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Q&A: Feeding for PC camp

Q: My daughter and her pony are going away to Pony Club camp this year and I am not sure ifI should provide any extra feed for her mare? At present she has meadow hay ad-lib, Calm & Condition cubes (she is Welsh X TB and can be fizzy) and Blue Chip. She is also turned out at night during the summer. At camp, she will be stabled and working harder than usual, so should I include anything with her hay and feed for the week to help her manage the extra workload?

Independent nutritionist, Christine Smy, answers: “I suggest you send your pony to camp with her current feeding regime and see how she copes.

During my years at camp, we all fed the same feed, grass cubes supplied by the Pony Club. However, it is more sensible for the horseowner to stick to the current diet and supply feed the horse is used to and goes best on for the following reasons:

  • Camp is an exciting place and boosts natural energy levels in both pony and rider, particularly if the pony is on the excitable side. The last thing you want is for your pony to lack concentration and not perform to her optimum level, diminishing your daughter’s enjoyment of the week
  • If the horse is stabled, she will not be relieving pent up energy as she does currently in the field. If you include extra energy in an elevated diet, you may find that she becomes unmanageable when ridden
  • The change to a new environment, albeit for a week only, will undoubtedly cause stress to your daughter’s pony, and by changing the feed, you may be causing underlying problems, for example low-grade colic. By sticking to the same feeding rations, you will at least be providing some stability for the mare.

    If, after a couple of days, the mare is losing weight or lacking energy, it may be the time to re-assess her diet and feeding levels. The golden rule of feeding, “increase work level before increasing feed,” applies and will hopefully produce a successful camp for both pony and rider.

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