Diet Assessments and Weigh-in for Team Roberts

Christmas and New Year are always quiet times for us here at the Team Roberts stables in West Yorkshire, but this gives us time to sit down to reflect on the previous season and start making plans for the year ahead.

We were very lucky to have a visit from both Steph Wright, Dengie Area Sales Manager for the North of England and Claire Akers, Performance Horse Nutritionist for Dengie. We like to keep a check on each horse’s weight and diet and although we keep in touch with both Dengie throughout the year it is always helpful to make sure we’re starting off on the right path. Both Claire and Steph love to find out about each horse and so when we saw them at the start of this month, we began by discussing the horses personalities and temperament, how their previous season went, what they have been doing over the winter and our plans with them for the season ahead. It’s important Claire gets to understand the bigger picture as this helps her to advise the most suitable diet.

Each horse was weighed during the visit and although our horses have been building up their fitness since the start of December, we were all really happy with their current weights coming out of their winter down time. We have a couple of good doers and so we have kept an extra close eye on their weight, even through the winter. It’s incredibly useful to be able to look back on the weights from previous visits at different time points through the season and see what weight they were. It helps with planning their nutrition alongside our competition goals and being able to look back really helps us to improve for the year ahead. We reviewed each horse’s current ration and workload, plus how they feel when been ridden. Claire and Steph also met a couple of new arrivals, Alby and Boodles, since their previous visit and so it was really helpful to get them started with regular weight checks and ask them to overlook what we had decided to feed them.

Horses being weighed

We like to keep the horses diets as simple as possible and not to over complicate things. Every horse here has ad-lib hay when stabled apart from Yogi who is on a strict diet programme and is fed at intervals throughout the day as he’d be one to stand and eat it all as quickly as he can! We’ve previously had our forage analysed by Dengie, so Claire can accurately work out exactly what the horses are getting from it. We then feed either Dengie Alfa-A Oil, Dengie Ulser Lite or Dengie Performance Fibre alongside a suitable low-calorie balancer in the winter and a performance balancer during the competition season. We feed Dengie Ulser Lite to those who are good doers over the winter as although the grass quality has reduced, so has their work and they still continue to carry a good amount of weight. Ulser Lite is a low-calorie fibre, so we opt for this choice over winter for almost all of our horses.

With all competition horses there is always the concern of gastric ulcers and so we find that we can still feed the good doers a good quantity of fibre when feeding Dengie Ulser Lite without having to worry about excessive weight gain. We have found that Dengie Performance Fibre is really good for the fussy eaters due to its light molasses coating and the added spearmint oil making it have a distinctive minty smell which Lenny really enjoys. It’s also ideal for competition horses as it has a higher level of oil in comparison to the Dengie Ulser Lite and so it is high in slow releasing energy without high starch levels. As the horses workload is building up now, Claire advised that those fed on the Dengie Ulser Lite switch to Dengie Performance Fibre apart from the obvious greedy one, Yogi! They will then be fed on Dengie Alfa-A Oil as they start going out eventing in March-April as it has slightly more digestible energy and a slightly higher oil content when compared to Dengie Performance fibre.

Nutrition can be a tricky one to get our heads around and with so many products on the market we love to learn from Claire and Steph and make sure to ask them lots of questions. We also feed a joint supplement and a gastric supplement to those who require it and during the season we add in electrolytes to replace salts lost when sweating. We’ve got our sights set on the fast-approaching season and hope to keep you all updated along the way!

~ Amy Roberts ~ click here to follow Team Roberts Eventing on social media