"For me getting the horses to travel comfortably is super important, travelling up from Madrid for the shows around Holland takes us at least two days so it's vital to get it right. I like the horses to travel with quite a lot of space each, for some this doesn't work but I find for the majority they prefer to not be cramped in. This also helps with ventilation; good air is really important in the truck when travelling. I would rather have it fresher in the truck and put an extra blanket on than have bad air.
When travelling for long days I always offer the horses water on the truck. Some don't like to drink from the bucket, but one handful of slobber mash in the water makes a huge difference and the horses love to drink then - and also play so watch out for the splashes!"
"For me the brand of bridles or saddles is not so important as long as it is fitting well and comfortable for each horse. Currently we are using CWD which is great quality and comes in a variety of different styles of bridles and saddles so the tack can be made to fit each horse perfectly. At the minute our most used bit is a simple copper snaffle for exercise. It's not always about the newest trend, sometimes things are best kept simple!
My favourite fly bonnet has to be the Talisman custom made fly bonnets from Canada. They can be made exactly to your own design with your own logo on. My favourite one is the basic black square one. The fit is perfect on every horse and they don't move or flap about when jumping. This is the only place you will see 'bling' on my horses as they have a small talisman with gems on that sits just behind the ear on the hat!
We use lots of different brands of jumping boots on our horses, just depends what fits best or what each horse requires. The CWD front boots with sheepskin are super for horses with sensitive skin."
"Good grooming!!! If the horses' skin is looked after from good brushing everyday then your half way there! Clipping is always necessary in winter, but in summer if the coat looks good then there's no need to clip. I always try to leave my horses as long as possible for there first clip in autumn as the hair is always changing at this time and too much clipping can affect the quality of the hair.
When I plait it takes me a long time as I like to make lots of really small plaits, this is just personal preference for me, as long as there neat and tidy they will look good. When I don't have time, but have a wild mane simply bunching the mane on one side saves time and will control it for the ring.
It's really simple, but cleaning and oiling the feet everyday and working with a good blacksmith can save lots of problems. Everything we do is for the two minutes in the ring, but with out good feet you have no horse."
Good quality hay is one of the most important parts in the horses' diet. On shows I increase the amount of hay the horses get as they are not getting there daily time in the field and the exercise regime is usually heavier. Picking at hay the whole day is also the best for the digestive system which comes under more stress at shows and it also helps relieve any boredom.
I have used many different types of food but find the simple way is the best way. Now there are many complete feeds available, which makes feeding much simpler. We currently use Reverdy which has almost everything the horses need in one bag! I like to give some Lucerne with each feed just to slow down the eating of the horses.
On shows I always feed electrolytes as well as a good quality joint supplement to all horses.
After this its a bit down to what each horse requires.”
As told to WoSJ by Terri Fitton
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