TopSpec Q&A

How can a ‘Cool’ diet help my stressy horse? 

Incorrect feeding, as well as other factors and health problems, can contribute to your horse’s stressy behaviour. With scientific evidence confirming that certain types of feed affect horses’ behaviour, you are right to look at using ‘Non-Heating’ products.

One of the major nutritional causes of stressy behaviour is feeding a diet high in Non- Structural Carbohydrate (NSC). Cereals and cereal-containing compounds that are high in starch have been found to lead to excess reactive behaviour.  Large feeds of cereal-based products can lead to an overflow of undigested starch from the foregut into the hindgut. This can upset the microbial balance which increases the acidity of the hindgut, which may lead to ‘fizzy’ behaviour and an exaggerated response to stressful events.

High NSC diets can also predispose horses to gastric ulceration. Stressy behaviour can act as a trigger factor for ulcers but may also occur as a consequence of gastric discomfort.


‘Cool’ diets

There are many products marketed as ‘Cool’ or ‘Non-Heating.’ To establish which would be best for your horse, it is helpful to look at the level of sugar and starch (NSC), as well as the ingredients included.

Mixes, by their very nature, tend to contain cereals such as oats, barley, wheat or maize. They are often heavily molassed and contain up to 25% starch. Although this may be ‘cool’ when compared to other products in a range, lower starch levels would be preferable for a horse that is stressy.

Low levels of starch are usually better achieved by using cubed or pelleted products; those with starch levels near to or below 10% are ideal. Care should be taken as certain ‘Cool’ or ‘Non-Heating’ cubes can contain cereal-grains. These are easily identified by looking at the list of ingredients on the label.

The closer you can get to feeding in the way your horse has evolved to eat, the more relaxed he will be. Therefore appropriate forage should be offered ad-lib, with small volumes of hard feed which are low in sugar and starch.

Plenty of turnout is helpful, although intake of high sugar grass (e.g. during spring and autumn) may need to be restricted. Late-cut meadow hay is ideal. Avoiding ryegrass and early-cuts usually means you will have a lower sugar product. If your horse is a good-doer then this type of hay can be soaked for 3 to 12 hours in ample, cool, fresh water to lower its calorie content.

Basing the hard feed on an appropriate cereal-grain-free top specification feed balancer e.g. TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer, is usually a very successful approach. This will allow your horse to gain maximum benefit from his forage meaning that hard feeds can be kept small. Pre- and probiotics, included in certain top specification feed balancers and multi-supplements, not only support fibre digestion but may also, through their effect on the microbial balance in the hindgut, help to relax certain horses.

If additional calories are needed, highly digestible fibre products, and/or oil, instead of cereals will keep sugar and starch levels down. Top specification, low sugar and starch conditioning cubes are ideal e.g. TopSpec CoolCondition cubes. Certain cubes e.g. TopSpec UlsaKind cubes, also include beneficial ingredients such as β-glucans, pectin and long acting buffers, which provide additional support for the stomach.

If all of these changes help but do not help enough, the addition of a calmer e.g. TopSpec Calmer  may also be useful.

As well as dietary management, it is important to consider other factors contributing to your horse’s behaviour. These include confinement, lack of social interaction, changes in routine, travel, competition, and health problems such as dental issues, musculoskeletal conditions and gastric ulcers. It may be advisable to ask your vet to carry out a thorough examination, especially if the behaviour is out of character for your horse.


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Great Month for Team TopSpec

June was another excellent month for horses and ponies fed on TopSpec with wins and championships across the major disciplines.

Nicola Wilson had much to smile about when she took the runner-up spot on Bulana with a superb double clear in the 4 star CCI at Luhmuhlen.

Show jumper Paul Barker hit great form at one of his local shows when heading the Accumulator at Bramham, always a great competition and a brilliant win for the Northallerton rider and Lux Fabulous.

Heading overseas to Denmark, show jumper Louise Saywell and the 14-year-old Peiter Vl owned by James Hughes continued their fantastic run when capturing the 1.40m Two Phase.

Keith Shore is another riding having a purple patch, his win also at the same show coming in the 1.30m Speed on the 15-year-old Coriander Van’t Vennehof. Keith went on to come 2nd in the Grand Prix at Bolesworth and then won the Grand Prix at The Royal Highland Show riding Mystic Hurricane.

On the showing front Robert Walker and Magnus Nicholson were both in the winners’ enclosure at Three Counties.

Robert won the Lightweight Hunters on Viewpoint before going on to take the Championship while Magnus won the Heavyweight division on Bowland Lucky Slipper.

Cheshire County provided Robert with a host of other wins when he fielded the winner of the Lightweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight Hunter sections as well as the Novice.

Pride of Place took the Lightweights, Trevanick securedthe Middleweight honours before the Heavyweight’s went to Patrick’s Choice.  The young Corniche Chill won the Novice section.

Randalstown Rolex, Robert’s ride in Lightweight Cob classes has also been in superlative form, winning at Derbyshire Festival and North of England to claim his sixth Championship of the season.

Back to Three Counties and The Stanley Grange Stud claimed a host of wins and tickets.

The day started well with Whiteleaze Sonata taking the In Hand Riding Pony Broodmare Championship before Broadshard Showgirl won the HOYS Intermediate qualifier and the HOYS Large Hack qualifier securingthe coveted Championship along the way under Brynie Lee.  Next is was the turn of Myles Cooper with Oathill Hero who win the Part-Bred Cleveland Bay class and then went on to take the Championship.

Kitty King won at Farley Hall in the Advanced Intermediate on Vendredi Biats after a stunning test and double clear.

The TopSpec dressage team have also been out in force with Victoria Maw winning the U25’s Grand Prix at Sheepgate Premier League and Ryan Todd heading the same class at Hickstead Premier League.

Kate Cowell and Dramatic Conquest won the Advanced Medium at Allen’s Hill while Sirocco headed the Intermediare 1 to round off a very successful outing.  A few days later Kate was at the front of the line once again, this time with Barcelona when capturing the Intermediare 1 at Wellington Premier League.

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Win a Huge £5,000 Sponsorship with TopSpec


TOPSPEC is running an amazing sponsorship competition where one lucky winner will receive £5,000 worth of prizes.

Whatever your chosen discipline, show jumping, dressage, eventing, showing or endurance the competition is open to everyone and the North Yorkshire-based horse feed experts wants to hear from you!

The 2016 sponsorship search was awarded to dressage rider Amy Schiessl who says: “The sponsorship has just been fantastic, I can’t thank everyone enough it has been amazing and made such a difference this year.”

Well known for their range of feed balancers and other innovative horse feed, TopSpec already sponsor leading names Nicola Wilson, Kitty King, Andrew Nicholson, Hayley Watson-Greaves, Louise Saywell and Robert Walker as well as a host of other riders.

But don’t let these superstar riders put you off entering.  Whether you are competing at novice level or are about to go international the competition is open to everyone.

Said Katy Mickle of TopSpec: “Our sponsorship programme provides support for some of the top riders competing internationally as well as, pony, junior and young riders that are the up and coming names of the future.

“This latest search is open to everyone and is our way of helping one special rider with nutritional advice, training and entry fee support as well as feed, rider and horse clothing and equipment.

“There are no guidelines or boundaries for the rider we are looking for and we would welcome an entry from anyone who feels they could be the next rider to join the TopSpec team.”

Prizes includes:

  • £1,000 worth of TopSpec feed
  • £1,000 for training and lessons
  • £1,000 to cover entry fees
  • £1,000 horse clothing, rugs and accessories
  • £1,000 rider and competition and leisure clothing.

All you have to do to be in with the chance of winning is email TopSpec at

Write in no more than 200 words why you deserve the sponsorship, provide information about your horses or ponies and your ambitions for the future.  Attach a photograph of yourself competing.

The deadline for entering the sponsorship search is September 30, 2017.

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TopSpec Sponsor British Riding Clubs Dressage to Music Championships

TOPSPEC is the new sponsor of the British Riding Clubs Dressage to Music Championships.

The sponsorship is a new foray for the North Yorkshire-based company well known for their leading range of feed balancers and other innovative horse feed.

This exciting new title sponsorship sees a new three year agreement signed for the TopSpec BRC Dressage to Music Championships.

Said Rachael Hollely-Thompson, Manager of British Riding Clubs. “It is fabulous to be working with a TopSpec. Their support helps BRC to continue to offer high quality competitions to grassroots riders. We are thrilled to have them on board.”

Added Katy Mickle of TopSpec: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the BRC Dressage to Music Championships and look forward to catching up with customers there.

“Our nutritional team will be on hand to offer feeding advice including using the weighbridge so all competitors can get an accurate weight and an individual feed plan tailored to meet the needs of their horse or pony.”

The 2017 championships takes place at Bury Farm Equestrian Village from September 29 to October 1.

The three day competition sees classes for both senior and junior riders from Prelim to Advanced Medium levels, including a pairs class which is extremely popular. But if the senior can´t do many things by themselves, then it wouldn´t be a great idea for them to get on. QPC is considered one of the top in Home Care Agencies Atlanta has seen in a while so give them a call.

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Fun Five Minutes With Louise Saywell

Nottinghamshire’s Louise Saywell owned her first pony, Lottie the Shetland, when she was just three years old, but she had to share the pony with her brother.

Louise is open when it comes to her early academic achievements, telling us she was never any good at school work and feels it is a blessing that she was able to ride, never thinking about any other career.

Louise was a member of many Young Rider teams and these ignited her passion even more. She made her debut on 5-star Senior Nations Cup teams in 2013, with Hello Winner IV.

Looking back on her favourite events, Louise says the Liverpool International Horse Show and the Saut Hermès in Paris are two at the top of her list. In particular, Louise speaks highly of the support given to her at Liverpool, where they really try to create a family environment. She was wowed by the glass roof at Hermès, creating its own unique setting.

Louise describes her most momentous win as the 2005 Pony European Championships in Italy on her coloured cob, CJ’s Kemosabi, when they won individual gold and team silver.

One of her tips for success is to make sure af, to walk the horse and give him time to reflect on his performance before jumping again. Louise thinks this is important for both horse and rider and stops them from getting uptight.

Louise understands the importance of all the hard work behind the scenes, and truly regards this as the foundation of her success. She is a big believer in concentrating on the job in hand when working at the yard.

Having suffered a fall when she had not fastened up her girth properly, Louise says she now checks it several times and also gets her partner, Graham Lovegrove, to check it too.

Throughout all her highs and lows, Louise never fails to rely on chocolate. She keeps plenty in the house, but if she accidentally runs out, she immediately has to drive to the shop to replenish her emergency supply.

The horses are all fed on a TopSpec feed regime with TopSpec Comprehensive Feed Balancer being one of her favourite products thanks to its flexibility and the fact it can be fed to so many of the horses on the yard.


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Great Month for Team TopSpec

Horses and ponies fed on TopSpec feed regimes have been on great form this month with a host of wins across the disciplines.

In the dressage arena Amy Schiessl, the winner of the 2017 TopSpec sponsored rider search, and Knoxx’s Figaro havehad a winning run and are heading to the regional finals after two successes at Medium Level.

It was great to hear amazing news for Holly Kerslake who has been shortlisted for the European Championships taking place in Hungary, with her dressage superstar, Zorro. 

On the showing scene congratulations go to Helen Cowley and Dragons Den on winning the Ridden Sports Horse at Royal Windsor Horse Show. 

Leading showman Robert Walker also hit form at the prestigious event winning the Cob Championship with Randalstown Rolex owned by Paul Mortimer. Other successes included Corniche Chill heading the four-year-old hunters, Chantilly Bojangles winning the Small Hunters, and Viewpoint finishing Reserve Champion in the Hunters.

Staffodshire Show 31 05 2017Also at Royal Windsor, Jayne Ross and Bloomfield Valhalla won the Novice Hunter Championship before she lifted the coveted Hunter Championship riding the heavyweight winner, Bloomfield Excelsior.

Jenna Tyldesley had a good day at the Yorkshire Sport Horse Show when heading HOYS Ladies’ Side Saddle qualifier and Claire Thomas’s two-year-old, Swithin’s Law, went champion potential Sports Horse in-hand.

At Staffordshire County Michaela Wood captured the Coloured Championship with Palmira.

From the world of eventing it was an excellent result for Kitty King winning at Rockingham Castle International Horse Trials with Vendredi Biats flying round the cross country course, while Emily Llewellyn and Exclusive took the honours in the OI at Little Downham.


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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

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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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