How do I judge the condition my pony is in?

By the TopSpec nutrition team

Body condition is a measure of your pony’s fat cover and muscular outline. It reflects his energy and protein intake as well as expenditure. For instance, if he consumes more calories than he requires for maintenance, and is not working sufficiently hard to utilise this energy, he will become overweight. It may be clearly visible by eye that he is overweight, or conversely, underweight. However, a systematic approach can help you make a clear judgement. 

Knowing how much your pony weighs is helpful and the most accurate way to determine this is to put him on a weighbridge. Regular measurements of bodyweight can identify weight gain and weight loss however, the weight of your pony doesn’t tell you whether he is too fat or thin, or lacking muscle and topline. 

‘Ideal’ body condition will depend on what you are asking of him. For example, the expectations for the condition of a pony produced for a ridden showing class would be different to that of a show-jumping pony. 

Assessment of body condition is made by visual examination and palpation. It is important to get your hands on to your pony and feel the relevant areas. This will help you to determine between fat and muscle, and also to judge condition through a thick winter coat if it is present.  

It is logical to start at the front end of your pony, first feeling along his neck. A ‘cresty neck’ indicates an accumulation of adipose (or fatty) tissue and has been linked to insulin dysregulation and an increased risk of laminitis. 

Running your hands over the withers and down your pony’s shoulders will allow you to assess his muscle condition and whether any fat pads are present in these areas. His ribs should be easily felt with a light covering of fat; if your pony is too fat then you are unlikely to be able to feel his ribs. 

His back bone should be well covered but you should be able to feel it. Either side of the spine should show good, toned musculature. However, a flat back or one with a gutter along it is indicative of increasingly excessive body condition. His flanks should not look hollow.

The hindquarters should be rounded and muscular and not angular or sunken. Fat pads at the tail head may be seen if your pony is fat. 

There are certain scoring systems by which some veterinary surgeons, other professionals and horse owners may classify body condition. However, these do have limitations. An average of the assessment of different areas of the body can produce a misleading overall picture. For example, a pony with a metabolic condition could have regional fat pads but prominent ribs, a pony that is tucked up but otherwise in good condition or an elderly pony that is lacking muscle but carrying a belly. Regional scores, such as Cresty Neck Scores, may help in certain of these situations but any numerical scoring system will be flawed. 

Be thorough and consistent so you can identify and monitor any changes in your pony. Making these assessments of condition will help you to evaluate his feed regime. Condition will reflect many factors, including the quality of the grass, hay or haylage, his hard feed intake and workload. It is important to get the balance right as keeping your pony in a suitable body condition will support his health and athletic performance. 

If you are unsure, it is best to speak to a nutritionist who will be able to help you assess your pony’s condition and adapt his diet accordingly. 

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Andrew Nicholson and Nereo Win Badminton 2017

Andrew Nicholson completed one of equestrian sport’s greatest comebacks by winning the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials less than two years after suffering a serious neck injury.

The 55-year-old New Zealander, who is based near Marlborough in Wiltshire, underwent an eight-hour neck operation and later revealed his surgeon had told him he could have been left paralysed following a cross-country fall at Gatcombe in August 2015.

But on his record 37th completion of world eventing’s premier four-star competition –finally captured the elusive Badminton prize with his London 2012 horse Nereo.

The TopSpec-sponsored rider first entered Badminton 33 years ago.

“It has been worth the wait,” the six-time Olympian Nicholson said.

“I go to the big events nowadays, and if I have a live chance, I know it’s a live chance and I want to win. If you win, you feel like you have done what you went to do.

“I came here with that idea, but the feeling is 100 times better, having actually achieved it. I will enjoy it, I assure you of that.

“I had to keep on coming here to Badminton and taking my turn, although I did realise time was running out, especially 18 months or so ago after my injury.

“But I had a good season last year once I got up and running again. To win Bramham last year was a great boost to me, as it wasn’t so long before that I didn’t think I would ride again. Then to be second at Burghley last September, it felt like I won it.”

Nicholson also paid tribute to seasoned campaigner Nereo, adding: “Nereo is an unbelievable horse. He is big and strong, and he does it year after year. It’s special to do it on him. It is pretty emotional, and a great day for me.”

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Dressage Success for Vikki and Natasha

IT was a British Dressage Winter Championships to remember for Vikki Pengilly and Natasha Rumble in the PetPlan Equine Area Festival Championships at Hartpury College.


Vikki secured the Advanced Medium Silver Championships with Zion E while Natasha was triumphant in the Elementary Bronze section on Westcroft Dragonfly.


Now 13, Zion E is a son of De Niro x Jazz and Vikki started riding him 18-months ago.


Said 29-year-old Vikki from Cardiff: “He had his ears pricked throughout the whole test but he was certainly on his toes and the judges certainly liked it.

“He can be cheeky but thankfully it’s amazing what he will do for a Polo or two and during the presentation we kept him busy eating the mints.”


Nine-year-old Westcroft Dragonfly is a Voice x Ferro gelding.


Their win was a fantastic birthday present for Natasha, who had her twentieth birthday during the show.


Said Natasha: “It’s been a brilliant experience, and I look forward to building on this success as the season continues.


“There is so much to look forward to and I can’t wait to take up further challenges.”


Both horses are fed on a TopSpec feed regime of Comprehensive Balancer, TopChop Sport and UlsaKind Cubes.

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Spring Time Offers from TopSpec

Antilam and Lite - smaller

Spring has sprung and the grass is growing!

For horse and pony owners with good-doers TopSpec have some great offers running throughout May.

So if you are looking for very low-calorie options, for when every calorie counts, TopSpec has the answers!

The offer will see £5.00 off bags of TopSpec AntiLam, TopSpec Lite Feed Balancer, TopSpec Senior Lite Feed Balancer and TopSpec Stud Lite Feed Balancer. All four products are very low-calorie, cereal-grain-free and ‘Non-Heating’ and can be fed alone or mixed with a low calorie chop like TopChop Lite or TopChop Zero.

TopSpec AntiLam is a palatable, pelleted multi-supplement designed to provide nutritional support for those susceptible to, being treated for, and recovering from laminitis.

TopSpec Lite Feed Balancer is designed for good-doers in light-medium work.  It combines a broad-spectrum supplement and a hoof supplement with a high-fibre, very low calorie feed.

TopSpec Senior Lite Feed Balancer is designed for elderly horses that do not need extra condition.  It combines the benefits of a low-calorie feed balancer tailored to the needs of elderly horses, including a joint supplement.

TopSpec Stud Lite Feed Balancer is designed for breeding stock that are good-doers.  It is rich in pre- and pro-biotics and contains an effective hoof supplement amongst other specialised supplements.

For further information please contact the Multiple Award-Winning Helpline on 01845 565030 or visit

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Zac and Bethany Take Supreme Championship

A PARTNERSHIP of just three months went through the card to secure the Supreme Championship at the BSPS Winter Championships at Arena UK.

Bethany Gregg and the Intermediate Show Riding Type, Arizona Gold, known as Zac at home were in triumphant mood and got the Jinks Show Team’s season underway in fantastic form.

Produced by Thirsk-based David Jinks and Adam Forster for the last three years, the eight-year-old bay gelding looked fantastic, helped by his TopSpec feed regime of Comprehensive Feed Balancer, CoolCondition Cubes and TopChop Lite.

Zac’s winning ways started in the Restricted Intermediate Show Riding Type before taking the Restricted Championship, Restricted Supreme Championship and finally the one that really mattered, the Overall Supreme Championship of Show.

Said David: “Zac just got better and better and Bethany and her family were overwhelmed with the success they couldn’t believe it especially as they are new to showing at BSPS level.

“They were just speechless and quite emotional it was a fantastic championship win for them and a great start to the season.”

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Team Walker Dominate at North of England Spring Show

IT was a case of ‘Walker’s winning ways’ at the North of England Spring Show with Robert, wife Sarah, son Sam and clients Rae Colosso and Zara Brookes staking their claim on 11 wins, four championships and three reserve championships between them.

Robert and the team showed 13 horses and ponies throughout the three days and they were all over the moon with the successes that started on the Thursday and just ran and ran and ran!

The Team TopSpec rider was in superlative form in the Ridden Hunter sections with Corniche Chill heading the four and five-year-old class before taking the Novice Hunter Championship.

Stable mate Our Kingsman won the Novice Hunter over six-years-old before taking the Novice Hunter Reserve Championship award.

HOYS winner Chantilly Bojangles won the Small Hunter class on day one before Rae Colosso took over the reins on day three to win the Intermediate Show Hunter and then take the Intermediate Championship.

Next followed the turn of the Open Hunter classes which led to another clean-sweep when Viewpoint won the Lightweight, Caesar’s Palace took the red rosette in the Middleweight section and Patrick’s Choice was triumphant in the Heavyweight category.  Viewpoint headed the Hunter Championship with Patrick’s Choice finishing Reserve Champion.

The following day Robert had a slightly quieter time with just two horses to show and two youngsters to acclimatise to a competition environment.

Wins continued with Comberton Clarence heading the Novice Hack class and Randalstown Rolex winning the Lightweight Cob section before securing the Cob Championship.

On pony day it was the turn of Zara Brookes and Sam Walker.  Zara won the 138cm Show Pony class on Chanley Delightful Dan with Sam winning the 133cm Show Hunter Pony on Millwood Kaiser Chief before claiming the Reserve Championship.

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Great Month for TopSpec Fed Horses and Ponies

It has been a busy month for TopSpec fed horses and ponies with a host of wins across the disciplines.

In the world of eventing, Kitty King has had an early win with Ceylor LAN winning at a cold and blustery Lincolnshire Horse Trials to get their season off to a flying start.  Kitty and Vendreti Biats then took the runner-up spot in a hotly contested CIC** at Belton Horse Trials.

Staying with eventing, James Rushbrooke and Rowland started the season well with a win in the Open Novice at Oasby much to everyone’s delight and Tom Jackson was in flying form at Goring Heath Horse Trials in Oxfordshire with Georgio D Over winning his second event in a row to finish on his dressage score.

On the showjumping circuit the Barker family has hit top form with wins for Tilly, Claudia and Hannah at Southview in Cheshire.  Tilly captured the Under 11 Championship, Claudia won the 138cm Springboard Championship and to round off a successful show Hannah secured the 148cm Championship.

Staying with show jumping and after a great start to the year, Louise Saywell was again on winning form at De Peelbergen, Kronenberg, Netherlands.

On day one she posted a win and on day two, she doubled up with two well-deserved victories. In the top-billed class of the day, the 1.45m speed, Louise raced ahead with Billy Twomey’s big-jumping nine-year-old Dassler to win the 69-entry class by 0.33 sec.

Louise continued her run of good form with another win on Graham Ward’s 12-year-old, Feigtling. The pair, winners just 24 hours earlier, headed the 1.40m by 1.70 seconds.

Said Louise: “My horses are jumping better than ever and we have had some fantastic results lately. Their TopSpec feed regime is without doubt helping with our success.”

Over in Italy, Keith Shore took the honours in a 1.35m Open class with Coriander Van’t Vennehof while in Portugal, Emily Ward and Wild Rose headed a fast paced jump-off in the 1.40m section.

Results came thick and fast at the Sport Horse Breeding North West Show where Kelly Ward was in triumphant mood winning the four, five and six-year-old Sport Horse classes with Haddon House Madam Shutterfly, Noble Giants Causeway and Noble Gladiator.

At the same show Robert Walker and Paul Mortimer’s Lightweight Cob, Randelstown Rolex took the Cob Championships and Magnus Nicholson took the Hunter Championship on Julie Cornthwaite’s Heavyweight Hunter, Bowlands Lucky Slipper.

It was a great first show of the season at CHAPS North East Regionals for the Merrigan Martin team with two wins and a championship for Solaris Dwenqua while Katie Gilsenan won a very strong Novice Working Hunter class at Myerscough after an excellent round.


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Louise Saywell…Really!



TopSpec sponsored rider, Louise Saywell, is brimming with enthusiasm following her tremendous 2016 success at both HOYS and Liverpool International.

Here she shares with us some details of her love of horses but also reveals some facts that are not necessarily things you would associate with an equestrian champion.


  • If Louise wasn’t a champion showjumper, she would have been a groom instead, as she always knew she wanted to be involved in the sport.
  • Her horse of a lifetime was Winner, later known as Hello Winner. She produced her as a six-year-old through to going to the Furusiyya Nations Cup Final in Barcelona as part of the GB team.
  • Her highlight of last year was competing in the major classes at HOYS and Liverpool International.
  • She believes her biggest win was the Mattie Brown class at Newark and Nottinghamshire County Show two years ago riding Mr Darcy.
  • Her dad, showjumped at the Munich Olympics and her mother did Working Hunter – she was second three times at HOYS.
  • Her future aims are for more Nations Cup selections. She wants to win some Grand Prix classes and is aiming for the very top of her chosen sport.
  • Louise’s riding hero is Marcus Ehning as she thinks everything he does looks so effortless.
  • Louise says that high-heeled shoes are her favourite item of clothing – let’s hope she remembers to change out of them for her next competition!
  • Her worst habit is Facebook, although with all her success, we feel she should be proud to be publishing on it.
  • She lives by the motto ‘It is what it is’.
  • Her horses are fed a TopSpec feed regime with her favourite product being TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer.


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TopSpec Support Working Hunter Pony Classes at RIHS

TopSpec is delighted to be sponsoring the BSPS Working Hunter Pony classes at this year’s Royal International Horse Show.

The North Yorkshire-based company, well known for its range of feed balancers and other innovative horse feed will sponsor the 133cm WHP class, the 143cm WHP class, the 153cm WHP class and the BSPS Supreme Working Hunter Championships at the Hickstead venue.

The Working Hunter Pony classes will take place on Sunday, July 30 and always prove popular with both competitors and spectators alike.

Nicola Tyler of TopSpec said: “Hickstead provides a fantastic venue and is renowned for its working hunter tracks. Children look forward to competing over these iconic courses and we are very pleased to be supporting the BSPS here.”

This year the show runs from July 26 to 30 and is sure to be an enjoyable week. Ring 5 will host the TopSpec Working Hunter Pony classes, which will see numerous top combinations from around the country go head to head as they compete for the TopSpec BSPS Working Hunter Pony Championship title.


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Louise Saywell Soars to Success Again


TopSpec sponsored Louise Saywell has been in the ribbons once again when winning the National 1.40m  class at Bishop Burton College.

Louise outshone the competition in the National 1.40m where Feigtling and Peiter VI finished first and third.

Louise captured the class on Feigtling in a time of 29.5 seconds with Annabel Shields taking second and Peiter VI stepping in to third in 31.9 seconds.

Said Louise: “Feigtling has been on fire since winning two decent classes in Holland.

“This was a challenge I knew he was up for, I could tell he was eager to win so we did what he responds to best and took strides out between the first two and last two fences. It was a fantastic day for us both.”

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