"As we all know, horses like nothing better than to get down and roll as soon as they've been groomed or bathed.Well this foal decides to get up to speed on the bath-roll-bath routine in one very busy day! Check out this very cute video about an inquisitive foal."
The Australian International Three-Day Event (14-17 November) in Adelaide is fast approaching... And they've organised a publicity stunt with a twist!
"When the organisers of Barbury Horse Trials painted Laura Collett’s horse with the Union Flag last year, the photos were everywhere - it's not often you get to see a top rider in a dress going cross-country on a painted horse, after all. This year the Aussies have taken it a step further. To promote the upcoming Australian International Three-Day Event, Olympic silver medallist Megan Jones has been pictured riding her Olympic horse in little more than her underwear and body paint.
After spending a whole six hours in make-up, which is an undertaking in itself as any horsey girl knows, Megan braved the outdoors to ride round town and promote Australia’s only four-star event. At least Australia's climate is somewhat better than here in the UK!
It certainly is eye-catching and an incredible piece of artwork - you really do have to look twice to see that there's something amiss with her jods and tailcoat. But it does leaves the H&C team wondering, what next? Is there a British rider out there willing to going even further and take on the role of Lady Godiva? Watch this space…"
"The hours spent at the stables are the happiest of my life"
H&C's web writer Charlotte is grateful to have spent her youth hanging round the stables...
"Riding as a child kept me out of all sorts of trouble. When my friends were dossing around Croydon’s Whitgift Centre every Saturday chasing boys, I was down the yard chasing ponies. When mates complained that school holidays were boring, I wished they were longer so I could cram in more time riding.
I didn’t come from a wealthy family – I had a Welsh mountain called Cobweb on loan, whom I shared with my sister, and he lived out, year round, at a stables that can only be described as ‘primitive’.
But the memories I have of my time spent there are the happiest of my life. Total freedom, a gang of friends and herd of often unruly, scruffy ponies. What little girl (or boy) could want for more?
Horses gave me purpose – and they still do today. Those girlfriends that spend weekends gossiping, shopping and obsessing about the opposite sex, still seem to spend their free time, gossiping, shopping and obsessing about the opposite sex. None of them have a hobby, something which takes them out of themselves and away from the stresses of everyday life. Unless you count hours spent pounding on a running machine, or going fast but going nowhere on a stationary bike – all lined up like rats in a lab.
Luckily for me, riding also keeps me fit without depressing trips to the gym and it keeps me sane, without the need for therapy. A quick chat with a horse and a grooming session, and everything suddenly seems so much better.
My daughter has now taken up riding, much to my delight – and my husband’s horror (“the expense!”). But I keep telling him that horses will keep her on the straight and narrow. They’ll teach her responsibility, respect and how to fall off and get back up again. Horses make you tough, but they also teach you the importance of a kind word and a gentle action.
I know not everyone is lucky enough to get the opportunity to ride, but who knows, maybe if a few more people rode, we’d have less obesity, less teenage pregnancy, less ASBOs and less problems with drugs and alcohol."
H&C's web writer Charlotte welcomes the recent spate of Team GB medals, but says the real success story from London 2012 will be if we can see a genuine increase in riding at grassroots level
"Twelve months on from the London 2012 Olympics, where Team GB won an incredible 17 medals in equestrian sport, the horsey world is reflecting on the ongoing impact of this success.
According to Will Connell – the man at the head of the World Class Performance programme – the Games have “generated a belief in Britain as a sporting nation”. No longer do we celebrate the failure of our sporting legends (think of Eddie the Eagle). We’ve had enough of taking on the role of the underdog, as we have discovered that taking centre stage is far more rewarding.
We now have expectations of our sporting heroes - we know that they can hold their own against the very best in the world, and are disappointed when they don’t deliver.
Take Britain’s performance at the penultimate leg of the FEI Nations Cup series at Hickstead, for example. We fielded a strong team (Ben Maher, Scott Brash, Robert Smith and Will Funnell) and when we came fifth, I was shocked.
Thankfully, the team went on to win the final leg in Dublin and equilibrium was once again been restored. But I did have a bit of a wake up call - can our Olympic success story continue?
Meanwhile, our younger riders cleaned up at their own European championships - winning double gold in eventing, double silver in showjumping and even a historic two golds and one silver in dressage. It looks like we may be in serious dangers of getting a reputation as a nation of winners...
While it’s fantastic news that British young riders are winning medals – and lot of them – what's really important in terms of the legacy of the Olympics and Paralympics, is whether more riders at grassroots level take up the sport.
We need more riders, more exposure, more owners and more sponsors if we are to remain a nation of winners.
The Hoof initiative was introduced by the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) to promote and increase participation in horse riding and its Take Back The Reins courses are already running at over 80 riding centres around the country.
Park Lane Stables in Teddington, London has already seen the benefits of the course. Its proprietor Natalie O'Rourke said that they’ve seen a “massive increase in participation” since the Olympics.
The more young people that can get into riding, the better. But are we doing enough to encourage newcomers into our fantastic sport?
If winning medals is what it takes to get people riding, lets hope they keep coming. With the Europeans just around the corner, the hopes and aspirations of a generation are riding on our equestrian’s shoulders. No pressure then…"
H&C's web editor Victoria is glad she's not the rider in this video...
"We've all been there... At a competition, all set to go, when the weather takes a sudden turn for the worse. As our show jackets soak through within minutes, our gloves become useless, slippery rags and our cream jodhpurs immediately turn see-through, we ask ourselves 'Why do we do this?'
But riders are made of tough stuff, and we're good at battling through against the elements. Hats off, then, to this rider who copes when the sky suddenly turns black in the middle of her freestyle test..."
The H&C team is thinking of ditching the water troughs and installing paddling pools instead...
"You may have seen Alice Oppenheimer's recent blog on how she's been keeping her horses cool during the recent heatwave – you know thing type of thing, a bucket of cold water and a sponge, electrolytes, schooling indoors where possible. But from the looks of this video, it looks like she might have missed a trick.
So next time you're worrying about your horses overheating, get out the paddling pool and let nature take its course. You might not be able to make a horse drink water if you lead them up to it, but it seems if they wander up of their own accord, they might just lie down it..."
H&C's web writer Charlotte says we need more loyal owners for British equestrianism to stay at the top of its game...
"Beverly Widowson has won the FEI Owner of the Year award for the second year running, and my first thought was ‘wow, lucky her’ to have owned not one, but two showjumping greats.
Last year she won the accolade with Carlo 273, who Nick Skelton rode to to double bronze at the FEI European Jumping Championships in 2011. This year her award comes courtesy of what is surely the best showjumper in the world right now – Big Star.
So yes, Beverly is very lucky. Then again, who knows how many horses she has bought over the years who didn’t make the grade and didn’t bring her much glory. Her husband, Gary, used to compete himself so he knows only too well the highs and lows of the sport, and how much time and money can spent on something that turns to nothing.
So when a horse like Big Star comes along and the big money offers inevitably roll in, it must be pretty tempting to take the money and run.
The Widdowsons bought the talented stallion as a five-year-old, specifically with the London Olympics in mind. Job done , gold medal won – so why not make a million or two and move on? Many owners would have, and who can blame them?
So maybe that makes Nick the lucky one. Lucky to be offered the ride on one the best horses he’s ever sat on, and lucky to have such loyal owners.
Admittedly, Carlo was sold to Sergio Alvarez Moy earlier this year, but as long as Big Star stays on British soil we still have the world’s best combination on our side.
We’ve always had some of the best riders in the world, it’s just a lack of horse power that prevented us from winning an Olympic showjumping gold for 60 years.
So what British equestrian sport needs right now are more loyal owners. With team and individual gold won in the dressage and team silver in eventing, we have hard proof that Britain is one of the best equestrian nations, now all we need is for the various owners to hold their nerve and hang on to their horses.
So much with horses comes down to luck, so a rider needs to do all they can to ensure that luck is on their side leading up and during a major competition. Having supportive owners enables them to do just that – to make the right decisions about where to compete, to not push the horses too hard, too quickly and to afford to keep them in peak condition.
Owning competition horses isn’t about having an ego, or having your say. It’s about digging deep financially and emotionally, staying loyal and trusting your rider’s instincts.
Which is why if you ask most top riders what they couldn’t compete without they’ll say their owners. Without them, there would be no horses, and without them, well equestrian sport wouldn’t have quite the appeal…"