The British Equestrian Trade Association has welcomed the first two products into its new approval mark set up to help owners identify feeds suitable for horses and ponies prone to equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS).

Mars Horsecare’s Winergy Equilibrium Growth and Baileys Horse Feeds’ Ease & Excel have both passed the scheme’s stringent three-stage application process, which includes the examination of ingredients, labelling, marketing claims and independent laboratory analysis. Both are now entitled to feature the distinctive feed approval mark – a red BETA logo with the wording “Suitable for equines prone to gastric ulcers as part of a balanced diet” – on their packaging.

“We are very proud to be one of the first feed companies to join BETA’s important EGUS scheme with Winergy Equilibrium Growth,” said Clare Barfoot, research and development manager at Mars Horsecare. “The Waltham Equine Studies Group provides the science behind all our feeds and has been very involved with research on EGUS over the years. It is imperative to us that the knowledge generated through research is used to help horse owners make informed feed choices to enhance the health and welfare of their horses and ponies. To this end, the BETA EGUS scheme is an invaluable tool.”

Baileys Horse Feeds marketing manager Jane Buchan said: “We’d been trialling Ease & Excel for a while, then, when we heard about the new BETA EGUS scheme, we decided to time our launch so that the feed hit the shelves carrying the mark from the start. It has been extensively trialled by international riders and trainers across the disciplines and it’s great to launch with the new approval mark, as it helps to reinforce the feed’s credentials for the horse owner.

“We are also extremely proud to have one of the first feeds to carry the approval mark and we hope that it will reassure horse owners that Ease & Excel meets a rigorous set of industry-agreed parameters designed to provide optimum nutrition for these horses’ specific requirements.”

The new BETA feed approval mark was developed by BETA in consultation with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. It was introduced following the move by regulatory organisations to permit the term “prone to” only when referring to laminitis – excluding other equine conditions such as gastric ulcers, where feeding also plays a key role in its management.

All feeds submitted for approval must fall into one of two categories: A – a compound complementary feed that provides a balanced diet when fed at a rate stated by the manufacturer; B – feedstuff typically advised to help manage horses prone to EGUS, including chopped or high-fibre feeds and sugar beet, or alternative energy sources to cereals such as high-oil concentrates. Nutritional supplements are excluded from the scheme.

“We are pleased that companies have recognised the tremendous opportunities that the approval scheme offers them – and delighted that Mars Horsecare and Baileys Horse Feeds are first past the post,” added BETA executive director Claire Williams. “The new feed approval mark really helps riders with the management and welfare of their horses and provides greater confidence when buying feed products. We are sure that it is going to play an important role in not only supporting the welfare of horses and ponies prone to gastric ulcers, but also in raising awareness of this painful condition.”