Over the stable door: Recession-busting tips for low-budget equine treatments

The rescheduled King George VI chase takes place today and I am fortunate to be attending, along with an owner, courtesy of William Hill who sponsor the event.

The three-mile race at Kempton over 18 fences, postponed from Boxing Day, will feature nine runners, with Tony McCoy booked for the ride on Kauto Star.

Kauto Star looks likely to hold on to his crown and AP has never been more confident. It would make for a heroic fifth victory.

I would love to see him win, but I am a fan of Long Run, a horse likely to be suited by the more testing conditions the postponement has brought.

He is by the French jumping stallion Cadoudal who also sired 15-time winner Big Bucks. I am guaranteed a top class day's action whoever takes the honours.

After racing, we hit London town for some belated birthday celebrations. I booked in at my favourite Japanese restaurant where awesome sushi is served by some arrogant waiters who simply ignore any complaints.

It makes for an entertaining evening and fortunately the mind-blowing cuisine makes up for their lack of courtesy.

Having worked a few too many 14-hour days last week due to staff being ill, I fear the guests maybe left to blow out my countless candles alone as I catch forty winks in the corner.

After years of asking, my wish was finally granted when the parents bought me a shotgun for Christmas. The opportunity arose to use it when racing hit a barren spell. I organised a clay pigeon shoot for friends which proved highly entertaining as the ladies took on two highly experienced marksman.

We did have a slight disadvantage – one of our shooters was eight months pregnant. Lucy felt the baby jump every time someone pulled a trigger.

Luckily she didn't give birth during the afternoon but is fully expecting it to arrive early.

The lads clearly proved the stronger of the sexes throughout our trigger-happy activities but judging by the amount of undamaged clays collected in the field afterwards they're in no position to crow and may well be in need of a pair or two of glasses.

As the economic gloom seems far from reaching a conclusion, I thought readers may be interested in some recession-busting tips picked up over the years.

These are tested equine treatments aimed at saving time, money and problems – an alternative to the expensive mainstream options available in shops.

There are plenty of expensive conditioning lotions out there for horses' manes and tails. But I use furniture polish; it works just as effectively – a shiny gloss finish like it says on the label – but at a tenth of the cost.

Snow balling up in horses' feet has, in recent months, become a daily problem. Some people solve it by smearing lard or castor oil on horses' feet. But one trainer swears by children's Playdough. I find that if you pack plenty into the horses' feet, it turns hard and stays in the foot whilst cantering.

Here's an idea from the Germans. They used to draw bruising or abscesses from horses feet by the use of sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) in a hot poultice. These days it can be bought from most large supermarkets and you can use in place of kaolin.

If you struggle keeping grey horses clean, then look no further than lemon washing up liquid, preferably the popular

named brand. I find that it's unbeatable at removing stable stains.

A tack cleaning tip I picked up at the yearling sales in France is tomato ketchup used to clean brass.

We would get a few of those nasty hard-to-open little sachets from the staff canteen, high in vinegar content and low in flavour.

Then we coated the brass in the sauce and left for 10 minutes. Then just rinse off well and polish. It removes tarnish and leaves the brass gleaming.

Although slightly worrying is the lingering thought that it might strip your insides as well.

CW 15/1/11