The Mama Equestrian

Support for mothers who also love horses

Category: Equestrian Life (page 1 of 2)

Bridleway Access!

After seeing yet another post regarding poor bridleway access I decided to share some thoughts on our access! I have been at a few different livery yards with various access, some good and some not so good. What I find annoying is that compared to walkers and cyclist us horse riders get such a raw deal! I know some say that horses ruin the ground, to be honest, that’s rubbish. I’ve attended lots of horse events and the paths where people walk have been trashed compared to the routes that the horses have been on. Some people complain about the horse poo but again this not a danger to people, unlike dog poo which can cause blindness.

Since November 2016 315 horses and 43 riders have died on the roads with over 3,700 road incidents being reported. To break this down a bit further from March 2018 to 2019 there were 845 road incidents which resulted in 87 horse deaths and 4 people, this was an increase of 109% from the year before.

I’ve seen many posts about near misses and people trying to raise awareness and some of the comments are appalling and mainly written by men! These are a few of the stupid inappropriate comments I have read:

“Go and ride in a field” 

“Roads are for cars”

“Do you have tax and insurance for that to be on the roads”

According to a sport England survey, horse riding has increased by nearly 50,000 in the last year with 88% being women. Horse riding is great for emotional well-being and hacking is one of my favourite things to do and we are signed up to the Your Horse #Hack1000miles challenge along with several thousand others who enjoy riding around the countryside. However, like most to gain access to some of our bridleways, we also have to access roads from time to time.

Am I a fan of riding on the roads? No, not really but it is sometimes essential to get to another route.

What you should know is that none of us want to get in anyone’s way, we are not out to make your life hard or hold you up and all we ask for is a bit of patience and a few minutes of your time! Our horses mean a great deal to us just like your dog or cat does and we would be devastated if anything was to harm or even kill them! You also need to remember that horse riders themselves also have families who would be lost without their mum, dad, daughter, sister, etc.

Riding a horse can be unpredictable at times and even the most bombproof horse can spook at something and nothing when they are out.

People will say don’t ride on the roads if your horse isn’t trained, firstly they don’t learn if they aren’t exposed and secondly, riders can see far more than what you can in your car and we might have seen something the other side of a wall or hedge, which may cause the horse to spook. Therefore, passing appropriately and paying attention to the riders will keep everyone safe, again riders aren’t signalling to you for the fun of it! However, I do think that drivers are often unaware of the signals used by riders to help both them and you. Below are some common hand signals and what they mean!


There are several campaigns around to help raise awareness for drivers on how to pass horses on the roads. The British Horse Society (BHS) has joined up with local Police in some areas to help educate drivers and target inappropriate drivers by using the plain-clothed mounted section to patrol problem areas. You may have seen a few adverts for some of the common campaigns on Facebook. The British horse society campaign Dead or dead slow, have made the following video to show how to pass horses safely on the road.

Any accidents or near misses can be reported to the BHS to help them identify any problem areas and it is important to do so, here is the link to report your horse incident with them.

There is also a Pass wide and Slow Facebook open group, which are campaigning for better horse road safety. They have started a petition for horse riders to be able to use government-funded off-road tracks. Please if you can click the link above and help this petition to reach its target of 50,000 signatures. Each year they have also arranged meet ups in several areas to highlight the campaign and raise awareness for others, do take a look at their group for future events which may be running in your area or if you fancy setting one up.


So you may ask what else you as a horse rider can do to help, as the roads become increasingly dangerous to ride on?

You could get involved with the 2026 project from the BHS. On 1 January 2026, bridleways in England and Wales that aren’t formally recorded will be lost to the public. Our aim is to safeguard bridleways for public use so that equestrians today and in the future have safe off-road routes to ride on.

These unrecorded routes actually exist in law, but have never been registered on the definitive map, the legal record of public rights of way.

Just because you currently ride on a route doesn’t mean it’s recorded and protected from being removed! In England, horse riders only have access to 22% of public rights of way; the more of the off-road network we lose, the more horses will have to be ridden on today’s ever-dangerous roads.

When you do hack out also make sure that you can be seen well by all and a lot of riders are also opting for a head or body cam to record not only their ride but any potential incidents on the roads. Wearing hi-viz can make a lot of difference as to if you are seen early on making drivers more likely to notice you. Lots of different colours are also beneficial rather than just the one colour. The photo below shows the importance of good hi-viz.


What is the hacking like in your area? We have just moved yards and currently haven’t explored any of the new routes due to the coronavirus lockdown. I do know that we have a small stretch of road to reach one of the bridelways but there are also a few grass verges that we can possible use if needed. I am looking forward to exploring when life returns to normal at some point, I just hope that we don’t loose the summer after having such a wet stormy winter.

Feel free to use the comments option to tell me about your hacking and bridleways and if you have been involved in any of the campaigns mentioned.

Take care and stay safe.

My 10 favourite equestrian items.

Here I am going to share with you my ten favourite equestrian items. I have a real mixture of items, some are for riding and others those I just like when attending the yard.

No.1 – LeMieux saddle pad, I have numerous colours of these, my favourite is the close contact style as this sits nicely under the saddle. I also have a couple of dressage pads too. I love the vibrant colours of these pads and they wash up well too.

No.2 – Waterproof Chaps, I absolutely adore these items in winter, they are warm and keep me dry when riding and protect against the constant winter mud. I love how easy they are to put on, they have zips and velcro down each side with an adjustable waist and clip.

No.3 – Bobble hat, you can’t go wrong with a good woolly bobble hat, my favourite hat I got at your horse live by House of Tweed. I got a lovely purple one which came with two detachable bobbles which you can change depending on your mood. With all the wind I can get bad ears and a bobble hat protects me from ending up with ear pain when visiting the yard, they are also helpful for hiding bad hair days or when I just can’t be bothered to do my hair!

No.4 – Best friend comfort plus bareback pad, I absolutely adore this pad, it comes with a non-slip breathable girth and had D-rings which I connected a balance strap too (not used now). I found this pad extremely comfortable and has helped to improve my riding and was what I was using to originally go out alone. I would definitely say that bareback riding has improved my core muscles and balance. 

No.5 – Hi-Viz items, we have a great growing collection of items now, our most recent items added are tail streamers which I recently received as a present for my birthday. I think hi-viz is very important especially when riding on roads but we use it everywhere to alert people that there is a horse and rider around as this gives people a chance to put dogs on leads etc.

No.6 – Equilab, I have been using this riding app for a while now and love it, it has recently been updated and includes useful information about your rides, including strides, turns, etc. I love it as it allows me to track my miles for #hack1000miles. You are able to add friends too and can upgrade to a premium version, however, the free one has been sufficient for me but the paid version has a handy riding alert if you should fall. I find that it links well to google too and syncs with my smartwatch. Click the logo below to find out more and be able to download the app.

No.7 – Travel mug, apart from gin I do love a good cuppa and so a travel mug is ideal for the yard, especially on these cold and miserable days with the likes of storm Ciara and Dennis making it feels so much colder than it is! I have to have builders tea though with two sugars (obviously I’m not sweet enough), how do you take yours?

No.8 – Mane and tail spray, I recently brought the Naf silky as my current spray had run out and being an owner of a cob with lots of hair a good spray is necessary to maintain his luscious locks. This spray smells lovely and will be one I will be keeping in large supply and the price I found to be reasonable for a decent size bottle!

No.9 – Sheldon Jodphurs, these are my absolute favourite and most comfortable Jodphurs, in a cozi stretchy fabric, they are my go-to pairs and are often found at horse shows at a reasonable price so I will get a pair or two to up my collection.


No.10 – My final item is again a recent gift for my birthday, this time from my lovely horsey daughter, I don’t have a link for these but they can be found on Facebook to order. I was treated to a browband and matching paracord reins, in my favourite colours and who can resist a bit of matchy-matchy! 


I hope you have enjoyed reading about my favourite equestrian items, they may not be the most expensive items but I believe in living within my means. However, that does not mean that I cannot enjoy horses just as much as those who have deeper pockets, I think everyone who wants to should be able to enjoy these great animals. His welfare always comes first and he certainly goes without nothing. 

What are your favourite items for the yard? Please comment below and let me know.

**This post contains some affiliate links, there is no charge to yourself if you click through to them. However, should you make a purchase then I will receive a tiny bit of commission**

January ride report!

This weeks blog post is live and I am SO excited about it… because it’s my January ride reports! 🙌🏻 Firstly can I say hallelujah that January has finally come to an end, this month goes on forever, I’m sure all the calendars are wrong and there are really 131 days in this never ending sodding month! However, we have made it to February and the days are gradually getting lighter, so I no longer have to go to and from work in the dark!

Despite the cold, wet weather and an illness I have managed a number of rides this month and completed 12.7 miles! Now I know to some this will seem like an insignificant amount but to me it is amazing, seeing as this time last year me and Fred could barely get out the yard alone. Most of the rides this month have been alone, due to work commitments and a poorly field companion who we ride with, as she has had some box rest this month!

Early on in the month I pulled on my big girl pants and made the decision to take my saddle out for the first time when riding alone, as normally I have been taking my bareback pad. However, we also have some new hi-viz items and I wanted to try these out too and needed my saddle. This ride was amazing and we managed a few canters all by ourselves, again something that we have done little of alone. We passed a cyclist, dog walkers and cars with no problems, we had one small spook mid canter but he looked after me and I stays securely in my seat. One thing that bareback riding has helped with, is my core muscles and I have found a big improvement in my normal riding since using this.

Alongside hacking, we have also completed two schooling sessions this month, which were the best we have ever had, not to mention this longest! We concentrated on some flat work with poles and the second time we did some jumping too. Fred is rising 6 this year, so I have made the decision to increase his schooling this year and to do a lesson every 2 weeks, so far so good and he has taken to it well! He used to nap terribly to the gate and this has improved so much, he certainly knows what to do and keeps a nice outline, he really does seem easy to train and is a quick learner!

In other news for January, the blog was listed as one of the top 25 UK equestrian bloggers to follow, Feedspot emailed me to let me know and I thrilled to be included. Feedspot has a team of over 25 experts whose goal is to discover and rank popular blogs, podcasts and youtube channels in several niche categories. Do take a look and see if you can find your next equestrian blogger to follow!
I hope you have enjoyed our ride report, I may not complete these every month but will update more regularly on our progress throughout the year. If you like what you have read please give us a like or even better feel free to leave a comment below and let us know what you have been up in January, the month that lasts forever!!

Equestrian Bloggers list for 2020.

Here is my 2020 list of Equestrian bloggers who I follow and enjoy reading, some I have followed for a while, whilst others are fairly new. I hope you enjoy reading through my list and possibly find some new and interesting bloggers to follow. If you follow someone who you think I would like to know about, then please leave me a comment below!

No 1. In due horse Written by Louise Dando, Louise lives in France and blogs about all types of equestrian life, from riding, to events, fashion and travel. She also has an In due horse bookclub group on Facebook and is one of 3 bloggers who co-host a podcast called Equestrian pulse.

No 2. Timid Rider is also a co-host of Equestrian Pulse podcast and the blog is written by the lovely Heather Wallace. Heather has written a few books: Confessions of a Timid Rider, Equestrian Handbook of Excuses and most recently Girl Forward. Heather is a returning adult rider and mother and blogs about confidence issues in the saddle.

No 3. The Sand Arena Ballerina is our 3rd blogger and another co-host of the Equestrian Pulse podcast. Andrea Parker loves horses and is a dressage rider working towards Grand Prix, she was a finalist in the 2019 Equestrian Blogger/Vlogger of the year award.

No 4. Coco – The Big Irish Grey This blogger has a Facebook page, where she shares her adventures of riding through a visual blog, with lots of photos. Written by Caroline a disabled rider, who says her horse is her wings to freedom!

No 5. Galloping Dinnerplates This next blogger I know on a more personal level and I have recently started to follow her adventures, as a para rider, who competes in endurance rides in the UK.

No 6. Diary of A Wimpy Eventer has many followers in her adventures, as an eventer struggling with confidence. Victoria has written a trilogy of books about her Wimpy adventures along with producing Brave clothing. Victoria has recently had a huge life event by having a baby and becoming a fellow mama equestrian!

No 7. Blog of a bargain cob This next blog is written through the eyes of Pepper a 20yr old cob, who refers to his owner as the human. Pepper is not always impressed with his humans ideas and tells us all about it in his amusing blog posts!

No 8. Life between grey ears This final blogger also writes about confidence and dressage. She owns 3 horses and 2 dogs and her newist addition is a 6yr old Irish draught who she hopes to do a bit of everything with whilst rebuilding her confidence.

So, there you have 8 of the Equestrian Blogs I follow, there are many more but I simply couldn’t include them all. I hope you find your next favourite blog to follow and remember to let me know about your favourite blogs to follow!

2019 reflections and looking forward to 2020

Anyone who knows me will know I don’t really like New Year, I just don’t get it! However, I couldn’t not reflect on the past year and how much progress me and Fred have made. Now don’t get me wrong it has not been without its ups and downs and the beginning of 2019 started out badly with a bit of a confidence knock after a hard fall in the school. We went back to groundwork and continued to hack as this was still fine, most of the time and only in company. If I tried to hack alone he would try to return to the yard which was frustrating and put me off trying.

Then in April we moved yards and everything fell into place, he settled well and once again was the horse I knew before moving to the previous yard, it is strange how they react at some places. We started to hack out alone and he has grown in confidence doing so and we are now also schooling alone, both of these things seemed impossible this time last year and it is amazing to see the difference. We have been doing bits of jumping also both out hacking and in the school, he loves to jump and will now go well once pointed at the jump, in fact, it is hard to get him away from it and wants to repeat it again and again!

First proper jump in a year

Schooling all by ourselves

Hacking alone

We have been doing lots of bareback work this summer (can definitely recommend the comfort plus bareback pad) and this has helped to improve my balance and core and I do now prefer it where possible. We even had a few canters bareback which was funny, to begin with as Fred really wasn’t sure about this new concept so would attempt a really fast trot, to begin with until he decided it was ok and that he could canter without a saddle. We have been increasing our hacking miles both alone and with others as I often ride with my daughter and her horse also. I am still working on my #Hack1000miles, we might finish it in 3 yrs time haha.

We also made it onto the equestrian bloggers list written by the talented Team Tunnah Eventing, this was a lovely surprise and spurred me on to keep blogging.

Looking forward to 2020 I have invested in a dressage saddle and plan to do more schooling as Fred is rising 6 this year, I would like to take him to some pleasure rides, as much as I like the idea of hunting I am not sure he is quite level headed enough for this yet! I would like to do some more jumping and try a small course rather than just the one and of course, we will continue to hack as this is our favourite thing to do. Most of all I hope that we are both happy and healthy and continue to love what we do as this is the most important thing. I am sure the year will start slow as so far we have been lucky with the weather but I am sure we have more winter to experience just yet. I am looking forward to the days drawing out now Christmas has gone as by the end of January it should still be light in the evenings for a little longer.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy 2020 and happy riding to all!

Book review of Charlie Mackesy!

I first came across the work of Charlie Mackesy on Facebook when I saw a lovely simple drawing of a boy and a horse along with a motivational quote. From there I started to follow him and see more of his work. Last month Charlie released his first book full of lovely uplifting quotes and simple yet beautiful illustrations and treated myself to a copy.

Although this is a quick read, it is certainly one that can be read time and time again and will be a great addition to any bookshelf. It is a delightful book about friendship and is ideal to read as a pick me up due to the inspirational and motivating quotes which look for the best in people and situations.

I was first drawn to the original illustration above as this reminded me of how far I and my horse have come in our journey but also of what we have left to do and how far we can go. However, not forgetting how much we have dome so far and what it has taken to get there.

This book is a true keepsake for all ages and I would recommend that everyone has a look at Charlie’s artwork and even consider buying his book either as a treat for yourself or a gift for someone special. He is even due to soon release his artwork to purchase.

Do let me know if you have read the book or if you also like the work of Charlie and how it makes you feel.

** Just a reminder that this post has links to amazon affiliate, no cost to yourself if you click through to the link but if a purchase is made then I will receive a small amount of commission**

Bitless, treeless and barefoot!

The first time the word bitless was mentioned to me I must admit I laughed, I mean surely having no bit would mean no brakes, right? Wrong, this is a common misconception by most in relation to bitless. Before going further, this is not an I hate bits post but about how bitless can have its uses.

Now, what bitless won’t do though is replace bad training and in order to go bitless, the right amount of groundwork and training is still required. For me I tried it after a recommendation from my daughter who rides her 16.1hh mare in a bitless bridle and my then 3-year-old cob wasn’t going well in a bit but rode fine in a halter.

So I made the change and rode for about a year in an English hackamore, now I know you might be thinking that this is a harsh bitless bridle but like a bit, all types can be harsh in the wrong hands. Previously I tried a Waterford bit which again people say are harsh but due to him chewing, the links in it discouraged this behaviour and I have light hands. Being bitless enabled me to teach him how to ride off my seat rather than my hands and now the lightest of touch and a change in weight is enough to change our direction.

IMG-20180531-WA0003 (2)

Hackamore and treeless!


EasyTrek Cross under bridle and Treeless saddle.

There are many different types of bitless bridles around and for a short time, we also tried a Cross under style (see above). However, this just confused him despite groundwork and we quickly returned to his hackamore. For my horse being bitless enabled him to relax and learn without chewing the bit which distracted him from listening to me and concentrating on his surroundings, he was able to grow and mature whilst learning still.

Types of Bitless bridles:

  • Hackamore

  • Cross under

  • Side Pull

  • Bosal

  • Transcend double bridle

  • Easy rider

He’s now 5 and I have changed to ride in an egg-butt lozenge but his time bitless has given him skills, he and I, might not have otherwise gained. He’s very focused on my seat aids and will move simply by me shifting my weight instead of using the reins and bit. I find that he now needs the minimum amount of pressure applying to the reins and he will turn. I may return to bitless in the future for hacking out and use my bit for jumping etc but for now, we are comfortable in what we have and he is working well!

Along with trying bitless, we have also tried a treeless saddle due to his ever-changing shape being a youngster. We tried various treed saddles for some time with nothing being suitable and one even slipping to the side mid-ride, even though it was fitted by a saddle fitter! So for around a year, I rode in an EasyTrek treeless saddle, which suited him well and was very comfortable. Unfortunately though for me, I found that I started to lean forwards in it and this was affecting our riding. Therefore the search began for another saddle and we have now got a lovely GFS general purpose saddle with changeable gullet. This saddle is lovely and comfy and has stopped my bad position.

However, I do also use a best friends bareback pad for smaller hacks. This pad has no stirrups as recommended for a bareback pad, as these can put pressure on the horses back, plus I don’t need them to balance so find it better to use my core muscles to ride. We can walk and trot but canter is work in progress for both of us, we have done it once and it was not as scary as I first thought and he stops well so I didn’t bounce around when transitioning back to walk.

Finally, as you have probably guessed we are also barefoot! I am thankful that he has good feet and has regular trims and check-ups with the farrier to make sure they are maintained. I love the sound of his hooves on the ground and hopefully, he can continue for many years! 

This is us now!

As usual please let me know your thoughts and let me know if you have any similar experiences. Thanks for reading.


Top 5 on my reading list!

Now Autumn is upon us, I enjoy nothing more than snuggling up with a good book. I am going to share with you my upcoming reading list which includes a mixture of horsey and parenting humour!

No.1 on my list is by Victoria Brant of the Wimpy Eventer. I finally completed the set by treating myself to the 3rd and final book when I purchased a signed copy at Burghley horse trials the other week.

No.2 Having read the 1st book in the set ‘Why Mummy Drinks’ by Gill Sims I am eager to read her other 2 books. If you haven’t seen this already then I would recommend for any parent as she gives a very honest account of parenting. She also has a very amusing Facebook page called Peter and Jane. Mummy likes gin and has Judgy the dog (warning though for those who do not like bad language).

No.3 Another horsey one now from the Skint Dressage Daddy. This hilarious author is subjected to all manor of horsey activities and matchy-matchy by his daughter who loves horses and dressage, which he funds! Cannot wait to read this if it is anything like his Facebook posts.

No.4 This one I haven’t yet purchased but is on my Amazon wishlist, the title of this book made me chuckle so thought I would give it a try!

No.5 This final book although on my list, I have already read but as a parent I highly recommend it for a bit of humour. Again there is a Facebook page Hurrah for gin, well-known for its use of stick people for illustrations regarding life with kids. Katie has since written 2 more books along the same lines which I do want to read.

I hope that you have enjoyed my top 5 reads. Please let me know in the comments any other horsey or parenting books which you recommend!

*** Just to make you aware that I have signed up to be an Amazon affiliate as I love Amazon. If you should click through to the links above, no charge will be made to yourself. However, if you make a purchase then I will receive a tiny bit of commission. ***

Number 7 in equestrian bloggers list!

Yesterday I was surprised to have been tagged in a post informing me that we have been included in a post written by the lovely Sophie Tunnah from Team Tunnah Eventing. The post entitled 9 Equestrian Blogs of 2019 listed nine different equestrian bloggers with a little write up about each of them and what they are about.

I was thrilled to see that I had made it onto the list and there we were at Number 7. I had no idea this was being planned and it really made my day.

Please do take a look at Sophie’s blog and the other great blogs on the list and show your support for the equestrian blogger by following their blogs. I love to sit down and catch up with the ups and downs of fellow equestrians and following their progress!

Let me know in the comments of any more blogs I should know about!

                                                        Me and my boy!

Burghley Horse Trials

Saturday I attended one of the UK’s largest and well-known horse trials at Burghley house. The event is open from Wednesday to Sunday with plenty of shopping, young horse events and 3 days of 5-star eventing with dressage, cross country and show jumping having designated days. Saturday was cross-country day which is why we chose to attend on this day. This was my first time ever to Burghley, it was very busy and I observed a variety of people attending from young to old, some found a spot by the sidelines and spent the day enjoying the action from one particular place. Others like us moved around and walked the course, we tried to see at least one horse jump each of the 27 fences.


Burghley House

Before walking around the cross-country course we began the day by exploring the shopping village, which hosted a variety of equestrian and craft stalls, with some well-known brands such as Joules, Noble outfitters and Ariat, along with various food outlets. However, the organisation of the stands I feel could have been improved compared to other shows I have attended. It took us all day to find a particular stall as it was not listed on the directory and the information desk knew nothing of them. Good old Facebook came to the rescue though and we located it before heading home.


The cross-country course however nicely presented made for hard viewing, there were several breaks in riders due to the number of eliminations, refusals, falls and withdrawals. Standing at one point in amongst the crowds as one of the horse and riders had a rotational fall that sent shivers down my spine, as a number of people gasp in horror. It made me question if this course was just a little too much even for 5 star! I watched numerous horses who barely got over several fences and I admire all those who attempted this course, completed or not!


It was lovely though to see some of our best GB riders competing and to see Piggy French, Oliver Townsend and of course, the winner Pippa Funnell complete this tough 4 mile plus course. Overall the day was enjoyable and I am thankful that all horses and riders who fell were able to get up and walk away. Zara Tindall was amongst those who took a fall during the event after having a break from Burghley since 2017, her husband, mother and children were all at the event to offer her support.


What did sadden me was to read that a young French rider Thaïs Meheust (22yrs) died in a cross-country fall at le Pin au Haras, Normandy, after her horse fell at the second fence on the same day as Burghley cross-country. Please click the photo below which links to her Facebook page. This is a huge loss to the eventing world and highlights concerns around the dangers of these complex courses and the sport, yet we continue to get on board time and time again because we love it and the feeling we get from these magnificent animals who allow us to ride upon them.


 Thais Meheust

Despite this sad news and the falls during the day, it was an amazing experience, although very exhausting and my feet were glad when I finally sat down. Would I attend again? More than likes yes, as I do love these events and the sport and acknowledge that even getting on a horse can be dangerous without jumping several large fences. Would I ever attempt such a course? Not at all, thankfully my little horse is much suited to smaller jumps but I do admire those who can and applaud their ability to do so!

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