Achieving a show-ready shine from the inside out

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If you’ve ever wondered how the professionals go about achieving a show-ready gleam then read on as we take you behind the scenes at show producer Nicky Smith’s yard.

There are many factors that influence getting that perfect shine – it’s not just about grooming. In fact feeding is huge when it comes to coat condition.

“Feed plays a huge part in getting a horse’s coat shiny,” says Nicky. “If they are well in themselves, they’ll look great in their coats.

“We feed good rye grass haulage, which we make ourselves, and feed accordingly, being aware of laminitis.”

Feed according to your horse’s workload and weight. If you are unsure, speak to an equine nutritionist who will be able to help you work out a suitable feeding plan.

Nicky’s feed room contains:

  • Sunflower oil for a shiny coat and soya oil to add condition.

  • Boiled barley for condition and linseed for a good coat shine.

  • Sugar beet for fibre.

  • Garlic to help keep bugs at bay.

  • Seaweed as an all-round supplement and to bring out the colour of the coat.

  • Feed balancer.

  • Conditioning cubes.

  • Alfafa chaff if the ponies need a bit more condition.

  • A supplement to help kickstart the gut at the start and end of the showing season.

Fit not fat

Nicky is a stickler for ensuring that her ponies are riding fit and not fat, as this plays a part in general health and therefore coat condition. As well as managing feeds, exercise is important.

“Horses should be fit and well, not fat,” she advises. “We spend a lot of time exercising the ponies and getting them toned up – looking well, but fit and not fat. They trot up the gallops, go in the school, hack and go on long-reins, so they get a good variety of work. Being fit helps to develop muscle and toppling in all the right places.”

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