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professional advice for every rider

All of us have issues with our horses and our own ability in the saddle.

If you have got in a muddle and need some advice, write to me at and I'll get back to you with a solution (when I get five minutes to take the time).

Here are some examples of recent questions and answers:


What is the difference between BS Notional Prizemoney and Actual Prizemoney?

The rules are quite complex, but I'll try and explain it in simple terms.

Notional Prizemoney is a sum fixed by the BS that a competitor wins for being placed in a class. For example, the Notional Prizemoney is £15 for winning a Senior British Novice.

Sometimes the prizemoney for a class is subsidised (topped-up) by the organisers or sponsors. They could offer £25 for winning a Senior British Novice, which is referred to as the Actual Prizemoney - of which £15 is Notional.

Notional winnings count towards the grading of the horse and dictate the class in which it can compete, preventing horses from entering lower grade classes after previously proving winning ability at that grade or indeed a higher grade. Discounting the Actual winnings from grading prevents a highly subsidised win upgrading a horse beyond the grade reflected by it's performance, i.e. generous sponsorhip could provide prizemoney of £150 for winning Senior British Novice — the equivalent of ten BS wins.

In a nutshell, the Actual Prizemoney is the total amount the horse has 'actually' won and the Notional Prizemoney is the portion of that amount (fixed by the BS) that gives you a 'notion' of the horse's capability.

There are further rules for this pertaining to the number of entries received and allocating money which can be found in the BS hand book on page 50; rule 67.

Hi Emma, My horse is Pre-Novice eventing and has been doing very well. Suddenly he has a lot less energy and seems dull. He has not lost weight or appetite, what do you think could be the problem?

Well done for getting your horse out and about at Pre-Novice. I would think that one or more of the following issues is the problem:

  • The horse may have a virus which is draining him of energy and making him lethargic.
  • He is finding the workload difficult and needs more feed/energy/vitamins.
  • He is bored in his job.

I suggest to have his blood tested by a vet to identify if he has any physical problems that may be leading to his lethargy. While the vet is there you should ask him to give your horse a vitamin B12 injection; this will revive his system and stimulate his appetite.

If the bloods come back clear, then try him on a product called ‘Re-mount’ which is a liver tonic and will help revive his system.

Also check your feed regime, many horses suffer from cereal intolerance, and if you are increasing his feed to give him more energy but he is intolerant of the ingredients it will have a reverse effect as his system will be trying to break-down the nutrients inefficiently. If this is the problem turn to a fibre based diet with oils and soya for energy.

If he is becoming bored in his job, perhaps try to give him a week off work and training. When you bring him back to work, try to hack out as often as possible and introduce some schooling whilst out hacking to keep him supple working well.

I hope this helps, good luck! Emma

I have a problem with my horse when I canter, gallop or trot; he puts his head up really high and starts to jog everywhere. He does have a dished back from being broken too early by previous owners. He's 13, what can I do to help ?

Sorry to hear you are having problems with your pony. It is quite difficult for me to advise on this problem without seeing the both of you in action.

Assuming that you are riding your pony correctly using the leg, seat and hand to complement each other then I would look at the following:

  • Is your pony in discomfort in his mouth or back? Check that your saddle and bit are fitted correctly and then possibly ask a chiropractor or physiotherapist to assess your pony’s physical well being.
  • Do you have your pony’s teeth rasped at least once a year? If not he could be experiencing some discomfort in his mouth with sharp edges, etc.
  • Ensure you are not putting too much pressure down the reins, which may cause resistance.

When schooling, try and use a combination of you leg, seat and hand aids to encourage your horse to stop rushing forward. Establish some good, correct work on a circle in walk and then progress to a few trot strides. If these few strides are good, come back to walk, repeat again and add a few more strides of trot. Continue to repeat the circles with a few more trot strides each time, but do build up gradually. This is called positive reinforcement. Do the same all the way through the gaits until you have some good strides in each pace.

Hi Emma, can I show my Welsh Crossbred in Mountain and Moorland classes?
Yes, you can, providing it is a Welsh full or part-bred class. If the horse has a Welsh Pony and Cob Society passport, you'll be able to confirm the breeding and enter classes accordingly. Most local showing classes are not affiliated to any specific society and therefore are open to wider entries from crossbred horses.
What product do you recommend for Mud Fever?
I recommend Muddy Marvel lotion. Wash the legs off thoroughly with saline solution (salt water) and then rinse with clean water. Dry completely with clean towel. Rub the lotion into the cracks and leave to dry. Continue to keep the area clean and dry, and massage the product into the scabs until they loosen. If possible do not let the legs get wet/muddy until the sores are healed. Once healed protect the area with Protocon ointment – it’s reliability and effectiveness is proven by the fact it has been on the market for over 20 years.
Why won’t my horse strike off onto the right lead leg?

Without seeing you and your horse make the transition into canter it is difficult to completely identify the problem, however the main reasons are usually as follows:

  1. Your aids (the way you ask your horse to perform movements and transitions with your body) may be incorrect or confusing for your horse. Your seat should be in the saddle as you prepare to ask the horse to go into canter, therefore a transition up to canter should be made from sitting trot. On the right rein ask for canter approaching a corner or bend in the school or field, ask for some inside flexion through the horses head and neck with your inside rein (the right rein) once this is achieved the main control is with the outside rein (the left rein), which regulates the flexion and speed, the inside leg maintains the bend when the inside rein comes ‘softer’. With your legs ask the horse to 'strike off' onto the correct lead by bringing the outside leg behind the girth, and create the energy and drive with the inside leg on the girth, making a concise squeeze at to ask the horse to 'move up a gear'.
  2. The horse may have a physical problem. The areas this may affect the transition are the inside hind leg or the sacroiliac joints and surrounding tissues. Because both of these areas come under more demand in the transition, the horse may be trying to avoid the pain by avoiding the transition. If your aids are correct and you have sought help from a qualified instructor on site, it may be an idea to consult your vet.
  3. The horse may not be schooled to strike off on this leg. After years of favouring a leg (perhaps when hacking) you may not be specifying the required lead, and your horse may be in a bad habit of choosing for himself. To rectify this, school your horse using the above aids on a 20 metre circle, and ask for transitions into and out of canter in quick succession, i.e. trot for 10 strides, canter for 10, then trot for 10, and so on. Repeat this exercise (and if need be use a smaller circle to encourage the bend for the initial transition) for up to four circles praising your horse every time he makes the correct strike off. Positively reinforce the correct transition, but make sure you do not ask too much of your horse as he may become tired very quickly if he is not used to using these muscles.

Make sure you always praise your horse for doing as you ask him. He will want to please you and reward his efforts.

Hope this helps! Emma.

What type of horse would be most suited to Eventing?

The requirements for a modern event horse are evolving. With the change of format an event can be won or lost on the Dressage phase.

Horses can be expertly trained to be correct in their way of going, but natural paces cannot really be improved on. It is for this reason that your potential purchase must have the natural ability and quality of paces to have an equal chance of being in contention after the Dressage phase.

Furthermore, the horse must be of calm and brave temperament for it to be able to complete the Cross Country with a fairly able jump. Horses for eventing do not need to be able to jump any higher than 1.40m, but they must be brave enough to try all sorts of obstacles.

He must also be careful enough over the Show Jumping phase to enable you not to add lots of penalty points to your overall score. Balance and a naturally athletic, adjustable stride and jump are advantageous for this phase.

Gone are the days when a full bred Thoroughbred is the only choice for the discerning event horse owner. Warmblood/Thoroughbred is now a common choice. This is because the elegant movement of the Warmblood crossed with the bravery and stamina of the Thoroughbred can provide the ideal specimen. Another common choice is Irish Draught/Thoroughbred. The Irish Draught adds bone and hardiness to the athletic qualities of the Thoroughbred.

Above all though the horse must suit your specific needs. Please see my Horsematch page for advice in choosing the right horse for you.

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