Author Archives: Jo Self

Would you like to work for Feedmark?

We are looking for a motivated and successful candidate to fill the following postion within our company based in Norfolk.

Quality Assurance and Admin Assistant

Feedmark enjoys an enviable reputation for making quality equine supplements – delivering research led, customer focused nutrition direct to horse-owners throughout the UK and overseas. We’ve been in business for nearly 40 years and continue to go from strength to strength.

Reporting to the Nutritionist, this is a varied and exciting role, and will include the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Assisting with purchasing and management of stock levels
  • Assisting with internal quality control and national accreditation schemes
  • Maintaining records to the highest standard
  • Advising customers and processing sales, via phone, e-mail or online chat
  • Supporting the sales and customer service team as necessary

Key skills required:

  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Strong numerical and written skills
  • Good practical equine knowledge
  • Knowledge of quality assurance schemes would be an advantage
  • Applicant must be proficient with Microsoft Office
  • Cheerful and enthusiastic team player also able to work independently when required
  • Fantastic customer service skills
  • Full driving licence

Full time position but flexible hours may be considered for the right applicant

To apply please forward your CV to [email protected]

Applications close on Friday 18th August, 2017.



Friends reunited



Nibbet has a pony tale with a happy ending

Twelve years ago, Christine Spiby bought a beautiful Welsh Section B pony called Wicksop Jim Nibbet for her grandson, Joshua. As often happens, Joshua became more interested in football than in ponies and it was decided that rather than see Nibbet become bored, the kindest option was to find him another home.

Inevitably, they lost track of the perky 12hh bay gelding. But earlier this year, when Christine was helping out at a local rescue centre, she learned that a pony was arriving later that day.

“The trailer arrived – and there was Nibbet,” said Christine. “It was a coincidence that I was there that day, but my daughter works there.

“I recognised Nibbet straight away, even though he looked very different from when we had him. He was riddled with worms and it turned out that these had caused liver and kidney problems.”

Christine and her daughter, Danielle Medhust, immediately offered to adopt Nibbet and the pony’s story turned full circle to a happy ending. Seven months after stepping down that trailer ramp, Nibbet is back to his cheeky self and has already amassed an impressive collection of rosettes.

He also has a new rider, as Danielle’s seven-year-old daughter, Lexi, has formed a bond with him. “They started off in lead rein classes at local shows and did working hunter, jumping, games, everything,” said Christine.

nibbet“Lexi rides him off the lead rein at home and at their last show, she did the working hunter class on her own. She loves him and can do anything with him – I’m really proud of her, because she’s so kind and caring, to animals and people. Nibbet loves getting attention from her and happily lets her groom him and pick his feet out.

Nibbet is now 24 years old and is as full of character as ever. “When we first owned him, we fed him Feedmark’s Steady-Up Advance,” said Christine.

This nutritional support has become part of Nibbet’s routine once more. “He doesn’t buck or rear or do anything nasty, but even at this age, he isn’t an easy pony to ride,” said Christine. “He can be spooky, not in a dangerous way but enough to keep you on your toes. He’ll still have a spook at something he’s seen a hundred times before!

Christine is adamant that Nibbet has a home with them for life. Lexi is looking forward to having lots more fun with him and there is even a potential follow-up jockey waiting in the wings.

As this newsletter was published, Danielle’s youngest daughter, Erin, was just nine weeks old. “Hopefully, if she wants to ride, Nibbet will be ready,” said Christine.



Undercover racehorse not happy about latest arrival to the yard!

1Alice has asked me to take over the Feedmark Blog this month, as I do have the rather more impressive literary skills, naturally. For those who don’t know me, I am Hi Dancer, and I am a VIR (Very Important Race horse). An experienced age of 13, I am the heroic victor of 18 races, including a 9 length victory over hurdles this summer.

Anyway, it hasn’t been the easiest week for me. Now, I don’t like to brag, but I’m not stupid, so can only be aware of my rather ‘celebrity’ status on the yard. People know me, which tends to happen when you have been in the industry as long as I have. This also tends to lend me a certain standing here in the yard, and other yards are often heard admiring me, or asking after my well being – my Sedgefield performance this year was even known to have raised a few tears among the crowds. However, and much to my chagrin, I appear to have been rather overshadowed by the arrival of an extremely large animal, who goes by the rather incongruous name of Mr Mole (left) – I mean honestly! Yes, I know he’s won a Grade 2 (whatever!), run in the Champion Chase and had AP McCoy use his back to announce his retirement from – but really?! Does that even compare to 12 years of hard graft, combined with some rather impressive literary skills most equines do not possess?! The excitement buzzing around the yard when he arrived was frankly ridiculous, and I let Ben know my feelings when sulking heavily at Sedgefield on Thursday, certainly not putting my best foot forward in the hurdle race there – and I will proceed to do this until Ben recognizes who is still top dog around here!
Anyway, putting my own personal feelings on the subject aside, I do recognise (grudgingly) just how wonderful this is for the yard, and a huge thanks must go to JP McManus for allowing us this opportunity. He is clearly a very special horse (though from the way he is treated here you would think he is the Messiah!) and hopefully a change of scenery will do this very talented chap some good. We have also welcomed another very large chaser this week in the form of The Doorman, who is busy speaking in a strong Irish accent with Ever So Much. Lots to look forward to!
2Celebrities aside, the yard have been running well on the track, but sadly without quite winning – frustrating, but at least we are all in good form. Toby (Bourbonisto) (Right) found himself back in Scotland the week before last for the third time – he’s going to come back with an accent one of these days! – and ran a really good race under Dougie Costello to finish 3rd. The poor chap has had no luck in running this year, and got heavily boxed in at the wrong time before running on very well, and it is surely only a matter of time before he finds himself bringing home the spoils for owners Daniel and David!
3Bertie (Skellig Michael) and Percy (Prancing Oscar) (left) made the trip to Redcar for their respective debuts over 6 and 7 furlongs. The less said about Bertie the better – I have been berating him heavily since for being a complete embarrassment to the yard. Having never had a coltish thought in his life, he suddenly became excessively interested in fillies, losing the plot completely and failing to even try and come out of the stalls. He than proceeded to check out the entire of Redcar racecourse, before carting his jockey off into the distance once he got to the finishing line: too little too late! Needless to say, he has been put heavily to work at home since, and hopefully will be a little more streetwise next time – or else!
Percy rather redeemed the day in the Middleham Park colours, thank the lord. He looked as leggy as expected in the paddock – Supermodels watch out! – and nearly had Cam Hardie off over his head on the way to the start. However, he jumped the stalls nicely before going very green, and for a panicky moment I thought a repeat of Bert was about to happen – however he knuckled down beautifully in the final half furlong to run on very well into 5th in a decent looking race. He has been much more respectful at home since, and it has done him the world of good, but he is also going through yet another growth spurt. One to watch next year though methinks!

Op (Operateur) (below) and Moonie (Moon Over Rio) also ran very gallant races last week, foiled by well handicapped three year olds with feather weights. Op went off to Newcastle, where he was trying the all-weather for the first time in a very long time, and he hugely enjoyed himself under Paul Mulrennan to come a good 4th of 14. He was very pleased with himself, and will either go to his favourite track Hamilton or a hurdle at Uttoxoter next (I know which one he would prefer!)

4Moonie went off to Carlisle, and ran another very brave race for Graham Lee, who was exceptionally complimentary of her and quickly recognised the largest part of her is most definitely her heart! She is saddled with an awful lot of weight at the moment, and after looking like she was going to win a furlong out, just faded under it in the last furlong to finish 3rd. She may also head back over hurdles next, where hopefully she will be able to show off her dynamite jumping skills to their best effect.

Dursey (Dursey Sound) and Wibble (Man Of La Mancha) also ran races that boded better fortune may well be on the horizon. Richie McLernon rode a waiting race in the 2 mile 5 furlong chase at Sedgefield on one of our newer arrivals, Dursey, but just when he was about to make his move he slipped a little around the final turn. However, Richie felt the race gave him loads of confidence, which he has been lacking recently, and he jumped very well, so fingers crossed he’ll be finishing closer soon. Wibble was again a little frustrating at Newcastle, over 7 furlongs on the all-weather, looking like he was going to win before electing to hold his breath the last half furlong (helpful!) but he is getting stronger slowly and will be a better horse next year.

Until next time,

Will’s Winning Ways

WF 3In eight years, Feedmark’s sponsored rider Will Furlong has gone from completing his first BE event to winning double gold at the 2015 FEI European Young Riders team championship. We catch up with him to find out the secrets of his success. (S)

Q You’ve come a long way since your Pony Club days and you’re still only 21 years old. What are your ambitions?

A In the short term, defending my European title in September. In the long term, I want to make Nations Cup teams. Following this, I hope I’ll get a call-up for the British senior team – that’s a little way off, but it’s always good to have something to work towards!

Q You achieved straight As at GCSE and A-level at school, so was it difficult to choose whether to go to university or focus on an eventing career?

A I was never attracted by the prospect of university. My school was very academic and I was about the only person in my year group not to go to uni, which the staff found very odd. I was keen on pursuing physiotherapy or something similar at first, but I’m no good at coping with blood and the thought of a year’s work in a hospital didn’t float my boat.
However, I wanted to do as well as I could academically so that if I was injured or decided to change career, I had good grades to fall back on. Some of my school friends graduated this year and though they’ve had a great time, I don’t regret the choice I made.

Q You started eventing through the Pony Club, which even youngsters who don’t own ponies can join. What did you get out of it?

A I started in the East Sussex branch of the PC when I was about ten and stayed until I was 16. Being a member of the PC or an affiliated body such as BE or BS is much more than just learning to ride and competing. I’ve played a lot of different sports to high levels but equestrian sports are unique in that men and women, pros and amateurs compete and train with each other. There seems to be much more of a community, rather a family-like feeling, within the equestrian world that makes it so special. It is the people that you meet along the journey, in what is a very up and down, tough sport, who remain your friends for many years to come.
I look back on my Pony Club days fondly; from PC camp to competing as part of the team for the first time. Whether you want to ride professionally or just to have fun, it sets you up with valuable tools for the future.

Q Why eventing rather than, say, showjumping or pure dressage?

A I had a fantastic little 13hh pony that I did a lot of hunting and working hunter classes on. I got a real buzz out of going fast and jumping hedges bigger than my pony and got into eventing that way. The cross-country phase is the main reason people decide to go eventing.

Q You’re based at the family business, Ingrams Eventing, in east Sussex and have fantastic facilities and horses. Does this make life easier or add to the pressure?

A Much easier – in my opinion. I appreciate it’s not for everybody and some people aren’t as fortunate as I am in terms of facilities; but I have a great relationship with my Mum, Lou, who is incredible supportive, and it works for me. It gives me more scope to do what I want on the yard, without having the restrictions of any landlords or tenants – and, of course, not having any rent is pay is a huge advantage.

Q Ingrams Eventing is also focused on breeding and bringing on event horses of the future. Do you have favourite breeding lines?

A We’ve just started out, so are very much learning along the way. Obviously event horses have to have a higher percentage of Thoroughbred blood, but it’s very hard to find ones that move and jump at the same time. You’ll have to come back to me in a few years on that one!

Q Tell us about some of your horses.

A We have a wide range, from youngstock to advanced eventers. We have tried to breed a couple of foals each year so are slowly filling up with mares and their babies.
My top ride, Livingstone II, is a 13-year-old gelding whom I’ve had for about five years. We won both individual and team gold at the Young Rider Europeans last year, along with the national under-21 championship twice and an eighth place in our first 3* together. I’ve got a new ride, Collien P 2, who is very exciting and will hopefully be aimed at the 8/9 year old class at Blenheim.

Q Does it help to be riding horses at all different levels? Do you enjoy bringing on young horses and shaping them the way you want them?

A It’s very difficult to keep your eye in, especially at the top levels, with just one horse. I feel that my riding has improved massively from riding different types of horses. You have to adapt to each one and we try to treat them as individuals, as they all have different traits and personalities.
One of the most rewarding things is seeing young horses develop, especially when you’ve had them from such a young age. The other benefit of starting a younger horse is that you can make them go exactly how you want them to; you don’t have other people’s ‘problems’ which can take a long time to eradicate. On the hand they can be a bit more testing at times and often pick up bad habits much quicker!

Q You’ve done well competing on mares. Do you have a different approach to riding/training mares or are all horses individuals?

Mares are great when they are on side, not so good when they aren’t. The brain and temperament are the most important thing for me in a mare. When you find one like that, she will try harder and dig deeper than any gelding will.
You have treat each individual horse differently. What works for one horse might not work for another. In general, you have to be a bit more sympathetic with mares, but I think there is a traditional and unfair image of all mares being horrible to deal with and difficult to ride. It’s worth spending more time on the ground with them to develop some more trust, something I do with all my horses. I don’t necessarily go out looking for mares but I think that in general, people should be more accepting of them.

Q Who do you train with?

A Alongside help from the UKSport National Lottery Funded World Class development programme, I have help from Sam Ray for dressage and Chris Burton for jumping.

Q You work hard on your fitness and were a member of England’s under-16 hockey team. Do you have a sporting hero or heroine?

A It has to be Jonny Wilkinson, the former international rugby union player. He suffered some career-threatening injuries during his playing time but always came through stronger. Having pretty much single-handedly won the World Cup, he was extremely dignified and modest in his achievements. He has now retired from playing but is giving so much back to the game by offering his experience and helping others. In my opinion, there aren’t many like him – in any sport.

Q How did you get involved with Feedmark? What do you like about the company and what are your favourite products?

A I’ve been using Feedmark supplements for ages now. I was already using them when I approached the company three years ago, asking whether they would help me in my bid to make it to the top. The Feedmark team is incredibly supportive and I hope that I can continue to pay back their generosity!
Feedmark has an incredible range. The nutritional advice is extremely helpful and your order will arrive the very next day! I’m a big fan of the Performance range and also like Hardy Hoof Formula.


Steph 2Patience and painstaking management for ulcers is paying dividends for Feedmark customer Steph Taylor and her horse

Steph Taylor’s plans for her dressage horse, Dazzling Knight, didn’t get off to the best start. But with patience and a careful management routine, they’ve become perfect partners and Steph’s dream of getting the 14-year-old gelding to Grand Prix level may yet come true.

“I’ve had him for two and a half years, but when I got him, he injured himself in the field and had to have a year off,” she explains. Then she faced another challenge: Dazzle was diagnosed with Grade 4 bleeding ulcers and needed veterinary treatment.

Eventually, endoscopy showed that treatment was working. However, dietary management remained key and Steph’s vet suggested that as well as ensuring that Dazzle had a low-starch diet, she should look at nutritional support.

“My vet suggested I should put him on Feedmark’s Gastric Comfort,” says Steph. “I’ve used other Feedmark products and always been happy with them, so I was pleased that she suggested this particular one.”

The careful regime Steph has created for Dazzle has paid off. “He’s much happier,” she says. “He’s much more forward and he’s got more stamina. I’m much more aware of the risk of ulcers and before I ride I always give him a scoop of fibre so there is something in his system to absorb the acid.

“He’s quite a sensitive soul and is very much a one-to-one horse – he’s not the sort who would be happy with several different people riding him and he has to know you to trust you. If you’re not feeling 100 per cent, he will pick up on it.

Steph 1“He’s not very good at coping with change, so we make sure he has good routines. He goes out every day for half a day, because if he stays out for longer he paces about and wants to come in. At shows, we always do the same warm-up routine so he knows what’s going to happen and doesn’t get stressed.”

Steph has two horses and two ponies: Dazzle; Perugia, a six-year-old from Holland whom she hopes will go on to top level dressage; her first pony, a New Forest; and a Shetland.  Over the years she’s become a real fan of Feedmark products. “I had a French Trotter who was a real fruit loop and Steady-Up Advance was great for him,” she says. “I’ve also used EquiDermis Plus and Hardy Hoof Formula successfully.”

Steph is very happy with Feedmark’s ordering and delivery service. “It’s a really easy process with quick delivery,” she says. “The products are protected so well by the packaging, it’s easy to choose the delivery option when you order – and I love the special deals.”




Colic in horses is every owner’s nightmare – Helen Whitbread BVetMed CertVR MRCVS

COLIC – You can start the day as normal with your lovely horse and by the end of the day, despite best veterinary care and your efforts, suddenly your horse is gone.

colic2Colic simply means abdominal pain and this can vary in case from simple indigestion to life threatening twisted gut. Horses react to a “painful belly” in different ways, some will become quiet and shut down, whilst others will be more dramatic, getting up and down, rolling, striking out, kicking at their belly. Profuse sweating and a disregard for people and no sense of self preservation (ie they will chuck themselves on the concrete or bang their heads as they crash against the stable wall) are usually signs of severe pain and in particular a colonic torsion (twisted gut).

Signs of colic

  • Not eating
  • Rolling
  • No droppings
  • Sweating
  • Dog sitting
  • Frequently getting up and down / unsettled
  • Pawing the ground
  • Kicking at belly
  • Looking round at belly
  • Depression
  • Self-trauma

There are many causes of colic, but this article is going to explain why sand is an important consideration when dealing with a case of colic.

iStock_000003461943_SmallHow does sand get into the gut?

Horses eat it. Some horses will eat dirt – perhaps because they are salt deficient. On poor grazing, horses may pull up roots and ingest sand with the grass or when turned out in a sand school they may ingest the sand with the hay or through boredom. There is definitely an individual variation related to each horse’s grazing pattern because not all horses on the same paddock will accumulate sand in the gut. We often see an increase in the number of sand colics following a certain weather pattern – after a period of dryness, heavy rain will cause the sand from the soil to splash up onto the grassy leaf and therefore it is impossible to eat the grass without the sand.

Why is the sand a problem in the gut? 

Sand is quite rough and can irritate the gut wall as it is dragged along, but most of the problems we see are caused by an accumulation (collecting together) of the sand within the gut.

The horse’s gut is about 30 metres long from mouth to anus (bottom). Its’ design involves at least 3 hairpin bends and other dramatic changes in diameter – some parts of the gut are only 4cm in diameter (width of tube that food passes through) whilst other parts have a diameter of at least 10cm. These design faults of sudden changes in size and angle of gut make the horse more susceptible to colic.

sand impaction

Sand impaction of the large bowel

Because sand is heavy it sinks as it passes along the gut and it starts to collect at the bottom of the gut forming a layer. This layer of sand stops that piece of gut moving correctly (peristalsis is the technical name for the way your gut pumps food along). Over time this layer gets deeper and quite a “weight” of sand can collect as the rest of the food/liquid just moves along over the top of it. The sand can also accumulate at the hairpin bends in the horse’s gut.  The weight of the sand can affect the horse’s performance – imagine trying to be athletic with a sandbag strapped to your belly!

The accumulation of sand and slowing of gut mobility can lead to an impaction (sand blockage).

If you have ever tried to wash sand away (for example, clearing up after a beach outing) you’ll have noticed how persistent the sand is at hanging around and blocking the plug hole! This blocking effect is exactly what can happen in the horse’s gut too.

Because sand can affect the gut in different ways horses suffering from sand accumulation can be ill in different ways.  Here are some examples:-

  • Diarrhoea
  • Normal dung with squirt of fluid at the end
  • Intermittent low grade colic
  • Heavy (in weight) heaps of dung
  • No dung passed
  • Bloated/pot belly
  • Slow when ridden
  • Depressed or just a bit quiet
  • Grumpy
  • Laying down
  • No signs
  • Straining to pass dung
  • Any other ‘colic’ signs

How do you find out if your hose has any sand accumulation in the gut?

  1. Test the dung – anything more than ½ teaspoon of sand could be significant.
  2. Bucket of water – add generous double handful of dung and STIR.
  3. Leave 10 minutes and stir again.
  4. Wait one minute and tip out the water and dung and see how much sand is left in the bottom of the bucket (1/2 teaspoon requires action).   This is known as a sand dung test.
  5. Test weekly.

So how can we remove this sand?

Psyllium-HuskPsyllium husks are part of the seed of the plant “plantago ovata” grown mainly in India and Pakistan. These husks are indigestible and are used as dietary fibre in man to help in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and diarrhoea. When psyllium is mixed with water these dry husks turn into a gel (very similar to wall paper paste!). As it passes through the horse’s gut this gloopy gel picks up particles e.g. sand as it passes through and steadily removes the sand via the dung. In severe impactions / sick horses vets will stomach tube large quantities of psyllium at least twice a day – Vets often use other products too in severe cases and, very importantly, provide pain relief. If you are worried about your horse or anything you have read please contact your veterinary surgeon.

Psyllium can also be used regularly in a preventative fashion to prevent accumulation. The rate and regularity of using psyllium should be planned with your vet and structured according to your sand dung test results. Test all horses, not just one! Psyllium should be fed dry or on top of damp feed to avoid a slimy mush that your horse may refuse to eat.

sand after heavy rain on clay soil (Small)East Anglia has recognised sandy areas east of the A12 similar to Holland where sand colic is also a problem.

Please note heavy clay soils also contain SAND – see photo of clay field after heavy rain showing lots of sand  – Test your horse even if your soil seems heavy!




Please feel free to look on our website or contact me for further details.

Helen Whitbread BVetMed CertVR MRCVS, Deben Valley Equine Vet Clinic, Birds Lane, Framsden, Suffolk IP14 6HR.  (01728) 685 123.


ex-racehorse Millbrook

Turning a stressy ex-racehorse into a star has been a real challenge for Feedmark customer Kathy Boothman – but it’s been worth every minute

Two years ago, Kathy Boothman had a phone call from her old boss, racehorse trainer Peter Niven. “The first thing he said was that he had a horse for me,” she recalls. “The second was that if I couldn’t do anything with him, I had to shoot him. So, no pressure!”
If you get the chance to watch the Retraining of Racehorses’ fabulous musical ride, you’d never guess that one of the lead horses – a stunning 16.3hh chestnut called Middlebrook – is that horse. Today, they and other members of the ride showcase the potential and versatility of re-trained racehorses and Middlebrook has also competed in BE90 eventing, dressage and showjumping with Kathy.

13672610_972668802830634_284459130_nIt hasn’t been an easy road to success, though. “He was tricky,” Kathy admits. “When I got him, he weaved all the way home in the lorry, then when I put him in a stable he galloped round it until he was dripping with sweat. I thought: what on earth have I done? I turned him out in the field because I thought he was going to hurt himself and he was much better.”
Middlebrook had made it clear that he didn’t like racing and he also made it clear that he didn’t like being stabled. What he did approve of was working, and by managing him in a way that he was happy with and doing everything she could to take the edge of his stress, Kathy has kept him happy.

13866627_972668822830632_929407687_nShe had already fed Feedmark’s Steady-Up Advance to another horse and decided that Middlebrook might benefit from the same nutritional support. Since then, it has been part of his feed regime.
“He comes off it when he has a short break in winter, but I always start feeding it again when he comes back into work,” says Kathy. “The Feedmark service is out of this world, I order it and it’s there the next day. You can’t go wrong – and there are some fantastic offers.”
Kathy has a real affinity with Thoroughbreds and is passionate about getting the message across that steered into the right jobs, with the right people, ex-racehorses have so much to offer. The RoR musical ride is an inspirational way of getting that across and is testament to the riders’ dedication.

13874600_972668796163968_64213328_n“There are eight of us, all amateur riders,” she says. “One lady didn’t start riding until she was 50 and another had never ridden outside a school. We’ve got a new routine coming up which includes jumping, so hopefully people will enjoy it even more.”
She has qualified Middlebrook for the RoR dressage championships and also competes another ex-racehorse, 18-year-old Buzz – who is another Feedmark customer, this time for ExtraFlex HA with Rosehips. “I bought him when he was a three-year-old,” she says. “He was meant to be a project, but he’s still here!”



Middlebrook still isn’t a fan of being stabled, but has mellowed enough to settle indoors on winter nights. He will also stay in the field while Kathy rides Buzz and is a perfect gentleman towards her six-year-old daughter, Grace – even lowering his head to make it easy for Grace to put on his headcollar.

“He’s very special,” says Kathy. “As soon as his tack goes on, he’s happy because he knows he has a job to do.”

No British rider has ever won back to back individual titles at young rider level so we are really setting the bar high!

water houghton 1The start of the 2016 season certainly wasn’t ideal – losing lots of events to the weather all across the country. Given that I missed planned ‘runs’ early on it feels like the season is only really getting started in May / June time! Having said all that – we’ve put the disturbances behind us and are now firing on all cylinders.

water houghton 2

Livingstone won the u21 national Championship at Houghton a few weeks back. He’s very established now at 2* level and it wasn’t really on my original plans at the beginning of the year but a bad run in deep mud in Belgium meant we needed to hold fire a bit + have a nice confident run. He was seriously impressive all week, leading right from the start and finishing on his dressage score. My main aim for him this year is to be selected for the Young Rider Europeans again, held in Italy at the end of September. No British rider has ever won back to back individual titles at young rider level so we are really setting the bar high!
Adele 97 has come on so much this Spring and is really starting to strengthen her core muscles. She had done a few 1* in Germany before she came to me but was very weak and wasn’t use to my way of going. She is a phenomenal jumper but there wasn’t really any gears and a bit dead off the leg. There’s still a long way to go with her but she’s made huge strides forward going clear XC round her first CCI2* after just 2 intermediate runs! This Autumn will be one of consolidation for her; she is still only 8 so there’s no rush. Watch out for this one though because she will be seriously special one day!

I’m lucky enough to have another advanced ride in Collien P 2 – another grey mare!! We headed off to Houghton to do the 1* for qualification after only having about 10 days. Our second XC school was over the warm up fences the day before XC day – not recommended at all. Although it didn’t cause problems, she made the track feel ridiculously easy and was in the lead going into show jumping. Unfortunately there’s a bit of work needed in this phase so she had a couple of rails down but an incredibly exciting first run and I’m now looking forward to the rest of the season to develop more of a partnership.

badminton 2The younger horses have come on really nicely too. Elstar has made a super transition up to Novice this year, winning last time out after 3 consecutive 2nd places earlier in the year. She still hasn’t had a dressage score below 29 and is a bit of a dressage diva! Esprit has also bagged a couple of good placings too with a 2nd place at BCA. They will both be aimed for their first 1*s this Autumn. I have started both of their Eventing Careers and it’s very rewarding to see them progress as well as they have done.

badminton2I’m very fortunate to have some great supporters, whom without I simply wouldn’t be able to do what I do so I am very grateful for the support that Feedmark give me. The quality nutrients, vitamins and other food groups mean that my horses can perform at their very best. In a sport where 0.1 can be the difference between winning and losing, every small detail is crucial. Small changes to the horses’ diet has enabled me to maximise their potentially and hopefully leading to successful results! It was great to meet up with the Team at Badminton, where I was doing the ‘Guinea Pig’ test. They can offer really professional advice and always have great deals on. Make sure you check the website to which shows they’re at and don’t forget to pay a visit!!

Will Furlong


Fantom and I are now on the Championship squad for the World Championships!

March BeachAll change as far as Plans go! No, not the dreaded endurance gods this time (the curse of every endurance rider), Fantom and I are now on the Championship squad for the World Championships in September or October this year. Right, this sounds fantastic but in reality we still have to qualify by successfully completing a 3* together at more than the qualifying speed.
The background to this sea change in the Watergate Endurance planning strategy is somewhat complicated. The Worlds were due to take place in December in Dubai which was something I was not entirely comfortable with in light of the recent welfare issues graphically presented in the media. However, the FEI stepped in and removed the World Championships from Dubai and they are now likely to be in Europe! This puts a whole new perspective on the issue.
We had our first squad meet up day for 2016 last weekend and this is the point where my plans seemed to come together. Although the date and venue of the ‘new’ World Championships won’t be announced until June, there is every chance that it will be held in Europe making it affordable and accessible for more combinations. (I really think it’s about time the BEF dished out some of its funding to Endurance!)

March Phantom HairBack to the present, Fantom has now completed two weeks of walking with just one more week to go before upping the pace/workload a little. He looked like a round, furry tennis ball prior to this but I set about with determination straightening his tail, clipping his jaw and ears and removing as much of his winter coat as possible. Then I did something truly shocking – I hogged him; Fantom, a pure Arab! In my defence his mane had been badly rubbed by the rugs and it will be so much easier for him to thermo-regulate when in training and competition. One downside I hadn’t thought about is that it is much harder to climb aboard with no mane.
Dilmun, in the meantime, is progressing extremely well. The walking and gentle trotting phases have now past and he has started his canter and hill work as well as some (much-resented) schooling to improve his flexibility and maintain his topline. We have now had three sessions on the beach and dunes and each time Dil has got faster and faster culminating in a rather uncontrolled gallop back up over the dunes after having done his steady canter work on the beach! That he is feeling well is in no doubt, however he is still rather overweight and definitely not as fit as he thinks he is.

March Chi wadebridge2All of the horses are now back on Replenish as the workload increases. Feeding Replenish on a daily basis takes all the worry about the horses getting sufficient electrolytes to produce optimum performance during training and competition.
Little Chiara has now done her first competition. This was local to us, less than an hour away and I took Wizard with her for moral support (ably ridden by my friend, Katherine). Vetting was somewhat challenging as the venue was at the Royal Cornwall Show Ground and the vetting was in a large, draughty, echoing livestock shed. Pre ride the pulse was sky high but we were allowed to start as it was clearly just excitement. The ride itself went very smoothly but also highlighted areas for us to work on. Maintaining a constant speed was quite difficult as the speed we were going at was quite slow and the ground conditions were varied. Gates of course were something we had to negotiate and something we need practice with but we do not have any suitable gates at home! Drinking also appeared to be a problem for her as, although she drinks well at home after exercise, she won’t drink with her bridle on (not very practical for drinking on route!) All in all it was successful and the pulse lowered sufficiently at the end for us to pass so that’s one under our belt.

March cHI SELF LOAD (2)Just prior to this, Chi has some natural horsemanship sessions to try to persuade her to stand quietly in the trailer. Although she is happy to load and unload from the trailer, once on board she became increasingly agitated, cantering on the spot. After her third session she was self-loading and standing quietly in the trailer and even went for a short drive without company.
I had planned to take her to another competition this coming weekend to get the first FEI novice qualifier as early as possible in the season. This would have meant doing a 40 kms competition which is only a little step up in distance from the 34 kms she did for her first one. The only one at all feasible at this time was one in Dorset approximately 4 hours’ drive which would have meant a sleepover in a corral. This ride is also hilly with lots of gates and, on balance, I feel with the long solo trailer drive, the first ever sleepover and lots of gates it is too big an ask at this time. Instead we will wait another month for one much closer to home for her solo debut.

Plans for Dilmun have now changed as a knock on effect from the change to the WEC. The plans are for Dilmun to make his 2016 debut this weekend in Chiara’s place as a pre-race fitness ride and to test that everything is spot on. His first race will then be at the first of the newly-reinstated FEI rides at Euston Park where he will contest a 1*. This is a course he has always enjoyed in the past, having completed two 3*and 1 2* rides there. With Fantom now aiming at the Worlds and doing his qualifying 3* in July, Dilmun will probably not now go to Brussells for the Europeans dry run.

Well, busy times ahead for Watergate Endurance!

Off The Mark!

BH1The new flat season is upon us, and we leave pleasant memories of the gallant performances witnessed at Cheltenham and Aintree behind to focus with huge excitement on those lovely jumpers speedier thoroughbred counterparts. Being a mainly flat focused yard, we are now in full swing and the lads are working all hours of the day to get the horses ready to perform to their best. Ben has been particularly busy, as he has had the small matter of a wedding (right) to get out of the way before we had our first runners! This was completed with plenty of dancing and much bubbly, and it was lovely to be able to celebrate before we had even had our first winner!

BH2Obviously one is always keen to get off the mark as soon as possible, as it releases a fair bit of tension and worry that builds up over the winter. As our finely tuned athletes head out into battle, the usual questions arise – are they fit enough? Are they well? Please let us have done enough! However, we were delighted when the gorgeous, stubborn four year old filly Lady Lekki (left, with lass June after her win) duly obliged us at Redcar. Only our second runner of the new season, we were a little nervous as it was a trip a bit short of her ideal, but she showed tremendous battling qualities to prevail by a head over her nearest rival. A madam in the yard, and highly opinionated, these qualities play to her favour on the racecourse and that is now her second win from only four starts. She has come out of the race absolutely bouncing and very full of herself! We are really excited about her this year, and feel she will keep progressing nicely.

We are looking like we will be sending a few runners out in the next couple of weeks, and whilst some will need that first run of the year to blow the cobwebs away, we now know through Lekki’s performance that they are pretty much where we want them, so hopefully we will have some more reasons to celebrate! As the horses workloads increase, we our finding ourselves getting through Replenish at a rate of knots, and it is proving very effective at helping there recovery times.

We have been relatively lucky with the weather this year (as lucky as you ever get in England!) and some of our two year olds are looking more forward than usual. We are hoping to see two cracking colts out in the next couple of weeks – Vaux (below) and Bourbonisto. Both strong, hardy horses, they are inexhaustible on the gallops and are showing us plenty of signs at home BH3that they are ready and raring to go. As always with two year olds, you never quite know how they are going to react on the track, and we expect them both to come on loads for their first experience, but they are two lovely horses to go to war with. Vaux is owned by a very friendly syndicate called Ontoawinner, who are well worth checking out if you wanted a small taste of racehorse ownership – be warned though, it is highly addictive!
Until next time, when hopefully we have lots more exciting news to bring you!