Alison Kenward is an experienced dressage competitor and coach. Alison rides Lowmoor Neptune for Rachel Crook. Neptune is currently competing at Elementary level. Alison is a BHS Accredited Professional Coach, a BHS Stable Manager, Intermediate Instructor and UKCC 3.

Alison is particularly interested in rider health, fitness, nutrition and wellbeing. Alison is a brand ambassador for Caviera Bedding, Haygain hay steamers, Equilibrium Products, Protexin Equine and Hive Learning. Read about her love of horse & rider fashion and her commitment to training as an equestrian athlete. 

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Haygain Forager welcomed by Neptune by Alison Kenward

Neptune and his companions have been enjoying steamed hay since we installed a Haygain steamer last Summer. This has had a huge impact on the horse's respiratory health and perfectly compliments our stable management practice of using dust extracted sterilised bedding from Caviera along with keeping the stables clean and well ventilated. Neptune and his friends all enjoy turnout for several hours a day, longer when the weather is kind.


I have always fed hay on the floor however this does not work for Neptune and he had to have haynets. He is happy to eat from a haynet but I was worried about his posture whilst eating as I prefer a more natural, lower head position for horses to eat.


I spotted the Haygain Forager at BETA in the spring and put my name down for pre order. Delivery was quick and efficient if somewhat daunting in its flat pack arrival. The instructions were fairly straightforward and Mum put it together for me. The one piece we were uncertain about was the green top as that needed a definite click into place. Neptune watched the assembly process with keen interest. When it was ready with some hay I took him to sniff it and decide it was ok. He tentatively ate, at this point I did not have the regulator on as he was rather tense. He soon realised the Forager was his friend and once he was relaxed I introduced the regulator. I could tell from his expression and body language that he viewed the addition as a nuisance rather than a threat. However he grazed through the holes with the same behaviour I have observed him eating grass. He was selective and settled into a rhythm, confident that he could graze his hay and feed himself with less of the intensity of attacking a haynet. Here was a food delivery system he approved of.


By evening stables he was still tucking in and it was on day two that he decided that the Forager had potential as a toy and could be moved around the stable ... I think it was because he felt that even after he had completed his meal and foraged to the bottom his toy should provide more hay. He realises now that playing with it does not create more so he now comes to the door to ask for refills. We are able to feed ad lib with the Forager and this means that he has not run out or eaten too much, he and I are very happy with the Forager as a hay delivery service. It's easy to care for and refill and it's initial noise when he moved the regulator has quietened down.


I highly recommend the Haygain Forager, it saves time and reduces waste, even more importantly it allows Neptune to eat his forage ration in a good posture, in a relaxed frame of mind and allows his airways to be open as they would be were he grazing.


Read more about the benefits of steaming hay HERE

Read about how Raviera Pro bedding is produced HERE

Find out more about the Haygain Forager HERE


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Wish List Spring 17 by Alison Kenward

The first crop of flowers are beginning to bloom in the garden and the sunshine has made a few guest appearances. Social Media and retailers are cooing over spring's new arrivals and I am in love with the colour of spring.


I delight in choosing bandages for Neptune to wear. Anky and Eskadron tempt me each season. For 2017 the Eskadron collection include a pink and red that share the palette from Chanel. I have always loved to collect makeup and perfume from Chanel and have decided to treat myself with matching nail colour and bandages.


The new Quibelle competition jacket I have my eye on from Pikeur is available in grey as well as navy and here I face a new dilemma ... I have always loved a navy jacket paired with navy hat and gold stock. Perhaps I could be bold and create a new look, a grey jacket with a rose gold stock and maybe a new browband for Neptune. For a quick change to take my competition outfit to the coffee shop I love the look of the new Pikeur Tahira jacket.


Stylish and Organised for 2017

A new season brings even more opportunities for competition and training. This year as well as concentrating on achieving qualification for the British Dressage Summer Regionals I would like to put myself forward for selection for the Inter Regional Team. I have fallen in love with Leroy & Bongo. Their planners and folders easily surpass my paper & digital calendars in design and function. The creative touches enable riders to find a renewed motivation and pleasure in record keeping and journaling.


Planning and organisation extends to my wardrobe where I look for a few key pieces that are easy to wear and give me a spring in my step. I live in my Ariat Terrain boots alongside my Ariat Devon pros and off duty I'm grateful for Saucony trainers. The problem of what to wear for away days and evenings is now sorted thanks to my discovery of Cocorose, a company creating beautiful ballet flats.


I found East clothing whilst shopping in Covent Garden soon after my adventures in New Zealand. I love to wear their dresses and jumpers. I'm always on the look out for long cardigans to lift an outfit and smart jackets to pair with trousers. This season East have created the Floral Embroidery jacket and the Printed Combination cardigan that I'm excited to try on. A new brand to me, Ronner Design is an Instagram joy. I love their use of patterns and long to try the dresses but before then I think one of their ponchos is a must have.

Spring Essentials


British Dressage Central now wear green as the official regional colour so I have been on the lookout for green tops and horse accessories to try. Ariat have two tops that I use regularly. The Lowell 1/4 zip and the Ramiro jumper. This year they are available in a green that looks very close to the official team colour and I'm thinking of wearing them in training to remind me of my goals. It helps that they are smart, lightweight and super stylish! For Neptune I'm very interested in a Rambo Summer series rug. This new edition (to me) is a lightweight rug with some great design features. It's breathable, waterproof and has a detachable liner and neck cover. The front fastenings now cross and have been added to reduce pressure to the horses' shoulders and chest. I trust Horseware to create practical , long lasting rugs and I am keen to add to Neptune's wardrobe to help me combat seasonal weather worries. At this time of year moving through summer and on into autumn it's difficult to know how to dress them as they face showers and variable temperatures. This new rug looks just the ticket.


Gifts to Celebrate Spring for you and your friends.

Refresh your home or make someone smile just because you care. Bloom and Wild have a  subscription service, an ideal reminder how wonderful spring flowers are.


If you need style inspiration or want to find out more about Equestrian Fashion look out for Style Reins Magazine and their Style Reins VIP subscription boxes. After a long winter with the focus often on horse care and braving the elements, spring is a time to re energise. Hanrose have recently launched candles that will soothe as well as lift your mood. Molton Brown are a firm favourite of mine for bath oils and hand washes, ideal to promote a sense of calm. My final suggestion for your home and to raise a cheer for Spring is Vascorino with its equestrian logo and pretty bottles this Sangria will help you toast 2017.


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After a Day with Doris, Happy to be Home by Alison Kenward

The build up to Regionals has been gathering pace since we completed our qualification at Moulton College last year. I have been thinking about the two tests, E59 and my new freestyle floorplan every day and included elements of both tests in my regular training sessions alongside several trial runs to Addington to give Neptune a feel for the venue.


Last Friday , I had one of my best rides on Neptune to date. He was attentive and responsive as well as friendly and expressive. What more could a Dressage rider ask for? We had a fairly quiet weekend training wise and on Monday I saw a gap in the weather, a hint of sunshine called me outside and I rode through both tests. Normally in winter Neptune and I prefer to hang out in the indoor arena as neither of us like confronting rain or blustery weather. I was still feeling on a high from the previous ride and was delighted to complete both test patterns with Neptune confident and on side. On Tuesday I lunged Neptune indoors and we basically had a chat whilst he stretched and played and enjoyed his workout. By Wednesday things were coming into serious focus as I rode a simple plan of transitions and movements to check our communication. Neptune felt good and happily accepted having his socks and tail washed and a trim so he looked fabulous. Good luck texts began to arrive along side notes to be careful in the bad weather. My head was full of E59, remembering the medium trot markers, thinking about softness and clarity in the canter trot canter, remembering the give and retake at A....


We were finally on our way and if the weather system was building to an unusual intensity I hadn't paid much heed, I felt the tension and spied dark clouds and settled down to listen to my music routine again, mentally riding the routine for the four or four thousandth time before accepting it was going to be ok. The weather at this point seemed a minor irritation and I was unfazed even as we were confronted with our first large fallen tree near Padbury. We passed safely and calmly and arrived at Addington praying for the rain to hold off. I saw with relief the familiar arenas and horses working in arena one. It was time to compete. The noise which greeted me as I got out was off the scale. I had a moment of concern and doubt for Neptune and when I opened the door his expression mirrored mine. Getting him ready we allowed him to choose where he wanted to stand. There was no shelter from the wind it was all around. Neptune settled on standing in his usual place by the box where he could see other horses.


Dressing us for competition took way longer than usual however he remained steadfast and braced himself against the wind that was noisily gathering in intensity and mischief. Once ready I got on with a little trepidation. Neptune and I gained courage from each other and as a rather introverted partnership we made the expedition towards the work in. My Mum lead the advance party and Neptune clung to her as we braved the wind tunnel that was the wooded walkway from car park to warm up arena. Here the noise was nearly unbearable and the gaping mouthed wheelie bin monsters were dancing along with the sponsorship banners flapping in an unfriendly chorus.


Still I focussed on E59 and my need to work in a familiar pattern. As a whirlwind of leaves whipped themselves between Neptune's legs nippy at his tummy and rising to smack us both around the face I wondered if this was a good idea. These thoughts were replaced by survival instinct and I asked him to relax and move calmly forwards ... As he responded working into the contact and seeking my rein I was filled with love for this brave horse and thankful for the hours I had spent teaching him to relax. I was relieved too to feel confident about remembering the test recognising that today was not a day to be wondering where to go next...


The test itself was not without drama. Neptune felt introverted and his trot and walk work were modest. We were accurate and he accepted the aids. He had to contend with a lot of noise and debris swirling across and around the arena along with a large crack that sounded like another tree succumbing as he made his way towards it! The canter tour was a real highlight for me and I was starting to enjoy myself. Neptune offered me the most accurate simple changes to date in competition and I felt him grow in stature and confidence too. We were not just surviving together we were performing. There are so many areas of that test that I want to develop, improve, perfect. All of this seems possible in the weeks and months of training we have ahead of us.


We posted 62% which is one of our best E59 scores to date. It's a four percent improvement on our average and in terms of rideability it's one of the best tests he has shared with me. There was no sense that I had placed him in a straight jacket and insisted he complete the patterns (knowing Neptune and my riding style that was never a likely scenario) there was a sense for me that he had found a new level of courage and his huge heart and kind nature were the reason we were out in a storm finding the next level of connection. Still we were both emotionally drained as we made our way back. Neptune sucking a mint thoughtfully and enjoying the praise and gratitude I felt to have completed.


It was time to face the wind tunnel again. He made it through with every muscle braced and his pulse racing. He had adrenaline overload and tentatively, plaintively called to any horse in the neighbourhood. Several kind souls returned his call and his next response sounded to my ears like a world weary warrior relieved to find a safe haven.


Now covered in a warm rug, his tack safely stowed Neptune began to enjoy a small feed of grass chaff, grass nuts, a little sugar beet juice and a dash of oats. He chewed his way delicately through this feast in a howling gale, feet planted four square whilst I did my best to prevent his bucket dancing away with the leaf army and a long forgotten plastic curry comb stampeding off into the distance. With the horseboxes gently swaying Neptune happily loaded and tucked into his Haynet.


I was pleased with our score, preparing for the Regionals I recognised the challenges we faced presenting both tests well in a Championship setting, I knew that we were unlikely to be placed in the top ten. I hadn't factored in Storm Doris, if ever there were a time to be thankful for the growing bond and understanding between Neptune and I it was now.


Neptune gave me an old fashioned look as we unloaded him for the freestyle. Back on board and I was pleased that this was the second time we'd faced the challenge. To my ears the wind seemed to be even angrier. Then with a loud crass another tree tumbled down. Neptune takes dislikes to trees on sunny days when they are minding their own business. Now he watched with incredulity and rising fear as it lost its life. My Mum and I ignored the tree and reassured him that the column of trees we were wandering through were perfectly safe... we rounded the corner to go up the slope to the indoor to be met by the candy stripe wind break losing its battle and Neptune trembled with no where to run. Some very kind ladies walking past joined our chorus of reassuring good boys and walk on just breathe your fine sing song and he made a heroic effort to reach the safety of the indoor waiting area. Meltdown averted with a celebratory mint and huge praise.


By now I was in a very practical frame of mind. These days make or break a partnership and I began a warm up of slow steady walking and trotting until he was ready to canter. He was breathing correctly now and it was our turn to start the class. Neptune made it inside before completely losing his confidence seeing three judge tables and the cafe. He went backwards and said no I can't. I've been in this situation before with the giant  Champagne bottle at Keysoe. I appealed for calm and forward and talked to him before he made the decision to be brave. A further meltdown by a giant banner ironically for a calmer supplement and we had made it to the other side of the arena. I was so relieved to hear the bell. I patted him and asked for the music. As it started I felt Neptune recognise his music and his job and we were off. Again there are lots of elements I want to develop and improve however it was fun and he did everything I asked him too and even started to enjoy himself . I was so very very proud. I walked him back to the horsebox understanding that his nerves and mine could take no further battering and fed him on mints and let him call out to his new horse friends.


Back at the box, Neptune took a long calming breath as his plaits were taken out and I told him how wonderful he was. He reached into the horsebox and fetched out his feedbucket with his teeth before finishing his earlier meal, the picture of a confident happy horse, relaxed and with an air of self determination I have not witnessed before. It was a very special moment.


Finally back home, Neptune was quick to return to his stable, comfort break attended to he said a cursory hello to his stable companions before settling for a brief power nap. Refreshed he began his tea time haynet, enjoyed another long drink  and was quite sociable whilst his stable was prepared for the evening. I was pleased to see a confident horse, happy to be home. His regional stable plaque has pride of place and I'm delighted to report he has graduated to an Elementary Championship Contender.


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Delighted To Join The Haynet Blogging Team by Alison Kenward

I am delighted to join the Haynet Blogging Team. I'm counting down the days until Neptune and I head to Addington to compete in the British Dressage Elementary and Elementary Freestyle Winter Regional Championships.

I live in Oxfordshire. I have studied as an instructor with the British Horse Society. I hold the Stable Manager's Certificate, Intermediate Instructor's Certificate and UKCC 3. I am a BHS Accredited Professional Coach. I am a member of British Dressage, Cherwell Valley Riding Club, Oxfordshire Sport Talent Coach and Project 500.

Lowmoor Neptune is 13 this year. Neptune is owned by Rachel Crook. He is a 16.2hh chestnut gelding by Jumbo Hirst, an American TB by Derby Winner The Minstrel. Neptune has good paces, believes in energy conservation, regular pampering and is working on his list of requirements.

Celebrating a New Look
Last September I set myself a goal to lose weight. I joined a programme created by nutritionists Matt Lovell and Gavin Allinson, FWFL Interactive. One of my first tasks was to create a vision of what I wanted to achieve. I thought about how I would like to compete at the Winter Regionals at my goal weight. In September I hadn't yet qualified and I needed to improve my percentages to achieve this.

In September I believed that I would qualify for the Freestyle Championships and was so proud when I achieved this, I set my sights on the double, to qualify for the Elementary Silver too.

In September I wasn't confident about how effective my weight loss regime might be. By November I had completed my elementary qualification and had already posted a dramatic weight loss. At Christmas I achieved my first target weight early. I followed a simple targeted approach to planning meals and eating a sensible balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats.

So 2017 is a time of celebration for me. I am confident that I can achieve my dream of becoming an Equestrian athlete again. In my mind there are many facets to this status. I can enjoy my riding. I can feel good competing and train towards the next stage of advanced dressage and the coveted tailcoat. I can indulge my love of fashion and clothes. I can enjoy competition photo calls again. I can be more relaxed about wearing sponsored clothing. I can feel good about my fitness levels. I know Neptune approves.

I enjoyed a visit to BETA with my friend Amanda Shirtcliffe. BETA is a thriving Equestrian Trade Fair where it's possible to see a good selection of products and meet with wholesalers and manufacturers, to catch up with familiar brands and new faces.

I met with Haygain and talked about how the HG2000 has become a yard essential, Neptune loves the smell and taste of freshly steamed hay. I was able to view their new forager which will be available to purchase soon and promises to be ideal for horses to enjoy their hay in a natural grazing position.

I was invited to test the Avansce Synchronicity system at the Neue Schule stand. Synchronicity enables riders and coaches to measure, analyse and improve contact. Contact is key to effective, tactful and timely communication through rein aids. The system includes sensors discreetly integrated with the reins. Data is collected and shared via an app for instant feedback. The information can be stored and compared too. I am very excited by this technology both as a rider and as a coach.

Dressage is Online
2017 is a great time for Dressage innovation and support. Last night Horse Hour launched pre recorded downloadable music for dressage with Nick Reeves. Nick has creative flair, energy and great musicality. I love the routines he created for Jack (2014) and Neptune's current competition music.

Dressage Hour is a thriving social media event. I have been interacting with riders from all over the world. I have particularly enjoyed finding out more about Dressage Anywhere. I will be entering their Freestyle training class to access judge feedback on my new choreography just in time for the Winter Regional Championships.

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