Tag Archives: Horse

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

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

Link
13664715_972668272830687_1455194557_n

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!”

13836046_972668812830633_40057192_o

 

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.”

Healthy skin, glossy coat and how to face skin challenges…

bay horse stallion portrait on the black background

This skin is the horse’s largest organ and is a barrier to external challenges

Why is the skin important?

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

By feeding our horses a correctly balanced diet, their skin and coat should be healthy, but some horses need extra nutritional support to help them deal with some common skin issues.

 

 

 

Sweet itch

What is sweet itch?

Sweet itch is an allergic skin reaction, triggered by the saliva of biting insects such as the Culicoides midge.  If the horse is allergic to this, their body reacts to the bite, which causes intense itching and skin irritation.

Appearance: Commonly rubbed mane and tail, but can affect all over the body in some horses. In bad cases big chunks of hair will be completely rubbed out, and raw skin is left exposed, attracting more insects, and increasing risk of infection.

Treatment: Once the horse has bald, irritated patches it can be difficult to help the problem. Soothing the problem from the inside out by providing an Omega-3 rich supplement, and using cooling creams on affected areas may help, and also follow prevention methods.

Prevention: Use of fly rugs, turning out away from habitats that midges love (muck heaps, stagnant water), bringing horses inside when midge activity is prolific, feeding a skin supplement high in Omega-3

Mud Fever:

What is Mud fever? Mud fever is a term used to describe various symptoms that commonly occur on the bulb of the heel or the pasterns.  These problems are usually caused by bacteria, which can live on healthy skin with no detrimental effects.  However, if there is an abrasion, cut or scratch, this bacteria can enter through the skin and cause an infection.  Commonly the skin is harmed by exposure to wet or muddy conditions, and the problem then occurs, hence the name.

Appearance: This takes many forms, from patches of matted hair on the pasterns and bulb of the heel, scabs and minor swelling to pustular expulsions.  Sometimes the horse can also show as lame.

Treatment: In mild cases, effective treatment can include clipping off excess hair, using an antibacterial leg scrub and keeping the affected limb dry.  Barrier creams may also be beneficial if the horse is going back into mud; however these creams provide an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply between the greasy layer and the skin, so use with some reservation.  In more severe cases, veterinary assistance will be required.

Prevention:

  • Keep legs dry and mud free- if possible turn out in a rubber school or concrete pad when mud is very deep, or use protective boots, chaps or barrier creams when turning out or riding in wet and muddy conditions
  • Check for mud fever daily
  • Feed a supplement to keep skin healthy

 Rain scald

What is Rain Scald? Rain scald is the term given to mud fever when it is higher on the body!

It is a form of dermatitis, caused by bacteria that normally live on skin without causing trouble, but will multiply rapidly in a moist environment.  If there is a wound or abrasion in the skin an infection can develop, and this is more likely in older horses, or those with a compromised immune system.

Appearance: look for bumps, crusts, pus- filled scabs, matted hair or hair loss on areas of the body that are commonly damp- shoulders, hind quarters, and the back.

Treatment: The best treatment is sun and warmth!  If possible remove the horse from wet conditions, so they can thoroughly dry out.  Wash affected areas using anti-microbial shampoos, and dry thoroughly.  Keep the horse dry and warm while recovering, and call your vet if an infection fails to improve.

Prevention:

  • Provide dry shelter if the horse lives out
  • Rug adequately (if there is no current skin infection)
  • Never put a non-breathable rug on a damp or wet horse
  • Groom regularly to get rid of mud and dirt, and to spot infection early
  • Feed a supplement to help keep skin supple and healthy

If you would like any further information about your horse’s nutritional requirements please contact our nutritional help line 0800 585525 or visit www.feedmark.com, we’re open 7 days a week.

Olivia Colton MSc

Nutritional and Technical Coordinator