Winter feeding: how to keep a Hickstead Derby winner in top condition

  • Keeping competition horses in peak condition through the winter can be a challenge. We delve into the diet plan of 2017 Hickstead Derby winner Golvers Hill, to find out the details of his winter feeding regime

    Horse: Golvers Hill (Ricky)

    Rider: Nigel Coupe

    Key stats: 14-year-old, 16.2hh bay Irish sport horse gelding (Ricardo Z x Clover Hill) owned by Susan Simmons.

    Career résumé: Hickstead CSI4* Derby second in 2015, fifth in 2016 and won in 2017. Hamburg Derby Trial win 2017. Placings on various Nations Cup teams, including Abu Dhabi, Aachen and Calgary. Won the £20,000 grand prix at Arena UK in 2016, and leading showjumper at Horse of the Year Show 2017.

    Winter routine: “Being my main horse, Ricky doesn’t have big blocks of time off — he has little breaks between work through the year,” says Nigel Coupe. “He is ridden once a day for 45 minutes to an hour and walked out in-hand in the afternoon for half an hour to graze and stretch his legs. His ridden work consists of either schooling or being hacked.

    “I try and get him out in the paddock at least once a day for an hour, but our paddocks get very wet here in the winter, so turnout is restricted unfortunately. We do have a turnout pen that he can go in to stretch his legs. He’ll do one or two shows in succession and then have a week or so off. During a holiday, he’ll still be in light work, going on the odd hack and out in the pen.”

    Feeding plan: “Ricky is fed at 7am, then again at lunchtime, around 12.30pm, and at 5.30pm. He has MolliChaff, Dodson & Horrell Competition Cubes and, when he’s in hard work, he has Dodson & Horrell Competition Mix as well to ensure he has the right energy. He also has sugar beet to moisten the feed. We then add supplements, which include Farnam Red Cell, electrolytes, Cortaflex and oil. If he is travelling, we add an ulcer supplement, such as Gastroguard, to protect his digestive system. He’s fed from the floor with a bucket.

    “We grow our own haylage, of which he has three lots a day — he has a haynet in the morning, another at lunch and then a bigger net for the night, which is topped up if necessary at 10pm. We ensure the haylage is good quality and on the drier side.”

    Continued below…

    The quirks: “Ricky is a good doer so keeping weight on him isn’t an issue. The trick with him is ensuring he has the energy without making him too fat. He absolutely loves his food and we don’t have any trouble with him eating or being fussy. Overall, he’s a reasonably easy horse to manage as regards food.”

    The full version of this article was first published in the 12 October issue of Horse & Hound magazine

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