By Victoria Hamilton
Winter is coming! So, it is time to get prepared. Protecting your horse’s gut, feet and joints are always priorities, but in winter can be especially critical. Here are the three most important things to prepare for and manage this winter, to keep your horse in optimal health:
Horses just love small grass shoots! And with a stop/start to the winter season, like we’ve had this year, these small but problematic little shoots are coming up every time it rains. Unfortunately, as most people know, when horses feast on small shoots of grass, they pull them out of the ground, along with roots and the accompanying sand. The sand can accumulate in the horse’s gut and cause colic. Horses on sandy pastures, grazing in drought conditions, on overgrazed pastures or kept in a dry lot are particularly at risk, as the sand and dirt accumulates in their hindgut, leading to digestive upsets including diarrhoea and ‘sand colic’.
By Victoria Hamilton
A decade or so ago horses with certain traits would have been classified as hard to fit by riders and saddle fitters alike. But new research and technology has allowed world-class saddle makers to develop a good range of saddles for all horses, regardless of their physical traits. There can be more limited options available for some traits and/or horse and rider combinations, but it is improving all the time. And while custom-made saddles can be a brilliant option for some of the more challenging cases, there are also plenty of off-the-shelf saddles that are now well suited to many situations.
Find out what traits make a horse more challenging to fit, signs your horse has one or more of these traits, the impact this can have on saddle fit and most importantly, what you should be looking for in a saddle to ensure the comfort and performance of both you and your horse.
By Jenna Santos
Presentation is not my strong suit. This not only applies to horse riding, but life in general. I do not enjoy shopping, so I wait until my clothes become so badly ripped, stained, or otherwise battered to the point I can’t possibly continue to wear them, before heading to the shop, grabbing whatever looks like it might fit and beelining for the checkout. I rarely wear make-up, my hair gets brushed once a week (at best) and I can’t even tell you last time I had it cut. I would like to say I give my horse the dignity of a decent presentation, but alas, I’d be lying. He’s constantly filthy. I used to blame the lovely red Wheatbelt dirt, but things have not improved since he took up residence at Victoria Hamilton’s property in the hills. Even with all that beautiful green grass he manages to bury dirt deep inside his coat where it will forever stay. My idea of grooming in running a brush over him a few times before a ride and calling it a job well done.
By Jenna Santos
Dressage is easy. Unless you’re the one doing it… in which case it is very difficult. As with most sports, and in fact most activities, if someone makes something look easy… it is because they are good at it. So don’t be fooled into thinking it is just a matter of prancing around in circles. Ironically, the better you get the harder it becomes, and not just because you start working your way through the grades (theoretically) but rather because you realise all the things you never knew you never knew. I shudder to think of the countless things I am yet to learn, which would be a far longer list than the list of things I already know.
I am not a professional rider. I am an average amateur rider. An amateur rider, for those who don’t know, is basically defined as a person who does not make a living out of riding or training horses or coaching other riders. Just because a person is an amateur rider does not make them a bad rider. In fact, many amateur riders are highly skilled and competitive at top levels. There are also many “professional” riders who have questionable riding or horsemanship skills. You know the old saying… those who cannot do… teach. It is sometimes true.
Dr Victoria Hamilton is an icon in the Western Australian Equestrian Community, with a wealth of experience as a veterinarian, coach, breeder and international dressage competitor. As one of Australia’s top dressage riders, her love of horses is contagious and apparent in everything she does.
Jenna Santos is a business marketer, events manager, writer, mother and an amateur dressage rider.