BETA was as good as ever, but also as frustrating… since many of the products we saw will not be available until Autumn/Winter ’16/17, so we’ll have to wait to get our desperate little mitts on them. We had a good look at as many stands and products as we could and these were our highlights.
High on the “mega useful” list was Horseware’s new Rambo Summer Series Turnout. This comes in a silvery-grey colour (to reflect sunlight, I guess?) and has a totally waterproof technical shaped softshell back, and mesh sides, plus an easily removable cosy fleece liner. It “protects horses from swiftly changing weather conditions in milder temperatures” and will be perfect for those 7am before work “Do or I do I not put a turnout rug on today” dilemmas, where your horse might end up sweating in one if the promised rain doesn’t come and the sun comes out, or shivering if you leave it naked and there’s a torrential downpour for hours . The rug should be available in the autumn, and can’t come too soon in our opinion. It will be priced very similarly to their Fly Rugs.
Horseware have taken a few huge steps to help take the guesswork out of rugging. Coming soon there’s the new free Horseware Turnout Guide App. You can input your horse/s individual profiles, for instance age, breed, condition, whether the horse is clipped or not, and it will give recommendations for turnout rugs for that day, based on weather data for the area. There’s also a Measurement Guide, a “Try different rugs on the image of my horse” option (oooh, horsey dress up!), and a Brand Decoder, since their range of rugs in now bewilderingly vast. Since overrugging can be a big problem for a horse, I think these innovations are a fantastic idea. Following on there’s the HorsePal, a rug containing a Temperature and Humidity sensor, sending the information the sensor collects straight to your Smartphone and analysed on an extended version of the app. The HorsePal is also due for an Autumn launch.
Never a company to rest on their laurels, they have also brought out a new super-lightweight front rug closure system, a pliable plastic Disc (patent pending) to allow movement and avoid the weight and pressure points created by metal buckles which can pull the rug down. The plastic although highly durable is designed to break under extreme pressure, such as if the rug was to get caught, meaning the disc (which is easily replaceable) would break and not the rug. The discs are due to be introduced on certain rugs and are particularly advantageous on the lighter rugs in the range. There’s also a new Slinky Hood, which will have grey horses’ owners in particular squealing in excitement, I suspect, and their new low-sugar Nutri-Licks. These appeal to me because I try to avoid giving my horses sugary licks, they get enough sugar in grass!
Horseware have expanded their Ionic range, and now include Leg Wraps, which are a real favourite with top competition grooms who have trialled them, being especially good for preventing legs from filling when horses are stabled, and anyone can fit them without risk of over-tightening. Additionally, the very popular Ice Vibe boots have had a make-over – the liner is now shaped slightly differently for a snugger fit, for example, and is more pliable when frozen.
On the human side of things, Horseware has amalgamated its own top competition clothing line with the Allessandro Albanese collection to make AA Platinum. The entire range looks beautiful, but the jacket that had me absolutely jumping up and down and wanting one NOW was their new Motion Lite competition jacket. Their chief clothing designer was available to show me this, with its beautiful, traditional, longline Italian style cut, which is extremely flattering, but that is the only thing that’s traditional about it. It is made of a super-lightweight mesh fabric (you can see through it, but, magically, a white show shirt does not show through it – she showed me when I queried this). So, it is supremely cool and breathable, it weighs about as much as a T-shirt, it can be balled up and doesn’t crease at all, there’s no need to iron, and it is machine washable and drip dry (probably in minutes on a hot day.) There is carefully placed reinforcement on the inside of the waist area, so that it will always drape well (some very lightweight fabrics can be SO unflattering, leading to the hideous ‘sausage in a skin’ look). It will be available in Navy, Black, and Aviation Blue, and even has interchangeable buttons, for different looks. It’s currently being trialled by top riders in hot countries and getting absolutely rave reviews. It will be around £150, which amazed me – I was expecting the price to be far higher for such an utterly stunning jacket. Very deservedly, it won the BETA Rider Clothing and Footwear Award. As a rider who gets really hot when competing, I NEED this jacket. As soon as it’s available I will be at the front of the queue begging them to take my money!
For riding wear on the yard, their Polo range is very appealing, with breeches in particular in lovely colours, and coordinating cosy layers. We saw a lot of clothing ranges at BETA but I think this is one of the very best. Colours for next Autumn/Winter: we saw lots of orange, mustard and teal, as well as the usual darker colours that hide the mud better.
Staying with clothing, we went to see Toggi on their huge stand, which won the BETA Best Large Stand Award for the second year running. The new waterproof tweed Taymouth Ladies Country Coat is gorgeous, we both wanted one desperately, but again will have to wait. It is a stunning cut, very flattering… and, well, waterproof tweed. What more is there to say?
Their Fresian winter breeches (I think there is a subtle pun there… makes them easy to remember), with a full seat and fleecy lining, will be perfect for keeping chillblains at bay, and are incredibly reasonably priced, at £50 a pair. The beautiful brown tasselled Morella Boot is stunning – their designers really have gone to town for next Autumn/Winter’s Collection.
Finally, Noble Outfitters had the Balance Riding Tight with a phone thigh pocket that happily fits an iPhone 6 (I LOVE that, for summer) in the Innovation Awards display, so we went and checked out their entire range.
Lovely base layers and performance shirts, well priced breeches, and Peddies long socks – all very appealing and in a great range of colours.
Back to the horses’ comfort rather than the riders’. Treehouse has the new Aerochill Boots, which will be out very soon, ready for the Spring season (yay!), and at £39.99 a pair they look great. They contain a super-absorbent polymer fibre, HyperKewl, as used by the American Army for cooling down soldiers in very hot temperatures, and by F1 drivers for cooling themselves before putting their protective layers on for the race. The boots just need immersing in cold water and then will remain cool for, wait for it… 6-10 HOURS. Yes, you read that right. Not ice-cold and then warmed by the body and too flipping hot, as some ‘cooling boots’ are. Cool for up to 10 hours. I NEED these boots for my horses’ legs after exertion!
We had a good look at Bombers Bits. Bomber’s stated aim is to have no movement at all in the head, no fighting, especially on the way to the fence, as it adversely affects balance and concentration – you can’t expect a horse to jump to the best of its ability over a fence if the approach isn’t ideal. We checked out their latest designs, which include the new patent pending Cable bit which is available in several mouthpieces designs. Essentially they aim to offer a mouthpiece between a jointed and a straightbar in terms of movement.
Bomber intend to submit the bits to try and see if the cable in a ‘standard’ design could become dressage legal but currently they can only be used for jumping phases. There is also the Williams Cheekpiece (a very quick-reaction Dutch Gag type) and the new Comfy Ultra dressage legal snaffle. Bombers Bits also has a great new interactive idea to give potential customers specific, tailored advice for their horse’s bitting requirements, which we will report on in detail in a separate article.
We checked out Dainese’s updated Level 3 body protector, which now has 6 layers of foam, but remains the same overall thickness as previously, so there is no more bulk. It’s very comfortable and immensely protective whilst the fit is improved by way of self-adjustment straps at the waist and hips.
Their compression layer undergarments are a really good idea for sports people, in fact the entire range is seriously impressive. This is cutting-edge technology (they are currently supplying compression suits to astronauts on the International Space Station, and will be for the planned Mars Mission – wow!) and to see such science coming into equestrianism, one of the most hidebound sporting areas around, is very welcome. Their waterproof down filled jacket (primarily designed as a ski jacket) really caught my eye – it would probably be impossible to get cold in that, even on the longest slow fittening hack in January, but isn’t bulky and restrictive as some down jackets can be.
Champion’s new Ti22 body protector is competitively priced and breathable. The foam squares form moulded panels to reduce the risk of penetration injuries, in a new design, but it remains very flexible. They have added to their impressive stable of hats – and not all of their hats are exactly the same shape, so please, no “x make does not fit me” thoughts… you really need to go and try them on to find which are best for your unique head shape.
KASK hats were a new name, and a unique shape. They aren’t cheap but are attractive and it’s easy to fly ones own national flag, so it will be interesting to see how many are on display at the Olympics.
Mother Bee brings a generations-old proven family recipe to the masses. The company owner’s youngster pretty much scalped himself in a trailer accident, and her vet was snowed under and totally unable to get to her till the next morning to stitch it up, so told her to clean it up and do her best. She cleaned it, and in desperation slathered the entire area with the Soothe and Protect Cream. When he saw the rapidly healing wound the next morning, the vet was amazed (it now didn’t need stitches!), and said she had to start selling this product.
There are Testimonial Pictures HERE which tell more than a thousand words. It is ideal for rashes, sores, allergies, cuts, you name it.
They also do a product for Sweet Itch called Sweet Relief which we are looking forward to doing a Tried and Tested on (we have two sufferers between us), one for dogs for Hot Spot, as well as products for humans (my mother suffers from psoriasis, so I have a Lotion Bar for her to try.)
One caveat: these products do contain camphor, and something in the mixture of beeswax and camphor (and the other ingredients) is the alchemy that makes these products so amazingly effective (a trial version without the camphor did not work anything like as well) so if the horse is going to be competing in affiliated events, you have to remember the withdrawal period.
Having seen the before and after photos, I think these products are going to be a yard must-have.
We were fascinated by the sight of horse shoe nails coated with antimicrobial copper, from KerckHaert. These are designed to keep hooves stronger and healthier: no rust in the nailholes = less damage to the hoof wall. I will definitely be asking my farrier whether he stocks these, and if so, to use them on my horses. No foot, no horse, so anything I can do to keep those hooves as healthy as possible, I am happy to do. Their Rebound hoof care product is for use after a run on hard ground, you just pack the hoof with it and add a layer of shavings to get it to dry in place.
Equi Med Pak is a backpack which is a fully fitted out emergency first aid kit for horses. The inventor had one of those terrible experiences, finding a horse badly injured in a field and not having everything instantly to hand, which led to her coming up with this idea. Grab it and go, and easily carry it while leading a horse, too. Ideal for every yard, horsebox and event organiser. There’s space for everything you can think of, and extra space for anything else you might need. There’s even a phone charger, in case your phone dies just as you desperately have to call the vet. A brilliant idea.
Klick and Ride from Germany’s new stud range looked at first glance like the Ardall studs, but in fact proved to be very different. The designer spent 12 years perfecting the design, and it shows. The farrier needs to drill holes in the shoe with a standard drill bit, then push in one of the special metal rings with an inner indent, and fix it permanently in place with a tiny punch hole. Then the various studs, which have two tiny sticky-out bits which fit into the inner indented ring, are just pushed in (a child can do it, as shown on their video), and easily removed with a special tool. Super fast and very easy, and most importantly, very secure. Seriously impressive. No rust, no messing about. Small squidgy yellow bungs push in to keep the holes immaculately clean for next time, and are easy to prise out. They have thought of everything, and deservedly won the BETA Award for Safety and Security.
Bigeloil have modernised the traditional kaolin poultice, encapsulating the clay with epsom salt in fabric, so it’s just a case of wet the material and put it on the leg or in the hoof. We have a hoof pack to try and will report on how easy it is to fit as soon as one of us needs to use it… hopefully not soon!
BETA this year was an absolute blast. Big thanks to all the companies who attended and to BETA themselves, who made it very special. Extra thanks to the companies who put lovely goodies into the Press Packs. Spooks gave a very nice stylish headband, Dodson and Horrell a very well thought out flat plastic bale-string cutter, ideal to have in your pocket at all times on the yard, but the star item for me was Horseware’s LED Cap, which has proved invaluable while doing late checks on the horses. It retails at about £10, comes with spare batteries included, and is definitely worth every penny.