Is your horse lacking in show condition?

Here TopSpec Veterinary Nutritionist, Anna Welch BVSc, BSc, MRCVS provides advice on steps to get ready for the spring shows.

Most show horses do best when fed all the forage that they can eat and therefore, for those lacking in condition, hay or haylage should be provided ad-lib. This is a more natural way of feeding than offering large hard feeds. It usually makes sense to buy good quality hay or haylage because the more nutrients provided by forage, the less hard feed your horse will need to achieve a good show condition.

With a horse that needs more condition coming out of the winter, it is important to have a dental check to ensure they are chewing their forage sufficiently and therefore, getting the most from it. An appropriate worming regime will also improve the cost-effectiveness of your feeding programme.

When feeding for condition, nutrient dense products are most effective, not only to achieve high forage to concentrate ratios but to keep meal sizes small. If maximum meal sizes are exceeded, feed will be forced through the stomach and small intestine too quickly and overload the horse’s large intestine, or hindgut. This reduces the efficiency of digestion in the hindgut meaning that your horse will obtain fewer nutrients from his forage. For a 500kg horse, meal sizes should be no more than 2kg (approximately one heaped Stubbs scoop of cubes).

In order for your horse to gain more from their diet, I would suggest basing their hard feed ration on a top specification feed balancer. A conditioning feed balancer, such as TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer will provide protein, vitamins and minerals and other important micronutrients to balance a high forage diet and promote a supple skin, healthy coat and strong hooves.

Show horses need to look well-muscled and it is protein which provides the building blocks for muscle development and topline. TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer provides a very high ratio of protein to calories and the quality of protein is the best possible, i.e. it is rich in essential amino acids.  Using TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer will also promote focus and stamina, so important in those end-of-day championships.

You should also use a conditioning chop e.g. TopChop Grass even though the small amount you feed will mean that it only makes a small difference.

You will make a bigger difference to your horse’s condition with high DE (Digestible Energy) cubes than chop e.g. TopSpec CoolCondition Cubes. This is because you feed a much greater weight of a higher nutrient product. CoolCondition cubes are low in sugar and starch and cereal-grain-free but high in super-fibres. They are ideal for horses that need condition, with presence but without over-excitable behaviour.

For relaxed horses that need an exceptionally nutrient dense product TopSpec Super Conditioning Flakes can be used, providing excessive amounts are not fed as they contain 36% starch. For example a 16hh horse should not receive more than one heaped Stubbs scoop (1.3kg) of flakes in a meal.

Contact us, free of charge, on our Multiple-Award-Winning-Helpline Tel: 01845-565030


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A Promising Start for Donegan Ryan Eventing

Here we catch up with TopSpec sponsored team Donegan Ryan Eventing as the season gets underway.

We had a good day at Kilguilkey and it proved to be an encouraging start to the season for Donegan Ryan Eventing team.

‘Ballylynch Skyport’ finished second in the O/CNC**, while ‘Tomgar Rembrant’ finished eighth. We were also really pleased with ‘It’s A Clover’, he had a great dressage test finishing on a score of 68.6%, but he was unlucky in the show jumping phase.

Trish and ‘Tullineaskey Hi Ho’ finished in tenth place. Trish’s second charge, ‘Dunrath Eclipse’, had a great dressage score of 66.4%, but was also unlucky in the show jumping phase having two fences down.

I rode ‘Apogee’ in the CNC* and finished the dressage on a score of 72.5% to become joint leaders, but 3.6 time faults on the cross country course meant that we finished in fourth place overall.

Trish and ‘What Else’ went well in the Pre-Novice starting on a dressage score of 74 % which was enough to take an early lead, but then two down in the show jumping round saw her finish further down the line. However, we were really pleased with how all the horses performed and it was a good start ready for the season ahead.

Mike Ryan


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Star Shines Bright on TopSpec Stud Balancer

STALLION owners, John Ford and Alan Lyons were celebrating recently when their stallion, Wessex Starring Role achieved ‘Life Graded’ status at the Sports Horse Breeding of Great Britain Stallion Grading.

One of only four stallions that made the grade, the West Country stallion is known as ‘Star’ and was highly admired at the grading with his superb condition .

Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain is the governing body for all Hunter and Sport Horse classes and stallions graded with them benefit from being recognised by mare owners as being of a high standard and they gain recognition with The World Breeding Federation of Sports Horses.

Star has also been invited to parade him at the Mitsubish Motors Badminton Horse Trials on Friday, May 9 in the main ring as one of 10 Graded Stallions following completion of the dressage phase.

Said Alan: “We are truly delighted with Star’s performance at the grading as each horse is judged on many different criteria including conformation, flatwork under saddle, jumping under saddle, carriage and elasticity when loose, correctness of movement, performance and loose jumping.

“He looks fantastic and in great condition.  Star’s diet includes TopSpec Stud Feed Balancer which helps promote superb muscle development without overtopping.”

Added John: “Star’s showing results speak for themselves in terms of condition and wellbeing. TopSpec keeps him looking and feeling in tip top condition throughout the covering season too which is obviously of great importance to us for when mare owners come to view him at stud.

“It enables us to feed all the necessary nutrients required for his workload without the need for excessive quantities of concentrates, when fed in conjunction with good quality forage. We can also feed TopSpec Stud Feed Balancer to our youngstock giving good balanced growth plus great results in the show ring”.

The seven-year-old thoroughbred stallion is by the late Future Role and out of Cawkwell Win, herself a Champion Hunter Broodmare and sister to prolific Point to Point winners Cawkwell Tom and Cawkwell Dean. Star’s grand sire, Rolfe has also sired over a hundred winners on the flat and over fences.

Wessex Starring Role will be returning to Etheridge Farm Stud in Dorset in 2014 with mares already booked in not only to produce sports horses but also top quality showing stock.


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TopSpec Support NPS Style and Performance Show Jumping

THE Style and Performance Show Jumping at this year’s NPS Spring Festival is to be sponsored by TopSpec, well known for their range of feed balancers and other innovative horse feeds.

The 12th NPS Spring Festival takes place at Addington Manor Equestrian Centre in Buckinghamshire on April 11 and 12 with the TopSpec Style and Performance Show Jumping being held on the Friday evening.

Said Nicola Tyler of TopSpec: “The Style and Performance Show Jumping is a great format for encouraging both correct rider position and production of ponies and we are very pleased to be supporting the competition at the event.”

During the event there will be four sections which include:

Ponies not exceeding 138cms – riders not to have attained their 14th birthday on January 1.

Ponies exceeding 138cms but not exceeding 153cms – riders not to have attained their their 18th birthday on January 1.

Ponies not exceeding 138cms – riders any age.

Ponies exceeding 138cms but not exceeding 153cms – riders any age.

The competition aims to encourage correct rider style and a high level of performance from both pony and rider throughout.

Five marks will be allocated per fence, for style while jumping, with 20 marks for overall impression.

The first placed pony in each class will qualify to go forward to the Final at the NPS Spring Festival in 2015.


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TopSpec Step Up their Support in the Eventing World

TopSpec, well known for its range of feed balancers and other innovative horse feed has announced new support for the world of Eventing.

A new sponsorship agreement for the North Yorkshire-based company includes support for the scoreboard at a number of major events on the eventing calendar.

The sponsorship deal, which will run throughout 2014 and 2015, will see the new TopSpec Scoreboard at Blair Castle International, Houghton International, Burnham Market International, Cholmondeley Castle and the FEI European Eventing Championships in 2015.

Said Nicola Tyler of TopSpec: “We are delighted to be supporting these events with our Scoreboard sponsorship.  At TopSpec we have a lot of customers that take part in eventing and we are pleased to be able to put something back into the sport.”


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TopSpec Win Nutritional Helpline of the Year Award for Seventh Time

THE team at innovative horse feed company, TopSpec, are celebrating after scooping the HAYGAIN Nutritional Helpline of the Year Award at the BETA Business Awards for an unprecedented seventh time.

Olivia Yates, Anna Welch and Katy Mickle of TopSpec receive the Nutritional Helpline of the Year Award from Becky James of HAYGAIN

The awards were a glittering affair as the trade gathered to celebrate and reward those who had made outstanding contributions to the equestrian industry. These prestigious accolades were presented to winning individuals and companies during the annual BETA Gala Dinner, at the National Motorcycle Museum, near Birmingham.

Awarded for outstanding personalised customer service, the North Yorkshire based business now has five highly qualified members of the team, including an equine vet, available to answer the multiple award-winning helpline and provide nutritional advice.

One nominator said: “I cannot recommend TopSpec enough. They take time and interest and you never feel hurried or anonymous.”

An incognito judge added: “Feed quantities were given in great detail and a feed wallchart was posted out, which is a great help when you are trying to take in a lot of detail over the phone. Nearest stockist details were given and a discount voucher was sent to encourage me to try the feed.”

Nicola Tyler of TopSpec said: “We are very grateful to everyone who nominated us and to the judges for choosing TopSpec once again.  The award is something we never take for granted and our aim is always to provide the very best advice and management from our experienced team of nutritionists and vet.

“Welfare and simplicity are always key in our minds when giving advice but when we can also help people to achieve success in what they want to achieve it is very rewarding.”

The awards presented at the hugely successful Gala Dinner are highly sought after throughout the industry and the remarkable seventh win for TopSpec was met with a huge round of applause from those attending.


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TopSpec Sponsor British Dressage Intermediate II Championship

TOPSPEC, well known for their range of feed balancers and other innovative horse feeds are the new sponsor of the British Dressage Intermediate II Championship.

Horse and rider combinations have the chance to qualify for the Championship at eight prestigious British Dressage Premier League shows around the country from March through to July.

The TopSpec Intermediate II Championships will be held on September 18, the first day of the National Championships at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.

Said Katy Mickle of TopSpec: “We are delighted to be supporting British Dressage and are looking forward to sponsoring the Intermediate II Championships.

“Our team of equine advisors will be on hand at the qualifiers to provide feeding advice and support.

“TopSpec has a growing loyal customer base within the world of dressage and we work closely with riders at all levels including Jo Hamilton and Hayley Watson-Greaves.

“It is great to put something back into the exciting sport of dressage and we are looking forward to meeting new and existing clients at the National Championships.

Intermediate II is the level below Grand Prix and attracts some of the biggest names in dressage competing for the title with their up and coming horses.

Amanda Bond of British Dressage said: “We’re delighted TopSpec are on board in dressage.  The Intermediate II Championship at the Nationals is always a crowd-pleaser and is a great show case for our future equestrian stars as well as some established favourites. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to TopSpec and British Dressage looks forward to working with them to create a fantastic Championship.”

TopSpec Intermediate II qualifying classes will take place at the following Premier League Show:

Myerscough College, Lancashire – March 5 to 9

Keysoe, Bedfordshire – April 25 to 27

Addington Manor EC, Buckinghamshire – May 9 to 11

Somerford Park, Cheshire – May 23 to 26

Wellington Riding, Hampshire – June 4 to 8

Sheepgate, Lincolnshire – June 16 and 17

Hickstead (inc Masters Champs), Sussex – June 24 to 28

Hartpury, Gloucestershire – July 9 to 13


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Perfect Advice for Dexey’s Diet

Tanya Waterhouse and her 15.3hh Irish Sport Horse, Dexey, have enjoyed a full and happy life together eventing, show jumping and even taking up dressage.

But when Dexey entered her veteran years, Tanya decided that she may need to review the mare’s feeding regime.

Said Tanya: “Although I have used TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer for many years when Dexey turned 20 I began to wonder if I should consider changes to her diet to ensure she continued to get the nutrition she required.

“I am firm believer in ‘if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’, and as she looked to be in perfect health with no sign of any joint or other age related problems there was a temptation to carry on as normal.

“However, I did what I usually do when in doubt about feeding and rang the TopSpec nutritional helpline.  As usual, I received well informed and helpful advice, as a result of which, I changed to the Senior Feed Balancer.”

“Dexey has good grazing and hay and as a good doer, she has no additional feed other than chop and succulents. I have been using Senior Feed Balancer for some months now and can only say that I regularly receive surprised comments on how well she looks and that she could be mistaken for a horse half her age.

“This also includes some professionals – I was delighted when, having trotted her up for my vet recently, she commented that if her 20-year-old moved like mine, she would be absolutely delighted.

“I feel Dexey is a walking testament to a good feed balancer providing a broad spectrum of nutrients and as a result of which, I know of people who have changed their view of feed balancers, previously considering them as a high priced luxury.

“Although we tend to lead a quieter life now, Dexey still loves life at 20 and in particular, jumping, and long may it continue!”


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A Calmer Gypsy Stays Fit and Well at 21

Despite being 21-years-old, 13.3hh Irish cob, Gypsy still remains a handful for owner Janet Pilling when at a driving competition.

Based near Biggar in Lanarkshire, Janet has enjoyed driving trials for many years and was delighted when she found and bought Gypsy.

Explains Janet: “I have owned Gypsy for 14 years now and bought him as a driving pony.

“He has been such a star but at competitions I found he could get very fizzy and lose focus in the dressage.  Even though he is now 21 he is still great fun and loves competing so much and he certainly hasn’t slowed down.

“I decided to try TopSpec Calmer as although I wanted him to remain relaxed in the dressage I still needed him to have plenty of energy and go for the cross-country phase.

“The difference has been amazing and I now go to competitions confident that he will keep calm in the dressage phase rather than argue with me.

“In so many ways he can be very easy to do and is never a problem when out on the roads or training but as soon as you get him in a dressage arena at a competition he changes and knows he is there.

“The TopSpec Calmer really has transformed his behaviour and thankfully he is no longer the fizzy, hot-headed pony he used to be when competing.

“I really enjoy taking him to competitions now and am confident he will keep it together whereas before I used to be unsure whether he would keep his focus or fight against me.”

As well as TopSpec Calmer, Janet also adds TopSpec 10:10 Joint Support to Gypsy’s feed which helps to keep him supple.

Said Janet: “I keep thinking Gypsy might want to retire but he is still so well and at the top of his game that we are looking forward to another season competing.”

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Oscar Wins The Face of TopSpec 2014!

Julie Hammond and Oscar

Oscar, a six-year-old coloured gelding owned by Julie Hammond from Aberdeenshire has been chosen as ‘The Face of TopSpec 2014’ in a nationwide competition.

For Julie, a health and safety advisor, Oscar is a very special chap as a homebred project horse and one who could easily have not made it at birth.

Oscar had impaction colic at just 24-hours-old and Julie is very lucky to still have him…and this he knows!

Their prizes include £500 worth of TopSpec feed, a professional photo-shoot and framed print and a top of the range Horseware Turnout Rug.

Said Julie: “Oscar knows that he is very handsome and very charming and he definitely wants the world to know it too. He didn’t have the best start to life but he is now showing huge potential.

“He is an exceptionally fussy eater who struggles to maintain weight… being handsome is hard work you know!

“Last year he went from looking poor in early spring to qualifying for several classes at the CHAPS Championships, winning local championships and qualifying for the British Dressage Area Festivals and British Dressage Winter Regionals and we owe this to TopSpec.

“After some searching we have learned that a combination of TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer and TopSpec Super Conditioning Flakes is just the right thing for him.

“He’s a bit like Tigger, who won’t eat acorns, honey or thistles, Oscar won’t eat horse and pony nuts, he’s very particular over chaff and doesn’t like supplements… but he does love his TopSpec flakes!

Added Julie: “I am delighted he has been chosen as ‘The Face of TopSpec 2014’ – and he proves how well TopSpec products can help improve a horse’s condition and performance.”

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