Friday, 24 August 2018

Dinah Discusses - Pony Club Camp

Equine extra’s new contributor has been warmly welcomed, with her experience, wit and wisdom giving an entertaining insight into the life of a semi-retired, very successful competition mare.
Dinah is 19 years old now, still a ‘full up’ 16.1hh and immaculately turned out for all occasions. A beautiful, rich liver chestnut with an attractive full mane and tail, she loves the fact that she can still turn heads and strut her stuff in the arena. A veteran of all three affiliated competition disciplines, Dinah knows a thing or two but absolutely refuses to tolerate unbalanced riders – even on a hack – but she’s rather fond of the gawping youngsters who regularly spook into her whenever they see a dragon!
Her stable is a room with a view and her paddock allows unrestricted observation of all the comings and goings in the busy yard as befits her status. This week Dinah observes ...The Pony Club Camp!

If I was ever given the choice of coming back to this world for a re-run, I think I would choose to come back as the much beloved 12.2hh pony of a 10 year old little girl. One who was a member of a large Pony Club Branch and who enjoyed all that entailed.
Last week we were invaded by just that, hordes of ponies of every colour and type and hordes of little girls (plus some boys) for their annual Pony Club Camp.

The invasion started quietly enough with the arrival of dozens of trailers driven by some stressed looking Mums. They had that look of near exhaustion, of having been up since the crack of dawn trying to organise just what might be needed at Camp and in the end putting everything bar the kitchen sink in, now realising they have to now unpack it all and that they had in fact forgotten two girths and a martingale.

I decided it was a picture of complete but happy chaos, with small children running up and down the yard looking to find if their pony was going to be next door to their’ bestie’, of tiny people trying to lug giant tack boxes and buckets, invariably to the wrong places and then sitting down in a sulk and refusing to help the now even more frazzled Mum to settle in their pony.

Goodness knows how the mothers of siblings coped. I imagine it is a total logistical nightmare where either large quantities of alcohol and/or tray bakes of rocky road are a must to help ease the week along. That probably explained why I could hear what I’ve learned is the clink of the odd wine bottle, hidden discreetly amongst a bag of spare jodhpurs and underwear; they apparently call it a little something to help numb the senses at the end of the day for those Mums brave enough to have volunteered to stay overnight.

But what FUN these little troopers and their ponies had over the following week. The sound of riotous laughter was a daily occurrence. Usually following some poor unsuspecting person falling into a pile of poo or strangely becoming soaked by water. I was soon reminded that water still plays a vital role at camp, as it always has. Water fights, with or without slides, being the main source of amusement at the end of every day. That explained the copious quantities of ‘spare clothes’ required.

The actual riding activities looked great too; there seemed to be lots of galloping about in wide open fields and not always under the strictest control of the ever-so patient and mostly smiling, albeit through sometimes gritted teeth, instructors. When I and my turnout pals joined in, we were definitely NOT popular because those ponies with a sense of humour immediately gate-crashed our party and things were a bit too exciting briefly. I just stuck my head in the grass and wandered off ...

Next day they were in the arena in groups and there always seemed to be ‘that’ child who had selective hearing. The one who never heard “take the grid in trot” – who charged at said grid like ‘The Light Brigade’ leaving the Instructor turning a very of strange colour of grey and speaking in a voice that had gone up a squeak or two.

It seems to take a special type of Instructor to last the three to five days of Pony Club Camp. Many fall by the wayside suffering a variety of ailments. Usually sunstroke with dehydration, brought on by the fear of taking too much fluid on board so that their bladders might not last the duration of the riding sessions – Portaloos are a scarce commodity out in the farthest-flung fields but I still don’t understand why humans need a small box???

In previous years here, some instructors have succumbed to what they call “hypothermia with trench foot” at those rainy camps, but not this year! Also sudden attacks of Laryngitis are common, especially to those who have a troop of would-be Pony Racers. Most instructors though are a hardy bunch who always seem to thoroughly enjoy the whole week. Rising to the challenge of keeping all things ‘PC’, Health and Safety aware and most of all, everyone from parents and Committee members  to children and ponies happy.

Yes, it was a delightful week to observe, so much love and enthusiasm that only ‘horsey’ folk will understand. It seemed, as it always does, that each and every one just immersed themselves into the joy that is a child and their pony. Roll on next year’s Camp - and can I join The Pony Club please?

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Thursday, 23 August 2018

Who Pays For Your Hobby?

Go to any showjumping fixture and its absolutely certain that someone will be overheard complaining about the prize money before the first class is even finished. Eventers are not as focused on the subject and dressage riders apparently even less so. As a topic of conversation, it's disappointingly prevalent and drawing on the years of experience of  Organisers and Secretaries at competitions in all of the major disciplines, showjumpers are reported to place more emphasis on prize money than on many other important aspect of a show.

However, for amateurs, isn't riding and competiting horses or ponies generally just a hobby? Days jobs enable us all to earn money and you can choose to spend what's left of your earnings, after life's essential bills are paid, on your hobbies.

If your hobby happens to be fell walking or fishing, you'll pay out for equipment, travel, clothing and whatever else is needed - but no-one would expect prize money for being faster to the top of your chosen peak than any or walker on the footpath that day. Perhaps you go sailing - and you have either bought your own boat or you hire one - either way, you pay for your hobby, not someone else.

So how is it that some riders have adopted the thinking that someone else, generally called a 'sponsor', should pay for them to enjoy their hobby?

If you make your living as a full-time professional rider, then you undoubtedly have a business plan and you'll know what things costs and how much income you need to earn from clients who use your services. The successful professionals don't rely on prize money to make a living, but they do benefit from sometimes generous sponsorships at large events where sponsors can ensure a return on their sponsorship investment with brand and product exposure to large audiences of potential customers.

For the majority of riders, who are after all amateurs enjoying competitions as a leisure activity, expecting to go home with financial 'break-even' or 'profit' if you're successful is quite frankly unrealistic. Horses, horseboxes and all the essential kit costs real £££, if not ££££ - and if you sat down and worked it all out, 50 quid in prize money is neither here nor there. At smaller fixtures in particular, where numbers are mimimal, commercial support will at best be nominal.  - altruistic cheque books are not so easily found as in the past.

So if horses and competitions are your hobby and the Bank of Mum and Dad is not your benefactor, just smile and pay up what it costs - you might even find it all even more enjoyable.

What do you think?



Thursday, 9 August 2018

Dinah Discusses - The Challenges of Hacking Out!


Equine extra’s regular contributor has been warmly welcomed, with her experience, wit and wisdom giving an entertaining insight into the life of a semi-retired, very successful competition mare.

Dinah is 19 years old now, still a ‘full up’ 16.1hh and immaculately turned out for all occasions. A beautiful, rich liver chestnut with an attractive full mane and tail, she loves the fact that she can still turn heads and strut her stuff in the arena. A veteran of all three affiliated competition disciplines, Dinah knows a thing or two but absolutely refuses to tolerate unbalanced riders – even on a hack – but she’s rather fond of the gawping youngsters who regularly spook into her whenever they see a dragon!

Her stable is a room with a view and her paddock allows unrestricted observation of all the comings and goings in the busy yard as befits her status. This week Dinah observes ...The Challenges of Hacking Out!
 
There’s nothing I enjoy more than being tacked up for a hack out. I don’t even mind having to don the fluorescent array of compulsory Hi-Viz. I have quite a fetching wardrobe now of boots, exercise sheets, martingales and more, as do my stable mates. So when I do venture out onto the roads I can be seen from space, which sometimes seems a bit over the top. However going by the amount of ‘near misses’ we have from the many maniacs who speed about our country lanes, often using the excuse that they are delivering our Amazon and  Asda shopping, it is very much a necessity.

Recently I went out on a very entertaining hack out with two of our younger horses, one being a very opinionated racehorse, who is I am told, being ‘retrained’. Dare I say his new owner, a lady of mature years whose physique couldn’t be further from a jockey, will have her hands full. My other hacking companion was the polar opposite to Speedy Gonzales, a little Section B, who spent most of her life in the show-ring. A fine trio we looked and a potentially dangerous combination.

Any gate we went through which lead to an open field was “right, we’re off“ and  Speedy Gonzales proceeded to shoot off at nought to sixty in less than a nano-second. A full tilt gallop, accompanied by a cheeky side step at a terrifying mole hill left his rider clinging on for grim death, desperately trying to regain her composure and ...stirrups. Of course, I had to show some restraint and obediently canter around the sides of the field trying to show my pony companion that no we don’t gallop as if we were in the 2.30 at Haydock and no we don’t throw a paddy when we get to the next gate and find it locked and have to retrace our route at the same headlong gallop.
(Listening to the ‘craic’, it seems that Speedy Gonzales may well find himself being sent back to the racetrack as his rider was rendered a gibbering, wailing wreck by the time we got back to the yard.)

To most of my equine friends though, hacking out is a quiet and pleasurable experience, a time to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of our stunning countryside. It’s an opportunity for our riders to amble along having a good gossip, putting the world to rights and having a moan at how expensive our livery is. It is after all one of the perks to owning a horse; the ability to get away from the school, the flatwork, the learning of dressage tests – all the more boring bits.

Yes, sometimes our tranquillity is shattered by the rudeness of a herd of inquisitive cattle, who seem to take great delight in charging up to the fence with such gusto that most of us horses (and our riders) get a really splendid shock – I’ve often wondered if cattle have a sense of humour! Anyone know?

That we also have to endure the silent assassins, mostly MAMILs (aka middle-aged men in lycra) who call themselves cyclists and creep up silently behind us, again sending some of us into the ditch or thorn dyke. Then let’s not forget  hose dear motorists who still think that horses on the road are an inconvenience to their hectic lives, so they never slow down and hardly ever ‘pass wide’. These things are sent to try us – but let’s not allow them to spoil what is still a very treasured time for both horse and rider.

Happy Hacking everyone!

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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Expectations; Why They Underpin Every Successful Equine Business


There are two sides to ‘expectations’ and you’ll need to know about both if your equine business is to be successful.

(C) - all rights reserved
The first of these is your expectations
When you planned your business, hopefully you determined there was a need for your product or service.  Then once you were convinced there was a market, you researched to ensure the market was large enough in potential to make your business a success.  Finally, you were convinced you could reach your market in an economical way.

Armed with your ‘market information’, you set some goals for your business… your first of many expectations. Once you’ve set goals (expectations) you need to track your progress toward reaching them. The key now to your success is ‘not to be attached to your expectations.’  Attachment always causes disappointment.

Whether you are on track to reach your goals within a specified period of time or not should be nothing more than information… not failure or success… just information. If you are attached to your goals, and you are on track to reach them, you’ll begin to coast.  Self-confident and smug, your success will soon become your failure. If you are not on track to reach your goals, you’ll be depressed and stubbornly try to make what you are currently doing work better.

By being attached to your expectations, reached or not, you are not opening your mind to ‘change’, which is constant and must be ridden to success.  If you are not changing and improving constantly, you will be left behind and failure is the only possible outcome.
Having expectations is fine, so long as they are just guides and goals towards success. Being attached to expectations makes you and your business rigid and blind to new information and new desires within your market.

The second side of ‘expectations’ is what is expected by your market
Your customers believe that what you are offering - a horse, horse equipment, feed, or a service to them and their horse, such as training - will satisfy one or more of their desires.  They are actually purchasing from you, the ‘potential’ to achieve their dreams.
As much as you don’t want to be attached to your expectations, you can however be certain your clients will all be attached to theirs! In making an offer to satisfy your market’s desire, you must say what you mean and mean what you say.  Anything less in today’s equine sector and you’ll be out of business tomorrow.

We have become somewhat used to the idea that the car we buy is going to break down, the mobile phone is going to have ‘dead zones’, and our computer is going to crash.  We’ve become used to the idea that what is promised is not exactly what we are going to get.  But as used to those ideas as we’ve become, we still ‘expect’ to get what we were promised - and those businesses that don’t deliver soon become extinct.   Want examples? How about US car makers, big department stores and newspapers.

Today, it is the businesses that do deliver what we want survive… foreign car makers that build models to last and provide good mileage… niche stores that have the exact style we want, internet sites (like Equine extra) that provide ‘instant’ news and ‘in-depth’ features, plus social networking and chat contact with like-minded friends.

Whatever your business, you can’t do more to make it successful than to meet your market’s expectations.  If you say you can train the horse to be a champion, it had better become a champion… if you say your livery yard feeds horses correctly, they had better have plenty of hay all the time… if you say your equipment will last a lifetime, it had better be around next year.
If you can’t deliver, don’t say it.

Say instead what you can deliver… a well-trained horse you’ll enjoy riding, a livery yard in which you’ll feel confident leaving your horse, equipment that will help you get the job done.

Remember - whilst you don’t want to be attached to your expectations, you can always be certain your customers are attached to theirs.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Dinah Discusses ... The Prancing New Show Jumping Trainer

Equine extra’s new contributor has been warmly welcomed, with her experience, wit and wisdom giving an entertaining insight into the life of a semi-retired, very successful competition mare. Meet Dinah...

Dinah is 19 years old now, still a ‘full up’ 16.1hh and immaculately turned out for all occasions. A beautiful, rich liver chestnut with an attractive full mane and tail, she loves the fact that she can still turn heads and strut her stuff in the arena. A veteran of all three affiliated competition disciplines, Dinah knows a thing or two but absolutely refuses to tolerate unbalanced riders – even on a hack – but she’s rather fond of the gawping youngsters who regularly spook into her whenever they see a dragon!

Her stable is a room with a view and her paddock allows unrestricted observation of all the comings and goings in the busy yard as befits her status. This week Dinah observes ...

The Prancing New Show Jumping Trainer

I knew something was in the diary yesterday because the yard was bustling, I was given breakfast early, the car park was nearly full and there was an awful lot of grooming and titivating going on .... and that was just the livery owners! I have rarely seen such a sparkly array of breeches, boots and bridles..... 'Bling' was everywhere. (Not my cup of tea I hasten to add as I am definitely a ‘less is more’ type of gal!).

I hadn’t got past wondering what was happening, when my question was answered by the sound of the jump trailer rattling down into the arena, which I could just see over my door had the NEW show jumps on. Back it came a bit later, removing our somewhat tatty resident show jumps. Now I was hoping they’d turn me out so I'd be able to watch whoever was going to attempt to jump these new show jumps – I was in need of a good laugh.

Well, my prayers were answered and out I went, just in time to witness the arrival of our new and very flamboyant-looking show jumping trainer. I say flamboyant because I had rarely seen that colour of hair and hairstyle, nor the cut and colour of breeches – on a man. Blimey oh Riley, where had they found this one? Certainly not on the cover of International Horsey News!

After a quick shuffle of the jumps and some poles, he then proceeded to attach a 'thingamajig' to his left ear, which I soon found out was a bit of technology that allowed us ALL to hear him .....  amplified.  What a racket I thought - and well, it will certainly get the fizzy fizzing!

The keen and obviously excited first lot of riders and their horses came in for their group lesson. Russell they called him -  hmmmm the nam suited him - and he started by spending what seemed an age discussing the things he wanted to see. Not all the horses were that keen to stand still though, so their riders probably missed a lot if it! The jumps were duly set at the height requested by the riders and he, rather disdainfully I thought, began to stride out what he thought might be more challenging related distances through some of the fences.  Obviously a ‘metre 30’ type of trainer, it was easy to work out that anything below a metre was literally beneath him – in every respect.

I wish I could describe the look of sheer terror that gradually came over the riders as their much-anticipated session progressed – watched by an entourage of connections and other riders. No amount of sequins on their jumping jodphurs was going to impress the prancing little Russell. He watched the group warm up, made a few critical remarks and then asked the first rider to ‘pop round’ the course he had designed. I couldn’t tear myself away to eat any grass – which doesn’t happen often in my life!

What a disaster – I felt quite sorry for her and her horse. There was a lot of ‘cat-leaping’ and grunting as they threw themselves around the course. In fact I thought the rider did well to remain on board as her horse was obviously not confident.

Oh dear though, his lofty opinion was delivered somewhat dripping in sarcasm. (Mother always told me that sarcasm was “the lowest form of wit"). As she rode some of the fences again, he continued without much positive encouragement, to the point where I doubted the rider now felt 50 quid of her hard earned cash was being spent wisely and even regretted not spending it on a bottle of Cava and a good night out with her mates instead.

Nevertheless, I must say that I was thoroughly entertained for virtually the whole day watching these brave souls – just a few essential grazing breaks when the groups changed over. Some were better than others, a few even got a compliment from ‘Mr Russell Prancer’ but overall there was a definite air of mild resentment come the end of his clinic. I also heard later that there were double the entries for the following week’s DRESSAGE competition.

The new show jumps were duly removed from the arena and I haven’t seen them since. Guess he won't be back any time soon then.

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Thursday, 5 July 2018

Equine extra's Big Test; Fly Repellents, Rugs & Masks

Flying here, flying there causing annoyance and biting wherever they go!! I’m sure you all know what we’ve been trialling for this issue of Equine extra’s Big Test – yes you’re correct, fly repellent accoutrements. From sprays to gel and masks to rugs we’ve covered most bases to keep our equine friends from being attacked.

Pesky Fly Removers!!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Nettex – Fly Repellent Advanced

The company says: An extra strength spray which offers long-lasting repellency from biting insects, flies and midges and which is ideal for all horses and ponies and particularly useful for those kept near ponds, streams and waterways, where flying pest populations are much higher. This D.E.E.T based high strength formula contains added moisturisers and conditioners, which help to reduce evaporation and also help to control the release of the active ingredients, therefore just one application may give your horse fly repellency for up to 72 hours. RRP: £10.22 for 250ml, £16.47 for 500ml, £49.97 for 2L, £103.10 for 5L. www.nettexequine.com
Our tester, Clare Chappelhow, says: I have found this to be the most effective fly repellent of any I have tried, so it is definitely one for the tack box at home and away. It was used on a broodmare who can be so irritated by midges and flies that she will start to rub, but so far this has made her a much happier horse. It has proved successful too with the riding horses in the show/dressage ring when you definitely don’t want an agitated horse. We have a field which has a watering hole in it that seems to attract insects, so it was used on the horses there too and none were bothered by flies when they were drinking, which I call a result. So, it has been used on a variety of horses, spraying as required, sometimes just once a week and some every few days. Easy to use & effective, what more do you need? 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
JHL – Essential Combo Fly Rug
The company says: New, economically priced, and manufactured in a breathable, tight weave mesh fabric. Features double front buckles with hook and loop neck fastenings, removable leg straps, cross surcingles and tail flap. Colours: Blue. Sizes: 5’6 – 7’0. RRP: £29.99. www.wefi.co.uk
Our tester, Barbara Clarkson, says: This is a good quality horse wardrobe basic.  Made out of a soft narrow weave net it keeps flies away from the horse whilst grazing or as I've also done, when used in the stable.  It is cool for the horse to wear and breathes well.  A light but bright shade of pale blue, it seems unattractive to our midges, which is great.  The sheet itself is not quite as deep as I'd have liked in the body and could have been wider through the chest but is perfectly adequate, as is the neck cover which could have been slightly more generous in length, however it works well. The rug length was true to size.  I've used it on a light/middleweight eventer so not a large framed horse. The front buckles are slightly heavy in style for the fabric but they haven't caused a problem.  Repeated laundering has not caused any unwanted deterioration in the quality of the fabric and the satin protection strips have remained intact.  Hard wear in the field hasn't proved detrimental either and the sheet withstood kicks and pulls from other horses' playful field antics very well.  All in all a good piece of kit to have.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Flyaway: Max Strength Fly & Midge Repellent Spray
The company says: Strongest ever natural formula offering protection against flying and biting insects. Contains natural Citronella Oil. Proven to be effective. Outperforms chemical alternatives. HSE approved for safety & effectiveness. Contains no substances listed on FEI banned list. 500ml; 1ltr & 2.5ltr refill. RRP: £12.50 - £30.00. www.horseware.com
Our tester, Emma Woolley, says: I can’t rate this fly spray highly enough. We’ve tried it on so many different horses and I can definitely say it works! One of our chestnut mares is particularly prone to getting terrible fly bites, which can be a problem especially if they’re on the saddle area. So we used this on her. We turned her out without fly spray and she suffered bites, but happily when we used this on her she was absolutely fine. This was enough to convince me and we’ll certainly ensure we always have some now.


HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
WeatherBeeta - ComFiTec Airflow Mask
The company says: Soft durable polyester mesh mask with adjustable touch tape closure for ultimate fit. Colours: Grey/Blue/Grey or White/Sea Green/Pink. Sizes: Pony, Cob, Full. RRP: £14.99. www.weatherbeeta.co.uk
Our tester, Jon Fletcher, says: This mask has been very easy to fit and has a strong adjustable, touch tape fastening, meaning it can also be removed quickly if needed.
My horses range from 15.2 to 16.2 and are of light/medium build; the cob size fitted them all well and looks very neat. It does an excellent job of keeping flies out of the eyes and ears, while still giving them good visibility and not interfering with their eyes. Washes well and dries quickly and is made of a durable material.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Cavalor - FlyLess
The company says: A highly effective insect repellent spray which protects horse and rider. It contains the active ingredient icaridin, a proven deterrent against horseflies, flies, mosquitoes, ticks and other insects. It is effective for up to 10 hours for humans and up to 24 hours for horses. The non-sticky, non-greasy formula is gentle on the skin and won’t stain clothing. RRP: £24.00 (500ml). www.zebraproducts.co.uk – for stockist details
Our tester, Pam Harrison, says: This was tested on two horses, one very attractive to biting insects, the other not so affected and both were comfortable in the paddock through the day and in the stables during the ‘midgy’ evening period. It’s quite strong smelling, so it’s easy to assess whether it’s still on the coat after a few hours. It was definitely evident on cloudy days, but on hot sunny days it didn’t seem to last quite as long, but that’s hardly a surprise.
It didn’t leave a residue in the coat and the spray was tolerated by both horses without any problem – definitely one for turnout and also competition days as it does last.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Equith̬me РSweet Itch Sheet
The company says: Made from soft, 100% tightly weaved polyester to prevent even the smallest of insects coming through. Protection from UV rays for horses with sensitive skin is also guaranteed plus the rug is extremely dense, absorbent and vents away any sweat whilst still being comfortable for the horse to wear. Offering a close fit to the horse’s body and providing coverage from neck to tail and under the belly, this sheet is an essential for your horse’s summer rug wardrobe. The sheet is secured with adjustable elastic straps with PVC clips between the rear legs and around the belly and neck. Features include zips on the horse’s back and a hook and clip anchoring system on the girth straps that interlock with the sheet so that the rug remains in position during the horse’s antics in the field. Colours: Light Grey, Black/White Zebra design and Brown. Sizes: 4’9 to 6’9. RRP: £52.90.www.equitheme.co.uk
Our tester, Terri Graham, says: A very well constructed rug which covers pretty much all of the horse with a reasonable amount of room for comfort. The very fine, but fairly durable material, stops even the smallest bugs having a meal from your horse. It has head, neck, body, belly, rump and tail coverage, hasn't rubbed shoulders or face but has reduced irritation and stress from flies and midges. I do wish the manufacturer had included a fitting map in the very efficient zip bag the rug came in though, as it was like assembling a flat pack - but for an impatient horse; suffice to say the humour wore thin! Also as a thought but probably not practical, but why not have a zip closure for head and neck so much easier to get on than trying to roll up over the head and pull down the neck. Not an easy task on a tall three year old! However, after saying all that, the rug didn't overheat the horse and came in a really dark colour. Washed well, dried easily, off early a.m. back on to go out p.m. Not bulky and rolls up into its neat round storage bag. A very efficient addition to the war on bugs and comfort for the horse.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Wildwash - PRO Flea & Bug Repellent for Horse & Dogs
The company says: For this product ingredients have been chosen from four continents that have been selected as the most effective insect repelling botanicals in their country of origin. By combining these together, the company has created an effective natural Flea and Bug Repellent for horses and dogs. The revolutionary blend of plants and herbs uses ingredients such as Peppermint and Lavender which work together to help deter fleas, flies, mites and ticks. Apply freely to skin and coat to deter fleas, flies, mites, ticks and mosquitoes. Use as often as necessary. Avoid contact with eyes. 300ml. RRP: £14.95. www.wildwash.co.uk
Our tester, Susan Lacey, says: Finally a fly repellent that actually works, so yes I’m really impressed with this.  Smells really nice and it’s easy to apply and I never had any problems with the spray nozzle, unlike other products. Worked really well against midges - this has been tested on my horses, also on humans including baby, great as all natural no harmful products so no irritation to anybody. I have one bottle which permanently lives in the pram so I have it wherever we go, much to everybody’s relief. Would I go out and buy this product myself YES also would really highly recommend to others. PS. It’s great on dogs too!!

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDEDTop of Form
Noble Outfitters – Guardsman Fly Mask
The company says: Made from heavy duty UV coated mesh to fight wear and tear and featuring a contoured nose to prevent insect penetration, plus the removable nose attachment is also UPF 25+ protected. Flex Spline Technology creates a canopy away from horses eyes and the heavy-duty UV coated mesh is built to last with Anti-rub guard rip stop protection. Practicality is matched with luxury as the fly mask also benefits from a fleece lining on the crown and nose to ensure maximum comfort for your horse. Colours: Black and Gold. Sizes: S-XXL (see size chart on website). RRP: around £29.95. www.nobleoutfitters.co.uk
Our tester, Chris Grant, says: This arrived just in time for the arrival of the flies and has been a god send for one of our ponies who is really agitated by them. Having never thought to buy a fly mask before I am now beginning to wonder why? Once you get over your pony rocking the ‘space raider’ look, it is an excellent product and brilliantly made. The first thing I liked is that the mask fits without a headcollar and has a superb design giving maximum coverage of the pony’s face. It fastens securely under the horse’s jowl with ample room still for jaw movement. It is cleverly made to give a canopy over the eyes preventing any rubbing and still allowing maximum vision. The mesh is heavy duty giving it great durability and is cleverly made with UV protection. Its other great feature is the removable nose, giving you the choice of the extra coverage or not. On the whole a great product and a useful one to have about for the fly hating horse.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Flyaway – Max Strength Fly & Midge Gel
The company says: Strongest ever natural formula offering the ultimate protection against flying and biting insects. Contains natural Citronella Oil. Outperforms chemical alternatives. Safe for you, your horse & the environment. HSE approved for safety & effectiveness. Contains no substances listed on FEI banned list. 500ml. RRP: £16.75. www.horseware.com
Our tester, Rachel Thomas, says: What a nice way to apply fly repellent. The gel smelled pleasant and was easy to use, and it does seem to last, obviously depending on how much you use!! It does seem to help with the fight against flies, although I do have to say for all over coverage I prefer the spray as it’s a lot easier to apply and covers a bigger area. However, this was extremely good for using in the ears and around and along the tummy line, where flies seem to attack the most! A handy pot to have around.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Masta – Fieldmasta Fly Rug
The company says: The clever dome neck helps to prevent mane loss as it takes pressure off the mane, and increases air circulation to prevent the hair follicles becoming starved of oxygen and consequently falling out. 1200D waterproof/breathable ripstop polyester along top line to protect against summer showers. A durable fly mesh lower section gives protection against flies whilst encouraging air flow. Memory foam sections at the wither relieve pressure, whilst pass through surcingles at the belly prevent the rug from being pulled tight behind the elbow and in front of the stifle. Full chest adjustment to fit perfectly to your horse then fastens with easy quick clips. Tri vent shoulder gusset for an enhanced fit, freedom of movement and prevention of shoulder rub. The tri vent fits above the point of shoulder and articulates with the horse’s movement. Anti-rub lining which promotes a clean and shiny coat. Silver. Sizes: 4’6-7’3. RRP: £115.00. www.harryhall.com
Our tester, Ben Hobday, says: I have to say that I have been really impressed with this rug. When I first saw it I didn’t really think it looked like a standard fly rug, however the differences have been totally beneficial. It has a fixed neck which I much prefer and, as well as this, it has extended material over the crest of the neck to avoid tightness and mane rubbing. This means it sits nicely on the crest without slipping down therefore giving the horses freedom to move their necks. There are two clip fastenings at the front of the chest with the options of tightening them via buckles as well as two metal hooks that are quick and easy to clip on to. The rug has crossed belly straps that loop through a rubber slot allowing the sides to hang down and cover the body rather that folding up tight to the belly. It also has adjustable leg straps that cross between the back legs and which are easy to clip on. A tail flap protects against any tail rubbing. One of the main highlight of this rug is that it is waterproof so it can deal with a quick change in weather. This is fantastic for us as we have a busy yard, so when there is a downpour we don’t panic and have to bring the horse in. The rug also boats a fly mesh section along the bottom which not only keeps the flies at bay but also keeps the horse cool. As the rug is slightly heavier due to the waterproof fabric, this mesh section just lightens it up and makes it more breathable. This is a rug that pulls out all the stops and more. It covered all the weathers thrown at us these summer months to date and because of this it is a MUST HAVE.



VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
leovet – Power Phaser
The company says: The Spray offers absolute protection against all insects and horse flies. An optimised blend of active ingredients guarantees stay-off effect and long-lasting effectiveness for up to 7 hours. Due to the use of a stay-on polymer, the long-term technology ensures permanent adhesion and a guaranteed effect even when the horse sweats. The strong repelling effect results from a special combination of the in-house fragrance formula with two active ingredients whose capabilities have been proven in multiple tests. Despite its powerful reputation it is gentle on the skin even for sensitive horses.  500ml. RRP £18.99
The Durative is an insect repellent gel with an especially high concentration of active natural ingredients which protect the horse against mosquitoes, horse flies, flies and ticks, even during perspiration. This fly repellent gel gives the fullest in protection thanks to a 10% concentration of active ingredients for up to 7 hours. The sponge included allows the gel to be applied easily even onto sensitive areas, without soiling the hands. Despite its powerful reputation it is gentle on the skin even for sensitive horses. 500ml. RRP: £18.99. www.agrihealth.ie
Our tester, Paul Malone, says: When I mentioned to colleagues that I was lucky enough to have been allocated these products to test, I was met with jealousy from all! It seems to be acknowledged that this is the only fly repellent that actually works and in my experience, I would absolutely agree. For those not already in the know, this stuff really does the job well, and tends to stay effective even when horses sweat during the warmer months. It seems that the people from leovet know one of the horses I’ve been schooling since the turn of the year... He’s more than a little sensitive and objects to sprays. So, the pot of gel plus sponge made life much easier and allowed a liberal application of fly repellent with minimal fuss! Both the spray and the gel are incredibly easy to apply – both go on with absolute minimal effort. I must also remark that a little really goes a long way. I’ve not found it at all necessary to apply this very liberally like some other fly repellents which can sometimes result in false economy. A sparing application does the job very effectively and seems to stay put sufficiently long whilst turned out.
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 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Carr Day Martin – Flygard Extra Strength
The company says: Contains an optimum level of 20% DEET for powerful, long-lasting protection against midges and biting insects. Get the perfect coverage and ultimate protection, even in hard to reach areas, using the new Equimist 360 technology. 600ml. RRP: £16.75. www.carrdaymartin.co.uk
Our tester, Caroline Mosley, says: My horses hate sprays so I was pleased that this wasn't so noisy to upset them. The new design of spray means you squeeze the trigger and it delivers a slow stream so you don’t have to repeatedly pump the trigger therefore it’s so much quieter to use.  The smell is also not overpowering, which is a problem I find when using it in a horsebox on a hot day as it makes the horse end up honking, but this was just fine.  I didn't notice any flies when using it so it worked, and didn't leave a residue. I would purchase this again.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
Horze - Freja Combo Fly Sheet
The company says: Protect your horse from summer's worst insects with this complete fly sheet combo set. The full coverage includes a belly guard and a detachable hood. These add-ons offer complete protection from both UV rays and insects. UV protection and cool mesh fabric make this sheet ideal for hot summer days of peaceful grazing. The front double T-buckle closures, belly surcingles, oversize tail flap, leg straps and wide hook-and-loop fasteners at the neck keep this sheet securely in place. Sizes: 115cm-165cm. RRP: £68.99. www.horze.co.uk
Our tester, Caroline Powell, says: The fly sheet was delivered in the nick of time as the clegs arrived in force and we were able to use it to its full potential. There was a feeling of durability when picking it up for the first time, the strong mesh poly fabric which keeps the flies and the UV rays at bay. Its touch tape fastening and t-clips are of a sturdy quality and were complemented with a blue and white webbing which was sensible weight for the poly fabric. The shoulders had a very generous gusset which was satin-lined helping keep my pet hate away (shoulder rubs) the oversized tail guard also adds to the protection from flies while the detachable neck rug (also satin lined) meant the rug really did give full body coverage. The sheet held a lovely shape when we put it on the horses and was adjustable enough to cover a huge range of shapes and sizes. It gave me the confidence it was going to stay in place and do its job for a considerable time.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
NAF Off - Deet Power Performance
The company says: When you need all day protection against flies and insect menace look no further. This powerful, long lasting, effective protection against flies, horse flies and insect menace is easy to apply by spraying evenly over the body.  Deet is renowned for being the world’s best known repellent which is why we give you this fully registered and approved fly repellent to ensure you and your horse get the most out of the warmer months. Liquid or Gel form. RRP’s: 750ml spray - £17.50; 2.5l refill - £33.50; 5l refill - £63.99; 750g - £16.50. www.naf-equine.eu/uk
Our tester, Gail Smith, says: I must admit to being very impressed with this product. Most fly sprays I’ve tried over the years don’t seem to do much and the horses come in with bites all over them. This, however, seemed to do the trick from the beginning as they weren’t covered in fly bites when I brought them in from the field. I put it on in the morning and they came in at teatime, still without any bites which was wonderful. This means it is long lasting which is important. It is in a very easy to use container which sprays out evenly so they get an even covering of the product. It smells pleasant enough too and is good value for money. I will be continuing to use this fly spray in the future as it did such a great job.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
WeatherBeeta - ComFiTec Airflow Fly Rug
The company says: Soft durable polyester mesh with belly wrap and full wrap tail flap for premium protection and elastic insert at wither for additional comfort when grazing. Ezi-Clip front closure, traditional side gusset for freedom of movement, 210T nylon lined shoulders, mane and tail flap and elasticated, adjustable and removable leg straps. Grey/Blue/Grey & White/Sea Green/Pink. Sizes: 4’0 to 7’3. RRP: £77.99. www.weatherbeeta.co.uk
Our tester, Val Williams, says: This really is a lovely well-made fly rug. Constructed using a soft but durable mesh, with a belly and full tail wrap to provide full protection for your horse. Another good point to mention is that there is an elastic insert in the wither so it makes the rug comfortable when grazing. One of the things that I found most helpful is the Ezi-clip front closure which is great and very simple and, yes Ezi, to use. It has elasticated adjustable leg straps and a side gusset for freedom of movement.  There are nylon lined shoulders which stops those awful rub marks plus the tail flap is also nylon lined which does stop the top of the tail being rubbed too. Last but not least, the most important bit…it kept the horse midge and fly free, so as well as being great-looking it does the job it was intended for too. All in all this is a high quality rug and great value to boot.