Reviews, Uncategorised

My Review of Fly Off Horse and Rider Starter Kit

I was delighted to be gifted a horse and rider starter kit from Fly Off to test out and review. We live in the South West of France and we get a lot of flies. Mya is particularly sensitive to them too, so I was very pleased that we could test out some fly repellent. Here is my honest review of the product.

A bit about the product.

Fly Off is an alternative fly repellent that is not a spray. It uses discs of fly repellent that insert into a leg strap for the horse and insert into a clip that you can attach to you or in my case the front of my saddle. It is waterproof, and each disc should last for 2 weeks once removed from its wrapper.

Mya modelled beautifully for me I think you will agree!  If you look carefully in the above photo you will see that Mya is wearing the leg strap which has 2 fly repellent discs on her front left leg. Mya is also sporting the rider disc too, which you can see clipped to the saddle to help me with the flies too.

Pictured below you find the fly repellent discs. Each colour contains a different type of fly repellent Citronella, Deet and Neem. Also pictured are the leg straps for the horses. The kit also contains the clip that I attach to the front of my saddle too which also has an insert which fits one disc in.

My thoughts on the product.

I used the product whilst hacking this summer and was impressed. Living in France, it is very hot in the summer which unfortunately means a lot of flies!  I found that normally there are flies buzzing around Mya, who often uses her legs to kick out in discomfort whilst we are hacking. I also have flies buzzing around my face most of the time too, which is very unpleasant.

I have found the starter kit to be effective.  I used it like it is pictured on Mya above. So a leg strap on Mya and the clip on the front of the saddle. Of course there are still some flies, however there were considerably less than when I hack without Fly Off. Mya didn’t kick out or swish her tail as much as does normally either.

I must admit that I haven’t turned Mya out in the leg straps as I know that she would lose them. That’s not a criticism of the straps I just know that Mya would try and get them off! She’s naughty like that! Although my one criticism of the straps is that they are quite large. Mya is 16.2hh so not small and at first when I put the strap on I wondered if it was going to be too big (it is 14 inches long) . It turns out it was fine. So horses that are smaller may struggle with them being to be big for their legs. Although you can obviously put it on your girth or rug as an alternative to the leg so not an actual problem.

Overall

I liked the rider clip particularly as despite the repellent in the clip being by my leg there were considerably less flies around my face. I also like that the both the leg straps and clip are movable, so I took the clip on holiday with me and used it when I took my niece riding in the forest!

So all in all I personally found Fly Off to be more effective than any spray I have tried this summer. I think you have to bear in mind that no repellent will eliminate every single fly. However Fly Off eliminated a lot of them. Riding was considerately more comfortable with the Fly off products.

To get some for yourself head to www.equine-innovations.co.uk – it is currently on sale reduced from £29.99 to £17.99

Copyright of Louise Dando and In Due Horse 2019.

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Fashion, Reviews

Louise’s March Look Book Part 2 – Dreamers & Schemers socks

This week my look of the week goes to Dreamers and Schemers socks!

I received a pair as a Christmas gift and I love them! They are like long pop socks really, as they don’t have any seams. They are thin and comfortable and they have such cool patterns on. I picked this pastel pattern with unicorns and rainbows on, but there are all sorts of funny designs you can choose from avocados, goats and boobs just to name a few!

To grab yourself a pair head to the Dreamers & Schemers website you won’t regret it!

Let me know what design you choose if you do get a pair!

Louise XX

News, Reviews

In Due Horse November Round up: A horsey photo shoot, a very wet one day event & a momentous cross pole!

Well, I have had a fun filled November! A couple of weeks ago Mya & I were lucky enough to have our very first photo shoot with Genie from ezhphotos, who is also based here in Toulouse.

Photo credit: EZH.Photos

I met Eugenie a few months ago at a friends wedding. She was the photographer but also a guest at the wedding & we got along really well. She later contacted me to say that she had always wanted to do a photo shoot with a horse & would I be interested in doing one with her. I jumped at the chance! Genie wanted to do the shoot in the autumn so she could capture the autumn colours in the background, and I am so glad we did as the colours are incredible! I am so pleased with the photos that I have seen so far. I really just wanted to take the time to recommend her. She is so nice and had loads of ideas of what she wanted us to do, which was great for me as I am a photo shoot novice! She was also very attentive of Mya, as bearing in mind she has never photographed a horse before I was really impressed with her patience and understanding if Mya moved suddenly or wouldn’t stand still. That being said Mya was really good. I was so impressed with her as I honestly thought she may make it quite difficult for us but she was a superstar! The whole experience was very enjoyable. So those of you in Toulouse if you are ever in need of a photographer – do not hesitate to contact Genie at http://ezh.photos/.

In other exciting news, I went to my first one day event in France today. Although it was only as a spectator! I was dead chuffed when Trudi, someone I had met through a friend invited me to go see her at a local one day event she was competing at today. It great to spend time with Trudi & her horse Violine, but also to see what competing is like here in France.

I think Violine was trying to hide from the camera in this pic!

To be able to compete in France you must pass your Gallop 5 exam. Which from what I gather are kind of like the BHS stage exams (but they do not correlate, unfortunately as I have done a few BHS exams). So you have to show competence in horse care and stable management and in your riding ability. This is something I will need to get before I could consider competing and perhaps a good goal for me next year. I am hoping me & Katie (Mya’s owner) could do this together next year.

Overall the event was really very similar to an event in the U.K. although perhaps slightly more relaxed. Trudi did really well, I didn’t get there in time to see her dressage test but she was pleased with it, she went clear with some time penalties in the cross country, which I thought was understandable as it was very wet today. Then was unlucky and had two poles down in the showjumping. Not placed today but we both had good fun & that’s what is all about really isn’t it?! I’m looking forward to going to watch her compete again and it’s really got me wanting to do it myself…. Although I haven’t competed in over 10 years!!

That being said I did jump Mya for the first time ever this week. We only did a tiny little cross pole as I wasn’t certain if she knew how to jump! But she definitely can & seems to love it.

Mya had a serious leg injury a few years ago & has never really returned to full work since, because Katie understandably was worried it could happen again. So Mya has not really jumped in many years. That combined with me who only returned to riding in May after a break of many years (I had the odd lesson in that time but didn’t really jump). So watch this space! I feel my jumping mojo may have returned. Just need to remember how to be brave!

But in all seriousness all of this has really got me thinking about what Mya & I could be working towards and it’s really exciting! Trudi – you totally inspired me!

Equestrian Events, Reviews

Cross-country Day at Pau

Pau proved to be last but certainly not least, as the final CCI **** event of the season took place in the South of France last weekend. There were a strong contingent of British riders that stepped up to represent but it was a young French rider Thibault Fournier, who took the title. Competing at his first event at this level, Fournier did a fantastic cross country round that was clear and within the 11.06 allowed for the challenging twisty course. I was lucky enough to attend the cross country last weekend and it certainly proved to be a very exciting day of riding.

(Pictured is Gemma Tattersall)

When I say it was exciting I am not exaggerating. 3 top riders were eliminated on course due to falling off. William Fox- Pitt , Tim Price and the overnight leader Oliver Townend. Which accounted for part of the reason the leader board changed quite dramatically after the cross country. The course was praised for being the most challenging ever at Pau. It was full of twists and turns and the jumps themselves were imaginative and challenging, with many very narrow jumps that really tested both the horse & rider.

Pictured: Some of the challenging obstacles & William Fox-Pitt before his fall.

The day finished with Thibault Fournier (France) climbing into first position, ahead of Gemma Tattersall (GB) and Izzy Taylor (GB), with Ros Canter (GB) in 5th position. If Ros could finish in the top 3 it would mean she would become the world number 1, a position not held by a woman since Mary King in 2011. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, but she is still World Champion, so not a bad season for her!

Final Results after Showjumping :

1) Thibault Fournier & Siniani de Lathus (France)

2) Gemma Tattersall & Pamero 4 (GB)

3) Clara Loiseau & Won’t Wait (France)

Pictured is Ros Canter

I had a total fan girl moment when I was waiting for James to buy me a burger. I was stood holding my dog Ziggy and William Fox-Pitt walked straight past me!!! He just strolled through the French crowd and no one else seemed to notice. Apart from me. But did I say something? Did I ask for a selfie? No. I just silently went “oh my god oh my god oh my god it’s William Fox- Pitt” as he continued to stroll past me out of sight. Damn it! I really wish I had spoken to him.

Another highlight for me was going to the start box and watching Oliver Townend and Ros Canter start. I was so impressed at how calm both horse and rider looked at the start of this really big and challenging course. I think I would have been petrified!

Pictured: Oliver Townend

The event is held in the Domaine de Sers, and it didn’t disappoint. It was easy to follow the cross country course on foot, I think we saw every fence actually. There was also bars placed around the course, so you could get a beer and watch the action easily with a drink in hand. There was a small but good shopping village which had mainly French brands, my personal favourite being Padd, as they have a good selection of things for horse and rider for good prices and they also had a few British brands like Fairfax & Favor and Hi Ho Silver. There was also a good selection of food, which I must admit I’ve come to expect living in France! You could have anything from oysters to pasta, a burger or a crepe.

The eventing season has now come to a close and what an exciting finish it was! Pau was a brilliant place to see a few new riders step up to CCI **** for the first time including its winner, so I am very excited for next season as I’m sure we will see many of our old riding favourites return but I’m sure we will have some new favourites soon with many exciting new horses and riders making their debut to this top level of competition.

Fashion, Reviews

Product Review : Black Heart Equestrian Flex Riding Leggings

Ok so since I have started blogging I have a favourite new brand of riding clothes. Black Heart Equestrian! I bought some of their riding leggings recently. Firstly because I wanted thinner lighter clothes to ride in and I absolutely loved the look of them on their Instagram account.

When they arrived I was really impressed with the little personal touch they added by including a hand written thank you note.

The fit is perfect I am a UK size 8 and I ordered a small and they fit perfectly. They are very comfortable and thinner than regular jodhpurs which is why I wanted them. On the website they said they wanted the leggings to be able go from the stables to the gym and you really could do that if you wanted. I live in the city and I feel comfortable walking my dog in them and would happily work out in them too.

I also really like the colour. I chose plum but it was actually hard to choose which colour to buy as all of the colours are so nice. The flex riding leggings also come in black, burgundy, grey, royal blue, mauve, teal and olive.

I have recently come back to riding and I have found this brand is modern, fashionable and very practical. One of my favourite things about the leggings is the phone pocket on the side of the leg. You can pop your phone in there before you ride and it is neatly and safely tucked away. It does not fall out when you mount or dismount your horse either!

Another great thing about Black Heart is that they ship internationally. They are based in the U.K. and I live in France and my order was delivered to me in less than a week. They have a handy currency converter on their website too which is great, so I can see how much everything is in euros.

So I if I haven’t convinced you already you really must check out Black Heart Equestrian. The company is new and is run by a student named Erin who models most of their clothes on their website (although you would never know she isn’t a professional model). Erin is also an international dressage rider with a gorgeous stallion that features regularly on their Instagram page. Kudos to Erin bearing in mind she has only just turned 21,this company is so professional!

I really like all of their clothes. They are practical for riding but look really fashionable, I also bought a full zip hoody from them in the clearance sale for just £20, which I absolutely love too. I look forward to buying more from them soon.

To check out their store visit http://www.blackheartequestrian.com.

Please note I am not affiliated to Black Heart Equestrian in anyway, I am just very impressed with the product and the service I received from them. Thanks Black Heart!

To check other cool equestrian blogs be sure to visit https://www.timidrider.com/get-ready-for-equestrian-blogtober/

Places to Visit, Reviews, Travel, Visits

My Visit to the National Stud in Tarbes

I recently had the pleasure of visiting The National Stud in Tarbes. Or Haras de Tarbes as it is known in French and it is beautiful! Tucked away in the city centre of Tarbes, which is in South West France on the edge of the Pyrenees mountains. You would never expect to find such a large beautiful equestrian centre as you navigate through the busy streets of this busy french city. But when you do find it you are in for such a treat!

So, a bit about the stud. The National Stud is actually classified as a historical monument. The stud was restored in 1806 by Napoleon to house stallions to produce mounts for the cavalry. It was successful as the stud actually provided 35% of the horses that were used in the light cavalry at that time. Today however the facilities are used to develop the horse industry here in France.

Now that is interesting, but on the tour what they are very interested in telling you that Haras de Tarbes is the birthplace of the Anglo Arab (Thoroughbred x Arab). This breed is common all over the world but the French have made it popular. These horses have excellent qualities as they have the characteristics of an English Thoroughbred who are fast and agile and an Arab who have immense stamina.  So with all that combined they really do make brilliant sports horses. Anglo Arabs were first bred in France in 1836 under the control of the National Stud Service. They are the 3rd oldest breed in the world and the have the 3rd oldest official stud book in France.

When we arrived at the stud I expected to see lots of mares and their foals but I was wrong. Today the stud is used for developing the horse industry by working on such things as the selection and preservation of breeds, research and experimentation, encouragement of the sector, technical support for the implementation of horse projects and horse trades training.

In 2006 the 1st regiment Paratroopers set up a military equestrian club at the stud with 30 horses and military personnel. This includes a programme that supports injured soldiers. There is a therapeutic programme that offers equine meditation for soldiers that suffer with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There is also an adapted sport programme that are riding lessons for military personnel that are in the process of physical or mental recovery and there is also an ambitious sport programme for soldiers that would like to train with support of the Federation Français d’équitation (the national federation for equestrianism) to get to the para olympics.

The equestrian centre is very beautiful even just seeing the old buildings and stables set amongst the trees is very special. It still feels very grand and when you are there you do not think you are in the middle of a busy city! We arrived without booking on a Saturday afternoon. Me, my husband James and our Jack Russell Ziggy were all welcomed and shown to the little museum where they were playing videos of their big summer show as we waited for everyone to arrive for the guided tour. The tour guide was very nice and spoke English and French. The tour we took was in French but he spoke English to me and said that if there was anything I didn’t understand he would happily translate for me. Tours can be done in English if you pre- book.

As it was Saturday we benefitted from a farrier demonstration on our tour. We were shown how he makes horseshoes, shown different types and how they are fitted. My non- horsey husband James particularly enjoyed this part.

After the farrier demonstration we were shown around the stables. Each stable block had different types of horses in them. When we visited we saw the military equestrian club, another stable block with former police horses in and a few Anglo Arabs. The stable blocks were beautiful. On the guided tour you are shown around the whole site and can see all the original old buildings still being used. We also got to meet some of the old and very young horses who were out in the paddocks.

The stables and yards were so clean. They showed us how they had made a specialised system to help them muck out. Each stall had a trap door at the back where you would place all the muck you want removed through the trap door. From there a conveyer belt would sweep all the muck along to one big pile a the end of the yard – genius huh? I needed that when I worked at a riding school!

If you are ever in Tarbes, I would throughly recommend a tour of the stud. It really is special. The tour is informative and full of history but it equally as interesting seeing the stud and what they are doing there today. Most of the people on the tour weren’t horsey and my non horsey hubby enjoyed it so it is suitable for everyone including children.

I have read since my visit that the council have bought the stud and plan to invest more money into it creating a public garden and a gourmet restaurant so it sounds like it is getting to get even better!

For more information visit http://www.tarbes-tourisme.fr

Reviews, Travel, Visits

Living My Best Horsey Life! My Beach Ride in France.

Ok I don’t have many things on my bucket list but galloping along a beach is one of them! So when I saw an advert for a stables offering beach rides on my holiday in France recently I just had to go.

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I chose to go to Le Corral a stables that I had driven past on the way to the beach and man I am glad I did! It was FANTASTIC! When I arrived I was warmly welcomed and provided with a riding hat & hairnet (a French thing it seems) and some half chaps which was very handy as I did not take my riding gear on holiday with me, so I just wore my hiking gear.

I rode Jambo who did exactly what I wanted him to do for the entire ride. He was pretty forward going but stopped easily so he was perfect. We hacked for about 30 minutes through the forest to get to Saint Girons beach, so we didn’t need to go on any roads and arrived at the beach just as the sun was going down. It was beautiful! Handy tip – spray yourself with at least 1 gallon of anti mosquito spray as there were a lot of flies en route.

Our group consisted of 9 of us in total and all of us had ridden before. Although all abilities of riders are welcome. When we arrived at the beach it was completely empty apart from us. So we were able to gallop up and down the beach several times and we walked through the sea on the horses. It was AWESOME!

Our guide was called Bastion who spoke English, French and Spanish. He made sure everyone was having fun chatting to each person as we hacked to the beach and lead the way when we galloped. There were 2 other guides too, whose names I did not catch as they only spoke Spanish but they were also very friendly and made sure the horses kept a good pace and that the group stayed together.

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We left the beach after about an hour just as the sun was setting. Everyone was happy and chatting after having such a good time on the beach. Bastion even sang to us on the way back. He was a real character he told me he had recently discovered Otis Redding and the English breakfast on his recent trip to the U.K.

I really appreciated how friendly the staff were as I went alone and was speaking French (which I am still learning.) The staff did a really good job of making sure everyone had a good time and could understand my French so bonus points for them! My husband and I even stayed for a glass of rosè with the staff after the ride as they were so nice and they made a fuss of my little dog too.

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Le Corral is only open throughout July and August and 1km from Saint Girons plage, Landes, so if you are in the area I thoroughly recommend you go for a ride. There are 4 rides per day but I thoroughly recommend the sunset ride. It was €40 for a 2 hour ride.

Le Corral have a Facebook page- Le Corral promenade à cheval Vielle St Girons for more information. Their address is Route de la Plage, Vielle Saint Girons, Landes France 40560.

It is certainly something I can now tick off my bucket list!