To maximise winter gains, as event riders or owners we need to provide the right ingredients. These are individually targeted, so if horses are weak over the back, for example, what about a muscle supplement? If they’re stiff out of the stable, what about a joint supplement? The list goes on.
Soil depreciation is becoming a real threat not just to the equine industry but also to agriculture and supplementing looks to be able to fulfil the future deficits. Our winter forage is grown from soil that will likely have variable nutrient levels and, of course, the grass offering in the winter months is very little compared to warmer conditions, which results in their bulk requirement lacking in real value.
A good vitamin and mineral supplement with trace elements will help promote overall health by importantly providing those nutrients required on a daily basis for general body function. The gut has to be addressed, with the uptake of nutrients occurring in this vast tract, and as a fibre fermenter it is their hindgut we tend to overlook.
There are multiple talks, case studies and products that have a key focus on stomach health but few that concentrate their efforts on the hindgut. The hindgut is the equine engine, the diet’s bulk fibre is processed here and, generally speaking, a healthy hindgut is a healthy horse.
There are billions of bacterial colonies that process this fibre matter that need to be kept healthy. Like humans, horses are vulnerable when bad bacteria becomes too great in number.
WHAT CAN NAF OFFER TO HELP?
- Vitamins and minerals: Keeping them in the pink will help the horse achieve and retain their condition. Most supplements provide just below recommended daily requirements to take into account the offering from the bulk of the diet. This helps avoid any potential imbalances and provides a top-up. NAF In the Pink Powder and for 14+, In the Pink Senior, offer age-related added benefits to support overall health.
- Behaviours: Magnesium is required for normal bodily function, regulating nervous tension and supporting a relaxed muscle state. Deficiencies in magnesium can be portrayed by nervousness, excitability and muscular tension. NAF recommends Five Star Magic as the amalgamation of unique herbs working with bioavailable magnesium and natural B vitamins to effectively address and support stress responses. Five Star Magic works like magic; once they feel better on the inside, you’ll enjoy the more confident ride and feel confident on the outside.
- Gut: Providing daily, all-round gut support for both the foregut and the hindgut will help maximise feed intake and underpin overall health. In the foregut, look for saliva support, before finding something that can deposit targeted mucosal lining efforts to care for the integrity of the stomach. Additionally, some supplements can promote the health of the small intestine, which has a direct benefit to nutrient uptake. For the hindgut, live cultures provide recolonisation to underpin the vital equine fibre fermentation process. NAF recommends GastriAid to provide total gut support.
- Respiratory: Winter bedding combined with airborne dusts can be an unwanted danger to respiratory tracts. Look for a supplement that combines the nature of the expectorant ingredients with soothing herbs. NAF recommends Five Star Respirator Boost for its fast-acting approach to clear each breath.
- Joints: When joints are compromised or under additional stresses and strains, such as concussive forces exerted by hard ground, it is advisable to take a multifactorial approach led by a targeted force of antioxidants. While many of us may cease to feed for joints when the horse is not in work, it is important to do so during the ‘rest period’ in order to maximise the efficiency of the joint supplement. NAF recommends Five Star Superflex and Five Star Superflex Senior for ultimate flexibility for life.
- Muscle: Target healthy muscle function and underpin muscle development and retention. Look for key amino acids and natural anti-inflammatory support to deliver strong muscle fibres and smooth function, building the athletic capabilities of the muscular system. NAF M Power provides and ensures the correct utilisation of key muscle nutrients.
The Haygain products keeping your horse happy and healthy:
- Hay steamers: Steaming is the only scientifically proven method of significantly reducing the respirable particles found in hay. It also adds up to three times the moisture content to a horse’s diet compared to dry hay. That’s good for digestion and hydration, especially in winter when some horses tend to be less enthusiastic drinkers.
- Forager slow feeder: This is a great way to feed the clean, steamed hay. The sturdy cylinder prevents forage from getting wasted and trampled into bedding and manure/urine. From a respiratory health standpoint, it’s better than hay nets because the horse can stir up a lot of respirable dust when yanking/shaking hay out of nets. Plus, enabling the horse to eat in a lowered-head position supports a natural alignment of the head, neck and jaw.
- Comfortstall sealed orthopaedic flooring: The built-in cushion eliminates the need of bedding for cushioning, so bedding is only needed to absorb urine. Less bedding also helps improve air quality. ComfortStall has a single-piece top cover that is sealed to the stable wall so urine and other fluids can’t seep down to the floor. This avoids any accumulation of bacteria or ammonia odours that can irritate the respiratory tract.
WHY CHOOSING THE RIGHT RUG IS CRUCIAL:
A clean coat is a vital aspect of maintaining good health, with lack of coat care leading to dermatitis, hair loss, matting, sores and risk of infection. A good rug provides a barrier to protect the horse’s coat from dirt and dust, allowing for more comfortable conditions in winter. Many of our rugs at Premier Equine contain an antibacterial and anti-static lining, helping to reduce the build-up of bacteria against the horse’s skin and maintain good coat health.
A horse’s coat produces natural oils daily, contributing to a healthy, shiny coat. However, excess buildup on the inside of the rug can damage the fabric and lead to rubbing and irritation. Excess dirt and moisture can lead to poor health effects too, so it’s vital to keep the lining of your rug as clean as possible.
The main qualities required from a good-quality turnout rug are durability, waterproof protection and freedom of movement. Our Buster range of turnout rugs is made from a durable 840 denier ballistic nylon and incorporates a high elasticated shoulder gusset (of a British registered design) for greater freedom of movement. Our Titan turnout range is crafted from a robust 1680 denier ballistic nylon. Both integrate a proven waterproof membrane and optimum breathable formula for unbeatable protection.
When looking at stable rugs, warmth and breathability are the main priorities. For those who prefer a rug more suitable for all climates, all Premier Equine turnouts are dual-purpose and perfect for use day and night, both in the stable and during turnout.
A good-quality, effective cooler rug is essential during winter. We recommend a warm yet highly moisture-wicking rug for the coldest days – to cool down and dry your horse without risking them catching a chill. An exercise sheet with a fleece or wicking lining can be valuable during winter to keep muscles warm.
FIVE WINTER WINNERS FOR EVENT HORSES
- Woof wear mud fever boots: These boots are designed to create a barrier to mud from the base of the horse’s heel to just below its knee, protecting from mud fever during winter. Keeping your horse’s legs clean and dry in the winter can only be beneficial to them – and will also save you a lot of work too.
- Amigo disc front plus 200G stable rug: This offers versatility with internal liner loops so a Horseware liner can be used underneath it to increase its warmth and external tabs so it can be used as a liner too.
- Catago fir-tech stable boots: When turnout is reduced, these are ideal to increase blood circulation while also offering maximum protection from knocks or bangs. The Infra-red technology is also known to help reduce tension, aches and inflammation.
- Weatherbeeta reflective wraparound exercise sheet: With a waterproof and breathable outer layer, this sheet is perfect when visibility is poor out hacking. It also protects from the elements.
- Rambo supreme 1680D 200G detachable neck turnout rug:With a tough-yet-functional design, this rug is ideal for cold, wet weather. It is lined with antibacterial and shine-enhancing fabric to minimise rubbing. By also being compatible with the Horseware liner system, this rug is totally trans-seasonal and can be adjusted by the liners to cater to a horse’s individual needs.
Royal Equestrian’s Veredus Magnetik range is popular, with the rug standing out as a key product for winter. The Veredus Magnetik rug is made from a micro-perforated breathable material and equipped with 32 neodymium magnets that develop a power of 2,400 Gauss each. The magnets are distributed in correspondence of the great dorsal, in the lumbar region and on the shoulders. The rug has been designed to be used alone or under any winter rug. Ideal to prepare the horse before training or competition and to accelerate the recovery processes after exercise. The rug is available in small, medium and large sizes.
Article originally published in British Eventing Life Autumn 2022.