Chris Bartle’s Top Tips for Training in Lockdown

Chris Bartle's Top Tips for Training in Lockdown

TeamGB Eventing Coach and Equestrian Surfaces client, Chris Bartle FBHS, shares his insight on training during the coronavirus lockdown, and its impact on the Eventing season.

 

As we start April in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is a frustrating time for us all. In my role as Coach to TeamGB Eventing, only a month ago I was looking forward to the countdown to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo at the end of July. Then the pandemic wave hit us, just after the new season had kicked off. We’d all been more worried about the state of the ground after such a long, wet winter, little knowing that it would be a global pandemic which would bring everything in our lives to an abrupt halt.

But that’s behind us and we can now look forward to the cycle turning upwards again. The horses are of course oblivious! They’re fit and well, ticking over in slow conditioning and muscle building work. The opportunity presented by this enforced competition break gives riders the chance to focus on training, bringing on the horses’ development and education through Dressage and gymnastic jumping at home.

 

It’s important to try and give the horses variety in their work. Pole work, cavaletti, gymnastic exercises, both in jumping saddle and in dressage saddle, can all be useful. It’s also a good time to work on the rider’s seat position, for example by riding without stirrups, as well as riding sometimes with quite short stirrups.

 

Riders can set goals in the work in terms of developing the paces and way of going. We cannot transform event horses into Valegro in terms of their paces, but riders must aim to maximise the marks they can consistently achieve for each movement.

For example, for the horses that might be Team contenders next year, the quality and consistency of the flying changes will be a definite training goal to aim for. The degree of difficulty of the new Olympic Dressage test is not far short of Prix St George. What are often thought of as simple movements, such as halt and rein back, can be perfected.

 

One positive to come out of this week is that the Olympic Games has already been rescheduled for the same weeks (end of July to beginning of August) in 2021. Hopefully, the FEI will soon confirm what the Horse & Rider qualification requirements will be for the postponed Games. We’re all hoping that there will be a second half to the season. I spoke with the organisers of Luhmühlen in mid-June; they have not yet decided if it will have to be cancelled and do not have to make that decision until the end of April.

 

So, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the strict movement restrictions will be lifted soon to at least allow horses, riders and trainers to move around and recommence normal training. After that we will have to see how it goes and whether the events can start again.

Advice for Equestrians Amidst the COVID-19 Outbreak

Advice for Equestrians Amidst the COVID-19 Outbreak

The outbreak of COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the way that we work and the way that we live, with social spaces such as pubs, restaurants, bars, gyms and cinemas being asked to close, and most of the population who are able to do so now working remotely.

 

In the equestrian world, all racing competitions and most of the springtime events have either been cancelled or postponed until further notice.

 

With the advice from the government being to abide by rules of maintaining social distance and avoiding contact with others, those of us who keep yards and stables may be unsure of how best to handle the current situation.

We’ve put together a short list of tips and advice on how to prepare yourself and your horse should you need to go into self-isolation, should you fall ill, or should a wider restriction on public movement be put into place by the government.

 

Follow NHS and Government Advice

The advice we’ve been provided with since the outbreak of the coronavirus has been to wash your hands as thoroughly and regularly as possible in order to limit the chance of the virus spreading through direct contact.

With this in mind, it’s important to ensure that hand washing facilities with antibacterial soap are made readily available in the yard and stables, if this isn’t already the case.

It’s also advisable to disinfect any shared yard equipment, such as wheelbarrows, hoses and mucking-out tools, with antibacterial or alcohol-based cleaning solution after use and between uses, to help prevent the spread of the virus.

 

Ask for help

In order to respect the government advice on maintaining social distance, it may be a good idea to chat with your yard manager and the other horse owners in your yard to put a plan into place which allows everyone to access the yard at different times throughout the day, minimising the number of people in the yard at any given time.

 You might even decide to share the responsibilities of bringing in and turning out between a few people. This is a great idea for maintaining social distance, and will also be helpful should you find the need to self-isolate, as you can be reassured that your horse will receive care and its living quarters be maintained as normal.

Remember to double check that anyone taking on the responsibility of looking after your horse has insurance in place that will cover them for riding or handling your horse.

 

Write out a care plan

With the number of confirmed cases spreading across the UK, it’s becoming more likely that the number of people self-isolating will also increase.

We never know when the time may come that any one of us could need to self-isolate. This being the case, it’s better to prepare for that situation now so that you don’t find yourself unstuck should it happen upon you later down the line.

Consider writing out a care plan for your horse which will be easily understood by another member of your yard, a friend or a member of your family. Include in it your horse’s normal routine (with exercise plan, if it will be possible to maintain); feed information, including amount of hay given along with any information regarding dietary supplements and medication; and the location of any equipment they will need to access in order to see your care plan fulfilled. Remember to give your nominated carer a key to your yard and/or equipment, if it’s locked away.

It’s also a good idea to maintain communication with other members in your yard via an online messaging platform, such as WhatsApp or Facebook, or even via email. You might like to set up a group chat between yard members so that everyone can stay informed on one another’s situation, and you will also be able to update each other on any changes in your horses’ diet or riding practices should you find a need to self-isolate.

 

Prepare for emergencies

Informing someone in your yard on the action they should take for your horse in the event of an emergency is good practice generally, as you could find yourself uncontactable for any number of reasons.

If you don’t currently have an emergency care plan in place, now is the time to remedy that, so that you can rest assured that someone will be able to look after your horse in the event of an emergency should you be absent from the yard, forced to self-isolate or if you fall ill.

In your emergency care plan, you should include the contact details for your veterinary practice, including out-of-hours contact information, so that anyone taking care of your horse will be able to act quickly in an emergency situation.

Consider contacting your veterinary practice to ask about any precautions they may currently be putting in place due to COVID-19. In line with government advice regarding social distancing, many veterinary practices will request that horse owners remain absent from any appointments, and will instead bring along an extra member of staff, should they be required, to steady or secure your horse during examination.

 

Stay stocked

It’s important to note that keeping a good supply of any food, dietary supplements, medications or equipment is not the same as allowing your purchases to be fuelled by panic.

It’s a good idea to try and make sure you have enough supplies stocked up for an additional few weeks in case you have to self-isolate or are taken ill, but it’s equally important that you’re considerate of others when shopping and only buy the supplies that you need.

 

Stay safe

As responsible citizens, it’s important that we continue to support our NHS by staying indoors as much as possible, drastically reducing all direct contact with anyone out of the home in order to prevent the spread of the virus and help to reduce the strain placed upon our National Health Service.

With this in mind, riders are advised to ride as little as possible and not to take any unnecessary risks. Should you be involved in an accident and find yourself injured as a result of riding irresponsibly, your need for medical assistance will place further strain on NHS staff, including paramedics.

As the ground is now drying up and the milder weather brought along by Spring is now upon us, many horse owners are now considering letting their fit horses down and turning them out. This is an efficient and practical alternative to riding, and should be considered wherever possible.

 

Since the lockdown came into play, some livery yards have closed their doors to their clients and are now acting as primary carers, taking over the sole responsibility of the horses in their facilities. This is down to the discretion of the yard owners for the safety of their staff and families. We are in unprecedented times and, working together, we all hope that we can stop the spread of the virus and help the yards to open their doors again as soon as possible.

 

If you are using your own facilities at home

If you are not a member of a shared yard and have your own equestrian facilities at home, the advice listed above will still be applicable to you. It’s important to make sure that you are able to wash your hands and disinfect any equipment as regularly as possible, so you should consider putting hand-washing facilities and cleaning solutions into place and making them easily accessible.

Equally, you will also need to be prepared should you fall ill and be unable to take care of your horse, so you should consider adopting the same planning procedures as mentioned above in order to ensure there is someone else who is able to step in for you, and that they have the knowledge required to maintain your horse, specific to your horse’s needs.

If you are the owner of a yard and you currently have a team of staff in your employ, similar procedures should be in place for the protection of grooms and yard staff.

 

An update on our services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic

Following the outbreak and the cancellation of many equestrian events throughout the calendar, we have been asked by a number of private clients if we’re still able to carry out works to the arenas they have at home, as many horses will be grounded and being kept in work on clients’ private yards until restrictions are lifted.

As the work we do is quite solitary and allows for our ground workers to keep social distance from clients, and even from one another within their own teams, we would like to assure our customers that we will still be able to carry out any required works and installations at this present time.

 

Click here for a list of top tips on how to keep your surface in tip-top shape whilst working your horse at home, or contact our team on 01282 834970 if you have any queries. 

Eco-friendly in 2020: Sustainable Switches You Can Make in Your Yard

Eco-friendly in 2020: Sustainable Switches You Can Make in Your Yard

In 2019, we saw a massive increase in environmental awareness; the pressure on governments to make changes to environmental laws increased, Greta Thunberg was out there spreading the word, and many people across the country started to make conscious changes to the way that they shop for food, clothing and other consumer products by opting for products with plastic-free packaging, refusing to buy into “fast fashion”, and no longer relying on single-use plastic bags.

This year is no different, and more and more people are embracing a more sustainable lifestyle every day. 2020 is all about being environmentally conscious, and we’ve put together a list of tips which you can adopt to make small switches and increase the sustainability of your yard.

 

Invest in eco-friendly packaging

Find out whether your horse’s food packaging is recyclable. You can usually find the necessary information on the packaging itself, but if you’re unsure, ask your local council. If it isn’t, you might want to consider switching to a different supplier which provides its products in recyclable packaging – small changes such as this are still positive changes!

 

Reuse and recycle

You could always take your recycling mission one step further and aim to reduce and reuse as much product packaging as you can. Think not only about your horse’s food, but their shampoos and other cleaning products. Some companies out there provide the option for having your food delivered in a large bin which can then be reused and refilled when empty. Others offer discounts for those who return to refill empty shampoo bottles and containers for cleaning products.

 

Try to save water

Despite the dismal weather we get in the UK, waste water is still an issue! In this country, we have limited natural or mad-made water storage methods, meaning there is actually a relatively small amount of water available per person.

Consider the amount of water you’re using in your yard and try to think of ways you could reduce your usage. You might consider installing automatic drinkers for your horses. Even small changes like making repairs to any leaky taps around the yard can help to reduce waste!

 

Research sustainable riding clothes

Firstly, before you make any purchase, it’s a good idea to ask yourself the question of whether you really need those new riding tights or that new saddlecloth. If the answer is no, save your money and continue using the equipment you already have. You’ve already made the investment – you may as well get your use out of it!

Try to invest in higher-quality products. The cost may be higher initially, but your clothing and equipment will need to be replaced less frequently, helping you to save money and prevent waste in the long run.

When the time does come to replace your clothing, consider giving your support to a company who advertise an environmental mission. Brands such as DVR Equestrian produce their riding tights, show shirts, base layers and sports bras using recycled ocean plastic, allowing you to ride around knowing that your purchase has helped to clean the seas! Other equestrian clothing brands have pledged to plant trees for every product purchased. Choose the cause that matters most to you and support it.

 

Second time’s the charm!

Tack, rugs and most other kit can be bought secondhand, and you can often find some great bargains when buying used kit. The added bonus: a lot of the time items are only for sale because a horse has been sold, meaning they’ll be in great condition with little wear, and plenty of life left in them.

 

Ditch the wipes and sponges

More than 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year. That’s quite a scary figure, but there are several small changes you can make to help bring this figure down, and lots of small changes add up to make big changes!

Try to cut down on the number of wipes and sponges you use around the yard, whether that be for cleaning your tack and boots, wiping down surfaces or applying fly spray. Better yet, you could ditch them altogether and opt instead for biodegradable, plastic-free pads that can be rewashed between uses.

 

Opt for a sustainable riding surface

At Equestrian Surfaces, we’re conscious of the state of the environment and the role we play in affecting it. As well as being durable and long-lasting, all of our surfaces are produced in such a way to minimise any adverse effects on the environment as much as possible, so that our clients can enjoy a high-quality surface with a clear conscience.

 

Get in touch today to find out more about the range of riding surfaces we offer on a supply-only basis, or chat to a member of our team about your surface upgrade or planned arena installation.

How to Maintain Your Equestrian Surface

How to Maintain Your Equestrian Surface

A high-performance surface is every equestrian’s dream, no matter the discipline they work within. But in order to keep your surface, and your horse, at an optimal performance level, regular maintenance is key.

Different types of surface require different levels and methods of maintenance, but it’s important to remember that all types of surface require a regular maintenance routine. Starting your maintenance as soon as your surface has been laid is the best way to protect your investment and ensure its longevity.

The maintenance routine you adopt will be dependent upon a number of factors, including the type of surface you have (i.e. waxed or non-waxed), the purpose and regularity of use, and whether it’s an indoor or outdoor surface.

 

 

How to maintain a waxed surface

Waxed surfaces are a popular choice for busy equestrian centres and schools which can expect a lot of heavy footfall on a regular basis. The wax within the surface’s composition not only ensures that the surface is more durable, but it also bears binding and adhesive qualities which will help to keep your surface dust-free. Waxed surfaces are also popular due to their ability to adapt well to changes in climate, and for their ease of maintenance, requiring little to no irrigation.

Although easier to maintain than a non-waxed surface, waxed surfaces still require a regular maintenance routine in order to ensure they continue to perform well. If a waxed surface is not properly maintained, it’s put under the risk of becoming over-compacted. Allowing your surface to become too compacted will reduce its shock-absorbance levels, leaving your horse more vulnerable to injury. And, though waxed surfaces may be more resilient to frost, an over-compacted surface is also more likely to retain moisture, making it more susceptible to freezing when temperatures are low.

Regular grading will help to prevent your surface from becoming too compacted and will ensure high levels of shock absorption, support, and energy return are retained. You will want to keep your surface light and even in order to provide a steady and supportive footing for your horse.

In winter months, when there is naturally more moisture in the air and more regular rainfall, you should try to grade your surface slightly deeper than usual. This will help to drain any excess moisture out of your surface and leave it less susceptible to freezing.

  

 

How to maintain a non-waxed surface

Non-waxed surfaces, such as mixed sand and fibre, offer a low-cost alternative, providing a more economical option without compromising on quality or performance. With no wax content in their makeup they do, however, have increased maintenance requirements.

Non-waxed (also referred to as ‘dry’) surfaces are likely to be affected more by changes in climate, so it’s important to be prepared for an increase in your maintenance routine when the climate is especially hot and dry, or cold and wet.

Regular irrigation and grading will be required, particularly in dry weather, to manage the moisture levels within the surface and keep it performing at its best. In winter, you should try to grade your surface last thing at night, after riders are done for the day, and first thing in the morning, before a horse even steps hoof into the arena! This will help to ensure your surface is more resistant to frost or freezing over in cold temperatures. Applying an arena cover may also be helpful, as this will provide your surface with an additional layer of insulation and increased protection from the elements. If your arena will be exposed to freezing temperatures for the majority of the year, it may also be an option to add equine rubber to your surface, which will create an insulating, frost-resistant barrier between your horse and the frozen sand beneath.

 

 

How to maintain a surface in winter

Winter is arguably the most difficult time of the year when it comes to maintaining your arena surface. Winter brings us reduced hours of daylight, cold weather, heavy rain, sleet, snow, gale-force winds and freezing ice – all of which makes us want to hibernate indoors and eat stodgy, hot food. However, in the interest of ensuring the longevity of your surface, it’s important to commit to a regular maintenance regime year-round, even in the coldest, wettest climes!

 

Can I ride in snow?

The short answer is yes, you can. However, you will need to remove any snow before grading your surface. Riding on or grading your surface with snow, even a small amount, can cause long-term damage in terms of its composition and consistency, so it’s important to remove all snow from your surface before you do anything else. If this isn’t an option, wait for it to thaw out before grading.

 

 

When it comes to surface maintenance, the earlier you can introduce a regime, the better. Operating a daily maintenance programme in the first few months will allow you to become familiar with your surface and how it is affected by different weathers. It will also allow you to learn the impact of horses’ hooves on your surface, and to monitor areas that are prone to heavier footfall and therefore more wear, such as the entrances, tracks and the centre line.

 

We offer a range of Trackmaster surface graders available in different sizes, including 1.5m, 2.3m and custom built. We can even match the colour of your grader to your other maintenance equipment. Get in touch to find out more about our graders and the maintenance packages that we offer, or click here to see our surface range.  

Huge All-Weather Equestrian Surfaces Arena for David Broome Event Centre

Huge All-Weather Equestrian Surfaces Arena for David Broome Event Centre

At Equestrian Surfaces, we’re pleased to have received good reports from happy riders who have been practicing and eventing at the David Broome Event Centre in Caldicot, Wales.

After opening on Saturday 6th April 2019, the 100m x 72m synthetic all-weather surface was christened by the competitors of the unaffiliated junior winter league finals, and has since been used by many happy jumpers, who have praised the new arena.

The space is big enough to accommodate two good-sized rings, and will even be able to incorporate a third, should it be needed, in busy training periods.

With an increased versatility, along with the additional riding space that has now been afforded by the new arena, the centre was encouraged towards plans to install new facilities and obstacles, including a Derby Bank, Devil’s Dyke and Table, which have all now been completed.

 

State-of-the-art Technology

The NAF-sponsored Magic All-Weather Arena at the David Broome Event Centre has been constructed with Equestrian Surfaces’ “Ebb & Flow” system, which is a computer-controlled system with the ability to affect and maintain the moisture content within the surface, allowing for year-round use even in adverse weather conditions.

On top of a high-tech moisture control system sits a surface comprised of a unique blend of Redhill sand and environmentally-approved synthetic fibres. The “Premier Track” is a bespoke, high-performance surface which has been designed with stability, support and practicality in mind, requiring minimal maintenance due to its robust make-up and hardwearing qualities.

 

Space for Development  

David Broome commented: “It’s a two-way relationship. It is all about giving something back to the riders and it’s nice for people to see we are investing their money wisely. It’s nice for them to be able to come back each year and see something new. It’s always good to see progress.”

We are ISO 9001 Accredited!

We are ISO 9001 Accredited!

Equestrian Surfaces Ltd are pleased to have retained ISO 9001 Accredited status!

Following a recent surveillance visit, a lead assessor found that our system continues to meet ISO 9001 standards for the manufacture, supply and installation of all-weather riding surfaces for equestrian use.

Achieving this accreditation means that our products and services have met the requirements for surface manufacture within the industry, guaranteeing the best quality of surface for our customers.

 

What is ISO 9001 certification?

ISO 9001 sets the international standards against which all quality management systems (QMS) are measured. Outlining strict requirements, the certification provides proof of an organisation’s ability to meet customer and regulatory requirements and maintain consistency in the products and services that they offer.

 

About Equestrian Surfaces Ltd

We manufacture…

At Equestrian Surfaces, we have always valued innovation and striven to remain at the forefront of the industry. In our 35 years of business, our product range has developed over time alongside the needs of horses and riders of all disciplines, and our passion for product innovation and development has made an impact on the surface industry.

Renowned across the world for both the range and the quality of the products on offer, we are the only company to manufacture our own equestrian surfaces in-house in the UK, with the capacity to ship and install worldwide.

Dedicated to maintaining consistency throughout all of our surfaces, we have invested in top-of-the-range computer systems which guarantee the highest degree of accuracy in the manufacturing process. Every grain of sand and thread of fibre that forms the content of each surface is meticulously monitored, offering very little room for variance or error and enabling us to have complete control over the content and quality of the final product.

 

We supply…

From Equestrian Surfaces, you can expect a tailored service suited to your needs, preferences and budget.

All of our riding surfaces can be purchased on a supply-only basis, allowing you the freedom to manage your project in your own way. We have years of experience with working alongside independent contractors and will always be flexible where we can to help your project glide through to completion with as little hassle as possible.

We like to offer customers complete freedom over the logistics of their project. With this in mind, you can opt to have your materials delivered straight to your site, or you are welcome to arrange your own haulage service to collect your materials from our UK warehouse.

 

We install…

If your project involves the refurbishment of an existing arena or surface for renewed performance, our teams are on hand to ensure every stage of the process goes smoothly.

Whether you’d like to fit a brand-new surface or simply ‘top-up’ your existing surface with our highly-rated blend of silica sand and fibres, we can guarantee you will feel and notice a difference straight away.

With a vast portfolio of clients from around the globe, the installation teams at Equestrian Surfaces are both highly skilled and extremely professional, carrying out all work with accuracy and efficiency to the highest degree.

 

Contact us today to find out more about the range of products and services that we offer.

Works completed at CC Stud, Sweden

God kväll alla

As you all know, Equestrian Surfaces Ltd are a global company. This time we are reporting in from Sweden where we are refurbishing our 10yr old Cushion Track indoor surface at CC Stud.

CC Stud is a professional centre for Breeding and training of horses up to Grand Prix level and is renowned in the Sweden as having some of the best facilities in the county.

The surface in this beautiful 66m x 32m Indoor Arena was needing some work after 10 years. The top surface which has been contaminated through usage has been removed with 225 tonnes of new surface laid across the top. What a stunning arena to be able to train in each day.

Best of luck to Magnus and the team.

 

Starting stripping the old Cushion Track surfaceStripping surface of the Cushion Track from Indoor ArenaTipping of new surface in Indoor ArenaIndoor Cushion Track - Surface Finished

 

Annual maintenance at Eilberg Dressage puts the sprig back in the horses steps !

Annual maintenance has taken place at the home of Eilberg dressage, where the hugely talented Michael and Maria train under the watchful eye of Ferdi.

Both indoor/ outdoor and turnout pens house our CUSHION TRACK surface. The maintenance takes place annually to make sure these dressage super stars are training on the very best.

For information on any of our maintenance packages please contact the office. 

Fabulous Feedback for Cushion Track @ Boyton Hall

Last year we were lucky enough to work with a new facility in the South West who were set for big things, and through working tirelessly they have achieved great feedback from British Dressage on their facilities and their superb surfaces which are founder surface CUSHION TRACK CLASSIC.

This feed back speaks for itself but Boyton Hall also commented and here is what they had to say

Boyton Hall Monks Eleigh Our surfaces are perfect thank you!! They have coped with all weather thrown at us this season from sub zero to tropical ” 

Duchy College have a refurb !

Duchy College in the heart of Cornwall opt for Equestrian Surfaces for the refurbishment, and the end result looks great.

The old tired surface was firstly power harrowed allow it to be easier to lift, once lifted and airated it was re laid and topped up with a small amount of Cushion Track to bring life back into the older surface which over time has had a lot of use and footfall.

Doing these slight refurbishments to the indoor arena will increase the longivity of the surface. Maintenance of any arena is key .