Synovium Horse Health UK Director, Vicky Hipkins speaks to Showjumper Gemma Dennis about her experiences on returning to competition after lockdown.
“We are finding ourselves in very strange times at the moment and I for one am finding it very hard to get motivated with the horses due to so many restrictions, rules and regulations constantly changing and never knowing if shows are going to be able to run. For someone like myself who is always so organised and plans their whole show calendar at least a year in advance, the whole not knowing thing is a complete nightmare.
However, there are some positives that have come out of this and I think a lot of showjumpers will agree with me on this one. Pre-entry, the thought of having to pre-enter every single show is most showjumpers biggest anxiety. For me, as much as it has been a big change, I’m actually enjoying having a start time and also knowing what time I’m going to get home! No more having to guess what time to leave and either turning up 2 hours early or when the class is nearly finished. The thing I am enjoying the most is the warmup arenas, limiting them to 5 horses and having a dedicated person doing the warmup fences is complete heaven. I have always been one of those people who has the slightly quirky horse in the warmup and having 15 others racing around you and 10 people stood in the middle really does not work well with them.
This year I have started my homebred 4yo Hugo’s competition career. He is a sensitive soul and can be a bit nervous of horses coming past him fast or a bit close. I took him to a dressage competition for his first outing and mainly because I knew the warmup would be quiet and with the new rules brought in for showjumping, it has been a perfect time to start him. The warms have been calm, I can turn up with the exact time required to get him ready and jump, not being stood on the lorry for hours unsettling him and have a nice relaxing experience without having to fear for my life in the warm up.”
“We had some loading issues with Hugo to begin with and he would always be a little unsettled travelling to. To help with this and coping with the whole show environment, I’ve been using Synoviums Calmingard syringes before I travel him which has helped keep him much more relaxed to the point where he hasn’t needed one his last couple of outings. They are so handy to have as they are fast acting and do not compromise the horse’s ability to perform like some other calmers can. So as much as this year has been quite disappointing for us all, with the restrictions, cancellations of big shows and so on, there have been some positives come out of it to, and I’m actually hoping British Showjumping stick to the pre-entry and 5 in the warm up rule!
My plans for the rest of this year is to build Hugo’s confidence and keep getting him out as much as possible to different venues, mainly training, with the odd competition thrown in. For my other more experienced horse Cobey, I have struggled to keep the weight off her due to lack of shows and her being an extremely good doer! We have been training hard and using the light nights to canter in the Welsh hills after work. This has helped a lot with her fitness, but we still need to shed a few more kilos! I’m always conscious of ulcers when they are on a restricted diet, so as well as feeding low starch and sugar but enough forage to control acid build up, strip grazing and slowing down her haylage consumption, she is also fed Synovium’s Gastrosafe to protect the front and hind gut and give me peace of mind.
I am already planning for next year and there are some exciting new shows on the calendar, so fingers crossed things will be back to some sort of normal soon!”
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