Controversial Topic: Training Aids

The topic that brings equestrians together worldwide & not for those kind hearted reasons. Using a training aid verses not using a training aid, can you believe how aggravated people get on the subject? I often find myself up late at night reading comments under facebook posts, people just love to argue online over this topic!

It is not rare to see people getting annihilated, and torn to shreds with extremely harsh comments over the use training aids, most of the time the person in question is simply looking for was for advice or small tips on the training aid they were using.

I feel like this whole perception just needs to change.


Have you ever really thought about it? How is using a whip, using your legs, a pair of spurs or even a bit in your horses mouth even putting a saddle on your horses back, all these things could be classed as cruel if you really think about it. Rarely you see these items discussed online, nor do you see harsh negative comments plastered across social media for their use.

This post isn’t about slating people who do or do not use training aids, I want this post to be about us coming together to discuss a topic. There is a conception that equestrian opinions are that of dishonesty, so lets open this topic up for discussion.

Personally I think training aids should be used in moderation to help with certain aspects of your horses training. For example, when I began to use draw reins, my instructor constantly drilled into my head than undoing the damage of over use or wrong use of certain training aids is worse then fixing the problem you were using them for to begin with, bearing in mind he was also the person who suggested I used them in the first place.

Pro’s of using Training Aids

  • Improves acceptance of contact
  • Beneficial for difficult horses
  • Help your horse to carry themselves correctly
  • Improves your horses way of going
  • Building up a topline
  • Helps to lunge effectively

Along with many more, but for arguments sake I shall list a few!

Con’s of using Training Aids

  • Provide a False Outline
  • They are not a Quick fix to riding problems
  • Develops an unatural headset if used all the time in training

Again, along with many more, but for arguments sake I shall list a few!

My Thoughts on Training Aids

Hands up if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by internet trolls for the use of training aids? Yes, my hand is up!

Dante was a stubborn opinionated mule when he was younger. He was honestly such hard work. Trying to get him to drop his head or try to work in an outline of any shape or form was always something that never ended well. He hated a contact in his mouth and hated not being in control, or that I was in control of him for that matter. We had tough times at the beginning, and before all the suggestions of pain start pouring in, he was regularly getting his back/teeth/tack fit checks done. Sadly for me, my Dante was just a dick.

I used training aids to better my riding and to help with Dante’s training. Within the last year my ReinRite has been a product that has just rounded us off and transformed the way Dante moves. And no I am not just saying that either cause I am a brand ambassador, I wouldn’t be an ambassador if I didn’t believe in the product!

I wont lie, It took me a while to get Dante working in a correct outline, this was because he just wasn’t fit enough to actually work proper;y from behind, he just took longer to develop. You have to remember that muscle building work is very strenuous for your horse, especially if they are not used to it. I used training aids once or twice a week for short sessions, this way I knew productive work was being done and that his muscles were being activated and put to work correctly.

I know a lot of people do not agree with training aids being used on horses. But honestly who gives a fu*k. Life is too short to care about what people think. Using training aids the last few years has at times probably saved my life, if asking for help comes in the form of a specific training aid then I see no problem in that.

For people who do not agree with the use of training aids, that is ok too I highly respect your choice and also your opinion. 99% of the time people who use training aids on their horse have either done their research or have been advised to use one to progress forwards in their training. With that in mind, I have asked some of my fellow bloggers & riders their opinions on the subject by asking them some questions on the topic keep scrolling to have a read.

What are Your Thoughts on Training Aids?

Inside Track Eventing: If used correctly, a training aid can be an incredibly beneficial compliment to a horse’s training and conditioning plan. The key is to choose a training aid that complements how you would ride or train your horses, and that supports you in targeting the weaknesses that you are trying to combat – be it your horse’s or your own.

Paddy – Inside Track Eventing

Mikaela Weld: The equestrian world is hugely divided on this subject. Training aids can be really helpful. Unfortunately a lot of people on social media I see are using them incorrectly.

TackNTails: Training aids are a tough one, the name suggests they’re used to aid in training and schooling. To, perhaps, help the average rider and amateur to communicate more clearly to their horse, reinforce their legs and hands or to encourage the horse to work correctly when being ridden or lunged. I think training aids can be a helpful resource, but unfortunately they are often used and abused by novice riders. They are used as a quick fix in many cases. The majority of products available are aimed to get the horse to tuck their head in, to look pretty with no regard for their hind end or back. I think they are often used in place of going for lessons and actually learning how to ride and schooling the horse correctly. Let’s be honest we know how damaging they are in the “wrong hands” but many people who use them have shit hands and are using them because they can’t ride properly therefore unable to get the horse to work correctly.

Ginger Ninja & Co: Training aids when used for the right reason can be incredibly beneficial for both the horse and rider. Lunging without a training aid is pointless unless you just want to burn excess energy as quickly as possible. When I ride I attempt to not let my horses run around in a circle with their head in the air, so why would I let them when I lunge? However, training aids are often used by the inexperienced riders for the wrong reasons. Mostly because inexperienced riders don’t know how to get a horse to work the way they know their horse should work. An outline doesn’t come from tying down the front end, it comes from riding the hind end.

Have you ever used Training Aids?

Mikaela Weld: I use training aids daily on my good horse RD Powerplay and not as much on my younger horses, but I do use them on them. I use both draw reins and the reinrite. Mostly when I am flatting the horses at home I will use the reinrite. When I am jumping my good horses or ones that are coming up the level I like to jump them in draw reins it gives me more control (for perspective I am 5 foot 2 and riding 16h and up to 16.3 horses and I am breaking horses and producing them up to 2* level and maybe more soon……) but I only use them if I need more adjustibility, if the horses is being really nice and adjustable I just have them as a back-up.

Mikaela Weld – International Showjumper

My younger horses very rarely jump in training aids. I will only use these aids if the horse has a snaffle or a very soft bit in their mouths. These bits are great to keep horses mouths soft so when you go to a show and put a bigger bit in their mouths they listen. We only use the bigger bits at shows training is mostly done in snaffles.  When I was training for 5 months with Nick Skelton and Laura Kraut everything except for one horse unless they were jumping around they had snaffles and draw reins always. I also use either a bungee or the rein right attached to the roller when lunging horses.

Ginger Ninja & Co: A pair of draw reins can be of great benefit for increasing your safety when on a “naughty horse” by this I mean a horse who’s prone to acting up by rearing, bucking, plunging etc. As they are traditionally used by feeding them from the girth through the bit and to the riders’ hands, they are controlled by the rider, you pick them up when needed but then release when not. I am currently hacking one of my horses in draw reins. Over the winter she became every difficult to hack and would begin to plunge which for obvious reasons is far from ideal. She is now hacked in draw reins as a means to control her head so that she can’t throw it around and begin plunging down the road to our untimely death.

Dave Modelling his Draw Rein

I will continue to hack her with draw reins until I deem it safe to remove them. Another way I have used training aids is by using a single draw rein through the horses noseband and into the riders hand on the stiffer side of the horse. When fed through the bit, they can cause great inference with the horse, you cannot ride into a contact when riding off a draw rein – it’s just physically impossible. Therefore this isn’t a way to school a horse. When the rein is fed through the noseband the draw rein does not interfere with the bit or the contact but the rider has extra help to bend the horse and control were they carry their head. This is only beneficial for a horse that is evasive by going with their nose in the air or has a particularly hard mouth. You can see Dave modelling this way of using the Draw rein.

What was the purpose of using them?

Murphy – Anxious Riding Clubber

Anxious Riding Clubber: I used side reins to help get him working into a contract on the lunge, but they just made him panic and it resulted more often than not him just bolting. The Libby’s Lungie Bungie encourages him to take that contact, and work from up and over his back and engaging his hind end. It’s made of a strong elastic cord and it mimics the hands of a good rider. It encourages the horse to take up the contact. The elastic is fed through a loop on a bit attachment which means there is always even pressure going to your horses mouth.

Keep It Country: My horse spent the majority of his life being pulled out of the stable and fired onto a hunting field so ‘working in an outline’ was not one of his strong suits. No matter how hard I try to work Bèag and get him supple, he needs that extra bit of help every now & then. The training aids help massively when they are used correctly and softly.

Inside Track Eventing: I like to lunge to see how my horses move, without a rider or any tack on their back. For my horse Paddy, who has soundness issues, it’s helpful to see how he moves myself, as what I feel and see are not always the same. For my younger horse Flash, I use lunging with a training aid as a means to develop her topline, and to encourage her to connect her front and back-end, without my asymmetric style of riding interfering! I personally choose not to ride in training aids, only lunge. There are many valid reasons for riding in training aids, such as a bit of added security with a fresh horse, but for my horses there have been no particular issues that I have faced that couldn’t just be solved with me working a little bit harder than I’d like to!

Flash – Inside Track Eventing

Mikaela Weld: I use the draw reins for extra control if I need them while jumping. Out hacking they are mostly used as a break. (Just as a precaution). I use my rein rite when I am flatting the horse especially my good horse. My good horse can get very anxious and stress on the flat. I have found the wheel between the clips that attach to the bit acts like a soother for her and it is nearly something she likes to play with. 

Training aids can be of great benefit to your horse if used correctly”, do you agree?

TackNTails: This is a vague statement. Anything can be of benefit if used correctly or in a specific manner. But what defines correct? Guns can be of benefit if used against terrorists, but does that mean we should allow anyone in to buy them with absolutely no experience? The danger is exactly this, we allow people to completely bypass learning to ride, going for lessons, getting vet/physio/dentist checks, or even sending their horse off to a professional rider and head straight for the gadget section of a tack shop and pick up anything they want. Training aids are often used in place of experience and proper riding. Let’s be honest, who are you most likely to see with their horses in these ‘aids’, it’s the amateur rider who knows what they want their horse to do and look like, but have no clue or cannot communicate to their horse how to do this. Yes, getting a horse to do something without these aids will take longer, but it’ll make for a better rider in the end and they will be able to transfer those skills to other horses too!

Anxious Riding Clubber: Most definitely! I personally don’t see a point in using something incorrectly, as more than likely it will cause more problems or even pain, than help solve them. It would be like me going out to chop a tree down with a chainsaw, I’ve no idea what I’d be doing and more than likely hack my leg off than any bit of a tree!
If I’ve no idea what I’m doing I go and research online or ask people that use the equipment. I’d never just whack something on Murphy without knowing what I’m doing.

Would you recommend the use of any training aids? If so what type and why? If you would not recommend the use of training aids please let me know why.

Anxious Riding Clubber: I would recommend the use of training Aids but the type depends greatly on the horse in question. I only have dealing with Murphy and we’ve not used many training aids. What works for me and Murphy may not work for you. Personally I would recommend the Libby’s Lungie Bungie all day long. Its changed the lunging game for myself and Murphy. And let’s be honest here, it’s fun to say!! For me, I dont see Murphy’s head been held in place, he can move about and it just encourages him to come back to the contact and relax in his work.

TackNTails: Honestly, probably not, but I definitely know which instructors I’d send people to! I’m not against them, they can be a really helpful and useful resource. I think chambons have gone very out of fashion but are great to really encourage a horse to stretch, work long and low, step under themselves and to build up strength all along their topline. Under saddle, I like that when using draw reins, the rider has the ability to use and then release them immediately. So many of the aids and gadgets available force

them into a certain frame without any release or else they only focus on the front end. I simply believe they’re over used and over relied upon. I don’t even want to give the usual “bad in the wrong hands” speech. Let’s be honest, a lot of those who use and rely on these aids are the reason why their horse isn’t working correctly and properly in the first place. I would say 99% of the time, the horse isn’t the problem, it’s the rider. Perhaps people over horsing themselves could also be to blame. If you’re relying on a gadget to school your horse, the horse isn’t the problem.

Mikaela Weld International Showjumper : I would recommend training aids once they are used properly. It really depends on what horses you have and what they like what they don’t like. What do you want to achieve with the horse. I use draw reins and the reinrite which I swear by these two training aids I always have them in my tack locker at shows and always in my cross tie bay. I love draw reins on the more experienced horses who have already muscled up well. While on the younger horses I prefer the reinrite it soothes them and helps to teach them to be balanced.

Inside Track EventingNatalie O’Keeffe : I primarily use two training aids – good old fashioned side reins and an Equiami. Side reins are a helpful simulation of a rider’s hands, and create a contact for the horse to work into. I usually start off with them quite loose and will tighten them after a short warm up – much like you’d warm your horse up on a longer rein and slowly take up a contact. I use those on Paddy, or if I am in a bind time-wise with Flash. The Equiami is a great piece of kit for any horse owner to have in their tack box – it is a self centering loop that simulates the release-reward mechanism of training that you might do when riding – encouraging the horse to work from behind, and loosening and reducing pressure as soon as the horse works correctly. I use this on Flash as Paddy just does not appreciate anything rubbing off his hindquarters!

Ginger Ninja & CoDearbhla Creagh : As I use training aids I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t recommend the use of them. However there are a few caveats worth considering. Training aids are not an alternative to correct schooling. If you are considering the use of one and are unsure of what to start with or have never used it before then you really should only use it under the supervision of a trusted and qualified instructor. If the problem in your schooling is so great that you need the help of a training aid to overcome it, especially prolonged help, then perhaps you should consider getting your horse schooled by a professional.

Keep It CountryKate Colbert : I would recommend *side reins for lunging, *bungee or rein rite when schooling. I find the side reins are a massive benefit for your horse when lunging, they encourage them to ride long and low without any interference of your hands. It also is good to see your horse working from the ground. The bungee and rein rite are ideal for getting your horse working hard when riding, I find I can concentrate on leg yielding, counter canter and flying changes etc while Bèag is concentrating on staying balanced, tracking up and in an outline. Getting all of those points lined up and working together can be quite the challenge & so the extra hand is definitely a benefit.

Lets all embrace our differences & support one another in our riding decisions, Training aid or no training aid. I know that might be hard for some people to grasp, but I like to think that maybe it can be done.

Thank you to everyone who has taken part, you opinions have been fantastic on this topic. Our “Controversial Topic” post I think has already began to grow legs, see keep your eyes peeled for a series of topics we here at NBW are dying to discuss!

As always, we would love to hear your opinions on the topic in the comments below.


Grill The Equestrian – Michelle Kenny

It’s been quite some time since we Grilled an Equestrian. Keeping on track with our “Inspirational Women” theme we are so excited to have Michelle Kenny on board to take part.

She has been rolling off the tip of the tongue lately, being a rider many women of all ages look up to, we just couldn’t resist throwing some questions her way and she certainly did not disappoint with her answers!

Want to find out more about Michelle? Her team at Riverlodge? We even found out her riding pet hate! Keep scrolling to get your hands on all you need to know about the lady that is, Michelle Kenny.

How did it all begin? Tell us about Michelle Kenny

I started riding at the age of 6. My family haven’t got a background in horses I actually grew up in Wexford town so I started in Shelmalier Riding School. After a year or so I got my own pony which like many other non horsey families we bought the wrong pony and repeated this mistake many times over!! I progressed into the Wexford Pony Club and had many years of fun trying out every discipline possible. As I got older I began eventing, from there I had gotten the competition bug and progressed through the Junior, Young Rider (winning team bronze at the European Championships in Jardy 2013) and Senior ranks (Nations Cups in Boekelo & Houghton Hall).

In 2010 I started up RLE with my partner Rafael. Building a facility to produce horses to their highest potential was always our first priority and to do this we had to keep producing and selling. Along the way I have had some fantastic horses who have really shaped my career. I am proud of my results in eventing especially placing 5th in the German National Championships in Luhmuhlen along with top tens in Grand Prix’s up to 3* level in showjumping. 

Being a female in a male dominated sport, do you feel any increased pressure to perform when competing? 

There are great deal of barriers facing women in sport and business, you only have to google the numbers. I try to focus on what I can control like my attitude towards each day, I don’t linger on what other people think. Confidence starts within, let your thoughts linger on your past victories, not defeats, and focus on the milestones you’re set to achieve in the future. Mindset is everything in sport and business.

Tell us about your most memorable win & why. 

It has to be winning the CCIJ* at Tattersalls International Horse Trials in 2009 on Frank and Eithne O Gorman’s Golden Orphan. It was my first 3 day International, I ended up winning by a 21 point margin! It was my first major win and it gave me a belief in myself that I could do this. Coming from a non horsey family, it’s not easy to break into the sport but it is possible!!!  My parents were always incredibly supportive of me and as clueless as we all were, we made it happen! 

You have really shone and made a name for yourself over the past few years, becoming a great role model to women of all ages, do you ever feel pressure to be the best all the times, what keeps you motivated? 

It’s heartwarming to be seen as a role model to women. No I don’t quite feel a lot of pressure now I am happy in what I do, I have my own goals set and a system I really believe in. For sure there has been times I have felt a lot of pressure. In the past ten years since RLE began there has been many highs and also some seriously crashing lows. Probably only in the last year I have really understood what I really want in my life and what I want to achieve. I still have a burning ambition to reach the top of the sport and accept that hard work is needed, also to embrace the setbacks along the way. I am doing it for myself and no one else.

Something that is really important is that you must believe in yourself and always be the best version of yourself. This is what keeps me motivated. For example on Instagram etc I don’t feel the need to have a personal account and a business account I strongly believe in only posting what is real. It is important as a woman to do this and spread positivity. The sport is tough enough at the best of times, we get so caught up in its intensity we can forget to remember why we are doing the sport in the first place. 

Young horses, what are your go to rules when it comes to producing an all rounder? 

TIME, patience and variety of training! I really take my time producing the young horses during their 4 & 5 year old years.  I’m very lucky to have a great facility at RLE that gives me the variety of arenas, canter tracks & cross country schooling to produce them without putting them into the pressure of competition too early. If they are a potential show jumper or eventer, I bring them out first of all to jumping shows as I do feel they can learn an awful lot and still see enough to open their minds up.

For the young jumpers I tend to bring them abroad for a jumping tour in Portugal at the beginning and end of the year. Here they gain great experience in top arenas with sensible course building to help the horses grow in confidence. 

Your team at Riverlodge, Credit where credit is due! You certainly seem to be the yard everyone wants to be at, Tell us some more about your team & what they do?

It is extremely important for me to provide a fun and enjoyable workplace for my staff and also a daily system that runs smoothly. We have a weekly team BBQ/ Lunch to relax and have a little fun. Something that has been a game changer for us is Equity. An online stable management platform that allows me to plan and organise the daily training/competition/health schedules & invoicing. An organised yard is a happy yard!! RLE would not be what it is without my wonderful team to whom I’m so grateful to. So I’ll introduce you to them. 

Rafael Sanctury is my business partner, RLE has many branches from International competition/ Sourcing, producing and sales of young horses/ Client training & mentoring. We even recently began a small breeding program to add to the chaos!!! Rafael plays an important role keeping all theses areas running smoothly and is a huge support to my own career.

Aidan Tector is our yard manager and onsite coach. RLE would not be the same without him. He’s our backbone and always been there for us no matter what. He has a wealth of knowledge from producing horses and can be seen on the ground most days keeping an eye over the training of the horses.

Lucy Hyblova is my Head Girl. Lucy is a huge asset to my team. She has a wealth of experience grooming in many top yards in Europe. She is the queen of clean and organised and also super at keeping the yard running efficiently every day so everyone finishes on time and not working late.

Jess Harper is the latest addition to my team. She is my Show groom. Again coming with a wealth of experience both in eventing and showjumping. Jess has fitted into RLE like she’s always been apart of the team. She has great people skills confident in her job and also enjoys Crossfit like myself!! 

Anja Moret is an exciting talent in RLE she will produce and compete the horses alongside me. Something I feel strong about is having another rider at RLE. To be able to bounce ideas off each other to be able to watch the horses myself from the ground really is a vital part in producing my horses to be the best they can be.

I am blessed to call these guys my team and enjoy every day we work together. I value their opinions and feel the each bring something extra to #teamRLE

Eventing has been a huge part of your past and most recently you have had amazing success showjumping if you had to choose one, which one would you choose & why?

I absolutely love the accuracy and elegance of showjumping. Hands down its my favourite sport. There is no better feeling than riding into the ring for a Grand Prix Class. Eventing is a sport I will always hold closely to my heart. I’ve had some amazing days from winning an FEI bronze medal to my Senior Nations Cups appearances. I have unfinished business in eventing so I’m not finished yet!!! 

If you could trade shoes with anyone in the industry who would you choose & why? 

Darragh Kenny. Darragh combines the desire to keep at the top of the sport and yet maintain an uncompromised business plan, unlike a lot of riders. He combines competing in the sport, training clients, producing and selling top international horses. He also has an ability to bounce back from setbacks and come back even stronger.

In your opinion, what is the most beneficial exercise people should be doing with their horses & why? 

Counter canter is one of my favourite exercises to do. This really works the horses through the back and it’s great to get a hot horse to accept your leg and work into the contact. Serpentines are another great exercise to keep the horse supple and accept your leg. You can do so much on a simple serpentine like transitions, leg yielding & counter canter. Keeping the horse supple is key.

If you weren’t in the equestrian industry, what do you think you would be doing? 

I have an interest in Marketing and Public Relations, I enjoy the promotion side of my own brand and RLE, I manage all of our social media channels as well as helping my dad with his company promotions. 

With the world in chaos due to the Covid19 Pandemic, the majority of horse shows have been cancelled up until July, where does this leave you & how has this effected your 2020 plans? 

First of all I’m very lucky that Covid hasn’t effected my family because right now that is the priority for everyone. Professionally speaking it has actually given me the time to produce some of my newest additions to my team. Having sold my up and coming star Ard Emmerdale and older star Juicy in February, we have had to reinvest in young stock once again. I also have two very exciting young event horses in the production line who I really think have team potential.

I have used this time wisely to brush the dust of my dressage saddle and prepare these two to hit the ground running once we can compete. For sure its been frustrating not being able to get the older Grand Prix horses out like Barcelona and Indoctaire. They will now aim for Vilamoura Champions Tour in October all going to plan. I feel really lucky to of been able to compete in Vilamoura at the beginning of the year before everything stopped. 

What is your biggest riding pet hate?

Riders not educating their horses correctly and fast tracking them for their own benefit.

You do a lot at Riverlodge, from offering free jumping rounds to people with 4yr olds, (I am not sure if this is correct info!) to last year putting on quite the spectacle with your first big show, do you have plans to do more? 

I feel as a rider its important to give back to your sport when you can. Over the years I have developed a wonderful facility at RLE so to be able to make use of the beautiful grass arena was a no brainer.

I have competed at wonderful shows in Europe so myself and Rafael wanted to bring a little bit of that to the Irish shows. Winning “myshowadvisor” Show of the Year was a really great reward. Unfortunately our plans to run the ‘Avonmore Summer Classic’ has been cancelled this year due to the restrictions not being lifted in time to enjoy the show to its full capacity.

But we do have something up our sleeve which will be revealed in the coming weeks!!! Keep an eye out on both Riverlodge & My social media channel for the release.

Who is your current trainer, tell us a bit about your competition training routines. 

Rafael plays a huge part in overseeing the majority of my training. He is on the ground watching the horses progress daily which really helps fine tune the smallest of details. I have been training with Grant Wilson for many years now. I really enjoy his training system. Grant is always available for advice and really helpful with sending me exercises in between training. On the build up to international shows Grant plays a big part in helping me prepare. I am also very lucky to train with Harry Marshall. He’s an incredible horse man and he’s really opened my eyes up and given me a whole new skillset in producing young horses and also being that bit more competitive in the ring. I’m grateful for the opportunity he has given me to compete some of his older horses also. 

Do you have any tips for women handling big horses, I sometimes get told I have too much horse for such being such a small woman. Have you ever experienced these stereotypes? 

I am only 5ft 2 myself and ride a variety of horses. Sometimes the smallest of horses can be the strongest. No mater the size make or shape of the horse using the simple training scale will help improve the horses rideabilty. Keeping training simple and repetitive will always help improve a horse. And again Im a big believer in patience allow the horse to adapt to your training.

What advice would you give to young women looking to break into the international circuit, what support structures should they be looking at? 

To take every opportunity no matter how big or small it is and embrace your setbacks.  Keep focused on what you want to do and don’t be afraid to knock on doors for opportunity. Be confident and comfortable with your own strengths and use them to your advantage.

If someone in the industry has helped you, be sure to also give back. There is some highly respected strong business women in our industry in Ireland like Carol Gee (Fernhill Sport Horses) & Marion Hughes (HHS) for example. Both women have had great competitive careers and both run highly successful business’.  I always try to think outside the box of an equestrian business. I have participated in Ireland’s Young Entrepreneur, this really opened my eyes and pushed me out of my comfort zone, having to pitch my business to a panel of successful business people was terrifying at the age of 18.

Another piece of advice that I learned later on was to read as much as you can. Reading teaches you something new while it also opens up different ways of thinking of old ideas. 

Wow! What more can we say, she is some woman and I think anyone who trains or works with her should count themselves lucky.

A massive thank you to Michelle for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions, you are surely an inspiration and someone we both highly look up to.

Be sure to keep a close eye on the Riverlodge socials over the next few weeks, we cant wait to see what they have planned!

A massive thank you to everyone for reading and if you want to follow Michelle and her horses be sure to follow her social media pages!

Darielle & Orla

Product Review – Le Mieux Hay Tidy Bag

I am banging out the product reviews lately. I am really enjoying sharing my opinions on certain products I have purchased or received as gifts, most of them were either Christmas presents or Birthday presents, none have been gifted by the brands themselves, so I hope that is some reassurance to our readers that all of our reviews are genuine.

9 times out of 10 the review is good, mainly because I was so invested in the product I was purchasing, done my research & enjoyed the results I put my money into.

Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out…. Keep reading to find out why.

About The Product – Le Mieux Hay Tidy Bag

The Le Mieux Hay Tidy Bag is an essential addition to your yard equipment. It will help in reducing waste and keeping your yard tidy. Designed with durable high quality fabric and reinforced stitching on the feeding panel this hay bag is suitable for all horses. Featuring a large opening at the top, an adjustable strap, and a clip, this hay bag allows for improved filling efficiency and easy tying.

  • Avaliable in Navy and Black.
  • Essential for the yard.
  • Perfect for travelling.

Yes this was copy & pasted from the website I purchased this product from, after reading this I really believed every single word written about the LeMieux Hay Tidy Bag.

Keep reading to find out the harsh reality….

Why Did I purchase?

As you all may be aware, I recently purchased a new horse box. (My timing was impeccable with all the shows cancelled due to Covid19!)

Anyways, upon purchasing the horse box, I wanted to purchase my own haynet. This may sound pretentious of me but I wanted a haynet that I could leave in the horse box so that I could just refill myself when travelling to shows, avoiding using any of the pre-filled haynets that we can use in the yard.

So I searched of course for a haynet or haybag should I say that physically looked nice because sometimes in life we buy things based on appearance… Poor Darielle always seem to find these things out the hard way!

My Opinion

It is good to try new things, but sometimes when you do it makes you see the quality in what you already had.

This is the haybag from my last journey with Dante, barely any hay touched.

The above quote summarizes my experience with this product. This product really aggravated and upset Dante to the extent that when I opened the horse box at the end of a 10 minute journey he was snorting and dancing around the horse box because he physically couldn’t eat the hay from the haybag, yes my horse is always thinking of food & I think this product teased him more than anything, he couldn’t actually eat what was put right in front of him.

It does state in the description of this product that it is perfect for travelling, I can unfortunately let you all know that I believe it is the complete opposite. While the design looks attractive, the opening at the top is well made and does make it easy & efficient for you the human to fill the bag with hay, but the purpose of the product does not live up to its expectations as my horse found it next to impossible to eat hay from the front of the haybag. The holes on the front or the feeding panel of the bag were just way to small!

It does also state that the haybag “will help reduce waste & keep your yard tidy” I am not too sure what type of selling point this gives to anyone, but I will confirm it is true as I struggled to even pull hay out from the front of the haybag with my own hands…

Going forward I will be sticking to the trust worthy standard haynet for my travels. When travelling Dante I have been using the LeMieux haybag as a way of bringing & storing additional hay with me in the horse box for long journeys, So it still does still have some benefit to me & is was not a complete waste of money!

Purchase Details

The LeMieux Hay Tidy Bag was purchased from Old Mill Saddlery follow the link for the exact page, the price was €22.

Even thought the selling point of this hay bag mentioned nowhere that it was a “slow grazer” or that purpose was to slow down greedy eaters, I would suggest that this product could possibly be ideal for anyone who needs a solution for this matter. It could also be used for a horse on box rest to keep them occupied for a good few hours.

My advice/recommendation to Le Mieux, change the description of the product, So that poor Darielle that has notions of herself with a fancy haynet doesn’t get disappointed!

I hope you as readers understand that this is in no way a bad review to the company LeMieux, but more of an honest opinion on one of their products The Tidy Haybag. This product may work for others, but for me & Dante it just simply did not.

I will always be real in my opinion on a product & for that I commend myself for my own honesty. Too many blogs or bloggers out there are endorsing products they were given for free because they are afraid to give honest opinions, or are recommending them to equestrians for payment, that is quite simply not us!

While this review was honest and probably not what you expected, I do love the brand LeMieux for their numnahs & clothing, so it has in no way tarnished my thoughts on purchasing from the brand again.

I would love to hear from you if you have used this product & what your Opinions are, was it just me?

Thanks for reading,


The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Equestrians in Ireland

Unless you’re one of the three astronauts who landed back to earth from the space station on Thursday, I’m sure you are well aware that there is currently a global pandemic gripping the world that has come in the form of Covid-19.

The arrival of coronavirus has had a devastating affect on every country it has touched. Healthcare systems have been brought to their knees as they fight to reduce deaths, while governments plead with their populations to adhere to social distancing guidelines until they are given no choice but to implement country-wide lockdowns. All of these necessary health measures have had a massive impact on economies and people’s general way of life with unemployment rates soaring within a matter of weeks. There’s not a single aspect of society that hasn’t been impacted and that rings true for Ireland’s equestrian community.

In an effort to remain transparent, I am going to keep the focus of this post on Ireland as I don’t feel I can comment on the goings-on in other countries just by what I’m seeing on social media. However if you are reading from outside Ireland, I would love to know how your equestrian life has been affected by Covid-19 so please share in the comments.

What is happening in Ireland?

As of today, Saturday 18th April 2020, Ireland is on lockdown. This means that everyone must stay home in all circumstances unless:

  • You are an essential worker and you are travelling to/from work
  • To shop for essential food/household goods or to attend medical appointments
  • For vital family reasons eg. to look after children or elderly/vulnerable people
  • For brief physical exercise within 2km of your home

The initial announcement for lockdown was made on Friday 27th March at approx. 8.30pm when we were given the above instructions and advised that they would be in place from midnight that evening until Easter Sunday, the 12th April – so we were staring down the barrel of a two week lockdown.

When these restrictions were announced, the equestrian community in Ireland was left reeling as it struggled to determine what that meant for equestrian owners and businesses. We were given no guidance on what was considered an essential business so there were very large question marks over when we would be able to see our horses again.

As mild panic began setting in, people took to social media to see what further information they could glean from their trusted sources who, at the time, probably knew as much as anyone else in the country. That was, until approx. 10.30pm, when Horse Sport Ireland (Ireland’s governing body for the equestrian industry), posted the below on their Facebook page.

With this we were able to let out a sigh of relief as we realised we would still be allowed to visit our horses to give them the much-needed hugs and kisses we knew they’d so desperately miss in our absence (yes, I’m being sarcastic..we all know your horse just wants their feed and they’ll be happy, the hugs and kisses are for us).

The next question on everyone’s mind however, was whether our yards would still allow us in and if so, would we still be able to ride? This is where things became complicated…

The Options for our Livery Yards

Following the announcement, it was evident that livery yards across the country had already planned for the eventuality that lockdown would be implemented, as owners everywhere began receiving texts and calls informing them of what would happen in their yard.

Over the following days it became clear that livery yard owners had three possible courses of action they could take –

  1. Shut down the yard for the full two weeks of lockdown which would mean no access for owners
  2. Remain open but assign hourly timeslots so as to adhere to social distancing guidelines as best as possible
  3. Keep business as usual and allow free access

These decisions were made and while those who were faced with Option 1 may have been a bit disgruntled initially, for the most part, people seemed to be in agreement that they should do whatever is necessary to help ‘flatten the curve’ (a phrase I never want to hear again once this is all over). So we would just put our heads down and get on with things for the next two weeks.

Unfortunately however, things are never that simple for us here in this delightful community of ours. Over the course of those two weeks, it became clear through social media what yards were still allowing their owners access to their horses and as we drew nearer to our lockdown deadline and talk of an extension began, frustrations were beginning to mount.

Lockdown Extension and Rising Tempers

On Friday 10th April, it was announced that Ireland’s lockdown would be extended a further 3 weeks until Tuesday 5th May. By this point, horses across the country had enjoyed a solid two weeks of time off, getting fat in fields without their rugs as the good weather set in. Meanwhile owners were becoming more and more frustrated being confined to their homes while watching friends in other yards out enjoying their horses. Unfortunately this bitterness has made its way to social media this week (as does everything) in the form of a heated discussion around what livery yards should be doing.

There have been two clear sides in the discussion – those who believe all livery yards should be closed entirely and those who believe that owners should be allowed access to ride their horses while ensuring they adhere to HSE social distancing guidelines. But who is in the right? Well that’s what I want to explore next…

What is the right thing to do?

When I started looking into this I decided to do some research into what we have ‘officially’ been told to do. During my search I was only able to find two reputable sources who have provided some form of direction to the equestrian community, however unfortunately what I found only leads to more questions.

It is not necessary to seek official authorisation – it is up to you to objectively and fairly make the assessment in each case…

Starting with Horse Sport Ireland (click here for full information), for the most part they have provided answers for breeders and answer questions regarding transportation however what is worth noting is the following:

The Government have given guidance for employers and employees and the self employed, including farmers, to decide whether you are providing an essential service. It is not necessary to seek official authorisation – it is up to you to objectively and fairly make the assessment in each case…

So we can see where yard owners may have struggled to decide what the best course of action was. The Government has not provided any specific guidelines for livery yard owners. No law has been put in place. All they have to go on are ‘recommendations’.

From there I found further recommendations published by Teagasc, the Agricultural and Food Development Authority (click here for full information). Again, these are only recommendations and not absolute rules that have been put in place by the Government – it’s all interpretation. Of course the usual recommendations were given around following HSE guidelines to the best of your ability but below are a summary of other recommendations which I found to be most relevant for livery yard owners:

  • Deny all non-essential visitors at this time
  • Set up hand washing sanitising stations in the yard(s)
  • Clients in livery yards etc. should use their own grooming kits, tack etc. and be encouraged to clean between uses
  • In a D.I.Y., or part livery situation, for the immediate term can care of client horses be undertaken by the yard staff, consider turning horses out to grass for a period of rest
  • Alternatively stagger the attendance of clients in the yard with clearly communicated timelines to attend

Again, yard owners are given a swath of recommendations that almost contradict each other and make it difficult for them to decide what they should do. Should they deny owners access to their horses and take on the additional labour that looking after horses on DIY will cause (and for no additional pay mind you)? Should they only allow DIY owners access which, let’s face it, will cause uproar among full livery clients who have been denied access to their horse? Should they allow their client’s access and risk being berated by other yards who have taken the decision to close and are now being questioned by their own clients for their decision? There’s just no winning.

This pandemic has proved to be a highly emotionally charged event. People are anxious and stressed. They also have more time on their hands than they know what to do with so time spent on social media has increased (by up to 40% according to With this increase we are unfortunately seeing a lot of negativity. People are angry at the situation and they’re looking for someone to blame so anyone seen to be out enjoying themselves (even though they may be practicing perfect safe social distancing) are instantly seen as the reason we are in the situation we are in. And while everyone is arguing about whether livery yards should be open at all, what I’m not seeing is anyone asking the question, “Should we be riding our horses at all at the moment?”. Which honestly, I think is the most important question.

Is riding really necessary right now?

It’s a fact. Horse riding is a risk sport. It’s the first sign you see when you enter any riding school. So given the current medical emergency our hospitals are faced with, should we really be taking the risk of riding our horses at all at the moment? Horses are unpredictable animals. Even the most bombproof gelding can have a moment which can lead to even the most capable rider landing on their arse. You just don’t know what could happen.

Both HSI and Teagasc make reference to this in each of their articles.

Teagasc says:

Given health services are stretched to capacity it is strongly encouraged to avoid any activities that carry increased risk of injury. Consider giving your horses a break right now. Riding has not been forbidden, but it is a risk activity.

While HSI says:

Extra care should be taken not to take undue risks when handling and exercising horses at this time, due to the increased pressure on the hospital system due to Covid-19. Therefore, precautions such as lunging fresh horses prior to riding or using horse walkers if available, should be taken.

So should we just accept our situation and give our horses some time off? Well the problem with this is that we don’t know how long this pandemic will go on for. It’s all well and good saying we’ll give them the two weeks of the initial lockdown off but once lockdown was extended for an additional three weeks, that completely changed the game. Aside from the fact that time off generally means extended time in the field where our horses can now indulge in the finest fresh grass the recent spring weather can provide, but add in a total of five weeks off work and, depending on your horse, you could be asking for trouble.

You also have the scenario where some horses need to be kept in regular work or they start to become stressed which can lead to weight loss, a deterioration in condition or they can do themselves an injury. And what about young horses? This could be a pivotal time in their development where they need to be kept in consistent schooling to ensure they become the horse they are capable of being.

There are many reasons to argue why we need to keep our horses in work and I’m not here to say what is right and what is wrong. I do believe it’s something everyone should consider though and if you have made the decision to keep riding then I think we owe it to our healthcare workers to be sensible with how we spend our time in the saddle.

You may be able to handle your horse’s excitable moments but maybe for now it would be best to lunge it out of them first. Do you really need to be jumping right now? Would it really hurt your horse to go a month without jumping? Flatwork is the foundation of jumping and you don’t have any shows to be preparing for so maybe use this time to improve on areas you’ve been neglecting. These are questions I would even pose to professional riders and those yard owners who have restricted their client’s access to their horses but are still working away with their own stock of competition horses. For the most part, these riders are looked up to within the equestrian community so shouldn’t they be leading by example?

I would always say to each their own, but I think we owe it to our healthcare workers to not take unnecessary risks while we as a country are still fighting to tackle this virus.

In conclusion…

I think we all need to take a moment and recognise that no one really knows what the right thing is. We are experiencing something that has never been seen before in our lifetime. These are entirely unprecedented circumstances and everyone is only trying to do what they feel is best. As of today, experts are telling us that we have flattened the curve. Which means what we have been doing is working. Yes, we still have a long way to go but I think as a community, us equestrians need to acknowledge that no one is making decisions with malicious intent. Everyone is doing their best to make socially responsible decisions and as we get deeper into lockdown we need to rally together even more.

I’ve done a lot of talking and rambling in this post so now I want to hear from you. How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted you and your ability to see and enjoy your horse? Let me know in the comments.

If you’ve made it this far, I applaud and thank you!


No Bucking Way Tries: POLO

I think I have found my calling in life. Last summer I put on my brave pants, bit the bullet and gave Polo lessons a go.

A few friends of mine worked in The Polo club and ever since they began to bring me along to Polo matches in Wicklow, I gained a rather soft spot for the sport… who cannot fall in love with a polo pony?!

Keep scrolling to find out all about my Polo journey…

About Polo

A quick explanation about a game of Polo – the game consists of six periods called chukkers. They last seven and a half minutes with each including a halftime period also.

Each team has four players who in turn can bring/swap between 6-8 horses per game. Players usually change horses either in between chukkers or halfway between chukkers depending on how tired the horses get.

Now Let’s get into more detail from the ins & outs of my lesson. Polo is quite technical but once shown its quite hard not to forget.

My instructor on the day was Leo, he is an Argentinian Polo Rider, what an absolute talent. Playing off a handicap of 2, (I know right a handicap? Could this be golf on horseback?) Leo has experience playing all over the world.

The most important thing he shared with me was that you don’t need any riding experience to start Polo, great for any newcomers out there reading this, or anyone who has always wanted to give it a go! With me having the experience, being able to ride a horse that is, it made a huge difference to our lesson, it made things easier for Leo it meant he could teach me how to play polo & not focus on the basics of riding a horse.


Holding The Reins Correctly

In polo, they ride using the western way of riding. You always hold your reins with your left hand, and the polo Mallet in your right hand.

How to Hold the Reins Correctly:

  • You Hold your left palm out flat
  • Place both reins on top and close your hand around them
  • Use your index finger between both reins to shorten & lengthen your reins for control

It takes some getting used to, but after a while it becomes second nature.

In The Saddle Polo Tips

I could not get over how reactive the horse was at first. Steering was done through the reins, & not through a contact with the horses mouth. Using the reins, leaning them up against the horses neck to steer in the direction you want to go.

The horses were so reactive to the movement of my body, I did spent a good 10 minutes playing around with this novelty!

To stop, you simply lift both reins up and sit back in the saddle. The horses reactions were almost immediate, it was very refreshing. Do prepare yourself though I bolted forward a few times – when you want them to stop they literally stop!

GRIP WITH YOUR KNEES! Something Leo constantly had to keep reminding me to do. The idea of this was to hold yourself in place to give you the freedom to move your body around in order to tackle players during a game. Your lower leg should also hang free & loose giving it the freedom to swing back, all while keeping your toes pointed inwards!


Holding & Using The Mallet

Getting used to riding a Polo horse came fairly naturally. As I got the picked up the basic, we moved fairly quick into the proper technique on how to hold the Polo mallet (the large Stick!) and the correct way to hit the ball.

Holding The Mallet Correctly:

  1. You always hold the mallet in your right hand
  2. Hold your right hand out straight, loop the handle over your thumb
  3. Flipping your hand over, twisting the handle slightly for grip, you finish by placing the polo stick (with the number facing outward) into the palm of your hand.
  4. The end of the polo stick should lie on the end of your palm just before your wrist starts.
  5. Once you have a good grip you must then hold the stick with the end facing upwards and with your elbow tight in by your right side. See pics below!

It is a lot to take in, trust me. It took me a while to grasp it, Prepare for jelly arms!!


Let The Games Begin

There are 4 types of swings that Leo showed me. The forehand, backhand, neck, and tail. We focused on the forehand swing, one of the most common and easiest out of the 4.

In walk we began practicing by hitting the ball. It is quite petrifying to begin with, there is a fear of trying not to land on your face anytime you go to hit the ball. It wasn’t too long before I began to realised that keeping your eye on the ball and not in the horses legs gives you a better chance of actually being able to hit the ball.

One thing Leo did comment on was not to hit the ball as if I was holding a tennis racket, that was down to more practice being needed by me to get used to proper polo techniques.

As I got the grips with things, we began to hit the ball in canter. Dear Lord it was a million times harder. I did manage to hit the ball a few times, but there were also times where I nearly whacked the poor horse straight in the face…. I honestly don’t know how horses had the patience for me!


You almost forget that during a polo match you are playing against an opposite team trying to win the ball for points. The tackling part of the sport is something that will take a little longer for me to get used to.

When Leo went in for a tackle the first time pushing me & my horse away from the ball using his upper body, I literally stopped the horse dead and let out a scream. As we practiced more, my competitive streak began to show & I improved quite rapidly….. apparently you’re not allowed use your elbows… its a foul if you do!

We finished up shortly after this, I was just about able to breath, the fitness behind a polo player is phenomenal. I definitely have a new found appreciation for the sport that’s for sure.

The Verdict

What an amazing experience, one that I will most definitely never forget & one I always look back on with a fire in my stomach to get back on board & learn more. I do hope to start back up again this summer. You never know, you might see me playing my first official polo match in The Phoenix park yet!

A big thank you to Palo Alto & The All Ireland Polo Club who I organised this lesson with last year. Have anyone of you tried playing Polo? Let me know in the comments below. I do apologise if my Polo Terminology is not spot on, I’m am after all a beginner!


Want to see how my lesson really went? Check out the video below!

Thanks for Reading,


Product Review – Epiony Heatpad and Massage Mitt

Have you heard of the brand Epiony? Well if you haven’t have you been living under a rock? It is the new kid on the block when it comes to essential equestrian must have products.

With everything going on in the world & being out of work and away from the horses it has given us a lot of spare time to start penning our thoughts on the products we have been using. The beauty about these Epiony products is that not only can your horse benifit, you can too!

Want to read more? You know the drill by now, scroll for all the ins & outs!

About The Brand Epiony

Epiony Ltd was founded in 2016 by Emma Easton-Powell BSc (hons), a university student aged 21. Emma started her brand from the ground up at the age of 19 with no previous experience or funding. She started with £200 she had saved up from her birthday and Christmas and started The Massage Mitt in 2014, then rebranded to Epiony Ltd in 2016 and since then has continued to grow into a global therapy brand.

The idea for The Heat Pad came about due to her weak lower back, sometimes after riding or general exercise her back could ache and heat helped ease any discomfort without her having to take painkillers every time. However hot water bottles were impractical to walk around with, were bulky and took time to make so she decided to design a lightweight, portable and flexible Heat Pad that could be used anywhere, not just your back.

Epiony has quite the backround story, to read it in full click this link, it is very inspirational reading how much Emma has grown this company to what it has become today.

The Epiony Heatpad

The Heat Pad runs off a 12 volt smart lithium ion battery with four temperature settings and has been made from a light weight super soft leatherette fabric combined with heat resistant insulation wadding to trap and reflect the heat back onto the muscles to soothe and relax either you or your horse.

It is one of the easiest products to use, turning it on you keep your finger on the button, and to set the tempeture you simply click it to the tempeture you wish. the light indicates the heat intensity, red, orange & green. (green lowest, red highest)

With the heat pad it arrives packed up in a gorgeous carry bag, inside you get two straps, one long surcingle that can be adjusted to size, a neoprene waist belt which is a wider strap that is great for using on your horses neck. Also you get your lithium battery & a charger. It is all safety first when it comes to Epiony, the battery has a special built in thermostat to prevent it from overheating, basically If the battery gets too hot it automatically turns itself off.

For The Human

So anyone following us on Instagram will know that myself (Orla) and Cosmo had a fall when we were jumping a few weeks ago. I landed smack bang on my right shoulder which almost instantly seized up. As with these kind of injuries, I iced it for the first day but after that, the best treatment is heat – enter the Epiony Heatpad. I was in a significant amount of pain after the fall, my neck was extremely sore and stiff and I couldn’t really use my right arm – the heatpad was a godsend. Each evening I’d strap the heatpad on using the straps provided, which are very easily adjusted to fit us humans, and I’d sit with it on for a good hour as it soothed my aches and pains.

After 3 days of using it, I noticed a significant improvement in the muscular pain in and around my shoulder and neck. I’ve had similar injuries before and these have easily taken up to a week to see this kind of improvement so I was grateful to have the heatpad to speed up the healing process.

For The Horse

There are many amazing factors this product has for your horse. For one, it is excellent at reducing stress & helps with relaxing of the muscles. A lot of people find it great for using on your horse pre-exercise as it essentially helps warm your horse up & get the blood flowing to those key muscles your horse would be using during exercise.

The Heat therapy also helps decrease stiffness & increase flexibility that in time improves your horses comfort. This would be a great addition to any horse on rest or any that is recovering from injury. From using it on Dante, I found that using it before exercise almost relaxed him a little too much, so I began using it after workouts as more of a reward to help ease his muscles after work. I found it really helped him and loosened him out when I went to ride him a day or two afterwards. I mainly use it on the top of his neck/poll area & the top of his lower back on his Sacroiliac muscle in 20 minute time frames. These areas tend to tighten up more frequently and the heat helps relax the muscles that bit more. It is a great addition to my kit & helps prolong Dante’s physio visits by a few weeks.

The Epiony Massage Mit

The Massage Mitt is suitable for horses, cats, dog and humans. It relaxes tight and tense muscles, increases blood circulation and reduces stress. It is made from a robust polymer and nine 360 degree rotating steel balls. This hand shaped mitt is exceptionally easy to use and works along with the shape of the surface it works on ensuring comfort and relief in both the masseur and the recipient. 

For The Human

The massage mitt is the perfect complementary treatment to the heatpad. I had some serious knots and muscle pain in my shoulder and neck even a few weeks after the fall so when I didn’t have time to sit with the heatpad, the massage mitt was the perfect reliever for my sore, tight muscles. I would regularly try to give myself shoulder massages (as with most riders, I tend to have tight shoulders) but this mitt made it just so much easier. It also allows you to move a bit further down your back, applying even pressure across your muscles as you move. To be honest, Dars is lucky she got it back, I wanted to keep it so it’s definitely on my purchase list!

For The Horse

Again this is another amazing product to loosen & get muscles moving or “awake” prior to exercise. I use it mostly on Dante’s shoulders and around his saddle area. It is normally a quick 10 minute massage before tacking up. It is a super tool to have when you simply don’t have the time to be spending pampering over your horse.

On his days off from work when I have the time to be up grooming he will get an all over body massage. Using circular motions with the mit it really gets the blood circulating in turn releasing tension. It is quite rewarding to see his relaxing expressions when it is being used. It certainly loosens him up thats for sure.

Cleaning The Mitt

I have yet to clean the mit.. sorry Orla, I know you have been using it on your shoulder! So I have copied over the instructions that the Epiony website have given, it is on my to do list once I get back down to the yard!

Our Verdict….

If you dont have one of the above, save up your money & make the purchase. In my opinion it is an essential! It is money well spent or if you want to it would be a good idea to go halves with your horsey friend. Both horse & rider benefit massively from both products, the heatpad was even used by my pregnant sister & she loved it to relieve lower back pain.

They are available to buy direct from £139.99 – Heatpad / £10.99 – Massage Mit. Epiony products are definately money well spent if you invest. If you need to save up for a while prior to purchase or if you decide to go halves with your friend, you wont regret it!

We also recommend you keep an eye on their social media accounts, facebook & Instagram, Epiony run regular competitions, you could be lucky enough to win some of their amazing products.

Two super products that I can’t recommend enough for anyone looking to purchase. The heatpad seems a little on the pricier side, but when you look at the benefits it is certainly exceptional value for money.

They do have a third product, the Thermal Wand this retails at £169.95, it is a little outside of our price range at the minute, but another product we certainly have our eye on.

Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions regarding both products please do get in contact. This was not a gifted post & my review was based from experience & a great Christmas present!

Until Next Time,


Youngster Exercise Series ~ Circle of Support

Well, it has been some time since I’ve written a post and for that I apologise but I’m getting back into the swing of things and to kick me back into gear, I’ve got a brand new exercise series specifically aimed at young horses.

To start the series, I’ve got a nice simple pole exercise that incorporates some concepts that are vital to your horse’s development.


  • Improving balance
  • Encouraging roundness and self-carriage
  • Strengthening the hind end
  • Improving rhythm


Ideally you want to have someone on the ground to help adjust poles but if that’s not possible then you can set this exercise up in two different corners of the arena.

Trot Pole Setup:

  • Set out 3 trot poles in a fan with 4 small footsteps between the middle of each pole
  • Place one pole vertically on the outside of the fan as a guide pole
  • Place another guide pole vertically on the inside of the fan

Canter Pole Setup:

  • Lay a single pole out on a bend
  • Place a guide pole vertically on either side of the canter pole, again one on the outside and one on the inside


Hold the outside rein while opening the inside hand to support through the circle


  • First, make sure you have an active and engaged trot with your horse moving forward and off the leg.
  • Bring them onto a circle, but going around the exercise to start. This is to get you and your horse in the circle ‘mind-frame’ and allows you the time to ask for an inside bend.
  • Once happy with how your horse is moving, bring them into your set of trot poles, starting over the centre of the poles first.
  • The placing of the guide poles, will help keep your horse on track before and after the trot poles.
  • Do this a few times before you start asking your horse to move out on the circle, aiming for the outside of the trot poles.
  • Next work your way back in until you’re riding over the inside of the trot poles.
  • Make sure to repeat the above on the other rein to give both reins a good workout


  • Depending on your horse’s weaknesses, you might find they struggle a bit more with this exercise in canter. You also might find that they have a rein that’s much weaker than the other so you’ll find this very beneficial for supporting them on that weaker side.
  • Similar to the trot poles, do a circle of canter around the exercise first so you can establish your rhythm on a circle.
  • Once ready, bring your horse over the canter pole making sure to support them with your outside rein and if needs be, opening your inside rein a bit wider to encourage them around the circle.
  • Do this a few times on each rein until you feel your horse is supporting themselves around the circle
  • Step it up by turning the canter pole into a raised cavaletti, ensuring your horse uses themselves effectively over the pole

Tips for this Exercise:

  • Keep a steady, even pace through the exercise, using half halts on the outside rein to manage your horse’s speed
  • If your horse is prone to drifting out through the shoulder, make sure to lift and keep a steady contact on the outside rein while supporting their body through the turns with a strong outside leg behind the girth
  • Use your guide poles! They’re there to help and support so use them to help guide your horse through the exercise.

Check out how I got on with Cosmo when we tackled this exercise…

As these exercises are aimed at young horses, they tend to be quite simple but also something that should challenge your youngster. Myself and Cosmo struggled with this canter part of the exercise way more than I thought we should but we got there in the end eventually.

Give it a go with your youngster and let me know how you get on!

Thanks for reading,


Product Review – PlusVital Effivet

Product placement in Tack shops is key to getting noticed. Why do I say this? Well if it wasn’t for a busy day at Lady Chapel Stores, I would not of come across these amazing PlusVital products, the Effivet Farm Liquid & The Effivet Farm Hydrogel. Little did I know that they were exactly everything I needed and in fact they were everything I had been looking for over the last few weeks, realising they were under my nose the entire time is a bit of a sickner!

I am going to run through this product review below but most importunately let you know what I think of the product & the results I got, keep scrolling to find out more!

What Is Plus Vital Effivet Spray?


Effivet is a potent germ killer containing a patented technology that allows it to mimic the body’s own immune system. Hypochlorous Acid is a weak acid that is released by cells of the immune system to kill bacteria.

It is antibacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal, as well as being very effective at breaking down the cell wall of bacteria and killing the bacteria internally. It is safe to be ingested as it is naturally occurring in the body and is non-irritating.

What Does It Do?

There are a number of great qualities of the Effivet Sprays, I have listed them below:

  • Kills a wide range of germs
  • No rinsing required & horses can ingest safely
  • Suitable for, wound cleaning, dermal cleansing, relief from scratching, skin scrapes, insect bites, burns or scalds, kills fungal organisms to name a few
  • Hydrogel sticks to the site where it is applied which allows the hypochlorus acid get into the wounds or cuts
  • Hydrogel lubricated the wounds and acts as a barrier from dirt or from a general horse environment
  • Both products are dermatologically tested as suitable for sensitive skin (This i can confirm as Dante has the worlds most sensitive skin type!)

I am sure there are some points I have missed but more information is available on their website

How Do You Use It?

There is not much to explain about the how of using the Effivet spray. There are two different nozzle settings, one for spraying & one for shooting.

To clean the would, always use the Effivet Farm Liquid spray first, this cleans the infected area & prevents any further infections.

Once the area is clean, spray the Efficvet Hydrogel (this is a spray also not a gel as I thought!) There is no need to rub this in, it gets absorbed into the affected area so allowing it to dry naturally is all you need to do.

An important fact to note, If your horse decides to lick at the gel or liquid it is completely safe, it will not harm your horse!

My Thoughts on The Product

Well, as you all have seen from our Instagram stories, Dante’s back legs were riddled with what I thought was dirt. This was in fact Smegma from his “Bits” brushing onto his back legs. In certain parts it left quite the trail of filth, leading to hair loss in parts & if left longer I would say it would have grown into quite the infection. This is where I was left for weeks on end searching for a product that would help clean the infection, and get rid of any lasting germs that where there in order for me to keep his back legs, his willy & himself in good clean conditions.

This is where the Effivet stepped in. Using the Farm Liquid spray, I cleaned out the infected areas, on one leg in particular he seemed to react a little bit to the spray being put on, but the nozzle on the bottle allows you to either spray up close or from a distance, this helped massively. It also meant that I didn’t get a kick to the face! This spray effectively cleaned the areas of infection & helped stop more infection from arising.

I won’t lie for the first 2 days, I didn’t realise what the hydrogel was for or that they needed to be used in sync. I am sure they also work perfectly fine used separately, but for the purpose of the review I decided it would be better to use both efficiently!

So…. After applying the Farm Liquid spray, I then applied the Farm Hydrogel. You again use the spray nozzle to spray it onto the affected areas. Allowing this to dry naturally was perfect, it meant that when I finished riding, I could put the spray on and was could go straight home!

It wasn’t until Day 4 that I started seeing some noticeable results to his back legs. The spray really helped to clear & lift up the grim on his back legs. This also meant that I was able to properly see what damage the long lasting Smegma on his legs had been doing.

A few examples of his legs, we still have a bit to go! But great progress so far.

I have been using the sprays for over 4 weeks now & I can safely say that the difference in his back legs is great. I am Delighted that there is no infections and although the cleanness of his back legs will be something I will always need to have to upkeep it is good to know that having both these sprays will help keep any infections at bay!

Both products definitely delivered with what they said they would do, & whilst I used them quite frequently over the last 4 weeks, both bottles seem very full still, so a little goes a long way with them.

I have since used both sprays on small cuts Dante has gotten to clean them out and then to let then heal over. This stuff is great, highly reccommend!

Purchase Details

Both of these fabulous products are available to purchase from Ladychapel Stores in Maynooth, Co.Kildare. The cost of the Effivet Farm Liquid is €19 & the Effivet Farm Hydrogel is €20.

If you have any further questions, be sure to ask Mark or Clodagh, they have a wealth of knowledge! They also have a wide selection of PlusVital products available instore.

Opening hours of Ladychapel Stores are form 9am – 3pm Monday – Saturday.

If you have gotten this far on my review, thank you for reading! I think both these products are definite bonus items in my grooming kit & something I am super glad I mistakenly came across.

If you have any other questions, or would like any further details be sure to drop me a message & I will help you as best as I can. Be sure to follow Plusvital over on Instagram to keep upto date on everything they do!

And if any of you out there have horses who suffer from the “Smegma Legs” like Dante or have gone through the ordeal of clearing it like I have done, my fellow blogger Natalie O’Keeffe of Inside Track Eventing gave me a great tip in containing the spread & to stop any future mishaps, rub pig oil on your horses back legs! This prevents anything from sticking keeping your horses legs Grime free!

Thanks for Reading,