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If the weather suddenly turns and your horse needs a rug for additional warmth and protection, then it’s essential to have the correct fit.  Too tight would be uncomfortable, and too big would cause it to slip, either way, you’re destined for a grumpy horse. So whether you’re in the market for a new rug,  you’re not sure which type of rug you need or you simply want a few pointers on how to measure your horse for a rug, we’ll guide you though with all you need to know to achieve the perfect fit.

Types of horse rugs

So you know you need a horse rug, but how do you know which type you need?  With so many things to consider, you’d be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect of choosing.  So it’s worth mentioning that seasonality, functionality, the ever changing weather, and reason for buying are all contributing factors when deciding, so let's take a look at the different types of horse rugs . . .

Turnout Rugs - As horse owners, we know that outdoor life is essential to a healthy horse, and so is the right rug.  This is where turnout rugs come in. Designed to withstand the outdoor elements while keeping your horse clean and dry, a turnout rug offers warmth and protection thanks to it’s waterproof components.  For the spring and summer months we recommend a lightweight turnout rug, then for the colder months we recommend a heavyweight rug. Both of which are available in a choice of fabrics and fillings, so you can be sure you’re choosing the right level of cover for your horse.      

Stable Rugs - With the unpredictable ways of the British weather, it’s always good to be one step ahead, so say hello to a stable rug!  Intended for indoor use, they are quilted for added warmth but they are not waterproof so if you need to venture out of the stable, then don’t forget to change rugs.  

Travel Rugs - Designed with comfort in mind, these rugs offer lightweight protection against dust, flies and other irritations while travelling.  Providing cover from the withers down, you can rest assured your horse is fully protected while on the road. Don’t travel often, but need a travel rug?  Don’t worry, you could always use a fleece, cooler rug or fly rug instead due to it’s similar lightweight properties.

Fly Rugs - You know yourself how annoying those pesky flies can be during the summer months, so it’s only fair to protect your equestrian friend from the same. Fields can be a magnet for unwanted bugs, so a fly rug will soon become your go to choice for summer turnouts.  Available to buy in 3 sections for the body, neck and head, your horse will be fully protected and able to enjoy the great outdoors.

Cooler Rugs - Breathable, functional and practical, a cooler rug is a must when helping your horse to cool down after exercise.  Specially designed to soak up any moisture, a cooler rug enables your horse to cool down gradually, preventing any chills while he’s drying off.  Made from microfibre fleecing or lightweight polyester, a cooler rug offers maximum sweat absorption.

How to measure a horse for a horse rug?

So now we know the types of rugs that are out there, let's talk about how to get the perfect fit, by following these simple steps.

Step 1 - Ensure your horse is calm and co-operative, and you have your tape measure to hand.  We recommend using imperial measurements and a soft tape measure as opposed to a metal one to avoid any injuries or kinks in the measurements.

Step 2 - Measure the horse from the centre of the chest (where you’d expect the top buckle to sit), all the way along to the furthest part of the horse, just before the tail (where you’d expect the rug to finish).  We recommend measuring both sides a few times to cater for movement. Don’t measure all the way around the horse as this will add extra inches that will ultimately result in a rug that is too big and may slip around causing discomfort to your horse.  

Step 3 - Make a note of the measurements and don’t forget to factor in the fact that rugs are measured in 3 inch intervals, so a 6’ 1” measurement would require a 6’ 3’’ rug, not a 6’ 0’’.  

Top Tip - Don’t be afraid to ask for help if needed.  Either to assist with the tape measure or to keep the horse calm,  after all this may be a strange experience for them, and no one needs a startled horse while trying to take measurements!

Common measuring mistakes

There’s nothing worse than waiting for your new purchase to arrive only to find it doesn’t fit, so to avoid any disappointment, we’ve compiled a list of what not to do . . .

  • Keep in mind that a winter rug carries additional padding as opposed to a fly rug which is lighter, so if your horse is borderline, it may be worth going up or down a size to factor this in.

  • Don’t take previous measurements as gospel.  Your horse’s measurements may change over time, so it’s always worth getting an up to date measurement before purchasing your next rug.

  • Always remember that brand sizes may differ.  As with clothes for ourselves, a horse’s size may fluctuate from brand to brand so if in doubt contact them directly for confirmation.  

As always if you have any further questions regarding how to measure a horse for a rug, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.  Our friendly team are always on hand with expert advice to guide you through your next purchase. And don’t forget, show us your stable style by using #tackville for a chance to be featured on our social media. 

13 Feb 2019 08:51:11 By Chris Foster Tips,

So you’ve heard the term “lunge” when it comes to exercise, but do we know what it actually means?  Perhaps you’re new to horse riding and its vast terminology? Or perhaps you’re an experienced equestrian but have never truly known the correct definition?  Well, fear not, as we have all the information you could possibly need for a successful session for both you and your horse.

Lunge definition - what does it mean and what does it involve?

Lunging, or “longeing” as it’s also known refers to a technique of horse training where your horse moves around you in a circle at the end of a lunge line, responding to the commands of the handler (aka you).

To lunge a horse requires confidence in the commands you give, so make sure your voice is ready and your horse understands each prompt by using the same tone for each signal.  This will avoid confusion and distress for the horse, ensuring you are both getting the most out of your time.

Why do you lunge a horse?  

As a form of exercise, lunging is an excellent way to let your horse burn off energy without having to ride.  It’s great when time is short or as a warm up before a long ride or event. It's also a fantastic tool for teaching obedience and helping to maintain focus on those all-important show days.  Other reasons to lunge include getting to know a new horse, rehabilitation after injury, eliminating bad habits, introducing obstacles or teaching a young horse to carry a saddle. But ultimately, it’s an opportunity to develop any areas you think needs work.  

Benefits of lunging a horse?   

There are so many benefits to lunging a horse.  Some of the main reasons include increasing flexibility, improving fitness, relaxing the horse, and of course improving discipline and behaviour, which is good preparation before a competition.  Not only this, but it helps riders to teach new skills without having to control the horse at the same time. Plus, it’s a fantastic way of observing a horses gaits, which is especially important if you are looking to buy, because after all, no one wants to commit to a horse that could potentially be lame.  The most common gaits are walk, trot, canter and gallop therefore by lunging a horse, it gives you the chance to see how he moves. 

How long should I lunge my horse for?

This depends on what your goal is.  You may spend more time lunging a young horse when teaching it new tricks or if you’ve just bought the horse to establish its strengths.  In this case, you may spend anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes. However, for a mature, familiar horse you may only need to spend between 5 and 10 minutes, as this can work wonders due to its physical demands.  

How to lunge a horse . . .

So now we know the hows and whys, let's talk about the best way to lunge a horse by following these simple steps.

Step 1 - Preparation

Having everything ready is essential for a smooth transition from the yard to the ring or arena.  You don’t want to waste valuable time having to run back for an item you’ve forgotten, especially if you are already against the clock.  For your horse, you will need a well-fitting cavesson, lunge line, a lunge whip and some form of leg protection eg exercise boots, wraps or pads.  The cavesson should fit snug across the nose area without slipping, then for the lunge line, we recommend a lightweight fabric such as polyester or nylon, as rope can be heavy and has potential to cause friction burns.  Then for yourself, we suggest wearing sturdy boots, gloves and even your riding hat for added protection.

Step 2 - Getting started

Once everything is in place, it’s time to lead your horse to the ring or arena.  When you have entered the area, take your horse to the centre of the circle you intend to work.  A general rule is that if you are working to the left, then the lunge line will be in your left hand and your lunge whip in your right.  Alternatively, if you are working to the right, then the lunge whip will be in your right hand and your whip in your left hand. Imagine the lunge line and the whip as the sides of a triangle, yourself as the top and your horse as the base.  It’s important to maintain this triangle while training so keep your arms relaxed and your elbows slightly bent as you move around.

Step 3 - The commands

Successfully lunging a horse means having him follow simple voice commands and subtle cues from the lunge line.  Start by asking your horse to walk, then increase to trot and eventually canter. Using the commands correctly enables your horse to understand when to increase or decrease speed and even change direction.  Don’t be disheartened if it takes a few attempts to master, with enough practice your horse will soon pick it up. Keep the commands short, sharp and consistent so the horse becomes familiar with your tone and can distinguish between each request.

Step 4 - Using the lunge whip

As with any new skill, practice makes perfect, but using a lunge whip acts as an additional form of control, which is important for your horse when understanding what is expected of him following each command.  The whip is never to be used as a form of punishment or out of frustration, it is simply used as a form of encouragement. Sometimes a gentle tap on the ground, or pointing down can indicate a decrease in speed, for example going from a trot to a walk, whereas cracking the whip or waving it in the air can indicate an increase in speed for example going from a trot to a canter.  

Do’s & Don’t of lunging a horse. . .

  • Do put horse boots on your equestrian friend while training to avoid injury as this may cause your horse to become lame.

  • Do enjoy it, it’s vital to understanding your horse, how they move, areas to improve, therefore extremely useful for both horse and handler.

  • Do make it fun, it’s a fantastic exercise for your horse, plus it also enables you as the handler to learn new skills without having to worry about control while riding.

  • Do maintain the circle - essential for keeping control, so keep the lunge line held up, don’t let it drag across the ground.

  • Don’t class it as a form of punishment. It’s an opportunity to learn, develop and improve on skills, gaits, balance and flexibility.

  • Don’t have any distractions, especially when starting out.  It’s important for the horse to give you full attention while listening to your commands.

  • Don’t wrap the lunge line around your hand during the session.  This could cause injury to you if the horse suddenly bolts or becomes distressed as he could drag you with him with little or no warning.

  • Don’t give up.  When starting out, lunging can seem like a mammoth task with an untrained horse but we promise with regular sessions you will develop a fantastic bond and ultimately gain their trust resulting in their co-operation and obedience.   

15 Jan 2019 08:33:59 By Chris Foster Tips,

Horses need shoes due to the fact that rough ground can damage their hooves. They are also susceptible to standing on sharp objects which can cause further injury. With this being said, horses can also go without shoes, but wearing them can help to prevent excess wear on their hooves as they help to protect the hoof wall.

If you are debating whether to purchase shoes for your horse, then there are a number of things to consider first, including -

  • Your Horse’s Health - Imbalances can be made worse by lack of support so a shoe may help with improving balance. Also, if your horse has a condition such as cushings, this may also increase the chance of changes in the hoof capsule and cause unevenness and increased wear.

  • Hoof Growth - If your horse has hooves that do not grow very well then this can lead to an imbalance and poor hoof health and may benefit from shoes.

  • Age - Foals have more plasticity in their hooves which can benefit the correction of anatomical deformities.

  • Weight - A heavier horse will put more pressure on a horse’s hooves which can increase wear and the need for shoes.

  • Breed - A number of breeds are more prone to foot imbalances which can put strain on hooves.

  • Surfaces - You also need to consider the ground in which your horse will be exercising most often on. Surfaces such as tarmac, concrete and stone will cause more wear on hooves whereas soft ground will be less abrasive.

  • Jumping and Racing - If your horse is regularly taking part in racing or jumping then they will be more prone to developing cracks and shoes can help add strength and traction for better landing.

It is also worth noting that some horses also do not require shoes to be worn on all four hooves and may only need shoes on their front feet. You should always make sure that hooves are fitted properly as putting nails into the hoof wall incorrectly can lead to infection.

There is often a debate as to whether horses require shoes or not, but if your horse is often on hard ground and is jumping, racing or pulling a load then it is often advised that a pair of shoes is to be worn. Many horses have been seen to perform better when they are wearing the right pair of shoes, whether that be jumping, racing or pulling loads. If your horse is more often than not just hanging around in a field on soft grass then they probably won’t benefit from shoes. A good pair of properly fitted shoes can also help to aid a number of ailments, including, contracted heels, laminitis, flat feet, sole bruising, tendonitis and sand cracks.

Many horse owners worry that shoes will hurt their horses feet due to the fact that they are nailed into their hooves. Attaching a pair of horseshoes does not cause pain if fitted properly and the horse should not feel any discomfort while wearing them.

If you have chosen to give your horse shoes to wear then it is recommended that they replace these once every four to six weeks. A horse’s hooves are constantly contracting and growing so it is important to regularly assess the state of their shoes.

At Tackville, we stock a range of horse equipment including stable accessories and products to help you take care of your horse. Take a look through our range of well known, reputable brands for essential horse care products featured alongside our rugs, clothing, riding boots and helmets.

21 Dec 2018 14:16:03 By Chris Foster Tips,

How to Tack Up A Horse

As a fellow equestrian, I’m pretty sure we are all familiar with the term tack, but the question is, are we tacking up correctly?  Is it something you do on autopilot? Or perhaps you are new to tacking up and need a little advice? Either way, this handy guide will give you the confirmation you need and point you in the right direction.  From saddles and stirrups to bridles and bits, we’ll teach you all you need to know for a comfortable ride for both you and your equestrian friend.

First things first - preparation!  Ensure your tack is set out nearby by and each part is easily accessible for when you begin.  It’s a good idea to check that the tack is the correct fit, clean and in good condition. Never ride with a broken or very dirty tack as this could make your horse extremely uncomfortable which may lead to a difficult ride and behavioural problems. Keep your equipment clean and tidy because after all, a healthy horse is a happy horse.

Where to begin.  A common question when tacking up is what do you put on first?  We have created a step by step guide full of information, tips and advice to ensure a comfortable ride for both you and your horse.

Step 1: Secure the horse.

This may sound obvious but it’s best to make sure your horse stays in one place when tacking up and that you remain safe - no-one wants a runaway horse in the middle of tacking up!  It’s also a good idea to use quick release snaps when tying them up, just in case they become distressed and you need to free them easily.

Step 2: Groom the horse.

Before you begin to tack up we recommend spending a little time grooming your horse first.  Not only does this relax them, making them more likely to co-operate, but it also ensures they are fit to ride.  It’s not advised to put a saddle over a dirty horse since this can cause saddle rub which of course can become painful, so brushing them eliminates the risk of this.  We also recommend checking over the hooves with a hoof pick to make sure they are clean and secure.

Step 3: Saddling Up

It goes without saying (although here I am saying it) that a saddle should be well fitting and positioned correctly on the horse’s back.  The initial fitting should be carried out by a qualified saddle fitter but as the rider, you should be able to position the saddle correctly going forward and identify any areas that require attention, so here's how:

  • The first thing to do when saddling up is to place the numnah or saddle pad on the horses back, just below the withers.  Gently slide it into place but try not to slide it forwards as this could irritate the horse's skin. Make sure it’s the right thickness as it is not meant to be used to alter the fit of the saddle.  If this is the case then it's time to invest in a new one.

  • Slide the stirrups up on the straps, taking care that they don’t hit the horses side.

  • Place the saddle onto the horse and slide it back until it sits in its natural resting place.  It should not make contact with the withers or spine and should not restrict the horse's natural movement.  The saddle tree should sit behind the horse's shoulder blade when in place.

  • Attach the girth.  This is where it all comes together.  Buckle the girth on the right-hand side then move around to the left of the horse to secure it by pulling the girth towards you from underneath.  Horses tend to puff their stomachs out when they are being tacked up so it’s a good idea to check this again to make sure it's the correct fit. Ideally, you should still be able to fit 2 fingers underneath when it's at the correct tightness. Now bring the stirrups down on the straps.

Step 4: The Bridle

It’s best to untie your horse at this stage as the bridle needs to slide over the head with ease.  Then simply follow these steps for the perfect fitting bridle.

  • The first thing to do is put the reins over the horse's neck.  This allows for better control.

  • Place your fingers on either side of the bit and gently guide it into the horse's mouth.  We suggest using a snaffle bit as these are less severe for the horse and also great for beginners who may be a little heavy on the reins!

  • Then slowly slide the headpiece up and over the horse's ears and loosely buckle the throat latch.

Bridle and Bit checks:

The above assumes you already have the correct fitting bridle, but if you would like to check then we’ve put together some helpful tips below:

  • The headpiece should lie comfortably behind the horses poll (the point immediately behind the ears)

  • You should be able to get 2 fingers underneath the browband and noseband.  This ensures a comfortable fit for the horse.

  • The cheekpieces should be buckled equally on each side to ensure the bit fits comfortably in the mouth.

  • The bit should sit flat in the mouth, leaving around 1cm on each side.

Step 5: Mounting your horse

Now that you have saddled up, the bridle is on and you’ve double checked the girth, it’s time to mount your horse.  Where possible we recommend using a mounting block as this puts less strain on the stirrup leathers and stops the saddle from slipping down.  It’s best to mount your horse from the left-hand side or near side as it’s also referred to. This is the traditional way and goes back to the days when horses were used in battle, therefore the riders would have to mount while carrying weapons such as swords.

Hopefully, this guide has given you everything you need for a comfortable ride and the ability to tack up alone if you are new to riding.  We have included some FAQ’s below but of course, we are always on hand with additional help or advice should you need it.

Don’t forget to show us your stable style by using #tackville to get yourself featured on our social media!

Common questions:

What side do you tack up a horse on?

We recommend tacking up on the same side that you mount the horse, which is usually the left side as the horse will be more used to activity on that side of its body.

What tack do you put on first?

There can be a little variation in this but here at Tackville, we suggest the saddle pad first, followed by the saddle, stirrups, girth, bridle, bit and reins.

What goes under a saddle?

We recommend using a numnah, or saddle pad as they are also known.  They provide extra comfort for the horse by cushioning the saddle area to relieve pressure on the back and also absorb any horse sweat.  Ensure your saddle pad has a snug fit to prevent back fatigue, sore muscles and also minimise saddle slip.

How do you hold the reins?

Mount your horse. Hold the reins with both hands at the top of the loop.  Wrap the reins around the first three fingers on each hand, leaving your thumb and little finger free.  Clasp your hands together on a loose fist. Turn your hands so your thumbs point up and slightly towards each other and are about 10 - 15cm away from each other.  Hold the reins at the right tension for optimum control. Beginners are advised to use reins attached to a gentle bit such as a snaffle bit as it could hurt if they are tugged too hard.  

How do you know if your stirrups are the right length?

To find the correct stirrup length, sit in the saddle with your feet out of the irons. Relax your leg and allow the stirrups to bump against your feet. The bar (bottom) of the stirrup should hit your ankle bone.

How do you clean tack?

Looking after your tack is essential for maintaining a comfortable ride.  Avoid a build up of dirt, hair and mud with regular cleaning. We advise doing this frequently or after each ride, but if that's not always possible, once a month should do it.  Start by wiping the tack down with warm soapy water. Apply saddle soap to the sponge and work into the leather. Make sure each area is covered from top to bottom and underneath.  Wipe down with a clean cloth to remove excess suds then for any stubborn dirt we recommend using a toothbrush to get right into any corners or tricky areas.

 

28 Nov 2018 16:09:29 By Chris Foster Tips,

So I am honored to be a guest blogger for Tackville International. Since the day I remembered, horses have been the recurrent theme of my life. Born in an equestrian family, I started riding at the age of 6 and today, 25 years later, horsesport is still my alltime passion.

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31 Mar 2016 11:37:48 By Liesbeth Liesbeth, Meet Liesbeth,
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