Competition & Events

    The Importance Of Rider Safety As We Head Into Spring

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    March 25th, 2017 marks the National Equestrian Safety Day and, with the evenings about to become lighter, enticing more riders to go out on the roads and competition season really kicking off, there couldn’t be a better time to talk about safety for both riders and drivers.

    Luckily, there are plenty of things that riders and drivers can to ensure that the roads can be a safe place for all users and, to keep you in the know, we’ve outlined just a few so that you can stay safe in the spirit of Equestrian Safety Day.

    Pass slow and wide

    When on the roads, horses can get spooked by cars. This can easily lead to road accidents and riders being thrown from their horses

    For optimum safety for drivers, riders, and horses alike, as a general rule, drivers should drive slow when passing a horse and give them a wide berth.

    If you’re a rider who needs to signal to a driver to slow down, hold your right arm out straight and lift it up and down.

    Highway Code

    When riding on the roads, you should be aware of the obligations you have in terms of The Highway Code.

    The Highway Code is packed full of information for riders in terms of the rules of the road and safety precautions, so it is essential that riders are aware of the rules and regulations that apply to them.

    If you’re unsure about what The Highway Code means for horse riders, this post from The British Horse Society is extremely useful.

    If an accident happens

    In the event of a road accident involving a horse, it is common for both the horse and the rider to become injured.

    Any accident or near miss should be reported to the police as soon as possible and the emergency services should be contacted immediately if necessary.

    If possible, warn oncoming traffic of the incident as they approach. This will prevent any more accidents from happening.

    First Aid

    Regardless of how much riding experience you have or whether or not your horse frequently spooks, accidents can happen, especially on the road.

    You should try to keep a first aid kit on your person in case of injury, and basic first aid should be carried out on both the horse and the rider if necessary.

    Horse Safety Tips For Riders

    • Have as many riding lessons as you can so that you feel more confident and you’re as experienced as possible.
    • If you fall off your horse, make sure you replace your helmet straight away. You might not be able to see the damage to the helmet, but the fall could have created a weakness.
    • Try to avoid riding on the roads if visibility is impaired, such as by fog or other poor weather conditions. If you absolutely must ride in poor visibility, make sure to wear high-vis clothing.

    Horse Safety Tips For Drivers

    • Never rev your engine or sound your horn around horses as this can spook them.
    • When driving near a horse, be sure to slow right down and be prepared to stop if necessary.
    • Be aware that the rider may signal to you to slow down or they may signal to let you know their next move.

    If you’re interested in dressage, check out our post on eight competitions in 2017 for you to showcase your dressage skills.


    Five Tips For Taking Your Horse To Their First Show

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    Whether you are experienced in showing horses or a relative novice, taking a horse to its first show can be nervy to say the least.

    While they may seem entirely confident in training, once they get in front of a crowd or are confronted with a whole host of other horses, their reaction can be totally unpredictable.

    So, in order to make sure you have the best possible experience with your green horse, here are five tips for taking them to their first show.

    Get There Early

    Clearly, if you are concerned about your horse getting nervous or unsettled by all the goings on of a show, arriving late probably won’t help.

    Getting to the location ahead of the majority of riders will give your horse chance to understand its surroundings and feel comfortable as it begins to fill up.

    Also, if you arrive late, your horse may become unsettled at its rider being in a rush, which is also worth considering. Don’t leave anything to chance and arrive early.

    Don’t Make It Your First Outing

    Before committing to a show, it’s important to get your horse used to the idea of travelling to another location. While you can practice your particular routine in the comfort of your own field, it’s also important to give them a taste of a real performance arena.

    So, whether it’s a cross-country ride, hired arena or dressage lesson, make sure that your horse has experienced the concept of a daily trip before heading to a show. Not only will it reduce the risk of the show being too much for your horse, it gives you more experience with them.

    Simulate Everything

    A great approach to best prepare both horse and rider for their first show together is to simulate the event as well as possible.

    Obviously, you’ll be training to ensure your performance is as good as it can possibly be in time for the show. However, you can also add little extra flourishes to make it feel even closer to the real thing.

    For example, if you are competing in dressage, try setting up your practice space as close to the real competition space as possible. You can then even practice entering and leaving the arena exactly the same as you will on the actual day.

    Walk Around the Grounds

    As well as arriving early, another way to build confidence in your horse is to take them for a walk around the entire event.

    Horses really thrive on gaining an understanding of their surroundings, so taking in a lap or two of the event can really help. This is discussed in this post about easing horse anxiety from

    If you think that your horse maybe isn’t quite ready for the experience of competing just yet, why not take them along just to soak up the atmosphere?

    This is perfectly normal and plenty of other owners may well do the same. Simply take them for a few laps of the show and get them used to the hustle and bustle of a show.

    Enjoy Yourself

    With so many things to potentially worry about ahead of a show, particularly a horse’s first show, it can be easy to forget to forget it.

    Whether you grab first prize in any event or fail disastrously, the most important thing is to enjoy the experience.

    If you approach the event tense and nervous, there’s a good chance your horse will sense it, particularly when you are riding. So, just remember to do everything with a smile on your face and read your horse for any little successes across the day.


    There’s no getting around the idea that taking a green horse to its first show can be daunting. However, if you stick to these tips, you’ll give yourself and your horse the best chance of having a great day out.


    Everything You Need To Know About Obesity Management In Horses

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    Maintaining a healthy weight in horses is extremely important, to prevent them from developing further health conditions.

    When it comes to obesity in horses, the principal is the same as it is for humans. It’s important to make sure that the amount of feed you are giving your horse is relative to the amount of exercise he is getting.

    Ideally the best way to treat horse obesity is to prevent it from happening in the first place, however this is often easier said than done, and some horses are more prone to obesity than others.

    It’s therefore important to be informed on how to manage obesity, and keep it high on your list of priorities when it comes to caring for your horse.

    Causes of Obesity

    There are a number of reasons for obesity in horses. These range from the genetics of the horse, to the evolution of the forage from rather sparser and high in fibre, to the lush green grass widely available these days, as well as a lack of exercise.

    Some horses that are ‘good doers’, and will maintain their weight and condition on a relatively low amount of feed, which would cause a different horse to lose weight. These horses are usually easy to keep, but it’s important to avoid over-feeding as this can lead to weight gain and the serious health conditions that come with obesity.

    Consuming more calories than are spent through exercise is the basic cause of obesity in horses, and is usually as a result of too much of, or the wrong type of feed. Horses these days are often exercised a lot less than working horses of the past, and so their calorie expenditure is lower.


    There are numerous health concerns relating to a horse becoming obese. Excess body fat requires more exertion to exercise, and also insulates the horse’s body, which can cause heat stress. It may also increase the likelihood of musculoskeletal injuries, as well as exacerbating arthritis. All of these factors can result in your horse being unable to perform as well.

    Obese horses may also form lipomas, which are fatty tumours that form in the abdominal cavity and increase the chances of strangulation colic.

    Overweight horses can also become insulin resistant, and the increased insulin levels can lead to laminitis and founder.

    Assessing weight

    It is important to assess the physical condition of your horse weekly, and record any changes. Using a weigh tape around the horse’s girth is one test that should be carried out, and although this may not always be entirely accurate, if the same tape is used each time then any difference will be apparent.

    Additionally, you should check the horse’s crest. Cresty neck scoring is important, as the size of the animal’s crest is comparable to the distribution of abdominal fat in humans as an indicator of insulin resistance and other health conditions such as laminitis.

    When measuring and scoring your horse it’s important to ensure that the same person is doing the scoring each time, using the same method, stood on the same flat surface, at the same time of day, to ensure a consistent comparison.

    The Animal Health Trust has produced a guide to assessing the body condition of horses which you can find here.

    Treating obesity

    The basic principal behind equine weight loss is the same as it is for humans. Energy spent must be greater than the amount consumed. So increasing the amount of exercise and decreasing the amount of calories consumed is the basis of any management plan.

    It’s important to take care when implementing a weight loss plan for your horse that you also maintain proper nutrition. You should also increase the rate of exercise slowly so as to avoid causing any metabolic problems.

    A safe and effective weight management plan should be tailored to each horse as there are a variety of factors to take into consideration. You should consult your veterinarian for advice specific to your horse.

    We hope this has given you some insight into how to spot equine obesity, and the principals behind correcting the problem. Keep an eye on the Derby House Post for more horse care advice.


    Five Things To Consider Before Buying A Horse At Auction

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    If you’re considering investing in a new horse, an auction can be a great place to meet sellers and pick yourself up a good deal.

    Equally, a horse auction can also be the place in which you spend over the odds for a horse which ends up not being what you expected.

    Before you dive into the world of auctions it really is worth making sure you are confident it’s the right move for you. To help ensure you don’t rush into the world of auctions, read these five things to consider before buying a horse at auction.

    Some Horses Are at Auction for a Reason

    If you think you’ll stroll into a horse action and pick up the next Red Rum for a bargain, you’re very much mistaken.

    Unfortunately, some horses find themselves at auction because their owners have had issues or complications with them in the past.

    However, that’s not to say that there aren’t bargains to be had either. Take a look at this fantastic story from ITV News in which a horse was born by a mother of failing health, because of this, no one was interested in investing at auction.

    The horse, called Mrs. Danvers, then went on to prove doubters wrong by becoming a successful racehorse. Mrs. Danvers went from being worth less than the auction asking price of £1,000 to an estimated worth of £500,000.

    Information is Limited

    Obviously, before you stick your hand in the air for a certain horse, you’ll want to know as much as you can about it. While all of its details will be logged and available, there are some things which you won’t be able to know for sure until the transaction is complete.

    For example, everything may seem perfect on paper, but you can’t count on certain behavioural issues or personal dysfunctions the horse might have.

    You Probably Won’t Be Able to Test Ride

    Generally, you will be able to get a good look at a horse as it prepares to be auctioned and when it is paraded for potential buyers, but that’s about it.

    Often, there will not be an opportunity to take the horse out for a quick ride before the auction. So, if this is a sticking point, it may be a good reason not to bother.

    If you are keen on a particular horse long before the actual date of the auction, it may be possible to arrange a ride with the current owners. However, this is certainly not a blanket rule and should not be expected.

    It Will Likely Need Quarantining

    Obviously, it isn’t often that so many horses are tightly grouped together like they are at an auction.

    Because of this, the chance of them contracting contagious diseases is significantly heightened.

    Many contagious diseases can take up to two or three weeks to show up, so as annoying as it might be, it’s often advised that you quarantine your new horse from others at your stables to begin with.

    Auctions Are Pretty Intense

    We’ve all seen a tense and dramatic scene unfold in a TV show or Hollywood film which was set in an auction. So, even if you haven’t been to one, you’ll have some grasp on the intensity of them.

    It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of an auction, as the bids role in for more popular horses. However, it’s always important to keep focused on the horse or horses you have intended to buy, otherwise, you may end up with more than you bargained for.

    One of the best ways to get to grips with the intensity of a horse auction is to take along a friend or family member with experience of bidding on them.


    Horse auctions are one of the most important outlets for the buying and selling of horses. They should be approached with caution as there are many mistakes to make.

    However, as long as you enter them with a level head and a strong business mind, you could well come away with a bargain.


    A Quick Guide to Tack Cleaning and Maintenance

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    Besides looking after your horses, there’s plenty of work to be done taking good care of your stables and equipment.

    One of the most important things to take good care of is your tack. Tack is expensive to replace if good care is not taken care of it, and preventing the leather becoming cracked or brittle ensures its longevity.

    We’re taking a look at what you should be doing in terms of cleaning and maintenance in this quick guide.

    After riding

    While you may not have the time to give your tack a thorough cleaning after each time you ride, you should still take care to wipe everything down, and remove any superficial dirt. This will save you time when you do come to giving it a proper deep clean.

    Wiping your girth should be done after each ride, as should wiping the bit, and you should check for sweat and wipe any part of the tack that comes into contact with your horse’s body.

    Cleaning leather

    Essentially, when cleaning leather, you want to open the pores of the leather with water, and then use a soap to lift out any dirt and sweat.

    To conduct a thorough cleaning, first unbuckle everything. You may wish to count the holes and make a note if your tack is new, to make it easier to reassemble everything. Wipe off excess dirt, and then use a damp sponge or cloth to work your soap into the leather, concentrating on any buckles and folds.

    It’s important to clean off as much sweat as you can, as it contains salt, which can take its toll on leather. Also be sure to rinse away all of the soap, which is alkaline and can deteriorate leather. Never use saddle soap as a finish. Although it will give the leather a sheen, you should use a proper conditioning product instead.

    Leather condition

    It’s important to replace the oils that will have been lost during cleaning, while the pores are still open. Use a leather conditioner or oil before the tack is fully dry, and work it in to keep the leather subtle, but do be careful to not over-condition, which can make it flimsy. Also take care to avoid getting oil into the saddle stitching, as the thread can rot away over time.

    Allow tack to dry at room temperature, away from direct heat. You also want to avoid mould, so it is not only important to allow the tack to dry out after cleaning, but also wipe down reins and cheekpieces after each ride, to remove saliva.

    As you are cleaning your tack, inspect it for any damage or wear and tear. Check the stitching, and anything that may need repairing, and be sure to have anything that needs repairing seen to by a specialist tack repairer. It can be rather dangerous if anything snaps while you’re out on a ride!

    Removing mould

    Unfortunately, it is usually inevitable that some mould and mildew will appear on your tack during storage, so you need to be vigilant in removing it, to avoid it burrowing into the leather fibres and reproducing. Mouldy leather will have a white or green powdery substance on it, and a distinctive mouldy smell.

    You can buy special mould removal products for your tack, or use a 1:1 rubbing alcohol and water solution to wipe down affected areas. Make sure you clean mould off in a well ventilated area to avoid breathing in mould spores. Always condition your leather afterwards.

    We hope that this has given you a quick insight into taking care of your tack and saddles. Be sure to check out our range of leather care and saddlery products here at Derby House here.


    12 Of The Best Equine Vets In The UK

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    When your horse falls ill, you want to make sure that it gets the very best care and treatment possible.

    Thankfully, there are plenty of specialist equine vets and surgeries in the UK, and we’re going to take a look at some of the best.

    Liphook Equine Hospital

    Forest Mere, Liphook, Hampshire, GU30 7JG 

    One of the largest specialist equine practices in the country, Liphook have a highly experienced team and offer a 24/7 ambulatory and referral service covering the Hampshire, West Sussex, Surrey and Berkshire areas.

    With internationally recognised specialists on their team, the care they offer is cutting edge and compassionate, and the hospital is regarded as one of the best of its kind in the country.

    Chine House Veterinary Hospital

    Sileby Hall, 12 Cossington Road, Sileby, Leicestershire, LE12 7RS 

    Established in 1952, nowadays Chine House is the biggest equine veterinarian practice in the East Midlands, employing 12 surgeons and over 20 nurses and other staff, benefitting from four RCVS post-grad certificates and a European Diploma between them.

    With fully integrated first opinion, ambulatory and hospital services, they can offer a full range of high-quality care to their patients, and carry out most procedures at the home of the client.

    The Arundel Equine Hospital

    Tortington Lane, Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 0BG 

    The Arundel Equine Hospital is one of the oldest specialist equestrian vets in the country, having been founded back in 1950, and it is currently the only equine hospital in West Sussex approved by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

    Covering West and East Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire, they have a team of 17 experienced ambulatory veterinary surgeons, who provide high-class care to all kinds of horses, including top class international racehorses. They even have their own app on the iTunes store!

    Rainbow Equine Hospital

    Rainbow Farm, Old Malton, Malton, North Yorkshire, YO17 6SG

    The Rainbow is the largest fully equipped RCVS tier 3 equine referral hospital in the North East, with state of the art facilities and an experienced staff with specialists in soft tissue and orthopaedic surgery, internal medicine and diagnostic imaging.

    As well as their hospital facilities, the Rainbow practice also offers a team of equine-only mobile vets and have an extensive range of in-house lab services and a purpose-built fertility unit.

    Ashbrook Equine Hospital

    Middlewich Road, Allostock, Cheshire, WA16 9JQ

    Offering a full range of equine veterinary services, the Ashbrook Equine Hospital in Knutsford is the only tier 3 approved equine hospital in Cheshire, with an experienced mobile team offering home treatments in the surrounding area.

    Their team have particular expertise in lameness, reproduction and dentistry, but are happy to help with whatever is ailing your horse.

    Buckingham Equine Vets

    Sparrow Lodge Farm, Wicken Park Road, Wicken, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, MK19 6BZ

    Covering the Buckinghamshire area, from Banbury to Bedford and Northampton to Aylesbury, the friendly and experienced team at Buckingham Equine Vets offer high-quality care at affordable prices.

    While the practice was only founded in 2011, it has already been awarded the Tier 2 accreditation from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and is currently benefitting from a partnership with the Royal Veterinary College, the UK’s oldest and largest veterinary school.

    Tyrrells Equine Clinic

    Coombe Farm, Coombe Road, Kelshall, Royston, Hertfordshire, SG8 9SA

    Established by Jason Tyrrell in 2000, the Tyrrell’s Equine Clinic is one of the best in the Hertfordshire/Cambridgeshire area, with a team of four equine only vets, who share over 40 years of experience between them.

    They also offer a full ambulatory service and pride themselves on treating each horse, pony or donkey in their care on an individual case by case basis.

    Oakham Veterinary Hospital

    Ashwell Road, Oakham, Rutland, Leicestershire, LE15 7QH 

    The Oakham Veterinary Hospital is one of the leading equine hospitals in the country, providing a great level of care throughout the East Midlands.

    They’re approved as a tier 3 RCVS hospital and are led by three highly experienced senior partners, supported by four assistant vets, two interns and seven nurses, and have a strong relationship with the University of Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine and Science.

    Royal Veterinary College

    Hawkshead Lane, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, AL9 7TA

    RVC Equine is part of the University of London and has a rich history of caring for horses, with the largest number of RCVS equine specialists of any teaching hospital in the UK.

    As well as helping to educate the next generation of equine vets, patients at the RVC know that they’re getting a high standard or care as all treatments are carefully monitored and heavily scrutinised.

    Cliffe Equine

    Harbens Farm, Mill Lane, Laughton, East Sussex, BN8 6AJ 

    Situated in the beautiful South Downs, the Cliffe Equine Centre care for horses in East and West Sussex, and have their own purpose built surgery, with a large operating theatre, hospitalisation boxes and a full range of diagnostic facilities such as radiotherapy.

    Cambridge Equine Hospital

    Cambridge University Veterinary School, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0ES

    Part of the University of Cambridge, the Cambridge Equine Hospital provides a full equine veterinarian service, while benefitting from a close partnership with the neighbouring Queen’s Veterinary School, with expertise in anaesthesia, diagnostic imaging, neurology, clinical pathology and oncology.

    Tay Valley Vets and Equine Centre

    8 Whitefriars Crescent, Perth, Perthshire, PH2 0PA

    The Tay Valley equine vets in Perth is home to eight experienced and friendly vets, as well as six veterinarian nurses, and also have spacious loose boxes should your horse need to stay for the day.

    As well as this, they have a comprehensive ambulatory service and offer vaccinations, equine dentistry and health checks too!