Missing Badminton?

badminton special offer

Don’t be sad, you can still enjoy some amazing special offers from ourselves and these fantastic rural businesses who would love your support…

Muddyfootprints.co.uk – fabulous country clothing, home accessories and kit for your horses and dogs. Enjoy 15% off with the code: 15OFF 

Greenleas Equestrian – Enjoy 18% off everything on their entire equestrian store. If you need any kit, now is a great time to buy! Promotion code: BADMINTON18

Elegant Equestrian are offering a FREE matching stock pin with any browband purchased. Look the part at your summer dressage competitions and support a small business.

Fleetwood and Foxgrove are offering 20% off their field range scarves in honour of Badminton and free postage is standard. Offer ends Sunday Evening. Wow, these scarves are stunning!

NKC Equestrian Training are offering 20% off one of their online courses with the code BAD20. Ends 10pm Sunday.  NKC offer fantastic courses for all horse owners. These include equestrian First Aid and a huge range of equine health topics, please go and check them out. 

And if you are feeling lucky, pop over to Equissentials Dressage for your chance to win a bumper prize this bank holiday – including breeches, an honest riders T shirt, handmade horse shoe hearts  & a Hooves & Love gift box!!….

I bet you aren’t so sad about missing Badminton Horse Trials now! Whatever you are doing have a fabulous Bank Holiday weekend.


What does Turmeric do? (and why is it so popular?)

what does turmeric do


By now, I think everyone has heard of turmeric as a health food supplement for both humans and animals.  Turmeric is promoted as a miracle cure for virtually every condition under the sun,  but, whenever we are out and about, we are always asked the same question – 

What does turmeric do? (and why is it so popular)? 

The key active ingredient in Turmeric which was been the focus of most scientific research is Curcumin. This is what gives Turmeric its yellow colour. 

Turmeric as an Anti-inflammatory

Curcumin has potent anti-inflammatory properties and works by inhibiting the production of both Leukotrienes and Prostaglandins in the body. 

Leukotrienes and Prostaglandins trigger inflammation. Inflammation is actually very important as it helps the body to fight infection and triggers a whole cascade of reactions which stimulate the body to repair the area that has become inflamed.  Think of a nasty cough of cold. The mucus is the result of inflammation and helps the body to flush out the bacteria and nasties in your airways. This will prevent long term damage to the lungs.  If you have bumped yourself and cut your skin, it will swell and bruise. Again, that swelling is your body is the result of all the important nutrients going to the area to help repair the damage. 

But, in some conditions, the inflammation becomes long term (chronic) and becomes part of the problem, such as in arthritis, colitis and even allergies. This is when supplements like turmeric can help – by helping to inhibit the production of  leukotrienes and prostaglandins so that they no longer trigger the constant inflammation. 

Turmeric as an Anti-oxidant

Colourful food is good for us, and Turmeric is no exception. The bright yellow colour is an indicator of all the anti-oxidants it contains, known as curcuminoids.

Free radicals are damaging molecules in our body which cause oxidation. They are responsible for ageing, but also many diseases. Our body makes anti-oxidants in order to capture the free radicals and flush them out of the system, but sometimes the demand outstrips supply.  Curcuminoids are powerful anti-oxidants, even stronger than vitamins such as vitamin C and E. As well as having anti-oxidant properties itself, turmeric boosts the action of anti-oxidant enzymes already within our body. It therefore provides two different anti-oxidant benefits which both support the immune system. 

Anti-inflammatory AND Anti-Oxidant

These two huge benefits are what make turmeric so popular, and so widely used. There are many, many health conditions which involve both inflammation and oxidation. Turmeric has been well studied and known to have no adverse side effects, so why wouldn’t you try a natural approach? 

Turmeric is suitable for all animals. Curcumin is poorly absorbed and is best fed with oil. Also piperine, which is found in black pepper, will enhance the absorption of curcumin.

Related Products:

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Countrylix Gold

photo by Sophie Callahan

Do you struggle to learn a dressage test?

British dressage, equestrian, learn a dressage test

We asked the British Dressage Facebook community for their help and they didn’t disappoint! Check out all these amazing suggestions…

1 – Watch tests on YouTube & pretend you are calling  the test for them (suggested by Pauline & Amy)

2 – Say your test out loud while driving to work (Stacey)

3 – Use your finger to trace the movements in the air. I always do this & my husband thinks I’m casting magic spells!  (Issie & Debbie)

4 – Run round the living room, preferably on an appropriately shaped rug! (Faye, Charlie, Katie & Amanda)

5 – If you have one, use your quad bike to practice the test in your arena (Elin)

6 – You can download BD audio tests and play them on a wrist speaker while you are schooling. (Julie)

7 – Learn the pattern rather than the letters. Draw it out on paper (Nicola & Katie) Natasha goes one step further and suggests colour coding for the different gaits) 

8 – Use a toy pony on a dressage arena drawn out on paper (Tiffany)

9 – Sue recommends Dressage Diagrams (www.dressagediagrams.com) where you can buy all the BD, BE and Pony Club tests in diagram form. 

10 – Visualize yourself riding in the arena. Caroline suggests that if you do this in bed you are guaranteed to fall asleep before reaching the 3rdmovement! Could be useful if you suffer from pre-competition nerves….

11  – For something a little different, try coaching and hypnotherapy (Jenni & Steve) 

12 – Ride a different horse to practice your test, that way the one you are riding at the competition won’t start predicting the movements (Tamsin)

13 – Julia says – ‘Make sure you learn the right test & check for updates’ – I think we have all been there! 

14 – Run round your arena on foot (but watch your extended trot after a glass or two of vino!! From Lauren) 

15 – Top tip from Viv – never ask your partner to read the test for you. Viv once had a blazing row in the middle of her test as he forgot where he was (to much amusement from the judge!) 

16 – Walk through your test on a long rein (Danee & Emma)

17 – Nic suggests that we all get working up the levels as by the time you reach Inter 1 there is only one test to learn!

18 – And if you fancy a brand new, Tech Savy app, check out the BD Dressage Test Pro App where you can listen, watch, draw and generally immerse yourself in your test learning – all on your phone! Created by Tracy-Ann Ormrod, you can download a free trial on the App store or visit www.dressagetestpro.com for more info.

A huge thank you to everyone who got involved on facebook and gave us all these fantastic ideas. No excuses to not learn a dressage test now!

Groundwork – Why Bother?

by Amy Craske, Holistic Horses

Groundwork for horses can bring huge benefits.
groundwork for horses

If you’ve ever spent anytime doing, watching or learning about groundwork then I’ll bet you think it’s an enormously useful tool for improving or communication with our horses. But if you haven’t, and an awful lot of people just haven’t been introduced to it, you could be quite reasonable in wondering what on EARTH is the point. I mean, its just walking about with your horse, isn’t it? Why would anyone bother wasting time doing that, when they could be riding? What could it possibly do to help?

So, lets think. If you lead out to the field, are you lucky enough to have a horse which calmly follows your every movement and change in speed on the way, and swings himself neatly sideways round the gate so you can close it? Does he never ever spook? Never drag you to the nearest patch of green it sees? Does he plant himself and refuse to move, no matter how hard you lean on that rope? Never nibble your sleeve and crowd your personal space? Does he load perfectly into the trailer every time? Do you feel COMPLETELY safe next to that half ton animal?

If you have that perfect creature, then fabulous, you’re very lucky, we’re all enormously jealous. And some horses and ponies just ARE very good at working out what’s expected of them, or may have had some very good training when they were young. But if your horse does any of the things mentioned above, or something else which causes a problem, groundwork can definitely help you. There does seem to be, amongst some people in the horse world, this feeling that horses just ought to be able to DO this stuff instinctively. They should KNOW to walk quietly next to you, despite that delicious looking patch of grass over there, or despite their field mate flinging itself inside out and upside down twenty feet away. And in my own early years with horses, I’d have counted myself as one of those people! But often they just DON’T, they’re too busy being a horse and not a robot. Would you expect a Great Dane puppy to walk to heel impeccably without any training? Of course not, but we do sometimes expect the same of horses. Of course, it goes without saying that its worthwhile investigating any possible physical cause for any negative behaviour you are experiencing, but sometimes it can be down to a lack of understanding and communication between horse and handler.

So let’s give ourselves a test: 

Can you and your horse walk together, matching speeds, without either of you dragging the other around? 

Can you easily turn both left and right, without wrestling their head around (we’ll have no Zoolanders here!)? 

Could you lead from both sides? 

Are you able to back your horse up a few steps without having to poke them in the chest? 

Can you move your horse’s hindquarters away from you from a simple touch or voice cue? And the same for its shoulders? 

Will he stand quietly for a few minutes, without you being dragged to the nearest grass or fighting to keep him still? 

Do you both respect each other’s personal space, with no shoving, nibbling or headbutting? 

Does your horse load and unload calmly and easily? 

Would you be happy to take that horse for a walk, in hand, around one of your usual hacking routes, and feel safe and in control? 

So, what if you failed the test?

If any of those things is a bit of a struggle, then it is well worth spending a bit of time on groundwork to improve your communication and control, and your safety. If you know an instructor which specialises in it, it’s a really good investment to have some lessons. Or if you’d rather not, or funds are tight, get a friend to video you working and see if you can be your own teacher.

Really focus on what your whole body is doing and how your horse responds to you. There are many methods out there (Intelligent Horsemanship is a good place to start!) but you need to find what suits you and your horse best. Groundwork is an incredibly useful thing to spend time on, and I hope I’ve given you a few ideas here. And that’s without even mentioning using it to prepare youngsters, introduce lateral work, develop muscle strength and fitness, pole work or long reining…the list goes on!


About the Author..

Amy Craske is a freelance instructor and behaviour trainer based in east Norfolk, specialising in helping people improve their relationships with their horses. She is training with Intelligent Horsemanship and Ride With Your Mind, and is in the process of becoming accredited with both organisations. She is also part of the Concordia International Pony Club team, and can be found on Facebook at Amy Craske – Holistic Horses, and online at amycraskeholistichorses.wordpress.com

Taking on Rescue Hens – What to Expect

rescue hens, ex-batts, bhwt, chicken, poultry,

If you are taking on ex-battery rescue hens they will have lived in hot, cramped conditions. Many will have lost a lot of feathers and their combs will be pale and flaccid (in order to help lose heat) They will have had artificial light for at least 18 hours a day, will never have seen grass or outside, and will only have ever eaten layers crumb.

1 – A suitable Home – firstly, you will need to provide a home for your hens. If you hope to have just a coop, with them free ranging in the garden, you will still need a run to keep them safe for the first couple of weeks and so they can learn where ‘home’ is.

2 – Collection Day – Your rescue hens are likely to have had a very stressful 24 hours. They may have already travelled a long distance from farm to rehoming centre, before travelling from centre to their new home with you. They will have had little, if anything to drink or eat and the stress of the situation may have led them to become quite feisty and even aggresive.  If you have very young children, it may be best to keep them away until your hens have had time to settle. Being pecked on day one isn’t a great start to their relationship!

3 – Once you are home – Make sure you see them all drinking and eating. If it is late, it is especially important to make sure they eat before going to bed. Food in their crops will provide energy and help keep them warm through the night. Your hens will have only ever eaten crumb. The rescue centre will probably advice you to continue with crumb until they settle, but I have never had a problem with them going straight onto pellets – they are usually just grateful to have food they don’t have to fight over!

4 – Expect to have to lift your girls to bed for the first few nights. They won’t understand that there is a nice warm coop waiting up the ladder, and will probably just huddle down together in the corner. Once you have lifted them in they usually get the hang of going to bed by themselves within a week.

5 – Day 1 – It is wonderful to watch your girls explore your garden for the very fist time. Watching them instinctively scratch at the grass and flap and stretch their wings is hugely heart warming! You will probably find some eggs too! Keep a close eye on them for a few days as the great outdoors is completely alien to them, and the more often they see you, the quicker they will learn that you are friend not threat.

6 – Will your hens be warm enough? The BHWT advise that even hens with very few hens will be ok, unless it is unusually cold. Just ensure they eat just before going to bed and give them a thick bed. They advice against jackets and jumpers as they are inclined to get caught in them and they can cause more trouble than they solve. Feed a good protein rich diet (Super Seeds are the ideal treat for rescue hens) and within a few weeks you will see new feathers growing.

7 – If you have hens already, it is best to introduce your new girls at night. Expect some squabbles for a few days as they re-establish their pecking order and keep some poultry-safe antiseptic spray to hand in case of any injury. I have never had any issues when introducing new birds but they have plenty of room and I always have several food stations so no one has to share. Even your new girls may fight with one another as they may never have met before.

________

It is not just ex-battery hens who have a very short life. Commercial free-range birds are also only kept for 13 – 18 months. You may be able to buy a few from your local free-range egg producer. We have had many this way. They are usually in better condition than ex-batts but still in much need of tlc.

For further information on rescue hens, visit the British Hen Welfare Trust

Wha’t the difference between Activated and Non-Activated Charcoal?

charcoal for dogs, charcoal for horses, charcoal for chickens. non-activated charcoal

Nutritional charcoal comes in two forms – activated charcoal and non-activated charcoal. But what is the difference?

Activated charcoal is where ordinary charcoal has been treated to increase its surface area. This may be carried out by physical activation using gasses and super high temperatures or chemical activation. The result is a highly porous charcoal with a massive surface area which acts a bit like a sponge. As activated charcoal is so porous there is a danger that it will take out some of the good stuff as well as the bad. This includes medicines as well as vitamins and nutrients which could have a detrimental effect if fed long term. 

Non-activated charcoal is exactly how the carbonated wood comes out of the kiln. By it’s very nature, it is still very adsorbent, but not as porous as the activated version. This means it can be fed on a more long-term basis without the risk of flushing out important nutrients in the diet. 

What makes our Pure Devon Charcoal different?

1 – Pure Devon charcoal is not activated. It is a traditionally made, natural product without the involvement of chemicals or modern science. Therefore, it has a more gentle, natural, effect and is more suitable for long term use. It wouldn’t be the first choice for treating an acute poisoning, but as it isn’t so porous you won’t be losing vitamins from the diet when feeding everyday.

2 – Our product is made from sustainably sourced hardwood on Exmoor. Most other charcoal in the UK (whether activated or not) is made from imported wood and coconut shells. Transporting wood around the globe just for making charcoal supplements obviously has a massive environmental impact! 

3 – Our charcoal is a truly artisan product, made by hand to exacting standards. It even has FEMAS accreditiion – the gold standard European Approval for the manufacture of animal feeds. 

What is it for? 

🐎 For Horses: 

Feed Charcoal to horses with a sensitive gut – they could be twitchy, stressy and generally uncomfortable around the gut area, ex-racehorses are particularly prone to this. They could have loose droppings as a result of a change in feed or routine, or have habits such as crib biting or soil eating. These horses are often difficult to keep weight on and fussy feeders with feisty or ‘hot’ temperaments. 

🐕 For dogs:

Charcoal is great for dogs with a sensitive tummy. It helps to prevent flatulence and soothe the gut, making it a great natural choice for dogs prone to upset tummies. It can help those dogs who are difficult to keep weight on and picky eaters. Most dogs find it palatable, just mix it with a damp feed.

🐔 Chickens:

If you have ever had a bonfire in the garden, you may have seen your chickens pecking around in the ash. Charcoal sweetens the crop and  maintains a healthy digestive system. It also promotes weight gain and egg production. As charcoal helps to adsorb ammonia it improves the environment within their coop by improving air quality. 

Learn more about Pure Devon Charcoal here

What is Sour Crop?

sour crop, hens, chickens, poultry, free range, bhwt

If you keep chickens, you are bound to have come across the term ‘sour crop’. It is one of the most common chicken ailments. Here is what you need to know:

What is the Crop?

The crop is part of the bird’s digestive system. It is a small pouch in the chest, sitting to the right of the breast bone. The food is stored in the crop before moving on to the gizzard where it is ground down ready for absorption. In the mornings your birds’ crops will be empty, but after a day eating you can feel that it is full up again.

Sour Crop

Sour Crop is caused by a Candida yeast infection. It can cause thickening of the crop wall that makes a blockage more likely. One of the indicators of the disease is foul smelling breath, like sour milk, hence its name.  Sour crop causes weight loss and even death as the bird cannot eat or digest its food properly.

What causes Sour Crop?

The candida yeast are naturally part of the microflora, it is only when they take over the healthy bacteria that they cause a problem. This could be due to poor diet, damage to the crop, impaction of foods and worm infestation. Conditions that damage the healthy bacteria allow the candida to grow. Dirty conditions increase the risk, as does a course of antibiotics, which also kill the good bacteria and therefore upset the natural balance of microflora.

The Symptoms:

As well as looking generally unwell, your chicken may be reluctant to eat. It’s crop could be full in the morning, suggesting that yesterday’s food is still blocked in the crop. If a sour white liquid is secreted from its mouth the condition has reached an advanced stage.

Treatment:

There are several online recommendations for massaging the crop and withdrawing food, but you should always contact your Vet first. Fungicidal medication may be required (anti-biotics are not effective).

Prevention:

  • Always ensure your hens have access to fresh drinking water
  • Keep their living conditions clean and free from faeces
  • Only feed fresh food
  • Limit starchy foods like bread or pasta as these can block the crop (especially as hens tend to love them and eat too much at once! High starch foods are also poor nutritionally)
  • Feed grit for a healthy digestive system. (see Gastro Grit)
  • Feeding cider vinegar is good for promoting the healthy bacteria and maintaining the correct acidity in the gut. (See Pure Devon Cider Vinegar, which is unfiltered and full of all the good stuff)

Mud Fever – Causes, Treatment & Prevention

mud fever, horses, muddy horse, rain scald, scratches

There is no getting away from it – winter is coming and soon the mud will return. Here is all you need to know about mud fever in horses…

The Cause of Mud Fever –

Mud Fever is caused by a bacteria called dermatophilus congolensis. This bacteria is also responsible for Rain Scald. The bacteria lives in soil and on the skin of our horses, but when the skin becomes weakened by continuous wet conditions, and if there are any small scratches and wounds, the bacteria can enter the body and cause an infection.

However, mud fever isn’t just a skin problem. The reason why some horses get it and others don’t is down to the immune system.  Some horses are more sensitive to the bacteria, and their body is less able to fight it off.  This may be a natural trait, or they may have other conditions which are putting the immune system under pressure (such as a dust allergy, cough, age, poor diet, hard training schedule etc). A poor immune system will make them more prone to  mud fever.

 

How to Treat Mud Fever –

The reason why Mud Fever is so difficult to treat is because you have to keep your horse out of the mud. Easier said than done! Most vets will tell you that you need to remove the scabs. The scab forms a nice little protective cover allowing the bacteria to thrive underneath. Removing the scabs is painful and whether you can do it or not depends on your horse. Applying  aqueous cream and then wrapping in cling film before bandaging will help to soften them.  Washing in medicated shampoo – and drying thoroughly, and then using Veterinary prescribed creams such as Flamazine are very effective.  It is also important to ensure that your horse is in optimum health to help him to naturally fight off the bacteria for himself. Feeding a supplement rich in anti-oxidants, Such as Skin Saver, will support the immune system and help maintain healthy skin.

 

How to Prevent Mud Fever

As mud fever is so difficult to treat, it is vital to try to prevent it from taking hold in the first place. You should do this from the outside AND the inside. Regularly checking the legs and pasterns is vital. Whether you should or shouldn’t wash the legs regularly is much debated. It may be best to dry the legs as quickly as possible and then gently brush the mud off.  There are many barrier creams and turnout boots on the market, but if the legs are not spotless underneath they could end up harbouring bacteria or even rubbing and weakening the skin further.   Feeding a balanced diet and a supplement to support the immune system and promote healthy skin may help to stop the condition from taking hold.

 

But what if you are doing everything and it still isn’t getting any better?

Mud Fever is similar to other conditions, and it is also very easy to get secondary infections. If you are not seeing an improvement contact your Vet. Conditions like vasculitis, mites and photosensitivity will produce similar symptoms but require a different treatment regime.

Could you be our Brand Ambassador?

brand ambassador

The Little Feed Company is looking for a Brand Ambassador! To be considered please send your entry to us by Friday 5th October.

The Ambassador will:

  • Be over 16
  • Live in mainland UK (South West England would be an advantage but not essential)
  • Compete with either horses or dogs at an affiliated / regional level
  • Be able to demonstrate that they can represent the company values of The Little Feed Company
  • Be heavily involved in their sport in their local area, either as a competitor and / or as atrainer.
  • Have a great presence on social media with good engagement with their followers. Perhaps their own blog or youtube channel.

 

The Little Feed Company Offers:

  • The Little Feed Company agrees to offer sponsorship to The Ambassador in the form of free products in return for promoting & supporting The Little Feed Company brand.
  • The Ambassador will be given a 6 month trial, and if successful this will be extended for a further 6 months.
  • The Little Feed Company will give their Ambassador products for use on their horses / dogs and other animals up to the value of £500  (at retail price) over a 12 month period.  This will be split into two, so £250 for the first 6 months, with £250 for the second 6 months should the trial be successful.
  • The Little Feed Company will provide The Ambassador with a few items of branded clothing & saddle cloths to be worn at events & training sessions when ever possible.

 

In return, The Ambassador will:

  • Promote The Little Feed Company brand on his social media streams
  • Wear branded clothing and saddle cloths at events & training sessions, when appropriate.
  • Provide latest results and any other news for The Little Feed Company to post on social media etc
  • Provide good quality copyright free images for The Little Feed Company to use.
  • Provide 1 or 2 blogs or vlogs for exclusive use by The Little Feed Company each month. Subject matter / topics to be discussed & agreed beforehand. Examples would be training tips, how to? articles, interviews, competition reports etc
  • Not accept any sponsorship / ambassordorship from any other company who may compete directly with The Little Feed Company (i.e no other supplement company) or promote another supplement company on his social media platforms.

How to Enter:

Send us an email, a letter or a message via facebook. Send us photos or videos and make your application stand out! Tell us where you are based and include links to your social media pages (if you have them) Contact us before October 5th to be considered.

info@thelittlefeedcompany.co.uk

Why do Chickens Need Grit?

grit for chickens, oyster shell

Chickens need two different types of grit for two different reasons…

    1.   Chickens need grit because they don’t have teeth!

When we eat, our teeth grind the food down into small particles before swallowing. This not only starts the digestion process by mixing the food with saliva, but the smaller particles of food are easier for our body to digest and break down. Without teeth, chickens are swallowing their food whole – you have probably seen the excitement when they try to swallow an enormous worm – it is quite a challenge!

After swallowing, the chicken’s food enters the Crop. This is like an enlarged storage compartment. From there, the food enters the Gizzard (the equivalent of our stomach) The Gizzard is a muscular pouch which mixes and churns the food at the start of the digestive process.  When we feed our chickens grit, and the grit reaches the Gizzard, it is used to help grind the food into smaller particles, just like our teeth would have done.   Chickens therefore need to eat grit and small stones to aid the digestion of their food.

 

2. Your hens need soluble & insoluble grits in their diet:

We have already mentioned that there are two reasons why chickens need grit, and two types of grit. For digesting food, chickens need mainly insoluble grits which will hang around in the gizzard for grinding. But, chickens also need soluble grits which are a source of calcium. Soluble grit, such as oyster shell, will dissolve in the digestive system releasing dietary calcium. Chickens need plenty of calcium as this is what gives the egg shell its strength. Without extra calcium their body could reabsorb calcium from their bones, putting their overall health at risk. If your chickens are not laying as often as helped, or are producing soft shelled eggs on a regular basis , they could be lacking calcium in their diet.

 

It is also important to remember that your chickens need extra calcium, and protein, while moulting to help with the growth of new feathers – hens often stop laying while moulting as all their energy goes into feather growth rather than egg production. Supplementing their diet can help speed this process so there are less days without eggs.

Recommended Product: Gastro Grit

Learn more about Gastro Grit  here 

Watch our video comparing the palatability of Gastro Grit vs Ordinary Grit here