Survey names UK’s top horse feed

The 2019 British Equestrian Trade Association National Equestrian Survey has showed that once again Dengie is the UK’s favourite horse feed.
The company topped the chart for the most popular feed brand purchased by horse owners for the second consecutive time, increasing its lead from the last survey that took place in 2015.

The Dengie range of horse feed

The survey also showed a marked increase in horse owners feeding fibre-based diets.

With full traceability and accountability at the forefront of its operations, and with crops fully traceable from seed to feed, Dengie is a highly trusted company, known for its consistency in producing good quality crops, traceable from seed to feed, that prioritise the horse’s health, and has  been doing so for more than 50 years.

“We are very proud to say that Dengie is the pioneer of fibre feeding. The benefits of a high fibre diet are now accepted as being the best and most natural way to feed a horse,” said Dengie’s managing director Ian Hassard.

He added: “Our feeds are top quality, traceable and produced to a very high standard, whilst protecting the environment and ensuring a sustainable future. We are delighted with the survey results showing that buyers have total confidence in this product.”

Laminitis discussed by Dr Sarah Davidson BVMS MRCVS

In our latest veterinary feature, Dr  Sarah Davidson, BVMS MRCVS of the Sussex Equine Hospital at Ashington, discusses laminitis.



Laminitis is a painful condition that affects all types of horses at all times of the year but in the spring leading into summer vets certainly diagnose it more frequently and unfortunately, seem to see more severe cases.

This is not a coincidence, one of the potentiating factors of laminitis is lush, green grass, not even in large quantities in some cases. The condition involves inflammation of the laminae, these are structures within the hoof that attach the soft tissues within the foot to the hard, keratinous outer hoof wall. In severe cases, these structures separate and the pedal bone within the hoof capsule ‘sinks’ or ‘founders’ and can also rotate.

Horses that develop pedal bone rotation and sinking in an acute presentation of the disease have a poor prognosis for recovery and long-term survival.

Healthy hoof and a laminitiic hoof

There are three broad causes of laminitis, a horse or pony can suffer from one or more of these at any one time and unfortunately, once a horse or pony has had a laminitic episode they are at constant risk of another and careful management must be employed.

  1. Endocrine which encompasses both Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), which is effectively a form of insulin resistance and Cushing’s disease or PPID, which is a disease that many older horses are diagnosed with. This is characterised by dysfunction of the pars pituitary intermedia, an important endocrine gland found in the brain
  2. Sepsis or infection resulting in the release of toxins into the body can also cause laminitis. Examples would include colitis, complications following colic surgery, retained placenta and also grain overload where abnormal colonies of bacteria in the gut produce toxins
  3. Overload due to
    1. Limb overload due to injury of the opposite limb
    2. Excessive exercise on hard ground

Recognising a horse with laminitis in some cases is very straight forward but in others the signs are subtle and the whole clinical picture must be carefully assessed. Most commonly vets see laminitis in the front feet although it can involve all four feet, one foot and occasionally just the back feet. Typical signs of laminitis include:

  • An abnormal stance, rocking the weight back onto the heels to relieve pressure on the more painful toe region. Horses will often also be leaning back over the hind quarters to reduce overall load bearing on the front feet as they are commonly affected to a greater degree
  • Reluctance to walk or very slow gait with a stilted and stiff appearance, it may also be noted that the heels are loaded first. Some horses may even lie down and refuse to stand
  • Walking on a soft surface is likely to be much preferable. The softer ground fills around the frog and provides support to the internal structures
  • Clinical signs are ‘bounding’ pulses on the back of the fetlock, a hoof capsule that is warm to the touch and snatching of the foot when tested at the toe region with hoof testers.

If you see any of the above symptoms and therefore suspect your horse is suffering from laminitis, you should contact your vet immediately for advice. They may well insist that you have a visit as soon as possible as early treatment will result in the most positive outcome. You may be given some ‘first aid’ advice over the phone, these things will include moving your horse from pasture to a stable with a deep shavings bed, administering pain relief in the form of phenylbutazone if you have any available and make sure well soaked hay and water are close by to minimise the need for your horse to move.

When the vet arrives they will perform a thorough clinical exam of the whole horse or pony and a take a detailed history, this will allow them to determine how best to manage your horse in the immediate, short and long term future. In the first instance, treatment will be aimed at making the horse more comfortable using drugs and padding the feet, if shoes can be removed without causing too much distress, your vet may also do this. Strict box rest is a must to minimise movement and therefore continued damage to the laminae, a feeding regime may also be instigated to tackle any underlying systemic disease.

The recovery period can be prolonged in horses that have had an acute, severe laminitic episode and requires a high level of dedication from the owner. Once your horse is comfortable, this may be a few weeks down the line, enlisting the help of a farrier is essential and if radiographs are possible, this is even better. This allows the feet to be trimmed accurately to minimise rotational force from the toe when walking and can also help to guide the farrier if there has been sinking or rotation.

Long term prognosis is very variable between horses and welfare should remain the top priority. Once the underlying cause is identified, every effort should be made using drugs and management changes to get it under control. Some horses may be lucky enough to only have one laminitic episode in their lifetime and others may only manage a few months between flare ups despite their owner’s best efforts, in these cases euthanasia should be strongly considered.

For more information regarding laminitis and Cushing’s disease, visit and respectively. You can also discuss any questions, concerns or treatment options with your vet.

Pony Club’s 90th anniversary celebrations

There is only a short time to go until Ride Around The World Day on August 3 2019. This day is an opportunity  for Pony Club Members, both past and present, to unite in celebration of the Pony Club’s 90th anniversary year since its formation,

Everyone is welcome to take part whether riding, competing, joining in a musical ride, grooming or simply spending time with horses and friends.

Pony Club celebrations not to be  missed

There is even music kindly provided by Andrew Lloyd Webber, husband of Pony Club President, Lady Lloyd Webber for those who wish to use it as the soundtrack to their activity or on videos created on the day.

The Pony Club is asking everyone to post about their plans in the run up to the day as well as share photos and videos on August 3 by using the hashtag #PonyClubWorldRide on social media.

The Pony Club will be re-posting and sharing its favourite photos and videos from the day on the official Pony Club Facebook and Instagram accounts too. To find out how to get involved with Ride Around The World Day contact your local branch of the Pony Club to see what activities you can get involved with.

Past members are welcome to become involved to and more information is available by email from  

Katie is Endurance GB ‘s Reserve Champion Young Rider

Katie Bedwin, 21, from Rudgwick in West Sussex has been named Endurance GB’s Reserve National Young Rider Champion with Aberllwyd Ibn Phariz, owned by Welshpool-based Sue Higgins.

Katie is currently in her final year of a paediatric nursing degree from the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton. She has represented Great Britain in Young Rider teams previously is aiming for the Young Rider World Championships in Italy this September.  She was introduced to the sport by her grandmother Rosemary Attfield, a renowned trainer and former team selector and coach.

Katie Bedwin (right) Young Rider Reserve Champion  Photo courtesy of Endurance Riding GB

Katie won the title after taking second place in a 120km class held at The King’s Forest near Thetford in Suffolk.

Katie explained: “What a weekend we had at Kings Forest, with secondin the CEI 2* for Magdy and third in the CEI 2* YR for Phariz.

“Sue Higgins asked me to take the ride of Phariz at endurance competitions for the 2018 season. But in May 2018, she sustained an injury, so we arranged for Phariz to come to live and be trained by me. We haven’t looked back since.

“Kings Forest was Phariz’s last qualfier for this year’s World Young Rider Championships at San Rossore in Italy in September.”

She added: “None of this would be possible without the amazing support I receive both from my family and from sponsors and professionals involved in keeping my horses in peak condition.

The horses are fuelled by Baileys Horse Feeds, their daily supplements and electrolytes come from Feedmark, they have biomechanics assessments from EquiLaterals, regular physiotherapy from PhysioFi and amazing saddles and fitting from The Bespoke Saddle Co LTD and KM Elite Products.

“Thank you also to ride organiser Dianne Luke, her family and the volunteers who make Kings Forest happen. It was very special to be part of the 25th anniversary and I will treasure our awards.”

Phariz’s owner Sue Higgins said: “A big thank you to Katie Bedwin for looking after my boy so well and helping him on the way to achieving his full potential. It’s even better because I can be part of it without all the hard work – except on the ride day! Thanks also to Katie’s crew – what a great team.”

Endurance GB’s new Young Rider Champion, Suffolk-based Madison (Maddie) Pomroy, landed the title after a strong performance riding Roz Plail’s horse Odie in the 120km class at The King’s Forest Ride near Thetford.

Rebecca Kinnarney, Chair of Endurance GB said: “This was a brilliant achievement by both Maddie and Katie, who are both talented endurance riders with a great future ahead of them.”

Endurance GB Young Rider Chef D ’Equipe Jo Chisholm, who is stepping down from the role after three years due to family business commitments said: “I have huge admiration for Young Riders competing at this level such as Katie and Maddie.

“It is very tough financially and also logistically sometimes for them to go through the qualifiers alone with three FEI level rides to complete at 1* and 2* level and the horse they are aiming to qualify having to do two 2* rides.

“At the same time as riding and training, they are usually at college or university and doing exams or placements so the pressures are great. We do have a talented pool of riders bidding for places at next year’s Championships and so Maddie is in great company.

“Gaining a place on the team is a fantastic achievement and good experience and preparation for moving on to compete internationally at senior level and I wish Katie, who will be moving up to senior level competition next season, and Maddie every success in their quest for team honours.”

Paying tribute to Jo Chisholm for her  stewardship of the Young Rider Squad during her time as Chef D’Equipe,  Crawley-based John Robertson, Endurance GB’s Chair of International said: “Jo has been a superb Chef D’Equipe and given a great lead and support to our Young Riders both as someone who has enjoyed considerable success in the sport herself but also through her calm manner which has enabled every member of the teams she has managed to give of their best. Endurance GB is grateful to her for her hard work and support for these Young Riders.”

HOYS 2019 will feature Pony Club Musical Ride

Horse of the Year Show, “The Ultimate Celebration of the Horse” is delighted to welcome the Pony Club Musical Ride to this years’ show as part of the organisation’s 90th Anniversary Celebrations.

Formed in 1929 and granted independent charitable status in 1997, the Pony Club is the biggest youth organisation in the world.  With nearly 40,000 members in the UK and 340 branches, the Pony Club is dedicated to teaching young people to ride, care for horses and to develop into well rounded members of society.

Line up of young riders at Pony Club championships  Photo courtesy of The Pony Club

Throughout it’s 90 year history The Pony Club has been pivotal in producing an overwhelming majority of leading international riders, both past and present,  with 11 out of 12 riders from the British Olympic team in Rio being Pony Club graduates.

Performing the uniquely choreographed 90th Anniversary Musical Ride will be 20 riders ranging from 4 to 21 years from the East Cheshire Pony Club. Masterminded by Susan Goodridge and set to popular music compiled by husband Mark, the ride will be providing the audience an insight into ’90 Years From Now’ and embracing the next steps for Pony Club as they seek to extend their boundaries.

From Shetland ponies to two large horses, the ride will be performing on the Friday evening of the show, a day that also hosts the first rounds of the Prince Phillip Cup and the Leading Pony Showjumper of the Year.

Nestled in the foothills of the Peak District and created in 1961, the East Cheshire Branch of the Pony Club are no strangers to Horse of the Year Show having previously qualified their Prince Philip Cup Mounted Games Team for the final in 2015. Two members of that team are now involved in the musical ride that will be performing live at the show – Emma Walton and Mary Goodridge.

Event Director, Emma Williams, commented: “We are delighted that the Pony Club will be celebrating their 90th anniversary with us on the Friday of Horse of the Year Show.

The Pony Club involvement with the show goes back decades and we are therefore delighted that members past, present and future will be able to join us at the show to see the performance.  Tickets for Friday are Gold tickets, valid for the whole day and with a special group ticket offer available to current Pony Club members we hope that people will come along and support the youngsters in this fantastic musical ride.”

Musical ride co-ordinator, Susan Goodridge commented “It is a tremendous honour for this team of 20 riders to represent The Pony Club in their 90th Anniversary celebrations and for East Cheshire to showcase a musical ride at the Horse of the Year Show.  For these children it will be the opportunity of a life time to perform in the main arena and wow the audience.”

Horse of the Year Show takes place at The NEC Birmingham Resorts World Arena, – from October 2-6 2019. Friday tickets are Gold Tickets, meaning that they allow you full access to the show for the full day; that’s over 16 hours of equestrian entertainment at its best with prices starting from £34.00. Offers are available for Pony Club members and groups. Visit or call the Box Office on 0844 581 8282.

Double demonstration at Moorcroft

MOORCROFT Racehorse Welfare Centre at Huntingrove Stud, Slinfold, is holding a double demonstration there this Saturday June 29 at 10am. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the work that goes into retraining ex-racehorses there.
All proceeds go to help the centre’s retraining programme which  enables horses in the charity’s care to go on to a happy life beyond racing.

Details of Moorcroft’s double demonstration

There will be other attractions at the event, with a hog roast, marquee and stalls, and the opportunity to see at close quarters and fine retraining work done by Mary Frances at this worthy charity.
Tickets are still available for just £20 per person online at:
Alternatively email: or call Mary on 07929 666408 to book.
This will be both an informative and fun day – with everyone welcome. It gives an opportunity to see the excellent retraining work done by this charity and also learn about future events at Moorcroft.

Impressive new stable block at Lavant House School

THE sun finally came out for Lavant House School  in time for the recent rebrand and launch of its impressive new stable block.

More than 150 visitors came to view and enjoy a tour of these new facilities, as well as chatting to staff and existing liveries about the new development.

New stable block at Lavant House School

This was followed by a locally sourced hog roast and a glass of prosecco, which were well received by everyone there.

This new facility has been a long-term aim for proprietor Lucy Thomson.  This indoor block of 24 stables offers even more facilities at this already established and popular business. The light, spacious stables will provide an exclusive livery option for clients while maintaining the happy, healthy ethos that is the backbone of the quality of care provided for all horses on site.

Visitor to Lavant House School stables meets one of the horses.
Photo: Lavant House School

With two tack rooms, a wash box and new club room, clients too will be able to enjoy the new facility away from the hustle and bustle of the main yard,

Lucy said: “It was with great delight that so many customers, suppliers and staff chose to give up their time to come and join us today to see this fabulous, state-of-art facility. A great deal of thought was put into the design of this bespoke stable block to enable those horses being kept inside, to feel as if they are still living outside – which always has very much been our USP.
” We allow our horses to live as nature intended: “where happy, healthy horses, thrive!”
The launch of the stable block coincided with the launch of the business’s additional new title of Lavant Equestrian with respective logo change to encompasses a more modern feel, both in name and look.
“As the business has developed, it has become so much more than just a riding school.
This established equestrian centre provides lessons, coaching for horse and rider, competitive training, horse sourcing service, competitions, a unique loaning scheme, and of course a high quality, fully supported, livery service.
The new name and logo can be seen to be line with its competitors, both locally and further afield.


Don’t miss Hartpury’s top equestrian events

HARTPURY is staging three top equestrian events in July and August this year. They are all good dates to have in the diary, whether as competitors or spectators.

An International Festival of Dressage takes place from July 3-7, followed by the   Hartpury Showjumping Spectacular from July 18-21 and the Hartpury International Horse Trials, which take place from August 7-11.

The Festival of Dressage has 40 dressage and para-dressage classes with Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester among the entries once again for 2019.

Charlotte Du Jardin Photo: British Dressage

It will feature a gala evening on the Saturday evening where Anna Ross Davies will perform a demo alongside the Young Horse PSG Final and the Grand Prix Freestyle Final. See for more details.

The Showjumping Spectacular is not international yet but does attract top riders including William Funnell who will compete in classes from young horse to four-year-old to the 1.50m Area Trial. See

Top show jumper William Funnell   Photo: British Showjumping

In the Horse Trials there are classes including CCI2*-L, CCI3*-L, and the highlight. is CCI4*-S. The latter regularly attracts competitors warming up for Burghley and this year, the  aim is to get some of the riders heading for the European Champs.

See for full details.


Condition of head shaking in horses is discussed

In this month’s equine vet feature, head shaking is discussed by Dr Sarah Davidson, BVMS MRCVS  of  the Sussex Equine Hospital at Ashington.

Dr. Sarah. Davidson, BVMS, MRCVS of Sussex Equine Hospital. Ashington.

Head shaking in horses is a mysterious condition that can be incredibly frustrating to diagnose, manage and treat. There is a wide spectrum of severity, from a mild, occasional ‘tic’ to a persistent and sometimes violent shaking of the head.

Most commonly, head shaking occurs in a vertical direction, but can also manifest itself from side to side. Head shaking is involuntary and, while we do not understand a huge amount about the condition, we know it is a painful condition that can  justify euthanasia in its most severe form.

 Clinical presentation of head shaking is most often a downward jerking of the nose followed by tossing up of the head. Also sometimes apparent is rubbing of the nose and/ or face that suggests the horse is in pain.

This pain is believed to stem from trigeminal nerve hypersensitivity, although we commonly do not see any structural change to the nerve or surrounding tissue during investigation. 

The onset of trigeminal-mediated, sometimes called idiopathic head shaking, is most often sudden, but has been known to come on gradually and appears to affect horses between the ages of six and 12. Head shaking is usually more prevalent when the horse is working and less pronounced at rest, although some horses show no signs at all of the syndrome at rest.

It has also been noted that changes in season affect some horses with typical head shaking behaviour seen more frequently in spring and summer and it appears that insects, wind, pollen, dust and rain can all be triggers for the condition.

 Diagnosing head shaking is based on a number of factors. Observing the horse at rest and while being ridden is a key part of the investigation, it may also be deemed necessary to observe the horse in lots of different conditions: wet, dry, sunny, overcast, indoor, outdoor and so on.

This can help to highlight whether there is a trigger for the condition. Ruling out other conditions that may affect the head is also very important. Eye irritation, inner and outer ear disease, dental pain and guttural pouch or sinus abnormalities may all cause your horse to display behaviour that could be perceived as head shaking.

These investigations take the form of radiography, endoscopy, detailed ear, eye and dental examinations and. if these fail to highlight a cause. your horse may be referred for a CT or MRI scan. If you suspect your horse is a head shaker and you have the opportunity to video the behavior, this can help greatly with the investigation as, in mild cases, your vet may be unlucky enough to examine your horse on a ‘good’ day.

Following a thorough investigation, if no abnormalities have been detected, a diagnosis of trigeminal-mediated head shaking will often be made. This can be categorised further based on seasonality, intermittency and severity (a grade one being mild up to a grade five when the horse is distressed and uncontrollable).

 As with many things in veterinary medicine that have a variety of treatment options, it usually means that no one treatment is reliably successful. Finding the trigger, which often centres around some form of nasal stimulation, can be the most important part of treatment in a lot of horses.

This is where nose nets and face masks come into play. It is thought that a nose net or face mask alters the airflow pattern, temperature of the air or particle content meeting the nasal passages and helps to control symptoms.

Other treatment options include tinted contact lenses which combat head shaking in horses that are light sensitive, antihistamine drugs such as hydroxyzine and cyproheptadine (although side-effects of lethargy and anorexia occasionally outweigh the benefits), gabapentin to treat generalised neuropathic pain and dexamethasone to reduce inflammation.

Supplementing magnesium is also discussed as a treatment option and is thought to work by reducing the threshold for nerve firing and hence decrease the hypersensitivity to external triggers. A treatment called PENS (percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) has recently been developed by the University of Bristol and this involves repeated nerve stimulation under standing sedation, which results in periods of remission of increasing duration and/or resolution of clinical signs. In 39 per cent of cases, it has been documented that horses have been able to return to previous levels of work following PENS treatment.

 Response to treatment is very variable and notably not always successful. Treatment may involve multiple trials of different options and in some severe cases more than one treatment at any one time with each being withdrawn individually to determine which is improving clinical signs.

Head shaking is a condition that is often managed rather than cured and has been known to be progressive in some cases. Unfortunately, in up to half of cases, it is not possible to find a treatment or effective management protocol and it is important to remember that unlike in previous years when we suspected it was a behavioural condition, we now know it is attributed to pain.

If a horse has severe, or persistent head shaking and no treatment improves clinical signs, welfare of that horse is paramount and euthanasia should be strongly considered.

Don’t miss double demonstration at Moocroft

A DOUBLE demonstration at Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre next month offers an excellent opportunity or horse owners and supporters of this fine charity to see the art of long reining and its benefits for horses.

The event takes place on June 29 at 10am when Moorcroft horses being retrained will also go on display under saddle, with a full explanation of what Moorcroft does and why.

There will also be an introduction to thermography at 10.45am by Sarah Villa, with a demonstration from Sync Equine.

Equine thermography is a non-invasive monitoring tool that uses the very latest Infrared imaging equipment and computer software to detect minute differences in the horse’s thermal and neural condition, and allows quick and efficient identification of trauma in an injured animal

At 12.30pm a demonstration of ridden Moorcroft horses will be accompanied by a full explanation of what the centre does and why it does it.  Book your place by ringing Mary on  07929 666408.

An ex-racehorse almost ready for re-homing following successful retraining at Moorcroft. Photo: Mark Beaumont

Don’t miss this fine opportunity to see the outstanding work done at Moorcroft by chief executive Mary Frances and her staff, with retraining methods, including long reining, which enable ex-racehorses to go on to a fulfilling life after racing with new owners.

There will be refreshments and a marquee containing with equine related stands which visitors will find interesting and useful.

Mary hands over the reins to a course participant in a long reining session at Moorcroft
Photo: Jeannie Knight

Another event planned by Moorcroft is an evening at the Random Hall Hotel, close to Moorcroft Racehorse Welfare Centre. This will feature an interesting talk from chairman Nigel Neville and a presentation  by Mary Frances.

This will be a fun and informative evening, giving a chance to find out more about Moorcroft’s vital work, supporting injured and vulnerable ex-racehorses, The cost is £50 person. Please book early with Mary by ringing 07929 666408.

Meanwhile retraining work continues at the centre every day in a quiet and professional manner, putting first the needs of horses in its care.