Monthly Archives: April 2015

Horse Of The Week – Flight.

Event horse Gloris Flight, ridden by Samantha Penn.

Event horse Gloris Flight, ridden by Samantha Penn.

Gloris Flight is a 7-year-old, Belgian Warmblood (BWP). This successful event horse is owned by Mrs Sonya Batten and stands at 17hh. He is currently residing with Samantha Penn whom started Flight as a four-year-old, and has been riding and competing him ever since. This will be the 4th year for the combination whom have gained various wins and placing’s at BE100 and Novice levels. One particular achievement was coming 2nd at the 6-year-old CIC* at Aldon International in 2014.

Although Flight is currently eventing at Novice and 1* level, Samantha is aiming to progress with him up to Intermediate this season. Sam also takes him showjumping, for which they are presently competing at Foxhunter level. Flight is not always the easiest character to get on-side, but he has the potential to go a very long way.

Samantha says that “Flight is hugely talented and a fabulous mover, but always slightly worried about life. Flight has taken a long time to grow in to himself. I hope that over the next year or two he will really start to come in to his own”.

Samantha and Flight, show jumping at Hickstead.

Samantha and Flight, show jumping at Hickstead.

Samantha also explains: “Since being fed Gastric Comfort; Flight has become a happier and nicer horse in the stable, and a much easier ride! Previously he would resent any leg aid, which would cause him to kick out or buck, which he no longer does. He is still a less than straightforward horse to ride, but he just finished 2nd in his first CIC*, with a lot more to give!”

A FREE 2kg tub of Gastric Comfort is on its way to Flight for being our Horse Of The Week!

Each week, the Feedmark team select a horse of the week from reviews, letters and emails sent to them. If you would like your horse to feature, then please send your horse’s details in to [email protected] or go online and write a review.

The ups and downs of eventing – India Thomson blog

It’s been a little while since my last blog and lots has happened in that time, mostly all
good and some bits not quite so good, as is the way with horses! The eventing season got
well underway at our first event at Isleham where we had 5 horses competing. They all
made a good start with Rebel picking up a 5th in the 100 and Mr B coming 8th in the
novice. Spider tested the dressage judges sense of humour, having warmed up beautifully
he went in and just couldn’t contain himself for the first half scoring some 1’s!! He then
knuckled down and scored 8’s in the second half and made up for it with a double clear
jumping. It was his first event since July last year so a little bit of exuberance was to be
expected.

image 2We then went to Poplar Park and had a fairly good weekend, Rebel was the
dressage diva of the day scoring a 22, he ended up 9th after getting time penalties for
going too fast cross country which is quite easy to do on him as he has a lovely big stride
and enjoys it so much he wastes no time at his fences. Dora finished on her dressage
score of 32, though it shows how the standard has risen as this was only good enough for 12th! Spider produced a much better test and a double clear. Mr B made a good start in the intermediate scoring a 31 and just touching a pole in the show jumping, unfortunately I had a fall from another horse cross country and banged my head so couldn’t take him cross country which was really disappointing as he was feeling great.

His next outing came at Lincoln in the Novice where he came out feeling a little fresh, neither of us enjoying the biting cold wind and did a fairly average test, 1 down and clear cross country. Not a terribly exciting day but at least he’d had another run.

Next up was Great Witchingham and we were lucky to enjoy lovely weather and perfect ground there. The horses clearly enjoyed it too and all went well with Rebel and Spider both coming 5th and Dora finishing on a 29 for 3rd. Days like that remind you why you do it, riding lovely horses going well and even better getting to report back to their owners with good news!

imageBurnham market was next on the agenda and we were stepping into the unknown slightly as they were all moving up a level. Dora had a fence down, which was definitely pilot error, and gave me a great feel round the cross country in her first 100. The few days hunting she had over the winter have absolutely been the making of her, she has come out attacking the cross country this year and feels better with every run, I was worried she was a little cautious last year but couldn’t be more pleased with her now.Rebel really impressed me in his first novice, he
jumped a really nice clear round show jumping round an up to height course so I was
delighted with him as it’s not his favourite phase. He loves the cross country and gave me
another great ride round a stiff novice track for a first timer. However I’m still kicking myself
for a run out a corner at fence 4, he is very sensitive and I was in two minds whether to
swap my whip over or not and decided to change it but as soon as I went to move it he
panicked and focused on me, losing concentration on the fence – I know never to do that
again! It was frustrating as he would have been placed and I should have trusted him but
he felt fantastic the rest of the way and certainly felt like he came home with a smile on his
face. Mr B was doing his first. CIC 2* and was such a good boy. I felt slightly under
image 3prepared having not had his planned intermediate run at Poplar Park but he felt on good form. Due to having a busy day with the other two and things running late we didn’t end up with a lot of time to warm up for the dressage so I went for a safe test without putting any pressure on him as he’s not yet established in some of the harder movements yet. He was very willing and we got through it which is all I asked for but it lacked oomph and the “look at me” factor to gain the higher marks. We scored a 58, so again this was no Charlotte and Valegro but it wasn’t last, hurrah! He then show jumped brilliantly in quite sticky going, I got him a bit too deep to a parallel and had the back rail but other than he jumped out of his skin. When I walked the cross country I thought it been beefed up fairly compared with last years track and there was one combination that I thought was pretty tricky, the Olympic diamond hedge on a bending line to a narrow brush corner to another angled hedge. He set off well, not quite with his usual keenness and I think I had a too strong bit in him as he wasn’t attacking his fences quite as much. However he was very genuine and honest at the Skinnies and combinations, but when we came to the hedge/corner combination we didn’t have enough oomph and got there on a half stride and he didn’t really have an option other than to grind to a halt. We came round again and he popped through very well so although it was frustrating I was thrilled with how he made the rest of the course feel quite easy and he finished well. It has made our decision about Houghton 2* as we’re not qualified now but I had already decided we were lacking a bit of mileage at that level and we may now aim for an autumn three day instead.

Indie XrayIt’s great to have got the first batch of events under our belts and so exciting to have
some lovely horses to ride, they’ve come out and improved with every outing and I can’t
wait to see how they progress through the season. The only slight glitch in the plan at the
moment is I managed to get bucked off a young horse and caught my fingers in the neck
strap trying to stay on and have snapped a bone in my hand, not part of the event plan!!
I’m hoping to be back in action fairly quickly and for the time being my fantastic groom Tilly
is doing a lot of riding and I’m doing a lot of shouting! So the horses are ticking over and it
won’t take long to get them ready for an event once I can ride again. Luckily there are
some good distractions coming up, like going to support my friend Harry Dzenis at
Badminton again which will be really exciting and I’ve got everything crossed he has a
good week! Hopefully I will be back with some more stories from events in my next blog

Horse Of The Week – Copper.

Danielle's wedding which took place in 2014.

Copper was an important guest at Danielle’s wedding, which took place in 2014.

Copper is a New Forest x Welsh Cob and he is rising 31-years-old. He stands at 15hh and has been ridden by Danielle Barnes since she was a young girl. Danielle says that Copper is of great sentimental value as he was owned by her late father, before he passed away 9 years ago. For the majority of the time, Danielle hacks out with Copper. She also takes him to showing shows where they compete in veteran classes, and the pair have been quite successful in these classes. Copper has many talents, as he did well competing in Dressage in his younger years and was also used for driving.

Copper 2Danielle explains: “Copper has been on C-Plus for just over a year, and since I have been feeding it to him I have seen a huge improvement. He is fit, healthy and full of life. He has a lovely glossy coat, and a spring in his step which I haven’t seen for years! Copper is now 30 going on 5! He hasn’t been footy at all this summer and has stayed healthy all year. I am a very happy mum!”Copper 3

A FREE 3kg tub of C-Plus is on its way to Copper for being our Horse Of The Week!

Each week, the Feedmark team select a horse of the week from reviews, letters and emails sent to them. If you would like your horse to feature, then please send your horse’s details in to [email protected] or go online and write a review.

Does your horse have a taste for something bizarre?

Why does my horse chew wood?

horse chewing wood fenceHorses eating wood is relatively common, and is usually due to a lack of roughage in the diet. If your horse eats wood, try to ensure they have access to ad-lib forage, or if they are a good doer, trickle feed at least 1.5% of the horse’s bodyweight per day (e.g. feed a 500kg horse 7.5kg of forage)  which should satisfy the horse’s natural need to chew. This practice can often occur in colder weather, when the horses need for forages rises.  If your horse has access to grazing yet still likes to nibble on the fence posts, try supplying hay in the field- sometimes water content of grass is so high that it is hard for your horse to consume his fibre requirements from grass alone. Horses that are under stimulated, though lack of variation or exercise are also more likely to bite wood, so try to make sure you exercise your horse regularly, and shake things up a bit in your training!

Why does my horse eat soil?

7906387846_ccc4cd5834_cEating soil is usually indicative of a deficiency in the diet, often sodium or other minerals, but may also be to introduce micro-flora into the gut, or due to boredom or habit. If your horse is eating dirt, supply them with a free-access salt lick, ensure that they are receiving adequate vitamins and minerals, and try a probiotic to enhance gut flora population. Feeding Feedmark’s Original Balancer is ideal, as this provides 25 essential vitamins and minerals alongside a probiotic.

If the behaviour is due to habit, ensure your horse has plenty of room to play in, make sure they have company and try to make their working life as varied and interesting as possible.

Why does my horse eat their own poo?

foal eating poo smallEating poo, or ‘Coprophagy’ to use the correct term is common among horses and many other animals. This is not considered an abnormal behaviour, and is common in foals. It is theorised that horses eat poo to help to populate their hind gut with beneficial bacteria. Feeding a pre and probiotic, such as BioPro can help with this behaviour by ensure a healthy population of bacteria in the hind gut.

If your horse is eating anything out of the normal they are often trying to make up for a lack of a nutrient in their current feeding regime. Assess their diet to ensure that they are receiving adequate vitamins and minerals, fibre and probiotics, and call our Freephone advice line if you need a hand on 0800 585525.

Olivia Colton MSc

Nutritional and Technical Coordinator

 

What is Cushing’s disease?

Cushing 1‘Cushing’s disease’ (or as it is correctly termed, Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction, PPID) is a condition that affects the horse’s hormonal system.

In a healthy horse the Hypothalamus and Pituitary gland, which are located in the brain, are responsible for nerve action that promotes the release and production of hormones. These hormones are chemical signals which tell the body to do certain things, and are transported around the body via the blood stream.

In horses and ponies suffering from Cushing’s disease, the Pituitary gland is affected either by enlargement/swelling of the gland or by presence of a tumour, which in turn puts pressure on the Hypothalamous. This results in the horse not being given the correct information about how much of each hormone to release. The result is a constant release of the hormone ACTH and increased Cortisol production, which gives us the classic symptoms associated with the disease. Older horses and ponies are normally affected, however Cushing’s has been diagnosed in horses as young as 4. Cushing’s is equally likely to develop in all horses and ponies, regardless of gender or breed. Your vet can test your horse or pony for Cushing’s disease by performing a blood test.

What can I expect to see in a Cushing’s horse?

The excessive levels of Cortisol (the stress hormone) has widespread effects on the health of the horse. Probably the most identifiable symptom of Cushing’s is the development of a coarse, curly, shaggy coat, caused by a lack of normal moulting and shedding of hair. The high level of Cortisol also suppresses the immune system, leaving the horse more likely to suffer from parasites and infections, including hoof/tooth abscesses, and makes wounds slow to heal. Muscle tissue is broken down, leading to muscle wastage, stiffness, sway backs and pot bellies. Typically insulin levels are increased, which makes PPID sufferers more likely to suffer from chronic laminitis and Equine Metabolic Disease. Due to the depressed immune system and excessive coat, regulation of body temperature is often a problem and excessive thirst and urination are also seen.

How to manage a Horse with Cushing’s Disease

Horses with Cushing’s disease require a low sugar and low starch diet, similar to horses with EMS or laminitis. Make this easy by choosing feeds approved by the Laminitis trust, and soaking hay to reduce sugar levels. If the horse is turned out, consider using a grazing muzzle or strip grazing to reduce grass intake. If your horse needs to gain condition unmolassed sugar beet and oils can be included as a safe source of calories. Ensure sufficient water is always available due to increased levels of drinking. Horses are seen to thrive when exercise is combined with correct diet and management!

Horses suffering from Cushing’s benefit from being clipped, which makes them less likely to sweat and get fungal skin infections. If they have been clipped they will need to be rugged and have shelter in cold weather, and shade on hot days. By grooming regularly you promote healthy skin, and wounds and infections are observed more quickly. As with all horses, routine worming, dental care, farriery and vet care is important.

Some horses are prescribed ‘Pergolide’, a common medication in the management of Cushing’s Disease, which works by increasing dopamine production and reducing Pituitary gland activity to stabilise hormone production. For those wanting a more natural way to help your horse deal with Cushing’s without the need for medication, supplements containing Chastetree berry are commonly used.

Olivia Colton MSc

Nutritional and Technical Coordinator

Feedmark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horse Of The Week – Ellie.

Welsh Section C, Ellie.

Welsh Section C, Ellie.

Ellie is a 13.3hh, 19-year-old Welsh Section C pony, who has been owned by Amy Bennett for 10 years. Amy says that Ellie (also known as Fatty!) is still going strong and she accredits this solely to Feedmark’s Extraflex HA with Rosehips.

Amy explains: “Roughly three years ago, I noticed a reduction in the freedom of Ellie’s movement, and was tempted to retire her to a happy hacker. However I then visited the Feedmark stand at a show, where the staff were incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. They advised me to put Ellie on Extraflex HA.

Well, the results spoke for themselves! In a month I had a more agile pony who has been able to continue jumping as a result, and she still immensely enjoys her ridden career. So much in fact that I still have to battle with high jinks after a few days off!Ellie

So on behalf of both Ellie and myself, I want to thank you for giving an old pony a new life, and for giving me wonderful customer service and peace of mind. You have loyal customers for life.”

A FREE 1.35kg tub of Extraflex HA with Rosehips is on its way to Ellie for being our Horse Of The Week!

Each week, the Feedmark team select a horse of the week from reviews, letters and emails sent to them. If you would like your horse to feature, then please send your horse’s details in to [email protected] or go online and write a review.

Horse Of The Week – Lemonade Pie.

Welsh Section A, Lemonade Pie.

Welsh Section A, Lemonade Pie.

Lemonade Pie is a 3-year-old Welsh Section A pony. She stands at 11.1hh, and is owned by Angela Matthews. During the 20 months that Angela has owned Pie, she says “We have played with the Parelli program, she does lots of things on the line and with obstacles”. Pie has had a break from training over the winter, however she will soon continue her training to become a driving pony. Lemonade Pie is an interesting name, and there is some reasoning for it.

Angela explains: “Her mother is Cherry Brandy; her two sisters are Cherry Pie and Amaretto; and her brother is named Whisky; which explains the food/drink element. Lemonade Pie has a large white patch on her belly, and a largely white face. Altogether, her markings are quite unusual for a Pedigree Welsh Section A. I chose the name because it is curious and unusual, just like her!”

Pie has two blue eyes, and very sensitive white skin around them. Bright sunlight causes her eyes to weep, and before Angela tried EyeBright, Lemonade Pie would have continuous problems with runny and sticky eyes, which attracted flies. To help prevent this, Angela says Pie had been wearing a fly mask 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If she didn’t Lemonade Pie 2have her fly mask on (also known as her ‘shades’!) she would stand in her field shelter.

Angela explains: “Within days of feeding Feedmark’s EyeBright, her eyes were not sticky. Ten days after using the supplement, Lemonade Pie was coping without a fly mask. I have been able to leave it off most days. She certainly hasn’t had it on at all this winter; whereas last year, despite the rain, she had the fly mask on constantly. She still tends to tear up a little if it is very bright but she is so much better, it’s quite incredible. Thank you, I am very pleased to find that it really does help”.

A FREE 1.7kg tub of EyeBright is on its way to Lemonade Pie for being our Horse Of The Week!

Each week, the Feedmark team select a horse of the week from reviews, letters and emails sent to them. If you would like your horse to feature, then please send your horse’s details in to [email protected] or go online and write a review.

How to help laminitis-prone ponies

What is laminitis?

LaminitisLaminitis is a painful swelling of the laminae, the delicate soft tissues that hold the pedal bone in place within the hoof. If these tissues are compromised, the pedal bone is not supported correctly within the foot, which may lead to it sinking or rotating. The consequences of laminitis can be very serious.

The horse’s digestive system has naturally developed as a trickle feeder to eat high forage diets, and eat little and often. The digestive system is therefore not suited to breaking down large ‘meals’ rich in starch and sugars. If large amounts of food are consumed, the restricted amount of space in the stomach, (which is only the size of a rugby ball) cannot contain all of the feed. A one-way valve stops anything going back up the oesophagus, so as the stomach gets full, food is pushed further down the digestive system into the small intestine. In cases where excessive amounts of food are eaten it can also be propelled through the small intestine too rapidly- so enzymes and acids from the stomach and the enzymes secreted by the small intestine do not have chance to work to their full efficacy, and starch and fructans can reach the large intestine undigested.

The large intestine (or hind gut) is designed to digest fibre, with the help of large populations of good bacteria present there, which ferment fibre to break it down. However, if starch or fructans are present, the bacteria prefer these to the fibre; and more readily attack them. The fermentation of starch and fructans results in production of lactic acid. Different bacteria thrive, and their populations grow, which changes the environment in the gut, killing vast numbers of the helpful bacteria. The dead bacteria release ‘endotoxins’ that enter the blood supply through lesions in the gut wall, also caused by acidic damage from the lactic acid. The endotoxins damage and inflame blood vessels. When the blood vessels in the hoof are affected they become swollen and very painful. The blood supply to the laminae is limited, so not enough oxygen and nutrients reach the cells, and the cells may die, in turn releasing more harmful endotoxins into the bloodstream.

Grey ponyLaminitis can affect all four of the feet, but often the front legs are more severely affected than the hind. If this is the case, a typical laminitic stance may be shown- front legs stretched out, with their weight on the heels. In some cases horses will lie down to take the weight off their feet. In others the horse will present as lame, especially on hard surfaces. Classic signs of laminitis include the sole of the hoof being sensitive to pressure, the digital pulse rate will be fast and strong, and the wall of the hoof and the coronary band may be unusually warm. In chronic cases, where the inflammation in the hoof has been ongoing, the horse will often have restricted movement, sign of ‘rings’ on the surface of affected hooves, and hooves will become slipper shaped. Contrary to popular belief, both horses and ponies are at risk of Laminitis, however it is most prevalent in Native ponies.

What causes Laminitis?

Laminitis can triggered by various factors and experts have still not put their finger on a definitive cause. However, it is most likely to be caused by excessive intake of starch or fructans (the sugars found in grass and certain other vegetation). This causes problems in the hind gut. Excessive grass or cereal consumption is the usual culprit, and is especially a problem during the spring when grass is lush and fast growing.

Horses which are overweight, suffering from Insulin resistance, PPID (Cushings Disease) or Equine Metabolic Syndrome are at a much greater risk of laminitis.

Excessive work on roads or jumping on hard ground can cause trauma to the laminae, causing excessive cortisol release, which can alter blood flow to the feet

Laminitis Feeding Checklist

Feed little and often

Even a fat pony should never be starved: aim to feed forage at a rate of 1.5% of the horse’s bodyweight, and ideally split this so the horse is fed every 4-5 hours.

Feed a high fibre, low sugar and starch diet

Avoid cereals, mixes, and sugary treats.

Look for Laminitis Society Approved logos on feed labels if you are unsure what to feed

Foods suitable for laminitic equines include unmolassed sugar beet, alfalfa, straw chaff and oils.

Limit grass intake!

Use a grazing muzzle, strip graze or use non-grass turnout to reduce grass intake, especially when grass is frosty, and during spring and autumn flushes.

Forage first

Build your diet around forage. To ensure that your forage source is low in sugar and starch, get a forage analysis performed, or alternatively soak or steam hay to reduce sugar levels. Late cut hay also tends to be low in sugar and starch.

Balance the diet of  laminitic prone diets 

Use a supplement or  balancer to provide essential vitamins and minerals and amino acids to fully balance a forage based or restricted diet. Addition of beneficial herbs can also encourages antioxidant activity, good circulation and all round health which may be beneficial.

Add pre and probiotics to the feed:

By feeding pre and probiotics we can help to encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gut, and create a hostile environment for the bad bacteria, helping to keep your horse or pony healthy.

Olivia Colton MSc  

Nutritional and Technical Coordinator,

Feedmark

 

 

 

The reproductive cycle of the mare

Horse ears backMares are ‘seasonally polyoestrous’, meaning that they have a season in which they are confined to breeding (not all year round), and they cycle several times within this period. The typical breeding season is between May and October but some mares will cycle outside of these months. The main factor which influences the breeding season is an increase in daylight hours and artificial lighting can be used to induce oestrus. Mares will hit puberty between 12 and 18 months of age, and seasons will continue throughout their lifetime, though they often become less noticeable with age.

A single oestrus cycle typically lasts for 21 days, but this varies slightly from mare to mare. Usually there are 5 days of oestrus where the mare will accept advances from a stallion, and this is when behavioural changes are noticeable- as the mare is intent on becoming pregnant, rather than listening to their handler!

Behavioural problems that can often occur when your mare is in season include restlessness, and inability to concentrate, poor performance, moody and sometimes nasty behaviour and hyperactivity.

How can you tell if your mare is in season?
hormonal mareSometimes it can be difficult to know if your mare is having behavioural problems due to being in season, or is just being plain naughty- if one of more of these signs are also there when she behaves badly, a supplement aimed at balancing hormones could make a significant improvement in her behaviour!

  • Restless behaviour- the mare may pace the stable/ paddock fence
  • Reduced time eating and resting
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Elevation of the tail
  • Clitoral winking
  • Squirting of mucous and urine
  • Sensitivity around the flank during girthing and grooming- pulling faces and nipping is common
  • Moody and irritable behaviour!

How can a supplement help?

There are various herbs available that can help to naturally address the behavioural problems mares face during their season by stabilising hormone levels and helping to reduce discomfort. For hundreds of years humans have harnessed the natural powers of these herbs to help women undergoing menopause and pre-menstrual tension

Hormonease is a herbal supplement that supports normal hormone balance and behaviour. It contains a blend of herbs renowned for their positive effects on mares in season, including Chastetree berry, an organic form of dopamine, which triggers hormone control within the pituitary gland, which can help to manage oestrogen production. Naturally occurring compounds in Black Cohosh, Soya, and Red Clover Flowers ‘trick’ the body into thinking that it has produced more of certain hormones than it actually has, making the effects less extreme and keeping  your horses attitude more stable.

Feeding Hormonease is an effective way of controlling oestrus-related behaviour during the spring and summer, providing a natural way of balancing hormones and keeping both you and your mare safe and happy. Hormonease can also be effective on riggy geldings.

How does the Oestrus cycle work?

TB horseThe pituitary gland is responsible for the production of hormones that control the oestrus cycle. These hormones are follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and lutenizing hormone (LH). When FSH is released into the bloodstream, it signals for the ovaries to develop a follicle, which contains an ovum (egg). This developing follicle produces oestrogens, which trigger a number of responses in the body, preparing the oviducts, uterus and cervix for pregnancy. This hormone produces the behavioural signs that accompany oestrus.  When the estrogen level in the blood reaches a certain point, a surge of the luteinizing hormone (LH) is released into the blood supply, resulting in a number of changes to the ovum to prepare for fertilisation, and the egg is released into the oviduct.

After this point the behaviour of the mare will generally return to normal, and they will not allow the stallion to mount them. Post ovulation, the cavity which is left by the expulsion of the ovum swells with blood, eventually forming the corpus luteum (also known as the yellow body). The corpus luteum produces progesterone, which influences the pituitary gland, and inhibits the release of LH. This state of Oestrus lasts for 12-14 days.

Progesterone suppresses signs of oestrus, making an environment suitable for a foetus to develop in, and maintain pregnancy. If the egg is not fertilised and no pregnancy occurs, the uterus releases a substance which causes the corpus luteum to decay, and this in turn allows the next ovulation cycle to begin.

 

 By Olivia Colton MSc