I recently spent the day in Newmarket with Jessica Toombs, Dengie’s Area Sales Manager for East Anglia. Newmarket has such a special charm and I always love visiting when I can. There’s something so special about looking out on the gallops and the way the yards are dotted about the busy little town. We had an action-packed day visiting various racing yards and trainers as well as a trip to Tattersalls for sale day. 

horses racing

We started the morning visiting Matt Crawley’s yard of horses in training. Matt introduced us to all the horses on the yard, as well as giving us their back story. The horses are fed Dengie Performance Fibre which they all enjoy and Matt believes is a vital part of their ration. We also spoke about introducing some Dengie Alfalfa Pellets to a couple of the horse’s rations too. It was lovely to see how relaxed all the horses were, despite their busy lifestyles!  

Next, we paid a visit to William Knight’s yard and were lucky enough to have a full tour from head girl Kayleigh. Rathmoy Stables is one of the best equipped yards in Newmarket with around 80 boxes, its own equine pool, spa, treadmill and covered ride. It was great to hear from both William and Kayleigh how well all the horses were getting on with Dengie Alfa-A Original which William has been feeding since he first started training eighteen years ago.  

Tattersalls Horse Sales

Jess and I then made our way over to Tattersalls for their February Sale to catch up and check-in with some other racehorse trainers. It was lovely to hear from everyone that we spoke to how well their horses were getting on with their Dengie diets. It’s so positive to know that more and more racehorse trainers are appreciating the importance of fibre for their horses and how it really helps keep them happy and healthy.  

Next time we visit Newmarket the foaling season will be in full swing so we will visit some of our stud customers – I can’t wait to meet lots of cute foals!  

I recently joined the lovely team at Catley Cross Vets for their Gastroscopy Day where horses that the vets thought might have ulcers were brought in to the clinic. We scoped 5 horses; 1 re-scope from the first scoping day the vets held in December, 2 that had previously been diagnosed and treated for gastric ulcers and 2 that had never been scoped before. All 5 horses had some ulceration, 3 had pyloric ulcers, 1 had squamous ulcers and 1 had both kinds of ulcers.

Horse being scoped

Along with the gastroscope all the horses also had a lameness assessment, diet assessment and were weighed so their medication could be accurately dosed and their weight monitored going forward. Owners were given a diet plan including forage quantities during and post medication.

There are many different causes of gastric ulceration, some horses have good management and diets yet still seem to be prone to gastric ulceration, so it is important to look for other causes of stress including pain, which may be underlying. 4 out of the 5 horses scoped exhibited some signs of lameness and will be investigated further.

Lameness Assessment

There is so much misinformation on feeding horses with gastric ulcers so I thought I would share some of my recommendations for one of the horses I met at Catley!

The aim when feeding a horse with gastric ulcers is to feed a diet high in fibre and low in sugar and starch. It is important to look at the horse’s whole ration to make a difference. It is easy to get fixated with the bucket feed (which is of course very important) and forget the bigger picture – the forage and grazing make up the largest part of what our horses eat so getting this right is really important.

One of the horses I met at Catley Cross Vets is Kevin, an 8 yr old ISH, he was diagnosed with grade 3 squamous ulcers. One of the things his owner mentioned during his diet assessment was that he has a limited appetite and can be fussy eating hay. This could be a symptom of having ulcers but can also contribute to a horse developing ulcers if they aren’t eating enough fibre, so is definitely something that needs monitoring. I advised his owner to monitor the amount of hay he is eating and suggested she weighed the hay into and out of his stable to check how much he is consuming. I also suggested offering some additional fibre in addition to his normal bucket feed which can be increased to top up the fibre on days that he has consumed less hay. Feeds such as Dengie Pure Grass and Meadow Grass with Herbs and Oil can be fed as a complete and partial forage replacer respectively and can help to tempt fussy eaters.

Kevin, an 8 yr old ISH

Kevin is normally fed an alfalfa-based fibre feed alongside a vitamin and mineral supplement. Alfalfa is a good source of quality fibre and can be a useful inclusion in the ration, it is especially useful for horses that are in harder work or those that don’t maintain weight easily like Kevin as it provides a source of very digestible fibre and quality protein. It is well understood that alfalfa helps to buffer stomach pH which can have a protective effect in horses prone to gastric ulceration. In a study published last year findings demonstrate clinical success is 47.7 times more likely in horses fed alfalfa pellets as part of their ration compared to those on concentrate only rations (Julliand et al, 2023).

Looking in a bit more detail at Kevin’s feed has highlighted that the supplement his owner had selected is not actually meeting the horse’s vitamin and mineral requirements (despite being marketed as doing so) so I have discussed some alternative supplements that would ensure the Kevin’s diet is properly balanced.

The vets advised appropriate medication for Kevin which is clearly important to address his current issues. The tweaks to the ration and closer monitoring of his forage intake, should help identify any possible contributing factors and are key for his long-term management.

For more information about Dengie’s feeds or for help and advice on all aspects of feeding call the Dengie Feedline: 01621 841188 or complete our Feed Advice Form.

There is a common misconception that most horses suffering from gastric ulcers are high-level competition horses, hot-blooded types or poor doers that don’t hold their weight well. However, there are actually many leisure horses that also suffer from gastric ulcers and a recent study from Belgium showed that only half of those with ulcers were underweight. 

Meet my horse Millie, a 15.2hh Irish Sports Horse, who is a typical good doer – she holds her weight well (sometimes too well!), is in light work and although she can be stressy at times, isn’t your typical gastric ulcer candidate. 

Millie was first scoped in August 2023, and she was diagnosed with both squamous & glandular gastric ulcers in varying degrees of severity. My vet started with intra-muscular omeprazole injections alongside oral sucralfate for 4 weeks, followed by a re-scope and oral omeprazole for a further month alongside the sucralfate until her gastric ulcers had improved. 

Glandular ulcers

Millie’s diet has always been fibre-based, consisting of Dengie Hi-Fi Lite, a vitamin & mineral supplement and at least 1.5% of her bodyweight (dry matter) per day in soaked hay & grazing.  

In an ideal situation, we would like to provide ad-lib/free access hay and grazing for a horse with gastric ulcers. However, for a good-doer like Millie, this would, be detrimental to her health putting her at a high risk of obesity and therefore greater risk of laminitis. A middle ground was established, providing sufficient fibre for gut health while also making sure calories were kept low. Originally, I planned to slowly add some straw into Millie’s hay to bulk it out, providing her with more forage to chew but still keeping the calorie content lower than if she had free access to hay. However, being short of space at my yard and unable to store multiple bales of straw, I decided it would be more practical to increase her Hi-Fi Lite and use it as a partial forage replacer instead. Hi-Fi Lite is lower in calories than the average hay at only 7.5 MJ/Kg, as well as being low in sugar so it is ideal for Millie.  

Originally, Millie had been fed two handfuls of the Hi-Fi Lite in her twice-daily feed to act as a carrier for her vitamins and minerals. I slowly increased the quantity fed to 3kg per day, gradually increasing the amount every 2-3 days for a few weeks. 

Horse eating from a slow feeder

We split her daily hay ration into multiple small-holed nets which we soaked and hung up in different places around the stable to increase movement and the time it took for her to finish them. We also gave Millie the Hi-Fi Lite in a slow feeder which helped to increase chew time and saliva production. Saliva is important in horses, as it contains natural bicarbonates which buffer acid which is particularly important for the squamous area of the stomach where gastric ulceration is most common. 

Millie is also fed a double handful of Hi-Fi Lite 20-25 minutes before she does any exercise, as this helps to prevent “acid splash” in the non-glandular region of her stomach. A chopped fibre feed, such as Hi-Fi Lite, creates a fibre mat on top of the acidic contents of her stomach, suppressing the movement of the acid when she works. The inclusion of alfalfa in Dengie Hi-Fi Lite also helps with acid buffering due to its high levels of calcium.

Lottie and Millie

We now make sure Millie has at least one day off after two days of exercise. Glandular ulcers are not thought to be linked to nutrition unlike squamous gastric ulcers do, but it is understood they have more of a relationship with stress, such as from exercise and daily management. By doing all that I can to reduce stress, the likelihood of her ulcers reoccurring is lower. Millie may never be a cuddly horse as that just isn’t her nature, but she is back to being cheeky and enjoying hacking out again which makes me happy! 

For more information about Dengie’s feeds or for help and advice on all aspects of feeding call the Dengie Feedline: 01621 841188 or complete our Feed Advice Form.

I can’t believe I have been at Dengie for three months already – time certainly flies when you’re having fun! It’s always daunting starting a new job, especially when you have been working somewhere else for years; you have your routines and generally know what’s what. So even though I had been doing a similar role previously, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. However the Dengie team have all made me feel extremely welcome. On my first day, they even ordered in takeaway pizzas, and we all sat round and had lunch together so I could get to know them which was lovely.

My manager, Dr Katie Williams, who is Dengie’s Technical and Product Development Manager, is fantastic and so supportive. I have been lucky enough to attend some of her talks, as well as spending time with nutritionists Tracey Hammond and Claire Akers doing weigh bridge and feed advice clinics, visiting some of Dengie’s supported riders, and seeing the famous ‘Harry the Gut’ talk in action, using a life size model of the horse’s digestive system.

Katie Reeve body condition scoring a horse

When I’m in the office, I generally spend my time working on various projects and writing articles, as well as speaking to horse owners and giving feed advice on the phone and via email. We all do this job because we love horses, so it’s always a great feeling when our advice is able to make a real positive difference, particularly when dealing with more complex cases, performance horses, elderly horses or those with various health problems. Job satisfaction definitely hits the mark in these cases!

Nutrition Team on lunchtime walk

A group of us often go out for a walk at lunchtimes, which is a great way to get some fresh air and refresh the brain ready for the afternoon. We’re really lucky that our office is surrounded by fields, so there are lots of lovely places to walk – although wellies are a must! Dengie’s head office is about 15 miles away, and this is a much bigger site where all the feeds are made. I went there for some of my training when I first started, and it’s fascinating to see how the enormous bales of alfalfa and other raw materials are transformed into the Dengie feeds we know so well.

Considering a career in equine nutrition? Here are my top tips:

For more information about Dengie’s feeds or for help and advice on all aspects of feeding call the Dengie Feedline: 01621 841188 or complete our Feed Advice Form.

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

Happy New Year to everyone! It’s certainly been a very wet winter so far! I have everything crossed that this years event season will be much drier than last year!!!

All the horses have been in work most of the winter with the odd easy week here and there, with the amount of rain we have had they have had to spend more time than normal being in, so the horse walker has been put to good use as an extra way to keep them moving and occupied! We had 2 new arrivals just before Christmas, two little colt foals from Shannondale Stud. We bought them to run with Hugo and to hopefully be future stars!

Claire Akers making a fuss of two colt foals

Last week we had a visit from Dengie’s Performance Horse Nutritionist Claire Akers, not only to have foal cuddles but also to look at all the horses diet’s and condition pre-season! As always she was full of fab advice and knowledge! All the horses that hold their condition well (aka the fatties) are fed Dengie Ulser Lite with a performance balancer plus some Dengie Alfa-Beet (I love feeding a sloppy feed in the winter to try and increase the horse’s water intake). Gino and Candy who are harder to keep condition on are both fed Dengie Healthy Tummy and they love the mix of the chopped and pelleted alfalfa. I’m a huge fan of trying to feed mainly fibre (the balancer is the only “concentrate”) to the horses and they all get ad-lib haylage…not only does this help keep them occupied it also helps reduce the risk of ulcers and it helps with temperament especially at this time of year!

I have been to a few dressage and jumping shows over the winter and this will start to increase from this month onwards as we build towards the season starting! I’m still trying to decide if I should start in March or wait till April, last year my first eight events were all cancelled, so I really hope we have a better start to the year!!

Horse looking over stable door at two bags of Dengie Ulser Lite

The girls had a productive couple of months through September and October learning more about the basics on the flat and learning where to put their feet in the jumping! They’ve both definitely developed a love for the jumping phases and I’m really enjoying seeing their improvements in dressage.

Maisie Randle

They had a very educational day out at Pontispool for their first Cross Country competition, competing in the pairs 70cm. They thought it was all great fun, but were definitely grateful for each other’s company in a competition environment they’ve not experienced before. They had a lovely educational round both proving to be very bold and brave! We managed to jump all the fences clear first time and in the correct order, however we did get eliminated for going too slow in the timed section! But we took them for the experience and they had a good one so that’s all that matters! They both enjoyed their Dengie dinner when they got home to re-fuel!

It was nearing the end of October and before the weather got even wetter I wanted to get Lupin to another Hunter Trial to have a go at going round solo, so we headed to Larkhill for a 75cm hunter trial. Lupin jumped a super confident clear round and was perfectly behaved all day and we were super impressed with her calm attitude in a busy warm up and learning about the start box for the first time!

Maisie and Lupin

The following day, while Lupin was snoozing in her bed, we took Lunar out to see a different course of show jumps. She was feeling super well and enjoyed showing off her scope as well as some of her acrobatics which made for some entertaining videos! However she finished by jumping a nice relaxed round and listening to me, which is something she struggles with at times, especially when jumps are involved as she loves it so much.

The girls then had a couple of weeks of just hacking to gradually prepare their bodies to go out on holiday. The girls have looked in fabulous condition all year thanks to their Dengie diets! I’m looking forward to bringing them back into work at the start of December ready to start preparing for 2024 where they hopefully make their eventing debuts!

After the ponies had a good winter holiday out in the fields they came in looking rather fat and feral and they were ready to start preparing for the 2023 season which was also my final season in ponies, so an important one! At the same time as working hard with the ponies I was also working hard at school to prepare for my GCSE exams which began at the start of May!

Our season started at Lincoln Horse Trials after Oasby was abandoned due to all the rain, little did we know that that was going to be a common theme this spring! Oli did a brilliant double clear in the pony trial to finish in the top 10, it felt good to put a competitive score on the board to begin the season up against the other pony riders. Chance had a good spin round the 100 as our final run at that level before stepping up to Novice. It was a good feeling to come away from our first event of the year with both ponies feeling very well and to know our hard work during the winter had paid off; they were both looking good and performing well thanks to their Dengie diets!

Maisie and Oli

Our next event was Lark Hill with Chance where we stepped up to Novice. It was a very strong novice track and we were in a section with a lot of big names, but Chance and I gave it a good go! We started off with a solid test to score 30.5, definitely room for improvement but it was a pleasing test for our first go at this level together. Chance jumped her socks off round a big showjumping track just to have an unlucky pole down. We finished with a brilliant clear cross-country just picking up a few time penalties where I took my time to set her up and make sure we got a confident round under our belts.

Our next event was Cirencester Pony Trial with Chance. Due to even more rain which meant more events where cancelled Chance was feeling rather keen and happy to be out again. Due to a lack of runs the excitement of being at a party crept in leading to not our best test! However she definitely redeemed herself by jumping a brilliant double clear just picking up 1.2 time penalties to climb from 30th after dressage to 8th after the jumping phases, she is such a good jumping pony and she makes the fences feel easy!

Sadly after Cirencester my pony journey came to an end. Chance had picked up a small knock and it was important to us that we gave her the time she needed to rest and recover, which meant missing some key events. It was so gutting, especially after our result at Cirencester. She has now returned home to her owners to recover and when she is ready she will return to eventing with a new jockey as I am no longer in ponies. I miss her very much, but look forward to watching her with her new rider next year.

Oli had enjoyed a quieter time while I focused on Chance as we made the decision with his owners that he would step down from eventing. He was turning 20 this year and he’d done so much for me this past year we didn’t want to push him if he was starting to feel his age. He owes us nothing and the ponies health and well being is our top priority. He was still in work and we were working towards what was going to be our last competition together at Royal Windsor Horse Show, where we had been selected to compete for England in the Pony Club Home International Dressage Competition. It was a huge honour to be selected and it was really exciting to be able to compete at such a prestigious venue.

Oli performed a beautiful test to not only help the England team to win, but also to secure the Individual Win of the Intermediate section. I was so pleased with Oli and it was a very special end to our time together. He is now enjoying a quieter life back with his owners, he’s definitely earnt it!

Maisie training with Pippa Funnell

Although it was sad to finish my time on ponies sooner than planned, it meant I had more time to focus on my exams. My exams finished mid June and since then I’ve had lots of fun and been enjoying my summer holidays. I had an amazing trip with dad to Achen in Germany, it was an incredible experience and definitely a show I would like to compete at it in the future, the atmosphere in the main arena was electric! I’ve also started riding and producing our two homebred 5- year-olds, Lunar and Lupin; its been lovely starting their education. They are both beautiful horses and it makes me very excited for the future. Most recently Lunar and I were very lucky to be able to spend two weeks under the watchful eye of Pippa Funnell. She is my biggest inspiration and I’ve watched her for as long as I can remember, so to be able to spend some time working and training with her was a complete dream come true! Me and Lunar learnt so much and it was a really good experience for us both. Since coming home we have taken Lunar to her first ever dressage competition, she behaved beautifully and came away with 68% and a win!

Maisie and Lunar

Her half sister Lupin has been making really good progress at home and going out for lessons and is feeling ready for her first competition in a few weeks time. I hope that they will be ready for an event in the autumn, which will be exciting, but we are in no rush, the main focus is to produce them slowly and correctly with the future in mind! Both Lunar and Lupin are fed on Dengie Hi-Fi Molasses Free with a performance balancer to ensure they get everything they need. They both have lovely shiny coats and are looking and feeling very well on their Dengie Diets!

I look forward to catching up again soon! Maisie x

February was a quiet month for us having just got back from holiday, so we used it to really concentrate on our basics in preparation and readiness for the show season.

In March we went to Bicton to have a jump; Lambo was a little wild being back at a show, but came 3rd in his first class. He then had a couple of fences down in his second class having worn himself out with his energetic outbursts in the collecting ring. Afterwards we went to Chard for three days, where Lambo was much more settled jumping double clear every day. He picked up a lower placing on the Saturday and saved the win for the last day on the Sunday!

At the end of the month we had Pony Magazine’s Big Day Out at Hartpury, where we did a show jumping demo. Lambo loves a crowd so he loved performing there.

Sammy Backstrom and Lambo at Pony Magazine's Big Day Out

On Thursday we are off to Wales & West for four days jumping. Lambo will have a little break after that as I’m due to visit my mum in France for a week. Then we have our first second round at Wales on the 19th May.

Sadly we waved goodbye to Scrappy this past month. I had made the difficult decision to sell her as I didn’t feel she was getting the time she deserved and she was being wasted not getting out to shows. She’s gone to a lovely girl I used to train in Fleet and they are both so happy together, it’s lovely to see.

We had a great time at Chard last month, I ran a little late in the morning on the Saturday as I didn’t expect them to start at 8am, so a 5am start and hitting traffic meant I arrived as Scrappy’s class was starting. I popped both horses in a stable and quickly got her ready. Scrappy jumped a good round but unfortunately there was a fence we missed in the scary corner. Onto Lambos class and he came out like a wild 4-year-old, thankfully I know the guys at Chard well and convinced Sarah on the collecting ring to walk him round while I walked the course. Of course Lambo behaved like an angel for her and then returned to crazy dragon pony when I got on. We cleared the collecting ring quite well with his antics, but it was an improvement as there was no spinning just a lot of bucking, fly bucking and rearing. I have no idea how but he jumped a clear in the Blue Chip qualifier and with only 6 clears we guaranteed a space in the final, so we really went for it in the jump off, unfortunately he still wasn’t really listening so we had a couple down but I learnt a valuable lesson that he does need my help!

Lambo came back out to jump the Foxhunter a changed horse and jumped a lovely double clear coming 4th. The Sunday was an early start for Scrappy but in her normal bit we were back on form and jumped a double clear coming 2nd! I took Lambo out and he didn’t feel 100% behind after his antics the day before, so I decided it was best to leave him for Arena UK and get him treated in the meantime.

We were all set for Arena UK, Lambo was on top form then on the Monday of that week someone had left the main gate open going from the lunge arena in to the big outdoor arena. I didn’t know and was happily lunging when the gate suddenly swung open, Lambo obviously panicked and spun round at such speed he fell over. Thankfully we have Carole who does the rehab on the yard, but even after treating him we decided not to go to Arena UK as he could do more damage to his glutes and be off for longer. On the Wednesday I also came down with a lurgy but didn’t think too much off it. Then on Monday I had my Covid vaccine planned and went ahead with this even though I wasn’t 100%. We had a ball in London on Wednesday evening and getting the train in I started to not feel great. I carried on but by 10pm I had to call it a night. I was then very ill all night and had no idea how I was going to make it home on the Thursday. Thankfully we did and I have been stuck in bed ever since.

After speaking to the doctor it turns out I must have had a viral infection at the time of my Covid vaccine, and then the vaccine had mutated it into something much worse, so again I missed my planned weekend with the horses and didn’t make it to the Geoff demo.


Back in November I held a clinic where I helped clients work on their confidence when jumping to improve the relationships between horse and rider. Everyone had a great time and loved their Dengie goodie bags 😍😀 We also worked on gaining suppleness, how to prepare and ride a course, in particular dog legs, as well as discussing management of their horses and ponies and how to get the best from them.

With the weather also turning I decided to give the horses a holiday and come back into work over Christmas for shows in the New Year.

happy horse and rider