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Author: Carmen Cummiskey

So, I’m getting closer to a milestone birthday. And the kids have decided that they have more interesting things to focus on now, such as university, boys, exams and non-horsey life. I’ve decided that is finally my time to get out and do the things I’ve been wanting to do for the last couple of decades, and I now have a bit more time, a little more money (not a lot, I have horses after all) and less associated guilt about disappearing off for weekends. With a new equine Porsche, Darcy, aka the Golden Child, I’m finally out eventing and doing the affiliated competition thing in my late 40s. However, this has coincided with two things, both related to getting old. I’m getting chunky (menopause and a love of wine) and I’m getting windy and a little feared of falling off as it hurts more (aging in general and drinking more wine to compensate). So, getting the right kit to increase my comfort and decrease the likelihood of long term injury after not bouncing off the ground is paramount! I run the local riding club, so it’s important that I’m seen to follow the rules we are meant to uphold, so with a change in the kite for hats and back protection I needed to purchase a new body protector. Now I have to say I’m no lover of body protectors. Why? As a short-assed, chunky woman with a short body, body protection has proven to be difficult to find that fits my dimensions and is comfortable to wear, and let’s face it, I’m trying to avoid looking like the Michelin man. Younger people may need to Google that image to get the point. So, with Christmas on the way, and my husband looking for gift ideas (we are only 26 years in), it was a perfect moment to ask for that most romantic of gifts, a body protector! Well as he says himself every time I ride, ‘don’t fall off’, I think he does worry about me, or perhaps it’s more worrying about my ability to earn if I’m off my feet? I’d tried the FOMO FAZE on at a trade stand while out eventing, and knew it was produced in the UK and was passing the most stringent safety tests for body protection. It also appeared to fit well to my own unique short-bodied shape, and after trying several types I hadn’t previously found any that fitted that well. So, Santa was duly informed and I got my new FAZE before Christmas, unwrapped, Santa didn’t see the point as I knew what it was! The FAZE then had to wait and didn’t get its first run out due to the icy conditions until mid-January at an arena event. I managed to put it on all by myself, and despite it not being worn before, it quickly moulded to my body. It has been said that they look a little bulky, but I didn’t notice this at all when riding, and importantly didn’t feel the need to remove it immediately after riding like my previous protector because I couldn’t breathe in it! The foam layer is soft and malleable and is actually very easy to wear, whilst providing the ultimate protection. And whilst body protectors are by no means ever likely to be the most flattering garment you ever wear on your horse (although white jodhpurs are in my opinion the worst), my FOMO FAZE is one of the most comfortable ways to protect my aging body whilst it pretends it’s in it 20s again! Looking forward to Flying in my FAZE this season! Photography Credit to the fabulous Jamie Agnew https://www.jamieagnewphotography.co.uk/...

It’s that time of year. The arena has been frozen for at least a week. The livery yard owner is up to their eyeballs in mud and has kicked half the yard off. Your blood turned to solid Gordon’s gin (other brands accepted) in December and you’re now on a detox.  We agree January is tough for us all. So here are some ideas on things to plan and get you going this cold wet first month of 2023. Some you may already know and some may just be a reminder to go have some fun with our four-legged friends. 1. Sign up for an online dressage test Online dressage has grown from strength to strength in recent years, taking away the need for transport to compete in monthly classes, leagues, and championships. There are several options available but we love the E-Riders Eventing using tests from BE  and Dressage Anywhere. The perfect way to improve those dressage scores over the winter months and set quantifiable goals for winter. E-Riders:- https://www.e-riders.co.uk/ Dressage Anywhere:- https://dressageanywhere.com/ 2. Join a local riding club Want discounted lessons and a fun, friendly way to train? Then investigating riding clubs in your area may be for you. British Eventing are also offering a great discount this season for British Riding Club members. There are also opportunities to compete as a team in a number of disciplines if that’s your thing! To find out more check out- https://www.bhs.org.uk/british-riding-clubs/find-a-british-riding-club/ 3. Sign up for a spring training camp Camps are so much fun. It’s a fantastic opportunity to improve your riding, meet new people and spend quality time with your horse. Some of our favourite facilities in Scotland that run weekend-long camps include Greenfields of Avondale, Auchlishie Eventing & Lindores Equestrian. 4. Go to the beach with friends Nothing better than a good gallop along the sand with a friend in tow! Please check at least one of you has brakes (ideally both of you wearing a body protector because we know what you lot are like?!) 5. Do a BHS Ride Out  The BHS’s Ride Out UK (ROUK) campaign celebrates the joys of riding out in our beautiful countryside, as well as raising awareness of the great work they do to protect and extend safe places to ride and carriage drive off-road. You can find out more about ride out dates here:- https://www.bhs.org.uk/support-us/our-campaigns/ride-out-uk/ 6. Arrange a pole work night Whether alone or with friends, having a day or two’s pole work a week is a great way to change things up. It’s useful for working on balance, control and steering.  A simple exercise for straightness can be to set three coloured poles in a row and aim for a certain colour each time up the long side of the arena....

2021 was a bit of an up and down year for Trusty and I. After a check ligament strain put paid to 2020 antics we started the year ready to go for the season. Sadly a fall off another horse in April resulted in me suffering a broken collarbone and put me out of action until our first event in July. Our first event at Oxstalls also saw me having a problem with my confidence that I hadn't addressed after my injury so it was a bit of an uphill battle to get back to where I was in 2019 with Trusty. Luckily we got our mojo back 2 weeks after this and finished a brilliant 3rd at the Barbury Castle Cotswold Cup qualifier over a very tough course that was catching a lot of people out. This was the absolute highlight of the year and for anyone who has seen my cross country video, the screaming, cheering and crying at the end showed how much it meant to me! Our season continued and we had a great outing to Cricklands for the first time in Wales where we were finally getting some clear rounds. Trusty can suffer from a bit of 4 faultitis so it was great to get some good rounds over some tricky courses and wonderful to have a great stay away show with friends. Sadly September saw injury befall me again when I tore the cartilage in my knee after a fall off Trusty show jumping and stepping out of my lorry afterwards! This set me back a lot longer than my collarbone - they always say it's better to break a bone!!! It meant Trusty had an extended Autumn break which was actually really good for him and we have now spent the Winter and early part of 2022 training, getting our confidence back and trying to make sure we hit 2022 season running! I've been having some fantastic lessons with my local trainer, Callum Banfield and he's put together an 8 week boot camp of weekly lessons where we are working on our show jumping and cross country technique. Trusty has been improving each time we go over to Callum's yard and I'm really excited by the progress we've both made. I'm very conscious this time round to focus on getting my confidence up before I try any kind of jump competing as it was a bit morale destroying last time. This is why the weekly lessons have been a huge boost as there's no pressure and we can just work on making it better. We all know Trusty is a cross country machine so alongside this training we have been hitting the dressage boards hard to try and improve our scores there. Recently we've had some great results, scoring 70+% at the last 3 outings and winning both classes at our last competition. I'm really working hard on this phase as one of my main aims this year is to hit that magical sub 30 mark. I'm hoping with all the prep we've put in together and keeping fingers crossed against any more injuries to either of us, we will hopefully have a great season. The plan is to yet again try and qualify for the Cotswold Cup finals which are at Cirencester this year as a 3 day event so this would be amazing to be able to go to. We've also got some services shows to attend and hopefully another fun stay away at Cricklands again. I'm also excited to see what else FOMO is bringing forwards this year, especially for the shoulder protectors and other supports to complement their fantastic body protector. It's so great to see so many more people talking about the FAZE protector and the brand and I'm looking forwards to getting it back on for my first cross country outing of the year at the end of the month. Keep safe everyone and enjoy your ponies! Thanks, Jenna...

Growing up, I was your typical Pony Club kid; you know the type, absolutely fearless and always on the go. I was constantly climbing on bareback to ride to the field, jumping anything that stood still long enough and galloping here, there and everywhere.  I loved all things horsey and participated in every show possible, so naturally, my parents spent their weekends ferrying my pony and me to competitions, rallies and fun days. Dressage, showjumping, cross country, showing, pony club games, you name it, we did it!  One day, I was on a hack with my friends and our ponies when a driver sped towards us, and I ended up parting ways with Bleu straight on to the tarmac. Luckily, there were no broken bones but the next few months consisted of frequent visits to the physiotherapist due to an excruciating pain in my back. The worst part? No riding allowed. When I eventually got the okay to get back in the saddle, my parents made me swear to wear a body protector every single time my bum was in the saddle. As you could imagine, that didn't go down particularly well. Like everyone else, I was desperate to fit in, so the "but nobody else wears one" argument was a daily struggle in our house.  My pony at the time was a bit of a character and would throw in a fly buck at every opportunity. I was used to his rodeo antics, but I struggled to sit the more exuberant bucks when wearing my clunky old body protector; it was restrictive, uncomfortable and inhibited my ability in the saddle.  Fast forward a few years; both pony and body protector now too small for me, I packed up and headed for freshers week at the University of Strathclyde. When I graduated with honours from my degree in Sports Engineering, Design Manufacture and Engineering Management, a good decade or so on from that bulky, uncomfy body protector, it was evident there had been no real innovation in the sport. I now had the knowledge and skill from my engineering degree to re-invent equine safety wear, hence, FOMO was born. It was important to me to create something that would inspire rider confidence and maximise movement and ability in the saddle, something that riders would WANT to wear rather than only wearing it when they had to.  You know what they say; if you want something done right, do it yourself. Carmen x...

When you see someone wearing a body protector in the warm-up before cross country, you would think it was perfectly normal; in fact, it's so normal that you probably wouldn't think anything at all. However, if you saw someone wearing one in the collecting ring for dressage or showjumping, that would most likely be a different story. Most of us would assume the rider was very nervous or that their horse was wild. If we were being really honest, we might even judge them for ruining their smart show day outfit.  The question is, why? Why do we judge someone for riding WITH a body protector when in the same breath, we would be horrified if someone rode WITHOUT a helmet? Both were designed to keep us safe while participating in this wonderful yet dangerous sport; therefore, why is a helmet a must-have whilst a body protector is not?  Is the simple answer that it just isn't cool to wear one? Over the last few years, the eventing world has seen many falls, but a few in particular shocked us. Mr stickability himself, Andrew Nicholson, was lucky not to be paralysed after he fell from Cillnabradden Evo in 2015, making a "lucky" escape with a severe neck injury. Shortly after that team GB's William Fox Pitt fell into a coma after his tumble at the Young Horse Championships. More recently, we all watched with bated breath, as Jonty Evens fought his way back into the saddle after a fall left him with a serious brain injury at Tattersalls in 2018.  These three falls brought a noticeable shift in the way people view equine safety, which presented the opportunity for a long-overdue mindset shift towards body protectors. Riders began to question what their lives would look like if a similar thing happened to them. Today we ask you what you would miss out on if you were left seriously injured from a fall? You might miss out on a season or, as a younger rider, you could miss out on getting selected for the U18s or Junior riders team. You might miss out on playing sports at school or have to skip your exams and watch your friends go off to university without you.  For the more mature rider, a fall could mean you can't look after your kids. Perhaps you wouldn't be able to go to work and therefore wouldn't earn a wage. Could you continue to pay your mortgage and put food on the table?  It's a fact we are often dismissive of, but a fall, even during the simplest of schooling sessions or on the quietest hack, could result in your life completely changing. Having the correct safety equipment every time you put your foot in the stirrup maximises your chance of walking away from a fall without a life-changing injury. Body protectors might not be cool, but it's pretty cool that they could save your life.  Here at FOMO, it is our mission to normalise body protectors for every single ride. Prevention is better than a cure, and if doing something as simple as wearing a body protector could save your life, why wouldn't you? ...

Season 2021 is a go! It was great to finally be back out eventing again. Huge thank you to everyone involved with the elite sports riders for making Oasby Elite a great first event for many of us. It was also my first event with my new FOMO FAZE Body Protector which I was very impressed by the comfort and adjustability, given how cold it was and the many extra layers that were required.  Both Oughterard Cooley owned by Debbie Whalley and Liz Magennis and Ella MacGregors, MacGregors Cooley made light work of the OI track. Rich aka Oughterard Cooley finishing 13th and Greg aka MacGregors Cooley jumped a great DC to finish 4th. We returned a week later with another lorry load for Oasby 1. This time bringing some of the younger horses out for their first runs. Both Rich and Greg enjoyed another run round the OI again both improving on their dressage scores from the previous week, steady xc rounds for them both in preparation for the advanced class at Weston Park next week. DHI By Design owned by Daisy Cross had his first 100 run with us finishing on his dressage score for 5th place. Our own Keep It Cooley and Cooley Fun Time also performed well in the 100 sections to finish 2nd and 9th respectively. We now look forward to Weston Park with the Novice and Advanced horses....

Finally, it feels like spring is on its way! This winter has felt super long for us! We had almost 3 months of solid snow    which meant our poor horses hardly stepped foot outside of their stables! But recently it has been all systems go both Skinny and Biscuit have started their pre-season fitness and with things COVID wise looking to be hopefully going back to an almost normal state we are excited to start planning for this season Biscuit has been entered into the Your Horse Live Virtual, Search for a Star qualifiers. Which has given us something to look forward to! April will see both horses start training, with cavaletti and dressage training on the cards! Hopefully, by May the shows will have started back up again and we will be out in full force This month I have signed up for the Walk all over Cancer campaign to walk 31,000 steps in March, this has definitely been helping me with my pre-season fitness! I hope to be able to bring more regular updates from Team Shieldhill now that things are hopefully starting to get going again. It’s been a Loooong Winter! Jodie xo...

As the hours of daylight become essentially non-existent, particularly here in Scotland, and the wind is blowing with our hands constantly freezing, it can be difficult to stay motivated over winter. Technology has been the savior of 2020. From those moments with friends on House Party during Lockdown 1.0 to online dressage leagues, you cannot argue that in some ways we have rediscovered the social and useful aspects of our smartphones and devices. As large parts of the UK enter a second lockdown, how can we as equestrians stick together and keep motivated over the coming months? For the Keen Eventer The fabulous Lucinda Green MBE has set up an online XC academy (we love this concept) with the first webinar looking at how to take the time out XC. The academy is just £25 a month, that’s less than an hour’s private lesson and gives insight and weekly content from the 6-time Badminton winner. https://www.lucindagreenxcacademy.com/webinar?fbclid=IwAR2YPSndTWycD4xpQfj9KIhN4w4sgrxUE7LtZyHdcs5KEVfB0H8LkByWngQ   From Stressage to Dressage Online dressage has grown from strength to strength, taking away the need for transport to compete in monthly classes, leagues, and championships. There are a number of options available but we are personally loving the A2B E-Dressage League having sponsored some of the classes as well as the E-Riders Eventing using tests from BE. The perfect way to improve those dressage scores over the winter months and set quantifiable goals for winter. https://www.e-riders.co.uk/ https://a2bequestrian.com/a2b-e-dressage-league-200-c.asp   No Stirrups November This is one that has been going on for a while now. Check out Activate Your Seat's challenge & get involved! https://www.facebook.com/activateyourseat/posts/1442144772649014 Pole Work for Strength Pole work and the use of cavalettis have both become more popular in recent years. By incorporating pole work into your training regime, it will help tone and strengthen your horse. Here are some key exercises from FEI in the link below: https://www.fei.org/stories/lifestyle/teach-me/3-polework-exercises-strengthen-horse Ride & Train Together Arrange times to train with a friend to keep motivated or why not set a day each weekend for a longer hack in the daylight? It’s always easier to make sure you get the job done when you have made plans with someone else!...

It is definitely time reflect on what an amazing year it has been for us here and to think of our New Year Resolutions ready to come out all guns blazing in 2019. There have been so many highlights including, getting back into affiliated eventing and not coming home empty handed either and Ben pony’s showing career really kicking off. I think it could be considered to be one of the most successful years I’ve had (definitely in recent years) even with the limited amount of competitions we have competed in we have still managed to gain rosettes at nearly every event. Planning has begun for next year and I am already eagerly anticipating the coming of lighter nights and of course the beginning of the event season. Here’s hoping we might even get Ben pony back out doing what he does best! Hunting season is already in full swing and I have enjoyed multiple days out with the Ledbury on both Cadbury and Polly, and of course, jumping some rather decent sized hedges regardless of my ponies size! Most recently Polly had a quick spin round a couple of show jumping classes at Hartpury just to keep her eye in and she was certainly on springs. Polly and Ben Pony have enjoyed their little break from serious training and competing and are now both back in full work… a little bit fatter, fluffier and more excitable! I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.   ...

It’s winter, the arena is flooded (again) or the road is too icy well there are always options. Why not ride in the field, weather permitting of course, and work on your horse’s balance on grass for next season? Or you can you can use the road to school and try some local off-road hacking. Even better why not hire a local indoor arena with a friend? Whether you are in the arena or out hacking here are some useful exercises to get your horse listening and working well.   Transitions are such an important exercise for creating balance and getting your horse off the forehand when stepping up a gear. A variety of transitions, half-halts and other dressage and schooling exercises will help get the horse to a position where its weight is more carried on his hindquarters. Transitions such as halt to trot, walk to canter and a variety of others will help the horse achieve this 50/50 balanced position. Interval training is a good way to maintain and assess you and your horse’s fitness. Why not begin in the arena with a 1:1 rest to work ratio. At trot of canter take up half seat and time your work period and the same for your rest. It will be a killer for your legs but just think of those muscles come Spring! Also, listen to your horse during the rest and see if they have broken sweat it’s important to know your horse’s fitness and you can gradually build on this as you approach Spring and competition season again. Then look to increase to a 2:1 work to rest ratio or increase the time working. Lengthening and shortening next time your riding why not try some lengthening and shortening work at both trot and canter. Use the long side of the school to lengthen and shorten along the other side. This is also a great exercise when out hacking off-road. ...

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