We are Making Progress

I had my weekly lesson with my friend Laura yesterday, and it went really well, a lot better than I was expecting to start with. Brevan and I were both grumpy and uptight at the beginning, as about ten minutes before my lesson, he’d gone through the stall guard in the doorway of his stable, ripping the ring it was attached too, out of the wall. Baring in mind that he was tied up and tacked up at the time. I was therefore a tad cross, and gave him a telling off as I put him back in the stable, which made him rush into the stable and slip on the concrete, as I had the bed up to let the floor air and dry. This wasn’t the best start to our lesson.

Laura got me to relax as we warmed up, mainly by us having a good natter as I let Brevan amble round while he streched down. He’s getting very good now at stretching through his back and neck in all three paces. We get a lot less giraffe impressions now than we used to. Once we were both chilled out and warmed up in all the paces, we started working properly.

As usual, we started off with lateral work in walk, to get him to me and responsive to the aids, as well as making sure that he’s nice and supple. So we did leg yielding followed by travers, shoulder in and half pass. Brevan is coming on in leaps and bounds with this, he’s no longer so tense, tight and hollow in these movements like he was a year ago. Actually, a year ago we couldn’t even get half pass, he’d just grump and bronk in his confusion and lack of understanding. He was a little stiff with the lateral work, but we’re both due our monthly sports massage and he had just slipped in the stable, so I’ll allow for a bit of stiffness and tension.

Then it was time to play with the trot. Again, we did some lateral work, and his stiffness was more pronounced in the trot work. but, he did try for me, Laura said that she could see the concentration on both our faces. The improvement since last year is huge, again, there’s more relaxation and less tension in the lateral work, and last year, if Brevan found something hard, he would just throw his toys out of the pram and have a huge paddy, which would then make me annoyed and grumpy back at him, creating a vicious circle. Now, he’ll try even though it’s hard for him, I can tell that he’s trying even though I may not be getting what I’m asking for, so I don’t get grumpy and frustrated. A win win all round! We also played with extension and collection of the trot, and wow! I think that we may have finally cracked and mastered a decent medium trot. The collected trot isn’t too bad either.

After the trot work and a break, Laura wanted me to have a play with some medium level movements, seeing as I want to do medium level tests next year (I had wanted to do them this year, but we’ve not been as ready for them as I’d hoped). We just played with some walk movements, but I’ll admit, that we don’t do as much work in the walk as we probably should do. So Laura got us doing quarter pirouettes, which we’ve not touched for ages, and Brevan did them perfectly. We also played with extended walk and collected walk which we’ve not done before, and they went better than I expected.

To finish with, we had a little play with the canter. By this time I was definitely getting tired, as I was doing all this with no stirrups, and my back was still hurting from last weeks lesson. We were’t expecting anything brilliant from the canter work because of this, so there was probably less pressure from me for it to be perfect. It went a lot better than we’d hoped. We did some half ten metre circles with a simple change through X, and they weren’t too bad. We had a stride or two more walk than needed in the change, but Brevan does have a tendency to miss the walk entirely, and I don’t think he’s far off learning flying changes. We also had a go at canter half pass, but I messed that up, as I got cramp in my calf halfway through the movement. Until that point though, it was really good. We then had a quick go of in on the other rein (let’s cripple me completely before we finish) just to even things out, and then we called it a day.

Laura had to lead Brevan round to cool him off as I was totally broken by this point. She had to help me off and I then basically sat on the floor holding onto Brevan’s leg while my hips and spine decided if they wanted to work again any time soon (this is not an unusual occurrence when I’ve worked hard, as I have dodgy hip joints, arthritis and sciatica in my lower spine, so having a bouncy horse isn’t always so fun).

As much as riding without stirrups kills me, my position and effectiveness is so much better, and Brevan also goes a lot better as well. I think that I need to include no stirrup work more often into my schooling over the winter. Fingers crossed that this work has a positive effect on our dressage scores when we compete again next year. No pain, no gain, so they say.

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Back to College

I’ve been holding back on you all. A month ago I went back to college and started a distance learning course. I’m studying the foundation level, Equine Health and Nutrition Course.

Why? I hear you ask. Well, just over a month ago we had a yard visit from the feed company Keyflow. It was really interesting, and reminded me that I found equine nutrition very interesting when I was at college nearly 20 years ago. I was also quite pleased at how much I still seemed to know, and Cameron (the MD of Keyflow) also seemed pleased with my level of knowledge. I must have been overly enthusiastic when describing the visit to my mother, as she asked why I didn’t look into doing that as a job. I explained that generally you need a degree to be an equine nutritionist. After mentioning and discussing this with a number of friends, they (and my mother) encouraged me to look into doing a distance learning course that might then, eventually, lead to being able to doing this as a career.

TOCES

So, on the 23rd of October, I enrolled with The Open College of Equine Studies, which is an equine specific, international, distance learning college. My course has three modules, Maintaining Health, Veterinary, and Nutrition, and the college allow 12 months to complete it. After only three weeks, I sent off my first module assignment for marking, and I got the marked assignment back at the beginning of this week. This first module, Maintaining Health, covers things like behavior, vices, and shoeing. I think that I can safely say that I passed it.

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On the assumption that E is Excellent, VG is Very Good, and G is good, I think that I’m on the right track with how I’m answering the questions. Now to crack on with the next two modules, and hopefully I might be able to be finished by the new year, if not Christmas.

There are two more courses that I want to do after I finish this one. This is a level two course, and there are also level three and four courses. The next one is the Introductory Diploma in Equine Nutrition, and then there is the Higher Education Diploma in Equine Nutrition. I decided to start with this one as a way to ease me back into learning, as it’s on the same level as the BHS Stage II course, and so should be a recap of some of what I learnt nearly 20 years ago when I did my BHS stages.

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There are some parts of the course material that I didn’t agree with for this module, mainly being the section titled ‘Why do Horses Need Shoeing?’. I train and compete my horse to a fairly high level, with no shoes on, so my answer to that is, ‘they don’t!’. Thankfully that wasn’t one of the questions that I needed to answer, but I was disappointed that according to the course material, only field kept horses, or ponies in very light work can cope barefoot. I would love to see this part updated with more current information. The questions on shoeing that I had to answer were more along the lines of ‘explain how you would recognise when a horse needs reshoeing’, and ‘describe the process the farrier uses to remove a shoe’. Those questions I don’t mind so much, but I don’t like the assumption that you can’t work a horse without shoes on.

Hopefully, with the other two courses being more specifically about nutrition and feeding, there’ll be less that I disagree with, and more that I’ll learn. I’m looking forward to the journey, though I get the feeling that I’ll be able to do it well within the time frames they allow for.

Winter Forage

Now that the cold weather has set in, our horses are spending more time in their stables, and less time in the field. This means that we now have to start feeding hay (or haylage) while they’re in, and probably will also need to give extra hay in the field as well in a few months time.

So how much hay should we be feeding?

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The recommended quantity of roughage to feed a horse is between 1% to 2% of the horses body weight. This figure does include any chaff or other fibre source in their hard feed as well as the grass they eat out in the field (Researchers at North Carolina State University found that horses grazing for nine hours a day will eat around 0.6 kg of grass per hour. This totals 2.7g of forage). So, using Brevan as an example, he weighs not far off 600kg, so he should be eating between 6-12kg of roughage a day. Between his two feeds, he gets about 1/2kg of chaff, probably another 1/2kg of Pink Mash (a fibre mash) at lunch and he has about 7kg of hay for overnight in the stable, as well as about 2kg of grass from eight hours a day in the field. So theoretically, Brevan should be getting enough roughage in his diet at about 10kg a day.

Nature has designed horses to be trickle feeders, they normally graze for about 18 hours a day in the wild. Brevan though (and I’m sure many others), is a pig and will happily scoff his hay rather quickly given half a chance. So how do I make sure that 7kg of hay lasts all night, rather than all being eaten by 9pm? Ten hours with no food in their stomachs isn’t a good idea, as this can lead to gastric ulcers in some horses, and colic in others. I feed Brevan’s hay off the floor, as it’s more natural, better for his airway and better for his back and topline. But I don’t know how long he’s going with no hay, as most days it’s all gone by the time I get up the yard in the morning, other than a handful dropped over the door.

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Some livery yards will do night checks and so can give extra hay at that point, meaning that you can split the night hay into two portions, thereby hopefully making it last longer. Being on a small yard, we don’t have that, and as I work long shifts, I’m not around most days to be able to go back up later to give extra hay. So at the moment, I just pray that Brevan is pacing himself with eating his hay.

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If you use haynets to feed your hay, then you can double net the hay or buy haynets with smaller holes, in an effort to increase the length of time it takes for the horse to eat the hay. This doesn’t always work, as I’ve known horses to chew holes in the nets to make it easier for them to get the hay out, or if you’re Brevan, you just sulk because it’s too much hard work, and then ignore the net and starve yourself (my horse is rather special at times).

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You can get trickle hay feeders, which allow you to feed at a more natural height, but reduces how much the horse can get out in one go, so slowing them down. These are not particularly cheap, but may be worth the investment to help improve the health of your horse.

Trickle feeder

Obviously if you have a horse that needs to put weight on, or that is hard to keep weight on, then you can feed above the 2% of bodyweight, but you should never feed below 1%, even if the horse needs to loose weight. If the horse needs to loose weight, then you’re better off soaking the hay (normally for a minimum of twelve hours) to reduce the sugar content, and double netting it to make it take longer to eat.

Someone Has Swapped my Horse!

I’m convinced that someone has swapped my horse for his better behaved twin this last week. I’ve lunged Brevan three times over the last week, and each time while warming up before attaching the pessoa, he’s cantered in an outline in self carriage, without any bucking as well the last two times. 

Anyone who knows Brevan knows that his default setting is giraffe, especially in canter, though over the last few months he’s finally got the concept of long and low in canter without falling on the forehand, both ridden and on the lunge. I’m hoping that this means that he is finally strengthening up through his back end. 

We even had minimal arguments about lateral work in our lesson last Wednesday, as well as actually getting a four time step in our walk lateral work. We even had a play with half pass in the canter, and only had a minor strop on Brevan’s difficult rein. Even though lengthened trotting poles turned into collected canter rather than trot, he still managed to not knock the poles about and kept an even rhythm through them. 

I really do hope that this behaviour continues for as long as possible. 

I Gave In!

I gave in and clipped Brevan again last week, as he was just getting too fluffy for me. 


I don’t like having to clip Brevan too often, as he really doesn’t like it that much, and he normally goes a horrid mole brown/grey colour that I hate. He normally stays black for his first clip, which was almost 6 weeks ago now, but then goes mole for the second clip. I’m really pleased that for the first year ever, he’s stayed black after his second clip! I’m so happy about that (simple things, I know). 


Brevan pretty much behaved for clipping, though as he is a bit of a “special child” we don’t clip in the normal way. For clipping, you’re always taught to start at the shoulder and do the big body areas first, and then do the twiddly bits last. Brevan has to be a bit different. I have to do his ticklish bits first, before the blades heat up. So that means doing his stiffles first, as he is extremely sensitive and ticklish there, before then moving on to do the rest of him. 


Brevan’s body is nice and easy it clip, and it doesn’t take long to get the bulk of his coat off, though it does get quite thick over his quarters, so I normally have to go over that bit a second time. The lower legs can be a bit fiddly to clip, but a bit of patience, perseverance and hanging onto the leg all help to get it done. 

I used to have to twitch Brevan to be able to go anywhere near his head with the clippers, and even then it could be a struggle to get half a head clipped. Brevan was pretty head and ear shy when I got him, so he has improved massively in the last ten years, until he remembers that he’s head shy! He’s got better over the years, so that last week I was able to run the big clippers up the front of his head, while the headcollar was just round his neck, and he let me clip his whole head with the big clippers, where sometimes I can only do it with the small trimmers. He even let me clip an ear with the clippers, though he wouldn’t let me do the other ear, so now he has one bald ear and one fluffy ear! It’s a good thing that I always ride him with a fly net on his ears, so nobody will notice.


I give Brevan a full clip, including legs, as he’s in enough work to justify it. The only winter coat that I leave is a saddle patch, as he’s cold backed and will buck when ridden if I don’t. 

Winter is Coming!!

It’s that time of year again, horses are starting to come in for the winter, bedding for the coming season is getting bought in, and for those horses that are staying in work, we’re thinking about clipping them.

For most equestrians, it’s the time of year we like the least. The clocks go back this weekend, so there’s less daylight for riding (for those who work normal jobs, hacking will now be a weekend only activity) as it’ll be dark by 4pm, there’s more mucking out to do, mud everywhere, and unless you’re lucky enough to have an indoor school, the weather may restrict when you can ride. Many yards will also restrict winter turnout to try and save the grazing for summer. All of this can result in bored, grumpy owners and bored, grumpy horses.

And then there’s winter rugs. If you’ve been on the ball, you’ll have got them washed and repaired as needed over the summer. If you’re like me, they’ve been sat in a corner waiting to be sent for washing, while I go “I’ll afford it next month”, but next month something else takes your spare cash, and then again the month after. Thankfully I have had most of my rugs washed over the summer, it’s just my heavy turnout that needs sending off, but it seems to have lost it’s waterproofness, and was definitely leaking last winter when it rained. So now I have to decide if I should send it off, or replace it (the rug is about seven years old and has been washed and reproofed every year). Both options require money that is in short supply (as usual). Hopefully I won’t need that rug for another couple of months, so it will just have to wait, again.

On top of all that, we also have winter ailments, for both ourselves and our horses. Most of us will just battle on through if we catch a cold or flu, we worry more about our horses health than our own. The wet and muddy conditions will increase the chances of mud fever in susceptible horses and some horses will also develop thrush in these wet months as well. If you own a horse that always seems to get one or the other of these issues, then you’ve probably already stocked up on this years lotions and potions in the hope of preventing these conditions, or treating them if they occur. Brevan will often get a touch of mud fever on his hind feet as they’re white, and I will now be starting to apply various barrier creams in an attempt to protect his legs. Touch wood, Brevan generally doesn’t thrush very often, as I pick his feet out regularly as well as disinfecting them from time to time.

Don’t forget the hay dilemma. Do you get hay or haylage? If you get hay, do you feed it dry or soak it? Hay is normally the cheaper one to feed, and we all want to keep an eye on the pennies through the winter. If you do feed dry hay over the winter, then you run the risk of your horse coughing from any dust. If you soak the hay, then you end up using a lot of water and freezing your hands off (and feet if you’re unlucky enough to accidentally tip the water down your boots while taking the haynet out of whatever container you soaked it in). Steaming hay is the ideal substitute, as it uses less water than soaking, is healthier for the horse, and you don’t freeze your hands off, but hay steamers are expensive, and the DIY versions don’t always work as well. As for haylage, yes, you reduce the risk of coughing, but it does turn some horses a little loopy from the extra energy it contains, and if you have a good doer, then you run the risk of putting unwanted weight on your horse. Personally I feed hay to Brevan as he is a good doer, and he doesn’t need the extra sugar from haylage. As he doesn’t normally cough on hay, I try to feed it dry, though if it is dusty then I will soak it.

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Keeping a stable bound horse occupied and entertained so that it doesn’t get bored can be a challenge sometimes. If your horse is a playful type, then you can give them toys to occupy themselves with. Giving ad-lib hay will also keep your horse occupied, and if you can trickle feed it, then even better. This can normally be done by feeding the hay from a small holed haynet. There are also plenty of treat based boredom toys for horses, from snack balls to free hanging licks. These aren’t always so good if you’re trying to restrict the amount of sugar in you’re horses diet though. I can’t give Brevan any non treat based toys, as he’s just not interested in them, he’ll pig on hay and trash it through his bed (as I prefer to feed from the ground). Treat balls don’t work so well for Brevan either, as he’s figured out the quickest way to get the food out, so they don’t last very long with him. Licks are no use, as again, he’s figured out the quickest way to eat them, and I don’t want him having that amount of sugar, at least not in one hit. Thankfully I’m able to turn him out everyday, and on the few days that he won’t be able to go out due to the weather, I can normally take him for walks in hand round the village.

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Hopefully this winter won’t be too cold or wet, and we’ll all be able to keep our horses fit, happy and healthy through the coming season.

Mud Fever

With the advent of the wet autumn weather causing our fields to turn to mud, susceptible horses will start to get the horrid winter affliction of mud fever (though it can also occur at other times of the year, it is more common during the wet winter months).

Burford Equine Rehoming Centre

Mud fever can be caused by many different bacteria, but the most common cause is dermatophilus congolensis. A bit like the bacteria that cause thrush, the bacteria that cause mud fever are constantly in the horses environment, and actually live on the horses skin all the time. All the time that the skin is healthy and whole, this isn’t a problem at all. Equine skin provides an ideal medium for many bacterial organisms, as well as fungi and other parasites. These micro-organisms live on healthy skin, gaining nourishment from natural waste matter and causing no harm or active infection. If the skin is injured or damaged by a cut, wound, bite, or through prolonged wetting, then the balance between host and organism is disturbed. The organism enters the horse’s body through the broken skin, and multiplies in the damp, warm epidermal layers, starting an active infection.

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The signs of mud fever are obvious and easy to recognise, being sore scabs, normally around the back of the pastern and heels. White legs seem to be more likely to get mud fever than dark legs, possibly because the skin on white legs is normally thinner and more sensitive than that of dark legs. In bad cases, the horse will have deep cracks in the skin and/or pus coming from the lesions. In bad cases the horse will be lame and may require box rest to get on top of the infection.

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Treating mud fever, if caught early enough, can be fairly straight forward. Keeping the skin clean and dry is the most important part of treating mud fever, and as just mentioned, this may need to include a few days of stabling while you get control of the infection. Any scabs need to be lifted before you can treat the bacteria hiding underneath them. This may require soaking or poulticing to soften the scabs enough to peel them off. Once free of scabs, the area needs to be washed with a mild disinfectant, before being rinsed and dried well. Be prepared to go through piles of towels to keep the legs dry after washing while in the treatment phase. Once the skin is dry, there are many creams and lotions on the market for getting rid of mud fever for you to choose from.

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Prevention is better than cure, and there are a number of ways that you can try to prevent mud fever taking hold. Firstly, try not to wash the legs too often (says she who’s well known for washing legs every day), if you do have to wash the legs then ensure that you dry them very well afterwards (I hope you’ve got lots and lots of towels!). Once dry, or before you turn the horse back out, you can apply a barrier cream or lotion to the vulnerable parts of the legs, to stop moisture getting to the skin. This won’t stop the legs getting covered in mud, but at least the mud won’t actually touch the skin. Alternatively you can buy turnout boots which claim to help prevent mud fever, by covering the leg, normally from the coronet band up to the knee or hock. Depending on the type of horse you have, these may or may not work for you (Brevan seems to have odd shaped/sized legs, as these boots never seem to fit that well, they all seem to be designed for long, skinny legs with small joints). Assuming you can find some that fit well enough to keep the mud off your horses legs, you then have the problem of getting the boots dry again by the next morning ready to use again. If possible, you can also try to rotate fields to avoid gateways and other areas becoming poached and muddy. If you can’t rotate fields, you can also try to fence off the gateway areas with electric fencing, to try and prevent the horses congregating in one area all the time.

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Whatever method you use to try and prevent mud fever, being vigilant and catching it early if it does appear, will save you time, money and maybe heartache, and save your horse pain and possible stress.

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Good luck with your fight against mud fever this year, and I hope for a dry, mud free winter for us all.

Thrush

With Autumn setting in, the ground getting wetter and people starting to think about bringing their horses in for the winter, horses are starting to get more cases of thrush in their feet. Brevan has a slight touch of thrush in one front foot, but is otherwise ok at the moment, though my friends horse, Toby, has got thrush quite badly in three feet even though he’s still living out.

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What causes thrush? In humans, thrush is a fungal infection, and even though it’s called the same thing, in horses it is a bacterial infection, normally in the clefts of the frog, and has to be treated completely differently. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING! I want to make a point of this as I’ve seen a couple of posts on Facebook recently regarding thrush and how to treat it, and so many people are insistent that it’s fungal, when it’s not for horses. Horses can get a yeast infection in their feet (which is fungal), often alongside thrush, but they are two different infections, with totally different treatments.

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The bacterium involved is Fusobacterium necrophorum, and occurs naturally in the horse’s environment. It thrives best in wet, muddy, or unsanitary conditions, such as a dirty stable or muddy field, and grows best with low oxygen levels. Horses with deep clefts, or narrow or contracted heels are more at risk of developing thrush. The bacterium is always present in the ground and on the horses skin, and even in muddy or dirty conditions, a healthy horse will rarely get thrush. On the other hand, a horse with a low immune system and in poor condition will almost certainly get thrush, even if it’s kept in a clean environment. In an ideal world, the whole horse needs attention with a thrush infection, this includes diet, correct trimming or shoeing as well as topical treatment of the infection.

The obvious and normal symptoms of thrush that most people will recognise, are a black, smelly discharge, normally from the clefts of the frog, as well as tenderness and in bad cases lameness. It was once thought that thrush wasn’t anything major to worry about and caused no major health hazard to horses. That is now known to not be the case. It can, and does, eat through tissue and down into the bone if not treated and eradicated in a timely manner.

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If caught early enough, thrush can be relatively easily treated. The feet need to be kept as clean and dry as possible, the frog needs to be trimmed up and kept free of any flaps or other hiding places for bacteria. If your horse has deep clefts by the frog, then it will be harder to eradicate any thrush, but there are plenty of topical treatments on the market to help you nowadays. Once you’ve got a nice healthy hoof with fairly shallow clefts, then it should be quite easy to keep thrush at bay. Below is an example of a nice healthy foot, which has minimal chances of getting thrush, though I appreciate that not all horses are going to be able to develop a hoof like this for various different reasons. I’m lucky that Brevan’s hinds look pretty much like this, but his fronts still have a long way to go, as his clefts are definitely too deep.

Healthy foot

If you’re in any doubt about issues with your horses feet and the best way to treat it, always consult your vet and/or farrier.

A Very Good Day

On Sunday for a change, I took Brevan out show jumping, instead of our normal dressage. Considering that we’ve not competed show jumping for around three years, he did really well, and it was obvious that he really enjoyed it. We only went for a bit of fun and a change for Brevan, as I know that he loves his jumping, and we don’t do enough of it.

We didn’t leave the yard until lunchtime, as I was planning on doing the larger classes. There’s no point doing anything too small, as Brevan just looks at them in disgust and wants to know what they’re meant to be. If you saw Brevan jump round a 40cm course, you’d swear that Brevan can’t jump. Jumps have to be a lot bigger before he starts to pay attention to them, so I wanted to enter him into the 80cm, 90cm and 100cm classes. When we got there, they were just finishing the 70cm class, and only had a handful in the 75cm class, so I had just over half an hour to get us both ready before our first class started, which was perfect timing in my eyes.

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I had a quick course walk before getting on Brevan to warm him up. I’ll admit that I didn’t stride out the double or related distances, but I know from past experience, that it really doesn’t seem to matter to Brevan what the distances are, he’s very good at seeing and adjusting for himself, so I let him get on with it. Brevan warmed up well, he felt a bit sluggish until we actually started jumping and then he woke up. He does like to take off on a long stride given half a chance, and almost every time we jumped the oxer in the warm up ring, he took off a stride early and did rather good superman impression.

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Our first class at 80cm, didn’t quite go according to plan, as Brevan decided that listening to the pilot was over rated and he knew where he was going (I think he might have needed to walk the course himself for that one). He did try to back off between jump 1 and 2, as 2 was heading towards the scary cafe windows that he doesn’t like, but I put my leg on and tapped him on the shoulder, and he remembered his job and jumped it nicely. The turn from 6 to 7 was a long sweep round the top end of the school, but Brevan decided that it was jump off time already and managed to cut that turn a bit and then thought that jump 7 was not required, so did a jump off turn in front of it and tried to jump jump 6 backwards!! Sometimes Mummy does know what she’s doing and it helps if the Welsh Beast listens to her! Lol.

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The second of our classes went better at 90cm, Brevan decided to pay attention to me this time, though I messed up the last line and we just tapped the last pole as I’d let him go a bit long and flat. The first 8 jumps were the first part of the course, and 9 to 14 were the jump off, if you were clear over 1 to 8. Thankfully Brevan listened to me about jump 7 actually being part of the course and requiring jumping, so we managed to get to the jump off phase in this class. This meant that I could pull out Brevan’s party trick of some interesting turns and very peculiar lines over jumps. He may not be that fast, but he can collect well and turn tight when he wants to and he’ll jump jumps at the oddest of angles, as long as he has 2 strides to see it. With having the last pole down, we came fourth in the class, annoyingly, if we’d left the pole up we would have been second. The pilot needs shooting!


Our last class at 1m, was our best class. Even though Brevan was definitely getting tired by this point, he still tried his heart out. He was still backing off between jumps 1 and 2, but flew them any way. I managed to loose a stirrup over jump 3, did the double of 4 with only the 1 stirrup, then rammed him at the wall to stop so I could get said stirrup back (thankfully that part of the course isn’t timed, so I was safe to stop and do this), before continuing the course. Jump 5/11 (this jump got jumped twice, so had 2 numbers), Brevan suddenly took a dislike to and stopped at it, thought better of it and then took off anyway, both times!  I think I gave my parents a slight heart attack, as I took some of the turns in the jump off even tighter than I had in the previous class. This gave me a time of 32.04 seconds (I think), which gave us first place! I was so pleased with Brevan, and I think he was pleased with himself as well, as he bounced quite a bit after that course.

I really do need to do a bit more jumping with Brevan over the winter, even if it’s just at home rather than competing. It’ll kill two birds with one stone, it’ll stop Brevan getting bored and sour, and will get him working from behind better which will help him with the higher movements in dressage.

Product Review – Keyflow Maestro 

I’m not normally one to rave about a feed, as generally I find them all much the same. Trying to find a feed for Brevan that is sugar and cereal free, and gives the energy levels required for competition can be hard, as there are only a few companies out there that do molasses free feeds and even less that do cereal free as well.

Keyflow maestro

With having our championship show the other week, I wanted to make sure that Brevan had enough energy, so I decided to try him on Keyflow Maestro, which is their performance/competition feed. I was a little concerned, as the only time I’ve ever tried him on a competition mix, it blew his brain to the point that it was actually dangerous to ride him. From that point I’d decided to reduce the amount of sugars in his diet.

Maestro is different. There is no molasses in it at all, and minimal cereal and starch levels. I started Brevan off on a small quantity on top of the Keyflow balancer I was already feeding, and then the week of the championship I upped the quantity to near the recommended amount for a horse of Brevan’s size at his workload. At no point did this blow his brain, I still had my dope on a rope on the ground, and he still kept his head (as much as he ever does) while ridden, but definitely had more stamina and umph. He coped really well with being worked quite hard twice a day for two days while at the championships and was only minimally spooky on the second day (but I had failed to give him his calmer that day). I know that if I’d fed him a traditional competition mix, we’d have had spookiness and bucking like there’s no tomorrow, even with the calmer he’s on.

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Keyflow claim that “Maestro is the ultimate cool competition feed. It is the product of choice for the world’s top competing riders because it delivers long-lasting cool energy and unrivalled critical system support.” They utilise the latest advancements in nutritional science,  which allows Maestro to provide a high spec nutritional package delivered in a highly digestible form. A simple solution to achieve the very best performance from your horse or pony.  Maestro is a scientifically formulated fully balanced complementary feed for horses and ponies in medium to hard work. Using only the highest quality ingredients, Maestro is manufactured to exacting standards to produce a super premium, highly digestible, low-intake product. Stabilised Rice Bran ensures an easily metabolised source of cool energy, superior digestibility is achieved through the combined use of advanced feed technologies including wet steam extrusion and micronisation, and gut health and efficient feed utilisation is achieved from Protexin® and equine specific amino acids. Finally, Omega 3 Oils ensures all round health and vitality for healthy skin, a shiny coat and overall well-being.

So what exactly is in this miracle feed? Maestro contains micronised grains (including wheat, maize, peas, linseed), beetroot, steam extruded vegetable protein meals and stabilised rice bran, soya hulls, beet shreds, cold pressed rapeseed oil, carrot, vitamins and chelated minerals, biomos and protexin® probiotics. For Brevan’s size and workload, they recommend that I feed two to three kilograms of Maestro per day. In the run up to a competition, he may get one and a half kilograms per day, and when he’s not competing he gets half a kilogram a day. Other than the balancer, I’ve never fed a feed at the full recommended quantity, to any horse, as for most of them, the full amount is actually too much. I do top up the Maestro with the Keyflow balancer, so that I know Brevan is getting the correct level of vitamins and minerals, as well as enough energy to do the work asked of him.

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So, if you need your horse to have more energy without losing it’s brain, I would highly recommend Keyflow Maestro. It’s certainly working for Brevan.