Rupert’s Ride Report

As part of our Prestwold Hall preparation, Rupert definitely needed a bath as I couldn’t remember the last time he had one. Plus, it was his first time going out in a while so I had to make a bit of an effort! Due to being at work during the day on Wednesday, and the ride being on Wednesday evening, I had to bath him on Tuesday night (risky I know, but at least he’s chestnut not grey!).

Went down to check on Rupert on Wednesday morning holding my breath but he was still clean thanks to his lightweight rug and just a bit of dried mud on his neck and legs (thankfully his one white sock was still sparkling!)

Rupert's Ride Report from Prestwold Hall

Rupert all clean after his bath with a very white sock

Raced home from work to put on my jodhpurs and shirt, then trackie bottoms and a hoodie to keep me clean. Bad choice as it was rather warm, but better than having chestnut hairs and green slobber all down my beige jodhpurs. Having cleaned all my tack on Tuesday night and swapped from a snaffle to a gag (an absolutely essential piece of life saving kit!), everything was ready to go in the lorry.

Rupert loaded into the lorry perfectly, considering the last time he’s been in a lorry was 3 years ago before I had him, and I don’t know whether he’s ever travelled in a lorry with a horse either side of him. Regardless, a well behaved pony so far.

Tacked up and put on my hacking jacket (which a lady from my yard very kindly let me borrow as I only have black jackets currently), we went to find the most important place on site: the food van. Definitely needed to pay a visit there after the ride!

Rupert's Ride Report from Prestwold Hall

Pretty in Pink

Walking into an open field where we all met, Rupert was as chilled as ever, just decided he was going to call to any horse he thought might be his friend. More brownie points for Rupert for standing still in a field with lots of other horses like he goes out every week and it was no big deal.

Rupert's Ride Report from Prestwold Hall

When we set off, Rupert woke up as he started to realise what was going on. On the first gallop, Rupert kept up and over took some of the Thoroughbreds. This resulted in me smiling and shouting at him “you’re supposed to be a fat cob!!”. After that gallop, it was decided that Rupert definitely needed a flash or a grackle as we only stopped because of another horse’s bottom, not because I had control in his Cheltenham gag! Bit too late to do anything about tack issues in the middle of a field.

Popped the fences very nicely and although he was strong the whole day, he did settle down to the point I had some form of control. Overall, we had a lovely ride and Rupert definitely enjoyed it!

Rupert's Ride Report from Prestwold Hall

Sweaty Rupert having a sponge down after the ride

Charlotte x

Prestwold Hall Preparation

FINALLY Rupert and I get to go out over summer next Wednesday for a lovely calm (or perhaps not so calm!) ride around Prestwold Estate for a hound exercise.

Rupert loved going out with the Quorn Hunt on a Pony Club day in February so I can’t wait to take him out somewhere that he’ll love. It involves jumping and going fast so what’s not to like?!


Out with the Quorn Hunt

Might be time to get the hip flask out too!!


Very traditional hunting flask

What I’m really, really, really looking forward to is this: “no need to plait”. Hallelujah!!!!

Charlotte x

Is your hat up to scratch?

Recently, we’ve had a scary amount of people come into the shop that have been sold a riding hat or body protector elsewhere, to be told by their riding instructor that is has failed the safety test, either due to ill-fitting or the hat/body protector isn’t up to current standards.

Whether you’re a member of a local Pony Club or eventing at Burghley, your hat must meet the new standard.  This means that (BS)EN1384 alone is not permitted by the The Pony Club, Riding Clubs,  British Horse Society (BHS), British Eventing, British Show Jumping or British Dressage in 2017.  However, hats would be acceptable if they carry EN1384 or BSEN1384 and another standard such as those listed:

  • PAS 015 (1998 or 2011)
  • VG1 01.040 (2014-12)
  • ASTM F1163 (2004a or 04a onwards)
  • SNELL E2001
  • AS/NZS 3838 (2006 onwards)

So if your hat is still meeting current safety standards, fab.  But does it fit correctly? Scott and I are both trained to fit safety equipment correctly, so please call us on 01509 670436 to book an appointment as the shop gets busy.  Even if your hat was fitted when you first bought it, it is a good idea to have it regularly checked in case any straps need adjusting or in the case of young riders a reminder of how to correctly wear their hat! A fitting or check is free here, so it’s definitely worth the peace of mind.

For 2017, the Pony Club requires that body protectors must meet the Beta Level 3 2009 standard for cross country and pony racing, but they are not compulsory for other activities. In 2018, British Eventing will only allow body protectors with the Beta Level 3 2009 (purple) label to be worn, as the 2000 version will no longer be permitted.  We can also check that your body protector fits correctly.

If you bring your hat and body protector along to your appointment we will check them.  That way you know they will do their job properly in the event of a fall (it happens to the best of us, just seems to be me hitting the deck every other week at the moment!)

*Always check with your riding organisation for current rules.

Riding hat blog

A variety of hats at our stables for interest only

The Ginger Missile Exploded

Due to limited time, I decided to lunge on Wednesday evening.
Whether it was spring fever, the down-pour of rain that was here all day (hence the soggy pony) or just pure excitement I do not know- all I know is that I’m very glad I wasn’t on his back!

He lunged nicely in walk and felt a bit more excited in trot so I asked mum if she could video him when I asked for canter as people don’t always believe that Rupert can be naughty, especially when he’s so laid back on the ground. Poor quality photos but you get the idea!



Fly Kick

Bums Up

Rupert Bucking

I schooled him the day after and (thankfully!!) we kept all 4 feet on the ground!

Charlotte x

Dressage Divas (hopefully)

Anybody who knows me knows I enjoy jumping and dressage really isn’t my thing. Obviously, I can’t jump Rupert every day of the week and to be able to jump well, flatwork is an essential.

I’ve recently gone back to having fortnightly lessons after not having lessons for over a year, and I alternate each lesson between jumping and flatwork. Since Kath has forced persuaded me to have a go at a dressage competition down at Long Lane Equestrian at the end of the series, I really need to step it up a level if I don’t want to embarrass ourselves!

I think Emma, my instructor, probably cried internally when I asked for a flatwork lesson and she saw what she had to work with! She has, however, seemed to work miracles as we’ve only had 2 flatwork lessons (and practice in between) so far and already he’s working a lot rounder and his lateral work (which I’d kind of abandoned since Rupert always got tense and galloped off when I asked for any kind of lateral movement) is slowly improving, with his leg yield and turn-on-the forehand getting better, as well as rein back.

I doubt I’ll ever prefer dressage to jumping, but flatwork is much more interesting and pleasurable now Rupert isn’t fighting me all the time.
If you see me down at Long Lane at some point with a chunky ginger horse, feel free to come and laugh at us!

Charlotte x

The Ginger Missile

Somebody was feeling a bit fresh and excited to jump!

Long stride

Rather strong and I was just a passenger! 

He started the session off by being forward (as usual) but sensible. He was finding the jumps too easy so I decided to put fillers underneath the fences and all of a sudden, he turned into a very excited ginger missile!

Filler Upright

Happy Rupert

He’s definitely enjoying his jumping!

Rupert overjump

He also decided to grow wings 

Even though he was incredibly strong and forward, making him much more difficult to ride, we both had a very positive and rewarding session. I think it might be time to start challenging him a bit more and taking him out to some competitions when I can.

Charlotte x

Loving Lunging

Rupert used to be a nightmare to lunge. He’d walk round in a lovely circle, popped him in to a trot and he went nicely for about 5 strides before he decided it was too difficult and he’d drift through his outside shoulder and gallop off, either leaving me in the middle of the school trying to calm him down before I could try again, or doing a skiing act being dragged along behind him!

It was fair to say I hated lunging and avoided it at all costs.

Until Rupert’s shoulder got so tight he wasn’t moving right, and the physio said he needed to do lots of lunging/long-reining over poles and I had no choice but to try it again.


So when my old yard put in a lunging pen, I thought that he couldn’t gallop off and maybe this was the perfect way to get him to understand the concept of staying on a circle.

Long story short, he now lunges on a circle without pulling away (often!), and I love it.

Whilst attempting to pass my A-Levels, work 2 jobs and have a social life, it’s hard to find time to fit it all in, let alone with a horse on top of that. I have to be extra careful with Rupert’s weight, especially now he’s living out 24/7, meaning that he really can’t afford to have too many days off.
With the Pessoa taking just 2 minutes to pop on (once set up. I’ll admit, trying to organise each rope baffled me to start with!), I can lunge and that’s a quick 20 minutes of exercise to keep the pounds off, whilst the Pessoa encourages him to work correctly.


It’s also nice to be able to watch how he’s moving, as well as giving him something different to do from time-to-time so he doesn’t get bored.jumping on lunge

Although I don’t like to lunge too often, it’s safe to say I’m a lunging convert!

Charlotte x

The Biggest Loser- Horse Edition!

Most people will watch their horse’s weight fluctuate throughout the year despite their best efforts to maintain a constant weight. However, Rupert has been weighed by professionals on 3 separate occasions, and the results range by 100kg!

Rupert has always been a chunky cob standing at approximately 15.1/15.2hh (one of my jobs this summer is to measure him properly!), but he became very ill just 3 months after I bought him. He had an issue with his liver (although the problem was never diagnosed, he had symptoms matching atypical myopathy aka sycamore seed poisoning) and his weight and muscle just seemed to drop overnight. He was weighed just 2 weeks after his health became more stable, where he weighed 492kg. And quite frankly, he looked awful. It looked like the life had been sucked out of him and his muscles had just vanished, especially over his quarters.

He gradually began to put his weight back on, but by summer, he had definitely but too much back on! A combination of 2 weeks off due to my summer holiday and having to move into a field with plenty of grass proved to be a problem in the weight department, despite having soaked hay when he came back into his stable during the day.

Rupert hacking- fat

When he moved yards, there was a 2 week quarantine period. Now my plan was to hack him around the village and lunge him in the field he was staying in as it was fairly flat. I attempted to lunge him for the first time and ended up being dragged along as he decided to gallop up the field and promptly decided that I wouldn’t even try to hack him until I could school him for a few days as I didn’t have a death wish! So, another 2 weeks off work for Rupert.

However, when he finally moved up to the yard after his quarantine period, he was the fattest he’d ever been. Not morbidly obese, but definitely something that could not be ignored. When the weigh scales came to the yard just a few weeks after I’d arrived, I was shocked to find out that Rupert now weighed 595kg. He’d gained a whole 100kg. Yes, when he was first weighed he was poorly and he was now at his heaviest, but I was still shocked. It just goes to show how quickly it can pile on!

So I decided Rupert had to go on boot camp. With 2 jobs and on my final year of A-Levels, as well as trying to see my friends and not ditch them for the horse (they know who is my favourite anyway!), it can be hard to find time to ride him every day. I aimed to exercise him 5 or 6 days a week, and on the days I didn’t have time to ride, I always popped him on the lunge for 15 minutes just to burn a few extra calories. When I can, we go on hacks with Haylie when she takes the hunters out, so we both come back sweating and rather tired as we try to keep up with the very fit hunting horses. I’d often go down to the yard in the evening and ride before it got dark, meaning that I was ready to leave at 5.30 once I’d mucked out and done all of my jobs as well as ride. Knowing that Rupert scoffs his haynet, I can’t bear the thought of leaving him at 5.30 and being certain that’ll his net will be finished by 6.30 and he’ll be stood for the rest of the night without any food. Luckily, the yard is so close to my house that I gave him a tiny net with small holes when I left my the yard to pass him over, then I’d go back at 7.30 to give him more hay that was double netted and his dinner comprising of a handful of Spillers Happy Hoof Molasses Free and Spillers Daily Balancer.

And this is the result:

Rupert 10.03.17

Rupert 10.03.17 (with a tail swish as I bribed him with a carrot to put his ears forward!)

He was weighed just last week and he’s lost 55kg since the last weigh bridge visit. There’s still a way to go with his fitness and as he’ll be living out 24/7 very soon, I’m going to have to watch his weight very careful. I’ll have plenty more time to ride soon though- that’s what study leave is for, right?!

For any equine dietary advice, I can’t recommend Spillers Care-Line enough!

Charlotte x

An Unexpected Valentine’s Day

Imagine the typical Valentine’s Day. Candle-lit dinner in a cosy, warm place and a nice relaxed dinner with your loved one, yes?

Mine was the exact opposite.

I’ve always wanted to go hunting, but with Rupert always being almost uncontrollably strong jumping in the school, I thought I ought to give it a miss if I wanted to live! But when Zoe, a lady on my yard, asked if I’d like to go to the Quorn Hunt Meet that were meeting at Grace Dieu Priory (meaning that we could hack to it) and I was on my half term holiday, it seemed silly to miss the opportunity!

Then when I decided to go, it seemed silly to go. I only had one day notice as it was a very last minute decision for us to go, which became problematic when I realised that 1) I had a very hairy horse as his clip had grown out 2) I can’t clip (well). Thankfully, Haylie managed to find time to clip the hairy beast so he looked a bit more presentable than bog pony!


Clipped and looking much smarter

My second problem was how strong Rupert is, making the idea of galloping and jumping in open spaces in a pack of fit, enthusiastic horses that know their job slightly daunting. As he is usually ridden in a Pelham with roundings (that doesn’t really offer much brakes!), I decided to opt for the shock tactic and change his bit the day before back to the Cheltenham Gag (which, when I previously tried it to jump in, made very minimal difference) as a last resort.

With our tack cleaned, boots cleaned, horses’ legs washed, jackets on, girths tightened and hip flasks full to the brim, we headed off. We were running a tad late which meant I didn’t have time to plait his mane (which I’m soooo gutted about- not! Let’s just say plaiting is not my forte) but I went with the mindset that although he didn’t look quite as smart, it was something extra to grab on to if necessary!


Very traditional for hunting- Jagermeister and a sparkly pink hip flask!

We arrived at Grace Dieu Priory and Bea (Zoe’s horse), a relatively experienced hunter, started prancing about. My newbie horse stood like a rock- instant brownie points to him. After a glass (or two) of port, we set off. Rupert and Bea both wore red ribbons in their tails as a precaution, and due to mine and Rupert’s inexperience, we stayed near the back of the pack. A fall at the first fence for a girl I know from my previous yard definitely didn’t help my confidence! Luckily, she and her horse were fine and we all continued.

I was expecting Rupert to be bolting, tanking and yanking my arms out of their sockets all day long. I was wrong. He was a total angel the entire day, I didn’t have to fight to pull him up once, yet he was as responsive to my leg as ever. He was very brave about everything and was especially clever when we had to turn round to find another route and we had to negotiate a gap in a wall followed immediately by a leafy drop into a ditch and back up a slope that was even more difficult due to the overhanging branches, particularly as he was the first horse to go through (bar the Field Masters). There were several questions that day and he didn’t question me once which is incredible for a horse that some times decides to run out at a 20cm cross pole! Very proud mummy moment.


Even though I was aching all over (we concluded I hadn’t quite drank enough sloe gin and jager!), I loved the entire day and I’m so grateful for Zoe accompanying us and for the Quorn Hunt being so welcoming. I think we’ve finally found Rupert’s niche in life, so we’ll try to get out to Hunt Meets as often as possible now and work on our fitness.

Next stop: Quorn Hunt Ball on Saturday!


P.S: the boyfriend did treat me that evening, didn’t hate me for choosing the horse over him and coped with my complains of aching by making sure my wine glass was never empty!


Re-location, Re-location, Re-location!

Lots has happened since I last checked in!

After a space came up on a livery yard just a 1.5 minute drive from my house (or a 10 minute walk if the weather is nice and I decide that I can be bothered to walk!), we realised it was the right time to move Rupert from his previous yard due to practical reasons.


Anybody who knows me knows I LOVE buying rugs, and as I can go down to see Rupert in the morning because it’s so close, I can change his rugs in the morning. Now, for some people that is completely irrelevant, but there’s something lovely about seeing him wrapped up and cosy in his pyjamas at night and then he can have a lighter rug during the day.

This new yard also has an indoor school (that I swore I’d never need as, since my old yard didn’t have an indoor, I was a tough, hardened rider that would exercise my horse in any conditions). Despite my previous thoughts that I would rarely use this indoor arena, I can conclude that it is a brilliant luxury that I’d struggle to be without now. Because why would we choose to get soaked-through with rain and whipped in the face by the wind when we could be inside? Especially since he needs to be exercised 5/6 days per week to keep his shoulder loose as his muscle became tight again at the start of winter (as it did last year as well) and I’ve been working him through it. I can also conclude that I now count as a fair-weather rider!

Rupert has also had to learn about the big, scary world that is road hacking. There are plenty of lovely, off-road hacks around us, but they all involve at least a short stretch on very quiet roads. He was well-behaved when I took him on the road as an almost 5 year old before I owned him, but that’s as far as his experience spanned. As he gets excited in the company of other horses, I decided to take him on a very short hack up to my house (with the non-horsey parents as back up at home if necessary) at 1pm on a Saturday, working on the idea that it would be quiet- and it was. On the way there. On the way back, however, down our small country roads, we met an arctic lorry. Of all things to meet, it had to be that. Rupert turned into a snorting, fire-breathing dragon and flew past as I attempted to throw an apologetic hand up to the lorry driver. Then, as soon as he was one metre past the lorry, he turned back into a donkey- got to love them keeping you on your toes.

With it being half-term next month, I might be able to take Rupert on a little trip in the trailer to go jumping, which may be eventful!

Charlotte x