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Digestive Health

Ensuring your horse’s digestive health is in peak condition is of paramount importance for their wellbeing. If the horse’s digestive system is compromised in any way it will have significant effects on performance, appearance and even temperament. The concerns are not only what they are being fed, but environment, well-being and good husbandry, which can all play a significant role in ensuring good digestive health. Digestion starts with mastication (chewing) and the production of saliva, unlike humans horses only produce saliva when they chew and this acts as a buffer against the acid build up in the stomach which can cause ulcers. Horses are more able to digest food and increase nutrient absorption when it is ground into small pieces, it is also less likely to get stuck and cause colic, an important reason why your horse should receive regular visits from the dentist. The food then moves to the stomach which is quite small, and is where the pre-digestion of proteins and fats occur. Food is held here for approximately 30-45 minutes, which is why it is advisable to not exercise your horse for at least an hour after they have been fed.
Food then moves to the small intestine, which is where the majority of nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream and the largest portion of the food is digested. One of the problems of feeding large quantities of processed feed is excess starch going through the intestines too quickly to be digested properly. Make sure your feed is low in starch and is fed in small quantities; horses evolved as trickle feeders and their digestive system is not designed to eat two hard feeds a day! Undigested starch reaching the hindgut can cause the…

Gordon Park Timeless Feb 2016Whilst it is important for your horse to be in perfect condition for the show ring, you must always be aware of them putting on too much condition and the associated links with laminitis and being overweight. Weight can be assessed accurately on a weigh-bridge, but if this is not possible then a weigh tape can be used. Weigh tapes are a good way to monitor any changes in your horse’s weight but are not totally accurate and have been found to be inaccurate by as much as fifty kilograms. Blue Chip Original is the perfect feed balancer for show horses and ponies and contains optimum levels of vitamins and minerals, to meet the daily requirement of your horse or pony.

With a comprehensive hoof supplement, SoundHoof, that includes biotin, lysine and organic zinc, and a respiratory supplement with garlic, menthol and eucalyptus to maintain lung health and integrity, you will not need to feed any additional supplements. Original is enhanced with generous levels of oils, for fantastic skin and a glossy coat. Blue Chip Original, like all the balancers in the Blue Chip range is whole-cereal and molasses free, making it very low in sugar and starch and contains the revolutionary ingredients Nucleotides, which are the building block of DNA and RNA and are essential for cell replication. Many horses will not put condition on if they are stressed and this can be evident after taking your horse to a show for the first time, some horses may even go on hunger strike for a few days afterwards! To help your horse keep calm and settled whilst at home use Blue Chip Karma. The natural ingredients in Karma include the superior, water-soluble form of magnesium, known…

Magnesium Chloride which can be quickly absorbed into the blood stream. When stressed, horses can use up their available stores of Magnesium and so will potentially benefit from a readily available water-soluble source.

Liquid Karma also contains beneficial vitamin C, which is vital to horses under stress from exercise, training and new environments, and Vitamin B3. L-tryptophan is included as it is a pre-cursor for the hormone serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ hormone. Karma is completely safe to use daily or as a single dose as required.

Blue Chip’s instant action calming syringes are ideal for all horses and ponies and come in the palatable flavours, apple or carrot with each syringe containing 3 easy to use doses.  AppleCalm and CarrotCalm contain fast acting Magnesium, L-tryptophan and Vitamin C, all helping to keep the horse relaxed and settled. Blue Chip’s instant action syringes are non-drowsy, suitable for use when travelling/box-rest/vet/farrier or in any stressful situation, and are 100% natural ingredients.

Kirsten on Jetsetter in 2 star at Gidge

Eventing at all levels requires an event horse that possesses athleticism, concentration, agility and stamina. Making sure that your event horse is getting all the nutrition he needs from his diet will help to ensure he can perform to the best of his ability.

 

Top Tips

  • Feed your horse specifically for his particular level of work or competition and continually re-assess this to ensure your horse is getting everything he needs to be successful – don’t overfeed.
  • Event horses will still need a minimum of 1.5-2% of their total body weight in fibre such as ad lib forage over a 24hr period.
  • Ensure your event horse is receiving a good quality source of protein to help with muscle development and repair when training and competing at an event, but don’t be tempted to overfeed protein.
  • If your event horse has had an extra hard day at competition, feed an electrolyte to replace the ions lost through the sweat.
  • Event horses should also be treated as non-event horses and turned out for some time during the day.

Recommended Blue Chip Products For Event Horses

For The Beginner Event Horse

  • Blue Chip Original is the perfect feed balancer for event horses up to Pre-novice level. Original contains the optimum level of vitamins, minerals and nutrients required to give an event horse the right amount of energy and strength an event horse requires to cope with an event.
  • Blue Chip Original also has a high level of probiotic, which increases fibre digestion and encourages the beneficial bacteria in the gut to thrive. This high level of probiotic in Blue Chip Original will double the digestibility of any fibre in your event horse’s diet. Feeding Blue Chip Original alongside ad lib forage means you should be able to reduce the amount of additional hard feed fed, benefiting the event horse’s digestive system and also potentially reducing feed bills.

For The High Level Event Horse

  • Blue Chip Pro is ideal to feed when work becomes more demanding. It incorporates a blood building formula, an MOS prebiotic and an elevated specification of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to help support the equine athlete when travelling and competing at a higher level. You should also continue to feed Blue Chip Pro if your event horse has to have a period of box rest, to help maintain muscle tone and condition, hence helping to reduce the length of time taken to bring him back into full work.

Joint Protection For The Event Horse

  • An event horse needs suppleness and joint protection. Your event horse will be faced with the high impact of jumping over fences during show jumping as well as racing at speed during the cross country event.  Use a liquid joint supplement such as Blue Chip’s Joint RLF, which incorporates the rosehip extract Rosa canina, Hyaluronic acid (HLA), Organic MSM, yucca, organic manganese chelate, vitamin C and glucosamine HCL to aid your event horse by protecting and conditioning the joints and ensuring optimum flexibility.

For The Spooky Event Horse

  • Travelling to an event often leads to a spooky event horse which is far from ideal when it comes to the time your event horse needs to perform. For better concentration and a calmer temperament, give your event horse Blue Chip Karma which contains a superior, water-soluble form of magnesium that can be quickly absorbed into the blood stream. This means your event horse will be calmer much quicker and therefore ready to compete in an event.

 

Feeding to optimize a horse’s show condition can be a tricky process and involve a lot of skill. In the past horses have been so well conditioned by owners to the point of being unhealthily overweight. In fact, overweight horses have often been placed above healthy horses in competitions by judges, which contributes to the problem of owners striving to attain the award winning ‘bigger is better’ trait.

Online forums have criticised the way in which showing and dressage competitions are judged. This criticism and debate has grown over the last few years that can be seen on many website forums and social media. Comments often state that competitions promoting overweight horses and ponies are unacceptable.

However, there is a thin line between achieving good condition and being overweight, but the attributes of these two different types of condition are different, and can be fatal for an overweight horse.

Obese Horse

Overweight horse = Unhealthy

  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Unhealthy
  • Risks damage to tendons and joints
  • Strain on the respiratory system

Fit and Healthy horse – Good ConditionFit horse

  • Higher levels of stamina
  • Ability to dissipate heat during exercise
  • Efficient Respiratory System
  • Ability to focus on the task at hand for longer

Improving your horse’s condition

Exercise

Examine your horse either at the vet’s or by using a stethoscope to measure your horse’s heart beat per minute. They should have a resting rate of 35-42 beats per minute. After some moderate exercise let the horse cool own for 10-15 minutes before measuring their heart rate again.

A healthy horse will have their heart rate return to 35-42 BPM in which case exercise can be increased. If this takes longer, then physical activity should be increased slowly and over a longer period of time. Remember, when creating a conditioning schedule:

  • Don’t condition more than three days a week
  • Warm your horse up with walking then trotting
  • Build endurance with brisk trotting, and walking in between when your horse is out of breath
  • Lope or canter circles
  • Cool down after each session and have adequate breaks
Diet

If you are looking to put your horse on a diet fit for the show ring you should consider making sure your horse’s feed contains these vital components.

Protein Sources
  • Optimum condition
  • Muscle formation
Slow Energy Release
  • Ability to concentrate for longer
  • Stand around for longer
Oils
  • Healthy shiny coat
Well Balanced feed
  • Vitamins and minerals for healthy digestion
  • For external structures such as hoof quality

A whole-cereal and molasses free formula ensures your horse or pony will receive the correct level of vitamins, minerals and nutrients required on a daily basis without the risk of additional weight gain. Take a look at Blue Chip’s products all of which are whole-cereal and molasses free.

 

  1. Gordon Park Timeless Feb 2016Try to let other people of different sizes ride your horse in preparation for the judge riding them.  This way your horse will get used to the feel and weight of different horse riders. Try to have the correct tack for the class you are going to enter.  A lightweight bridle is correct for a hack whereas a more substantial one is needed for a Riding Horse and a thicker, more workmanlike bridle for a Cob or Hunter.  Make sure you have a comfy saddle that shows off your horse and is also wide enough for a male judge.  Stirrup leathers should be able to be adjusted easily and stirrups should be wide enough to fit a man’s foot in them.
  2. Training a show horse is no different to training any other kind of horse, know what you want to achieve and be very black and white with your horse, so he understands what you want. Take your time, some horses take a bit longer to learn than others. Reward your horse when he has done well, all animals learn more quickly when this method is used. A reward may not necessarily be in the form of a tit-bit, but may be by removing the pressure, for example letting your horse walk on a long rein.
  3. Practice riding your horse with different contacts i.e. a light contact and a firmer one, as each judge will ride slightly differently.  Also practice riding transitions so that your horse moves smoothly from one gait to another. Concentrate on riding your horse so that he moves  away from the leg easily and listens to your aids in downwards transitions so that he doesn’t fall onto your hands.
  4. roy at MHNPractice trotting your horse in hand and standing your horse up for the judge.  This is an important part of the class and many people forget to practice this at home.
  5. Go to a trainer or a professional show rider to give you some lessons and go to one of the many showing clinics or to a training show. However good you are, you need a pair of eyes on the ground to help you improve.
  6. Before you start the horse show competing season, take a young or novice horse to a horse dressage competition.  Your horse can experience travelling and working in with other horses in a similar situation to a show, it is also an ideal opportunity to practice loading and unloading your horse.  There is nothing more frustrating than finding you cannot get your horse on the lorry the morning of a show
  7. Your horse must learn to carry himself and work in a nice, light, steady contact. He must be responsive to the aids and be a pleasure to sit on, you will only achieve this through correct training….
  8. Your horse should be in tip-top condition, with good topline and muscle tone.  They should gleam with condition and not have to be constantly bathed.  This enviable shine in their coat comes with horses being healthy from within; this can easily be achieved by feeding a good horse feed balancer, like Blue Chip Original, which contains a probiotic and generous levels of oils.
  9. Treat your horse like a horse. Try to turn your horse out every day, even in bad weather and vary your horse’s routine by jumping and hacking out.
  10. The most important thing is for you and your horse to enjoy your day.  It is also a great opportunity to watch the professionals and pick up some ringside tips.  If you want to know anything, go and ask them as they are usually more than willing to help.
  • 1 – Training a show horse is no different to training any other kind of horse, know what you want to achieve and be very black and white with your horse, so he understands what you want.
  • 2 – One of the best horse trainers in the world from the Swiss Knie Circus told me “The horse is never wrong; it is just that we have not explained it to him properly.”
  • 3 – Repetition is the key to training any horse, once the horse understands what you want he will remember it.
  • 4 – Reward your horse when he has done well, all animals learn more quickly when this method is used. A reward may not necessarily be in the form of a tit-bit, but may be by removing the pressure, for example letting your horse walk on a long rein.
  • 5 – Take your time, some horses take a bit longer to learn than others.
  • 6 – Go to a trainer or a professional show rider to give you some lessons. However good you are, you need a pair of eyes on the ground to help you improve.
  • 7 – Go to one of the many showing clinics or to a training show.
  • 8 – Take your horse to a dressage competition before the show season starts, it’s a nice, quiet way to get your horse going in the company of others whilst warming up, for your test.
  • 9 – Your horse must learn to carry himself and work in a nice, light, steady contact. He must be responsive to the aids and be a pleasure to sit on, you will only achieve this through correct training….