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Author: Carmen Cummiskey

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. ...

Next up in our winter series is a quick, do-at-home workout from fitness class specialists Two Birds Fitness. Its official, winter is here! The layers are on, fire is lit and most of the population has already gone into hibernation. Well, NOT YOU! Leave the mass over-indulgence and long lies for the Christmas break and use the winter months as an opportunity to improve your flexibility, strength and overall conditioning for competition season. Follow the below workout formula to create a simple 30 minute home or gym workout using simple yet very effective HIIT and yoga bodyweight movements. Choose 2 warm-ups exercises (perform each for at least 30 secs). Choose 3 leg/glute exercises and perform each for 45 seconds with 20 secs rest in between for three full rounds. Choose 2 upper body exercises and perform each for 45 seconds with 20 secs rest in between for three full rounds. Choose 3 core strength exercises and perform each for 45 seconds with 20 secs rest in between for three full rounds. Choose 2 cool down exercises (perform each for at least 30 secs).   Warm-up exercises Cat-Cow – A popular yoga warm-up pose which can prevent back injury and aids digestion. On all fours, place your shins and knees hip-width apart, centre your head in a neutral position. Arch your back whilst inhaling and bringing your head down then flow into back into your starting position whilst exhaling, tensing your core, bringing your head up to create an inward spinal curve. Repeat 10-15 times. Standard Star Jumps – perform at least 50 star jumps continuously. Bodyweight squats - Look up with feet shoulder width apart, keep back straight, keep tempo slow and controlled, and go as deep as possible. Perform 15-20 reps.   Legs and Glutes Alternating Lunges – perform a single legged lunge by stepping one foot out in front of the other, keeping the body up right, lunging down just before your knee hits the floor and stepping back to your start position. Alternate between both legs. Squat with Side Kick – perform a squat with a side kick from one leg as you come up from your squat position. Alternate between each leg with your kicks and keep up a good tempo! Glute Bridge - lie face up on the floor, knees bent, feet flat on the ground and palms down. Lift hips off the ground until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Squeeze your glutes hard and keep your abs drawn in. Hold your bridge for a couple of seconds and ease back down. Repeat for full 45 secs. Knee to Seat – Starting on your knees, sit up into a low squat position and return back to knees by stepping up and back down, one leg at a time. Repeat for full 45 secs.   Upper Body (Posture Focussed) Standard Push-up – make sure you have your hands just further than shoulder width apart and elbows tucked in. Switch to push-ups on your knees when required. Downward Dog Push-up - Begin in a Downward Dog pose but on your elbows instead of your hands then press your hands into the floor to straighten your elbows and back to start position to complete one rep. Close Grip Push-up into Child’s Pose – Perform one close grip push-up on your knees an flow back into your child’s pose (arms flat and extended out with your head facing the floor).   Core Strength and Endurance Walk the Plank – In a forearm plank position push yourself up to a push-up plank position one hand at a time. Then back down to your forearm plank and repeat continuously. Mountain Climbers – Start in a full push up position putting your weight on your hands and drive one leg at a time up towards your torso. Perform with each leg alternating at a fast pace. Toe Taps in Back Position – In a back position with your hands and feet flat on the floor, touch the top of your toes using your opposite and switch sides. Repeat for full 45 secs. Shoulders Taps - In a full push up plank position, tap the front of your shoulder with your opposite hand and which sides continuously whilst holding your plank position.   Cool Down - Key Stretches Child’s Pose – A great stretch for your shoulders and core. Sitting down on your knees with arms flat and extended out with your head facing the floor. Hold for at least 30 seconds and try and stretch out your necks muscles also. Tricep stretch – Sat on the floor or standing bent one arm behind your head and stretch using the opposite hand. Repeat both sides for a 10 second stretch. Glute Stretch – Lying on your back, keep your right leg straight and pull your left up by holding onto your shin. Use your right hand to push your left knee across your body and stretch your glute while keeping your shoulders on the floor. Switch sides and repeat.   Mix up your combination of leg, upper body and core exercises to create a new workout and try to complete 3 times a week. Just like horse riding you should always look for progressions to each exercise that will help you continually improve your performance! ...

In this next blog in our winter series we hear from confidence expert Jane Brindley of Horse Riding with Confidence Scotland. Jane has worked with a variety of riders to much success- so should know a thing or two about getting the most out of yourself in any season. In my opinion we have a choice about how we view the season of winter. We can either spend the next few months moaning about it being too dark, too cold, too wet, too muddy or we can embrace this time of year and think of it as an opportunity. So here are my tips for some winter motivation. Accept that we live in Scotland (or elsewhere in the UK/Europe/Northern hemisphere) where the winter days are short and, let’s face it, it rains a lot! There is nothing we can do to change that. So, as always have a think about what you are saying to yourself eg ‘This is awful’. If you’re constantly telling yourself that something is awful then that is what you believe. So, change it round into seeing it as an opportunity eg ‘At least there are no flies!’ Have a look at your goals. How did you get on during the summer months? Is there anything that you need to work on? Once again, look at it as an OPPORTUNITY. Are there any situations which you are avoiding eg riding on windy days or avoiding those shadowy corners in the arena? Yet another OPPORTUNITY to do some de-sensitisation work. No where safe to ride? Guess what? Another OPPORTUNITY! Group together with some friends and hire an indoor arena. Make plans to ride out with other people. (You’re much more likely to do it if it’s in the diary). Be nice to yourself. Dress warmly. Use plenty of moisturiser and lip balm. Wear bright colours. Drink hot chocolate. Go for a sauna. Think warming thoughts. Missing the shows and events? You’ve got it! Another OPPORTUNITY! Investigate Winter leagues and arena events. Sign up and make a commitment. Check back on your goals and measure your progress. Work on your fitness. Use the OPPORTUNITY to sign up for a pilates class. Go for brisk walks with the dog. Do some strength training. Set yourself up for the spring. Pamper your horse. If the weather is too bad to ride spend time with your horse instead. Give him a good groom and thorough check over. Adjust his feeding as necessary. Give your tack a deep clean. And if you really can’t ride...

It’s dark when you leave the house in the morning and it’s dark when you get home. 90% of your time at the yard is in the dark- yes, we’ve all been there, and it can be so easy over winter to lose fitness both yourself and your horse (I do, however, salute the person that invented the horse walker). Over the coming month we will be running a blog series on how to get the most out of you and your horse this winter. My names Carmen Cummiskey and I founded TEQNOX back in 2016. Running a business, keeping fit and finding time to go riding is difficult but, in this blog, I’m going to share some of the helpful resources, tips and tricks that I’ve found help keep me on track. The Alarm It’s dark, the horses need mucked out, or if you’re lucky enough to have winter grazing fed and turned out for a few hours. I’ve found alarms such as https://www.sleepcycle.com/ help you to get you up when your body’s ready. It monitors your sleep patterns and assesses whether you are in a deep or light sleep. It’s also a great way of checking your quality of sleep and lets me know when I need to cut down on the coffee. Plan Your Day Whether you work on a yard or at an office desk planning is essential to make sure you get everything done. I’ve found planners such as ‘The Productivity Planner’ to be useful. It’s suggested that you put your most difficult tasks first so that you make sure you get them done. In general, as we can all procrastinate and do the fun or easy stuff first. I’ve also included some links below to some helpful free planner sites: https://asana.com/ https://resources.collab.net/agile-101/what-is-kanban You also can’t beat a good old whiteboard- it’s my best friend when trying to think things through and a must when you’ve got multiple horses to feed. Track Everyone is on some type of fitness journey. Whether you are looking to maintain your current fitness levels, get fitter, or get stronger it is important to keep track of your activity. Many smart phones now automatically track your steps. You can use apps such as My Fitness Pal to track nutrition and exercise or revolutionary equestrian applications such as https://huufe.com/ to track your riding. Implement So all that's finally left to do is implement planning and tracking into your routine. They say it can take weeks to form a habit so why not start now?...

The clocks have gone back, the temperature has dropped and the dreaded clippers have come out! Safe to say winter is peeking round the corner. What a summer we have had. I competed as part of Lanark Riding Clubs dressage team, took a win and reserve champion at the Royal Highland Show, Qualified for our first area festival, Qualified for the Caledonian showing championships and took part in our first evening performance. Along with our major highlights we have had numerous wins and placings throughout the summer months. Not to mention moving house, getting married, building a new yard and relocating the horses! Phew..! We are now planning for our winter qualifiers. Skinny has 1 more score to get for Areas, Biscuit will also be aiming to qualify, Richie is now in full work and aiming for his first competition in the spring and Fraser and Foxy will be out at a few training evenings ready for spring competitions too. Jodie x #teamshieldhill ...

Hey there, My name is Caitlin and I am currently a Marketing and Business Enterprise student at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. For the past eight months, I have been a Digital Marketing Intern for Teqnox. The experience has been invaluable, and I am so lucky to have been given the opportunity to work within this exciting and innovative start-up company. When I first applied for the internship, I’m not going to lie – I had no idea what I was letting myself in for… I had visions of me doing coffee runs and speed writing notes in important meetings where I wasn’t allowed to make eye contact with anyone. Think Devil Wears Prada, Anne Hathaway running about NYC with hundreds of bags and a constantly ringing phone – I thought that is what I would resemble, only in rainy Glasgow! My original vision could not be further from reality. Right from the beginning I felt valued within the company, being trusted to make important decisions and being encouraged to add my own flair to my work. I worked closely with CEO and founder of TEQNOX, Carmen Cummiskey to help build the brand and online digital presence. I even got to attend Olympia Horse Show on behalf of TEQNOX – that was a real ‘pinch me’ moment. When I was offered the position, I couldn’t believe that I had been given the opportunity to work for an equestrian business. From a young age I have been around horses and started to learn to ride at my local riding school when I was only six. I remember learning to trot for the first time on a pony called Shandy. Looking back, the poor pony was ancient and was always a bit bedraggled looking – mind you, wouldn’t we all if our sweet nature meant we were subjected to tiny, leg flapping children every weekend… Despite his tired legs and shaggy coat, Shandy would be my proud, noble steed as I paraded around the arena in my pink wellies. Many years on and I still love equestrian sport as much as I did back then. Due to university and other commitments I unfortunately don’t have as much time to ride as I once did but even the odd visit to the stables is enough for my horsey fix. I cannot recommend highly enough looking for a job or an internship in an industry that you are actually interested in. I have first-hand experience of being bombarded with internship offers and potential graduate schemes in industries that I may have never even heard of whilst being at university. It can be tempting to opt for an opportunity because it offers good pay or perks; but ultimately if you don’t love what you do then I think that diminishes the value of the benefits offered. I believe that if you truly love what you do, then you would be more than happy to do it without the fancy gym memberships or company cars. I can say that I love working for Teqnox and that is largely down to the fact that it is specialising in something that I enjoy, and I am interested in. I would go to bed at night and wake up excited for what I was going to be working on that day or even when I wasn’t at work, I would be brainstorming ideas for interesting social media content or blog posts. I think that when you have that fire in your belly to perform well and learn new things, then that is when you are completely happy and satisfied within your job. Let me tell you – when you have that feeling, waking up early or putting in extra hours is so worth it. A huge part of why I have loved working for Teqnox is the dedication and passion of the CEO, Carmen Cummiskey. What is amazing about working with a start-up company is that you have the opportunity to work closely with the top-level management – something that would be unheard of within bigger companies. Throughout my internship, Carmen has been great at offering support and guidance and also passing on any information that she has been given at workshops or events that may aid my professional development. From the outset, it may seem daunting as an intern working with the CEO, but throughout my time with Teqnox I felt comfortable asking questions or advice and feel it has benefitted me greatly to have been exposed to the harsh realities but also real highs of the start-up world. For the duration of my internship, I have worked closely with TEQNOX’s Brand Ambassadors. The Brand Ambassadors write bi-monthly blogs for the company website and part of my role was to keep these updated. I have learned lots from working with them and it has been great to have their input and creativity in developing the company’s online presence. As well as this, I have worked closely with the website designers in the creation of the TEQNOX website. This was really interesting as website content design was something that was new to me and I feel really privileged to have sat in meetings with the website designers and plan the website design as well as take part in brainstorming sessions to come up with new and exciting ideas for the website, blogs and social media outlets. This is another reason that I would definitely recommend partaking in an internship with a start-up or smaller company. I have had the opportunity to sit in on meetings and was encouraged to put forward my ideas. I was encouraged to create and develop social media series and competitions without strict guidelines and was able to take one of my own ideas and run with it. This is incredibly empowering especially at the beginning of my career as I felt that I was an integral part of TEQNOX and that my work was valuable to the company – there really is no better feeling. So, as my time at TEQNOX comes to an end, I would like to thank the company, especially Carmen for investing in me as a person and taking seriously my development and training as a marketer. The experience has been invaluable and I cannot think of a company that I would have rather spent the last eight months with. As well as the incredible products, it is the empowering and inspiring culture that will drive TEQNOX’s success and for any future employees, have fun and enjoy the ride! So, for now – over and out! LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caitlin-whyte-208938158/...