Having been an avid horse lover from a very young age, there was no doubt I wanted to have a career that involved being with our four-legged friends every day! I loaned horses growing up, enjoying pony club events, rallies and summer camps and at the age of 18 decided that if uni was an option, I could only be tempted if it (again) involved horses! I studied a variety of horse related topics but the one that seemed to take my interest was nutrition. It was obvious to me that nutrition & feeding was fundamental to their health and wellbeing and I wanted to be apart of making a difference to help horses and their owners!
I didn’t have a horse throughout uni for obvious reasons, but after three very long years, the time came to pursue my dream and along came Izzy! I hadn’t planned to get anything as quickly as it happened, in fact, I remember her arriving in the midst of stressing about my dissertation, but it was clearly just meant to be! It has taken a year to really get to know her and find my seat again after years of not riding properly. We had planned to start competing BE80/90 this year after doing a year of training, then COVID happened, so I guess we will have to wait a while longer.
We call her ‘Izzy Whizzy’ because she has a bit of a need for speed and likes to whizz around a showjumping or cross-country course like she’s a Thoroughbred trying to win the Grand National! We have managed to control this a bit more now having got to know her, but it is challenging at times. Izzy is a 15’1hh Warmblood x Welsh Section D, and is your typical good-doer. I like to experiment with her a little bit, as she is a bit of a fair-weather horse and her energy levels are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum in the winter and the summer. When we first got her, we were coming into the summer and she sometimes lacks energy in really hot weather. She came on a couple of handfuls of a low sugar and starch mix, but she wasn’t being fed enough to ensure she was receiving the correct vitamins, minerals and quality protein level. I changed her gradually onto Shape-Up so that I knew she was receiving the correct intake of vitamins, minerals and quality protein whilst giving her a few more calories for energy. This worked perfectly over the summer months to give her enough energy to do the work, but without oversupplying, the calories like a normal mix would.
I decided to move her onto the Essential Balancer as the winter months hit. I did this because she became quite highly strung and fresh on those cold and windy days and there was plenty of energy at this point for when she was being ridden! The Essential Balancer provides her with the quality protein, and high spec of vitamins and minerals, with as minimal calories as possible.
I had planned to try Izzy on our Competition-Fit Balancer this summer as it has a small inclusion of barley to help with glycogen replenishment and should help on those days where she is a little lethargic! As we are not out doing what we had planned I decided to keep to the Essential Balancer until I feel I need a little more upfront energy on those really hot days! I use Re-Covery Mash strategically to also help with this.
Last but definitely not least, in fact, it should be at the top of this blog… how much hay does she have? So, I am quite picky when it comes to forage, even though she is a good-doer I would rather her have as much hay as she can eat rather than increasing her calorie intake by giving her more feed. In the winter after losing those summer pounds, she is on adlib hay which is soaked for an hour to reduce the sugar content and make sure it is dust-free. I say adlib but I always weigh her hay to make sure that she eats a minimum of 1.5% of her body weight in forage. Izzy is 600kg, and I estimate in the winter she eats 2kg of grass during the winter days day when the grass is poorer, so she gets at least 6-9kg of hay over a 24-hour period. In the summer, this varies depending on her grass intake as she lives out 24/7.
I hope this helps for those of you who have similar horses and hopefully next time I can tell you how she went on the Competition-Fit Balancer!