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27.12.13

Mud Fever Maintenance

Unfortunately the entrance to my horses paddock is muddy...fortunately he doesn't suffer with mud fever, *sigh of relief*, but I am not leaving it to chance so I take measures to prevent mud fever occurring. 

Before we go any further...what is mud fever? 
It's veterinary term is; equine pastern dermatitis, and most commonly occurs at this time of year, when conditions are moist, wet and muddy, a few other triggers can  be friction from boots, sweating, mites, bacterial and fungal infections (outbreaks must be managed as the mud fever - dermatophilus - bacteria can live up to 42 months within the removed scabs, ewww. Please ensure dispose of these safely and do not let them fall into bedding/paddocks - disinfecting your grooming brushes is also advisable after an outbreak if they've been in contact with the area). 
What does it look like?
Picture from Google
Most frequently seen at the back of the heel and pastern, the most common signs are matted areas of hair containing crusty scabs, small circular ulcerated, moist lesions beneath scabs that can contain a thick, creamy white/yellow/greenish discharge. There may also be swelling and heat in the limb and noticeable discomfort when pressure is applied and possible lameness. Also take note if your horse stamps their feet in discomfort/itching,as this is often a sign of mud fever or mites.
Always seek professional advise from your vet if you are concerned your horse may be suffering with mud fever.

What preventative measures do I take?
My horse, Oscar loves turnout, so I take extra special care of his legs to ensure the mud doesn't get the better of us! Here is our routine that works for us, take from it as much or as little as you need:
Familiar sight?
  • I hose his legs down - yes, controversial I know but as I said, it's what works for us - I do this straight from the field and as the paddock is only muddy at the entrance the mud is still wet and easily glides off. 
  • My favourite tool is my hand, I run my hand down Oscar's leg with the water checking for any lumps, bumps, heat or discomfort. I then run my hands through his short feathers that I keep trimmed - this gives me easier access to check his heel, less hair for the mud to cling to and makes his leg/heels easier to clean.
  • When I have time (I'd like to do this every time but there aren't enough hours in a day - oh to have a hot shower at the yard) I dilute some Milton (yes, babies Milton) with boiled kettle water that's had time to cool and sponge this onto Oscar's legs to disinfect the area instead of hosing. 
  • After both of the above methods I thoroughly towel dry Oscar's legs (I wash his towels each week), I run my hand over his legs and through his feathers to ensure they're dry enough, I never leave them wet as this will only encourage bacteria!
  • Once this process is complete Oscar skips happily to his clean, dry bed of shavings.
  • The next morning;
  • After testing a few products (that I will discuss below) I have settled on Pig Oil and Sulphur for Oscar and I. PLEASE DO A PATCH TEST ON YOUR HORSE OR PONY prior to using, I have read stories of the pig oil burning sensitive, thin skin - I also wear gloves to apply it as the sulphur discoloured my ring, but came up shiny again after a polish (the girls at the yard giggle at my pampered pony and me in my pink marigolds! The lengths I go to). I purchased a 1 litre tub from R&R Country (http://www.randrcountry.co.uk/contact_us) for £5.99 and this is easily available from other equine stores for a similar price, I pour a small amount into my hand and apply down the pastern, into the heel area and the longer hair around the coronary band.
  • Now for the best bit....I only need to do this whole process twice a week as the Pig Oil and Sulphur makes the mud bead, like water on oil and doesn't reach the skins surface, it literally slides off! 
So what else have I tried...
  • Baby oil, this worked well and is probably a better option for the more sensitive skinned/less hairy horse but I found the smell sickly and the smell would stay with me all day, clinging to my clothes, hands, blerrrghhh! 
  • Keratex Mud Shield Powder/450gm £11 (R&R Country, again) this is like talcum powder, but for your horse. You puff it onto their legs and rub it into the hair in the opposite direction of the hair growth, it makes feathers silky smooth and dries the area out making it difficult for mud to stick. The reason Pig Oil and Sulphur wins over this is 1) price and, 2) ease of use! It's difficult not to get the talc on the floor (please note I apply this outside the stable as it is to not be inhaled and I do not want it in Oscar's bedding), it leaves hoof marks where Oscar has been stood and this then means extra tidying up and like many of us, time isn't always on my side!

My favourites
What would I like to try...
  • As I said, I have a routine that works but if money weren't an issue I'd purchase some Close Contact Equi-Chaps by Equilibrium (http://www.equilibriumproducts.com/leg_protection/equi_chapsreg_close_contact_chaps/). They're described as a breathable second skin and keep legs clean and dry, they sound like a dream come true but at a RRP of £75.00 for one pair they'll be remaining on my wishlist for some time yet, especially as my horse has four white legs which doubt the above bill, I feel all faint! Although I do live in hope as Your Horse are running a competition this month to win all a full set of the Equi-Chap range, a prize worth £360...yes my jaw is on the floor and if I don't win I'd love someone to read this post and win, so get entering...http://www.yourhorse.co.uk/Win/
Thank you for reading, I hope you keep your mud fever at bay too this winter.
Jessica & Oscar xx

25.12.13

Kanteq Vs. Racesafe Body Protectors

The first body protector I owned was a Kanteq, I purchased it 4 years ago. I was recommended a Kanteq due to my small frame and never felt the need to try any other make or model. 
I bought into the Kanteq brand very easily, my best friend runs a motorbike business and I knew Kanteq's armour was made of the same materials as Knox specialist motorcyclist wear (http://www.planet-knox.com/) and they seriously know their stuff! 
The Kanteq design is very stylish, basic colours being a black or blue base with the trademark orange branding, fastening with a discreet zip at the front. The body protectors are specially moulded to a women's shape, all importantly with enough room for boobs! (Not that mine take up much space! Damn). The length of the back can be adjusted easily using the velcro pads to make certain it covers all the boney bits it needs to and ensure it doesn't catch awkwardly on your saddle and unbalance you and the horse. And at the front it can be altered in the same way to finish tidily below your last ribs to allow excellent lower body movement. The Kanteq is heavy compared to other brands but you cannot feel this when wearing it so please do not let the weight put you off.
The shoulder pads are designed to protect the collar bone area - but I find the pads restrict my movement when wearing as an everyday body protector, lifting my arms above shoulder level is near on impossible and don't even try to layer up by putting a jumper on over a Kanteq because I've had to be pulled out of my hoodies on numerous occasions after riding, it isn't pretty and has even resulted in the unvelcroing on the pads on numerous occasions and throwing them aside - THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED - therefore always ensure you wear an item of clothing with a front zip, i.e. a practical blouson jacket, note to self. (Please see below pictures of the pads being worn/not worn). 
I remember in the first few months of owning my Kanteq, I would pick and choose when I wore it as my back would ache after riding and the fit was snug (please note I was professionally measured, sized and fitted), however this must of worn off quickly as it soon became as natural to wear as putting a seat belt on when getting into a vehicle and I now find it ultra comfortable, it expands with my ribcage and never restricts my breathing. So stick with it if a little "unnatural" at first.
Throughout it's life I can only recall one issue and that was when the velcro length adjustment pads were un-threading from the body protector. I rang Wendy, the founder of Kanteq who was wonderfully helpful and offered to fix this for free - amazing customer service! However, due to Wendy's busy jet-setting schedule I chose to purchase a new cover and changed from black to blue so I could still use my body protector while it was away being fixed, this cost £49. Since the expense I've had another 18months use out of the item, but recently it has seen better days, I look like I'm smuggling things inside it as the foam has broken down and moves around inside the cover...so it was definitely time for a new body protector, initially I looked at another Kanteq (http://www.kanteq.com/product_detail.php?id=686&catid=40) and if money wasn't an issue I would of bought another one without a doubt but at £235.00 it comes with a hefty price tag so I went shopping...continued


With should pads attached
Without shoulder pads, please note I wanted you to see from the side as I have had a couple...well...three comments to be precise from three different people who observed that I ride 'upright' 'straight backed' 'rather like a toy solider' and I believe the Kanteq enhances these (charming) traits as it is one foam pad spread across the body and therefore gives a flat even appearance, I suppose it helps your posture without realising making it more difficult to collapse into the saddle.

continued...and as I was shopping at R&R Country (located in Selby and Melton Mowbry) they had a fantastic 20% off weekend so I tried on a Racesafe body protector, the RS2010 model in navy. I was professionally fitted into the body protector and found the sizes were generous and after trying many on, the shop assistant settled on an extra large/long child's size that fits perfectly (on the condition I don't eat too much over Christmas). The sizing issue is most probably a result of the brand being unisex and therefore a standard chest shape not allowing for our bodily differences, but I was assured if none in the shop were right Racesafe would make me one to measure. (http://www.hows-racesafe.co.uk/index.php/en/rs-2010/rs-2010).
The RS2010 model was awarded the Best in Test 2013 by Horse & Rider Magazine (http://www.horseandrideruk.com/article.php?id=2817), is super lightweight, covers all the important boney bits I need it too and feels much more flexible than my Kanteq. Does this make me feel less safe...as of yet I haven't decided?  
Shoulder pads do not come as standard with the RS2010 model and I chose not to order them but they are optional and can be added at any time for a fee. The RS2010 can also be personalised to your XC colours, with up to 22 to choose from! 
I will revisit this post for you in a couple of months once I have worn my Racesafe more and take some pictures of it in action but so far so good, and with no VAT (as child's size), plus 20% off, it cost £100, a saving of £135 compared to purchasing another Kanteq and as I own a Hit-Air Vest I know during fast/jumping/xc work I would wear this alongside my Racesafe, so for me it was the right decision at the moment.


  • What brand/model of body protector do you own?
  • What disciplines do you wear it in?
  • How often?
  • Any experiences of Kanteq or Racesafe, what is your preference and why?

Both body protectors are BETA Level 3.

Thank you for reading, Jessica xx

22.12.13

Tried & Tested by One Very Pampered Pony

From bedding to brushing boots, saddlery and shampoos...Oscar, my pony and I aim to put everything equine to the test and report back with how the product has faired, over short, medium and long periods of use! 
Due to the difficult economic climate...my way of saying, every penny counts to me at the moment and has done for some time, before I purchase anything equine I do my homework. (Yes, I am that geeky)! I choose to spend the small disposable income I have on luxuries for my pony, rather than myself - an act many of you will relate to and something my mum and friends think I am crazy for doing! But, buying things for Oscar (and I suppose therefore for myself) makes me happy, what makes me UN-happy is when they don't do what they claim! 
So...where do I go to enquire about a product...I Google the item, click on every link beneath it, then construct some Oxford worthy mathematical calculation of positive versus negative points of view as to whether I go ahead with the purchase or not - who else does this too? The Horse & Hound Forum has become a little bit of a gospel!
Then there is the process of finding the best possible price for the item, paying too much is like falling at the final hurdle...I always think there must be an easier way...but NO. There isn't.
I know this because I have Google'd it too (numerous times - I can find wonderful advise and  hearty information about nutrition and natural horsemanship, behaviour and breeding but nothing on the day to day things we use with our horses and ponies.
This leads to the intention of my blog and that is to review the products and services Oscar and I use - I welcome hints and tips therefore please feel free to recommend products/services and also ask if you'd like us to try anything specific - and report back with open, honest and practical feedback. I do not claim to be an expert...just a normal person in love with her pony and wanting the very best for him and great value for money when I buy things for us to enjoy together (Oscar just lives for mane and tail conditioner, naawwwtttt)! I hope you will grow to trust us and refer to us as a reliable source of feedback, hopefully making your lives easier and protecting your purse strings :o) 
All items are purchased by myself and if I am ever fortunate enough to trial a product I have not paid for with my own hard earned cash I will explain so at the very top of the post.
Thank you for reading, Oscar and Jessica xx