The Best Equine Bedding

An interesting subject, as each horse owner has a different wish list, absorbency is at the top of mine whereas a close friend has bedding as dust free as possible at the top of hers, therefore this post is not about "the best bedding" but rather positive and negative points relating to each type of bedding I have trialled. 

Things I consider when buying equine bedding; 
1) Cost & size of bale
2) Absorbency
3) Dust
4) Ease of mucking out (wheel barrow space, weight etc...)
5) Smell
6) Taste
7) How much do I want to jump in it? 
I have rated some areas 1-10, 1 represents the lowest score, 10 represents the highest standards in the land!

1) 8/10 - £7.49 (price from my local tack shop, who offer free delivery when 15+ bales ordered). 20kg per bale. A new Bedmax Shavings bed requires 4-5 bales (= £37.45).
Maintenance; 1/2 bales top up per week.
2) 4/10 - This was the sole reason I didn't repurchase Bedmax Shavings, the absorbency just wasn't enough for me, the large pine flakes soaked up the wet but the wet spread quite a lot & stayed wet, I'd end up taking out a lot of wet bedding each day - I dislike leaving wet shavings in my bed as the bed then looks discoloured and gets smelly. This meant I was using a bale a week but in reality needed more which I couldn't afford to maintain
3) 10/10 - Excellent, no dust at all! I suffer with asthma and can get a dry cough and sometimes wheezy when working with bedding, hay etc...but no reaction at all with Bedmax Shavings, also Oscar did not cough after being stabled on Bedmax Shavings 
4) 8/10 - My folk didn't love Bedmax Shavings, it's prongs are too close together and I often found it annoying when shaking the flakes from the poo, I hate to waste clean bedding unnecessarily, although if Bedmax Shavings were your chosen choice of bedding it'd be worth investing in a wider forked folk....that makes sense, right? However when using a poop scoop to skip out, the bedding didn't get dragged into the scoop as smaller flakes often do (can you tell I hate waste!). The wet was annoying for me - as I have explained above - but it is a light bedding, that pats down well and doesn't load the wheelbarrow too much, making it easy to take to the muck heap
5) 8/10 - A beautiful fresh pine smell, although Oscar sometimes lays in his wet at night and as it wasn't the most absorbent bedding I found his rugs were quite smelly when using Bedmax Shavings
6) 10/10 - Unattractive to eat, dry...woody, perfect if you horse eats their bed!
7) 10/10 - A gorgeous bed, because the flakes are bigger, it makes a high, bouncy looking bed that I'd be happy to kip in overnight
Overall - 8/10

1) 7/10 - £8.49 - I had to travel to a tack shop 20 miles away but fortunately it's a flat bedding and I could fit a surprising number of bales in my teeny tiny car, if this is your choice of bedding, they sell Megazorb by the pallet, this is discounted and delivered. 85 litres per bale. To make a bed, Megazorb recommend 8 bales (= £67.92).
Maintenance; 1/2 - 1 bale top up per week.
2) 10/10 - Great, Megazorb say they believe it's the most absorbent bedding available and I'd have to agree. 
3) 7/10 - Double dust extracted, although I didn't notice it was dusty due to it's formula I did find could be inhaled when mucked out as it has a ashy appearance, it is made from wood pulp.
4) 9/10 - Excess bedding when picking out poo falls through the folk easily, ensuring little bedding is wasted. Megazorb is super absorbent therefore wet only taken out 2/3 times a week, and could be even less if you chose, in fact there is NO wet, what you take out is a flat cardboard like compact bed that has absorbed all the moisture. This meant my barrow only needed emptying a couple of times a week but became heavy with the amount of poop in it!!
5) 5/10 - A little wee' scent, good or bad.
6) 10/10 - Resembles grit...can't imagine it'd taste nice, little risk of your horse eating it.
7) 1/10 - No way would I jump in this, for starters it's so flat, doesn't look warm or inviting and it gets quite hard and compacted down.
Overall - 7/10

Please note, I tried a layer of Megazorb, topped with Bedmax Shavings as they have so many positives but it didn't work for me and worked out very expensive.

Bliss Bedding (Eucalyptus)
1) 8/10 - £8.49 - again, another product I had to travel for as my local stockist wouldn't deliver even if I ordered a large quantity, my little car could only mange two bales, and with a 50 mile around journey, this became time consuming as well as costly and is the only reason I have not continued to use Bliss Bedding, it's my favourite. 20kg per bale. Bliss Bedding recommend 6 bales to lay an initial bed (=£50.94).
Maintenance; 1 bale top up per week.
2) 10/10 - The best, the wet falls to the bottom and is held there, it doesn't leaves the top layer of the bed warm and dry. Perfection!
3) 8/10 - Dust extracted, did not notice the bedding was dusty, but it would not be as sharp looking as Bedmax Shavings for example however I think this is due to it's substance, Bliss Bedding is made from premium quality chopped rape straw. 
4) 10/10 - Excess bedding falls easily through the folk and I only took the wet out once a week as the bedding on top of the wet stays bouncy and fresh - I was sceptical when I first tried Bliss Bedding, but rest assured, they're not lying, it really is absorbent!! This meant my wheel barrow lasted days without being emptied but got weighed down with poop again!
5) 10/10 - I have only used Eucalyptus, so can't comment on Basic or Citrus but it is delicious, my stable always smelt calming and beautiful and supported Oscar to have healthy airways and I didn't notice a cough all last Spring when using Bliss Bedding. I know of some racing trainers who actually spray their beds with diluted eucalyptus oils to benefit their equines respiratory system, so I definitely believe in Bliss' scented products.
6) 7/10 - Originally I had this down as a 5 or 6/10 but I upgraded it because when I was researching Bliss Bedding the advisor explained to me their are three types, Basic, Citrus and Eucalyptus. All three are treated with a stable guard disinfectant that makes the bedding unpalatable to most horses - additionally so with the Citrus and Eucalyptus scents and if your horse does find it attractive Bliss Bedding offered to send me additional disinfectant to apply to my bales. There will always be an increased risk of your horse eating their bed when it's made from any type of straw. 
7) 10/10 - The bedding actually bounces, it's light and airy, it fluffs up and beds down deliciously and I would happily sleep on it!
Overall - 9/10

1) 9/10 - £7.44 - free delivery from local tack shop and discounted to £7 a bale when ordering 100+, therefore the yard clubbed together this year and we're all using Woodpecker Shavings this Winter. 20kg per bale. Woodpecker Shavings recommend 5/6 bales to make your horses bed (=£44.64). 
Maintenance; 1 bale top up per week.
2) 5/10 - Not great, the wet is soaked up by the shavings and doesn't spread but it isn't absorbed and therefore the shavings remain wet and when scooped up off the floor, the matting is wet underneath. I take the wet out daily.
3) 6/10 - Woodpecker Shavings are made from kiln dried softwood and dust extracted although my bed has been laid since October now and I do notice dust, not a lot but it is present and Oscar sometimes coughs on this bedding when worked first thing in a morning.
4) 7/10 - Conveniently falls through my shavings folk due to the tiny flakes therefore I waste less bedding, easy to maintain a clean bed, I have to take the wet out everyday therefore my wheelbarrow needs emptying daily...something I don't enjoy although it's always fairly light and easy to move. 
5) 8/10 - On the condition the wet is removed daily, the bed remains fresh and clean smelling, if the wet isn't removed it can smell of wee!!
6) 10/10 - Dry and unattractive, low risk of bedding being eaten for pudding
7) 9/10 - Woodpecker Shavings make a lovely light and fluffy bed that feels warm, it's bouncy and always looks clean and fresh, especially after it has had it's weekly top up bale. 
Overall - 8/10

1) 10/10 - £2-4.50 per bale, price dependant on quality of the straw and straw is often available direct from yards or local delivery for a small fee. It is a long time since I have maintained a straw bed, however used a whole small bale to make the bed initially.
Maintenance; 1 slice a day
2) 2/10 - hmmmm...Oscar's wet seemed to spread even with a good quality straw and I found myself digging for wet and taking it out each day
3) 3/10 - I have used good quality straw that I would rate higher however once the bedding has been in a short time due to its make-up it can become seedy and dusty and affect allergies in humans and equines, Oscar regularly coughs when bedded on straw and this is partially now to him nibbling on it too
4) 3/10 - I use a poop scoop to take out the poo but know a lot of people don their Marigolds and pick it out by hand, then clear the clean straw and folk out the wet straw, this is a smelly job that fills my barrow up too quickly and I have to make an effort to squash it all in and ensure it is emptied daily, although it is always a light load. 
5) 5/10 - A clean straw bed smells warming and homely, however once it has been slept in the smell of ammonia can be overwhelming, yuck
6) 2/10 - I did go for a 1 but then considered that digesting a little straw isn't bad for horses, but this should definitely a consideration when choosing to bed your gee gee on straw. Oscar isn't greedy therefore only nibbled on a small amount, my main concern with Oscar would be choke as it is something he has suffered with in the past as opposed to colic.
7) 10/10 - Scientific research has proved horses lay down more on straw beds than any other type of bedding, this is because it replicates the rough grasslands they'd relax on in the wild! I have only have the pleasure of bedding Oscar on straw when I take him on holiday with me to visit family as it is cheap to set up a bed for a short time and he is always very relaxed and happy in a straw bed. And, nothing looks more natural and homely than a big fluffy memory foam like mattress of straw...if life was perfect, I had access to good quality straw and an easily accessible muck heap, oh and I wasn't always in a huge rush - as I said, in a perfect world - I'd love to bed Oscar on straw.
Overall - 5/10

With the exception of straw, the beddings score similarly overall, this highlights what I explained at the start of my post, each horse is an individual and you choose what works best for your budget, lifestyle, personal and equine requirements and hopefully my personal experiences with the bedding above may help you save money and pin point which one meets your needs the best.
For me personally, if Bliss Bedding was easier to purchase and get delivered it'd be my choice year after year however if I ever win the lottery my horses will have big bouncy straw beds forever more...and a groom to battle the smell of wee and muck them out for me, haha - a girl can dream...

Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx


SealSkinz, Saviour Of Sore Hands

This isn't the first time I have spoken about my poor circulation...and most definitely won't be the last as keeping warm and cosy is my key to happiness (and not just when I am at the yard, this is in life - I am sat curled up in my pyjamas and duvet as I type), and once my hands and/or feet are cold, that's it! I am cold...and I am sad.

Although last Winter and the beginning of Winter 2014 hasn't been our coldest, my SealSkinz gloves are still something I couldn't live without, they're waterproof, durable, breathable and come in slim fit for women...need I continue with the superlatives? 

I wear the women's all weather riding glove in a size medium, their size guide online is excellent if you're unsure of your perfect fit and they cost £40. I find them too bulky to school in, I personally like to closely feel the reins but they'd be comfortable to hack out in on extremely cold days although I haven't ever worn them for this, but they're glued to my hands for every yard chore, I can wash buckets, pick out feet, push wheelbarrows up the hill and open metal gates, all without noticing the harsh effects of Winter on my hands.

 Taking photos outdoors...never easy when you've got so much hair...!!!

SealSkinz have over 30 years experience of developing and manufacturing outdoor extremity products, and so is their success, they now partner with some of the worlds greatest athletes, ranging from runners to skiers, explorers with a thirst for adventure and us crazy equestrian lot! After thoroughly researching the brand, I realised their success is down to the creator feeling the pain of poor circulation and therefore invented a product to prevent the cold getting in - John Logie Baird was meeting our needs when he created his first SealSkinz product, a waterproof sock in 1914 this resulted in minimising the risk of trench foot in the troops. This wonderful man also went on to invent the first television and had a very comfortable retirement I am sure. 

With the possibility of a white Christmas, these are definitely a must have for every equestrian.

Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx


NAF Himalayan Salt Lick

I don't believe in edible stable toys for two reasons, firstly...I am one of lives born worriers, I worry even when there isn't anything to worry about? So the thought of leaving a toy in my horses stable that could be trodden on and leave sharp plastic debris or worse, chewed and swallowed leaves me in a hot sweat. And secondly, because Oscar's temperament is largely dictated by his diet, feed the wrong type of hay and he turns into a leaping Lipizzaner never mind a sugar filled stable toy, treat or lick, therefore the only thing I do allow is a NAF Himalayan Salt Lick.

For anyone who doesn't know, salt, sodium, Na, whatever you choose to call it is vital for every equine diet, it acts as a basic electrolyte. Electrolyte minerals dissolve into the bloodstream and have the capacity to conduct energy to support normal nerve and muscle function, the brain relies on electrical signals for communication. It can also encourage horses to intake more water, which increases urination, keeping everything working nicely, balancing sodium:potassium levels and a hydrated horse is less likely to suffer from colic, so please ensure clean, fresh, room temperature water is always available.

 Yum, yum, yum...

A sign your horse may lack salt in his diet is licking and/or chewing wood, metal, dirt, your hands etc. and I understand a lick alone will not give Oscar all the salt he needs, plus too much licking of this would make his tongue sore, but it's something I have always given him and he has a nightly ritual of mouth full of food, followed by a lick of his salt...and repeat, however the best way to get salt into your horses diet is a generous spoonful of salt in their dinner - introduced gradually. But, if you need a healthy, boredum breaker, or just fancy treating your horse to something new I'd 100% recommend the NAF Himalayan Salt Lick, a small one lasts me 2-3 months and costs just £3.82 and I am never ever without one, for equal health and horse entertainment reasons.

Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx


Equilibrium Massage Mitt Review

I purchased the Equilibrium Massage Mitt in the sale last year (RRP £95), I love pampering Oscar and the idea of giving him a massage, improving his flexibility, muscle condition and encouraging him to relax with his head dropping and bottom lip wobbling sounded perfect...but things are never that simple with a spooky pony!

The Equilibrium Massage Mitt comes with a re-chargeable battery and charger, neatly packed away in a plastic case. After charging I popped my hand in the mitt and tried the settings, low, medium and high, I placed the mitt on my tight shoulders and it felt good, it was lightweight and an easy to clean material - all great so far! 

Now to introduce the mitt to Oscar, I groomed him first to ensure he was nicely relaxed, got the mitt out, placed it on my hand and allowed Oscar to sniff, snort and jump at it - he is a serious pansy - I then stroked it down his neck, shoulder, quarters and hamstring (switched off) so he could get a feel for it...his body was as stiff as an ironing board at first. 

Once he realized it wasn't going to kill him I switched it on...thankfully the mitt is quiet and once on, each session lasts 10 minutes then will automatically power off. Oscar didn't fully relax the first, second, third time I used the mitt and even now sometimes looks at it like he has never seen it before when it comes out my grooming bag, because of this reason I never got into good habits of using the mitt on a regular basis until this Summer. After Oscar's quarterly physio session, I asked the physiotherapist how the Equilibrium Massage Mitt could help Oscar and to show me exactly where I should be using physio highlighted areas on a sheet for me to work on, and this gave me the focus I needed to start using the mitt effectively. This completely changed my view on the product and I would like to see Equilibrium provide more guidance of how to use the mitt effectively, as I was lost before, just stroking it over his body as instructed by the YouTube video.

I now use my mitt weekly, usually on a night off, I find it too much hassle to use before I ride - my time is limited and after an early start to muck out, a busy day at work, then back to the yard I am realistic about what I have time to do, before I shower and cook dinner ready for it all to start again! I use the medium and high settings most and spend 10 minutes on the neck, shoulder area alternating sides and another 10 minutes on Oscar's back end. I think this goes some way towards helping soften and relax his muscles, he is in great shape and finds bending easy, this has improved in recent months. The mitt would also be great to take to competitions to help prepare muscles after being stood on the box.

Overall I feel the mitt is a luxury item, not essential and that the Equilibrium Masssage Pad would be more useful and suit my lifestyle more, I could pop it on before/after I ride and continue with my jobs at the yard. I would love to try one ...I am keeping my eyes peeled for one in the coming New Year sales as they RRP at £225.

Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx


Keeping Up With The Unicorns...ShowSheen Hair Polish & Detangler

I have had ShowSheen products on my 'to try' list for some time and when I saw the Hair Polish & Detangler on sale at the British Dressage National Championships with 25% extra free, I read it as a calling and purchased it immediately!

As you know, I own a grey meaning a sleek, glossy coat you can see your face in is near on impossible, therefore coat shine was not my sole purpose of purchasing this product, the reason I opted for it was one powerful statement...
"Can reduce grooming time by up to 80%"
Who would say no to that...? 

ShowSheen Hair Polish & Detangler is described as a multi-purpose grooming aid, uniquely formulated to coat each hair shaft ensuring manes and tails stay tangle-free and keep your horse cleaner for longer by repelling dust and dirt, it includes pro-vitamins to nourish the coat, added silk proteins to strengthen hair and is mildly scented with calming jasmine and soothing sandalwood...and credit where credit is due, it smells rather nice. Thanks to recent weather conditions, I have been putting ShowSheen thoroughly through it paces because the mud sticks everywhere, especially in Oscar's forelock, to his face, around his ears, the top of his neck...not to mention his legs - a full neck rug can only protect so much!

As a minimum each day I flick through Oscar's coat using a dandy brush and have then been spritzing the ShowSheen with one pump over an area, the pump is powerful and covers quite a large surface and doesn't leave a damp spritz patch in one area (who else hates it when that happens with a spirtizy bottle?) instead it delicately coats a large area - perfect - take care not to spritz to close to the saddle/girth area as it could make this area slippy! I then slide my LeMieux Lambskin Grooming Mitt over Oscar's coat in the direction of the hair. It makes him feel baby soft, and 100% helps with mud, I find he comes in from the field with less stuck in his coat but I have to disagree that it repels stains as I still sigh when Oscar struts out his stable each morning having yet again rolled in his own poo! No polish will repel that, only elbow grease!

Overall I enjoy using the ShowSheen Hair Polish & Detangler, I can't remember how much I paid but have found it online for £13.67 at Viovet. I would definitely re-purchase and would choose this product over a separate mane and tail spray as having everything in one bottle makes life much easier.

Thank you for reading,  Jessica and Oscar xxxx


Haynet Equestrian Blogger of the Year 2014

Thank You
Oscar and I are proud to announce that we have made it to the final twelve for the
Haynet Equestrian Blogger of the Year Award 2014

I am honoured to be amongst such fantastic equestrians, writers and generally wonderful people in the running for this prestigious title. And if you think Oscar and I are worthy of such recognition please follow the link, input your e-mail, click begin to be taken to the final twelve, please click GeeGee and Me, I would be truly grateful.

Haynet was launched in September 2011 by Sam Hobden, the owner of Zeb a beautiful Belgium Warmblood and driven by the love of sharing her own personal highs and lows of horsemanship. Sam's passion has developed Haynet into a thriving community of like minded enthusiasts sharing everything equine and it's one of my favourite past times to log in and read the latest posts, it's one to bookmark for anyone who loves horses.

Fingers and hooves always thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx


Your Horse Magazine

I can't remember when I first bought Your Horse Magazine, it's been a regular purchase throughout my teens and on entering into adulthood, I did what any responsible adult would do and subscribed to it via direct debit to ensure I never missed an issue - and got my hands on it before everyone else!! I am careful with my money, I don't have it to throw away but I can honestly justify the £11.15 per quarter it costs, averaging at £3.72 an issue, a saving on the £3.99 retail shop price. And here is why...

My love of Your Horse Magazine comes from the practicality of it, I learn something from every single issue,  many people have sniggered at my subscription (me, geeky...never), but I am always a go to person when someone needs inspiring with a fresh idea to liven up their schooling session, and that is thanks to the motivation I get from the magazine.

Your Horse Magazine always runs a series, 2014 has seen Total Confidence Training with advice from the legendary Lucinda Green, the awe inspiring Sylvia Loch, the brilliant role model Natasha Baker and many more. The second half of the year saw the launch of the Training Academy 2014 with top coaches Laura Tomlinson and Jay Halim. This was perfect timing for me, as after having a difficult start with Oscar due to our very different backgrounds, with very different understandings of what we were asking of one another in our relationship, every time I schooled (and I continue to do this) I tick off the scales of training in my head before asking any more of Oscar - this can mean I sometimes trot and trot and trot and trot and trot, just until he realises he doesn't need to be running, relaxes and then we find our rhythm - so you can imagine when I saw the Training Academy Planner, I had a hallelujah moment:
Rhythm (my trainer also uses the word, tempo)
The magazine series' aren't a quick fix, for example December 2014 saw Laura and Jay discussing collection and my gosh I'm nowhere near, the only time I have collection is when I am on the cross country course, holding Oscar back feeling determined and then I smile and soften and the beautiful bouncy canter, that is then lost the moment after I realise I have it! But, it has given me another perspective on the scales of training and inspires me in my schooling sessions, I know Oscar and I will get there!!!! One day....

The 30 minute expert work out from the best trainers across the land is often a page I take to the yard with me, they're always really easy to follow and are from varied and well respected trainers. And Your Horse Magazine also tackles some of the simplest issues we face, that are never easy to resolve on our own, such as standing the be mounted....a horse not respecting our space, the things we often overlook and work around, when we should be addressing the problem, we just need a gentle push in the right direction. Again, the insight into private lessons is also priceless as it shows everyone else isn't perfect and it isn't just me with bad habits and I take so much from the trainers feedback.

Your Horse Magazine also celebrates the beautiful breeds (i.e. every breed, I wonder if they need a Connemara to model for them?), showing off an enchanting imagine over a double page spread and expanding our knowledge that little bit further, this month I learnt about Fjords while enjoying a cup of tea...easy reading! And now you're all dying to know what a Fjord is, go on, Google it! And a page encouraging us to "Get Out There" with a calender of popular events happening in the coming month across the UK. And on a more serious note, my veterinary and general horse care knowledge has been boosted thanks to the monthly feature of the Your Horse Open Clinic including a Q&A session with a panel of professionals and an insight into mud fever, kissing spine, grass sickness and all those other issues that weigh heavy on our minds, for me knowledge is power.

I could go on all day listing superlatives for Your Horse Magazine, however if you're in need of some inspiration and ideas, £3.99 is much cheaper than a lesson and something you can keep referring back to, and it isn't all about ridden work either, there are articles on groundwork, lunging, long-lining and in-hand training, perfect for the Winter nights! What are you waiting for...? 

Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx


Thermatex Quilted Leg Wraps

It never pours, and as a result the gateway to the horses paddock already resembles a mud bath...and it's only November, therefore Mud Fever Maintenance has already begun and although last years blog covers the preventative measures I take, I have a new tool in my box; Thermatex Quilted Leg Wraps.

I religiously towel dry Oscar's legs once they've been washed down, and although this ensures they're not soaking it doesn't leave them 100% dry, and after doing a lot of homework on the Thermatex Quilted Leg Wraps, I decided they were the next best thing to a horsey hair-dryer and I made it my mission to source a second hand set, just in case they didn't live up to the hefty £64.95 price tag! I found mine on eBay, second hand for around £40, including P&P and although used, they arrived washed and in a good condition and I have been excited to try them out ever since...and by gosh I didn't have to wait long - mud, glorious mud! 

I have been using the Thermatex Quilted Leg Wraps regularly for over a month, they're always applied to clean, damp legs and they're designed to "dry off legs, provide warmth and protection for your horse in the stable" they're made from Thermatex' technologically advanced wicking fabric, comprising of woollen inner and outer layers knitted together with a middle insulation of polypropylene. The wool and yarns used are of the highest quality and are spun specifically for Thermatex - and even though my wraps are second hand, the quality is exceptional.

The wraps are light to handle, warm and comfortable and Oscar doesn't even walk funny in them! Their unique ability to wick moisture from the inside of the fabric is second to none, it allows moisture to evaporate into the atmosphere without being absorbed into the fabric and after applying to towel dried legs it only takes 20 minutes for Oscar's legs to be completely dry after wearing his wraps. The first time I was astounded, the wraps were slightly damp but his legs were dry, moisture free and toasty warm and I've put them to the test again and again, every time they put a smile on my face! 

My Thermatex Quilted Leg Wraps are a size large (to fit any horse 46 x 41cm) and at first I did find them a little too long to wrap and velcro in place, with the velcro tabs over reaching the velcro slightly on Oscar's tiny pony legs, but I soon mastered the art - however I still don't feel confident leaving them on overnight in case they slipped down his leg and he hurt himself by kicking to get it off - therefore if I purchased a brand new set I would consider a size smaller for Oscar, and that is something I would definitely consider, at £64.95 they're worth every penny, I consider mine a serious bargain - thank you eBay! - and if you're really in the money, the Courda design prevents straw, hay and shavings from sticking to the wraps (convenient) and is a stronger material, costing £83.95.


Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx

PS...Oscar and I have the Thermatex Original Cooler and Quarter Rug on our Christmas list now, I hope we've been good in 2014 :o)


Evison Equine English Leather Hunting Breastplate

Autumn 2014 officially started on Monday 20th September for the UK...and while I've enjoyed scrumping apples until late October, I have been desperate to dance in crunchy fallen leaves and wake to a fresh morning frost...finally this week the temperature has dropped and Autumn has arrived. Better late that never and by far my favourite season of the year, bringing with it an intense buzz of excitement as the hunting season kicks off. 

This easily turned my attention to my hunting breastplate, that I love and it's about time I shared it with you! Again it's from Evison Equine, the same brand as my bridle and crafted from beautiful English leather using a traditional design to compliment your hunting attire perfectly. Alongside this is ticks all the practicality boxes too, it has elastic inserts around the shoulders for movement and comfort with a sturdy leather neck strap (my favourite feature!!!).  The soft sheepskin chest pad is attached by velcro, making it easy to clean after a muddy days hunting and something I always use to avoid rub marks on Oscar's chest. There are many buckles so you can alter the breastplate for the perfect fit, with quick and simple D-ring clasps ensuring ease of use with the classic running martingale straps clipping on too (really important to me, Oscar can be quite sharp yet I don't like using a martingale for flatwork therefore when we go somewhere new, or we're feeling excitable I will often use the breastplate for security, minus the martingale). Oscar is a 15hh Connemara and wears the cob size comfortably, with the martingale straps being a perfect length, it also comes in sizes pony and full at the reasonable price of £65.00.

Today's review is definitely a case of less is more, the breastplate is simple and perfect in every way, therefore the pictures can do the rest of the talking and finish with this special poem that I love dearly...

The huntsman's horse, whether brown or bay,
or brightest chestnut, or sober grey,
whate'er his colour, a hunting day
is all the same to him, come what may.

When other horses, too full of beans,
unship their riders by artful means,
or kick each other to smithereens,
he takes no part in such ugly scenes.

He never bucks, or attempts to shy,
or play the fool if a car goes by,
or roll, or bolt, as do lesser fry,
on Monday mornings, when tempers fly.

He knows his job, and he's well content,
to leave the frills to the 'sporting gent'
whose hunter-chaser was never meant
for long slow hunts on a failing scent.
The Huntsmans Horse by Edric Roberts

Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx


Keeping Up With The Unicorns...NAF Love the Skin he's in, Skin Wash

I purchased the NAF, Love the Skin he's in, Skin Wash in April 2014, along with the Skin Salve (click on the link for the Skin Salve review - May 2014), but at the time felt I couldn't give this product an honest review as I'd only used it as a cold wash - a mere one of it's three purposes, and finally six months later I am sharing my thoughts having tried all three...better late than never.

The NAF Skin Wash is a natural wash created from herbal ingredients, including aloe vera, a scent I can really smell as soon as the cap comes off, a beautifully clean and refreshing smell. The wash is designed to help support damaged or challenged skin affected by lumps, bumps and mild irritations, as a rule Oscar doesn't suffer with any of these but I love the healing properties of aloe vera and felt comfortable leaving this on his skin as a cold wash due to it's gentle properties, here are the three uses;

  • Cold wash - I have used the Skin Wash throughout Summertime, diluting half a capful in a small amount of cold water and applying it with a wrung out sponge to lift dirt and sweat after riding - the bottle has lasted all Summer, albeit there is only a small amount left therefore very economical if used for this purpose solely. I found it hugely convenient as the Skin Wash does not have to be washed off, so it's literally wipe down and done, it smells great, caused no irritations for being left on either. 10/10.
  • Deep coat clean - I tried this only once, I diluted a capful of Skin Wash to 5 litres of hot water (x2) as instructed and it just didn't do it for me. I think this could be down to Oscar always having a good covering of hair/coat, for example it takes a lot more to deep clean his coat than it would that of a thoroughbred. And I like to lather up a lovely bubbley foam when I "deep clean" - I can't be on my own with this one, I am the same with my own shampoo, it has to lather up! And bubble bath, it isn't bubble bath unless it bubbles-up in my opinion - and due to it's natural ingredients the Skin Wash doesn't lather. Therefore I wouldn't choose it if I wanted to deep clean Oscar's coat. 0/10.
  • Hot towel wash - This is the bad boy I've been waiting for! Oscar had his Summer coat coming through in April 2014 when I bought this product so I've had to wait until now to use the Skin Wash after clipping! I also held off using my deep cleansing towel that comes free with the wash too for this day, I have never in my life been so excited about hot clothing!! Again I diluted one capful with 5 litres of hot kettle water, dunked it my NAF towel, put my hand in...wincing at the temperature, wrung it out and worked it into the coat in circular motions. The cloth is luxurious, much nicer than the old flannel I normally use and a great size, it's much bigger than I expected, I worked this softly into Oscar's coat and it bought out all the grease, clipper oil and loose hairs perfectly, leaving him sparklingly clean! The wash 7/10, the cloth 10/10.
  • can be used directly on an affected area that require specific attention.
Overall it's been a useful item in my tack room and I haven't struggled to get my use from the product, so much so it's almost empty, it cost £17.96 from Viovet for 1 litre, great value for money considering the towel included. I'd recommend the purchase for the towel itself & I would consider repurchasing the Skin Wash but only if I'd ran out of all other leave in cold skin washes as this was it's main use for me, for hot towel washes, it was luxurious but a couple of drops of Dettol, baby oil or even washing up liquid do just as good a job in my opinion when hot clothing/towelling.

Oscar after his hot towel wash with NAF Love the Skin he's in, skin wash...
he is doing his best spook face at his turnout rug on the floor...pansy!

Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx


Shires Tempest Original 100 Turnout Rug

The search was....
"A rug for those changeable, inbetween Autumn/Spring days"

And I first ever Shires rug, the purchase has left me wondering why it took so long!! I have been using the Tempest Original 100 Combo Turnout rug since September and have been seriously impressed with it.

Photographs taken on first day of wearing rug, ensuring it is clean and well presented for our wonderful's not dusty and brown, mud glorious muddd!

Firstly I will point out my boy isn't a proactive rug wrecker, but has been know to have rugs last less than 2 weeks on more than one occasion, enjoying serious roll-time and playing tag with his boisterous field mates on a daily basis! Because of this I was initially concious of buying a cheaper brand of rug, I'd rather spend a little more & it last longer, but struggled to find 100g rugs (that didn't cost the world **cough Amigo Bravo**), so I took the risk and purchased from R&R Country RRP £55.00.

Features...and my thoughts

  • The rug comes with and without a hood, I opted for a hood as Oscar is grey...and loves to roll! Without the hood RRP £42.00
  • 600 denier ShireTex outer shell - waterproof, breathable, ripstop
  • 100g fill
  • Fully lined for comfort, and it's very soft and cosy inside
  • Oscar is blessed with his mane, being a Connemara and true to type, but rugs have been know to rub away his mane in the past, and after regular wear of this rug there are no signs of rubbing - although please bear in mind his is not as sensitive as an Arab's mane would be for example and the rug is adjusted/changed at least once a day
  • Tail flap & fillet strap
  • The rug is secured with velcro and double clip breast clasps, and twin touch close neck straps - a must for me, I can't be doing with buckles...especially when my hands are cold or I am wearing gloves
  • Adjustable cross surcingles - a great fit
  • As it gets chillier I plan to use this as an under rug too, dual purpose!
  • shoulder gussets which I like on a rug for freedom of movement
  • And the in, long-ways. Oscar is always a 5'9/6'0, he is 15'1hh, slim build Connemara, the rug is a great vertical length but horizontally I'd like it to cover more of his bottom than it does - please note this is probably just me being an obsessive mummy! (See below, thoughts on a postcard please...)

So if you ever find yourself in the market for an 'in-between' rug, or have a good doer type that needs that little extra I would completely recommend this rug, I have been so impressed with it and wouldn't hesitate to purchase this or any other Shires rug in the future. 

Thank you for reading, Jessica and Oscar xxxx

This is the official Shires photograph for the rug, who thinks Oscar could be a double? Haha, so alike? Right down to the muddy legs!!


Euro-Star Sanda Fleece

Are you ready for a controversial post...? Because today I am reviewing an item for MYSELF, yes, that's right...I spent money on ME! I know every horse obsessed owner reading this will empathise that every spare penny we have gets spent on our precious and pampered geegee's therefore I have to really love something to buy it. And I will selfishly admit, I am a little bit in love with my new navy fleece from Euro-Star's A/W 2015 collection, the Sandra Fleece. 

For those of you 'in the dark' Euro-Star isn't just the term used for a high speed train connecting London to Paris and Brussels, it's also the name of the beautiful equestrian brand passionate about colour, style and quality materials since 1959, they endeavour to produce top quality equestrian clothing with the perfect fit, the perfect look. They understand the close contact required between horse and rider and use this as their basis for product development and design within all equestrian sports. 
What's not to love about that...? (Possibly the prices, I want it alllllll, not fair).

The best stockist I know for Euro-Star in the UK is Fur Feather Meds, Lili puts the items on her website and Facebook page, and if you've seen something Euro-Star but can't find it on the FFM page, Lili will look at ordering the item in for you specially. (I know, I know, far too tempting, especially in October with the 'C' word looming).


The Sandra Fleece is £75 and comes in four beautiful colours, grey, navyeucalyptus and lipstick red, and the colours conveniently match their A/W 2015 Matchy Matchy saddle pad and bandage sets! I choose navy...and still have an eye placed on grey! I am a size 8/10 and wear Small. The Sandra Fleece is my first Euro-Star clothing item and I was surprised at the quality, shadowing my Pikeur fleeces. The fur around the collar is beautifully soft, not cheap looking in any way, the fleece is cosy and warm, the ES logo on the front and snowflake on the back are surrounded by glittering sparkles and it's the perfect length for riding, not too long, giving freedom of movement and helping us not to look too bulky when sat in the saddle.

I hope you don't think I am too sad getting this excited by a 'fleece' but I feel this is no ordinary fleece...and I don't think I'll be taking it off my back until Spring arrives....(apart from to wash it...of course :P)

Worn at the yard and acceptable in public too...proving it's worth already

The only problem now...I am desperate for some Euro-Star breeches, they're all gorgeous, lets hope I am on Santa's good list!

Thank you for reading, Jessica & Oscar xxxx