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Friends reunited

 

nibbet-2

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,
Dance

Ben Haslam Racing Update.

August 1Things have started getting a bit busier again here at Castle Hill Stables, though we have had the normal frustrations of horses running well, but not quite hitting the top spot.

Moon Over Rio (left) probably produced the best performance of the last couple of weeks, when finishing a good 3rd in a competitive race at Thirsk over 1 mile 4 furlongs, despite being drawn on the wide outside and the ground being firmer than ideal for her. She will hopefully head to Carlisle next week, where with any luck her good form will continue!

We have a few 2 year olds out and about at the end of this week, including Bourbonisto at Hamilton, who is looking very well at home, and Skellig Micheal and Prancing Oscar (right) at August 2Redcar, who will both be making their racecourse debuts. This is always a nerve wracking time for all involved, as one is never quite sure how they are going to behave: luckily, they often surprise us and rise to the occasion well. Fingers crossed these two will make a good first impression on the racing public!

Unbelievably, we seem to have somehow got back to the time of year when we are frantically running around the yearling sales, looking for next year’s stars (we hope!) Sales season kicked off for us yesterday at Doncaster, where Goffs put on a heavenly display of horses, and one feels a bit like a kid in a candy shop: sadly, they cost a little more than your average sweet!

We were delighted to come back with two good looking colts, striking early on by buying Lot 4, a August 3lovely looking son of Camacho (left). A half -brother to a Group 1 winner, he looks a good buy and looks sure to grow plenty  over the next couple of months. We had to wait until Lot 92 for the next one to catch our eye, and we were very pleased to secure an extremely strong, good looking son of Dandy Man (below, right). He looks ready to rock and roll now!

It is always nice to be able to get a couple of the young ones in early, as it means we can start them off whilst the weather is nice and warm, rather than in gale force winds and snow! We spend a couple of August 4months lunging and long reining them, and introducing them to a rider, before they have a little break to consolidate what they have learned and allow them to grow further. It is quite extraordinary to stand a racehorse yearling next to another breed of the same age and see how much physically stronger they are! Anyway, the riders will start taking there brave pills now, as breaking season always has its fair share of entertainment watching the babies bunny hopping their way around the gallops!

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.

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!

 

Helen

 

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. www.debenvalleyvet.co.uk

Try new Fennel Seeds to help keep the digestive system comfortable, encourage milk production and support the upper respiratory tract.

fennels-seedsFennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a herb traditionally used to soothe the digestive tract. Feeding these seeds to your horse can help to keep the digestive system correctly functioning and may also reduce excessive flatulence, keeping you comfortable.

The small greenish-yellow seeds have a warming aroma and aniseed like flavour that is generally very pleasant to horses, and feeding this herb can help to stimulate the appetite of picky eaters. Adding these to your horse’s diet also supports the health of the kidneys, liver and spleen, and can help to maintain clear upper airways.

Fed to lactating mares Fennel Seeds may encourage milk production, and they are often consumed by women expressing milk to aid to keep their babies satisfied. It is not recommended to feed Fennel seeds to pregnant mares, but instead feed immediately following parturition to aid the stimulation of milk flow.

To find out more about Feedmark Fennel Seeds click here 

Sweet Itch

SKIN CONDITION CAUSED BY ALLERGY TO FLY AND MIDGE BITES THEN AGGREVATED BY RUBBING AND SCRATCHING TO ALLEVIATE SYMPTOMS. DERMATITUS SORES ITCH SCRATCH BALD

One of the most common problems we get asked about over the spring and summer months is Sweet Itch- a skin allergy triggered by saliva from the Culicoides midge. Once an allergic horse has been exposed to this allergen, a reaction causes histamine to be produced, resulting in swelling and itchy skin. The horse will have an intense desire to rub, scratch or bite the area, which is upsetting for them and you, and often leads to broken skin and open wounds that can become infected. Some horses can be driven mad by sweet itch over the spring and summer, which will can have a detrimental effect on their quality of life, and so their temperament and rideability.

Luckily, there are various management techniques that can be adopted to help your horse. The most important thing is to keep up the preventative measures, as even one bite can trigger the reaction.

  • Midges are most active at dawn and dusk, so stabling your horse between 4pm and 8am can often help to reduce the risk of being bitten
  • Midges love to breed on damp, wet land, so ideally turn your horse out away from water
  • Midges can’t fly against winds, so chose the windiest field possible, and consider using a fan in the stable too
  • Using a sweet-itch rug that includes neck and stomach protection will help stop midges biting when horses are turned out
  • Lotions and fly repellents may also help to keep the midges at bay
  • Feeding skin health supplements can helps soothe the skin and keep it healthy- high inclusions of linseed have been shown to be especially beneficial to those suffering from Sweet Itch, and can reduce the size of the lesion caused by the midge, and work as an anti-inflammatory (O’Neill et al. 2002). Start feeding at least a month before midges start to appear to ensure skin is in prime condition before it gets assailed.

If you would like any further advice please don’t hesitate to contact our help and advice line 0800 585525 or www.feedmark.com.

 

Spring coat changes

As we leave winter behind and the promise of sunny days is beckoning, you may well notice that your horse is starting to shed their thick coat, revealing a sleek and smart summer outfit.

This shedding is mainly caused by longer hours of daylight. The increase and decrease in daylight hours triggers the production of hormones responsible for hair growth and shedding. This change of coats over the course of the year is mainly to help the horse with thermoregulation: during the winter a longer and thicker coat is required, and when cold weather hits these hairs are erected, so trapping a layer of warm air next to the skin. In the summer, a finer coat is needed so the coat can lie flat, allowing air flow across the skin, and a shiny, smooth coat will also reflect some heat from the sun.

In order for skin and coat to stay healthy and for effective shedding to take place, the horse must receive a balanced diet, with the correct levels of dietary fat (especially omega-3, which must be supplied in the diet and is essential for skin condition), protein, and vitamins and minerals, notably vitamin A, zinc, iodine, copper, biotin, and other b-vitamins. Too much seleniuiStock_000011938719Smallm, iodine or vitamin A is also detrimental, so don’t over feed these nutrients. Providing you are feeding either recommended amounts of a complete food or balancer, or toping up a fibre-based diet using a vitamin and mineral supplement, your horses should be receiving the necessary vitamins and minerals for healthy skin and coat.

To complement an already balanced diet, we suggest adding vital omega oils, additional B-vitamins and useful herbs into the diet. Chamomile is well known as a skin soother and helps to reduce irritation, while Burdock root helps to keep skin scurf-free. Clivers are also included for their high levels of silica, which strengthens skin and hair, and nettles promote coat dappling, and also have tonic properties, cleansing the blood.

By helping to keep your horse’s coat shiny and scurf free, and the skin healthy you can reduce the risk of problems such as sweet itch and mud fever, and keep your horse looking great- ideal for the show or sales ring!

 

Help your horse shed!

Groom regularly to help remove excess hair, and if desired use specialised shedding tools

Anecdotally those who are exercised regularly lose their hair more quickly, possibly to do with increased blood flow to the skin stimulating hair follicles

Feed supplements aimed at boosting skin and coat health to make sure that the skin and coat are in prime condition for shedding

Ensure your worming programme is up to date, as parasite burdens can affect coat quality

Wearing overalls can help you stay less hairy when grooming shedding horses- the hair will get everywhere, and fleece and wool jumpers can be particularly hard to remove hairs from!

 

FOLLOWING THE TIPS ABOVE AND YOUR HORSE IS STILL NOT SHEDDING?

If your horse is not shedding as normal, or the summer coat does not look as expected, especially if they are an older horse, take note: Delayed shedding, or growth of a long, wavy, thick coat is one sign that your horse may be developing Cushing’s disease. This coat growth is known as ‘hirsutism’ – and occurs due to enlargement of the pars intermedia in the pituitary gland, which in turn compresses the hypothalamus, the section of the brain which regulates body temperature, appetite and seasonal shedding. If you think your horse may have Cushing’s, consult with your vet, and for help regarding dietary changes that may be necessary please call one of our Nutritional advisors on 0800 585525.

Olivia Colton MSc

Nutritional and Technical Coordinator

 

 

 

 

 

Have you got a moody mare?

Normally good natured, obedient and willing, changes in hormone levels can turn your darling horse into an unpredictable, grouchy nightmare! While some mares barely change during their season and are able to be ridden and handled as normal, others really suffer, showing signs of discomfort and changes in personality. Some of these issues, such as raising the tail, urinating frequently, and ‘winking’, represent the mares desire to breed, showing the males that she is receptive to their advances. These behaviours are usually coupled with a lack of concentration, and your mare being less willing to co-operate: her mind is on other things!

Horse eating some hay and grass in a field.

Moody Mare?

The mare is typically in season for 5-7 days, and behavioural issues will become worse as the ovarian follicles increase in size and higher levels of oestrogen are produced. The raise in oestrogen levels triggers the mares to release an egg, which usually happens during the last 2 days of oestrus.  Once the egg is released, the mare starts producing more progesterone, the hormone which prepares the uterus for pregnancy. This stage is known as diestrus. At this point, the mare will no longer be receptive to the stallion.

If the mare is not covered, or is covered unsuccessfully, hormonal changes reverse the changes to the uterus, and start the cycle again.

 

Why don’t mares cycle all year round (and why some do!)?

The gestation time (period that the female is pregnant) for a horse is 11 months, so the mare will not usually cycle over the winter in order to avoid having a foal during the months where weather is likely to be bad. Most mares will start cycling in the early spring, typically in March/April, and this will continue throughout the summer until October or November. This cycling is largely dependent on daylight hours, and mares can also be affected by artificial lighting- which can be used to bring them into season.

 

Top tips when your mare is in season:

  • If your mare gets sensitive when she is in season, try to plan competitions, lessons or outings avoiding these few days.
  • For the couple of days where your mare’s behaviour is worst, it may be worth giving her a couple of days off, or doing low stress work- neither of you will enjoy a constant battle.
  • Feeding certain herbs can help to control oestrus-related behaviour during the spring and summer, providing a natural way of maintaining hormonal balance, and keeping both you and your mare safe and happy!

 

My mare is a pain all year round- and it doesn’t seem to be affected by seasons, what should I give to her?

To check to see if your mare’s behaviour is dictated by season, try keeping a diary to show you any patterns. If the behaviour is worse on similar days during her season, and this occurs on a 3-weekly basis, it is likely that hormones are causing the bad behaviour, and you should follow the tips above.

If the behaviour doesn’t seem to be cyclical, we recommend you look for another cause- checking to see if your horse is in pain, if their diet needs adjusting or if you could handle them differently to help them to cooperate.

Olivia Colton MSc

Nutritional and Technical Coordinator

At Feedmark all of our nutritional advisors are horse owners (though I am currently the only one silly enough to have mares!) and we are here to offer you feeding and supplement advice- either e-mail us at office@feedmark.com, or to have a chat to someone call the office on 0800 585525.

 

 

Woohoo- Spring Grass!

The wet and cold of winter is finally coming to an end and you have been given permission to turn your horse out onto their summer grazing paddocks, which are full of glorious green grass, what could be better?

229794_540593516993_2963931_nWell, while grass can be a fantastic nutrient source for your horse, lush spring grass can cause problems for some, especially those with metabolic disorders or horses that have had restricted grazing over the winter:

 

 

In warm, damp and sunny weather, spring grasses are able to accumulate high levels of non-structural carbohydrates, otherwise known as NSCs. NSCs found in grass can be split into sugars (fructose, sucrose and glucose), starches and fructans (chains of fructose). NSC levels will vary due to environmental and soil conditions, and the stage of plant growth. Eating large amount of these NSCs can be a risk factor for several digestive and metabolic problems.

NSCs are produced through photosynthesis- the process by which plants use sunlight energy to produce sugars. This can only occur during daylight hours, and then is used to fuel growth of the plants overnight. Usually NSC levels are at their highest at 3-4pm, having accumulated throughout the day, and are lowest early in the morning.

However, if temperatures are below 4.5 degrees at night, the plant is unable to utilise these NSCs for growth, and so they accumulate. The young spring grass is likely to contain high levels of NSCs, and contains less fibre than older grass, which makes it very easily palatable, and the horse is likely to eat a lot!

Consuming a high number of NSCs, especially if the digestive system is not used to it, can lead to many issues, including upsetting the delicate balance of gut flora, which can result in colic or laminitis. In addition to this, due to the high palatability of the grass, good doers are likely to put on weight!

Spring grass can be a particular problem for those who have suffered from laminitis previously, horses with PPID (Cushing’s disease) and EMS, good doers, and those who have gone from a predominately hay diet onto grass, so these horses may need special management when the spring grass flushes.

Even if your horse is not predisposed to laminitis, make any changes to the diet slowly, so if your horse has been on limited grazing all winter, make the change to being on lush pasture gradual. If necessary, restrict grazing, using muzzles, strip graze, or only turn your horse out for a few hours a day until they are used to the grass in their diet.

Field Grazing Muzzle

SPRING GRAZING CHECK LIST:

  • Slowly introduce your horse to spring grazing
  • Monitor your horses weight carefully
  • Provide your horse with supplements to help their digestive system cope with the change, such as pre and probiotics, which will support the good bacteria in the hind gut
  • Be particularly careful with horses/ponies predisposed to laminitis, including horses with Cushing’s disease (PPID) and IR and EMS:

o   If the temperature is below 5 ˚C at night, you may want to consider an alternative option to grass turnout (such as extra exercise, turning out in a sand school/ ménage, horse walker)

o   On bright and sunny days, where temperature is warm, consider turning out for a couple of hours in the morning only, where NSC levels in grass are lower. Wearing a muzzle during this time may also be recommended

o   Monitor your horse for any early signs of laminitis- it is a common misconception that only fat native ponies will suffer from this, in fact any age or breed of horse may be affected

 

Olivia Colton MSc

Nutritional and Technical Coordinator

If you would like any more information about how to feed your horse or pony or if any supplements can help them please call one of our experienced team members on 0800 585525, or look at our website www.feedmark.com.