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Wednesdays with Jen (Episode 6) Working out an exercise plan for your horse

Wednesdays with Jen (Episode 6)  Working out an exercise plan for your horse

Jenny is an Equine Physiotherapist, Rehabilitation Specialist and Spinal Manipulation Therapist, and has been working with horses professionally for over 10 years. 

We asked Jenny to describe a bit about her work.....

''Firstly I absolutely LOVE my work with horses! I have become specialised over time, in a few key areas: back pain in horses, postural and movement improvement, and rehabilitation after injury. These are areas that really motivate me as I see such big positive transformations in horses going through rehabilitation or posture/movement improvement! 

I live in Staffordshire in the Midlands (UK), and over the last couple of years have developed a variety of training courses, ebooks, my blog, a membership and zoom calls, all to enable ways to work together without location being an issue! 

I love working with horses owners who want to learn more about their horses, and want to improve their horses so that they can be the very best version of themselves!''

Jenny has written a series of blogs for Horzehoods readers, on some of her specialised areas, so we hope you will find them interesting and informative...we are looking forward to reading them too. Each episode will release every Wednesday. 

Whether going through rehabilitation, bringing your horse back into work, correcting your horses posture and movement, following kissing spine diagnosis or any other type of injury, starting young horses, working with senior horses to improve and maintain their flexibility, horses with arthritis…. ALL of these horses will benefit from working on the important foundations of correct movement!

BLOG: Working out an exercise plan for your horse
In my rehabilitation work, I always work in a progressive manner, meaning make changes and increases in demand slowly so that the horses structures (bones, ligaments, tendons, fascia and muscles) have time to adapt...this is how we avoid injury / re-injury. And I treat general work plans, fittening plans, bringing back into work after time off, postural improvement plans in the same way, and apply the same guidelines...slow and steady is best! 
If you were to go from zero exercise to running a 5k race, you wouldn't start on day 1 or week 1 with running a 5k!! You would start with walking and build some strength and fitness before starting to add bits of jogging in and then working on your stamina towards the end goal of the 5k run over a period of time. and it's exactly the same with horses! 
The problem we tend to have with horses is we look at them as being big and strong...but ultimately 'behind the scenes' are they actually strong enough, fit enough, do they have enough stamina developed, can they actually safely do what we are asking of them, have they been prepared thoroughly enough?
And this is where exercise planning comes in...take some time to think about your horses level of fitness / flexibility / stamina now, and where you want to get to over a given timeframe (I tend to work in 6-8 weeks chunks), and look at how you can GRADUALLY get from A to B! 
I mentioned cross training in one of the previous blogs, and this is usually my recommendation with exercise planning...build some variety into your horses regime, and train them to be able to do all things not just 1 thing! Consider fitness, stamina, flexibility, postural work, work for the mind AND the body! 

Types of exercise to include in a mixed plan....:

*Core exercises - always one of the most important exercises to add in daily! 

*In hand work - great for flexibility and symmetry, as well and organisation of the body in movement 

*Hacking - great to get your horse out of the arena! Great for strengthening and cardiovascular fitness 

*Polework - even if just walking over poles, this exercise helps with joint mobility and equal stepping

*Lateral work - in hand and/or ridden, whichever way you do it, learning some lateral exercises is really beneficial for your horses body

*Fast work - if appropriate for your horse, canter or gallop work really opens up the body! 

*Slopes/hill work - again, if appropriate for your horse, great for strengthening the hindquarters! 
*Non-ridden work - always add in a couple of days per week of non-ridden exercise 
 
If you're working on all of these areas in a steady and progressive manner, your horse can adapt to the gentle increases with ease, and there is a much lower risk of injury. 
I hope you have enjoyed this series of blog posts! I am really passionate about sharing my knowledge, I really have learnt so much in my career, and am really motivated when I see horses literally transform by working on the foundations of posture, crookedness and movement!! 
HH readers discount code! You can get 20% off all of my online courses and the course bundles, by using the code HH20 at checkout on my site! Courses: Core Exercises, In Hand Exercises, Massage, Developing Correct Movement in the horse. And more coming soon!!
 
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Wednesdays with Jen (Episode 5) 'Kissing Spine'

Wednesdays with Jen (Episode 5) 'Kissing Spine'
BLOG: 'Kissing Spine' 

10 years ago most of us hadn’t even heard of 'Kissing Spine', and now there seems to be many, many horses being diagnosed with this condition. What does 'kissing spine' mean, and why the explosion in cases?

 

In my opinion, there are various reasons...we are all getting better at recognising it, horse owners, therapists and vets, and treatments are evolving, so it’s a more accessible treatment process for owners, and there are more options. Also in modern horsemanship, horses tend to be started much earlier than in the past, so horses are being backed-broken in-ridden away-jumped-competed all WAY BEFORE their skeletal system is fused and ready for work. Breaking in at age 3 and ridden away is the standard process now, whereas 30 years ago, horses were backed at 4, turned away, broken in at 5, turned away, ridden at 6 - it's a HUGE difference. Horses bodies are not ready for a rider at age 3, so they have to find ways to compensate, often by bracing in the back...easy to start to see why 'kissing spine' is now so common? 

What is kissing spine?

Let’s start with the basic anatomy of the horse’s spine and then focus on what is actually happening in the horses body with the presence of this condition. The dorsal spinous processes are the sections of bone that we can feel along the line of the spine, and are vertical projections of bone emanating up from the spinal vertebrae deep in the horses back.

ORDSP stands for Over-Riding Dorsal Spinous Processes and this is a term used to describe ‘kissing spine’. What it means is the touching of the bones along the spine, which causes back pain to the horse. This condition quite often happens when the horses back is weak and the whole middle section of the horse, the trunk, is in a sunken position – this brings the bones in the spine closer together, causing pain if the bones touch.

Usually a postural change has occurred that brings the dorsal spinous processes closer together, ultimately allowing the bones to touch, which is extremely painful for the horse, and over time the bones can actually remodel and fuse.

Pain can come from the bones touching together, and/or from ligament pain where the ligaments are squashed in between the spinous processes.

How is it caused?

Kissing Spine (KS) can be either a primary issue or a secondary issue to another problem in the horse; I will outline some examples of both below so we are clear about the difference.
KS as a primary issue: for example the horses saddle has been ill fitting over a period of time, causing back pain and ultimately poor posture and the downward spiral to ORDSP. When it’s a primary issue, there is a direct cause of the back pain (in this case the ill fitting saddle), it’s not being caused by anything else.
KS as a secondary issue: this is when another problem such as lameness is causing a postural issue and therefore leading to KS. This is more complicated both to diagnose, and to treat.

Examples of KS as a primary issue:

It can be a primary issue where the saddle is a poor fit, as discussed above.
When the rider is too heavy for the size or strength of the horse, this can cause an initial hollowing of the posture, and an eventual decline in strength and ultimately KS. 

Lack of training: the horse has always been allowed to ride in a hollow posture and has never been trained, this can lead directly to back pain and KS. The lack of training caused the KS.

Examples of KS as a secondary issue:

Sometimes a hind limb lameness such as suspensory ligament injury may have the secondary effect of causing KS due to the horse altering his movement patterns to avoid pain. Therefore the suspensory ligament injury being treated first may relieve the posture and back pain caused by KS as the hindlimbs are more comfortable and the horse can then move in a biomechanically correct way without pain.
KS can actually be a secondary issue to gastric ulcers too, as the horse will change their posture and how they hold themselves due to the pain from gastric ulceration causing tightening through the back.

So it’s absolutely crucial to have a full and clear diagnosis for your horse.

What are the signs?

Horses suffering with KS can exhibit many signs, some are actually quite subtle, some quite the opposite. Some horses can mask pain quite well and just carry on without any overt signs of a problem, or they could exhibit various subtle signs that would not necessarily raise any alarm bells. Some of the key signs are listed below, including some which might be helpful for the more stoic horses that may not be screaming ‘my back hurts’.

List of some of the common signs of KS:

  • Bucking
  • Throwing rider off
  • Moving away from the mounting block
  • Not wanting to be tacked up for riding
  • Nipping or face pulling when girthing up saddle
  • Moving away from saddle being put on back
  • Dipping back when rider mounts
  • Difficulty working into contact
  • Rides with hollow posture
  • Lacking topline especially along the back 
  • Grumpy attitude to ridden work
  • Difficulty bending through ribcage
  • Issues in the canter
  • Consistent back pain that doesn’t resolve with physio/manipulation
  • Decrease in usual performance levels

If issues of this nature have been identified with one or more of these signs, the owner and / or rider should seek professional advice to investigate further.

How is it treated?

The only way to properly diagnose this condition is to have your horse’s spine x-rayed. This will provide a clear image to the veterinary surgeon of where your horses dorsal spinous processes sit in relation to one another. The common area for KS is in the thoracic spine, under the saddle area.

Treatment will be either surgical or medical. Surgical treatment is usually one of 2 operations with the less severe involving the cutting of the ligaments in between the close or touching spinous processes to create space in between them. This is normally done under standing sedation and is a fairly quick operation. The other form of surgical treatment is to remove some of the spinous processes or shave some of the bones, which is a bigger operation and is usually done under general anaesthetic.

Medical treatment involves the injecting of the areas where there are close or touching spinous processes with long acting anti inflammatory/steroids to ease the pain and inflammation which can enable relaxation of the affected areas.

Each horse is of course different, so treatment is an individual thing for horses presenting with KS.

What is absolutely crucial in horses suffering from KS is that after treatment, their posture is corrected and the horse is retrained to use their core effectively, lifting the back and strengthening the muscles to better carry the weight of the rider.
*If you are going through 'Kissing Spine' with your horse, do follow my page, as this is a specialist area of my work, or contact me if you need guidance/support.
 
***HH readers DISCOUNT CODE! You can get 20% off all of my online courses and course bundle by using the code HH20 at checkout on my website! Links below! There are online courses on Core Exercises, In Hand Exercises, Massage, and Developing Correct Movement in the horse. 
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Wednesdays with Jen (Episode 4) EXERCISE REHABILITATION

Wednesdays with Jen (Episode 4)  EXERCISE REHABILITATION

Jenny is an Equine Physiotherapist, Rehabilitation Specialist and Spinal Manipulation Therapist, and has been working with horses professionally for over 10 years. 

We asked Jenny to describe a bit about her work.....

''Firstly I absolutely LOVE my work with horses! I have become specialised over time, in a few key areas: back pain in horses, postural and movement improvement, and rehabilitation after injury. These are areas that really motivate me as I see such big positive transformations in horses going through rehabilitation or posture/movement improvement! 

I live in Staffordshire in the Midlands (UK), and over the last couple of years have developed a variety of training courses, ebooks, my blog, a membership and zoom calls, all to enable ways to work together without location being an issue! 

I love working with horses owners who want to learn more about their horses, and want to improve their horses so that they can be the very best version of themselves!''

Jenny has written a series of blogs for Horzehoods readers, on some of her specialised areas, so we hope you will find them interesting and informative...we are looking forward to reading them too. Each episode will release every Wednesday. 

EPISODE 4 BLOG: Exercise Rehabilitation
Exercise Rehabilitation might sound like a scary phrase (!) especially when we are doing post injury rehab, BUT we can use exercise rehabilitation in all sorts of positive ways, for all sorts of issues whether injury related or not, and we can use it in the 'improvement' phase too which is where I work a lot...posture and movement improvement is my piece! 
So we can think of exercise rehabilitation as a way of getting from A to B so to speak, with our horses. And it's all about planning, being consistent, and working on specific parts of our horses body or movement that need addressing. I tend to use some level of rehab/corrective work with most if not all of the horses that I work with, to counteract specific issues such as their natural crookedness patterns, senior horses becoming stiffer and slower, and to prevent poor posture creeping in. If we can work on the foundational issues in our horses body on a daily/weekly basis, the rest of what we want to do is much easier! 
Exercise is enormously beneficial whether we are human or a horse!! From a horse perspective, what we do with them in terms of ridden work is quite alien for them really (!) so by exercising and strengthening them, and correcting imbalances or movement issues, and preparing them thoroughly for what we want to do, your horse stands the best chance of being able to offer you his best, and you can reduce the risk of injury by preparing! 
When a horse is going through specific injury rehabilitation there will be an individual plan from your vet and physio to follow. When outside of this scenario, I love using cross training as a great exercise regime, and it works well for most horses! 
Doing a few different types of exercise really does help your horse, in body and mind! From a body perspective, if we are doing the same schooling exercises every single day, the horse can get sore and tired...there is actually a term for this, DOMS - delay onset muscle soreness - which can be the start of overuse injuries. By mixing the work up a bit over the week, we can ask the horses body to do different tasks, and can actually strengthen them up much more effectively! 
I always recommend horses doing a couple of days a week of non-ridden work too, to take the weight of the saddle and rider off the horses back, and allow them to work unweighted...you can affect their posture and movement really well from the ground. 
So a little practical task for you! What do you need to improve with your horse? What does he/she struggle with? What could you add into your exercise regime to help? Do you need to go through a core strengthening rehab? Do you need to step back from riding for a few weeks to address a movement issue? Does your horse need more flexibility to help improve your competition scores? Does your horse need more fittening work? 
Once you are clear on what you need to improve with your horse, you can add in some 'rehabilitation of body/movement' exercises to your exercise routine, as a 'base layer', a non-negotiable part of your exercise regime! This could be core exercises, in hand exercises, corrective lunge work, long reining, regular pole work, whatever it is that will improve your horses weak areas. Adding in a few corrective sessions per week on your horses weakness, or spending 10 minutes on correcting something prior to your usual exercise session, can be a great way of weaving in some rehab work!
Example: my horse is 17 now, and he's been through various injuries, so I keep him in regular light work, and some of the non-negotiables for me in terms of my exercise rehab frame of mind for him are...core exercises most days to help his back and core strength, walk pole work to help his flexibility and core strength, in hand exercises to keep his mind and body functioning (!)...these are things I need to keep working on specifically with him.
I love exercise planning for clients horses, it really seems to motivate the horse owner and keep them on track when they have a few months of work ahead of them to get to where they want to be! In one of the next posts I will be discussing exercise planning in a bit more detail so look out for that blog!
 
***HH readers DISCOUNT CODE!! 20% off ALL ONLINE COURSES and COURSE BUNDLES on my website! Just use the code HH20 at checkout! If you want to add my recommended exercises to your routine, take a look at my Training page, link below, where I have online courses on: Core Exercises, In Hand Exercises, How to massage your horse, and Developing Correct Movement in the horse! 
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Wednesdays with Jen (Episode 3) DEVELOPING CORRECT MOVEMENT IN THE HORSE

Wednesdays with Jen (Episode 3)  DEVELOPING CORRECT MOVEMENT IN THE HORSE

Jenny is an Equine Physiotherapist, Rehabilitation Specialist and Spinal Manipulation Therapist, and has been working with horses professionally for over 10 years. 

We asked Jenny to describe a bit about her work.....

''Firstly I absolutely LOVE my work with horses! I have become specialised over time, in a few key areas: back pain in horses, postural and movement improvement, and rehabilitation after injury. These are areas that really motivate me as I see such big positive transformations in horses going through rehabilitation or posture/movement improvement! 

I live in Staffordshire in the Midlands (UK), and over the last couple of years have developed a variety of training courses, ebooks, my blog, a membership and zoom calls, all to enable ways to work together without location being an issue! 

I love working with horses owners who want to learn more about their horses, and want to improve their horses so that they can be the very best version of themselves!''

Jenny has written a series of blogs for Horzehoods readers, on some of her specialised areas, so we hope you will find them interesting and informative...we are looking forward to reading them too. Each episode will release every Wednesday. 

Whether going through rehabilitation, bringing your horse back into work, correcting your horses posture and movement, following kissing spine diagnosis or any other type of injury, starting young horses, working with senior horses to improve and maintain their flexibility, horses with arthritis…. ALL of these horses will benefit from working on the important foundations of correct movement!

 BLOG: Developing Correct Movement in the horse 

Developing correct movement in the horse is a lot about stepping back and really noticed 'how' your horse moves, what is easy for him, and what seems difficult. Assessing your horse and really working out what are the problem areas is a useful task to do regularly with your horse so that you can keep progressing.

Important parts of movement that I look at with horses, regularly assess, and work to improve are as follows:

 *Heavy on the forehand

Does your horse look 'downhill', does he ride heavy into the ground with no elevation in the forehand, is he heavy in the contact, does he struggle in downward transitions, maybe stumbles, falls onto the forehand? These are all signs that your horse is 'on the forehand', he likely has a weak thoracic sling (the structures between the scapula and the rest of the body), and needs a core rehab program to strengthen him properly so that he can actually lift his forehand off the ground! YES you can literally change a horse from looking downhill, to lifting at the wither in both standstill AND movement, with core strengthening work! 

*Long and low posture 

By developing the long and low posture where the horse lengthens and elongates his neck, lifts his wither and forehand, and lifts his core and back, we can strengthen the whole body, so it's a positive spiral to work on! 

This posture allows us to strengthen the horses back by him being able to engage his core properly, which he can’t do when in a hollowed back posture. We also need to consider whether the horse is on the forehand in movement, this is part of the overall 'good posture' that we seek and need to work on with our horses to strengthen them correctly. 

Adding core exercises to your routine is one of the most important and effective recommendations I can make in relation to developing long and low and correct movement! 

*The fine line between 'long and low' and 'being on the forehand'! 

Once we have developed long and low posture through developing improved core strength (well done if you have!), we need to then ensure that our horse isn’t just getting heavy on the forehand due to the lowered head and neck - and this is actually really easy for the horse to do due to them having an uneven forehand/hindquarter weight distribution! 

We have the 60/40 NATURAL weight distribution in the horses body with around 60% of their weight over the forehand, so unless we are specifically working on that, the horse will likely default to ‘on the forehand’! These are the nuances of training horses - working on their natural posture and crookedness, to improve and develop a stronger and more symmetrical body and movement through our corrective training! 

*Training the hindlimbs

Focussing on the hindlimbs is, I find, the easiest way to initially see our horses crookedness pattern, and once we know what their pattern of movement is, we can work on improving their symmetry, both in the body/limbs and their movement! 

Working on developing symmetry left-right in the hindlimbs ultimately affects the whole body, so once we start to develop more symmetrical use of the hindlimbs, the rest of the body and forelimbs will follow in terms of improvement, so to speak! And once the hindlimbs are functioning in a more even way, your horses work and movements will be more symmetrical left-right! 

Your horse will have one hindlimb stiffer/less flexible than the other...so the overall goal is to train the stiffer/slower hindlimb to become more flexible, and train the more flexible hindlimb to become stronger, so then we have a more even pair of hindlimbs, affecting movement and the entire body! And less risk of injury once we get to that point. 

*Developing symmetry in the horse 

My methods of developing symmetry in the horse are first to work out the pattern (stepping back and assessing your horses movement, spending a bit of time on really looking at them in walk and trot can be super helpful!), then add daily core exercises to start to equalise the body, mobilising and stretching tight areas/structures, and activating areas/structures that have been switched off, in combination with in-hand work which I find invaluable to really digging down to the foundation level of the how the horse moves and uses his body and limbs. Small corrections made within in-hand work can make a huge difference in terms of your horses education and how he learns that he can use his body more effectively! 

Just a few corrective in-hand sessions can change how the horse organises his body, then short sessions on an ongoing basis, even if just for 10-15 minutes, can make all the difference! You can literally SEE what your horse is doing/not doing by being on the ground next to him!!

*Linking to ridden work 

If we can get down to the foundation level in the horses body, and start correcting posture and crookedness with flexibility and core strengthening work, we are actually RETRAINING our horses body and movement.

If we can retrain our horse to carry themselves because we have worked hard on improving their posture and core strength, the horse then has the strength and the knowledge around HOW to lift and carry a rider without dropping their back and creating back pain.

If we can retrain them to use their limbs symmetrically, which does take time, because we have been doing in hand work regularly to develop flexibility in body and limbs, our horse then has the ability and knowledge around how to use his body more effectively in a more organised manner.

Working at this level can literally solve a LOT of your ridden work issues! If you are working on posture and crookedness in a non-ridden way for a while, by the time you get back on board your horse, he will be strengthened and retrained in such a way that he is able to offer you his best, because his body has been developed and strengthened in a new way!

It's important that we build a strong, stable, yet flexible platform to sit on (our horses back) - to prevent back pain and injury in the horse, and spending time on these important foundations on an ongoing basis will enable you and your horse to enjoy all of your activities and he will be able to give his best if pain-free, flexible, strengthened correctly and trained to move correctly!

 

Remember that our horses are not evolved to do the tasks and sports that we do with them, and they are not actually a very good design...we sit on the lowest part of their back, exercise them on artificial surfaces a lot of the time, and they are not always strong enough or trained enough to do the tasks/exercise that we want them to do. So we owe it to them to really step back and look at what needs to be improved in their body and movement, so that we can enjoy our rides and time together! 

 

And this is why I set up my online courses and members group, to help horse owners to dig into this foundational work that can transform your horse!! 

 

SPECIAL DISCOUNT

If you would like to learn more...as a special offer for Horzehoods customers, here is a discount code for my Core Exercises online course!! It's an instant access course, which includes a detailed lesson on posture, plus the 2 sets of exercises that I use and recommend on a daily basis for core strengthening! Use the code at checkout on my website, details below: CODE HH20

Website: https://www.equinephysicaltherapist.co.uk/

Online Courses: https://www.equinephysicaltherapist.co.uk/training

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/equinephysioandrehab

 

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Wednesdays with Jen (Episode 2) Is your horse left or right handed?!

Wednesdays with Jen (Episode 2)  Is your horse left or right handed?!

Jenny is an Equine Physiotherapist, Rehabilitation Specialist and Spinal Manipulation Therapist, and has been working with horses professionally for over 10 years. 

We asked Jenny to describe a bit about her work.....

''Firstly I absolutely LOVE my work with horses! I have become specialised over time, in a few key areas: back pain in horses, postural and movement improvement, and rehabilitation after injury. These are areas that really motivate me as I see such big positive transformations in horses going through rehabilitation or posture/movement improvement! 

I live in Staffordshire in the Midlands (UK), and over the last couple of years have developed a variety of training courses, ebooks, my blog, a membership and zoom calls, all to enable ways to work together without location being an issue! 

I love working with horses owners who want to learn more about their horses, and want to improve their horses so that they can be the very best version of themselves!''

Jenny has written a series of blogs for Horzehoods readers, on some of her specialised areas, so we hope you will find them interesting and informative...we are looking forward to reading them too. Each episode will release every Wednesday. 

BLOG 2: Is your horse left or right handed?! 

Did you know that your horse is either left or right handed? All horses are 'one sided', crooked, stiffer on one rein, whatever we want to call it...they are all crooked to one degree or another. And it affects the whole body unfortunately. 

One sidedness is present in our horses bodies throughout their life, and it means that they can do movements in one direction better than the other. They prefer to take their weight on one hindlimb/diagonal pair more than the opposite hindlimb/diagonal pair. So there is a constant compensation going on throughout their body, for their crookedness, especially within exercise. 

Have you noticed it in your own horse? 

Over time, the horse ends up with one hindlimb stronger than the other, and this is what gives the uneven feel in the contact, uneven stepping, one hindlimb unable to step under the body as well as the opposite, one rein 'stiffer' than the other, unequal bend, and unequal movements on each rein. Your horse can also be quicker on one rein than the other, or take bigger strides on one rein, or even hold his head and neck more towards the outside of the circle. 

These are all manifestations of crookedness. It affects the limbs, but also the body. The unequal use of the hindlimbs, creates an uneven body, for example the ribcage bulging in one direction, the horse being stuck slightly in bend in one direction, and stiff on one rein, so unfortunately it's a negative spiral. 

My view as an equine physiotherapist is that we need to help our horses by working on their crookedness in the limbs and body, to help reduce the risk of injury, and improve their flexibility and symmetry both in the body and in movement. A crooked horse will find it difficult to stretch down and use his back properly as he's stuck in compensation mode. 

If we don't address their crookedness, we risk uneven wear and tear and the downward slope towards injury, and we are just constantly strengthening the crookedness pattern with standard exercise...it doesn't go away on it's own, we need to work at it! 

SO WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP OUR HORSES?

I like to dig down to the foundation level with horses, and working on their natural crookedness pattern is something that has a far reaching effect! I work in a sympathetic, corrective way with horses, and find that once their body is fully mobilised and functioning, and we have removed as much compensation as we can, we can then access their crookedness pattern and start to teach the body to move symmetrically. 

If we can re-train the horses hindlimbs, so that both limbs are supple/flexible AND strong, and that they operate equally, we create a more even push through the body from the hindquarters. This then translates through the whole body, to give a more symmetrical body and movement. (And an easier ride!) 

I use the following to address crookedness in the horse...: 

  • Regular physical treatment to re-align the body, THEN...
  • Core exercises daily
  • In hand exercises to work on flexibility and maximum mobility of the body and limbs 
  • Use of poles for mobility and equal limb flexion 
  • Lateral work in hand and ridden 

This is a big area of my work, I see crookedness in ALL horses that I work with, and see huge transformations with horses that are doing the core work and in hand exercises to correct their crookedness, in terms of improved movement, improved flexibility, improved core strength and posture, improved ability, improved ease of movement, increased competition scores...so many benefits for your horse!! 

 

And this is why I set up my online courses and members group, to help horse owners to dig into this foundational work that can transform your horse!! 

 

SPECIAL DISCOUNT

If you would like to learn more...as a special offer for Horzehoods customers, here is a discount code for my Core Exercises online course!! It's an instant access course, which includes a detailed lesson on posture, plus the 2 sets of exercises that I use and recommend on a daily basis for core strengthening! Use the code at checkout on my website, details below: CODE HH20

 

 

Website: https://www.equinephysicaltherapist.co.uk/

Online Courses: https://www.equinephysicaltherapist.co.uk/training

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/equinephysioandrehab

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Making the perfect Competition Shirt

Making the perfect Competition Shirt

The Making of the Tudor Competition Shirt

We thought it would be cool to invite you into the process of how we create our innovative products and the process and time it takes to produce pieces when your a brand that designs from scratch. We hope you enjoy the read and look forward to the release of this stunning latest piece. 

Phase 1. Inspiration.

Phase 1 always stems from ideas, inspirations and themes around what we want a product or collection to develop into. As I have an overactive imagination some days my mind can pencil in many designs and creations and it ends up becoming a lot, so I always find that by using a theme for each collection it keeps my brain and imagination more focused on a particular subject, it also helps regiment and make a collection flow. For the Show Shirt and AW23 Season I have always wanted to develop fabrics and inspiration from Tudor times; I have always been blown away by Tudor fashion and the elegance of a side saddle lady. Taking inspiration from the ruffles, the neck lines, the elegant materials that frame the neck really inspired me and is something I thought would really impact on a Competition Shirt. The elegance of Dressage combined together with the shirt idea’s I wanted to create were a must. Over the course of the Tudor era, Women’s gowns went from being high-waisted to settling at the natural waist (popular in Spain at the time) and came into a V-shaped point. Fashion trends have always been cyclical, Tudor period marked not only a time of economic prosperity but also developments in the arts, notably in fashion and textiles, it has been said that Tudors were the first to inspire Haute Couture. I just love the button detailing and the popular ruff, otherwise known as a millstone collar, that evolved from the ruffle of fabric at a shirt’s neck. It was worn by women, men and children and expanded in size during the 16th century. They were often dyed different colours during a starching process that allowed them to be set into elaborate folded shapes. To hold a small purse or prayer book, women wore chain or fabric girdles at the waist. Bringing inspiration from past times and developing snippets of those garments into modern day twists combined with a sports edge and upgraded performance fabrics was the brief. I also wanted a delicate metal branding on the back of the neck. I then create a mood board for either myself or for one of the other designers. I like to combine briefs and then pass on for more input to adapt a product, I feel having the ideas and creatives from other colleagues always adds so much more to the final piece, and as I always say it is a team effort. This brief was passed to our designer Tiff as I wanted to finish our new competition pad (soon to be revealed) and I am so pleased with how she finished up the sketch to CAD.

Mood Board for Tudor Equestrian Ruffle Show Shirt by Horzehoods

 

Phase 2. The sketch & CAD.

Phase 2 is usually CAD, which is computer aided design we usually use Adobe Illustrator for this process,  the sketches are usually roughly drawn out if we are feeling one of the team isn’t getting the exact vision this will usually be done in stage 1 with the mood board. By scaling out the design on CAD it helps pick out anything we feel we thought would look great vision wise that maybe is not working for a particular design. Playing with logo placements, the detailing and also any fresh logo design work we want to add into new silicone prints or woven embroidery. We find when we CAD the work we can work to scale and tailor the sizing in more depth to work alongside the particular fabrics we are using. We have to change our size boards depending on the fabrics, some fabrics have a 2 ways stretch, 4 way, or others such as cotton minimal so when designing from scratch working with the fabrics is super important when adapting to a particular design and how you want that design to fit the client.

Phase 3. The fabric choices.

Fabric choice I feel is probably the most important aspect of designs in sports wear because of the performance capabilities. Designs have to be thought through carefully for how effective they will be in a performance environment such as competing on horse back during a test. A lot of fabrics taken from Tudor times such as silks and cottons are not completely suitable for this project in their own entity. Cotton fabrics are stunning and can be very flattering, but used for the whole fabric base would simply not allow a tailored fit unless each shirt was individually tailored to each customer on a customised level, we therefore combined the two fabrics. Ladies told us in research they found having something other than a stretch base fabric on their bust area would make them feel more confident and less worried for bra or nipple show. We then thought a cotton pleat tailored low down to the chest and top of the stomach could really work well in terms of flattering or hiding any insecurities; leaving this just on the front base with a flattering curved edge. When styled correctly pleats are incredibly flattering and never go out of fashion so it seemed like a perfect combination. We then wanted the base of the shirt to be almost like a partial base layer, this ensures a more accommodating fit as you get the 4 way stretch around the base and sides working alongside the cotton pleats. Mixing elegance and modern sports takes a delicate effort so we wanted to be sure we really set the tone for this piece. Base layer fabrics are also highly functioning performance textiles when using high grade, they offer quick dry components, comfort, moulded fit and are ideal for wearing underneath Jackets.

 

Phase 4. Double checking the measuring.

Measuring is of course very important, as touched upon in phase 3, measuring cannot just be kept to the same size for every piece when working with different fabrics because they all offer different amounts of stretch. For this piece one of my colleagues did a survey with women, we measured 3 -4 different size UK8’s, Uk10’s, UK12’s etc etc and combine the average to create this piece. Working from averages on a 4 way stretch fabric works super well for us, we appreciate all women are different shapes and sizes and as you all know it is something we embrace here at HH. Whilst not every single design we make will suit every single rider by working on averages and measuring those averages in detail it gives a more respectable 9 out of 10 love this piece rather than a lot of returns. As this is a new product as always upon restocks we always listen to feedback and if something can be improved further no matter how fantastic it starts off we always feed this back and make the tweaks.

Phase 5. The Lab Dips.

Lab dips are one of the fun parts of creating HH pieces. A lab dip is a dyed fabric sample made to meet the colour standards of what we envision within the team for the brand. It is generally developed by our fabric manufacturers. The purpose of a lab dip is to give us an idea of what the fabric color will look like for manufacturing a specific product. We always have pantone colour books and work this to the CAD process for the manufacturing of the samples.

Phase 6. The first sample & Testing

Samples are extremely expensive. Any brand will agree, because your manufacturer is making a one off piece not from the production line and all with individual detailing they can range anything upto £500, so we always try and make sure process 1 to 5 is done in depth to avoid a sample being completely different to what we created. We are grateful to be contracted to some of the most premium manufacturing teams which does reduce any wrong sampling. The samples are an exciting phase, watching a product come from your mind, to sketch, to brief to CAD and then see it in person is fantastic, it feels good knowing a piece arrives for your brand fans that you know is unique from scratch and visioning how smart it will look on them and the confidence it will bring to their competing. We then pass samples to an array of professional riders to get their feedback. With the Show Shirt we adored the design straight from the out set and did not want to change any of the design detailing but needed more adjustments on the tailoring. This has been done over a series of months with extra tailoring added and this takes us to photo shoot phase, then launch.

Phase 7. The finished product.

As you can see how an inspiration can be anything from buttons, fabric textiles and look to inspire a new design that doesn’t look much like the inspiration it came from, the quiet detailing and placements are what makes your creative vision adapt and grow.

Our Tudor Competition Shirt launches at HOYS in October. Available in Vanilla and White. We have also created a Black every day Shirt as the final sampling turned out so elegant and comfy we knew an all Black every day Shirt would be wonderful to match the new AW23 Pads & Leg Wear. We also feel Base Layers are heavily liquidated in the market and can look quite repetitive, so we feel adding a Black Tudor Shirt adds a unique look to our HH Riders wardrobe. Due to the mixed elegance meets sports look they do not require any stock or shirt. You will turn up looking stunning at your next clinic or lesson.

Waiting lists are now open, based on feedback we do predict this will be warmly received, if you choose ‘notify me when in stock’ once they arrive online you will receive an email notification.

Much Love, 

Stacey & Team x

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