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Vanessa Macdonald, competition and leisure horse nutritionist at SPILLERS and nutrition advisor to leading show rider and producer Katie Jerram, gives her essential nutrition tips to help your horse sparkle in the show ring.

  • Feed a balanced diet A balanced 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.
  • Avoid execss weight gain 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. Carrying excess weight can also affect a horse’s energy levels and performance.
  • Feed forage frequently 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 regularly on competition days, dividing rations into as many smaller servings as possible throughout the day.
  • Don’t change feeds 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.
  • Feed natives carefully Avoid mixes and cereal based feeds for good-doers, natives and ponies. Instead, look for fibre based feeds containing controlled levels of starch.
  • Feed fibre and oil to excitable types 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.
  • Make sure extra oil is balanced Owners and riders have long fed additional oil to help achieve the ultimate coat shine. Just remember that oil is calorific and may unbalance the diet so seek advice from a nutritionist before feeding more than 50mls/ day.
  • 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 regular drinking.

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SPILLERS and Katie Jerram

SPILLERS has forged a strong relationship with Katie. Vanessa Macdonald’s professional service combines the expertise of SPILLERS and WALTHAM to provide practical, yet scientific, nutrition solutions and a highly personalised service. For example, last year when Katie had new horse with reoccurring colic, SPILLERS was able to suggest plenty of practical tips based on the latest scientific and veterinary understanding.

Safe, complete nutrition

SPILLERS feeds are nutritionally complete so Katie can rest assured that her horses are getting all they need for excellent health and wellbeing. Katie also knows that SPILLERS feeds are manufactured under the BETA NOPS scheme, making them suitable for use under FEI and BHA rules.

Hands-on monitoring

SPILLERS also provides full forage analysis and runs regular weighbridge sessions to keep an eye on the growth of the young show horses and those with a tendency to gain too much weight. As well as this SPILLERS has provided Katie with a structured guide to body condition scoring. This enables Katie and her team to assess condition on a regular basis to make sure her horses enter the show ring in prime condition.

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Keeping it simple

Success can be simple – Katie’s feed programme consists of just two SPILLERS products. SPILLERS 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 SPILLERS Conditioning Fibre which helps to extend eating time, whilst the oil content and added vitamins and minerals help to support excellent coat shine.

To find out more about why Katie and many other winners chose SPILLERS please contact: