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Naylors Blog

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Barefoot Basics – Taking Shoes Off Your Horse

To shoe or not to shoe… That is the question! Traditionally, many of us have chosen to have our hard working or ‘foot sore’ horses shod. By doing this, we lift the hoof up off the ground and create a physical barrier to guard against unforgiving surfaces and conditions. The thing is, horses aren’t born with shoes, so do they really need them? With the price of shoeing ever rising to cover the increasing costs incurred by our farriers, it can feel like an unnecessary financial burden. With this in mind, more and more of us are considering trying our horses barefoot. But there’s a few things to think about first. Take a look at our top tips to help you on your journey towards a sound, strong hooved barefoot horse…

1. Speak To Your Farrier

Going Barefoot - Advice

Going barefoot is not a decision to be taken lightly, as it’s not the right option for every horse. Seeking professional advice should always be the first step you take (even if your horse has been unshod before). Variables including weight, age, season, workload and environmental conditions will all have an impact. So, before you make your mind up, speak to your farrier about whether going barefoot is suitable for your horse’s hooves and legs. It’s important to remember that they’re the expert, so their advice is invaluable. In some cases, shoes will be serving a corrective purpose, helping to manage a structural or conformational fault. In other instances, gradual preparation may be required before the shoes are removed, in order to improve the strength and quality of the hoof structures.

2. Prepare the Hoof

Providing your farrier agrees trying your horse unshod is safe and suitable, it’s a good idea to prepare the hoof. This might sound a little odd, but really it makes perfect sense! When we wear socks or shoes everywhere, the skin on the sole of our foot gets accustomed to low levels of abrasion, becoming softer and more sensitive. Our horse’s hooves are no different. So, they can require a little extra TLC in preparation for life without shoes.

Quality Growth

Good hooves all start with the right building blocks! If their hooves are weak or brittle, it may be a result of a deficiency in their diet. To prevent this, all horses should be fed an appropriate balancer alongside forage. That being said, in some cases they may also benefit from the addition of a targeted hoof supplement like Cornucrescine Daily Hoof Supplement or Hoof Mender Powder. These are designed to improve new hoof growth, so it usually takes between 3 and 18 months to see the true benefit. It’s also a good idea to limit their sugar intake, opting for stalky grass and molasses free feed.

Barefoot - Quality Hoof Growth

Hardening

One of the most important things you can do to harden your horse’s hooves is to keep them dry. Wet hooves are much more prone to softening and crumbling, hence why so many common hoof issues occur during the winter. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you’ll have to keep your horse in, just that a waterproofing product like Keratex Hoof Gel or Carr and Day and Martin®Cornucrescine Hoof Barrier should be applied before turnout. This will help prevent the hoof getting softer, but you may also want to think about using a hardener to help ease the transition. Keratex Hoof Hardner or NAF Profeet Rock Hard are great options. These should be applied daily for approximately 7 days and weekly thereafter.

Barefoot Hoof Care

3. Going Barefoot

Once both you and your farrier are happy with the condition of your horse’s hooves, it’s time to remove their shoes. If your horse is trimmed at the same time, this may be done a little differently to usual. If your horse has thin soles, some farriers will leave the hoof wall a little longer. This is done to prevent bruising to the foot. If your horse has a brittle hoof wall, they may trim short to prevent flares.

Shoe Removal

4. Barefoot Aftercare

Deep beds, soft turnout and thick arena surfaces can really help to make their transition to barefoot smoother. Immediately after your horse has had their shoes off, it’s best to avoid hard ground and road work. While it can be tempting to carry on as usual, excessive exposure to unforgiving conditions is likely to cause bruising and lameness. Instead, gradually reintroduce firmer surfaces. This will encourage the hooves to adapt, without causing discomfort or pain. Over time, the hoof wall will become stronger and the soles thicker. Regular visits from your farrier are really important during this time, not only for trimming but monitoring progress too. Your farrier will be able to let you know how well the hooves are adapting to the change.


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We hope you’ve found this information helpful. You can shop our full range of products online at www.naylors.com or in-store. Don’t forget, if you make a purchase share your pictures with us in the comments or include #NaylorsSnapAndShare on your social posts for the chance to win a Naylors gift card!

New Year, New Goals – 5 Steps To Better Rides This Year

How often do you get off your horse thinking ‘That ride was perfect”? Really, it almost never happens! While we often dismount bursting with pride at what we’ve achieved, riding is a learning curve. Just like other sports, we keep going not only because we enjoy it, but because there’s always more to learn! So, the better question is, what will you achieve together in 2022? Here to help you on your journey, take a look at our top 5 tips for better riding this year.

1. Improve Your Warm Up

Be honest, do you really allow your horse enough time to warm up properly? For most of us, we don’t really think about this part of our ride, we’re more focused on getting it done and out of the way. Sadly though, this can really leave our horse at a disadvantage, with their body unprepared for work and vulnerable to injury.

Better Riding - Warming Up

In itself the phrase ‘warming up’ is a bit misleading. What we’re actually talking about is the process of preparing our horse’s body for work. Here’s what actually happens:

  • Their respiration rate increases, drawing more oxygen into their body.
  • Their heart rate rises, pumping blood around their body faster.
  • The muscle cells begin using up fuel. This generates heat, which allows the enzymes to function better.
  • The tendons and muscles become more elastic, preventing tissue damage caused by sudden stress.

All in all, warming up is pretty important! But how do you go about it?

How To Warm Up

Starting way before you mount up or even tack up, a good massage using a pad, mitt, roller or even grooming brush is a great way to increase blood flow to their muscles. Once you’re ready to get on board, start your warm up at walk, on a nice long rein. By riding your horse from leg to hand into a long contact, this will allow them to stretch and relax their muscles. You can then gradually collect your reins up ready to start introducing school movements and transitions.

If your horse can be sharp or tense, you can work in reverse. Aim towards allowing your horse to stretch into a long rein when they’re ready to actively seek their bit.

2. Use Transitions

At some point or another, we’ve all been told about the importance of transitions. In fact, the undisputed King of dressage, Carl Hester says that “you should ride about 200 transitions per session”. The question is, what exactly does this mean, and why do transitions play such a big part in improving our horse’s way of going? A transition is essentially a change, this could be in gait, speed or side length.

As new riders, we’re all taught that transitions are a great way to test that the breaks and accelerator work, but that’s not all they’re for. Transitions are a great way to keep our horse’s listing, encouraging them to be more responsive to our aids. In order to complete a transition, our horse’s must alter their centre of gravity, shifting their weight up off their forehand. This engages their hind quarters, improving their strength and developing a balanced, uphill way of going. So, whether you’re an aspiring dressage champ of simply dream of a light and responsive ride, transitions are the key!

Remember: Whether your transitioning from canter to trot or extended to collected, impulsion and activity are key. So, practice using your seat and leg to ensure you’re re-purposing their energy, not losing it!

3. Develop Bend

Better Rides - Bending

First off, bending does not refer to your horse’s head positioning, but the shape they create with their whole body. When we’re turning, we want our horse to be soft and supple not stiff or rigid. As new riders we turn by looking in the direction we want to go in, while using our inside rein. This may get us off to a good start as a novice, but it’s something we have to unlearn as we progress.

Sadly, there’s loads of ways to get bending wrong. It’s easiest to see this when trotting on a circle. Commonly, our horse will have a stiff and a supple side. On their supple rein, they will over bend causing them to fall out through their outside shoulder, making their circle bigger. On their stiff side, they step short with their inside hind leg. This causes them to drop in through their inside shoulder, creating a smaller circle. This can be really frustrating as a rider, but don’t give up hope. To correct this, if your horse falls out, lift and close the outside rein and use your outside leg to provide support. If your horse falls in, lift and close the inside rein and use your inside leg to ask them to step under.

As your horse’s balance improves, this will become easier. Before long you’ll be able to create flexion through your inside hand and leg, while using half halts down the outside rein to keep their neck central.

4. Mix It Up

Monotony sucks! Do you ever hear your alarm go off and think to yourself ‘here we go again’? When we’re doing the same things day in and day out, it’s really easy to get fed up, and simply switch off. Sadly, it isn’t just us that can feel a bit like this, our horse’s can too. That being said, there’s loads of ways we can keep things interesting. For example, why not try something new? You could be adventurous and have a go at fun rides, beach rides or drag hunting or stick closer to home and simply swap your usual discipline for dressage, jumping, hacking or cross country. You know what they say, variety is the spice of life!

5. Take Breaks

This one might be last on our list, but it’s certainly not the least important! Setting goals before a ride is how we progress, right? The thing is, it’s easy to become fixated on what we’re aiming to achieve. Sometimes we all need to take a step back and remember that our horse’s aren’t machines and Rome wasn’t built in a day. While repetition can be the key to nailing those perfect circles, leg yield, flying changes or related distances, don’t forget to take breaks. Learning something new can be both mentally and physically draining for us and our horses. By moving back a few steps to those stretching exercises and transitions it provides a much needed breather. This might take a little time out of your ride, but picking back up with a relaxed body and a focused mind can really help keep you and your horse moving towards those new year goals.

There you have it, we hope you’ve our top 5 tips for better rides helpful. Don’t forget to let us know your 2022 riding goals down in the comments. On behalf of everyone here at Naylors, Happy New Year!

Dubarry Gifts For Her. Christmas, Covered!

Looking for a present they’ll never forget? Make this Christmas magical for the lady in your life with Dubarry gifts under the tree. From boots and bags to purses and headbands, we’ve got something for everyone this festive season. Take a look at our top picks…

Dubarry Gifts – Boots

Dubarry Women’s Killarney Country Boots

Dubarry Killarney Country Boots

One foot in the country, one foot in the city! Step straight from about-town to out-of-town effortlessly, with the mid height Killarney Country Boots. Offering smart and sophisticated styling on the outside, with true Dubarry country performance features built in, they offer the best of both worlds. Boasting a DryFast-DrySoft™ leather outer, a GORE-TEX waterproof and breathable lining, an EasyOn-EasyOff™ design and a Duo compound PU and rubber sole, they’re a step ahead of the rest.

Dubarry Galway Country Boot

Dubarry Gifts - Galway Country Boot

Invest in an icon! Built for outdoor adventures, overcome every obstacle with Dubarry Galway Country Boots. Manufactured using high quality DryFast-DrySoft™ leather with a waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX lining, they’re perfect for puddles. More than just pretty, or even practical, they’re comfortable too. With shock absorbing insoles and Duo compound PU and rubber outsoles, tackle any terrain with ease. When will they get worn? All the time! From picnics in the park and early morning dog walks to festivals and race days, they never look out of place. Available in narrow, standard and wide fit.

Dubarry Gifts – Bags & Purses

Dubarry Women’s Parkhall Bag

Dubarry Gifts - Women's Parkhall Bag

The perfect blend of fashionable and functional, the Dubarry Women’s Parkhall Bag is a timeless classic. The ultimate accessory for any outfit, this traditional tote is crafted using an elegant combination of leather and suede. Fantastic for carrying all the essentials, it offers two small outer pockets and a fully zipped main compartment for security and peace of mind.

Dubarry Monart Saddle Bag

Dubarry Gifts - Monart Saddle Bag

They say great things come in small packages, right? On hand to prove the point, the Monart Saddle Bag is small, but perfectly formed! A fantastic way to inject a little luxury into those everyday outfits, its suede and leather construction is both subtle and stylish. Boasting an adjustable cross body strap, it leaves their hands free for the essentials, like an umbrella!

Dubarry Northbrook Purse

Dubarry Northbrook Purse

Crafted to complement the Dubarry handbag range, the Northbrook Purse offers a sleek suede and smooth leather outer. With an external zip and an internal zip pocket, it’s great for storing notes and coins. That’s not all, with an RFID lining, it helps to keep bank cards and identification documents protected against skimming and data theft.

Dubarry Cong Purse

Dubarry Gifts - Ladies Cong Purse

Carefully crafted using full grain cowhide saddle leather, with a water-resistant wax finish, the Cong is designed to stand the test of time. Keeping their money safe, it has note compartments, card slots, a zipped coin pocket an an RFID lining to prevent skimming. Inspired by equestrian apparatus, the front is adorned with a stylish metal snaffle bit, perfect for horse lovers and country enthusiasts alike.

Dubarry Gifts – Accessories

Dubarry Kilrush Socks

Dubarry Kilrush Socks

Farewell freezing feet! Perfect for long days out and about in the cold, Kilrush Socks are manufactured using a technological blend of 38% Primaloft Silver Yarn, 38% Merino wool, 22% Nylon and 2% Elastane. Cosy and warming, they trap in warmth, while still allowing the skin to breathe. Designed to fit the left and right foot individually, they are specifically shaped with incorporated support for unrivalled comfort.

Puffin Knitted Headband

The ultimate winter warmer, the Puffin Headband is great for keeping ears toasty and wayward hair in its place! With a classically designed cable stitched wool blend exterior and a soft fleece lining, it’s super cosy and fashionable too.


#NaylorsSnapAndShare

There you have it, our top Dubarry gifts. You can shop the products in this blog and many more at www.naylors.com or in-store. Don’t forget, if you make a purchase share your pictures with us in the comments or include #NaylorsSnapAndShare on your social posts for the chance to win a Naylors gift card!


Ariat Heritage Contour II Insulated Winter Riding Boots

When it comes to quality riding boots, Ariat is the brand that so many of us turn to first. And it’s safe to say, it’s not without good reason! While they may be a little pricier than the other brands out there, you really do get what you pay for. Using only the very best materials and outstanding craftsmanship, their boots are designed not only to look great, but to perform when we need them to most. No exception to this rule, Ariat Heritage Contour II Insulated Boots are an investment we know you’ll thank yourself for making. Designed especially for cold weather, this style is filled to the brim with fantastic features and top class technologies. Ariats ultimate winter riding boots, take a look at what makes them so special…

Design

Ariat Heritage Contour II Insulated Boots - The Design

Created to be practical and pretty in equal measure, Ariat Heritage Contour II Insulated Boots were designed for everyday riding. That being said, they certainly wouldn’t look out of place out hunting or even in the show ring! Boasting a traditional field boot style, they feature a high Spanish cut top-line, shaped around the knee. Moving down the boot, the ankle has been contoured for a fitted feel. Rest assured though, the built in full-length elastic panel on the lateral side and the elasticated gusset at the knee ensure the perfect snug fit without restricting your movement. Easy to get on and off, the rear of the boot boasts a YKK® zipper with keeper. Primarily decorative, the fronts feature elasticated laces for that unmistakably classic appearance.

Construction

Ariat Heritage Contour II Insulated Boots - The Construction

Ariat Heritage Contour II Insulated Boots are manufactured using a 100% full grain leather outer. This is naturally water resistant to keep your feet dry. That’s not all though, for complete peace of mind, they also feature Ariats signature Waterproof PRO™ membrane lining. This is an impermeable barrier against water for the best in wet weather defence.

Capable of so much more than just keeping our feet dry, inside the boots is 200g of Thinsulate™ Insulation. More effective than natural insulators such as down, it uses microfibers to trap air. This retains heat, providing warmth without unnecessary bulk. Lined with a cosy inner fabric for unrivalled comfort, they’re truly second to none!

The Sole

Ariat Heritage Contour II Insulated Boots - The Sole

Excuse the pun, but this really is the heart and sole of any good riding boot! Chosen for it’s ability to offer outstanding everyday support and comfort, these boots feature a 4LR™ footbed. This cushions and stabilises the foot for all-day performance. Equally impressive, the outer surface of the sole is made using Ariat’s exclusive Duratread™ rubber compound. This outlasts traditional rubber, is extremely flexible for ergonomic performance and is highly resistant to barnyard acids.


#NaylorsSnapAndShare

You can shop the products in this blog and many more at www.naylors.com or in-store. Don’t forget, if you make a purchase share your pictures with us in the comments or include #NaylorsSnapAndShare on your social posts for the chance to win a Naylors gift card!


Changing Bit This Winter – To Swap Or Not To Swap

Changing bits… For some of us, the concept of swapping bits for winter is a totally foreign one, perhaps something we’ve never even considered before. For others, this is just another seasonal change out that comes hand in hand with the winter months. The big question is, is this something we should all be doing or something that we should all be avoiding? We’ve done some research so that you don’t have to. Take a look at what we’ve found…

Changing Bit – Why?

Winter Bitting

First and foremost, changing your horses’ bit should never be seen as a quick, easy fix. Every horse is different and finding the right bit for them is usually a real uphill struggle. If you are happy you’ve got control of your horse and your horse is comfortable, it’s probably best stick with the bit they’re in. On the other hand, if your horse is uncomfortable or it’s no longer meeting your needs as a rider, it might be time to re-evaluate. At this point, you may be thinking what exactly has the season got to do with bitting, but it really can make a difference and here’s why…

Turnout

Winter Bitting - Turnout

Have you ever noticed that your mood, and even behaviour changes with the seasons? In truth, this isn’t uncommon! As the cold sets in and we spend more time inside, we often have a completely different outlook on life compared with the sunny months prior. Unsurprisingly, our horses are no different. The thing is, they’re not always quite so happy to be tucked up warm in bed. In fact, as turnout opportunities dwindle and they spend more time stuck inside, they often become what can only be described as a little stir crazy. As owners, sometimes there’s nothing we can do about this. Our only option can be to increase their time under saddle, in an attempt to allow them a much-needed leg stretch. Sadly though, this can prove hair raising (to say the least). It therefore comes as no shock that this is one of the primary reasons to change bit during the winter.

Discipline

Adventure Outdoors This Christmas

We’re not talking about how well behaved your horse is, but what activities you’re doing with them. Changing bits is a two way street! It’s pretty common for many of us owners to opt for a stronger bit during the winter, but it’s not always the case. For some horses, the winter months provide a welcome and much needed break from competing. So, they may go from a super fit novice eventer to a happy hacker enjoying life in the slow lane. If this marks a more laid back time for you and your horse, you may actually want to consider swapping to a more subtle, softer bit.

Feed

Changing Bit - Feed

During the winter months it’s common practice to change our horses’ feed. With rich green grass a thing of the past and hay or haylage here for the long haul, we often look to their bucket feeds to ensure that they stay looking, feeling and riding at their very best. This sometimes means supplementing their diet with added extras such as balancers, oils and concentrates. These days, feed manufacturers recognise that most owners prefer to feed slow release energy sources, which helps to prevent our horses becoming ‘hot’. But this isn’t always the case. Some traditional and competition feeds provide a short sharp burst of energy. Just like when kids have too many sweets at Christmas, you may find you need a little extra help reining them in!

The Weather

Changing Bit - Cold

Let’s face it, if someone asked you to strip back the layers and run around in the cold, you’d probably object, right? Well, you know that first ride after your horse has been clipped… The one that resembles the rodeo? It’s essentially the same thing! Being cold is a common cause for horses to act up. In some cases, simply using an exercise sheet to cover their quarters can help to make them more comfortable. However, more sensitive types may stay sharper during the colder months. This may mean that changing their bit is on the cards.

Changing Bits

Changing Bit - Swap or Stick

There’s loads of reasons the changing seasons can mean it’s time to think about investing in a new bit. Before you change bit, you should always have a clear goal in mind, a set idea of what you’d like to achieve. It may be that there’s an alternative way to approach the situation, so there are a few questions to ask yourself first:

  • Has your horse recently had their teeth checked?
  • Could there be an issue with their tack that’s causing a change in your horse’s behaviour?
  • Could a training aid such as a flash help your current bit to work more effectively?
  • If you’ve changed your horse’s diet, are any of the new feeds heating?
  • Is it possible for your horse to have more turnout?
  • Is your horse cold?

Changing bit is no easy task. If you’re still unsure or feel that changing your horse’s bit is the right option, head over to our blog ‘Which Bit For My Horse?‘. Here we run through the types of bit and how to pick the one that best suits both you as a rider and your horse.


#NaylorsSnapAndShare

You can shop our full range of products online at www.naylors.com or in-store. Don’t forget, if you make a purchase share your pictures with us in the comments or include #NaylorsSnapAndShare on your social posts for the chance to win a Naylors gift card!


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