Mares And Meadows

My journey with Abbey on a smallholding in Shropshire

About the Equicentral grazing system

I mentioned in my last post that one of the key elements of improving soil health and biological diversity here is going to be the adoption of the Equicentral (and track) grazing system for the ponies.

What is the Equicentral system?

Note this is my interpretation which brings information from Equicentral’s courses and books, together with some of my knowledge/understanding of farming and conservation. For original Equicentral system information, click here.)

Essentially the Equicentral system is a form of mob grazing for ponies. You let the grass grow much longer than you would in a traditional rotational grazing system (at least as tall as a beer bottle on its end) and move horses on to new grazing quickly (when they’ve eaten it down to the height of a beer bottle on its side).

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Abbey moves house…to my house!

The last 5 months:

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted a smallholding and to cut a long story short, now I’ve got one! Abbey is literally in the back garden and an epic new chapter has begun…

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Flatwork schooling and lesson (last week)

Managed to squeeze two schooling sessions and a dressage lesson in this week (jump lesson tomorrow!). My ‘notes to self’ and video highlights:


The schooling went well. I tried to work on the same things as I have been in the lessons.

  1. Right bend, throughout the warm up. Using renvers on the right rein to help prepare for right half-pass (in walk!)
  2. Using a more forward trot and a more collected trot to help Abbey work over her back and come up in her frame.
  3. Practising canter transitions – prepping beforehand, keeping the outside rein and giving with the inside.
  4. Walk-canter transitions using half 10m circle in walk to change rein

Here are some of the best bits:

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Product Review: Pivo

I was fortunate to get a Silver Pivo at Christmas. And so far I’m really impressed!

I’m running it with a Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus and the first time I used it I just popped it on the fence (horse mode, action tracking, predictive follow, frenzy mode):

Silver Pivo on a fencepost

Overall I thought it performed rather well. It lost me a few times, mainly when I got too close.

Next time I tried it, I put it on a tall tripod near the letter G (just off centre so I could still work down the centre line). It didn’t loose me once and the footage was even better.

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The Masterton treatment or fluke?

So nearly 10 months have passed since my last post. I would say I’m not sure where they went but deep down I know.

My freelance business took a giant leap forward. I was busy with work and didn’t feel like writing about Abbey’s battle with laminitis. After all, 10 months of stop, start, stop, start is actually quite boring. Finally though, we seem to seem on top of it and my girl has been in consistent work for a few months.

Bringing her back has been an exercise in patience. Her aerobic fitness came back relatively quickly but building her muscle and strength has taken an age. Being honest with myself, I don’t think I realised how much she’d lost.

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Battling with weight and laminitis

My last post was so positive and rightly so. We had a great spring, summer and autumn. From hacking with friends to getting out an doing many dressage tests, we had a lot of fun. And then came winter…

…I hate winter. So many equestrians seem to find unfaltering levels of motivation to maintain fitness regimes and competition entrees. I really struggle. So this year I decided to take the pressure off. Abbey could have a holiday and I could give in (at least in part) to my urge to hibernate.

I think that may have been a poor decision.

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Abbey’s sound and we’re back in action!

We never got to the bottom of Abbey’s lameness back in January. The heat in her front foot, became heat that came and went in both which lead me to wonder whether it was laminitis.

Nothing about treating Abbey as having laminitis would have done her harm. She was overweight, a weightloss programme was overdue anyway.

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Ut oh! Abbey’s got an abscess brewing

Typically it’s the day when the physio comes that Abbey has a hot hoof.

Must admit it wasn’t me that spotted it. The yard brought Abbey in and picked out her feet this morning. I’d been running a little late so just flicked a brush over her before the physio arrived.

To cut a long story short the physio recoiled when she touched her near fore. She was right, it was hot to the touch.

First thought was laminitis. Abbey’s primed for it…despite my best efforts she is overweight and her grazing isn’t ideal. I’ve been walking the tightrope between ensuring she’s enough forage to prevent excess stomach acid causing ulcers and keeping her weight down. I’m exercising her as much as I can. Her field doesn’t contain much grass but it’s short and therefore stressed meaning it’ll produce more sugar. As we’re now in a cold snap, the grass will be producing even more sugar as an antifreeze. Altogether…it is a recipe for laminitis.

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First impressions of the Equilab app

I’ve had the Equilab app for just over a week and used it a couple of times to track our rides. I’d like to use it to see how Abbey’s fitness is improving over the coming season. Previously I have used Map My Run…which did the job….kinda.

Equilab logo
The Equilab app is available to download for free from your app store.

The first time that I’d used a new app we had a rather exciting hack round the ‘big block’ as it is known on the yard.

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