Providing Nutritional Advice at the BD National Academy Camps

Over the last few weeks I have had the pleasure of attending the British Dressage Youth National Academy camps to assess the horse’s diets and to talk to the riders.  The two camps are held at the very impressive Kilbees Farm by kind permission of Sarah Pidgley.  The facilities and hospitality at Kilbees are second to none and it is a huge privilege to be invited along to work with the riders that have been selected for the camp.

Riders were selected from the Foundation Academy camps that were held during the autumn with just 12 athletes making it through to the National Academy. These lucky individuals were selected due to their dedication to the process, improvement shown, knowledge and ability.  The National Academy camps aim to develop the skills of the riders and there are a range of mounted and unmounted sessions to help riders and horses to develop and fulfil their potential.  I love the range of different activities which include rider strength and conditioning, saddle and bridle fit, nutrition for both the horse and rider, along with ridden coaching and test riding sessions. It feels like riders go away from these training camps with no stone unturned and with insight to what it takes to be a professional.

BD National Academy_Fat Scoring a Horse

At the February camp I caught up with everyone to assess their horse’s condition and current feeding regime. We weighed and fat scored each horse to see how they had fared over the winter months and discussed the horse’s current feed, turnout and forage.  I suggested tweaks to the rations if needed taking into account any changes to workload and condition.

BD National Academy Talk

At the March camp we did a short talk taking a look at some of the different types of fibre ingredients used within the Dengie feed range to help riders understand more about the potential uses of different feeds.

We also discussed the BETA NOPS scheme which was set up by BETA in 2009. It is a voluntary scheme set up to address the risk of naturally occurring prohibited substances (NOPS) in feed and to allow feed manufacturers to show that they are minimising the risk of contamination of NOPS.  Understanding the risks of NOPS is an important subject to discuss with riders competing under rules so they can understand and asses the risk of contamination within their yard situation and the products they are feeding.  We discussed the benefits of using feed brands that have been accepted on to the scheme and ways to generally reduce the risk of contamination in the yard.  Below are a few of our top tips which are useful for everyone:

  • Know exactly where all the feeds, supplements, forage you use are coming from and what they contain – ignorance is no excuse. Be aware that even your vet may not fully understand the risks relating to NOPS
  • Identify any potential sources of contamination – where do you make your tea and coffee on the yard, is it near the feedroom? Where do people have their lunch – does anyone sit on the hay bales to have a break?
  • Implement good practice – don’t share buckets, scoops and stirrers, especially if medication is being used for some horses
  • Keep batch details of feed – a photo of the statutory statement or label is ideal and retain a small sample from each batch if you can

All the riders went away with some positive and practical advice to help them plan and to reduce the risk of contaminations whilst they are out competing.