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Recognising the real thing

Valentine’s Day has been and gone –  but how do you know when love is for keeps? Carolyn Henderson has some suggestions.

Soppy cards no longer clog the supermarket shelves, chocolates are minus the little red hearts on their packaging, and cut flowers are back to their normal price. Valentine’s Day is over for another year.

You might, of course, have ignored the whole shebang and insisted that you shouldn’t need a commercially-led day to demonstrate your devotion. After all, actions speak louder than chocolates.

So how do you tell if the one you regard as the love of your life is a keeper, or might need re-homing at some stage? Horses are very useful at helping us work this out; I’ve been married long enough to know how to pick a stayer, so here’s my guide. To keep it simple, I’ve referred to the Beloved as he, but please amend as appropriate.

  • He doesn’t complain when you dash in, get changed into horsey gear and dash straight out to ride/do field and stable chores/both. Add a bonus point if he doesn’t ride, but offers to help with routine jobs.
  • He swears that he still finds you attractive even when you have hay in your hair, dirt in your fingernails and are wearing Eau de Stable instead of Eau de Toilette. Bonus point – when you scrub up, he doesn’t faint with shock, but simply tells you how nice you look.
  • He learns how to read a dressage test/tow a trailer/drive a horsebox so you can concentrate on your horse. Deduct a point if, even though he can’t ride, he tells you where he thinks you went wrong. Warning: he may get to the stage where he’s right, in which case you have to restore the point you knocked off.
  • He admits that he’s become quite attached to your horse. Add a bonus point if you catch him talking to your horse when he doesn’t know you’re watching, so isn’t out to impress.
  • You catch him in deep conversation with another owner on your livery yard. They blush when they realise you’ve spotted them and you can’t help having a nagging suspicion at the back of your mind. Then he admits that he was asking her for suggestions about what he could buy you for your birthday. Later, she tells you that she dropped the name of some expensive but covetable grooming kit. Add extra bonus points!
  • He announces that he wouldn’t mind having a go at riding and asks if he could learn on your horse. Add a bonus point if he isn’t offended when you shriek with horror/burst out laughing at the thought of your beloved but characterful horse patiently helping someone get to grips with rising trot.
  • He accepts that he needs a proper teacher and a suitable horse and doesn’t complain when the riding school you find is full of fearsomely competent ten-year-olds. Add a bonus point if he isn’t distracted by the Yummy Mummies accompanying said ten-year-olds.
  • And the final decider? He announces that he wants his own horse, so you can share romantic moments over the muckheap and ride off into the sunset together.

So, do you have the perfect horsey partner? If so, we’d love to know why he or she is so special, so do let us know!

Feedmark partners with Wellington Riding

We are pleased to announce our exciting new partnership with Wellington Riding, one of the UK’s biggest and best-known equestrian centres.

Set in 300 acres of the Duke of Wellington’s beautiful Hampshire estate, Wellington Riding is a British Horse Society Approved Riding School, Livery Yard and ‘Where to Train’ Centre to BHSI. The school is a highly regarded competition centre, catering for all levels from grass roots to Olympic Riders.

The new partnership will see Feedmark become the exclusive equine supplement sponsor for Wellington Riding, supporting it through its busy 2018 events programme. The schedule of competitions includes both the British Dressage Winter Regionals and the Premiere League in June. Plus numerous other Affiliated and Unaffiliated Dressage, Show Jumping, Arena Eventing, Combined Training, Pony Club Competitions and facility hire to high profile riders.

Rachael Corry of Wellington Riding, comments: “Our wide range of facilities means we look after riders and horses from every equine discipline. Having Feedmark’s expert team of nutritionists onboard for the coming season to advise on the health and wellbeing of horses will provide added value to our livery clients and competitors and we are very excited to be stocking the full range of Feedmark products in our onsite tack shop.”

Chris Townsend, Managing Director of Feedmark, comments: “We’re delighted to be working with such a prestigious and dynamic venue, supporting a diverse range of activities from eventing to cross country schooling. There’s something for everyone at Wellington and we’re looking forward to providing advice and support to help riders with the individual nutritional needs of their horses and the activities they undertake with them in 2018.”

Could you be our new Marketing Executive?

Marketing Executive

Feedmark enjoys an enviable reputation for making quality, science based 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.

Our continued growth requires us to effectively communicate with our customers across an increasing number of channels and we wish to strengthen our Marketing Team by recruiting a forward-thinking Marketer with digital expertise.

We are looking for a full time Marketing Executive with a proven track record of creating and implementing successful digital campaigns, ideally with experience within B2C ecommerce and with an interest in horses.

The ideal candidate should have:

  • At least two years’ experience in marketing
  • An interest in horses
  • Experience of creating and managing campaigns to drive traffic and phone calls to achieve business sales objectives
  • Previous experience of monitoring and improving the customer journey
  • Experience of delivering measured marketing activities and demonstrating use of marketing insight and delivering return on investment
  • Ability to produce clear and concise messaging across a range of channels with experience of writing engaging copy and managing a company’s brand
  • Social media and email marketing experience
  • Google analytics and SEO knowledge, ideally with experience of AdWords and Facebook advertising
  • Creative flair, ideally with some experience of design and video production, previous use of Adobe software or working with external agencies
  • Experience of managing or promoting events is desirable

This position would suit a driven, enthusiastic, well-rounded marketer with a broad range of experience who has the ability to develop and lead projects, to support the Marketing Manager to achieve the company’s objectives.

The candidate must be a team player with the ability to work independently, with excellent project management skills, attention to detail and the ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously, whilst working to strict deadlines.

They will enjoy working in our rural idyllic offices surrounded by open East Anglian countryside and will have a full driving licence.

To apply, please forward your CV and covering letter explaining why you are suitable for this position to [email protected] by 11th February.

Online chat query: overweight native

Customer: My horse won’t lose weight, even though I have put him on a diet. The vet has said it’s going to be bad for his health if he doesn’t lose a bit soon – please help!

Olivia: I’m sure that we can help you. Can you tell me a bit about your horse, his workload, his routine and his diet please?


Customer: He is a 15hh native, and we do hacking, a bit of schooling and the occasional show. He has hay, and twice a day, he gets fed a small feed of ½ scoop molassed chaff and a handful of horse and pony mix.

Olivia: Thank you for that information. I suppose the simple way to think of how to get a horse to lose weight is that, just like humans, if he needs to drop a few kilos he needs to be burning more calories (energy) that he is consuming. This means that the best thing to do is examine his diet to see where we can cut out some calories, and see if he can expend some more energy. Firstly, let’s look at his diet: Is he out at grass during the day?


Customer: He is out in the field from 5pm once I’ve finished work until about 9am. He is out on his own but there is quite a lot of grass still – should I not turn him out?

Olivia: If he is out all night then it is likely that a high percentage of the energy in your horse’s diet come from grass. However, not turning out can be really detrimental both to mental and physical health, so unless it’s an extreme case we would not recommend this. Luckily there are a few ways to help this, especially since he grazes on his own. If he accepts a grazing muzzle, they are such a handy tool to help reduce grass intake Studies have shown that by using a grazing muzzle on a horse they will consume between 50% and 86% less grass than those without (do make sure he will drink with it on though!). If this won’t work for your horse, you can restrict grazing using other methods: by strip grazing; using sheep to graze a field down; or by using a turnout area with no grass.


Customer: Okay, I do have a muzzle at home that I can use. Do I leave it on for the whole day, and will it help in the stable too?

Olivia: I’d suggest leaving it on the whole time they are turned out, if not they may compensate by gorging when you take it off! However, do not use it in the stable. Instead, to minimise calories consumed when your horse is in, I would feed soaked hay in the stable – soaking it for 12-16 hours will reduce the WSC (water soluble carbohydrates). If your horse is very greedy see if you can get someone to pop hay in ‘little and often’ to keep him busy and stop his stomach from being empty for more than a few hours at a time.


Customer: What about his hard feed, I do like to give him a little something?

Olivia: I’d stop what you are giving him – as nutritionally this isn’t contributing much towards balancing his diet. What I would suggest is looking at our SlimAid supplement – this is a really condensed, pelleted vitamin and mineral supplement, that also contains amino acids, specially formulated to be an easy to feed way to balance the diet of those who are on restricted grazing.


Customer: Should I do all of this straight away?

Olivia: As with all changes to the diet, these changes mentioned should be undertaken gradually, over the course of a few days.


Customer: Is there anything else I can do to help him?

Olivia: Anything you can do to increase the energy he uses will help to speed up the weight loss – can you ride for longer or more frequently? If not is there someone else who can exercise him to help? Alternatively, if your yard has a horse walker that is a handy way for your horse to burn a few calories while you are doing yard chores.

Customers vote for Feedmark to reach national awards finals

Feedmark are delighted to have reached the national finals of the 2018 British Equestrian Trade Association (BETA) Business Awards.

We have been shortlisted as a finalist for the SEIB Retailer of the Year Award under the category of Internet Retailer. The accolade will be awarded on 22nd January at the BETA Gala Dinner, at the National Motorcycle Museum, Birmingham.

“We’d like to thank our customers for nominating us for such a prestigious award. Customer Service has been at the heart of Feedmark for over 35 years, so we are delighted to be recognised for the professional service, high quality products and expert nutritional advice our team provides.” said Chris Townsend, Managing Director of Feedmark. “

As part of the final judging, a series of independent mystery shops and incognito telephone calls to the shortlisted candidates will be conducted.

“There were more than 1,000 nominations for the SEIB Retailer of the Year Award, so many congratulations go to Feedmark for reaching the finals,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams. “BETA encourages the highest standards in equestrian retailing, enabling horse owners and riders to shop with confidence where they see the BETA sign.”

More than 150 tack shops and feed merchants across the UK are entitled to display the BETA logo, indicating their retail membership of the trade association and that they are properly run businesses offering reliable advice.

50% extra FREE during January

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

ExtraFlex HA with Rosehips (2.7kg)

This is our highest specification joint supplement which maintains supple joints. ExtraFlex provides Glucosamine HCl and Chondroitin Sulphate, which are joint health ingredients used by the body to help maintain articular cartilage and joint function. These are complemented by Hyaluronic Acid which works within the joint capsule to stabilise the joint and aid shock absorption, and MSM (methyl sulphonyl methane), this supplies Sulphur which is required to provide strength to articular cartilage, and has antioxidant properties. We recently improved ExtraFlex by increasing the levels of Hyaluronic Acid, it now has the highest levels on the joint supplement market.

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


Benevit Advance (10kg)

Our best-selling multivitamin and mineral supplement which contains 25 vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, providing your horse with all the nutrients they need each day. Benevit balances the diet, and is suitable for all horses and ponies, particularly those on low amounts of feed, or forage-only diets. It delivers the important antioxidants Vitamin E and Selenium, and is fortified with Omega 3 and 6 to encourage a glossy bloom to any coat.

50% extra free during January. 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.

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


Opti Muscle (2kg)

Ideal support for hard working or vulnerable muscles. Vitamin E and Selenium are important nutrients that act as antioxidants, which play an important role in maintaining healthy cell membranes and normal muscle function. Magnesium supports optimum nerve function and muscle relaxation, allowing horses and ponies to work with greater flexibility. Opti Muscle helps to maintain muscles in a healthy condition, promoting correct muscle development for optimum performance and recovery.

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


SarVoid (3kg)

The ideal supplement for horses and ponies with skin imperfections to keep skin blemish-free. SarVoid is a blend of traditionally used ingredients, including Turmeric, Burdock root and Red Clover flowers, which combine to help keep skin free from these unattractive flaws. Linseed and Clivers are essential for normal skin cells reproduction and help to keep skin healthy and keep the coat shiny. In addition to these skin health optimising herbs, Astragalus helps to support the immune system, and BioPerine helps the body to best utilise the active components of these ingredients.

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


Boswellia (2kg)

This increasingly popular plant resin optimises mobility and performance by exerting a soothing action on tired joints and muscles. Boswellia can also help to maintain respiratory health and aids the digestive system, firming loose droppings.

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



Terms and conditions: Order online at For telephone orders please call 0800 585 525 / 01986 782368. 50% extra free offer on ExtraFlex HA with Rosehips, Benevit Advance, EquiDermis Plus, Opti Muscle, SarVoid, and Boswellia applies to selected sizes only and is valid from 01/01/2018 until 31/01/2018.

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,

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!