In partnership with SPILLERS™

When you think about a competition horse, you’ll likely picture a lean, well-muscled athletic horse. However, many of the professional riders SPILLERS™ work with also have good doers on their yards who need help with managing their waistlines to keep them in the best of health and optimise their performance. Here’s what a few of the professionals had to say about the tactics they employ to keep these horses trim.

“Some of our horses can be really good doers; to help manage their weight and ensure they stay fit for work we may soak their hay to reduce the sugar and therefore calorie content, use low calorie feeds or sometimes a balancer. This way we know they are getting the vitamins, minerals and quality protein to support their health, muscle development and performance, but without supplying unnecessary calories.” Michael Eilberg, international dressage rider.

Michael Eilberg employs a variety of methods to keep his horses trim

“We changed some of our horses’ diets, in particular the Spanish horses that only need to look a strand of hay and put weight on! Feeding a balancer was fantastic for them as we weren’t able to feed the larger quantities of hard feed that we may feed the others without them putting weight on. By using the balancer, we were able to ensure they were getting all the nutrients they needed to keep them healthy and working at the level we were competing them at. We also use balancers when we are giving the horses a break, it means we can keep them a healthy weight and on a balanced diet ready for when they start work again.” Bobby Hayler-Wright, international dressage rider and Olympic commentator.

Bobby Hayler-Wright and Galaxy

“Our old mare Jess always carried too much weight. She’s retired now, but back when she was competing what we found worked for her was to keep her workload up with lots of trot and canter work. Not all horses can manage intensive exercise though and work/fitness should be increased gradually for any horse. We also fed Jess according to her body condition – even when she was competing, she needed less feed than most of the other horses that were in the same amount of work. It can be tempting to over-feed laidback horses but keeping them at healthy weight, working on their fitness and plenty of variety in their training is a better strategy. We also had to restrict Jess’s forage intake so dividing her hay into several small servings helped.’ Imogen Murray, international event rider (pictured, top).

If you have an overweight horse or pony and would like to speak to a nutritionist, SPILLERS™ would love to help. You can call their Care-Line on 01908 226626, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm or visit their website for more information.

Have you heard about Your Horse’s #FitNotFat campaign? Equine obesity is an enormous welfare problem and we’re on a mission to provide owners and riders with the knowledge, skills and information you need to keep your horse in tip-top health. It could be life saving! Find out more

Lead image of Imogen Murray in the showjumping at Badminton Horse Trials in 2019. Credit: Eventing Images

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