Preparing your horse for competing

Preparing your horse for competing

One of the highlights of the British Dressage calendar is the National Championships - held at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire, it’s a fabulous opportunity to see the country’s finest talent compete over 5 days. I’m a huge fan of the Nationals as its such a gorgeous venue with plenty of seating around the arenas, some fabulous shopping and of course - the food stands!

It’s such an aspirational show for so many of us, whether we ride young horses just coming out to do 4 and 5 year old classes or we are out competing at the very highest levels. It’s a competition many riders dream of and I’m sure many of us underestimate the years of training it takes to get down that centre line.

For me, the basics of any competition preparation starts with the diet, providing the right nutrition to help your horse perform is so key regardless of the level you’re competing at. Nutrition and management is so often trial and error, I’ve certainly found what works for one horse doesn’t always work for another so getting expert advice is always recommended. Most feed companies will offer a helpline service, and I’ve been lucky enough to have companies come out with their weigh bridge and help me craft the perfect diet for my ponies as part of a yard visit. I’d also caught up with Spillers at the British Dressage Winter Championships at Hartpury earlier in the year to chat through my horses diet and pick up some samples.


At the time, Edith (my chestnut show pony type pictured above) was in light work having been backed the previous year and I was concerned she was quite immature for her age so wanted to be absolutely certain she was getting all the right nutrition ahead of her intended dressage career. Speaking to the reps, we discussed the fact I was concerned about her putting on too much weight as she was in light work, but wanting to make sure she was getting all the right nutrition to support her growth and development. We talked about a low calorie option to ensure she was getting the right vitamin and minerals to support her, and decided on the ‘Daily Balancer’ with the option to switch to the ‘light and lean’ variant if I felt she was getting too porky! Spillers offer a really comprehensive range of horse feed balancer products which are a great ‘base’ to build your feed up from. I feed a mug of the balancer daily and add in products such as chaff and oats based on the work she’s doing and her condition which really works for me.

Its really important that any horse, but especially competition horses get the right vitamins and minerals to support their performance and on top of that are fed the right products to support their energy output - too much feed can often result in a fizzy excitable horse, and too little could mean your horse is tired and lacks that ‘sparkle’ you need at competitions. Feeding a balancer product such as the ‘Daily Balancer’ means you can increase and decrease the energy content element of the feed without needing to worry about a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

This post was written in collaboration with Spillers but opinions remain my own.

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