Blue would like to balance the trend for sparkly hoof oil and pink wheelbarrows by highlighting some genuinely beneficial products! Lest anyone cast doubt on his integrity he would like to emphasise that he receives no commission for these recommendations, not even an occasional carrot.

Nutrition – Your Horse is what You feed Him

We all like nothing better than to see our horses glowing with health; feed and supplement companies make millions of pounds a year selling us the promise that their product will keep our horse in the pink; but how often do we stop and actually take a good look at what’s really in that feed bag? Most modern horse feeds are packed full of unnecessary nasties and laden with sugars to give them that nay factor when you open the bag, your horse feed may not be as healthy as you might think. Whatever you choose to feed your horse, whether interested in keeping your horse naturally or just wanting to keep your horse in top form it’s important that as horse owners we have a good basic knowledge of what’s inside that bag. Next time you sit down with a cuppa why not take ten minutes to spend a bit of time reading up on what’s going on inside your feedbag?

Dr Deborah Carley (biochemist, nutrionist & horse owner) of Thunderbrook Equestrian Feeds produces a horse feed with no fillers, binders, pelleting agents, molass, wasted by-products from wheat or oat milling or sugar refining, preservatives, synthetic vitamins & minerals or refined vegetables oils and according to Blue it tastes good to! Deb offers advice freely with no marketing and jargon. There is no fancy advertising this feedbag sells by virtue of it’s contents not its packaging.

The Grass isn’t always Greener

Horses spend between 16 to 18 hours grazing; whether chomping on hay or nibbling on grass your horse will consume on average 2.5% of its own body a day, no mean feat when you consider the average horse is about half a ton! But have you ever stopped to wonder what your horse is actually eating? Grass roots draw up nutrients from the soil to grow strong stalks and leaves, but just because you grass is green doesn’t necessarily mean it’s providing you horse with the right balance of minerals. If the pasture is deficient or heavy in one mineral or another then the grass will reflet that imbalance. Horses will tolerate a wide range of mineral imbalances with no obvious outward signs, but many of the things we take for granted as ‘usual’ in horses, such as sun-bleaching, tendon/ligament/joint issues, immune system imbalances, muscle and nerve problems, poor fertility, bone problems, and hoof issues can all have a nutritional component.

Before you rush off to the feed merchant and reach for the pretty label on the shelf its worthwhile investing in a bit of detective work to find out what you’re up against. ForagePlus offers an analysis service of both your pasture and hay. This is a small investment which will save you in the long run, benefit your pasture and most importantly your horse. A field analysis offers you a road map to your horse’s basic diet and allows you to adjust your feed plan accordingly. If you need a little help digesting all this data ForgePlus also offers a service taking all this information and developing a customised supplement plan for your horse.

Gut health

Inadequate forage, stress, worm damage… these are a few causes of an unhealthy gut. Gastri -x by Hilton Herbs is extremely effective in addressing some of the symptoms such as bloating, girthing discomfort, and “footiness”.

For more extreme gastro-intestinal issues from inflamation of the gut to ulcers we have tried it all, while most offer some relief the product you will find in our feed room is Egusin, we’ve seen significant improvement in horses, both young and old, where everything from over-the-counter to prescriptive treatments have failed. Egusin is available directly from its UK distributor, Forage Plus

If you suspect gut sensitivity there some simple non-evasive tests you can carry out at home using accupressure, Mark DePaolo, DVM has produced a very useful clip to help guide owners in ulcer detection.

General wellbeing (or when not generally well)

If you horse remains footie even on a managed diet or you arrive at the yard to find the sudden warm weather has trigged low grade laminitis in your horse, try Roger Hatch’s P45 formula. It can stop an episoide in it’s tracks.

Needing a fresh start? We all like to start a fresh after over-indulging, and while the ideal is to keep everything in balance for your horse, there are times and situations when we have to compromise. Detoxing can be a useful way to help lessen the impact of changes to diet or to offer a fresh start following medical treatment. Global Herbs, Restore, and Trinity Consultant’s L94 formulas offer organic and FEI legal options for helping your horse shine from the inside out.

No Hoof, No Horse

Whether thinking about going barehoof or stuggling with foot issues, don’t mess about go to the professionals. The Equine Podiatry Association (UK) has a registry of all qualified EPs and EP students in the Great Britian. If there isn’t an EP yet in your area why not contact them to see if there is a student local to you that needs horses for case study and if not whether there is an EP prepared to travel out to you.

Whether you’re dealing with your vet, EP, chirpractor or dentist, don’t be intimidated by their experience take full advantage of their knowledge, ask questions and keep asking until you understand! Its the very best way to learn.

Got a Sweet Itch?

Equine Podiatrist, Richard Viallas, is trialling a promising product that offers relief to sweet itch sufferers. Itchy equines he is looking for you! Get your owners to visit his website www.sweetrelief.co.uk for more details on signing you for the trial.

Healthy Hooves

Diet is generally responsible for ongoing infection so tackle the problem at source. From the outside treat white line disease, thrush, seedy toe etc with products you would use on your own body – remember harsh chemicals damage healthy tissue causing reinfection. If milton solution and sudocreme aren’t fancy enough, or there’s a hole or crack to plug, Red Horse Products are effective and smell very nice.

Epona shoes provide some of the benefits of barefoot along with the protection of a shoe. Useful for the early stages of transitioning or as a long term compromise. If your farrier doesn’t provide these ask him to contact the UK distributor and equine podiatrist Sally Bell 07990 973913, www.hoof-help.co.uk.

Tangle Teezer

Turned down by the Dragons, those millionaires must be kicking themselves now. This is the brush that saved Freckles’ wild-pony mane from being lopped! It really does tease out tangles effortlessly, and can also be used on humans! You can find more details on their website: www.tangleteezer.com.

At the end of your rope?

Total Horsmanship produce really great quality leadropes and longlines in a variety of lengths. Made of high quality Australian Yaching Rope these ropes offer flexiblity and feel without the weighty bulk of conventional ropes. If youve never been 100% happy with standard yatching rope leads then consider trying out these.