Training Bursary Blog: Alana Sparrow Part 2

We are living in unprecedented times, but luckily our horses here at Chelwood Equestrian are none the wiser. We have around 50 horses onsite, and luckily most yard managers and staff live onsite, and we have been able to accommodate those who do not, therefore we are able to continue to care for the horses to the highest standard. We are so appreciative of the cooperation of our clients, during this difficult time, but have ensured we keep in contact, and regularly send video and photo updates of their beloved equine partners. Keeping the horses healthy and happy, minimising social contact by locking down the yard, and going through the daily routines in the safest way possible, is our tiny contribution, to ensure the NHS can continue to fight this virus. We continue to thank them. Our WhatsApp groups are also now regularly filled with some entertaining ‘lockdown videos’ that are circling social media, as I think it is getting a little boring for some!! A friend of mine is now graduating her medical degree early, to enable her to work on the NHS front line as soon as possible, and in the interim is volunteering in a hospital. In her words – it is ‘annoying that I can’t start properly working sooner’. How lucky are we to have people like this entering our NHS to care for us all, particularly in a time such as this – thank you all!

horse jumping

In my own little world, things have been going relatively smoothly, and Robin was feeling more than ready for the season. Though this has now been delayed, it has been nice to have some time to focus on the basics, and just spend some time together. We have so enjoyed hacking around the hills around the farm now the fields are dry enough, to help further strengthen him. We are so lucky. He was attending High Weald Horse Hydro once a week pre-lockdown, so I am ensuring I focus on strengthening work to try to make-up for this loss in his work, though I can’t wait for him to go back as it was so beneficial for him.

I have had some really helpful nutritional advice from Dengie Performance Horse Nutritionist Claire Akers, as we move into the spring/summer months. Our horses will soon be moving from their winter to summer fields, and will then be able to go out at night. We have found that the horses can get very loose droppings when we make this move. I will therefore be giving the horses a digestive supplement during this time to ensure gut health and hopefully resolve this issue going forwards. Claire also recommended introducing the new pasture slowly to allow the gut bacterial population to adjust to the change in grass quality. On the other hand we also discussed additions to diet when there is a lack of grazing. It has been so difficult to turn out over the winter with the crazy amount of rain (who would have thought it now..!) and Robin has a delightful habit of pulling shoes despite experimentation with many over-reach boot combinations. Furthermore towards the end of summer, the grazing can sometimes become more sparse. Claire suggesting using Dengie Grass Pellets in small amounts in treat balls and scattered in the field to encourage them to forage for their food, whilst soaking the pellets if feeding in larger amounts. I think this will make a great addition to our horses diets.

healthy horse

Robin is fed Dengie Alfa-A Oil before work to prevent acid splash in his stomach, to minimise the risk of gastric ulcer formation. I also wet the chaff before feeding particularly in the summer as Robin sometimes refuses to drink. At events he will tend to not drink all day, and then try to gulp a huge bucket of water all at once when we return home at the end of the day. He also particularly struggles in the heat due to his dark colour. Claire suggesting feeding Dengie Alfa-Beet at events between phases, to encourage Robin to take on more water, which I can also add electrolytes too. I think this will really help Robin, as I have also felt that sometimes it has taken him a few days to recover from an event on a hot day, which is a concern as we work towards long format events in the future. I hope this dietary addition will help him to remain hydrated, and therefore reduce recovery time. I look forward to having Claire visit Chelwood Equestrian later this year, to provide further nutritional assessments for our horses, so they can continue to look and perform at their best.

I hope you have found some of this nutritional advice helpful, and that you are all staying healthy and safe with your horses. I would highly recommend contacting Dengie yourself if you have any questions regarding your horses feeding regime, for friendly and helpful advice.