Horse Walkers – What Are They and Why Do We Need Them?

The Horse Walker

The Ultimate Training Tool

What is a Horse Walker?

According to HQ Magazine, “A horse walker is an automated system in which horses are divided through fixed partitions that rotate at a chosen speed, thereby exercising the horse at a consistent pace.”

A horse walker generally looks like a “double lunge ring”, but with the additional of machine driven ‘arms’, off of which gates are hung as partitions between horses.

What are the Benefits Associated with Horse Walkers?

There are infinite benefits to using a horse walker for your horse, these benefits vary of course depending on the type of work. It is thus important to choose the correct work programme for your horse.

Light walking encourages good circulation throughout the body, healthy gut function and loosens, stretches, and strengthens the muscles of the body. It has also been shown that regular use of the walker strengthens bones, tendons and ligaments in horses of all ages.

At a higher intensity the walker can be used for cardiovascular ‘interval training’ to increase fitness, and at a lower intensity it can be used for ‘recovery sessions’ to decrease stiffness after strenuous rides.

Horse walkers are particularly useful at exercising horses during rainy, wet weather, when it is impossible to turn horses out into paddocks. An opportunity to exercise during such weather is vital to preventing muscle stiffness and colic, as exercise increases blood flow and stimulates the gut.

How much will this cost me?

Sessions in the horse walker will cost a flat rate of R450 per month per horse, regardless of how many times you request it’s use. This amount will be invoiced monthly in arrears.

The walker will operate Monday to Friday and your horse can be placed in as many or as few sessions as you like.

A “once off” session will cost R95 per session and must be booked directly with the yard managers or yard owner.

What Programme is Suitable for my Horse?

Please see below our programmes on offer, we can also create custom programmes to suit your individual needs.

Have a chat to the management team for more info!

Golden Oldies

Keeping your horse happy into his Golden Years

A light programme ideal to keep older horses stimulated both physically and mentally.

Light walking of the older horse encourages good circulation throughout the body, healthy gut function and loosens, stretches, and strengthens the muscles of the body, preventing muscle atrophy.

Consistent exercise been proven to strengthen bones, tendons and ligaments in horses of all ages, but is particularly useful in helping the older horse age gracefully.

Light work in older horses has also been shown to reduce boredom and stress associated with retirement or a decreased work-load.

This programme was developed with the older horse in mind, introducing the concept of the horse walker slowly and carefully. By keeping to slower speeds and slightly shorter sessions, undue strain on the limbs and cardiovascular system is prevented.

Interval Training
Level❶

for the Performance Horse

This programme incorporates long, slow work to strengthen bones, ligaments and tendons, cardiovascular ‘interval training’ to increase fitness, as well as ‘recovery sessions’ to decrease stiffness after strenuous rides.

It is ideal for the competitive horse.

The programme starts by slowly introducing both the walker itself and the increase in exercise and then builds up over time to achieve maximum results in the performance horse.

Interval Training
Level❷

The ultimate programme for the High Performance Horse

This programme incorporates long, slow work to strengthen bones, ligaments and tendons, cardiovascular ‘interval training’ to increase fitness, as well as ‘recovery sessions’ to decrease stiffness after strenuous rides.

It is ideal for the very competitive, high performance horse.

The programme starts by slowly introducing both the walker itself and the increase in exercise and then builds up over time to achieve maximum results in the high performance horse.

General Work
Designed for the horse in medium work

A  programme ideal for keeping your horse worked on days you cannot make it to the yard!

Rehab

Custom programmes for rehabilitation

This programme is custom designed to suit each and every horse’s rehabilitation needs, ensuring a quicker and more effective recovery from injury or illness. This programme can be designed to incorporate ‘in hand’ rehabilitation work as well, giving you peace of mind and optimal results.

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The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final and the FEI World Cup™ Final

What a show!!  FEI Longines Show-Jumping and Rolex Dressage Finals held in Paris, France. And even more of a show when you get to go as a spectator with your equally horse mad besties.  After many months of eager anticipation, off we set on Air France to the French Capital.  

We landed early on Tuesday morning, 5.30am early to be exact!  After a sleepless night, we agreed on Ubering our way to our Hotel, which was situated in the 12th Arrondissement, and conveniently located a mere 20min walk from the event which was held in the indoor sports arena and concert Hall, named  the AccorhotelsArena, situated in the ancient suburb of Bercy.

The Bercy district is found on the right bank of the River Seine, and in the 18th Century this area was used extensively for warehousing, and in particular for the storage of wine.   A place after our own hearts! 

Our first day was spent refreshing our memory on a few of Paris’s tourist sites.  A first for all of us was a ride on The Big Wheel at Place de la Concorde, which had magnificent views of the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees and many other recognisable landmarks.    Just be warned, it’s a daunting 70m climb, best to be admired from ground level if you suffer from Vertigo.

Wednesday was showtime! Our first challenge was getting through the very tight security set up around the stadium.   Bag and body checks were the order of the day, but once inside, the atmosphere was one of anticipation and absolute amazement at the level of horsemanship. 

The top 40 riders were selected from 13 qualifying shows held throughout 2017/8  circuit  all across Europe. These horses and riders are the best of the best. 

The atmosphere in the indoor stadium was electric.  Its quite phenomenal how much the horses can tolerate when it comes to a very enthusiastic and very patriotic crowd.  Every time a French rider entered the arena, the crowds went ballistic.  Interestingly, all horses are allowed to wear ear veils, which is light material ‘hood’ over the ears however, only the show-jumping horses are allowed to have ear plugs.  The dressage divas have to do without.  The welfare of the horses is of the utmost importance, and if there is any sign of physical or drug abuse, the horse and rider combination is eliminated from the competition. Horses are randomly selected for anti-doping testing where urine and blood samples are  collected and analysed.

The crowd participation was encouraged with live scoring from the judges, and the spectators were able to download an app on their smart phones called ‘Spectator Judging”, and score each dressage rider.  It was great fun to watch the reactions of the crowd when they compared the two which were projected onto massive screens situated all around the arena.

Our time between classes was spent shopping up a storm in the Boutique Tack vendors set up on the concourse, and of course we had to ensure that the Moet and Chandon stand was up to standard. Glad to report that aside from having to sell a kidney to afford to get even slightly tipsy, all was well in that department.

True to form we did not have one disappointing meal in France.   Breakfast was a feast, started  each morning with  heaps of prosciutto, wonderful fromage, and the warm buttery croissants and pain au chocolat all made on site.  Lunches and dinners included artisanal baguettes from the local boulangerie, Croque-monsieur (pas d’oeuf), delicious Duck Confit with foie gras (I know, but it’s just so delicious),  , and to end it all with a delectable macaron, (not to be confused with a macaroon), and all washed down with a powerful glass of Bordeaux.  We kept ourselves well hydrated in-between meals with glasses of Moet.

So back to the main focus, horses!!   The end result of five days of competing saw Beezie Madden and her phenomenal horse Breitling LS, take first place for the United States.  Second place went to another United States rider, Devin Ryan on his lovely horse Eddie Blue.

The hotly contested dressage final held on the Saturday and won by Isabell Werth (GER), on Weihegold,  second place went to Laura Graves (USA), riding Verdades.  What an electric performance with 16 of the highest qualifiers dancing their dressage tests to beautifully choreographed music.  

Next year the finals are to be held in Lyon, France, and who knows, perhaps there may be enough time in our very hectic schedule to offer our support!!

Till then, au revoire!! 

 — Andrea Altona – De Klerk

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February/March Newsletter

Gledsmuir at Mooikloof Equestrian Estate in Pretoria East

Summer seems to have flown right by us this year and in its haste, has made way for Autumn to take its turn at Mooikloof, bringing with it the relief of cooler evenings, whilst leaving just enough warmth for our rose garden to continue blooming.

Our yard has been a hive of activity over the last month and with multiple projects running concurrently, we are truly grateful for our excellent team of staff and our wonderfully supportive clients. There is really no better way to end a tough day, than to be with our clients around the large, green coffee table for a quick coffee and some light hearted chitchat.

In addition to our regular duties, Andrea and I have been hard at work finishing up our website and, whilst we have already uploaded the majority of our website’s content, we do still have a handful of links and images that have not yet been uploaded –  I must add here that we are tremendously excited to receive the images from our recent photo shoot at the yard, which will be used to complete our website. Though we are not quite finished with our website, we would absolutely love for you to have a quick peep at our progress!

Our maintenance team has been especially productive this month; not only have they finished building our new and rather handy wash bays, they have also nearly completed our new paddock shelters for the horses across the road.

As always, our riders and their instructors have been hard at work preparing for the impending ‘show season’. Based on their results so far, all efforts seem to be paying off!

After a well deserved rest over the festive season, Riana van den Berg, Carlien Ellis and Andrea Altona – De Klerk dusted off the December cobwebs from their show gear and have had a great start to the show jumping season; each of them obtaining at least two lovely clear rounds, giving them a good “jump”-start for the year ahead.

It is not only our adult riders that we like to brag about – as a yard, we are incredibly proud of the achievements of our young riders and their horses at the second qualifier for SANESA Western Mounted Games in February (yee-ha!) and at the second qualifier for the School’s Core League (also SANESA), which took place on the 3rd and 4th of March:

  • Morgan Brits, after achieving great success in 2017 at SANESA and Open Level Western Mounted Games with her horse Candyfloss, retired her wonderful pony from competition and was surprised on her birthday with a speedy new mount, Kestrel, on which to compete. Morgan rode her new pocket rocket of a horse to victory at the SANESA and Open Level Western Mounted Games in February, coming home with a whopping 10 first place rosettes and two first place supreme champion rosettes for her phenomenally quick times. Due to her quick times, Morgan and Kestrel have already graduated from Level 0 (all new horses are to start at Level 0) and we look forward to seeing the progress of this speedy pair this year.
  • For the second qualifier of the year, SANESA’s 2017 top achieving child rider, Maia Nel, not only rode her usual mount, Leeukloof Elite, but also rode an incredibly impressive Boerperd stallion by the name of Stygriem Doloriet. Maia achieved a second and a fourth place for Junior Elementary Medium Dressage on Doloriet and on Leeukloof Elite she achieved a first place for Junior Elementary Freestyle, a first place for Junior Performance Riding Level 5, a second place for Junior In Hand Utility Level 3, two second places for Junior Intermediate Prix Caprilli, a third place for Junior Performance Riding Level 5 and finally, a fourth and a sixth place for Junior Elementary Dressage.
Morgan and Kestrel
Maia and Doloriet
  • Karolien Labuschagne had her hands full at the second Core League qualifier of the year, riding both of her mares on both days of the show! Karolien and Honolulu achieved a first and a third place for Novice Prix Caprilli and two fifth places for Pony Riders Novice Dressage, whilst on Princess Rosanne she achieved a fourth place for the 80cm show jumping and a first place for the Handy Hunter class which she competed in as a team with Carli Roux. The Handy Hunter class is a relatively recent addition to the SANESA Core League and requires the riders to pair up in teams of two in order to complete a course of obstacles. One team member will complete a set of obstacles designed similarly to a Working Riding class – this will contain elements designed to test not only the dexterity and skill of the horse and rider, but most importantly to test the obedience of the horse (“YES, dear pony, you DO need to stand quietly next to a brightly painted drum whilst I reach down to pick up a terribly frightening, bright pink, stuffed unicorn and NO, dear pony, you may not eat the grass whilst I attempt to do so!”). The second team member is responsible for completing the Working Hunter portion of the class – this is fairly straightforward but by no means is it easier than the first set of obstacles! Moving at a fairly brisk pace, the rider is expected to  ride over a complete course of jumps, which are more ‘rustic’ in appearance than traditional show jumping jumps. These jumps may feature bales of straw, fillers designed to look like small fences one would encounter in the countryside and jumps which appear to be made of  long, stiff bristles of ‘grass’. Carli and Karolien had decided to call themselves “The Gledsmuir Team”, go Gledsmuir girls!!
Anel Pelser and her student after SANESA Qualifier 2
Carli and her instructor, Anel Pelser
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Dian and Schnapps
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Karolien (left) and Carli (right) after winning a first place for "The Gledsmuir Team"!
  • Carli Roux and her horse, Vlaampies Sieraad, fondly known as Caballo around the yard, secured two first places for Pony Rider Elementary Dressage, a first place for Level 3 In Hand Utility, a first place for Handy Hunter (Carli and Karolien were in the same team for this class), a second and a fourth place for Pony Rider Novice Prix Caprilli, a second place for Level 5 Pony Rider Working Riding and finally, one first place for Pony Rider Elementary Freestyle. It is to be noted that a dressage ‘Freestyle’ is a series of carefully choreographed dressage movements ridden in time to music of the rider’s choosing. Carli rode to an upbeat compilation of theme songs from the animated movie, ‘Shrek’, making for a most delightful display!
  • Dian Roux and his lovely pony, Wilgerus Schnapps, achieved two first places for Pony Rider Novice Dressage, a first place for Level 1 In Hand Utility, a first place for Level 3 Working Riding, a second and a third place for Pony Rider Novice Prix Caprilli and a fifth place for Level 1 Performance Riding. Schnapps just so happens to be available for half lease to a lucky child rider, please contact us directly to arrange a viewing.
Talitha and Starlight
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Kathryn and the very handsome Country
  • Talitha Schoeman rode her very beautiful and very kind Clydesdale Cross mare, Starlight. Talitha bravely admitted that both she and Starlight were a tad nervous before their dressage classes, due to the strong wind and brewing storm prior to her class. Not letting her nerves get the better of her, Talitha decided to ride her dressage tests despite the brewing storm and achieved a commendable eighth, ninth and tenth place out of a large pool of seventeen riders. Well done for being so brave, Talitha!
  • Kathryn Shelver and her striking Thoroughbred, Country Strong, came home with a very well deserved second place for Junior In Hand Utility. Country is a retired race horse and Kathryn is working very hard and very patiently to transform him into a dressage diva. Watch this space – Kathryn and Country will soon be competing at many more local shows!
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Nicolas (left) after his second place
Nicolas on Cruisa Angel's Delight
  • Kestrel isn’t the only pocket rocket around our yard – Nicolas Du Plooy’s small but zippy pony, Cruisa Angel’s Delight, could give any full sized horse a run for his money! She and Nicolas earned a fourth place in the 50cm show jumping at SANESA and plan on competing predominantly in graded show jumping shows this year.
  • My goodness but do we have a stunning showing pair blossoming here – not only did Angelique Uys and Lorelock Bongani come third in the 1 metre show jumping Accumulator Class, they also absolutely dominated the competition in the 1 metre Working Hunter class at SANESA this weekend. A combination of excellent turnout by our head groom, Arnold, and brilliant riding by Angelique ensured an easy win for the pair. Arnold’s phenomenal show preparation with Bongani resulted in Bongani being informally voted by our yard as having the best looking derrière of the day. Now, don’t be fooled into thinking that the Working Hunter class is just a ‘beauty pageant’; riders are expected to keep a brisk pace and jump their horses over a course of 1 metre high jumps, styled to look like obstacles one might encounter whilst “out on a fox hunt with the Royals of England”, following which they are to show the judge their very best (and hopefully very controlled) gallop. After all riders have shown off their horses’ bravery and brisk pace over the course of jumps, all horses are lined up and assessed for conformation (how ‘correctly’ the horse is shaped for his job as a ‘hunting horse’) and turnout (how beautifully the horse has been prepared for the show).  The winning horse and rider are the pair that, in the judges eyes, are the epitome of a ‘hunting horse and rider’. Now, anybody up for a spot of tea?
Neil Warren Henry and his student after winning the Working Hunter Class at SANESA Qualifier 2

Above: Angelique Uys on Lorelock Bongani, with Head Groom, Arnold and of course Angelique’s instructor, Neil Warren Henry.

Left: The derriere of the day! Arnold did a remarkable job with Bongani’s quarter marks and his tail plait.

– written by Ashleigh Coetzee

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Our First Blog Post

Ashleigh Coetzee and her horse, Palace Gate


Ashleigh and Palace Gate

On behalf of all of us at Gledsmuir @ Mooikloof, I would like to wish a very warm welcome to you all.

This is our first attempt at creating our own website, but thankfully one of our liveries, Brigette, gave us a good kick in the right direction! A couple days of hard work and countless youtube videos later, we seem to be well on our way to our first website!

Here on our Blog page, we will have an assortment of content, including feedback on clinics, shows and training days we attend, interesting articles written by one of our knowledgeable instructors and updates on projects we’ve begun at the yard.

This month we finished our stunning 4 berth wash bays, complete with nonslip rubber matting, started building paddock shelters in our ‘over the road’ paddocks, as well as refurbishing our large grass arena. The process of refurbishing the arena includes spraying a herbicide on the existing surface, reseeding the arena with Kikuyu, top dressing and watering from our borehole.

I’m very excited to see how our grass arena turns out, hopefully we will be able to host a few showing shows here and there once the grass is established.

Although it is our wonderful maintenance team doing all the hard labour, I do feel I’ve played an integral part in the refurbishment process, as I have accidentally dyed both hands blue whilst opening a bottle of dye to add to the herbicide. After such hard work, I do think I can justify having a doughnut for lunch today.

Warm regards and Happy Riding,

Ashleigh

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