Alan Davies while not caring for Carl and Charlotte’s top dressage horses has his own growing herd of miniature shetlands. He tells us about his plans for 2018.
Halstock Cassandra is in foal and due April/May and I am hoping for another Champion foal. Her first daughter Oakelbrook Seabreeze (Bubbles) is turning 4 this year and had a very successful time in her first showing season in 2017, winning the Junior Championship. This year she is moving up into the Mare classes and I have high hopes for her. She is such a character and is a very good stamp of a Miniature Shetland. She doesn’t live here at Carl’s yard but is just down the road at a friend’s place. She is coming in at night and is on Saracen Fibre Cubes and looks really well. I have started lunging and long reining her (gets us both fit for the show ring) and I am hoping our first show will be in March at a South West Group show in Devon. If she goes well and looks good I will hopefully get her entered into some county shows. We introduced her to Valegro – Saracen very kindly gave us matching rugs – for her first photo shoot for Pony magazine and it was hilarious. Blueberry couldn’t believe his eyes and just wouldn’t leave her alone!
Food for thought
Winter is a very important time for feeding – too much or too little can have a dramatic affect so here we talk to Alan Davies, International Travelling Groom for Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin about getting the balance right.
All the horses are monitored very carefully here at the yard. We try and turnout when we can, it’s been quite wet recently so turnout has been limited. Winter turnout is all about letting the horse have a bit of downtime and being able to switch off. Some really need this and others are quite happy being stabled – it’s about knowing each individual character.
We have the Saracen nutritionist visit us regularly to keep an eye on each of the horses especially if we think one is hard to manage. As we have been feeding Saracen for nearly 15 years now we know the products so well that we can manage the feeding regimes, but it’s great to have Lizzie as a back-up if we are unsure.
We review the feeds weekly. Getting the balance right for the amount of work each horse does changes quite frequently. We don’t tend to chop and change the type of feed they are on but just the quantities.
Some of the young horses who are quite sharp and have lots of energy are on Re-Leve which is less “heating”. Some of the horses which are quite laid back are on Enduro-Performance which gives them more energy and some of the other youngsters who are quite nervous and can worry their weight off are on Competition-Fit Cubes to help keep condition on them. We generally get an idea of their temperaments quite quickly and can then pinpoint which would be the most suitable diet for them. They are all individuals so their diets are tailored to them and changed when the need arises.
WEG is this year and we have two new horses that Carl and Charlotte will hopefully get qualified for the team. As yet (beginning of March) neither horse has done a Grand Prix so we have a long way to go before they get on the plane for WEG! The plan is to get them out to a couple of local shows to do their first GP tests - a trial run through as such. Then the first international GP tests will be in April and this is when the selectors will be watching! The two horses being campaigned are Hawtins Delicato and MSJ Freestyle.
When we travel horses to shows we try to keep their feed regime exactly the same, try and feed at the same time each day, keep plenty of fibre (hay/haylage) offered to them. I have travelled with Barney/Blueberry and Uti for a few years now so know what they are like at a show or with long haul travel. Freestyle and Del will be a whole new experience as they haven’t travelled as yet. It will be a learning curve as they are just starting out at GP and who knows how they will cope with staying away at shows. I will keep their routine as near as possible to being at home but if necessary I will have some alternative Saracen feeds to tempt them if they go off their usual diet or if they start to lack in energy. I will make sure Lizzie Drury the Saracen nutritionist has been to see them and we have a back-up plan to make sure every eventuality is covered.
As a rule we don’t weigh our horses all the time – I get the feedback from the riders as it’s the energy levels that matter to top level competition horses rather than their weight. All our horses generally look in great condition and we notice if any of them are burning off their calories and tweak the levels of feed to compensate.
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