Monthly Archives: March 2018

50% extra FREE during April

This month only, we are offering the following specially selected supplements with 50% extra free:

Steady-Up Advance (4kg)

Steady-Up is our popular and effective calmer to help horses relax and focus. It contains two forms of Magnesium, an essential nutrient that helps with the regulation of nervous tension. The herbs Chamomile and Lemon Balm are included to encourage calm behaviour, working together to relax your horse and soothe the nervous system. Steady-Up contains Brewer’s Yeast, a prebiotic to support the bacteria in the hind gut, helping to keep your horse happy and healthy especially during times of stress. Steady-Up is fortified with B-Vitamins to promote optimum function and impulses. Ideal for horses and ponies of a nervous, over excitable or fizzy nature to aid concentration, Steady-Up Advance does not contain synthetic sedatives and can be fed long term to make riding and handling your horse a pleasurable experience.

50% extra free during April. For more information, click here.

 

EquiDermis Plus (10kg)*

A blend of natural ingredients to help support skin health, and create bloom and shine to the coat. EquiDermis Plus is ideal for all horses and ponies with poor coat condition, challenged skin or sensitivity. It contains Micronised Linseed, a source of Omega 3 fatty acids which help to support healthy skin and promote a shiny coat, and supplies naturally occurring B Vitamins, including Biotin, known to be important for skin health and hair growth. This supplement is specifically formulated to help the horse cope with unpleasant spring and summer skin conditions, and may also be beneficial in horses with fly bite sensitivity. EquiDermis Plus offers the ideal nutritional support for skin challenged by wet, damp or muddy conditions too.

*Please note this size of EquiDermis Plus comes in a sack.

50% extra free during April. For more information, click here.

 

Hardy Hoof (4.5kg)

Hardy Hoof is a powdered formulation which encourages hoof regeneration and production of strong, resilient hooves.

This complex formulation of vitamins, minerals and amino acids provides consistent hoof nutrition, as well as high levels of Biotin to ensure optimum hoof growth and health. In addition to this, MSM is an excellent source of dietary Sulphur, a mineral necessary for the integrity of the hoof wall as it has a role in bonding protein strands in the hoof. Hardy Hoof also contains Iodine, which is essential for healthy thyroid function, which in turn is necessary for hoof and hair quality. Linseed is widely used to improve hoof quality, as it is rich in essential fatty acids, which help to seal moisture into the hoof. These ingredients, plus many more, help with the pliability and durability of hooves.

Hardy Hoof is the perfect supplement for horses and ponies with cracked, brittle, or weak hooves as it optimises hoof growth rate and good quality horn production

50% extra free during April. For more information, click here.

 

Clitheroe’s Garlic (10kg)*

Our high-quality garlic granules chosen for their purity and effectiveness. Clitheroe’s Garlic maintains a healthy blood pressure, immune system and respiratory health and may also be beneficial to horses and ponies with fly sensitivity. Feed all year round to support general health and well-being.

Garlic is a traditionally used supplement, popular for its powerful health promoting properties. These are mainly due to Sulphur compounds within the garlic, which have supportive effects on the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems.

*Please note this size of Clitheroe’s Garlic comes in a sack.

50% extra free during April. For more information, click here.

 

C-Plus (6kg)

C-Plus provides a helping hand for horses with non-shedding coats and helps to maintain healthy hormone levels to bring the sparkle back.

C-Plus is a blend of natural ingredients that not only support the pituitary gland but benefit the all-round health and wellbeing of older horses and ponies.

The key ingredient is Chastetree Berry (Agnus-castus), commonly used to offer support to the pituitary gland, helping to maintain a normal and balanced endocrine system and metabolic function. This helps to keep hormones at correct levels to ensure normal immune status, coat shedding, and fat storage.

In addition to this, Magnesium and Cinnamon support normal blood sugar levels, and antioxidants Vitamin E and Selenium combine with the natural health supportive effects of Rosehips which, along with immune-supportive Astragalus, optimise the health status of the horse.

Further ingredients add extra support for older horses: Seaweed helps to encourage normal fat distribution; prebiotic Brewer’s Yeast and soothing Mint ease the gastro intestinal system and support efficient digestion; and linseed promotes healthy skin and a shiny coat.

50% extra free during April. For more information, click here.

 

Hormonease (2.5kg)

Ideal hormonal support for ‘moody’ mares or ‘riggy’ geldings, assisting with mood swings.

Hormonease is a herbal supplement that supports your mares temperament and hormone balance, helping to stabilise mood swings and soothe the reproductive tract throughout their cycle. It contains a blend of herbs renowned for their positive effects on mares in season, including Chastetree Berry, which aids hormone control within the pituitary gland, to maintain normal levels of oestrogen production.

Naturally occurring compounds known as phytoestrogens that are present in Black Cohosh, Soya, and Red Clover Flowers maintain hormone balance, helping behaviour to be less extreme. This product is also effective for ‘riggy’ geldings.

50% extra free during April. For more information, click here.

 

Terms and conditions: Order online at feedmark.com. For telephone orders please call 0800 585 525 / 01986 782368. 50% Extra Free offer applies to the following: 10kg sack of EquiDermis Plus, 10kg sack of Clitheroe’s Garlic, 4kg Steady-Up Advance, 2.5kg Hormonease, 4.5kg Hardy Hoof, and 6kg C-Plus. This great offer is valid from 01/04/2018 until 30/04/2018.

Get a Spring in your step

The clocks have gone forward and it’s time to celebrate, writes Carolyn Henderson. Here are the signs that Spring has arrived…

 

You’re possessed by an uncontrollable urge to spring clean. Of course I’m not talking about your house – don’t be silly!

As every horse owner knows, I mean the satisfaction that comes from seeing every little cobweb swept from your horse’s stable; sparkling windows; supple tack and gleaming metalwork. If you’re a working horse owner who has kept up these standards through winter’s rain, cold and mud, you can stop reading now and polish your halo.

Seriously…if there are lots of cobwebs in your stable, it means there are insufficient air changes. Check ventilation and airflow, for the sake of your horse’s respiratory health.

Scene 1: Your horse has been fully clipped and now his summer coat is coming through. He’s gleaming from hours of grooming. You’re exhausted, but feel virtuous. Adjust aforementioned halo.

Scene 2: Your unclipped or minimally clipped hairy pony is shedding hair in cartloads. Much of it ends up in your eyes/makes you sneeze/sticks to every garment you possess. Who would have thought horsehair could penetrate every layer, or does pony hair possess special qualities?

After two hours, a vaguely remembered profile emerges from the fluffball on four legs. You’re exhausted – and filthy.

 

Your horse has a spring in his step – literally. It may be that the first mouthfuls of spring grass go to his head like fine wine, or perhaps the sun on his back makes him leap, buck and generally behave like a Tigger on steroids. Either way, you wish he’d decide that there’s a horse-eating dragon hiding behind that clump of leaves when he’s in the field, not when you’re riding him.

 

You’ve got a mare? Then you’ll know you need to prepare for her batting her eyelids at every male equine for miles around/becoming generally more sensitive/making the hormonal teenager in your family seem sweet and reasonable by comparison.

You’re happy to do this because a good mare will give you everything she’s got. If seasonal behaviour does cause a problem, talk to your vet. Some owners find that nutritional support helps keep mares on an even keel.

 

Getting up in the morning becomes painless. Instead of throwing the duvet to one side the moment the alarm sounds, you wake up to sunshine and birdsong. Fair enough, it might be raining or – whisper it – the Beast from the East might be threatening an unseasonal return. You can’t have everything.

 

Frozen water buckets and troughs seem like a bad dream. Your nearest and dearest insists on taking a picture of you “so I can remember what you look like.” You feel slightly – only slightly – guilty, because he/she knew from the start that it was a case of “Love me, love my horse.”

Your get-up-and-go, which got up and left some time around mid-January, has returned. There are so many opportunities on the calendar, from early morning or evening rides to spring shows and sponsored rides.

Happy Springtime! And do let us know how you’ll be enjoying the longer days.

 

Celebrating horsey friends

Horses help you make – and appreciate – friends, writes Carolyn Henderson

If you’re a horse owner, you’ll have your day mapped out down to the last second. You’ll also have emergency plans A, B and C worked out for times when you have to change course.

Even then, there’s an essential extra for your survival guide. You need friends – and hopefully, their number will include one special person on whom you can rely when all else fails.

Most of us have trained up a family member to take care of the basics. Even if they don’t know a fetlock from a wither, they can learn to turn out, bring in and supply hay. If you’re lucky, you can add adjusting rugs and mucking out to their repertoire.

But what happens when everything goes pear-shaped and your nearest and dearest emergency person isn’t around, or can’t be contacted?

Last week, I was felled by a migraine. My husband took care of our animals and left for work, as I was sure the tablets would kick in and I’d be functional within a couple of hours.

Three hours later, I still couldn’t get out of bed, but could hear our Fell pony – who knows his rights and protests when they aren’t met – performing a wall of death outside our bedroom window. A fumbled text message and 15 minutes later, my lovely friend was there to let out the dog, supply hay and insist she’d be back in two hours to check.

The migraine rooted itself and I only woke up when my husband came home. He said my friend had returned, checked everyone and everything and mucked out, despite having her own horses, dogs, chickens and work to take care of.

Her answer, when I thanked her, was: “You’d do the same for me.” Yes, I would, but it doesn’t stop me appreciating her. It also proved that no matter how organised you are, you can’t be Superwoman or Superman.

There’s something about owning horses that draws people together and breaks down barriers. We don’t always realise it until we have a problem, whether it’s connected to horses or another part of our life.

The Princess Royal once said that horses were the best levellers, as they were no respecter of status or privilege. And while money might buy you some advantages, you’ll never win a competition or feel happy that your horse has gone well just because you’ve got the most expensive lorry on the yard, or six sets of matchy-matchy horse gear.

Good friends are pleased for you when things go well, help you pick yourself up when they go wrong, encourage you when you’re getting there and tell you when you need to buck your ideas up. Hopefully, you do the same for them.

If you have a fragmented life, there may be areas they know nothing about. But hang on; next time you need non-horsey help, just look around your horsey circle.

I have a friend who was made redundant; illegally, it turned out. It also turned out that a quiet, unassuming woman who kept her horse on the same livery yard was a barrister who specialised in employment law.

She offered to represent her at the first meeting with her company. My friend was nervous because the company solicitor had tried to override all her arguments.

The quiet, unassuming woman patted her hand as they waited. “My dear, I chew up people like him and spit out the pieces,” she said, then did just that.

Do you have someone who has helped and encouraged you, or given you the impetus to carry on when everything went wrong? If so, we’d love to hear about them.

Horsey friends deserve thanking, and deserve to be celebrated.

Working with horses

Who would have thought that the day would come when a university college would – or could – invest £2million in its equine facilities? That’s what Writtle University College showcased at its open day last week, writes Carolyn Henderson.

Equally, who would have bet that in the same month, the British Grooms Association would be shortlisted for a prestigious industry award? Let’s hope it’s a sign that working in the horse industry doesn’t automatically mean nothing but shovelling you-know-what.

But let’s not forget that having to do an appropriate amount of shovelling you-know-what means employees are learning the basics. And while there is still exploitation in the horse world, there are also employees who think they can fly when they’ve only just hatched.

No matter how brilliant an institute of learning proves to be – and I have huge respect for many of them – it can’t turn out people capable of graduating one day and running a business/managing a competition yard/overseeing a stud the next. It can give them every asset to start on that path, and probably speed their progress, but ask any top rider or breeder for essential employee attributes and they’ll talk about fine-tuning skills to suit individual horses and set-ups.

A friend who has just been interviewing applicants for a junior post on her showing yard asked them to identify their long-term and short-term goals. All said their long-term ambitions were to manage their own yards, train horses and compete at top level.

And their short-term ambitions? To be given managerial posts, train horses and be allowed to go straight into the ring on top class horses – despite having mainly theoretical knowledge of all three skills.

Many people criticise college and university students. That’s unfair; without them, we wouldn’t have, for example, equine nutritionists and people with business skills as well as practical ones. They also help keep the rest of us up to date with the latest research – sometimes, doing it the way you’ve always done it means you’ve become a bit of a dinosaur.

Academic institutions also highlight opportunities in the equine jobs world which provide involvement with horses, without necessarily being hands-on. There’s room for everyone, even equestrian journalists – although if you want to be a professional hack, you need to train as a journalist first. That’s another story!

Whatever career you aim for, you need a mix of skills and abilities. For instance, the best nutritionists are those who know what they are talking about – and how to get it across in a way that owners who don’t have backgrounds in science can understand.

The fantastic ones are those who have all these skills, plus plenty of horse sense. They know what owners need to achieve and they know how to help when, for example, dealing with an elderly horse who finds it difficult to chew or a horse who is reluctant to drink away from home.

Some people are brilliant with horses but couldn’t get academic qualifications to save their life. If they’re lucky, they are treasured by employers who rely on them. If they’re not, they end up being exploited.

There must be a compromise between academic learning and horse sense, and between ambition and arrogance. Equally, some employers need to go back to school to learn the difference between fairness and exploitation.

If you work in the horse industry, are you prized or taken advantage of? Are you a parent encouraging – or trying to discourage – a son or daughter from working in the horse world? We’d love to hear about your experiences!

How to battle the winter mud

Why is having healthy skin so important?

The horse’s skin is a very important but often overlooked bodily structure. It has many functions, including acting as a barrier to external challenges, helping to control body temperature, and helping to make vitamin D.

By feeding our horses a correctly balanced diet, their skin and coat should be healthy, but some horses need extra nutritional support to help them deal with some common skin issues, especially when the skin is exposed to cold, wet, muddy conditions.

What can I feed to aid skin health?

Omega oils are incredibly beneficial for skin, and Linseed Oil or Micronized Linseed are a palatable vegetarian source of these. Omega-3 is known for helping to soothe the skin, and has been shown to help the skin stay supple. Feeding Brewer’s Yeast is also advisable, as it provides a natural source of amino acids and B-vitamins, which play a vital role in the health of skin, coat and hooves. Certain herbs also offer support to challenged skin, and of particular note are:

Burdock Root – which helps to support the liver, and is also helpful for dry and scurfy skin.

Chamomile is well-known for its soothing and calming properties, and is particularly beneficial for horses with sensitive skin.

Clivers are high in silica, so ideal to promote healthy hair and skin growth. In addition to this, they act as a ‘spring tonic’ for overall health.

Nettles – traditionally fed to enhance dappling of the coat, and are beneficial for circulation and all-round good-health.

Supplementing the diet with these skin health ingredients can help to support your horse’s skin through some common challenges that horses skin faces, such as problems caused by muddy winter conditions. They are all contained in EquiDermis Plus, our popular skin health supplement, which has the added bonus of making the coat look fantastically shiny!

In addition to feeding EquiDermis Plus, you can help to keep your horse’s skin healthy despite winter challenges by trying the following:

  • Where possible, keep legs dry and mud free – if conditions are dire, consider turn out in a rubber school or concrete pad, or use protective boots, chaps or barrier creams when turning out or riding in wet and muddy conditions
  • If you can’t avoid mud, it is generally not recommended to wash legs off every day – instead, let the mud dry and brush off. If you do need to wash off, make sure that you thoroughly dry the area afterwards
  • Check for any abrasions or skin issues daily – this includes under rugs!
  • Never put a non-breathable rug on a damp or wet horse
  • Groom regularly to get rid of mud and dirt, this also means that you will spot any problems early on

Riders and robots

The prediction that robot jockeys could take the reins on racecourses within ten years is both scary and funny, writes Carolyn Henderson.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when Dr Ian Pearson came up with this, after being commissioned by BetBright to look at the role of technology in racing. Dr Pearson is a futurologist – great job title – and, as a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society and a Fellow of the World Academy for Arts and Science and the World Innovation Foundation, obviously has his finger on the pulse.

Can you imagine what would happen if robots really did ride horses? Or even worse, were plonked on ponies?

Any of us with native ponies could be futurologists on this one. A robot might be able to “sit and steer” but if its artificial intelligence couldn’t keep ten steps ahead of native cunning, it would get messy. Very messy.

This is how it goes in Fellponyland or Connemaracountry: “Ooh, there’s a big leaf up there. It’s dark on one side and light underneath and if it turns over in the breeze as we get near it, I’m going to show her a canter pirouette to rival Valegro’s – only it’ll be 20 times faster.

“Oh, what a shame. It only waved at me as I was alongside. Still, she said she wanted impulsion…”

On a more serious note, Dr Pearson’s prediction does reinforce how important it is to be able to think like a horse – or a pony, because I’m convinced they look at life in different lights – before you ride one.

Of course it’s important to stick to classical training principles; not just because they work, but because they give a framework for horse and rider to both work and feel secure in. But I’ve been lucky enough to talk to and watch some of the best riders in the world, in all disciplines, and I’ve come away feeling even more conscious of my own shortcomings as a rider.

It isn’t just that Carl Hester and his horses are poetry in motion, or that Lucinda Fredericks can take an opinionated but incredibly bold horse and perform a brilliant dressage test, an inspiring cross-country round and a technically perfect showjumping performance. It’s that they and others like them manage to work out how each individual animal ticks, even when they are training and riding so many.

If you go to lecture demonstrations by riders you admire or watch them warming up before a competition – one of the best ways to get a free lesson – you’ll see that while they follow their principles, they adapt their techniques to the individual. It’s a salutary reminder to the rest of us that working a horse by rote can result in boredom, and that if you know what you want to improve, there are lots of ways to get there.

One of the best riders I know says that when she schools a horse, she tries to have a conversation with it. If she asks a question one way, and the horse doesn’t understand, she re-phrases it.

A wise trainer once told me that every horse I rode would teach me at least as much as she could, and that I should take every chance to ride different animals – even if they weren’t ones I’d automatically want to own. If you’re addicted to a certain breed or type, that’s fair enough, but you might be in for some nice surprises and they might even improve your riding.

Have faith in your horse. If you believe in him, and can train him correctly, you could surprise everyone else.

Hairy cobs might not have the natural advantages of scopey warmbloods in dressage, but as several riders have proved, they can still work at and compete at very high levels. Similarly, ex-racehorses have proved themselves in all disciplines.

Robot riders? Pah. Any horse with a brain – and Thoroughbreds can be quick thinkers – would make short work of them.

And if you own or ride a horse or pony who comes up with some surprising goods, please let us know.

It’s been snow fun for horse owners

The Beast from the East, Storm Emma, floods, drought – whatever nature throws at us, horse owners weather it, writes Carolyn Henderson.

There might be times when we wonder why we do it, but they’re merely passing moments. All it takes is to see your horse bucking in a snowy field for the joy of it, or tucking contentedly into his bedtime hay, and you know you’d put up with any amount of discomfort.

It was summed up by a message on social media that sparked recognition across the country: “Most people in the UK are advised to hibernate. Horse owners – just put your big coats on.”

Without minimising the achievements of those who had to be out in appalling conditions, including members of the emergency services, farmers looking after their stock and those attempting to keep the roads open, we’re not a bad bunch, are we? If you couldn’t get to your horse, perhaps because access to your livery yard was impossible and you had to rely on those on the spot, you probably felt worse than if you were battling the dire conditions.

A friend who runs a livery yard in Kent got a late-night phone call from an apologetic client whose 10-year-old daughter was in tears and couldn’t sleep. The daughter had read that hypothermia can be fatal and was worried that her pony, who grows a coat like a yak’s and could eat his way through a bale of hay faster than she could scoff a biscuit, might not survive the night.

So what did my friend, with 20 years’ experience of being firm with panicking clients, do? You’ve guessed. She told her husband that she may be gone some time and went out into the snow with her mobile phone.

There, she filmed the pony munching happily and emailed the result to his owners. One happy daughter, one relieved Mum and one livery yard owner with a nice warm feeling and a husband who couldn’t stop laughing at her.

“I know it sounds daft,” she said. “But she cared about her pony and she deserved to be sure that he was OK.”

In case you think she’s a soft touch, she has another client who learned a lesson about the priorities of horse care. Even if you pay for full livery, complaining that your horse hasn’t been groomed properly isn’t diplomatic when staff can’t get through and two people have struggled to do 20 horses while you enjoyed a duvet day.

Anyway, spring is around the corner. If you go by one calendar, it arrived on 1st March; for the sake of sanity, I’m sticking to the vernal equinox, which means the first day of spring is 20th March.

My horse and pony started shedding their coats during that mild snap in January, then changed their minds. I can’t wait to get covered in horsehair again: only a horse person will understand that.

In the meantime, we’d love to see pictures of your happy horses and perky ponies in the snow. Seeing them enjoy themselves makes it all worthwhile!