I’ve helped out and worked in some great yards. Over the years, I’ve collected lots of ideas for what I would do if I ever had my own yard — and now I have, we’ve made it compact and user-friendly.
We have five acres and can see the horses from just about anywhere. My arena is washed silica sand and small rubber chips, which seem to give a better footing than large pieces, and I have a little turnout area with bark floor so the horses can go out no matter how wet it is.
We bought a second-hand horsewalker, which is used as well as, not instead of, work. My husband, Richard, made the centre partitions and it stands on rubber playground flooring bought from the local council.
I’m very lucky and can hack to Ely Eventing Centre for lessons with Tina Ure, which is a real essential. The yard’s other “must have” is farrier Tim Murfitt, who has helped keep my horse sound.
The Simple Systems range works well for my horses, including a 21-year-old in-foal broodmare, her two-year-old and an eight-year-old novice event horse. I feed a basis of lucerne, unmolassed beet and grass nuts — a natural diet that also provides enough fuel for my event horse.
He had a difficult start to his ridden career and the magnesium-based product Nupafeed has really helped to calm him down. He used to be excitable at competitions, but now takes everything in his stride.
All the horses get linseed and brewers yeast and, with the exception of my broodmare, seaweed. They go out every day and have salt licks in their stable.
Working at a tack shop in Cambridgeshire helps me keep up with the latest products, but I try to keep things simple. I use an Albion Selecta saddle with changeable flaps for show jumping and cross-country and I recently bought a second-hand Jaguar dressage saddle through an advert in Horse & Hound.
For young horses, I like bits with full cheeks to help with steering. Older horses often go well in KK Ultra bradoons with a small angled lozenge. I also like French link and Nathe snaffles.
I’m not a gadget person, but I do use a chambon when lungeing to encourage a horse to work over the back. I also use magnetic boots after hard exercise to help the circulation and I’m very interested in homeopathy. I always use Arnica after a competition and for any knocks.
In competition, I use New Equine Wear boots and for everyday use, Clarendon boots. The horses wear fleece-lined boots from Jumpers Horseline when they’re turned out. Their legs don’t get hot underneath them.
This edition of “On the yard” was first published in Horse & Hound (26 May, 05)