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Show Trunk Secrets – with Ninna Leonoff

Thursday, 11 May 2017
Show Trunk Secrets

Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.
Out of Markus' horses, Charmed is Ninna's favorite: "She is now 9-years-old, Markus bought her as a 4-year-old. She is my princess." Photo (c) Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping.

World of Showjumping’s Show Trunk Secrets-series continues, this time with Ninna Leonoff who has worked for Markus Beerbaum for the past 17 years. “What I always tell my co-workers is that there are no stupid questions, you must feel comfortable asking for advice,” Ninna says. “What is most important for Markus is that you always must be kind, good and calm with the horses – and I agree with him. In the end, we are there to make sure the horses are happy!”


“Usually I bandage all four legs, and all the horses wear bell boots in front. Some horses, who don’t like to have bandages behind, travel without. I also like to hang up kick pads in to the trucks to really be safe – in the best case I like to leave an empty space between horses if I know that they might be kicking.

We fly frequently, and in the flight bag I always put a cooler blanket, a fleece blanket and always a hammer! It has happened a few times that a horse has lost a shoe, or something else happens and then a hammer comes in very handy. I also always take a twitch – it helps in case the horses get a little nervous or start panicking. If you put the twitch on for a moment, you get their attention and they usually calm down. Earplugs are also a must in the flight bag! Most of our horses fly with them; it does comfort them to block out the noise. I also put in bags of food, with mash, some pellets and carrots. And a thermometer! We usually hang up hay nets straight away when the horses are loaded in to the containers at the airport and hang up water buckets when we are up in the air. If we have a short flight, we might not feed them in the air, it depends on what time of the day we fly and for how long the horses need to travel. I always pack the blankets inside two garbage bags into the flight bag, because everything in the flight bags get soaked in the container.”

Ring refinement and tack

“When I make the horses ready for the ring, I start with brushing. Then if I plait, or fix their mane otherwise, I do that next and the horses can wear a magnetic blanket at the same time when I am working on the mane. Usually every time before I tack up, I put the horse in their box and let them pee if they want. I start tacking up with the saddle, front boots go on as last. I do like to plait, but I prefer using my time on the horses – in my opinion being out with them more instead of making sure they have 47 plaits on their head is more important. Also, for example with four horses at a show, you don’t have a lot of extra time on your hands and then I rather take them all out once more instead of plaiting. Also this depends on a horse; some horses can’t even wear plaits – they get upset with them, or have a short neck and plaits don’t suit them.

After the class I take the tack off and I let the horse pee in the box. If needed, I wash them and then cool off the legs with ice boots. I prefer to use Tendonil or Traumeel gels. For some horses that can’t wear bandages, I use clay instead. If the surface at the show is bad or really hard, or if the horses have problems with their hoofs, I pack the hoofs after competing with Magna-Poultice – it all depends on a horse.

Vetrolin Shine & Spray with UV protection is one of my favourite products. When the horses are out in the sun a lot, their hair and skin get damaged really quickly. I have seen a huge difference after using this spray!

All our blankets, boots, saddle pads and fly bonnets are from Eskadron and we use saddles and bridles from Prestige.

Little tricks that I have come up with that make life a little easier, are that I have started to put the blankets on from the right side: So often the belly cross-girth with metal parts hit the legs of the horses when you throw the blanket on from the left side. I find my horses much happier with this new system!

Also, if I use ear plugs a lot and they get sweaty I use baby powder on them to try and avoid the ears from getting irritated. I also have found out that Bepanthol Lotion is the best cure for itchy mains!

And if the shoe polish has gotten dry, I light it up for a little bit with a lighter – this way it is easier to use and the boots seem to get an extra shine.”

Feeding and keeping fit

“At home we start the day at 6.30, but I normally like to be in the stable alone for a minute so I usually feed at 6.20 and then I sit down and have my morning coffee. I love that moment: I love to be alone and listen to the horses eating – that is my favourite part of the day.

After feeding we muck out the boxes and if the horses have bandages or stable boots at night, I never leave the bandages laying around. I always finish one box and one horse at a time; I roll the bandages straight away and put them to their place. I don’t like to have a lot of stuff laying around in the aisles. I am really strict with things like this – also blankets need to hang the same way. I do the same after riding; I always roll away all the bandages and never have huge piles of boots and bandages laying around.

At home we start riding at 8 in the morning and we prefer to get the horses ridden before lunch. We feed lunch at 12 and then in the afternoon the horses go out in the paddocks, to the walker or for hand walks. We have many horses that are a bit special in their behaviour and those horses we try to keep out in the paddocks as much as possible. In general, we take all the horses out minimum two times every day – luckily we usually have enough staff so we can take our time with each horse.

All our horses have bandages on the front legs for riding, and only those who really need it wear boots behind. With young horses we try to avoid putting any boots behind as long as it is really not necessary. Those horses who need them, wear bandages at night or stable boots if they have minor issues with their legs. At shows I like to bandage all horses each night, because you never know what happens.

We prefer to have all horses stabled on straw, because it is natural for the horses – they are happy to have something to do all the time. Only the really fat ones are on shavings.

We feed our horses with Ludger Beerbaum Products. We use their whole range of feed and supplements and have made the feeding plan with their expert Conni Fritz. Our horses get fed four times a day. It is always better to feed hay first, but in the mornings we feed pellets before hay. Our horses get a lot of Lucerne on each feeding to make sure that they get enough fibre and eat their pellets a bit slower. At lunch time we feed pellets and mash, and then we feed pellets again in the evening and hay once more at night check.” 


Text and pictures © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen 

(No reproduction without permission)

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