When it comes to keeping your event horse looking and feeling his best throughout the busy season, Childéric Saddles ambassador and top international eventer Gemma Tattersall has some great tips and advice to ensure that your horse remains happy and healthy.
“One of the key factors when looking after the event horse is consistency and keeping a good regime. I cannot stress how important this is for any horse but especially event horses. Obviously this needs to fit in around your competition schedule, but it is important to maintain a routine in all areas from feeding and care through to training and fitness work despite travelling and competing.
When it comes down to being fit enough for the job, its up to you and the rider and trainer to get your horse fit (and of course yourself!) so that he is fit enough to do what you ask of him. Having a fit horse not only makes eventing safer but also decreases the risk of injury. If your horse has to have some time off, then build this into your competition schedule to make sure that you allow time to build him back up slowly and properly. Most horses will have some time out during their competitive career, so allow them enough time to recover and get strong before putting the pressure on.
Remember to build saddlery, vet and farrier appointments into your schedule, so that you don’t miss any of them! Your horse’s shape will change over the season, so regular saddle checks are essential. We choose to ride in Childéric Saddles because they offer the horse total freedom of movement and also give me a much more secure position – which in the long run is beneficial to both of us! Remember to keep up your horse’s vaccinations, this is really important but even more so if like us, you travel abroad a lot!
Make sure you treat your horse as an individual and be flexible towards his needs. For example one of my top horses is quite hot and finds it difficult to focus on his work. We made a change to his routine and he now lives out at night, which has made a massive difference to his behaviour resulting in a much nicer horse to ride!!
It is also important that you feed your horse according to type and temperament and according to work load. If you have a hot horse make sure you increase feed behind his workload and if you have a horse that you struggle to keep weight on, then increase feed ahead of workload. It sounds simple, but a lot of people get it wrong and if you are still unsure seek advice from a equine nutritionist to ensure your horse has the right fuel in the tank!
I always make sure that I train well at home and put in the hours leading up to a competition so that I prepared, as much as I can be. If you practice jumping skinnies and spooky things at home, then hopefully your horse won’t be so surprised when he sees them at a show and you thus you will hopefully have more chance of negotiating them successfully!
Finally, don’t forget to have some fun with your horse. It’s very easy to become too focused on winning and lose sight of enjoying your time with your horse, so go for a fun hack or do something completely different and the change will certainly do you and your horse the world of good!
Photographs courtesy of David Miller