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30.1.14

Nothing says I love you like...Le Chameau's

...isn't that how the old romantic saying goes?
Maybe not, but my better other half made me a very happy girl on Christmas day with a new pair of wellington boots - and it hasn't stopped raining since!
For five loyal years I have worn the same pair of black Hunter wellies..."how the hell did you make them last so long?" I hear you wonder...well let me explain and I warn you, the truth is not as cost effective nor as durable as it sounds!
I suffer with raynaud's phenomenon which, for those of you who do not know it reduces the blood flow in response to the cold (in my case anyway, can be related to other emotional/stress issues), causing discolouration to the fingers and toes, they go red...white...blue (and pink and green, orange and just kidding). My feet, more so than my hands are incredibly painful in the winter, my toes go completely numb for whole days causing dry skin and sore toes due to lack of blood flow and the pain shoots up my foot. Doctors even x-rayed them once they were so concerned, and as the doctor poked, prodded and pondered my feet, he asked my mum and I "where you born like this?" pointing to a random bump on my right foot...YES! On that note, that's quite enough about my feet - (I won't treat you to a picture)!!
For some of you the penny will have already dropped...as putting your feet into a pair of Hunter wellies is a sensation I liken to putting your feet in the fridge. Hunter wellies are cold, trendy...but COLD (this explains why my Ariat boots are so well worn...http://geegeeandme.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/a-girl-can-never-have-too-many-ariats.html). Therefore mine have been seldom worn, only during desperate times with eight pairs of socks in preparation...and please take note; wellie warmers...not practical on a farm or the yard, I bought a pair of Hunter warmers in baby pink (what was I thinking), they were brown, damp and stinky when I took them off at the end of the day - epic fail! 
All points considered the retirement of my Hunter wellies came early and I have soley used them on the farm in the Summer, paddling in the river with the dogs (again in Summer, ruined a perfectly nice pair of Dubarrys undertaking such activities in other seasons) and when heading up to the muck heap on a wet, muddy day. After our last paddle however, I noticed a squelch as I exited the river with a wet sock due to a leak which got progressively worse, something I must of moaned about more than I realised (towards the end of the year I was wrapping my foot in a carrier bag before putting it in the welly, I made sure it was a Waitrose bag though...oh the shame)...because my Christmas surprise from my perfect boyfriend was a wonderful pair of Le Chameau wellington boots...aka Kate Middleton booties!

I have the Le Chameau Neoprene lined wellies, and I've been wearing these everyday for over a month, I haven't experienced snow in them yet (fingers crossed I won't until Winter 2014), but we've had a lot of rain and a few chilly mornings and with one pair of socks my feet haven't been cold or painful. I love them! And now I will not be without a pair, I hope these last 5 years too...or longer!

Comparisons...
Design/Colour: Hunters are cool, they reinvented the brand in the late noughties and made them more of a fashion statement, thank you Kate Moss. Le Chameau's stick to the classic green wellington boot design (although I have shielded my eyes from these for sale; http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/416601 horrendous), and made the headlines for being worn by Kate Middleton, please see this amusing article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/kate-middleton/8988157/Will-Kate-Middleton-kick-off-a-war-of-the-wellies.html
Sizing: I am a size 5 in Hunters and 4 in Le Chameau (reason I wasn't a 5 in Le Chameau is that they are wider in the foot, I have slim feet and the wiggled around a lot in the 5's)
Cost: Hunters from £85 Le Chameau from £165 
Produced in: Hunters - China. Le Chameau - France, a Le Chameau boot is the product of a consummate legacy of skills passed from generation to generationIt tells the story of craftsmen, who after an exacting apprenticeship, become responsible for each detail of production...WOW - sorry Hunters, this wipes the floor with your production statement and warrants Le Chameau's extra £80 in my opinion!
Warmth rating: Hunters 1/10. Le Chameau 10/10

Although, it isn't all bad news for Hunters...they had a hose down and came with me to V Festival in August one year and did a wonderful job of keeping my feet at a normal temperature - didn't see any Le Chameau's there!! And if money was no object, I'd definitely be purchasing a pair of pretty pastel ones for dog walking this Summer.
Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xx


26.1.14

Medium Weight Rug - Winter 2013/2014's Must Have

Looking on my Met Office weather app, I wonder if this week will be it...you know, the week when 'IT' arrives. WinterThe Met Office's modern data, which began recording in 1910 confirmed December 2013 was the eighth mildest on record across the UK, making it the mildest since 1988, and so far January 2014 is proving to be tropical, as we're experiencing the 17th warmest since 1659!! Wow!

My research and this post were inspired by the Horse and Hound forum thread (thank you kerrieberry2)..."Heavy weights", I had to comment as Oscar's heavy weights haven't been out their storage yet...and it looks like we're not alone. 
http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?650387-Heavy-weights

Oscar is a native pony with a trace clip, so I know our rugging routine will differ to that of a thoroughbred for example, but at the moment Oscar is turned out daily, even with all this rain, plays and frolics with his friends and his medium weight is still going strong and keeping him warm and cosy during it's 2nd year of use! Surely that deserves recognising...and what is this fantastic rug I hear you cry...?
Mark Todd, Medium Weight - chocolate/caramel, a very smart rug.
I purchased it online from Equestrian Clearance, I have ordered from this website quite a few times and always find items to be well packaged with a timely delivery service, and I am pleased to see the rug is still on sale at the same price I paid of £55.99 - RRP £110.00 - I wouldn't hesitate in buying another if I needed a fantastic medium weight rug.

Outer; 600 denier, made with waterproof and breathable rip-stop, Teflon coated polyester material. Gussets at the shoulder, neck and tail with a useful reflective strip - all must haves for me, I find shoulder gussets allow more movement and rugs with these features are less likely to rub, plus the reflective strip is always helpful (when shouting into the darkness trying to catch your horse) and a great safety feature. 
Fastenings; twin buckles with quick release clips on the chest - again another must have for me - this rug ticks so many boxes! I haven't got time to fiddle with buckles, and often need to change Oscar's rug in the field, as he lives out early Spring right up until late Autumn, so it's a task I want to get done as quickly as possible without faffing about with fingers and thumbs. Velcro and twin buckles on the neck, low crossing adjustable surcingles across the belly and removable/adjustable webbing legs straps, which I always use! Helpful for a spooky pony as secure the rug in place and also reduce slipping after a good old roll around! 
Inside; 250g filling with a soft nylon lining and fleece poll protection. And, even after all this rain, Oscar is still 100% dry, cosy and warm underneath! The rug has rubbed Oscar's mane a little but this is inevitable, I find rugs with built in necks rub less than neck-less or attachable neck rugs though. However, there are no shoulder rubs or rubs anywhere else for that matter when wearing this rug, I will also add they are true to size.
http://www.equestrianclearance.com/p/turnout-rugs/mark-todd-medium-weight-full-neck-turnout-rug/880802/#/

...and although the mild weather is nice, I'd choose a crisp frosty morning any day over yet another grey stormy wet one...I own heavy weights for a reason!!!

Thank you for reading, Jessica & Oscar xx

19.1.14

Keeping Up With The Unicorns - Magic Brushes



I have used Magic Brushes since June 2013, during the Summer they were handy at bath time and to help remove excess coat from Oscar but no better than your average rubber curry comb and I didn't really get what all the fuss was about. However, since moving into Autumn/Winter I have chosen to use them more often, here are our successes and failures in trialling the brushes against their key selling points;
  • 'Removing dirt and gently cleaning the sensitive parts such as joints and bone'
The bigger the dirt/mess the more successful they are, especially proving their worth with mud, stains from laying on dirty bedding (both very appropriate for this time of year) and dried on sweat etc... I use one brush on the face/body and another on legs and feathers - even tail occasionally, as long as it isn't too knotty. Oscar's legs are unclipped and he often has big clumps of mud stuck to his knees where he has knelt down to roll and Magic Brushes are gentle enough to use in a circular motion to break down the mud. (Only for him to do the same again the next day, that's my boy). 
An example of some of the mud my Magic Brushes tackle...
  • 'Ideal brush during change of coat and can be used on any kind of horse hair'
I have used Magic Brushes on Oscar's Summer, Winter and clipped coat and he has always been comfortable - including using it on his tail, as I mention above (just to get loose shavings out of before a ride/turnout etc...). I also touched on earlier that I have used Magic Brushes on a changing coat but wouldn't recommend these to help a horse shed their coat, a rubber curry comb would be less labour and much more effective.

  • 'The brush is 100% waterproof and nearly indestructible'
Fully waterproof, and a great tool for bathing, I use it as a little massage for Oscar in circular motions - roll on Summer so I can bath again!
As for being 'nearly indestructible' because they don't have any grip to them, a negative point is that I often throw them out my hand mid-groom resulting in my Magic Brush flying across the yard at speed (heads!), I don't know how this happens, Oscar doesn't even flinch now - good pony - and thankfully doing this doesn't damage them. 
On my most used Magic Brush some of the bristles have bent at the edges, as the picture shows of my purple brush...I think the final indestructible test will be giving it to the dog to chew...has anyone tried this, did it survive?
  • 'The brush is also perfect to be used as sweat scraper'
Been there, done this, as above, the brushes don't have very good grip and nothing beats your classic sweat scrapper with a good old fashioned handle. But a Magic Brush would be practical if you were travelling light.

  • 'If necessary the brush itself can be washed in the washing machine'
After careful consideration I have decided NOT to test this one out with my Magic Brushes, as they have bits of sand, dust and dirt in-between the bristles. But, I would feel confident to stick them in a bucket with hot water and washing up liquid without it being damaged, however I tap my Magic Brushes against a hard surface and the dirt falls out (as the above picture shows) - this is good enough for me!

  • 'Cleaning the hoof/frog/sole'
The image of red Magic Brush being used to clean a horses sole/frog is on the official Magic Brush website - http://www.magicbrush.com/en/pferdepflege/ - however, this isn't something I have tried, or think I will. Magic Brushes are stiff and inflexible so wouldn't give me access to the sides of the frog as a softer, smaller brush does.
If anyone reading has cleaned feet (your horses, not your own) with a Magic Brush, please share your experiences in the comments box below :o)

  •  'Magic Brush frees your equestrian clothes and riding equipment from horse hair and dirt'
Fact! Fact! Fact! So well that from the pack of three I purchased, I keep one separate which I use to scrape dried mud/horse hair from my jodhpurs/coat, or remove Oscar's white hair or shavings from his black numnah, (yes, I said shavings...on more than one occasion I have dropped his numnah in his bed). It works great on wellies too with a splash of water but I wouldn't recommend using it on leather as I tried this and had to use a pressure which could mark tack/leather, so I wiped it with a damp cloth prior to cleaning, again the old fashioned ways are often the best!

Cost, est. £12.00, cheapest place I found to purchase them from is Amazon.
I was recommended Magic Brushes as a 'MUST HAVE' for owners of grey ponies, I wouldn't agree entirely with this comment, I like them and yes they are handy to have in my grooming box but I could live without them.
Please share your Magic Brush experiences...

Thank you for reading, Jessica & Oscar xx

14.1.14

Hypocare by Horseware

I always wanted to be an equine veterinary nurse (if only the course/qualification wasn't extortionately priced), therefore I got a lot of enjoyment researching Hypocare (geeky, I know), it's a product I have used since Summer 2013 on various little emergencies and it is something I recommend every horse owner keeps in their kit - it is one of my must haves! 
Starting at £4.99 - 50ml > £14.99 - 500ml.

Hypocare is described as a 'revolution in infection control'. 
The key ingredient is hypochlorous acid - an acid our bodies create naturally, internally it is what helps us to fight off infections and externally it is commonly used as a disinfecting agent for example to treat water in swimming pools, this is because it reacts as a strong sanitizer when mixed with water! 
Hyprocare is so special because the hypochlorous chemical our bodies producce naturally has not been able to exceed a shelf life of a few hours; but thankfully, there are some seriously brainy scientists out there who have succeeded in making a high strength, stable mix of hypochlorous acid = HYPOCARE! Thank you Horseware!!

I love this product because doesn't harm healthy tissue as it is a natural substance, it's just helping mother nature along - also making it FEI legal as it doesn't contain any banned substances. Another plus is that it can also be used on any mammal, another reason why it is a must have, and it is safe if ingested, so you don’t need to worry about your pet licking, sniffing, snorting, nibbling the affected area. 
http://www.puricore.com/about-us/our-technology/in-the-human-body - fellow geeks will love this link as much as I do. PS who'll be trying Hypocare on their own cuts and bruises soon?

Case study (with pictures); this weekend when Oscar came in from the field he had a cut on his pastern/leg, so I reached for my Hypocare spray. I have taken pictures of the healing process over the last 3 days, the cut is just over an inch long, a few millimetres wide and was bleeding as I washed down his legs...that'll teach him to practice field gymnastics in the dark! 
After washing and drying the area I sprayed 3 pumps of Hypocare onto the cut, I have repeated each morning/evening since. Oscar has still had turnout, even getting the area muddy and as always with Hypocare, I am happy with the progress. Hypocare promises not to sting but on the first application when the cut was open Oscar did stamp his foot a few times but I assume that's no different to you or I when we put something on a cut area and it stings/feels uncomfortable for the first few moments, this is the only negative comment I have which wouldn't stop me using this product in any way and he didn't do this again on re-application.
Day 1/Day 2/Day 3

Hypocare recommend their product is used to clean and flush wounds and injuries, as used above and also to fight against stubborn fungal infections, such as mud fever, thrush, ringworm.  
http://www.horseware.com/hypocare/

Thank you for reading, Jessica & Oscar xx


8.1.14

Sprenger Bow Balance Stirrups *****

I am 26, but my left knee feels 38 and my right 74, do you ever get that feeling of relief after a long ride when you take your feet out the stirrups...that tight stiffness in your knees as you slowly straighten your legs...and then the dread of jumping off your horse and onto the hard ground...ouuucccchhhhh, well...I don't get any of these sensations any more, they are but a mere memory as in May 2013 I invested in a pair of Sprenger Bow Balance Stirrups.


I must start my review with: The sizing; they're quite big, bulky stirrups, I am a shoe size 4 1/2 - 5 and my Sprenger Bow Balance stirrups are a size 120mm/4.3/4 - the sizing bamboozled me, they just looked huge until I got them onto the saddle and put my foot in.
The shape; ensures to improve leg position as it changes the weight ratio hanging through the stirrup leathers, helping to improve your centre of balance (thus you feel more balanced riding with them). I find the curved shape makes them easier to find too, on those embarrassing occasions when we 'loose' our stirrups. 
The dual lateral flexibility (aka the black rubbery bits at the sides); allows movement in 4 directions at once, which enables immediate release in the event of a fall. It is also what makes your body ache less because the flex reduces the impact on cartilage and ligaments reducing tension through hips, knees, ankles and calves. 
The tread; picks up your foot immediately, once your foot is in, its in! The tread is made of shock absorbing dual density rubber, and it is wider than that of normal irons.
The cost, they were a bit of an investment costing £145.00 (I have found them on offer from Old Mill Saddlery at £134.95 for those of you interested in purchasing some; http://www.saddlery.biz/brand/sprenger/sprenger-stirrups/sprenger-bow-balance-safety-stirrups.html). The 'selling point' for me was comfort, because Oscar and I love long hacks and they have provided exactly that and have become a must-have item for me, I ride in them 4-5 times a week doing a variety of activities from jumping, hacking to schooling and they show no signs of wear and tear.
Cheaper alternative; I haven't tried these stirrups but a friend of mine recommends Dever, Flexi Stirrup Irons, £35.00 http://www.deversaddlery.co.uk/flexi-stirrup-irons-i601972.html.
The wiggle test; Sprenger Bow Balance Stirrups have all this flexibility I have just raved on about but don't feel 'wiggly' so take care when shopping for a cheaper brand as there shouldn't be a great amount of movement when played with in your hands, remember they'll be taking most of your body weight when you'e in the saddle and too much 'wiggle' (technical term) will make you wobbly when riding and may unbalance you.
A picture of Oscar and I. Oscar looks fabulous...I on the other hand look un-stylish but happy...anyway the point of this picture is to show how the stirrups look on the saddle when ridden :o) so you can stop looking at me now, just focus on the feet please.

Do you ride in an alternitive flexi stirrup? If so which brand and why? 
Thank you for reading, Jessica & Oscar xx

4.1.14

A Girl Can Never Have Too Many Ariat's

A bold statement my bank balance and boyfriend disagree with...but every pair of riding boots I own are Ariat, and it isn't a 'brand' thing either, I'd wear boots from Primark if they were the most comfortable thing for me to ride in! My first pair of Ariat boots were a present in July 2012, the Heritage III Zip Jodhpur Boot in black, since having them I have rarely ridden in anything else and they're still going strong! 

The Heritage III Zip design is an attractive leather jodphur boot with a zip fastening, I have a slim foot with a high instep and most regular riding boots are totally flat in the foot and take a great deal of wearing in (dancing around the house in them with plasters at the ready... sound familiar?), thus making them solely; a riding boot. And this is how I find the Ariat jodphur boots to be different, they have something called 4LR technology soles, this means inside the boot the footbed is cushioned and shaped (allowing for a high instep) and on the outside there is a supportive duratread sole, designed for maximum wear and resistance and this does exactly that... it makes them much more wearable - you literally can't feel a thing when you tread on a pebble - they have grip, so are safer when wearing for yard duties, yet won't drag you along the ground with your foot stuck in a stirrup when you fall off - bonus! And as duratread is flexible, my boots didn't take any wearing in, they were comfortable straight away and to this day haven't caused me a single blister!

Sizing...I must mention, Ariat do 1/2 sizes - hurray - 4 is often a little snug for me...5's are good, but my bony feet can rattle around in some...but 4 1/2 is peeerrrfect (this sounds like a Goldilocks tale), and Ariat cater to my needs! I bought mine from a shop so had to benefit of trying them on first, which I would recommend this if possible, especially if it is your first pair of Ariat's but if you know your size there are some fantastic deals online. I paid £119.99 for mine and are something I will repurchase without a doubt when these get past their best.

I can spend all day long in mine and often do as the pictures below show...(I was rather ashamed so cleaned them up for their photo shoot, but the top left picture shows my boots before their polish so you get an idea of how well they scrub up and to say these are worn almost every day and have been for the last 18 months they look pretty good):
Here is the science...
I hope this post helps if you're looking for some new riding boots, let me know what boots you ride in and why?
Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xx


1.1.14

Keeping Up With The Unicorns - Keeping A White Tail, White

At this time of year, all grey horse owners wonder why they chose a grey...actually I wonder this throughout the year, especially on the morning of an outing when my horse has happily rolled in his own poo and managed to get traces of it as high as his hip and shoulder, oooh yes....even in that tight body-con rug I wrapped him in a mere 8 hours before!
If the above sounds all too familiar then listen up when you see a blog post from me titled; Keeping Up With The Unicorns, as these are a series of posts where I will share with you the effort and lengths I go to, to keep the pony looking shiny and new.
Today, it's all about Oscar's beautiful white (and yellowy, brown at times) tail...Jessica hums: 'maybe he's born with it...maybe it's Cowboy Magic!'

I aim to wash Oscar's tail once a month, his tail is pure white and therefore turns yellowish and brown at the bottom all too easily, (if we were due to go out I'd wash it the night or morning before too).
Unfortunately I don't have access to hot water at my yard, so in Winter I prepare two clean buckets prior to washing Oscar's tail with kettle boiled water (obviously cooled down to babies bathwater temperature, this is an organised and efficient affair, one I am sure Oscar finds funny...and I boil the kettle once more just before the washing commences for the final rinse off as it's a pointless process if you clean suds off in dirty water!). Roll on Summer when I just use the hose pipe!
Here are my tried and tested products that I rely on:
Johnson's Baby Shampoo; any from the range - usually the one that is on offer - if it's good enough for babies surely it's mild and gentle enough to use monthly on my precious horse. The shampoos are usually £1/£2 for 500ml, I have tried Boots and Asda's own baby brands and found these less effective. 
If we are going to a party I splash out and always use Cowboy Magic, Shine In - Yellow Out, - because it retails around £11 (473ml) I don't use this often, I don't spend as much on shampoo for myself! And as the shampoo is a bright blue, I somehow don't think it is as mild and gentle as Johnson's Baby range, therefore regular use could damage and thin his tail. But, the results are not to be argued with and it's worth every penny!
Cowboy Magic, Shine In - Yellow Out does exactly as it promises to, it breaks down natures stains, adds shine and takes yellow out! I massage the shampoo into the hair until the suds turn from blue to white, leave in for two/five minutes prior to washing down - repeat if necessary. 
The pictures above show before and after one wash using warm water and Cowboy Magic Shampoo - I always recommend this and wouldn't use anything else. And here I am, waving goodbye to the beautiful tail as Oscar crosses the mud bath into his paddock...
Do you plait tails to help keep them cleaner for longer or knot them up for turnout?
Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xx