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A balanced diet is fundamental for health and wellbeing. Spillers nutritionist Vanessa Macdonald explains how you can give your horse the edge in the show ring.

Top showing rider and producer Katie Jerram knows more than most how vital it is that her horses look and feel their best — and much of this comes down to feeding. Whether it’s keeping healthy horses on form, or dealing with a new horse with recurring colic last year, Katie has sought advice from Spillers’ Vanessa Macdonald for practical tips based on the latest scientific and veterinary understanding.

Maintaining balance
Diet is the foundation for optimal health and wellbeing. A balancer is the ideal way to ensure that horses on forage-only diets, or less than the recommended ration of compound feed, receive a balanced supply of vitamins, minerals and quality protein, without excess calories. Spillers feeds are nutritionally complete, meaning that Katie can rest assured that her horses are getting all they need. Katie also knows that they are manufactured under the British Equestrian Trade Association Naturally Occurring Prohibited Substances (NOPS) scheme, making them suitable for use under FEI and British Horseracing Authority rules.

Staying in shape
Allowing your horse to gain excess weight in preparation for the show ring can be detrimental in a number of ways. On the one-to-nine scale, a body condition score of five is ideal, while a score of more than seven poses health implications including joint strain, respiratory stress and an increased risk of laminitis.

Home away from home
Long periods without forage compromise digestive health, increasing the risk of conditions such as colic and gastric ulcers. Ideally, provide hay or haylage when travelling and feed frequently on show days, dividing rations into as many smaller servings as possible throughout the day. Always keep your horse hydrated. Where possible take water with you when travelling to competitions. It will help tempt those reluctant to drink unfamiliar water when away from home. It’s particularly important to encourage frequent drinking.

Starch or fibre?
Avoid cereal-based feeds for fizzy horses, as the starch they contain provides quick-release or instant energy that can contribute to spooky or excitable behaviour. Look for feeds based on highly digestible fibres and oil. Katie feeds two of Spillers’ fibre-based products: HDF Lay Off Cubes are high in fibre and contain a controlled level of starch, helping to support gut health and a controlled performance. She also feeds Conditioning Fibre, which helps to extend eating time, while the oil content and added vitamins and minerals help to support excellent coat shine.Spillers-Products_640x400

Staying consistent
Resist the temptation to change your horse’s feed prior to a competition. Frequent or rapid dietary changes upset  the microbial population of the gut, increasing the risk of conditions such as colic and tying-up. Katie’s feed programme is simple, consisting of just two Spillers products.

Condition scoring2-Women-with-Horse_640x400Katie and her team assess their horses’ condition on a regular basis to make sure her horses enter the show ring in prime shape, with the help of a structured guide to body scoring. Spillers provides forage analysis and runs weighbridge sessions to keep an eye on the growth of young show horses and those with a tendency to gain weight. H&H

To find out more about why Katie and many other winners choose Spillers please contact Vanessa Macdonald on 07809 340181 or Yvonne Judith on 07802 877273. Alternatively contact the Spillers care-line: 01908 226626

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