Dan Williams’ showing blog: ‘I just want to hand them an old Nokia with a pull out aerial and scream “CALL YOUR VET!”’

I love social media but personally, I only use it for entertainment and to keep my friends and family up-to-date with how my horses are doing.

I’ve recently seen an increase in people asking for recommendations on everything from feeding to fly repellents, supplements to saddles and even advice on how to treat illnesses and injuries. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great that the equestrian community are able to share their knowledge and experience on everything equine, but I would personally only give my opinion on things like which shampoos are best for getting a grey clean. By the way, A Touch Of Silver is my go to for this. You’re welcome!

When I was a teenager, many years ago now, my pony broke out of his stable one night and got into our feed room. I was going to say he jumped out because that sounded more dramatic, but I know people who knew Leo wouldn’t believe me. I could just about get the stubborn cob around a 60cm course so he was hardly going to jump a stable door without some encouragement. Anyway, Leo opened all the feed bins but chose to eat the bin full of un-soaked sugar beet cubes (of course). We found him later that night, still with his head in the feed bin. Naturally, we were very worried about what would happen to him.

My mum took out her mobile phone, which in those days was mainly used by me to play snake. But instead of asking her friends or people that she hadn’t spoken to since her school days for advice, she called our vet. Sensible, right? When our vet came out, he gave my pony a thorough examination and thankfully, Leo made a full recovery. To this day, there is a padlock on my feed room but if something like this ever happened again, I’d call my vet. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. So when I see people asking what they should do when their horse is showing signs of colic on Facebook, I just want to hand them an old Nokia with a pull out aerial and scream “CALL YOUR VET!”.

Mum and I when I was younger out on Leo and her horse Sampson

Another common thing I see people asking for advice on is what to feed their horse. Often in a local Facebook group, hundreds of people who have never even met the horse or its owner jump to offer their recommendation on a specific feeds. Not even just a brand that they favour. I’ve not once seen someone reply asking for details on the horse’s weight, workload or even a photo of the horse’s condition before giving their opinion on what they think should be fed. I am currently studying for a diploma in equine health and nutrition so that I am better informed myself on the subject, but even when I have completed this course, I still wouldn’t advise people I don’t know on what to feed their horses that I have never seen.

What I would do is recommend that you call around some of the big-named feed brands as many of them have free advice lines that allow you to speak to trained professionals. I’m sure lots of people will say that these companies will just try and sell you their products, and they’re right, they will. But that is because it is their job. You don’t have to buy their feed though, you can take their advice and ring around a few others before deciding which you think will work best for your horse.

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I recently felt that I needed some help to get my horses looking their best for show season so I called around a few different companies, all of which were more than happy to offer me advice. When I spoke to Saracen Horse Feeds, they offered to come to my yard with their weighbridge and tailor feed plans to all 46 of the horses here. Not only did I learn a lot from the day, we had great fun with some competitions like ‘guess the three heaviest horses on the yard’ and ‘guess the weight of Big Baloo’, the biggest horse on the yard (pictured top with me). Prizes were won, we ate a lot of cake and everyone got involved. No one felt pressured to buy the feeds and everything was explained in a way that we could understand. I can’t recommend this kind of thing enough. It got everyone together, talking about the subject of nutrition and except for the cost of coffee and cake, it was absolutely free.

Pat, one of my liveries and her horse Brecon being weighed on a weighbridge

Like I said earlier, social media is great and I love scrolling through Instagram, double tapping photos of my friends’ puppies or reacting with a ‘love’ on Facebook when my friends post pictures of their horse with big, red rosettes on. I just think it is somewhere to be social, not a place to ask for professional advice.

If social media was used in the same way for humans, it’d be like one long episode of Embarrassing Bodies and no one wants to see that while on their lunch break.

Dan

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