Ever wonder why your horse toss's his head and evades the bit? It could influence your ride and your horse's way of going. When you have the proper bit it makes the world of difference! It is so important to find the right bit for your horse. That is why I became a dealer for Neue Schule bits!
My own horse Modico is very sensitive. He was evading the contact and tossing his head. I contacted the company and explained my issue. Florence one of the trained bit fitters for Neue Schule recommended the Tacto Turtle D-ring bit for my horse. It made a world of difference! My horse was more accepting of the bit and steadier in the contact too.
NEUE SCHULE USA is the exclusive United States and Canadian distributor for Neue Schule Bits. What sets the brand apart is its focus on progressive and creative innovation, comfort, and high standards.
NEUE SCHULE USA’S philosophy is rooted in Mette Larsen’s vision for successful riding, driven by her love for horses. As the president of this modern equestrian business, Mette’s commitment is to distribute the Neue Schule brand to the equestrian community so that everyone has the opportunity to discover the most comfortable bits for our horses….making for both es and their riders.
If you are having contact issues, listen to your horse and check to be sure your bit is the right one to fit his or her needs and fit your need for that discipline you are riding.
Zebra fly sheets harness 4 million years of evolution to protect your horse from biting flies. Easy to use and inexpensive, they may look a little strange. But, experiments from University of California, Davis, show the lightweight covers with bright black and white stripes dramatically decrease bites from horseflies, deerflies and greenflies.
Zebra stripes baffled scientists for more than a hundred years. What survival advantage contributed to that remarkable black and white coat? Speculation ranged from confusing predators, to signaling other zebras, to cooling skin. Now, PhD scientist Tim Caro thinks he found the answer: horseflies.
Hey, if you lived on the African plain you might want stripes too. Horseflies and other biting flies are more than annoying. Because they feed on blood, they can transmit diseases. This Pennsylvania State Extension Service article includes warnings about equine infectious anemia and tularemia.
Using sophisticated camera tracking, Dr. Caro and his team of researchers found that flies have a hard time landing on stripes. Dr. Caro is a behavioral/evolutionary ecologist and conservation biologist.
They conducted experiments in England with 9 horses and 3 zebras. Direct observations and video recording offered answers. Flies buzzed around horses and zebras at equal rates. However, fly landings, and subsequent biting, were far less for the zebras, concluded Dr. Caro.
Next, the scientists covered some of the horses with various, commercially-available, fly sheets. "One was a dark black Rambo Optimo stable sheet, one was a bright white Shires Equestrian Products One Performance flysheet and neck set, and the third was a black and white irregularly striped BUCAS Buzz-off zebra full neck coat," the study stated.
Zebra Fly Sheets Cause Crash Landings
Scientists observed that flies approaching the zebra stripes, either on the real zebras or zebra fly sheets, either veered off at the last minute or bounced off the animal. They were able to follow the actual fly tracks as they approached, then took evasive action or crashed. (You can see the actual tracks and data in the study.) "Taken together, these findings indicate that, up close, striped surfaces prevented flies from making a controlled landing . . .," the study concluded.
His study states, "Importantly, we discovered that tabanids (scientific name for horseflies) failed to decelerate in the terminal stages of their flights before contacting zebras but not horses. In the last half second they flew faster before landing on or touching a zebra than a horse suggesting they did not see the target, or did not regard the striped surface as an appropriate place to land, or were confused somehow by the stripe pattern perhaps because it disrupted optic flow."
In a New York Times article about his research, Dr. Caro said, “Something is stopping the fly from realizing that it’s close to making a landing. We don’t know what that is, but stripes are exerting an effect to the very last second.”
Cheshire Equestrian Center Has Zebra Fly Sheets for Your Horse
The good news is, we have these fly sheets in stock at Cheshire Equestrian Center. We stock versions from two manufacturers: Shires and HKM.
Shires fly protection comes in three options: body $79.99, neck $24.99, and face mask $46.99. The Shires "Zeb-Tek" zebra fly sheet is lightweight and airy, ultra breathable. It has blanket set chest fastenings and an adjustable fillet strap. Also, the sheet blocks 80% of UV rays. It is machine washable. Small, medium and large sizes are available.
HKM comes as a fly sheet with neck cover attached for $69.95.
Please consider that investing in neck and head protection provides greater relief to your horse. In their study, scientists found that flies attacked horses' unprotected faces with the same ferocity as horses without the zebra patterned fly sheets. From the study, "There was no significant difference in rates of landings on horses’ naked heads even though zebra cloth coats received fewer landings per unit time than black or white cloth coats. This suggests that stripes had little effect at a distance but, once close up, stripes prevented landings, with flies turning their attention to the naked head instead." Perhaps this is why a real zebra's faces and legs have more, and closer together, stripes. However, that remains for a future study.
Shires zebra fly sheets and Zeb-Tek protection kit:
COVID-19 closed several New York Tack Shops for good. At Cheshire Equestrian Center I've been getting lots of inquiries from New York horsewomen and horsemen. Riders in Westchester County, Putnam County, Dutchess County and New York City are showing up at my place in nearby Cheshire, Connecticut.
My heart goes out to the former store owners in New York and around the country. As a fellow horse lover, I wish them only the best. (I understand some were ready to retire and this was a good tipping point for them.)
I can attest that managing an equestrian store with tack for horses, saddlery, riding clothes and all the horse lovers' sundries is a labor of love. It demands your time. It challenges your finances. It pays off in every happy customer.
Fortunately my shop, Cheshire Equestrian Center, has weathered the COVID-19 storm pretty well. Our loyal customers stuck with us. We've picked up new customers as they search the internet for riding gear. I am buying inventory and keeping a good amount of stock on hand.
Offering Hard-to-Find European Brands
Please take a look through my website. I stock a lot of European brands not typically found in our area: Kep Italia helmets, Ego7 Boots, Equestrian Stockholm apparel and saddle pads and more.
Back in November I started adding an e-commerce addition to my site. Good timing. Who knew? My Online Tack Shop was set up soon before the virus hit. Then, in my downtime when closed due to virus, I expanded the online offerings.
All the same, a store visit is still great and now welcome. Certainly, there are times when you'd rather try on a pair of boots or riding pants, than guess on a website. As we all know, seeing a saddle and sitting on it are two very different experiences. And I don't know about you, but I still love to browse. The web is fine, but a physical visit is better for me.
Rest assured, I have rigorous sanitation protocols in place. You will need a mask! I clean the shop thoroughly twice daily. Any items you try on and choose not to purchase are sanitized before they go back on the rack or shelf.
Just Over an Hour's Drive from New York Tack Shops
Many of my New York visitors make a day of it. Really, Cheshire, CT is not that far away from the former — or current — New York Tack Shops. So even if your favorite equestrian store is still open, why not take an hour's drive over to Cheshire, Connecticut and check out my store?
As you can see, we are conveniently located between Interstate Route 84 and Route 15. Route 15 starts as the Hutchinson Parkway in New York, then changes to the Merritt in Connecticut and finally to the Wilbur Cross. Don't you just love GPS?
For example, we're just over an hour from Bedford, NY. or Westchester, NY. On any weekend day it's a nice drive. On a weekday, just wait until after rush hour and get home before evening rush and it's no problem.
My store is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 to 4 on Saturdays. (Sundays and Mondays I'm riding!) For holiday shopping, I'll open Sundays from 11 to 4 in December. Check out my Contact page for details. Feel free to call: 203-439-8004 or fill out the contact form.
Fall Foliage is Spectacular Here
Cheshire is a quaint New England town. My shop is walking distance from the town green and Cheshire Academy. You can walk the grounds or eat outside if the weather's nice.
As you certainly know, this time of year the drive over from New York is about to become spectacular. Fall foliage, especially on the Route 15 parkways, is predicted to be amazing this year. In fact my store is located in the middle of CT Visit's recommended fall foliage drives. (Cheshire Equestrian Center is located something like smack on the "F" of "Foliage" in the map shown.)
Make it a lunch date! Let me know what you like and I can recommend a great local restaurant. Viron Rondo is one of my favorites. Wood-fired pizza oven and locally-sourced Italian cuisine. There's a great coffee shop a block away: Cheshire Coffee.
Again, my heartfelt concern goes out to the owners and employees of New York tack shops and equestrian stores that have closed. If your favorite tack shop has closed — or if you want to enjoy something different — please consider visiting me either online or in person in Cheshire, Connecticut. Many of your fellow New York riders have told me it is well worth the drive. For some, we are now your local tack shop. I promise to do all I can to be worthy of your patronage. Thank you.
By: Margaret Kunz (My Connecticut dressage trainer)
Enjoy this guest blog post by my Connecticut dressage trainer, Margaret Kunz. I must say, opening and managing Cheshire Equestrian Center, a Connecticut tack shop for people and horses, was quite the challenge. But I am loving the customers, people and horses alike. You can see a bit more about me here. Throughout the stress, lessons I learned in dressage riding helped me calmly and purposefully succeed. Sometimes customers are like horses. Here's what I mean . . .
In many equestrian circles the concept of a horse having self-possession is frowned upon. Horses should be brought into submission, dominated, controlled completely lest they go astray and do bad things to their riders–right? hmmm Think again. What really needs to be brought into submission? Not the horse himself but the manner of our requests. You see the horse that has control over himself moves the best, feels the best and reacts to outside stimuli more appropriately.
Self-carriage is more than just a horse moving straight and holding himself up at all times. Self-carriage is not something we force or even ‘ride’ the horse into. It is the result of calmly helping him to feel where to place himself, allowing him to try different options and find what feels the best. The difficulty with all this is that as a result of our not sitting well, asking inappropriately or our demanding in ways that upset balance, very often what the horse choses as the best option doesn’t agree with our plan. For the sake of some pre-conceived notion of correctness or to satisfy some dressage test criteria, we may ask for too much forward motion, too much sideways, too much bend or transition from a poorly balanced posture. It goes without saying that riding a dressage test is difficult but if we really think about what is so difficult we may be less inclined to send in those show entries. Ever notice how so many horses do not make it above second level? It isn’t because they cannot, will not or that the rider is not good enough. I rather believe it is because we have taken away so much of the horse’s sense of self that he gets into a situation where his self-carriage cannot be located.
Rehearsing the shoulder-in over and over does not make a better shoulder-in! And what is the shoulder-in but an exercise to help the horse. If you are having difficulty helping him with an exercise that needs help itself …. hmmmm …. maybe something else is wrong!
This may sound strange but I would like to step back from ‘dressage’ and just look at balance and quiet, testing the waters of motion to see how this affects balance and calmness. Can we get vertical impulsion with all its appropriate tension, not hear the horse huffing and puffing and return to walk and halt with complete ease? What is all this I am speaking of? It is working with the horse’s cooperativeness without taking away from him … allowing him his self-possession …. encouraging it. By this self-carriage is fostered. All we need is patience while the horse tries to make his own adjustments. Contrary to what most would have, the resistances we feel are not to be interpreted as the horse always saying “no” …. the horse trying to defy us. He innately wants to partner with us and we push him away with our disappointments over his seemingly wrong answers to our questions.
Mastering ourselves and how we project our energies through our subtle motions within ‘parameters of stillness’ is key to gaining ease in partnership with the horse. Much can be relayed with no apparent motion from the rider. And likewise much can be disturbed in the horse with improper relay of energy and with too much rider motion. Knowing in the mind what we want, envisioning it, waiting upon the horse for the right postural adjustment and balance makes the resulting response from the horse more like an intelligent and pleasant conversation than a mere shouting match — words flung at each other in careless, thoughtless chatter.
Let me ask this. Do you pause for a moment of peace before you speak to someone, look them in the eye or feel for the energy of the state they are in, get their attention first and then choose appropriate words to say what you want and bring ‘building up’ to your relationship? Think about this. Try it with a person. Feel the difference. Talk to someone who is in a moment of self-possession and you will find optimal balance and peace and good feelings will emanate from the interaction. Words carry energy. By the same token, help your horse to find peace and calm …. self-possession … then choose your conversation well to preserve self-possession and see what amazing self-carriage results.
Adjustable stirrups are a great advantage for all riders! In this post I will tell you how an FEI rider lost $675,000 because of a lost stirrup. I will also tell you about a fantastic adjustable stirrup that I tried myself. I found the inventor of this stirrup and I never met anyone as passionate about stirrups. As a dressage rider this equipment is very important not only for safety, but having the best advantage for completion.
You can see these in person at my CT. tack shop on 116 South Main Street, Cheshire, CT. 06410
MDC Adjustable stirrup
From the MDC adjustable stirrup inventor
A discussion on tack and strategic planning.
Your tack, including stirrups, allows a rider to maximize
their control of the horse during pleasure rides, training and competition.
Good tack provides control and safety and, when used properly, promotes
The test of good tack is not how it performs in the best of
times, but how it performs in the worst of times. When things get difficult,
out of control or downright dangerous, will your tack be there for you and your
horse? If you have children or students, will their tack be there for them as
MDC Stirrups’™ patented design is forward facing allowing
for a natural leg and foot position. This enhanced design provides two
significant benefits to riders of all ages: more reliable retrieval and
increased release during a fall for improved safety. The design of our high traction, ultra-low
profile treads allows for greater support, increased comfort and higher
traction, while not being overly aggressive. We do not make overly light
stirrups for this reason: overly light stirrups may feel good when everything
is going right, but they will tend to 'fly away' when lost compared to stirrups
with a sufficient weight. Stirrups with some residual weight will hang true and
be easier to retrieve. It is the nature
of traditional stirrups to turn back to the horse when lost and as they flatten
to the horse, often they are difficult or even unavailable for retrieval making
them more prone to catch a falling rider’s foot.
When the money or the medals are on the line!
MDC Stirrups at Cheshire Equestrian Center
As a judge of two Olympic Games, I have personally seen riders invest their entire riding career to reach this one competitive moment only to ride through the triple without their stirrups! This is poor, strategic planning for riding at any level, much less the Olympic Games. In his classic book, “Reflections on Riding and Jumping”, William Steinkraus states “when the money or the medals are on the line, I urge you to take every legal advantage you can.” This is strategic thinking.
Whatever type of riding you are enjoying, when you lose your
stirrup, you want it back and you want it back right now! No one rides better
without their stirrups, especially in an emergency. In 2010, Gold Medal Rider,
Eric Lamaze wrote in his blog of a lost stirrup at Spruce Meadows that did not
come back to him, causing him to voluntarily circle before jumping a large
combination. This lost stirrup cost him $675,000.00!! His stirrup of choice
that day was an all-aluminum, light weight stirrup, with no forward facing
I hope you will give some thought to the patented benefits of your MDC adjustable Stirrups™ and continue to have them adjusted for your overall strategic planning. Your MDC Stirrups™ are designed for reliable performance, comfort and safety not by an engineer, but by a rider / trainer who understands the needs of other riders.
Strategic (stra·te·gic), adjective: strategic
the identification of long-term or overall aims and interests and the means of
There's something magical about the bond between horse and rider. It's a partnership going back thousands of years. You can experience the magic this weekend. You can enjoy it for a lifetime. I love horses. In fact, I love the whole experience. This love for horses and riding led me to fulfill a lifelong dream. You can share my dream with a visit to Cheshire Equestrian Center.
Harley, my trail riding quarter horse, and I have been together for more than 20 years. I swear he can read my mind. Sometimes he knows better than I the best path forward. He is always happy to see me. Of course, I enjoy our time together too. In our way we love each other.
Harley and I, friends for more than 20 years. I love horses!
My dressage horse Modico is a training partner. This big Andalusian and I spend lots of time together. We work hard. Our coach is demanding. The work is precise. We must cooperate to perform the precise motions required. Modico is not as easy as Harley, but works hard to please me. I am convinced he enjoys the praise and blue ribbons more than I.
Modico and I work hard on dressage training and competition.
Tack and clothing make the experience
I've always loved the whole experience of gear for both horse and rider. For the horse I love the smell of leather, the feel of a well-fitting saddle, the beauty of bridle and reins. For me, I've always enjoyed having stylish clothing, jackets, boots, pants, helmet, gloves. There's a whole fashion that's wonderfully unique to those of us who ride. I look forward to one day earning my shad belly.
Like any athletic wear, fashion follows function. The great thing about riding clothing is that it looks good and works well too. My CT equestrian center has gear for riding in all seasons and all weather. You will find that proper gear makes every ride better. In this way, your ride lasts longer and is more comfortable. Instead of thinking about being cold or hot, wet or dry, you can love the ride. My CT equestrian center carries a great selection for people.
Even if you do not ride horses, the style and function of riding gear is perfect for country style so popular in Connecticut. Visit my Cheshire store for a great selection of jackets, vests, boots, gloves and more.
Everything for horse and rider at Cheshire Equestrian Center. I love horses!
Tack Matters Too
Proper fitting and functioning tack makes it easier to love the ride. It is better for your horse too. As all riders know, happy horses make for better rides. Love conquers all. But it is hard to ride all day on a poorly fitting saddle. It's bad for you. It can hurt your horse. I carry a great selection of consignment saddles. In the same fashion, my store stocks a variety of products to care for your tack. I highly recommend the soaps and conditioners from Warhorse.
Because I ride, I am particularly sensitive to the value of good tack and gear. I understand the ergonomics of saddles, blankets, stirrups, bridles, reins and more. Most of the products in my CT tack shop I have tested on the trail. I work hard to source the best and most popular brands.
Of course style is important too. One of the fun things about riding horses is the many types of horses, riders and styles. I love traditional tack and also the bright colors and high tech materials of the new gear.
I Love Horses! If You Do Too Please Visit
Please look through my website for more information about my dream come true: a wonderful CT tack shop and CT equestrian center. For the love of horses and riding, I created a store and collection of clothing, tack, horse supplies and so much more. It is there for you. It is there for the love of horses. I look forward to meeting you at Cheshire Equestrian Center.