July Horse and Rider of the month: Naomi Round and Naseby (AKA Jerry): Life after racing

The end of a career?Or just the beginning?

The life of an ex-racehorse is uncertain to say the least once he is retired from the track after years spent racing what else is he good for? for many this sudden end to a horses career does not always bode well but as many ex-racehorse owners will tell you these horses in particular can be given a chance to shine once again.

Meet Naseby or Jerry as his friends call him a beautiful orange thoroughbred owned by Naomi an extremely talented up and coming eventer who very nearly gave up riding.

In 2014 Naomi had given up she was dealing with a big confidence crisis in her riding feeling that she was no good and that she would never get anywhere with it, ready to hang her hat up for good she decided that a little bit of retail therapy was called for after a less than desirable day at work.

The next thing I know I’m driving halfway across the country at 7am to view a horse. After ringing the folks on their holiday and rescheduling a second viewing and begging my dear old dad for a loan I became the proud owner of the most beautiful bright orange ex-racehorse Naseby”

I’m sure you would agree that most people would turn to a glass or two of wine but not Naomi she loved horses and Jerry just spoke to her so the deal was done, she had bagged herself a new horse and hopefully  with it a fresh start to her riding career.

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Naomi’s first ride on Jerry and her acquaintance with the floor

Excited to try her new horse out Naomi got to riding Jerry but it wasn’t an immediate love affair Jerry had other ideas…

” Well he jumped me off twice the first time I jumped him and I sat on the sand in tears wondering what the hell I had done and re-finding my fear that I couldn’t ride. But this pretty little head just looked at me and I knew that I had to man up and get my act together.”

This could have been the end for Naomi but her sheer grit, determination and sense of responsibility to Jerry spurred her on and of course that beautiful  face beaming down at her as she sat in the sand  as if he was saying “come on let’s keep trying”.

“Our first outing was at a local winter dressage competition where he won. The smile was put back on my face and I knew we were going to be ok. Our first X-Country training didn’t go to plan as we parted company on the steps when he attempted to take them all at once. Oh dear another setback!!

This was followed by two eliminations at our first unaffiliated events. Cue massive confidence knock and tears. Going to different venues schooling just wasn’t enough, but I was not going to be beaten, I had decided that this was going to be my one horse to make something of”.

So what did Naomi do next??

Well what any self-respecting cornish girl would do of course (no not go to the pub!) Naomi went to a girls first true love her dad for help….

So after hours of planning my fab Dad and I set to building a set of steps from the lawn out to the field (very lovely parents I have). Day in day out Jerry and I walked and rode these steps into and out of the field. By July I manned up and entered Bicton BE80 – with my stomach in mouth the entire day the dreaded XC phase descended and I rode like my life depended on it.

Well he only went and bloody WON it didn’t he!! Well our first year eventing might not have gone to plan but we somehow managed to qualify for the Blenheim Palace Amateur Eventers Dressage Championships. My boy couldn’t get any better, I mean yes we still have our ups and downs, but he gives me his all”.

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With such a boost to the duo’s confidence the 2016 season kicked off to a great start but Naomi wasn’t satisfied with her performance, she wanted better she knew they could do better….

2016 started well with a 4th placing at Millfield and just outside at Pontispool due to time faults for going too quickly. Time to step up a level!! Oh dear the luck isn’t going to continue. Now I was the general manager of 3 restaurants all in busy tourist destinations working from 8am-1am 5/6 days a week. This proved to be very problematic and instantly showed at West Wilts. We struggled majorly again and I knew something had to give. The season improved and I set myself goals”

Naomi understood Jerry and what made him tick so she decided to take him back to school to try to iron out as many issues as possible….

I mean look at the boy he’s just the kindest and most beautiful horse I’ve ever met and will take anything on, unless he doesn’t understand. Time to increase his understanding, cue jumping nothing but skinnies (thanks Dad for making one adjustable in height) and planks!! Thankfully Jerry is Mr Consistent when it comes to dressage and I can usually call on him to have us in the mix after the first phase”.

It wasn’t just an education for Jerry! Naomi Knew that she had to improve her riding in order to improve both of their performances…

It then becomes my job to ride properly; this however proves to be the problem. Now unfortunately at times my competitive edge gets the better of me and I ride for the position rather than the sensible educational ride I should have given”.

A sign of a truly talented rider has the ability to assess their own performance and identify their strengths and weaknesses objectively. In doing this the duo improved in the following months through hard work and committment to each other….

This winter we made the step up from Novice to Elementary Dressage. Blimey, what a difference!! Having looked at the test but not really thought about it, I didn’t know what a ‘Simple Change’ was, however he still won with 72% OMG we are on fire. Just think what we could achieve if I actually could be bothered to learn the test properly and do a bit more training!”

“Eventing season 2017 started at Bovington with an average dressage score, but a great double clear adding a few time penalties leaving us in 20th position. Port Eliot followed with a fab dressage score of 27 and an even nicer double clear inside the time to finish in 4th place”

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So what next for the duo?

“Our 3rd outing took us to Millfield Prep school. Yet another great dressage in the drizzle put us in the top 5 with 29.5, however we had a 20 minutes delay in the showjumping and unfortunately ended up jumping in the rain. Jerry decided that he was boss and took off going into one of the related distances and rolled a pole, so an annoying 4 faults to add meant I had to go clear XC on time. Fortunately this was achieved and we had another 4th placing!! “

“The is definitely going to be our year. Next came Pontispool, well the less said about the dressage the better, a beautiful clear SJ lead us then out to the XC where fence 12 was proving a problem. We got to it, Jerry hesitated but with some persuasion from me we scrambled over it and home in under time!! Thankfully managing to pull ourselves up from 22nd after the dressage to finish 8th!! Lots to work on and definitely not as ready to move up to BE100 as I had thought”.

“Now this year has thrown us another challenge, but hey in for a penny in for a pound!! So after being repeatedly told how beautiful Jerry is and that I should show him, I went and entered Royal Cornwall Show (our county show). Well having never shown before I thought why not?! After seeking lots of help and advice through the fabulous Twitter family, I went and entered a smaller show as a pre run, and in true Jerry style he WON both of the classes I entered him in and then became Ridden Champion. What more could I ask of this boy. So the challenge comes as to whether we can reproduce this on the larger scale!!”

The future for Naomi and Jerry and some friendly advice…

Naomi has learnt a lot through owning an Ex-racehorse and has some great advice for any one who owns or is considering owning one…

1 – They are more intelligent than the average horse and this needs taking into consideration. He finds learning new things easy, but quickly gets bored with them. So You have to think of variations to achieve the same outcome.

2 – No matter what they have done before you, always take them back to the beginning. Jerry had competed at BE 100 before I bought him, however he had his trust in that rider!! Therefore by taking it back to the beginning I was able to gain his trust. I worked this out the hard way!!

3 – Patience!! This is a must. You do not know what they have been through in their training and racing. Jerry can have the occasional ‘moment’ when things get too much for him. For example, if he has a stop at a fence he can expect to get a smack and then can lose himself and spin backwards. You just have to sit and let him get on with it, but if you can give him a little scratch on the neck he quickly comes back to you.

4 – Challenge and trust them. When I bought Jerry I hadn’t really jumped over 80cm since I was 18 (a long time in riding years) this year after having had him for 2 ½ years I schooled him over the 100 fences at Pontispool and even over a couple of the Novice fences (Yes eyes closed). This would never have happened if I hadn’t gone back to the beginning with the training and earnt his trust. He now knows that if I say go, we go. Even if sometimes it is from a standstill and not very attractive!!

5 – Just give it a bloody go. You’ll never know what you can achieve if you don’t try!! I’ve pushed every boundary going in the last 12 months and I’m so flipping grateful that I have. And that I have a fantastic support group around me to pick things up, when it doesn’t go to plan.

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In the 4 BE90 events that we have done this year, we have had 3 double clears and 3 top 10 placings qualifying us for the Blenheim Eventers challenge and the Mitsubishi Cup Regional Finals.

We also WON the Riding Club Horse Trials qualifiers with a double clear, so will be heading to the NAF 5 star Championships in August!!

None of this would have been achieved if I hadn’t taken a leap of faith in buying an Ex Racehorse!!

Final thoughts from Naomi…

We will always have a challenge as I am never going to be happy with the results and will always think that he and myself can do better!! Thankfully now I have him trusting me and we have created a fantastic bond, I know that nothing can stop us and we will go as far as my dreams can take us. I just keep reminding people that I’m just a little Cornish girl with big dreams, riding the most amazing ex-racehorse. If you’re in two minds about getting an ex-racehorse, just go for it!! You have got nothing to lose, but the best partnership and friendship to create. He is my horse of a lifetime and I know that if I dream it, we WILL achieve it”.

In a nutshell...

This partnership is truly a remarkable example of how given time, patience and understanding anything can be achieved. Many ex-racehorses are thrown on the scrap heap but this story is truly heartwarming and proves that the ex-racer can go on to do many great and wonderful things.

It also shows others how to overcome fears and confidence issues by persevering and working hard and Naomi is a fantastic example of this. Yes she is hard on herself at times and should give herself a break but without her tough can do attitude she wouldn’t have achieved half of what she and Jerry has achieved.

Recently Naomi secured sponsorship with Animallife and I wish her and Jerry much success with this as they truly deserve the recognition for their achievements. There really is a lot of great things to come for this pair and I really look forward to watching them go from strength to strength.

Naomi is a wonderful positive person and loves Jerry with all of her heart I love to see this much love between a horse and rider and I really hope that other racehorses find happiness in exactly this way.

I highly recommend giving this pair a follow Naomi and Jerry are on Twitter here merrigo_round

I would like to say a huge thank you for Naomi and Jerry for agreeing to take part in this feature and I will be keeping you updated on their progress.

Thanks for reading

Nikki

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Exercise Induced Pulmonary Haemorrhage in racehorses: EIPH

Image result for public domain racehorse pictures

What Is EIPH?

EIPH in horses is in essence bleeding in the lungs current research states that most racehorses bleed at some stage in their career. EIPH is not solely linked to racehorses however and has occurred in Eventers, dressage horses, steeple chasers and polo ponies to name but a few.

EIPH is linked to strenuous exercise and although this issue has been identified for almost 300 years little is still known about the cause. This poses a problem for treatment of this issue. In my opinion without an understanding of the cause you can not possibly cure it or manage efficiently I’m not a veterinarian but I think the issue needs re-thinking, all veterinarians can do is manage the condition and at what cost?.

How do you manage a horse with EIPH?

In the racing industry in the USA Furosemide is administered to the horse to stop the bleeding however this is an extremely worrying issue as we have no understanding of the long-term effects such a drug will take of the health of the horse in question.

Recent studies have shown that around 70-90% of thoroughbreds receive furosemide before a race. Furosemide works as a diuretic which increases urine production decreases blood volume and as a result body weight.

During the exercise furosemide reduces the blood pressure in the lungs which in theory is meant to reduce stress on the capillaries reducing bleeding. Current controversy surrounding the drug concerns the fact as to whether the drug enhances performance of the horse or reduces performance.

So what does this mean?

Regardless of the treatments you can administer more work needs to continue into identifying the real cause of this issue whether it’s a training issue, breed issue and such like. In my humble opinion horses shouldn’t be bleeding during or after exercise and I would hedge my bets on inappropriate/too strenuous  training methods.

Can you imagine after the Olympics  if almost every human athlete taking place was shown to have a degree of bleeding in their lungs I think each and every one of them would be running to the doctors screaming for their lives. The horse can’t do this so we have to do this for them.

We all know that the racing industry starts horses extremely young and to be honest pushes them to maximum capacity when they are not prepared for such a task physically and mentally due to their age. A lot is improving within racing and the welfare of the horses and there are some fabulous horse trainers out there but we need to be asking ourselves whether we should accept that horses bleed as a result of hard work, or put more time and effort into getting funding into the cause to help research.

In a nutshell….

Veterinarians in the UK are currently discussing whether horses are being pushed too hard in competition which indicates an issue they are obviously concerned about. I hope the prevalence of EIPH in the racehorse is one of them.

This issue is quite in-depth and has lots of grey areas so I don’t want you to follow my word blindly, if your interested in this condition do some reading and come to your own conclusions, but I think that this is a serious equine welfare issue and should be given the attention it deserves .

If you want to read more on the subject follow the link below I promise you it’s interesting

www.thehorse.com

Thank you guys

Nikki @ Happyhooves

 

 

Hanrose: Scent from heaven

Who is Hanrose?

So if you don’t know Hanrose A: where have you been? and B: trust me you will never buy a candle from anywhere else! Hanrose is not only a fantastic creator of homemade soy wax candles but also equine themed gifts such as photoart for that special horsey person in your life or to spruce up your equestrian or country styled home.

Hanrose is certainly an individual who really cares about her products, her attention to detail and customer service is second to none and her products are phenomenal trust me on this! you will want to eat them they smell so good but that obviously is not advised.

The Range :

Candles

So another thing about Hanrose is that she has something for everyone it doesn’t matter what your taste in candles are whether sweet, energizing, relaxing or just to create a pleasant environment in your home or office and totally not limited to equestrians either!

A few of my personal favourites are Chukka, Cut grass, Tackroom leather, Unicorn fluff and Caffe Latte but there are so many to choose from and they are a steal at an amazing price of £8.95 for 100g. The candles are elegantly presented and arrive protected by fresh Hay the smell as the postman hands it to you is out of this world!

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So where can you get them from I hear you scream?? Well hold your horses I’m not finished yet have you thought about Hanrose  heart-shaped wax melts? Well I can tell you they are heavenly and really make your house smell amazing! they look like heart shaped chocolates crafted by Belgian Chocolatiers they are truly beautiful.

The best thing about the heart melters is that you can Pick and Mix your scents and each melt gives up to 8 hours of fragrance they really work hard for their size. The melts arrive in organza bags of all colours enveloped in popcorn for protection again the smell is divine especially when combined.

Each hand crafted melt is priced at amazing £1 each yes ladies and gents a mere £1 to brighten up any one’s day (I’ll have ten then she screams). The choice is extensive so make sure you take your time browsing whatever your choice I guarantee they will not dissapoint!

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Smellies not your thing? What about Hanrose Photoart?  

Well these are truly unique and personalized pieces great  gifts for a loved one, tackroom, home or office. Stylish pieces of art go anywhere and these equestrian themed designs are no different. Take a look at the range !you may need to put some time aside for this! trust me once you click onto the website you will never want to leave!

The range includes framed photoart, cards and quote posters something for any occasion guaranteed to put a smile on the face of everyone who sees it. Style and Elegance  have never been so easy!

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Give me the website NOW !!

Gosh steady Eddie I’m getting around to it! if you want to check out Hanrose for yourself I really do recommend her products I love them and people always comment. If you want a unique product at a great price to make any one smile this is your best bet. Hanrose is truly one of a kind as a company and an individual and certainly goes the “extra mile” to ensure her customers are happy. So without further ado grab a cup of tea and a biscuit and visit https://www.hanrose.co.uk/

In a Nutshell…

Enjoy your Hanrose products and make sure to give her a follow on twitter @Hanrose and on facebook too Hanrose facebook

Relax and unwind with Hanrose truly HEAVEN SCENT !

Nikki @Happyhooves

x

 

 

 

Heart to Heart: The connection between Horse and Rider

I’m really excited to share this post with you it was the inspiration behind my dissertation while studying at University and I feel for anyone who works with horses this is an invaluable piece of research.

We as riders/owners know that the horse is sensitive, sensitive to our actions and reactions the horse is used to help treat humans in many areas especially within mental health and as any owner will tell you that there is something that makes your soul happy when you are with your horse.

Well did you realise that the horse is able to share heart rhythm pattern with us Dr Ellen Gehrke does …

Heart Rate Variability : What is it?

Heart rate variability (HRV) is independent of heart rate and measures the intervals between the beat of the heart. HRV reflects heart to brain interactions which is particularly sensitive to emotional states. By measuring the regularity or irregularity of the distance between the beats it can identify positive or negative emotion.

When a negative emotion is aroused such as anger, fear, sadness or frustration the heart rhythms become more erratic where the opposite is true for positive emotions they become coherent in nature. (Remember this is not the heart rate we are measuring but the pattern and distance between beats)

Using a Heart rate monitor allows for HRV recordings to be taken non-invasively under any condition. By recording HRV and investigating it is possible to determine whether an animal or human is emotionally relaxed or stressed, even (as in the case of humans) they outwardly try to disguise it. This can not be disguised or managed under conscious control as it is managed by the autonomic nervous system which is responsible for our reaction to changes in the environment.

 

The study

The research team conducted five studies the first of which involved the following procedures:

  • Four horses were fitted with ECG monitors (Heart rate monitors) they were synchronized and a protocol followed for the study
  • The protocol took place over a forty minute time frame and was monitored and repeated with the same conditions four times.
  • The following sequence was then recorded: Baseline recordings of horse and handler were recorded separately, horse and human together in an arena sending heart centered appreciation and care to the horse, during grooming, companion walking and when riding.

The second study

In study two 12 horses were used from the same herd and monitored for 24 for baseline HRV.

In this study over the 24 hour period the horses were found to be in a mostly positive emotional state unless something fearful or threatening entered the yard, even then their HRV patterns returned to normal within a few minutes. This indicated that the horses in the herd lived in a healthy happy state. This study did not include the ridden or human interactions as seen in the first apart from feeding.

The Third study

This was centered around detecting whether horses when interacting with each other displayed sentience or emotion.

  • ECG monitors were fitted to four pairs of horses to monitor the activity over time.
  • Two of the pairs of horses knew each other and considered to be close friends
  • One pair included horses in the same herd but never interacted with each other
  • A mare and four-month old filly

The protocol for this study was as follows for a 30 minute period

  • Horses monitored when together
  • One horse being taken away from the other by handler
  • When they were reunited
  • The second horse being taken out of sight by handler

The results of this study indicated horses were indeed in tune with each other as indicated by the changes in HRV,  the pair who were friends seemed to synchronize, the non friendly horses had no relationship between their HRV measurements and the mare and foal showed extreme stress reactions so much so that they could not be parted.

The Fourth and Fifth Study

The last two studies concentrated on the interaction between the horse and handler similar to the first test but then later introduced to an unknown human.

The results of this study indicated the following:

  • No difference was recorded between the familiar handler Vs unfamiliar handler
  • It was indicated that the rhythm of the person’s HRV was considered more important to the horse whether they had a relationship or not.
  • The horses stress level was highly dependant upon the humans i.e if the human was stressed the horse was and if calm the horse also remained calm.
  • The study indicated that if the individual interacting with them had a calm HRV then the horse was more inclined to spend time with that individual,regardless of whether it was a familiar or unfamiliar handler.

So what does this all mean?

Well firstly it means that there is a relationship which can be recorded physically between the horse and human to identify the emotional state of both horse and handler during interaction and horses truly do have emotions. Horses have the ability to calm a stressed human as humans respond to the HRV of the horse but this does not seem to be the case the other way around.

It also means that because of this it is the responsibility of the human to promote bonding meaning that if a person is loving and cares for the horse appreciating him then the horse will detect those feelings and share them with the human.

In a Nutshell…

There is a measurable connection between the heart of the horse and the human using methods such as HRV and as such can potentially demonstrate the psychological and physiological advantages of the horse and human interaction.

It is of importance now to acknowledge the science behind what many of us owners/handlers and riders already knew deep down and take it as current proof that horses should be treated with care, kindness and empathy, Science has shown they are no different to the dogs and cats we hold so dear in our lives and really saddens me when they are treated cruelly or with force.

We know horses are amazing and now science backs us up I feel more in tune with the horse with ever before and I would love to see attitudes change for all horses and animals in the future.

I really hope you enjoyed this as much as I did and can see the potential change it can bring to the industry now science has proof of the pudding. If you want to read more please check out the link below.

Thanks

Nikki

HRV in horses