Why choose a PS of Sweden bridle? part one..

PS of Sweden is a brand we’ve stocked for a little while now, and we’ve noticed we get asked a lot of the same questions from customers who are curious about the designs but not really sure how a bridle would work for them. So, here’s a handy guide to these unique bridles.

Lets start with the part that gets the most questions – the unique elastic cradles. Both the reins and the cheekpieces have elastic cradles that the bit rings sit in – this helps suspend the bit and give an elastic feel down the rein as well as helping relieve any tension or blocking at the poll as a result of the horse feeling ‘trapped’. You can see them clearly in the image below.

The cradles are selectable – the bit ring can be tucked behind them rather than sitting in the loop depending on your horse’s preference and training. Recently, the cradles became both FEI and BD legal.

The headpiece is another key feature of the bridles – and looks quite difference to the more traditional bridles you might see. The headpiece is gently shaped and cut back behind the ears, its also wider than a traditional headpiece to give a wider distribution of pressure across the poll and avoid pinch points. Some of the designs have an extra ‘air gap’ in the centre which avoids the most sensitive part of the poll.

In part two, we’ll take a look at the different styles of noseband and how they can help.

Schooling Sunday – Shoulder in

From babies to Grand Prix, shoulder in should feature within a horses schooling routine. It’s a useful suppling exercise that requires the horse to work on three, or sometimes four tracks.

The bend of the horses body around your inside leg helps improve the suppleness laterally, the bend should be equal from nose to tail. The movement is ridden from your inside leg which holds the horse and stops it turning across the school and the inside leg which directs the shoulder in and off the track.

When starting, it’s much easier to use the wall or fence of the arena to help you. As your horse gets more established, you can ride it on the centre line or round a circle.

As you ride the shoulder in, think of being able to alter the angle through the ribs, the flexion through the neck and the tempo to develop the suppleness further. Change something every time you ride a shoulder in – ask for slightly more flexion, or ride it in a more medium trot for example and practice being able to move every part of the horse around.

Top tip – ensure the horses shoulder is moving IN and not that the quarters are moving OUT.

Jin Anatomic Stirrups

I’m super proud to announce we’ll now be stocking my absolute ‘must have’ stirrup. The new design ‘anatomic’ Jin Stirrup is now available at Equissentials Dressage

Light Orange from Autumn 2018

The incredibly popular stirrup manufacturer Jin Italia have recently updated their line of coloured lightweight stirrup irons. I’ve used my current pairs for a number of years and they’ve been utterly invaluable at helping me achieve a stable lower leg whilst being light on my foot. The new ‘Anatomic’ line has been designed and engineered to offer maximum comfort and affinity between the foot and the stirrups, due to the ergonomic shape of its special platform, one for the right foot, and one for the left foot.

The design is like nothing else on the market and whilst I didn’t think my older style ones could be bettered, one ride in the new anatomic design and I’m a total convert!

New anatomic footbed

Manufactured in Italy from lightweight aluminium and then coloured through an anodic oxidation process to achieve matt, metallic and opaque gloss finishes the range is available in a wide variety of colours. (see attached images for winter 2018 and a selection of the core range colours). There is also the option to have the arms personalised.

A whole rainbow of colour options

The wider footplate with unique diamond grip gives riders the most secure feeling in the saddle without compromising on weight making them suitable across all disciplines.

Copper Anatomic Stirrup

Jin Stirrups are available now and are priced from £165 depending on finish.

Schooling Sunday – Warm up and cool down

Schooling Sunday, on a Monday! Things got a bit hectic over the weekend so the usual schooling Sunday feature didn’t go live, sorry about that, but here it is!! Back to normal from next week, I promise.

Watch any athlete, professional or otherwise, and you’ll notice that they all follow a warm up of some sort before they get into the thick of exercise. We expect our horses to perform as athletes, so why should they be any different? A routine warm up and cool down is important to every horse.

Warming up correctly will help keep your horse fit and their muscles supple and elastic. It will also help minimise the risk of injury or strain to muscles and tendons. Spending 10-15 minutes walking and trotting around the arena riding big shapes, circles and changes of rein can really help get the horse thinking forward and starting to supple the muscles before you start to ask for any roundness or collection work.

Cooling down is simply the opposite of the warm up, it is time to allow the horse to stretch and relax to start the recovery process from exercise. Allowing your horse to stretch the muscles they’ve worked, return to a normal breathing rate and lower the pulse to a resting level before you dismount will help reduce the risk of injury and help condition the muscles.

Aside from the athletic benefits, horses are ultimately creatures of habit – having the same warm up routine at a busy competition as you do at home gives a consistent pattern and can help a nervous, young or sharp horse feel more confident in the work.

Do you have the same warm up routine at home as you do at shows? Whats your favourite warm up exercise?

Schooling Sunday – Improving the canter

The canter is an important pace for a competition horse, regardless of the discipline. It needs to be adjustable and enough quality to enable them to perform well – whether that be jumping or in the dressage boards.

Once your horse is going forward into an even rein contact, you can start to think about varying the pace (or riding the gears) in the canter work. To start, ask for a couple of strides of a more forward canter, and then back to your horses normal canter. As you bring the horse back, you can encourage the self carriage by keeping your leg on and offering the rein forward to teach them to carry themselves. Once your horse becomes more established with the idea bring the canter back slightly from the working canter, then forwards into a more medium canter stride and back to working to develop the elasticity of the pace.

Its really important to keep the leg on so the hind leg keeps coming forwards and the horse doesn’t fall onto its nose – you are aiming for being able to ride between a bigger and smaller canter stride off your seat rather than relying on too much leg or rein aid.

Building on this, improve the quality of the canter by leg yielding out on a circle into medium canter. Using your outside rein and leg to guide the horse back to the smaller circle, without asking the horse to collect again (let the small circle do that for you!). This encourages the hind leg to keep stepping round and under which will improve the connection of the work and you should see this reflected in the marks for your canter work.

5 things I’m proud of…

Sounds easy doesn’t it? When business coach and PR guru Rhea Freeman challenged me and a few others to reflect back on the year 2018 and throw down 5 things we each were proud of I honestly though ‘what a breeze it’ll be‘ – surely the hardest part will be narrowing it down!

Well, it turns out its pretty bloody hard – writing about myself, the things I’ve achieved, and stuff I’m proud of doesn’t come naturally – I’m British after all! Those who’ve been following the challenge via the #5ThingsI’mProudOf hashtag on social media will notice I’m a day or two late to the party – simply because I’d chalked it up as “not for me after all”. I’m pretty proud of the speed I’m polishing off the Christmas chocolate and cheese – I’m not entirely sure thats the point of the though.. so with Rhea’s wise words in my ear, I’ve pulled up my brave girl pants and here we are.

Wise words

First up – this blog, and to some extent more importantly what it represents for me. I started 2018 feeling in a really good place with where Equissentials was, and where we were going. Of course, I had that niggling feeling there was *more* I could be doing – don’t we all? I was firmly in my comfort zone with my core product brands, loyal customers and all was well – but then I ‘met’ Rhea. Rhea is a business coach – or as I prefer to think of her, my fairy godmother of PR and Business Coaching. In six months, she’s given me the confidence to get out there and play with ‘the big boys’ (& girls of course!), chasing things I chalked up as “for big names, not me”. She’s determined to get me on video in 2019 .. I’d say no chance, but if you’d have asked me back in December ’18 would I be blogging and would this little business have been featured in national publications this year – I’d frankly have laughed at the thought, probably till I cried.

One of our fabulous brands

Second up, I’m so proud of the fact we’d been able to add some amazing brands to our collections. PS of Sweden being one – Equissentials Dressage was only ever intended as a rider and fashion website, mainly stocking ‘matchy matchy’ dressage sets and cool rider wear to go alongside it. PS of Sweden bridles weren’t easily available in the UK at the time, so I took a leap of faith and got in touch. A couple of weeks later our first bridles landed on the website to purchase (along with some saddle pads of course!) and a month or so later the first trial bridle went out on hire. We are now regularly recommended as the ‘go to’ seller for bridles in the UK and are able to offer fitting and style advice as well which is amazing!

Thirdly, I’m really proud of saying no this year. That sounds like a really funny thing to be proud of doesn’t it? I’m the first to admit, I’ve made some mistakes with my business. Its easy to be swept up in the excitement of a new collection and want to order everything the brand has to offer. Its easy to be led by what other retailers are buying and what the ‘key lines’ for the season are. I’ll own up, there have been moments when I’ve unpacked a collection months down the line, and thought “who on earth ordered this?!” but these mistakes have given me the confidence in my own knowledge of our customers and what they want from Equissentials Dressage to be able to say “no, I don’t think thats quite right for us”.

Rider by Horse – Winter ’18

The fourth thing I’m proud of sort of ties in with that – its about not being afraid to do something your own way. I’m really proud of the fact Equissentials Dressage stocks and supports smaller brands an that we’ve stayed true to that. I’m even more proud of the fact we were the first UK stockists of Rider by Horse & PS of Sweden to name two. Its so easy to watch other retailers and get caught up in trends and changes – but you really have to think about if it will work for you and your business first and foremost. By all means, try it – but don’t be afraid to say it isn’t right for you. After all, why waste precious time on things that aren’t helping?

Bring on 2019!

Last of all, I’m so proud of the fact I’ve held it together this year. Its been a tough one in my personal life, and losing my childhood pony in November just about rounded a really rubbish year off. I’m definitely excited to wave goodbye to 2018 and see what opportunities are just around the corner.

Follow the hashtag on Instagram and Facebook #5thingsimproudof, will you be joining in?

Boxing Day/January Sale

It’s in full swing over on the website with 20% off all the seasonal collections with the code Boxing20

Don’t forget to tag our social media pages in your photos!

Spotlight on PS of Sweden Bridles

PS of Sweden is the world leader in the design and creation of anatomical bridles – with a brand ethos that encompasses the innovative nature of the brand and their absolute certainty that they’ll be at the forefront of performance horsewear – its not difficult to see why so many riders have them hanging in the tack room.

Each bridle design is subject to a rigorous design and development programme, which takes around 10 months on average, to ensure they truly are the best they can be for horse comfort and performance. Crafted from the finest English leather, each design is unique and aims to deliver the maximum comfort to the horse by avoiding sensitive facial nerves and pressure points.

PS of Sweden – Snaffle Relief Headpiece

The innovative PS of Sweden headpiece reduces poll pressure by being shaped behind the sensitive base of the ears and offering comfort padding. When combined with the unique cheekpiece and noseband designs it revolutionises the way a bridle works – horses are more comfortable and many undesirable habits may be alleviated: head shaking, teeth grinding and general resistance for example.

Each design is suited to relieving a particular pressure point, supporting the correction of a specific behaviour or simply just designed to offer the best possible support for training a particular discipline.

Each design can be bought as a bridle – or as a standalone noseband. The headpiece can also be bought individually. Sweden recommend the bridles are used as a complete set up for maximum benefit, but the noseband option gives flexibility and freedom for riders to switch between styles for different disciplines and activities.

Bridles are available from Equissentials Dressage to purchase – and we also offer a no obligation 14 day trial service on some of the more popular styles.

Look out in the new year for more to be added to the hire range.

Schooling Sunday – Starting Youngsters

Young horses are very much a blank canvas, even if they’ve been backed and ridden away before coming to you – they’ll still need you to guide them and show them the ropes.

Having a really clear system – rooted in the scales of training – helps the horse to understand whats expected but also gives you as the rider a ‘get out of jail’ card should you need it! We’ve all been there!

Babies need to learn to move forwards from the leg aid, and this comes before anything else. They’re allowed to wobble a bit, but they must go forwards before you think about the straightness of the movement. Once they’re forward, you can think about influencing the direction of travel – turning right, turning left, riding a circle or a square and being a bit straighter between the hand and the leg. This then becomes the basis of everything you do – they’re forward, straight and hopefully going in the direction you’d like!

Once you’re there, you can think about using a little bit of shoulder fore and very shallow leg yields to get the horse thinking about the inside leg and rein aids and what they mean but always keeping the forwardness of the gait.

This then becomes the next block in the training system you’re developing, so if you get stuck or the horse doesn’t understand you can bring it right back to the bottom bricks of forward and straight, make it easy and then build on from there to give the horse confidence to work on from.

This becomes your ‘safe place’ to go back to when you’re stuck or struggling – even if that means you pop them onto a 20 metre circle and ride quietly forwards round the circle a few times before coming back to the work you were doing.

You can then take this forward into riding the movements in a test when the horse becomes a bit more established – breaking the movement down into chunks and stepping back a step if the horse gets confused or stuck until you’re in a place you can work forwards from. If they make a mistake, thats okay – we can learn from that, just wait, find the rhythm and go again. If they make a mistake through trying, thats okay – just repeat and praise when its right.

Spotlight on – Rider by Horse

We first brought the super stylish Danish brand ‘Rider by Horse’ to the UK in 2015 and were the first UK retailer to stock the brand. Since then, we’ve worked closely with the brand owner to grow a UK following of this fantastic range – and its really not hard to see why it quite literally flies out each season. If you’re new to ‘matchy’ or the brand ,let me tell you why its so flippin’ amazing!

Rider by Horse – Air 1 Indigo

The brand focuses on optimum performance for the horse and has a really clever wick lining and vented spine design. You’d be forgiven for thinking the super cool features would come at a cost to the fashion side of the coin – you’d be so wrong! The designs are gorgeous, bright colours, glossy finishes, subtle sparkle bindings and THAT completely unique metal plate style logo. Its completely like nothing else we’ve ever seen, and frankly – we’re obsessed.

unique vented spine design

 The winter 2018 collection is now on sale on the website and features some updates to previous seasons designs making it a truly special collection. The collection boasts an upgraded lining – the new soft iQ – which is an even softer fabric with antisweat wicking properties to increase horse comfort. “make your horse feel better” is the key message for the new lining. New for 2018 is the ‘Exclusiv’ range, with smaller quilt pattern and a reduced size subtle metal tag logo to the binding. Don’t worry, the much adored ‘platinum’ range is still available with the large plate logo thats very much a key part of the brand and its identify.

Rider by Horse – Platinum almost black

You can’t talk about the collections without mentioning the infamous ‘bum warmer’ quarter sheet, this season there were two styles. One modelled on the very classic feeling ‘Exclusiv’ range, and one on the ‘Platinum’ range.

Exclusiv Grey quarter sheet

Shop the winter collection of horse fashion at www.equissentialsdressage.com