Shaun Mandy’s dressage blog: is this the bridle of my dreams?

  • Dear gorgeous readers,

    Change is in the air! Since returning home from Denmark, I have been based with the Sticklands at their beautiful yard near Malmesbury, Wiltshire. I can’t believe it has nearly been five months…where does the time go?! This has been a great stepping stone for me, but the time has now come for me to step to Oxfordshire where the majority of my clients are.

    I am very excited to be moving to the wonderful yard that is Gainfield, owned by fellow dressage rider and trainer, Debbie Beasant. Gainfield has great facilities, including an indoor and two outdoor arenas, so I will still be offering my training, competition and sales livery. I currently have two booked in from day one (1 August).

    The new Fairfax bridle

    So when I spoke to you last, I was about to trial the new Fairfax double bridle. Vanessa Fairfax did a talk at Colne Saddlery about the research and science behind the bridle. It was fascinating to see the results, measured by pliance pressure pads as well as how pressure from bridles influences knee/hock flexion and gait action, which was being measured through high speed cameras and computers.

    The bridle is designed to significantly reduce pressure in six key zones around the head, articulating and moving in harmony with the horse’s head during each stride. Every horse that took shaun take 2part in the scientific trails showed an increased freedom of movement while wearing the bridle. According to the manufacturers, the bridle reduces pressure by up to 84%, allowing greater forelimb extension, and reduces force by up to 77%, so increasing knee and hock flexion.

    I was sold and very much looking forward to feeling the difference with Poppy the following day! I was first to go at 8:30am at Eddie Stibbe and Debbie Brookes’ yard. Rein gauges were attached to my reins first using my own bridle. This was linked to the computer so the pressure on each rein could be measured.

    After riding through some exercises, I had a look at the computer and it showed that my left rein always peaked with a higher pressure than my right (knowing me and Poppy, I was not surprised!) Interestingly when riding in the Fairfax bridle with the rein gauges, the pressure evened out with only a very slight difference. I also, straight away, felt a difference when riding Poppy in the Fairfax bridle with self carriage being easier to maintain.

    For those of you saying, well of course she was warmed up first in my bridle so by the time I had the Fairfax on it should have been better… all the tests have been done starting in own bridle and switching to Fairfax and visa versa. In both scenarios the Fairfax bridle saw better results.

    Fun in France

    So, France was a blast! My bestie, Elodie Frost, and I joined a good friend of mine, Richard Vessey, at his chateau in Seconzac, near Congac. It was a gorgeous three days of hot sun, chilled wine, relaxation…and the odd bit of tractor mowing! My tractor got a flat, so sadly Elodie had to IMG_0901do most of the mowing herself!

    We nearly didn’t make our early morning flight from Gatwick. I really don’t know what it is about me, planes and mini dramas! Els had booked one of those valet parking services where you drive to the airport and a man meets you and takes your car and parks it somewhere. This all sounds convenient, however, our man did not show!

    We phoned him just before 4:45 to say we would be there at 5am, bearing in mind our flight would be departing at 6:30. At 5:20 and numerous stressy phone calls later, we decided to go with plan B, another company who happened to be waiting around in the car park. We had already pre-paid the original company and so I had to run down to the terminal to draw cash to pay the new man. The cash point was out of service. You know when you having one of those nightmares that you really want to wake up from? This was one of them! We managed to do the deal just before 6am and sprint through security to make our flight by the skin of our teeth!

    Life back home

    So as you all know, when making plans with horses, directions often change. Sadly due to Poppy IMG_0872having to have a couple of weeks ‘spa time’, I had to withdraw from Sparsholt and Hartpury Premier League. She is now back in work and feeling great so I am looking forward to an outing at Hunters this Sunday for the mediums before the Summer Regionals at Mount Ballan on 5 August. Fingers crossed! I have some training with Peter Storr coming up so I’m looking forward to that too.

    I had a great day at Barbury International Horse Trials recently where I had three clients to warm up for the dressage phase. The sun was shining and the atmosphere was super! There were a few exciteable moments, but I was pleased with all of them and have high hopes for one of my rider/horse combinations, who will be heading to Blenheim International not too long from now!

    To complete Barbury weekend, I attended the party with some good friends. Naturally we had a ball and danced to the wee hours of the morning, before sleeping upside down in a lorry…don’t ask!

    Until soon

    Shaun xx

    Body Mind Mastery quote: I learned to speak as I learned to skate or cycle: by doggedly making a fool of myself until I got used to it. – George Bernard Shaw

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