horse!!!

And me?

Well I’m the luckiest girl that ever lived…. I cannot thank my new found French family enough, and I feel that I not only have found a beautiful horse, but some beautiful friends too….

Watch out TREC GB.. we are coming for ya!!!

If you go, and I recommend you do… look out for Jojo De Jy….

One of this years foals who incredibly generously has been named after me… and yes… there were even more tears when this great honour was given to me… as her “Normandy cobmother” I will be following her progress with great interest ❤❤❤

More details about the Elevage Jouvin can be found at http://www.normandycobs.com

Come join my Cob Normand facebook group here to share your experience or learn more about this incredible rare and precious breed of horses…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1733333963565548/

The Wave fork.. is it worth the price?!

I was recommended last year to try out a revolutionary new shavings fork, if there could actually be such a thing!

The wave fork is an ergonomically designed piece of mucking out kit which can be fully personalised to your colours, with adjustable handle grips and a wave design to the forks which is supposed to make mucking out a bit easier and a bit more fun!

Well I’m all about a bit of matchy and I’m very tall, often finding shavings forks a bit too short so I decided to bite the bullet and bought one, for the hefty price tag of nearly 40 quid!

I have been using it for a just under a week, and honestly? It’s , well, ok! The positional grips are great, and its long enough for a tall person like me, but being longer does have its disadvantages!

For a shavings bed it does work well, but I find that the plastic prongs are actually not that strong, so picking up a heavy dropping is a bit of a struggle. Also getting right underneath the dropping to pick it up feels a bit cumbersome and while i thought the length of the handle would help me it actually ages things feel a bit heavier… it isn’t the best with small pieces of dropping either, i was losing a lot through it when i was using it.

It’s not the end of the world though, it does the job adequately and its easily identifiable as mine on the yard too.

The wave fork comes with a 5 year guarantee, which can only be good news. The prongs are strong and have a little bit of fleas to them, so i think it would be quite difficult to break one, but if you do you can just replace one, rather than needing a whole new tool.

Mine does not really fit together well at the end junction and has a bit of a wobble to it, I’m not sure if this is because its a bit of a bad design or whether mine is faulty but instead of going through the hassle of sending it back to try another I have decided to live with it.

One thing I have to mention here though is that for poo picking in anything but the very shortest of grass its awful!

I accept that it’s probably not fair to judge a shavings fork on a job its not intended for, but many people do use their forks to poo pick the field, and this just isn’t up to that job as far as i am concerned. It’s just not good at picking up the whole poo! It gets really stuck in pretty short grass, and when the grips get wet they are really slippery.

I got very frustrated with it very quickly.. metal prongs are definitely the way forward for that daily job!

All in all if you want something that looks cool with your matchy colours just for mucking out shavings beds, or even for the lorry, then its ok. But its quite a recommended retail price to pay for something which can be done a lot better by a tool which is considerably cheaper.
Sorry wave fork, you’ll do for now but I wouldn’t buy you again…..

A passion re-ignited!

My last horse Bear was tricky… really really tricky! Like a bad relationship he was sugar and sweet one day and dangerously worrying the next. I tried for 2 years to get along with him, cherishing the good times and always giving him the benefit of the doubt but when he buggared off at breakneck speed away from home at a show ground full of children I had to admit defeat… but not before my heart was broken. Really really broken.

Bear is a rare breed. A Cob Normand, or Normandy Cob. A versatile animal with a wealth of agricultural and military history. When he came to me I started a Facebook group for those of us who were lucky enough to own one, a little haven where we could all discuss our trials and triumphs, our dreams, our successes and in my case my ongoing tribulations! We shared photos and experiences of our magnificent horses and started to do our best to get the word out in the UK about this rare and very special breed.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1733333963565548/

The Facebook group started to slowly grow and it was so great to connect with people who even knew what a Normandy Cob was! It is here that I met Sally Lee.

Sally popped up on our timelines and it was clear from day one that she knew about these horses. Living in France and being a very dedicated and passionate lady she would give us useful insights about how they are trained, bred and used over there. She offered fantastic little snippets about their heritage but always being careful not to overstep her mark and advertise, because Sally works with the Jouvin family in Normandy who have been breeding , selling and developing Normandy Cobs for decades, but she wasn’t here to sell their horses. She has zero problem selling their horses for reasons I would soon be finding out! She genuinely wanted to help us all learn more about them.

She is a kind person is Sally Lee. When I was starting to have really dangerous issues she even offered to have Bear over to France and see what might be done with him! We had a couple of chats on the phone and online and I think she will admit, really didn’t blame me when I decided enough was enough and he went back to the charity I was loaning him from.

Sally knew I was heartbroken, I was literally so distraught having made one of the toughest decisions in my life and so she did something amazing…

she invited me to Normandy……

So before I had talked myself out of it, there I was! An English woman with very little French vocabulary, on a plane to Dinard with a hirecar waiting for me at the other end, driving on the “wrong” side of the road to meet a person I have never met in a rural location that you can’t even put into the satnav to see what Normandy Cobs are really all about! I must be mental! What if she’s an axe murderer!? What if the Jouvin stud is all bad animal welfare but good marketing? What if it wasn’t what it said on the tin?! What if my gut feelings were wrong?

My plane was delayed. I didn’t get to the house until gone 10pm, but when I did there was a smiley face, a home cooked meal and a massive hug with my name on it and I knew we were gonna be ok, in fact later that evening when there was a horse trying to come into the kitchen I knew for sure that these were my kind of people!

My first glimpse of the Normandies was when Sally and I went the next day to check some 3 year olds. I felt a real wave of emotion as I watched them walk over to us. These horses were the reason I was here. This rare and incredibly special breed who had already brought me to some wonderful people was finally right in front of me, calm, inquisitive and very politely saying hello!

They couldn’t have made a better first impression to be honest. They are unashamedly classy, great conformation, beautiful coats and the kindest of eyes. Friendly without being overpowering, interested without being pushy. Just beautiful animals who are a credit to their breeder. Better than I was expecting. I couldn’t wait to get to the stud and meet some more.

I got my chance the following morning .We went off to meet Georges Jouvin, known affectionately as the Normandy CobFather, and the rest of his family at the Jouvin stud. I had no idea of the day that I had in front of me. After meeting the family over the kitchen table I realised how terrible my French actually was! There was lots of nodding and gesticulating and we were able to communicate with Sally kindly translating, but I really didn’t know what to say? How do you get across how important these people are to you, when you’ve actually never met them before?

Georges is a warm man with formidable knowledge. His life’s work is right there on that farm and he has nothing to prove to anyone, the horses speak for themselves. I was instantly impressed by him, and his wonderful family who did ever so much to make me, a complete stranger feel at ease and immediately like part of the furniture. People like that are rare. Just like these horses!

It was genuinely a real treat for me to drive around with Georges in his car to see his precious horses. Some here, some there, in small groups and bigger ones, living out, happy and healthy and beautiful. Different colours and weights but all 100% Cob Normand with 50 years of breeding for temperament behind them.. and boy did it show! They were so much more impressive than I had imagined. Pure class runs through their veins, pure calmness in their hearts and I knew that I was in a really privileged position to be here, and learn more about them. There were a couple of real moments for me when I couldn’t believe how lucky I felt. It was such a beautiful day.

Georges showed me everything.. 50 years of legacy, equipment, carriages, horses, family and love. 50 years well spent! I learned very quickly not to ask their names but George knows every single one of those horses inside out. It’s absolutely amazing. No wonder Elevage Jouvin have such a good track record for matching people up with their prospective horses! They do things differently. They do things right!

We came back to the farm for a bite to eat. Wonderful home cooked French cuisine prepared by MarieRose, Georges wife. She looked after us as if we were her own family and I instantly understood who was at the very heart of this wonderful family. Georges son Franck joined us and we attempted a conversation, it went very well and although I understood much of what was being said, along with Sally’s brilliant translating I have since committed to learning some more French! Had more of a look around the farm, including a hilarious moment with Georges and the torches on our mobile phones which I will forever remember with a smile, and eventually all came back to the house for a coffee.

We chatted away for ages, and I was sad to have to go, I walked out of the kitchen door only to find Franck and 2 of the farm’s finest all tacked up and ready to go at the front of the house. I had met these two beauties earlier but had no idea that he was getting them ready for us! I was completely shocked and honestly a little overwhelmed.. we were going driving!

Trotting around the Normandy countryside, having a go at driving myself for the first time in many many years and a speedy adrenaline infused trip round an orchard later I don’t think I have ever felt as relaxed and happy. Franck has a great and slightly mischievous sense of humour, and thought it was hilarious that Sally was clinging on for dear life in the back while I was laughing my head off in the front. That man knows what he is doing. He is 7 times national champion for heavens sake! How often do you get to experience driving with one of those?!.! They really didn’t have to do this. It was absolutely above and beyond and I just wasn’t expecting such a brilliant end to a brilliant day. I found my inner adrenaline junkie and I saw what these horses are capable of. They are amazing, just amazing.

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Of course we had to leave the farm, I just didn’t want to go. I did a bit of sightseeing over the next day or two, we even got to visit a French village fete which was an experience and a half! I was sad to head home, but I went with my heart full of joy and knowing exactly where my next horse was going to come from. Confident as I could be. That this time it was going to be right!

Despite the stress and the heartache I am so grateful for Bear. Without him I would never have met these people. This troublesome horse who broke my heart had led me to the very people who could help me mend it. The irony has not escaped me, but I see now that that was his job. To lead me there. To extend my family.

I cannot wait to get back there, it can’t come soon enough! But next time.. I’ll be looking for a horse of my own, and I’ll able to say more than “bonjour” , because a family like this deserves my utmost respect.

à très bientôt mes amis!

to find out more about the stud visit http://www.normandycobs.com

for fantastic riding wear for larger ladies go to http://www.fullerfillies.co.uk and use joannabrownAMB at the checkout for 5% off

Alice jacket

Recently I have got quite into showing, entering a few ridden and in hand classes and so my trusty old tweed was dragged out of the cupboard.. it was a bit tight over the shoulders and not the most comfortable to wear all day, so enter stage left the Alice tweed from Fuller Fillies!

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This is truly a quality piece of kit. Well cut and generous in size, I particularly like the fit of this jacket and would be comfortable in it all day!

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The Alice tweed does something that some show jackets just don’t manage. It looks chic but is subtle and neutral,not drawing attention away from the horse himself. You can cut a line and looks fabulous,but for all the right reasons! It’s also insanely practical with perfect pockets!

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For a more in depth review and a closer look check out my video review below. Happy to answer any questions as always!

For 5% off use JoannaAMB at checkout

https://www.fuller-fillies.co.uk/show-wear/214-alice-tweed-show-jacket-by-fuller-fillies.html

Taking your horse on holiday? Consider Thetford forest!

For two years running I have had the pleasure of taking my horse away for a few days holiday. It’s a great way to bond with your horse, test a few boundaries and most importantly have some fun!

When looking for somewhere to take them for me I was after somewhere safe to ride with good going and comfortable accomodation for my friends and I. Also,we have horses… so budget was a factor too!

We settled with Little Lodge Farm in Sandham Downham

Www.forestlodgeholidays.co.uk

The lodge offers different types accomodation . We went for a lodge cabin. There are paddocks and stabling available for the horses and we were all very comfortable staying in our lovely lodge cabin with a veranda overlooking the river . Perfect for a glass of something cheeky. The horses were also very settled which was very important for us. And we all felt that it was great value for money.

The lodges sleep 6 but 4 is a more practical number. We found with 6 of us it was quite a squeeze.

There are 2 bedrooms, a double with en suite and a twin. And 2 sofa beds in the living area. Fridge space is quite small so if you don’t want to go out for shopping to Brandon (which is not far away) enough food for 6 people for a few days won’t really fit. There is no freezer space.

Decoratively the lodges are really tasteful, clean and well equipped and the layout is practical and easy to live in!

Trailer and horsebox parking is up by the paddocks so we brought anything of value into the cabins for security.

The paddocks are well laid out and have recently had a fencing upgrade. Everything you need is There, water trough,tap. Good big mounting block. Clearly this place has been designed with horses in mind!

The highlight of the place for us was the forest itself. If you want long canters? You’ve got them! Windy sheltered forest tracks? Plenty of those! Not to see another soul all day? Just the deer!

The forest is laid out in a grid so it’s not too difficult to navigate, my horse has built in sat nav anyway so we never worried about finding our way home!

We particularly enjoyed a good splash about in the river. Bear managed to soak everyone in a 5 mile radius I think! He loved it!

The tracks deserve a special mention. The ground is literally perfect !Flat, well drained and sandy. Any older horse or one recovering from injury would have no problem with rutted or unlevel ground. You can really go for miles without finding a single hole! Some of the tracks are really long too, you can go fast knowing you’re not going to have any unwanted surprises!

There are plenty of little logs to pop and close to the farm there are a few set out as a little course too.

I know that little lodge sell out fast and we needed to book months in advance, but they do sometimes have last minute cancellations on their Facebook page.

All in all I would recommend the place to anyone.

Go for it, you’ll have a friendly unobtrusive welcome and a wonderful time.

Value for money : 5/5 I actually don’t think forest lodge charge enough for their facilities!

Experience :5/5

Customer service :5/5

Facilities :4/5 .

My gated paddocks had a bit of a sticky latch and we had a small problem with our cooker but I’m 100% sure that these will be sorted.

Could do with a few shavings forks so you don’t need to bring your own for poo picking the paddocks. There were some but they were very bent and it made the job quite tricky!

Weather…. well you cant order that! But we were really lucky. If it’s raining you can get under the trees and if it’s boiling hot you can also get under the trees

Midges: 1/5 . Bring insect repellent!

What to pack? Comfort is a must so i couldn’t have been without my fuller fillies puppi joddies! Especially after we got soaked! They held their shape and stayed comfy even when wet! Haha

http://www.fuller-fillies.co.uk/hacking-trail-riding-wear/66-fuller-fillies-puppi-jodhpurs.html

For 5% off fuller fillies use code JoannaAMB at checkout

#iamfullerfillies #cantbeatthosepuppis

 

Big Girls.. Don’t Cry!

We are not all size 10! But that doesnt mean we can’t have nice things to wear around our horses!

I have been a customer of fuller fillies for 15 years or so now and have tried most of the range over those years. I’m a tall 5’11 size 20/22 rider and much as I would love to go waltzing about in Pikeur and Musto breaking hearts as I go, unfortunately they consider a size 16 to be extra large and I can’t even get the damn things on past my elbows! So, instead, I walk around in fuller fillies breaking hearts as I go!

I’m a big fan of fuller fillies joddies as they are just cut so beautifully and my size 9 “canoes instead of feet” are also very grateful for stylish riding boots that go on and zip up comfortably. Today though I want to focus on the classic Sheriffe jacket.

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This is an absolutely first class every day yard jacket. It’s practical and flattering and the first thing I reach for on spring or autumn days when the weather could be a little wet or breezy.

Its a great jacket if youre grooming at a show and want to look smart to support your rider without being in full show regalia! But its also fab to ride in every day

I have always found jackets to be a little tight over the tops of my arms but this one is just not like that, even when riding with my elbows bent and its cut low enough over the back to flatter curvier ladies.

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Priced at around £80 It’s great value for money too!

Style: 5/5

Budget: 5/5

Practicality: 5/5 great pockets! Cut for riding!

The only downside I could find with the Sheriffe is that you can’t get it in different colours and own more than one!

Want one? Buy it here! And add code JoannaAMB at checkout for your 5% discount

https://www.fuller-fillies.co.uk/stock-clearance/48-fuller-fillies-sheriffe-jacket.html
#iamfullerfillies

Bloomin’ abscesses!

So my big boy has got a hole in his foot

And when I say hole I mean HOLE!

I was looking for something to keep his hoof clean while it heals,and to allow turnout (he’s very difficult to handle without it!) And I came across this medical boot made by woofwear

 

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It comes in 9 sizes and you really do have to measure to make sure you get the right fit. It’s a tight fit but it really doesn’t budge and although he largest size is ever so slightly too small for Bear he’s completely enormous so it’s the story of my life!

Made from neoprene and feeling really like a wetsuit it’s not waterproof but its really flexible

Day one I was really happy. Boot went on and stayed on and although his foot was very hot when I removed it not a drop of mud had got where it did not belong!

Day two. Small hole in the front. Stayed on all day. Zip broke removing it

Day three. Put it on. Vet wrapped and duct taped to hold it on. Did the job and didn’t budge. Another small hole appeared

I’ve been using it like this ever since and it’s doing the job ok even though I’m having to tape it on.

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Ease of use : It’s brilliant. Takes 2 mins to take on and off but it’s very snug so you have to pull hard!

Fit : fits very well over the hoof. And trust me it doesn’t move! My horse was turned out in his with an over reach boot and it survived him charging about.

Cost : Woofwear say it lasts 10 uses. In fact mine lasted 2 before the zip went. Even though ive bodged it and can still use it this is not good value for money. Please #woofwear sort out the robustness and you’ll be onto a real winner here!

Would I buy another? Yep. It’s a handy thing to have for an emergency.

Let me know your best tips for keeping a foot dry in a muddy field and we can see if anything tops this!

Jo x

 

Woofwear club overreach boots

So. My poor horse managed to fracture a hind pedal bone about 7 weeks ago and as a result has been on box rest and now outdoor pen rest ever since. He also has a big egg bar shoe on one of his hinds and a normal shoe on the other. When I say big I mean huge. Bears feet are enormous!

Being barefoot normally I was worried about him sustaining and overreach injury, he has had them in the past and they can be really painful and slow to heal so I bought a pair of these to turn him out in to prevent him getting one!

First thing to mention is the sizing. Much like almost everything else in the horse world I really struggle to find things to fit Bear. He is 17hh and 865kg of chunky Normandy Cob and he has the kind of bone you rarely see these days! I bought the extra full size,and genuinely expected them not to fit,but fit they do and with room to spare! Completely delighted with this! Something actually fits!!

They are super easy to get on and off and fit well over the heel. They look very smart too and once I’m back riding I’ll be very happy for him to wear these out and about!

Made from neoprene they also wash really well and the Velcro is super strong. I would be surprised if a horse managed to lose one of these! When new they really take a hard tug to get apart!

The thing that has impressed me most is that these overreach boots haven’t budged an inch. I check them daily and they are still exactly where I left them! There has been no rubbing, no trapping of dirt or hair and certainly no discomfort.

For turnout they are perfect and well worth the money. I think I paid about £25 for them. Having not tested them for any real riding work I can’t comment on that.. yet! But if you want a comfy reliable turnout boot then these are definitely with considering.

Well done woofwear. Super quality again!

HAAS brushes from eqclusive

I decided, since the horse is clearly staying and I only had literally 2 or 3 brushes in my grooming kit that it was time to invest in some new brushes for him.

I put the request for recommendations out on our sister Facebook group “horse products tried and tested” and surprisingly overwhelmingly the consensus was to look at a set of haas brushes. These can be bought singularly online or are sold in colour packs by eqclusive.com.

Colour packs? I have to admit I was very sceptical. Being a veterinary nurse I’m very aware of the kind of marketing that makes us buy stuff for our animals, but when i looked into it there is actually some real sense behind it.

I went for the dark bay/black colour set because despite my horse actually being bright bay he has a slightly coarser and sturdier coat than the softer dustier coat that the chestnut/bright bay pack described. I have also heard from friends that they are great for poo stains on greys!

Now let’s get one thing super clear. I absolutely hate grooming. I don’t enjoy it and as such I’m the first to admit that I don’t do it as regularly as perhaps I should! My horse lives out (minimally rugged) for a huge part of the year and has a very very dense coat which I clip in the winter. It’s so dense it’s like velvet and if I allow it to grow he looks like a yak!

I ordered the brushes from eqclusive.com. Had I only needed one or two I would probably have sourced them individually, but for people wanting to put together a show grooming kit or a first grooming kit then the packs are a handy way to get the brushes you need. They are not cheap however, and so I was excited to receive them and try them out.

There was about a month delay in the order being dispatched (made clear when I was ordering) but the sleekeze I purchased for moulting was sent earlier on my request and is an absolutely brilliant thing. I would recommend it to anyone, however it is just a hacksaw blade on a block so if you’re crafty you could easily make one.

My brushes arrived earlier than expected and beautifully presented in a posh box with instructions on which order to use them.

The box didn’t last long as it’s cardboard and a tight fit so not the most practical.

The brushes themselves have really confusing and slightly pretentious names like “cavello” and “lipizzanner”. If I were selling as a pack I would number them which is essentially what I’m going to do with a sharpie pen.
The idea is that you brush your horse once or twice over with the brushes in order and each one does a slightly different job… lifts scuff, removes dust, adds shine, polishes!

Tentatively and not expecting much I gave my horse a 10 minute groom.

I. Could. Not. Believe. The. Result!!!!!

The brushes fit really well in the hand and are comfortable to use. The first couple of brushes really did get out deep scurf which couldn’t see! My horse had been bathed a few days beforehand and still the grime was still coming up. It really stays on the brush too so I would recommend using the curry comb inbetween strokes.

The brushes seem to put on more and more shine and in particular the difference on his face was pretty amazing! For someone who doesnt like grooming i can confirm that this was a very rewarding experience!.

We went out showing this weekend to a huge show and got 3rd place in a well supported best condition class and I’m sure the quality of his coat played a part in this.

I would recommend these brushes to anyone. Whether you do your research and buy them singularly or go for a colour pack I don’t think you would be disappointed .

They are an absolute show kit essential, particularly the “diva” which is the most gorgeous lambswool and gives an epic shine.

If you’re hesitant? I believe that eqclusive do yard visits to demonstrate them.

Go for it and let me know what you think!!

Making good decisions

I have decided that 2016 is to be the year of good decisions. I’ve changed my job ,changed my location to better suit my lifestyle and I’ve felt the stress melt away… But one thing was still weighing heavily on my mind…. And after 3 years of owning her… I changed my horse…..

To admit that a horse isn’t the right one for you, especially after having high hopes and dreams and investing time money and effort.. sometimes the bravest decision can also be the hardest one.
I had got to the point where my young horse had scared me to the point I couldn’t get past it, and so regrettably I let her go to somewhere better suited to her needs.
Once the decision was made my whole life became lighter.. And the most interesting thing in talking to so many equestrians is just how often this happens!!! I don’t think there was a person I talked to who hadn’t had a similar experience. I spoke to a few who had carried on regardless and since regretted doing so, being frightened of their horses for many years and as a result not enjoying them.

I now have a wonderful boy on loan who is slowly restoring my faith and my confidence and I’m safe in the knowledge that my last horse has a much better chance of a happy life elsewhere and will have a secure future forever .
Spirit was a rescue and so as such never truly belonged to me. The organisation who she came from have been absolutely brilliant .. Equine rescue and rehoming. And I’m confident that they will find her a better match.

In the meantime I have a full year planned out .. I’m getting ready to start reviewing show gear!!!

I guess what I’m trying to say is this… Horses are a very expensive hobby. Expensive in time, money, work, effort. When it’s just not working its better to admit this to yourself and find a better match! It’s a bloody expensive way to be miserable!!!
Nobody worth their salt will judge you for it, and although there are inevitable emotions involved you may just feel a whole lot better about life! Trust me! As soon as my decision was made the whole world came off my shoulders and I started remembering what it’s like to love horses again.

To be struck with “The Fear” as one of my lovely fellow liveries calls it, is no fun at all.. And while some may work their way out of it, if you feel unsafe or unable to cope there’s absolutely nothing wrong with moving on. Like a bad relationship it can be damaging for both parties if you carry on regardless.  Do what’s right for YOU. You won’t look back!!

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