Thursday, 17 December 2015

SPILLERS fed Leo’s journey to Olympia 2015: Part 2!

Leo, winning HOYS in 1998. Photo credits Real Time Imaging
Following his triumphant performance at Arena UK in July 2015, 24 YO coloured stallion Lostock Huntsman (Leo) and his handler, Bethany, are now preparing for their showing debut at the prestigious Olympia Horse Show in December 2015. Before I recap on where we all are now, let’s pick up where my last blog finished just after Leo had qualified for Olympia.

Back To Reality… For Now
Once Leo returned home after Arena UK, he settled back into his normal routine, enjoying his SPILLERS® Senior Conditioning Mix feed alongside summer turnout. Leo was also kept busy as a total of 6 mares were covered and in foal by him over the summer.

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn!
As autumn approached our thoughts turned towards preparing Leo for his Olympia performance. Leo’s skin and coat condition had improved immensely since changing his diet to SPILLERS® Senior Conditioning Mix, and it was time to decide whether to clip him. Of course, we wanted Leo to look his best at Olympia and as his new and improved coat was so healthy and glossy, we decided to not have him clipped. Unfortunately for us, Leo enjoys nothing more than a mud bath which meant that we were leading in a brown horse from the field rather than a coloured!

Beth and Leo out on
one of their hacks.
Operation: Keep Leo Fit For Olympia
As the fields became continually wetter, Leo’s turnout had to be cut down. In order to keep him in shape for Olympia, Bethany and I had decided that Leo would benefit from some gentle exercise and hacking seemed like the ideal workout. Both Beth and Leo really enjoy their hacks and it is lovely to see Leo’s ears pricked forward every time they leave the yard. Even after being out of ridden work for more than 2 years, Leo still has the same enthusiasm as he did when he hunted! The new riding jacket provided by SPILLERS® has also come in handy as Beth looks very smart when out hacking!

Leo’s Leading Weeks Until Olympia
Leo’s recipe for success now involves a daily routine of the following exercises:

·        A leg stretch in the field.
·        A gentle hack round the lanes with Bethany.
·        Some in hand showing practice. Trotting a figure of 8 seems to be Leo’s strong point, although Beth sometimes struggles to keep up with his strides!

 Of course, Leo does not go without a daily pamper session which includes:

·        A 20 minute groom.
·        A hot oil rub down for his coat.
·        Moisturising spray on his mane and tail before being rugged up ready for bed 

To ensure that Leo is always as snug as a bug in a rug, our friend Maralyn had kindly made him an under blanket made of double thickness moleskin fleece which we always use under his rugs.

 The Countdown Begins
Beth, 6 months old at HOYS 1998.
Our countdown has finally begun with only a couple of days left until Bethany and Leo compete at the Olympia Horse Show in London. We’re all feeling very excited now as the hotel is booked, tickets are purchased and checklists are being made. This will be the first time that Leo has been back to London since he competed at the Horse of The Year Show in 1998 at Wembley. It all feels quite surreal to me as Beth was only 6 months old when we took her and Leo to Wembley, and now 17 years later she will be leading him herself. I will be very proud of them both whatever the outcome.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Filling Your Horse Up With Forage This Winter

With temperatures dropping and the frost setting in, your horses pasture may now start to look rather sparse and those patches of grass that haven’t already been turned into a wallow of mud, are likely to finally stop growing. Many of you will start to worry therefore, that your horses and ponies are no longer getting what they need from their pasture.

Second to water, forage is the most important part of any horses and ponies diet, as fibre from forage provides a valuable source of calories to help maintain the horse’s weight and is essential for maintaining gut health and the absorption of nutrients. It is important to ensure then, that they are receiving a sufficient amount, below are some useful tips to help you do this.

5 Fabulous Truths about Feeding Forage


·       Ad-Lib access to forage is ideal for any horse or pony unless they start to gain too much weight

·       All horses and ponies (including good doers) need a minimum of 1.5% dry matter of their bodyweight in forage per day (7.5kg for a 500kg horse)

·       If continuing to turn horses/ponies out to pasture, as a guide, if stabling for approx.12hours, provide no less than a minimum of half their forage ration in their boxes as hay/haylage/hay replacer, as we cannot be sure how much is being received as grass.

·       If providing a forage only diet, provide a balancer to ensure the correct levels of vitamins, minerals and quality proteins.

·       Try to avoid long periods of time where your horse or pony has no access to forage which could increase the risk of conditions such as colic/ulcers.

2 Top Tips When Feeding Forage to Poor Doers

·       In winter months, grass intake may need to be virtually ignored, meaning a greater amount will need to be supplemented, especially for poor doers. Additional forage may also need to be provided in the field if possible – you might even find this encourages them to stand away from the gate!

·       Although many often think haylage is richer/more nutritious, therefore less is needed in comparison to hay, in fact due to the additional water content of haylage, you need to offer 25-50% more than you would as hay (10-11kg of haylage in place of 7.5kg of hay.)

3 Ways To Manage A Good Doers Forage Intake


·  If your horse or pony has a tendency to greedily consume their hay or haylage all at once, consider putting one hay net inside the other, to help slow them down. Placing these nets in several stations around the stable can also help encourage them to take their time.

·   For especially good doers, or laminitics, soaking hay for 12-16hours is highly recommended to achieve maximum leaching of water soluble carbohydrates (sugar + fructan – stored sugar in grass)
·       Good quality oat or barley straw is a low energy option, making it ideal for good doers, although it is best used as a partial rather than sole forage source.

Does Your Horse Need A Hay Replacer To Stay Happy & Healthy?

·     Horses and ponies that can no longer manage long fibre such as hay or haylage will require a hay replacer. From the SPILLERS® range consider SPILLERS HAPPY HOOF®, SPILLERS HAPPY HOOF® Molasses Free or SPILLERS® High Fibre Cubes (cubes can be soaked to form a mash) and un-molassed sugar beet is also a great option.

·     If providing a hay replacer, ideally this should be provided in as many small servings as possible, and divided between several buckets to help encourage ‘trickle feeding’. If providing a hard feed, offer this first, followed by the hay replacer, so that they do not necessarily see it as another ‘feed’.  
There are many ways to ensure then that you horse or pony has sufficient forage this winter, even when struggling with poor pasture. Should you have a more specific query however please contact the SPILLERS® Care-Line of 01908 22 66 26.