Ever wondered what the reasons are behind us using the A,K,E,H,C,M,B,F letter markers in the school and where this originated from? Taurus Footwear rider, show jumper and instructor Michaela Huntington takes a look.
Whether you are a Dressage competitor with the markers ingrained in your mind, or you still remember the rhyme to remember the letters from your riding school days, dressage markers have been around for as long as most of us can remember.
Dressage is thought to have been practised for thousands of years, beginning in the cavalry, as a way in which to achieve better control and harmony with one’s horse. However arena markers were not introduced until the 1932. The first event to see arena markers was the Olympic Games in Los Angeles where the markers were placed in the 60m x 20m Dressage arena.
Although there are several theories regarding the origins of the arena letters the most common is that the arena letters date back to 18th century Prussia.
Stable grooms at the Imperial Palace are said to have waited for their masters with their equine charges next to the letter that related to their master’s position or role, in German; for example, K for Kaiser or King, R for Ritter or Knight, F for Furst or Prince etc.
Information sources suggest that there are sufficient German dignitary titles for the letters K,E,H,B,B,F, although it appears that the centre line letters, and some additional outer letters are absent! There is no definite answer as to why the extra letters were added, other than perhaps they were added to fill the gaps!
Nonetheless, in modern Dressage we certainly wouldn’t be without them so whether your favourite rhyme to remember the letters is “All King Edwards Horses Can Manage Big Fences” or “Always Keep Every Horse Clean, Mucked-out, Brushed & Fed” you can’t be the next Charlotte Dujardin without knowing your arena markers!
To see a range of articles, videos and reviews concerning equestrian and countryside matters, visit www.horseandcountryside.com.
Country walks are just as idyllic and peaceful despite what the weather brings. And just because you’re prepared for all eventualities and you may be well wrapped up, that doesn’t mean you can’t be fashionable and rock the latest outdoor trends. Here at Taurus Footwear we have some lovely countryside boots that are ideal for walking.
A lightweight, smart coat is a staple item for multi-tasking, outdoor style. Waxed jackets never go out of fashion! Cosy knitted jumpers, sweaters and cardigans will help fight off the cold perfectly on chillier spring days, and will create a stylish, chic look.
Keeping feet warm and dry on a country walk is an absolute must. Finding a pair of waterproof boots that are comfortable and don’t compromise on style is a tricky task. Bits and Pieces Saddlery in Ossett, West Yorkshire believes that the right boot is essential for countryside walking.
Nicola, owner of Bits and Pieces Saddlery says, “We all know that British weather isn’t the most reliable, so a boot that is comfortable and waterproof, but wouldn’t look out of place in a nice pub or restaurant can be hard to find. The Holkham boot from Taurus Footwear is a hardwearing, leather boot, and 100% waterproof. Not only that, they are the ultimate in country fashion and sophistication!”
We think that scarves and gloves are a must-have wardrobe essential – the late winter, early spring time weather is still changeable, so team fingerless gloves with a matching lightweight scarf, for the ultimate in warming outdoor wear that will take you from fresh morning walk, to pub lunch or school run.
Finally – don’t forget your dog! No walk is complete without one – here in the rugged Norfolk countryside where Taurus Footwear is based, we love nothing better than a brisk dog walk along the coastline at Sheringham or Blakeney.
Taurus Footwear’s newest Ambassador rider is Mari Akhurst. Mari is a 20 year old Para Dressage Rider on the Para Squad of the British Equestrian Federation Excel Talent Programme and here at Taurus we are proud to be supporting her with fabulous equestrian footwear!
In our latest blog we take a look at an update direct from Mari about her recent exploits and plans for the coming season!
“The early winter months unfortunately resulted in us being ‘frozen in’ which frustratingly meant I had to miss two competitions, as I was unable to prepare properly for them. Thankfully now March sees the weather becoming warmer and it has been great to ride after University and not to have to turn the school lights on!
I have been having lessons once a week with my trainer Linsay and Sky has been going really well. We have been working on his collected work; asking him to come back to me and keeping him soft once he has done this then allowing him to go forward. My medium trot has really improved since we have been doing this exercise. We have also been doing lots of small circles, changing the rein and changing the bend, keeping him occupied as he gets bored easily!
Sky and I have quite a few outings coming up. We have got squad training next week. I am looking forward to my lesson with Maria Eliberg and then we are test riding on the next day, so it will be good to get input before my competition at Hartpury on Sunday. The competition season has truly begun again, so I am going to be a busy bee!!
Unfortunately my other horse Bear has been playing around too much in the field and has injured himself so he is now sadly on box rest. He’s quite happy as he’s out of the wet and cold weather! He is allowed to walk out once a day which he enjoys very much, a bit too much at times!
I have been getting on really well with my Lancer boots, I love them so much. I now have two pairs one for training and one for competitions, which is great and I would highly recommend them to anyone!
Next month I will be updating you on how squad training has gone and the results of the first few competitions of March. I can’t wait to get back out competing it’s been way too long and I obviously will be wearing my lovely Lancer Boots!”
Choosing your child’s show boots can be a tricky task. They need to be comfortable, smart, easy to slip on and off, high quality and not forgetting they need to be fashionable! The rules of the British Show Pony Society state that children can wear top boots or jodhpur boots during showing competitions. However, most young riders prefer to wear jodhpur boots; they are ideal for both competitions and everyday use. Their flexibility provides ease around the yard and the ability to move the ankle freely while out riding.
Why it’s important for children to wear the correct shoes:
According to Clarks, four million children are wearing the wrong-size shoes. Wearing a shoe that is too big or too small can lead to debilitating problems. We could, unknowingly, be condemning our children to a lifetime of problems.
It is easy to think we continually hear time and again how important it is to buy correctly fitting shoes, but many often don’t realise how important this advice can be. Ill-fitting shoes can lead to not only blisters, pressure sores and in-growing toe nails, but to more long-term problems such as knee and posture problems. Children’s feet can take up to 18 years for the foot’s bones, muscles and ligaments to harden into adult form. It is therefore imperative that young and older children have shoes that fit them correctly, especially when wearing boots all day around the yard and out riding.
Cost is an important factor when buying shoes. I’m sure many of us have bought a pair of shoes hoping our child “will soon grow into them.” The rise of cheaper shoes, sold without expert advice and proper fitting has also had an impact on how well our shoes fit. Sometimes picking up a pair of cheap shoes we believe will fit is simply more convenient. You can pay the cost for cheap shoes though, especially when it comes to jodhpur boots. Many will fall apart or break, which often means buying a few pairs of the same boot – something that need not be a concern when buying a boot that is made from quality leather.
We appreciate how important the correct jodhpur boot can be, but we also know it is just as important that we adhere to the latest fashion trends. Hampton, designed by Taurus Footwear, incorporates everything that a jodhpur boot should. Made from quality leather, they are durable, easy to take on and off, smart, comfortable and fashionable. They are available in a number of colours, including the popular Oxblood. Taurus Footwear also has a very descriptive size guide on their website and has a great customer service department who are keen to advice on any of their footwear, making it even easier to find the correct fitting show boot for your child.
By Taurus Footwear-sponsored rider, instructor and showjumper, Michaela Huntington
We have introduced a new series of mini-articles to help customers get the best out of their riding! Here, we discuss the riding position that is most suitable for jumping fences.
The jumping position -
- For jumping, your stirrups need to be short enough so that you can comfortably get your seat out of the saddle. This position helps to allow the horse to bascule (create an arc) through your legs.
- Lean your upper body forwards a little.
- Look ahead to where you are going.
- Move your hands a little up the horse’s neck to allow him freedom (he will be unable to jump correctly if you hinder him by not giving enough with your hands, or get out of balance with him).
- Your heels must stay down to ‘anchor’ your leg, and you need to have a bend in the knee.
- The Savanna boot is ideal for jumping enthusiasts; it is flexible enough to allow the knee to bend and will not ‘catch’ the rider in the back of the knee.
- Try to keep your lower leg position the same and not allow it to drift backwards.
Achieving a secure lower leg position when jumping
A common mistake is to allow your lower leg to swing too far back, inadvertently encouraging your horse to speed up; keep the weight into your stirrups with your heels well down. Familiarise yourself by practising your forward position without stirrups – get it right whilst in halt, learning to hold the position for a while and maintain your balance until it is comfortable. Next, progress to walk, trot and canter if it is safe to do so! To avoid taking up the jumping position too early on the approach to a fence, or too late, learn to count your strides into each fence. A good trick is to try this when you are walking along a pavement or going up an escalator – it helps develop your eye for a particular point, when you are moving!
Talented young event rider Jemima Gray is a brand ambassador for Taurus Footwear and we will be continuing our support of Jemima for the 2015 season. We are thrilled to share with you the latest update from Jemima, on her horses, exploits on the hunting field and her brand new project pony!
Jemima is a big fan of Taurus Footwear competing, training and working in Taurus Footwear Boots including the Lancer Long Boot, the Kentucky Jodhpur Boot and the Holkham Country Boot. To find out more about the fabulous range of equestrian leather footwear from Taurus Footwear including the boots selected by eventer Jemima Gray visit the website www.taurusfootwear.co.uk
“We’re finally nearing the start of the 2015 eventing season and I couldn’t be happier to get away from the rain, mud and freezing temperatures winter has brought us! Without a yard or arena, it has definitely been a struggle but full of amazing experiences. I had my first drag hunting season on a borrowed horse – Timmy – which couldn’t have been more enjoyable. The adrenalin rush was huge, some highlights included: Managing to fall off at the same fence and time as Victoria Pannizon and at least ten other riders on Christmas Eve, jumping huge hedges and relentlessly galloping across the countryside with my friends in pursuit of a pack of hounds. If you ever need something to look forward to over the winter than I would definitely recommend drag hunting, some of the most fun I’ve ever had!
Murphy and I have been working with my trainer, Bruce Haskell, and although there is still a long way to go, we are much more confident as a partnership and I’ve had a lot of fun hacking and schooling him. Our dressage has really improved and I feel we are so much stronger than last season.
Foxy has enjoyed teaching a couple of younger riders, really showing his experience, and hacking and competing with me. Sadly we are now looking for a new home for him as three horses is too much just for me, especially with our limited facilities, and also with my AS Levels looming…
But exciting announcement, I have a new pony! We picked him up last Saturday on the way back from Junior Training at Aston le Walls. Bug is a 6 year old 14.2hh who is very inexperienced and has never competed before. As my first project we will see what happens, but he has such an awesome jump and attitude. I’m very excited about him and he is proving to be a complete star so far, fingers crossed!
With Murphy, our first event of the season will be at Aston le Walls at the beginning of March and then Swalcliffe a week later. We will see how he goes but the idea is to move up to CIC* and possibly Intermediate towards the end of the season – however horses are never straightforward and ultimately plans change!
I have lived in my Taurus Footwear Holkham Country Boots this winter, brilliant for the wet and cold, especially with their thick slip – free soles. I use my Taurus Kentucky Short Boots for training and hacking and my Taurus Lancer Long Boots have had an eventful time on the hunting field! Thank you to Taurus for their continued support and let’s hope for a successful 2015!”
As pictured here in Horse & Rider Magazine the Taurus Leather Gaiters are super smart and stylish. Manufactured from soft, calf Aniline Leather with soft Amara lining and an elasticated rear panel to ensure optimum flexibility and a streamlined fit, creating a comfortable, affordable and robust alternative to long boots.
The Classic Boot is exactly what is says on the tin – a timeless jodhpur boot ideal for competition or riding at home. Based on the original elegant and chic style of the existing Taurus Classic boot but now with new, improved materials and components. Manufactured from soft, quality calf leather with a hardwearing, non-slip rubber sole for durability and grip when riding. Supremely comfortable, the Taurus Classic is ideal for busy equestrians on their feet all day with Cambrelle lining and a soft and cosy padded insole.
To find out more or order today visit the website www.taurusfootwear.co.uk or Tel: 01328 851 432 to speak to a member of our friendly team!
For 2015 Taurus are freshening things up; we are really excited about our new products to come, like are fabulous Leather Gaiters which have already hit the Taurus shelves but though we will be sad to see some of our favourite footwear discontinued it does mean now is the time to snap up a bargain!
We have been listing our discounted prices on our Facebook page but here we have it; our sale items listed in full below! Get shopping guys for some fabulous footwear at unbeatable prices!
Discontinued styles: limited stocks and only available while current stocks last!
- The robust and functional Atlas Boot ideal for walking and yard tasks is down from original price of £59.95 to just £29.45 for sizes 4 to 12 and only £24.95 for size 3!
- The Classic Jodhpur Boot is going to be offered in a NEW style going forwards to the Classic Original is available in Adults sizes in both Black and Brown from size 7 to 12 now £24.95 reduced from the original price of £33.95! These have been flying off the shelves so get in there quick- the only size 8 we have left is the Classic Brown – but it is now just £18.95 for the size 8 only clearance price!
- The stunning Gaucho Long Boot, perfect for dog walking, working on the land, course walking at equestrian events is now down from £133.95 to just £95.95- a bargain price for a long, leather country boot
- The cosy Husky is now only available in size 8 only for just £24.95 to clear last remaining pairs. This lovely boot was originally £74.95!
- The Pegasus Boot is super smart and perfect for riding – black and brown in sizes 3 to 12 – originally priced at £49.95 now reduced to clear at £24.95- bargain!
- The innovative Rutland Boot which offers a unique feature As the moulded ‘Air system’ rubber sole unit channels moisture away from the sole of the foot out through a vent in the heel! On offer now in Black only and available in sizes 4 to 8 – price was £74.95, now a bargain price of £24.95 to clear!
- The Waterbuffalo Paddock Boot can be snapped up in Black in sizes 8, 9 and 11 or Tobacco colour in size 8 only for only £18.95!
Ongoing Styles Sale
We are also offering two of our styles which will be on-going on sale as part of our winter sale.
The Ranger –an ongoing style, is being offered with 30% off and a retail price of just £34.95 for a limited period over this winter to help keep all our Taurus customers warm and protected from the elements this season!
The Amara Half Chaps in both Black and Brown – children’s half chaps in four sizes (6, 8, 10 and 12) are now just £13.95 down from £14.95!
Happy Shopping everyone! Visit the website now at www.taurusfootwear.co.uk Remember FREE standard delivery for online orders!
Kathy Carter recently ordered the Holkham Rider boots – here’s her verdict:
Kathy says… “I wanted the Holkham Riders initially, as I was taking part in a hunt clinic and anticipated that I would be doing some walking in muddy conditions as well as riding. I am pleased to report that they were immediately comfortable, like wearing a favourite pair of trainers, and that on the day I walked quite a lot in them, and was delighted.
They are also very warm to ride in, no cold toes, and very easy to clean afterwards! I have worn them extensively since that first outing, for yard work, schooling, hacking, as well as shopping and the school run, and am very pleased with their versatility. Here’s a picture of my horse Badger and I at the hunt clinic where they were christened.”
To find out more about the fabulous range of equestrian leather footwear including the Holham Rider Boots from Taurus Footwear visit the website www.taurusfootwear.co.uk
Priced at £189.95 and available in sizes 4-8.
Taurus Footwear are proud to present our first blog from our new ambassador rider Mari Durward-Akhurst.
Let’s hear from Mari…
“Hi my name is Mari Durward-Akhurst. I am a 20 year old Para Dressage Rider on the Para Squad of the British Equestrian Federation Excel Talent Programme. I am based in Buckinghamshire and trained by Linsay White. I have my present competition horse Sky O’Hara on loan. I have recently purchased a new horse known as L.Bear who is definitely one for the future and I am really excited about working on our partnership as we move forwards.
New for 2015 I am going to be an ambassador rider for Taurus Footwear and I am delighted to be working with them. I have never been able to wear long boots because of the lack of mobility I have in my ankles, but with Lancer Boots I am now able to ride in long boots and they have helped me so much as they are heavier than boots and chaps, it allows me to have more sense of where my feet are in the stirrups, so I can push my feet down and this has given me a better leg position. They are also super smart and comfy!
Over Xmas Sky got to have a bit of a break break from schooling and spent time on the gallops and being lunged. As he is older it’s important to keep him supple and his brain engaged. L Bear got to live out 24/ 7 just coming into Sky’s stable in the morning to be out of the mud! Now into the New Year my horses are back to working hard as the Summer Para Dressage Championships qualifiers have just started and I recently took Sky to Patchetts, a well know Dressage venue in the South East. We did two really good tests and I was really pleased with him; we came 1st and 2nd.
I aim to try and have a lesson on both horses once a week but as money is short this is not always possible. Leading up to the last competition I was having a lesson on Sky every week but now that we have a short break I am concentrating on having my lessons on my young horse Bear and will seek help where and when I need it with Sky.
I try and ride Bear often and make sure that I personally lunge him every week. This is a good bonding time for both of us and allows him to get used to my voice, it helps to improve the respect we have for each other. I would really suggest that if you are able to you try and lunge your horse as often as possible. If you have a tricky horse and you aren’t always able to ride then why not lunge them? You can ride them on the floor as if you are on them and it will improve your confidence as well as theirs.
Top tips for this month:
- Make sure your horses have got plenty of water; I have found that they can drink more in this weather and always make sure that water drinkers, water buckets indoors and outdoors are not frozen.
- If your horse lives out and they do not have much grass provide them with some hay or haylage in the field to ensure their fibre requirement is met each day.
- Make sure your horses are warm enough with ample waterproof rugs. You can check your horse’s temperature by using a thermometer if you are particularly concerned or quickly check this by feeling at the base of the ear, or at the elbow joint/under their arm pits!
- Ride in all weather conditions to keep your horse’s and yourselves fit and healthy but only if it is safe to do so. Riding on a frozen surface or slippy ground is simply not worth the risk! It can be hard to motivate yourself but do ride on rainy days as if the snow or ice does stop play during January and February you will be glad your equine didn’t miss out on work on wet days.
- Variety of work is key to a happy horse. I always try to ensure both Sky and Bear hack, school and lunge to keep them mentally engaged and positive about their work.
Until next time, A HAPPY NEW YEAR and all the best for 2015 from Mari, Sky and Bear!”
Mari wears the Taurus Lancer Boots, the stylish long boots are manufactured from quality black full-grain calf leather. Featuring elasticated front lacing and covered elasticated rear panel for improved fit. High quality rear zip with rolled edges and an elasticated top strap with press stud fastener.
The Dermo dry padded lining for added comfort has a special anti-bacteria treatment which absorbs humidity away from the skin and provides a fresh and dry touch which is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The non-slip rubber riding sole has been designed especially for good grip in the stirrup! To purchase your pair of Lancer Boots today or see the wide range of equestrian and country lifestyle footwear from Taurus Footwear visit www.taurusfootwear.co.uk