Friday, 25 June 2021

Do you know the half of it?

By Andrew Stennett

I know from our pupils and students that the term ‘half halt’ conjures up all kinds of confusion! So what exactly is this mysterious riding term? Essentially, it is the ability to shorten one stride of the horse’s gait, be it in walk, trot or canter, and is a very useful skill to acquire for riders in all disciplines. It can slow you down, re-balance you, prepare you for your next move in dressage, and set you up for the right stride when jumping. Here are some tips you may find useful:

Starting from scratch:

With either a new combination or a young or inexperienced horse, begin with halting in an arena at a certain letter, and ensure that your body is in line with that letter. You need to be able to do this to perfection each and every time it is asked for, wherever and whenever you please. As you ask for halt, you should slightly ‘grow taller’ with your upper body, using body language to explain your instructions to the horse. Once this move is well established, you can use the same technique, but as the horse responds to your commands by coming back and listening, keep your lower leg on to support, so that you actually maintain the walk. Continue the education until you can do this at will, on either rein and at whichever place in the arena you choose, whether it be on or off the track.

horse walking, horses, horse riding,


Moving on:

Repeat the same exercise in trot, asking for walk for a half stride, then pushing back up into trot. Eventually you will be able to merely slow the trot and not drop back into walk. Once this is established, you are ready to repeat the task in canter. If well trained enough, your horse should respond just from your upper body aids.

Applications:

When training in an arena use your half halt before a turn, circle or change of rein, to help re-balance and set up your horse for a new movement. This will improve your chances of smoother, well controlled actions. Practise your half halt between two poles on the ground with at least five or six trot or canter strides between them. Use it also before a series of trotting poles, again to set him up and make him use himself to the best of his ability. Some horses will benefit most from half halts on the turn before the exercise, and others on the straight line approach – there is no right or wrong way; use trial and error as to what works the best for your combination.


half halt, horse riding, dressage training,


Jumping:

The half halt is invaluable in a showjumping or cross country event, as it is vital to get the right take off point before a jump. Should your horse be a little too enthusiastic, this skill can be applied either on the turn before a fence, or if you have a long run up, on the straight setting him up properly for his jumping effort. Should he land on his forehand, use your half halt to re-balance him.

Horses tend to get a little quicker towards the end of a dressage test or a jumping event, and this is where the half halt becomes invaluable, to help maintain a level head, for both horse and rider.

 

Andrew Stennett is a registered instructor, NVQ/UKCC Assessor & Verifier. He is a Qualified Teacher of further Education specialising in Equestrian Learning and Development, and is a British Equestrian Federation Elite Recreational Coach. Andrew is a fan of Derriere Equestrian products, telling us they make a big difference to his riding. “Derrieres enabled me to get back riding in comfort after a break, and they are helping me compete at the same level as in my youth,” he says.

When you’re training and perfecting your half halts, the Derriere Equestrian Treviso Training breeches are great breeches to consider. They’re designed to promote optimal comfort and performance and work in harmony with the Derriere undergarments, ensuring all fabric surfaces come together in a symbiosis that completely eliminates chaffing, abrasions and discomfort!

Andrew offers group and private lessons from his base at Grove House Stables in Misterton, Nottinghamshire, as well as Covid-safe clinics and competitive events. Visit www.grovehousestables.co.uk. The team hosts BHS Pony Stars Junior Challenge Awards throughout the year, helping under 12s to discover, develop and nurture their love for ponies and the outdoors. “It ignites a passion for ponies, builds knowledge and cements friendships that will last a lifetime,” Andrew says. Visit Facebook for info.

The Derriere Equestrian range can viewed online at www.derriereequestrian.com 


Thursday, 3 June 2021

Catching up with Bex Mason

We find showjumper Bex Mason in a positive frame of mind, as she updates us on her horses’ plans, and embraces the power of flexing your goals!

It has been a hectic period, as sadly my top rides Vancurtis, Pure Pleasure and Korenosa are all out of action with injury, at the moment.


Bex Mason & Vancurtis, show jumpers, horses, horse riding

It’s changed our plans dramatically – I do tend to build my competitive schedule for the year based around the more experienced horses – I can then pop the young horses’ weekday training shows in the schedule around the older ones’ events. 

But the injuries have thrown spanner in the works! This is horses, though – and I have been so lucky not to have experienced a great deal of injury issues in the years I have been competing. Luckily these are not old horses, and the time off gives them a chance to heal, iron out any other niggles or physical issues, and grow into themselves, at least in the case of Korenosa.

show jumpers, horses, horse riding, bex mason, showjumper


Finding the positives

I am finding the positives, and am excited to be concentrating on the younger ones.

For example, we went to Bicton Arena recently, and took four youngsters. I went with the goal of just jumping some clears, but each horse was competitive, with all of them placed most days. It is only a few years away until the youngsters are out jumping bigger things. I like to keep looking onwards and upwards!

A big goal for me was to jump a world ranking class, and even with the altered schedules, I still like to work backwards – I am being flexible with my goals, but still with an eye on working backwards from a big event when the horses are sound again, so consistently jumping 1.40’s in a big arena. 

My main goal for now is to continue progressing the youngsters quietly, and aim for British Novice and Discovery second rounds – it’s nice for them to get experience at different arenas. Because I want to ideally keep the youngsters that I produce, I am looking into syndication. I do have half shares in Vancurtis, Pure Pleasure and Korenosa, and having syndicated owners would help with our running costs! The syndication model is quite new for us, but I think it has many benefits for the owners and the rider, who gets to keep the ride on a horse they’ve invested time in.

 

show jumpers, horses, horse riding, bex mason,

Busy business plans

I am also developing a busines plan for the stables – I need my arena extended! We have been here for ten years, and it’s time for an upgrade. And I am currently focussing more on teaching and developing my clinics. I got more into teaching during the 2020 lockdown, and I love it – I like seeing client’s results and progress. It’s very rewarding, and I like to give something back and serve people. I have lots of projects I can get on with now that I have a little more time – I have over thirty training videos to edit and do voice overs for! There’s so many more elements to doing what I do, in addition to ‘just riding’, which makes it a really interesting profession.


show jumpers, horses, horse riding, show jumping, bex mason,

Powerful positivity

I think it’s important to be positive and live in the moment. It’s a mindset that serves me well. I listen to a lot of self growth podcasts, and like to maintain a good mental wellness routine. I for example start the day with gratitude affirmations, meditation, some body stretching, and some crazy music to get me into a positive emotional state. When I got particularly busy, I neglected this regime, and I could feel the negative results of it – I am back into it after a pause now though, and find that keeping on top of mental wellbeing is really the key to so many things – not least when it comes to dealing with setbacks and horsey challenges!

Bex has worked for many years breaking in horses and competing at an international level and specialises in producing competition horses. “I find myself expressing love for my Derrieres daily,” Bex says of the underwear range. “I openly discuss the results and versatility of the products, whether it’s to customers at my yard, or fellow competitors at shows; I don’t even realise I’m doing it - these pants change riders’ lives!”

Please keep an eye on Bex's social pages for details of forthcoming clinics - Insta: @bexmasonsj 

www.facebook.com/bexmasonsj


Shop the Derriere Equestrian underwear range today:
www.derriereequestrian.com 

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Beating bacterial bugs with bacteriostasis

Did you know that when you buy a Derriere Equestrian undergarment boasting bacteriostatic properties in the gusset, you’re paying for a high-quality, superior product that can actually prevent the growth of bacteria, caused by sweat? The compound on the clothing fibres keeps bacteria in the stationary phase of growth, so they can’t flourish, meaning that your nether regions are being not only comforted, but also protected from a potentially harmful bacterial processes.

 

Sweaty-betty

We sweat when our glands release sweat onto the skin; it’s a simple and clever process that arises when our body temperature rises due to exercise and heat - sweating simply and effectively helps us regulate our internal body temperature. When the sweat mingles with skin bacteria (and the more moist the conditions, the more accelerated the process), the bacteria multiply, and associated odours may also be released. There isn’t a big heath risk associated with this process for most people, although it can lead to an increased risk of yeast infections, and could be more dangerous if there was a break in the skin (for example from chaffing), and harmful pathogens were to enter the bloodstream, it can however be uncomfortable so the correct riding underwear is a must.

 

Beating bacterial bugs

Derriere Equestrian’s exclusive riding underwear fabric is quick drying and expels moisture, which helps reduce bacterial growth. The bacteriostatic polymer that we use within the manufacturing process bonds with the fabric, cleverly targets the molecular integrity of bacterial cell membranes, to inhibit bacterial growth.

 

Importantly, bacteriostatic compounds act by inhibiting the growth of bacteria while preserving the normal bacterial skin flora, so (unlike antibacterial materials), our fabric does not eradicate normal bacteria skin flora (known collectively as skin microbiome). The skin actually has an immune response, and individual, microscopic receptors cleverly recognise ‘bad’ bugs, and form a defence against harmful pathogens (e.g. those created via sweat and held in moist areas such as close-fitting fabrics.). So, bacteriostatic clothing can be preferential to antibacterial items, because the skin microbiome is maintained.

 

Your nethers will thank you

The Derriere Equestrian Performance Panty (DEPP) is a hero product from the range, and is a perennial favourite with horse riders looking for quality, comfortable riding-wear. It’s designed to eradicate seamlines and eliminate chaffing using bonded seams, and is made from a blend Polyamide and Elastane, resulting in a soft, supportive undergarment with the performance stretch needed for equestrian sports like dressage, show jumping, endurance and eventing.

If you’re looking for riding underwear that offers comfort and protection, then bacteriostasis is probably not top of your list when it comes to researching the underwear brand for you! But the fact you’re also protecting your body is another reason to choose Derriere Equestrian riding underwear; your ‘nethers’ will thank you! For more information on the science and technology behind Derriere Equestrian underwear, click here

Shop the Derriere range today! 
www.derriereequestrian.com  


Friday, 23 April 2021

Summer riding attire

 

Why choose riding clothing that has skin thermoregulation properties?

With summer approaching, the ambient temperature will be very changeable – this means the inevitable issue of becoming hot and sweaty when riding – something all riders are familiar with! Our arenas are commonly filled with ladies riding in vest tops in summer, to increase air-flow and reduce excessive warmth from riding clothing.

 

Maintaining our body temperature

Our skin, essentially one inter-connected organ, is very practiced at maintaining our body temperature within suitable limits; as best it can, at least. As the sun becomes hotter, the skin’s immense blood supply helps regulate temperature - blood vessels in the dermis, the middle layer of the skin, dilate to allow for heat loss, and constrict to retain heat.

 

With its large surface area, our skin plays an important role in body thermoregulation. As we ride and increase our metabolic and physical processes – for example, riding the faster gaits, or performing a showjumping round – our body generates heat. When it becomes excessive, the body cleverly vasodilates the skin’s blood vessels, to start the cooling process. A further key process is sweating, which roughly speaking begins when the body temperature rises above 37 C. As drops of sweat form on and then evaporate from our skin surface, they take body heat away with them. Another clever process is convection, whereby air circulation close to the skin allows heat to be dissipated.

 

Why wicking horse riding clothing is hot to trot!

Let’s look a little at what those little vest tops are achieving, when you’re riding – or any cotton based T shirt or underwear, for that matter. Because cotton is a natural fibre, it absorbs moisture, drawing it away from the skin – but what’s actually preferable is a wicking material. With a cotton top or underwear, the sweat just stays on the material - it doesn’t get drawn away from your skin and isn’t moisture-wicking. A technical material designed for exercise helps dry sweat faster by pulling the sweat away from the skin, out of the clothing, and into the environment. This allows for the cooling process of evaporation. If the top or underwear is tight fitting as well as being less breathable, as most are, convection, whereby air circulation allows heat to be dissipated, can’t take place so efficiently. Another side effect is that unpleasant build-up of perspiration, and the ensuing smell and discomfort!

 

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                  riding top, horse riding tops, equestrian top, sports top       riding top, horse riding tops, equestrian top, sports top

Derriere Equestrian’s new Activewear range includes new horse riding sports tops and leggings boasting carefully positioned mesh areas (under the arms, over the shoulder and thighs and across the back and waist), wicking away moisture to keep you dry when the heat is on. The technical material is made from wicking fibres that allow skin thermoregulation to not only keep you comfortable in the saddle, but also keep the skin more healthy. You may be tempted to ride your horse in a vest-top to keep cool, but as we know from the above, if they are not made with exercise in mind, they are not the best choice. There is also the obvious sun damage and sun burn to consider too – the new Derriere Equestrian Activewear sports tops boast high-neck collars, to protect you from the undesirable effects of the sun (and look fantastic, of course!).

 

Derriere’s underwear range is too made from exercise specific, sports technology fabric to ensure advanced moisture wicking to keep riders cool and dry in the saddle.

 

Ask your local Derriere stockist or visit www.derriereequestrian.com to see the range – your skin will thank you!


Thursday, 8 April 2021

Getting to know dressage rider Erin Orford

 We asked para-dressage star Erin Orford to share a favourite flatwork exercise, and also asked her a selection of burning questions, from advice to advice for her younger self.

 

Erin Orford, dressage, para rider, equestrian, para equestrian rider, para dressage, dressage horse

Can you share a simple exercise to help with a specific rider issue?

“A great one is to Find Your Centre. Many of our daily activities (mucking out, driving, sweeping etc) put more strain on one side of our body, or require more rotation to one side than the other. Often, they'll be completed by our dominant and more natural side automatically, or in some cases (like driving), you have no choice in the matter,” Erin explains.

“This can impact the symmetry of the rider and how we sit in the saddle, but also how far we are able to rotate each way, which may affect what we perceive to be the centre, when we're sat in the saddle,” she continues. “When standing with your feet hip-width apart, or sitting on a chair, have a play with how far you can rotate your body each way, and use a mirror to see if what you feel matches what you see, to find out what is comfortable, and whether there is a difference in your range of movement. Ideally, your range of movement should be the same each way,” Erin advises. “If this is not the case, it may affect what you feel is your 'centre', both off horse, and when you are sat in the saddle.”

 

Erin Orford, dressage, para rider, equestrian, para equestrian rider, para dressage, dressage horse
Which is your most memorable horse and why?

“All of the horses I've been lucky enough to ride have taught me something and helped to make me the rider I am today.”

 

What’s your best piece of advice, and why?

“Always be ready - I was first reserve for Team GB for three different years, and it's the hardest role, but I'd never want to regret that I could have done more. It came in handy in 2017, when I got called up at the last minute to make my championship debut, and we came back with Team Gold and Individual Bronze!”

 

Which person do you look up to today in equestrianism and why?

“I admire anyone who is working in the equestrian industry; it's not all about the medals and the winning, but the small successes too - it takes a lot of hard work and resilience to keep working towards your goals.”

 

What’s your ultimate riding or training goal?

“One day I would love to ride at Grand Prix; until then my goal is PSG! I could do the movements, but never all on the same horse!”

 

Erin Orford, dressage, para rider, equestrian, para equestrian rider, para dressage, dressage horse

What’s your biggest regret?

“Not taking enough time to enjoy the achievements – often, you’re so busy moving onto the next thing, you don't appreciate what you've done; so that's been one of my goals for this year.”

 

What would you’d tell your younger/teenage self?

“Everything happens for a reason, so learn from it but never give up.”

 

What’s the horse you would like to have ridden?

“I have so many! Valegro and Uthopia seem like obvious answers, but also Helen Langehanenberg's Damon Hill.”

 

Who would be your ideal dinner party guests?

“Michael McIntyre, Chris Hoy and James Corden.”

 

What will you be doing in 20 years’ time?

“Hopefully still riding and teaching, enjoying competing, and helping others to enjoy their horses too,” Erin concludes.

 

Visit Erin’s Facebook page to follow her journey - https://www.facebook.com/EOrfordDressage

Monday, 22 March 2021

Derriere Retailer Focus

This month we catch up with a leading retailer - Theresa Morris of Treehouse Sporting Colours

Treehouse Sporting Colours is a leading retailer and equestrian safety wear specialist, with its roots firmly in the eventing and cross-country fields. You can see the team (when restrictions allow!) representing the brand at events such as Badminton, Burghley, Blenheim and Olympia.

Theresa Morris set the company up in 1998, after a six-day long journey on the Trans-Siberian Railway to Mongolia gave her the time and impetus to plan her new equestrian adventure.

 

“We miss seeing our customers”

A riding instructor, and keen eventer and point to pointer at the time, Theresa started the business by creating racing-inspired XC colours; with husband Charlie also at the helm, the firm went onto work with many of the industry’s leading horsey brands, eventually opening a successful retail arm. “While we have really missed seeing customers in person, we have been so grateful for their support online with us,” Theresa explains of the trying past twelve months. “The website treehouseonline.co.uk has been very popular with horsey customers who have enjoyed shopping from the comfort of their armchairs, once the horses have been put to bed!”

 

“Busy horse owners want good quality, attractive clothing…”

With a keen eye on new trends, Theresa explains that she’s really excited by the current leaning towards athleisure. “The forward thinking manufacturers, like Derriere Equestrian, have been developing some really beautiful gym-wear inspired riding-wear and I think it’s a massive market,” she continues. “Busy horse owners, especially women who are often employees or business owners, as well as Mums, want good quality, attractive clothing that they don’t need to keep changing from one hour to the next.”

 

“These days, you can pull on a gorgeous pair of riding leggings and they will see you through your gym class, your riding lesson and the school run. Baggy or see through items are a thing of the past; today’s athleisure wear should flatter the body. I like to see lightweight fabrics that are breathable and offer high performance, which is why I am excited about Derriere’s impending new Activewear Leggings. These will be form-fitting, supportive and look to be really comfortable, utilising the highest quality fabrics.”

 

“The Padded Panty is unique in the equestrian world…”

Treehouse is a valued retailer of Derriere’s riding underwear and says that while the items can be investment purchases, high-end apparel is always worth the money. “As a retailer, we specialise in good quality, high-end items, and certainly, it’s a long term investment. But riding underwear can make such a difference to your comfort and position, so we always enthuse about Derriere’s undies,” Theresa adds. “We love the Padded Panty, it’s unique in the equestrian world – such a great product! Our customers like the way it eradicates the dreaded VPL, and avoids the issue of chaffing, thanks to the naked seams.”

 

We wish Treehouse all the best for 2021, when they can hopefully get out and about again at the equestrian events that we’ve all been missing so much.

 

Treehouse Sporting Colours, Badminton Horse Trials, equestrian retailer, equestrian shop, horse event

 

Monday, 1 March 2021

The changing face of riding trousers – from twill to athleisure

When many of us learned to ride, you had a very limited choice of riding apparel. Black or beige jodhs with cuffed ankles were hardly the stuff of dreams, and adults especially were unlikely to proudly show off their riding-wear on the school run, or at the shops!

 

Just jodhs

Jodhpurs have always been very practical, long trousers; relatively snug from the calf to the ankle, usually with reinforced fabric at the calf and knee, and initially looser material at the thigh. Designed by and for men, and named after Jodhpur city in western India, the twill riding garments were first made for military riding in the late 1800s, and were then adopted for polo. Ladies began wearing jodhpurs during the 1920s, as they shifted away from riding side-saddle, and began riding astride; once females became involved in the jodhpur trend, they realised that the attire needed to become a lot more fashionable!  One of the first high-profile women to adopt the wearing of jodhpurs was Coco Chanel. She transformed the ‘practical’ jodhpur into a fashion statement, both on and off the horse.

 

Brilliant breeches

The more closely fitting (and shorter, calf-length) breeches can also be traced back to cavalry soldiers, notably in Poland, but also have their roots in the long under-trousers that 19th century male children and adults would wear from the age of around seven, whereupon they were deemed as having been ‘breeched’. (The alternative pronunciation and spelling ‘britches’ dates from the 17th century, when it referred to any trousers or long pants.) Around the time that Coco Chanel was converting women to the jodhpur, knickerbocker breeches and ‘plus fours’ were becoming popular in the UK, both fastening below the knee. (Plus fours very specifically fastening four inches below the knee!)

 

A form-fitting revolution

Lower riding attire rumbled along for many years without any special innovations, until the revolutionary Spandex and associated Elastane products like Lycra were developed in the 1950s and 60s. (Spandex is an anagram of the word expands, which is seemingly where the name comes from). Today, imagine any close fitting garment without Lycra (including swimwear) – what did we ever do without it?

 

Stretchy materials didn’t influence discipline-specific sportswear for a while, however – keep-fit ladies embraced close-fitting stretchy leotards in the 1970s, but it would take several more decades to reach equestrian’s style wardrobe, in the wider manufacturing sense.

 

Derriere Equestrian’s breeches

As breeches became more comfortable under long boots (losing the itchy Velcro fastenings), they began to take over the humble jodhpur for not just competition riders, but also for enthusiastic amateurs. Derriere Equestrian’s breeches are a fine example of modern, durable and comfortable riding trousers that boast a blend of cotton, microfibre and Elastane. The length of breeches has extended over the years, as manufacturers have developed close-fitting cuff systems (no more bunched up material at the calves!); the Derriere Flexi Cuff System provides a seamless, flexible design for ultimate support of the rider’s lower limb musculature.


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Athleisure

Even in the early and mid 2010s, few riders would be seen dead in ‘pull on’ riding trousers; the available options were still baggy, without the snug-fitting waistband seen on today’s riding leggings. The early riding tights were not flattering or supportive for most female shapes! Yet today, ‘athleisure’ is increasingly popular, seeing inter-sport cross-over products that make perfect sense for the busy 21st century rider. Athleisure is commonly accepted as all day attire – no need to get changed after your fitness class or riding session! Hence, we’re so excited to announce the imminent launch of the Derriere Activewear Leggings. These are form-fitting, supportive and comfortable, utilising the highest quality of breathable fabrics, designs and workmanship to offer superior comfort, support and style. The high stretch fabric is also wicking – ideal for warm weather riding. There’s choice between three colours and two designs, one featuring a full silicon seat and one with silicon knee grips.


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With lower riding attire having reached the ultimate status of comfortable, smart and functional, today’s riders really can have it all, and proudly wear their riding leggings both in and out of the saddle. 


The Derriere Equestrian Activewear Range will be available from the end of March with pre-orders taken a couple of weeks before. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for more updates. 


Shop the current Derriere Equestrian range online:
www.derriereequestrian.com