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Twister – A Donkey’s Tale

At this time of year, with the Christmas story in people’s minds, donkeys often feature on Christmas cards and calendars and are a much-loved part of every Nativity scene and play.

Here’s a heart-warming tale about a little donkey belonging to John Nuttall, whose award-winning donkeys can be seen on the Lincolnshire beaches of Skegness and Cleethorpes and now Mablethorpe.

Help from the family

The little donkey was due to be born in August 2017 and the Nuttall family was very excited at the forthcoming arrival of a donkey foal from one of their favourite donkey mares and their coloured jack donkey, Tyson. Donkey mares are pregnant for a long time – around 11 to 14 months and so this foal had been eagerly awaited. The stable was ready for the birth and a camera was set up so they could keep an eye on things. But once the foal was born and checked over, John soon realised there was a problem. The foal’s front legs weren’t straight and bent round so he was unable to walk and stand properly. This meant that he couldn’t stand up to suckle from his mother and in a newly born foal, this is a serious problem.

John realised he would have to hand rear the little chap, who the family named ‘Twister’ and knew that in the middle of the seaside donkey-ride season, this would be no easy task.

Feeding time

John had to milk Twister’s mother and bottle feed Twister by hand around every three hours, including three feeds through the night. At the same time John was also working all day at the beach and was exhausted. There never seemed to be enough bottles so he had to improvise using plastic soft drinks bottles with a teat on, but little Twister soon got the hang of it.

Improvised feeding bottles

In addition to the hand feeding, there was also the actual problem with Twister’s legs to address, so veterinary help was called in straight away. The problem was confirmed as retracted tendons and special padded splints were applied to hold Twister’s front legs in the correct position and to keep them straight enough for him to be able walk on his toes. This allowed his tendons to stretch so that eventually the problem would be corrected. The padded splints had to be applied very carefully so they were supportive but not too tight and needed to be removed and assessed regularly to avoid pressure sores occurring and so, of course, this added to the list of tasks to be done.

The splint on Twisters legs

A couple of dealers John knew through the donkey business thought he was crazy, taking on a deformed colt that was worth nothing and suggested he just let him die and buy another, but John was determined that Twister would survive and wanted to try his very best for him.
He worked hard to tend to Twister and kept up with the feeds through the height of the summer season with help from his family, and his commitment paid off. The pair now have a very special bond with each other and thankfully, Twister responded really well to the treatment and three months on, he is growing into a healthy and strong, young donkey, who can now gallop around the fields just like the other donkeys.

Getting used to his new legs

All John’s donkeys are fed on Mollichaff Donkey which is a fibre-based complete feed specially formulated for donkeys and is low in starch and sugar. When fed at the recommended level, it needs no further supplementation other than good quality forage or it can be used as a total forage replacer. It contains a broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement which includes magnesium and limestone, and is made from a balanced blend of dried grass, fibre pellets, oat straw and soya oil with camomile, mint and lemon balm. Donkeys can eat adult food from around a month old but still require their mother’s milk which contains vital nutrients and Twister already enjoys tucking into his Mollichaff Donkey each day.

Twister with his mum

Posted in HorseHage MolliChaff MolliChaff Donkey by admin.

Jinx Plays a Starring Role For HorseHage A Decade On!

Jinx, the cute grey pony that appeared in our HorseHage television advert almost a decade ago, is still playing a starring role for the us. Now a veteran at 26 years old, Jinx is the new equine model for Mollichaff HoofKind Complete and will be appearing in our latest press advert for the product.


Jinx was loaned out to Sophie Blee from Susie and Beth Ford and has been with Sophie at her base in Devon for the last 11 years and is a much loved family pony. The pair appeared together in the television advert which was filmed at the yard of eventing icon, Mary King, who, coincidently, had come across Jinx before and recognised him.

Said Sophie, who is now 18: “I used to do show jumping, cross country and dressage with him but we both loved mounted games the most!”

Jinx went to the Pony Club National Championships five times for mounted games and one year was even a member of both the Junior and Senior teams! Most recently, he went with his current rider, Poppy, to the Intermediate Pony Club Championships and he still attends games training twice a week. During the show season he can often be seen doing demonstrations at the Devon County Show and the Royal Cornwall Show amongst other agricultural shows in his local region.


As well as featuring in the advertising for Mollichaff HoofKind Complete, Jinx is fed on the product too.

Said Sophie: “Mollichaff HoofKind Complete is ideal for Jinx. It’s low in starch and sugar and is perfect for good doers as well as horses and ponies that are prone to laminitis, and because it’s a complete feed, I know he’s getting all his vitamins and minerals too.”

Jinx represents the typical type of pony that uses Mollichaff HoofKind Complete and we are thrilled to have him feature in our advertising again. We hope he continues to enjoy mounted games and introduces more young riders to the discipline for years to come.

Mollichaff HoofKind Complete

Emily King’s first HorseHage Blog

Welcome to the first blog from our latest sponsored rider, Emily King (21). 

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Emily, who is just 21 years of age, competed at her first event aged just 12 and represented Great Britain at the age of 15, finishing 7th overall. She won individual silver at the Junior Europeans in 2012, team gold in the Young Rider Europeans in 2015 and in the same year made her four-star debut at Pau, finishing in fourth place. We will be running a regular blog from Emily so watch this space!

Emily King
A Great End To The 2017 Eventing Season

“We had a great end to the competition season with a mixture of inevitable ups and downs! Our first autumn international was up in the beautiful Cairngorms, at Blair Castle. It’s the most stunning and picturesque setting – just like entering a scene from Game of Thrones. It was a fantastic week… Zara (Walitze F Vejgard) did a beautiful test in the CCI**, followed by an awesome clear inside the time cross country, which pulled us up to the top spot. Unfortunately after having an early fence down in the show jumping, the title slipped out of our grasp and we finished runner up. Still – it was a hotly contested CCI**, so I was very pleased with Zar! She’d finished runner up in the CIC** at Bicton a few weeks before – so she’s really made her mark at that level.

Zara finishing 2nd at Blair Castle


Zara being groomed in the truck by Katie!

“Amme (Amadeus) was also super and finished 10th in the CCI*. He’s still quite green and babyish but gave me a fantastic ride in the cross country… an exciting future.

Amme at Blair Castle

“Unfortunately it wasn’t the event for Dre (Dargun). He didn’t feel himself in the ERM dressage – he was quite tight and not as happy and forward-thinking as his normal self. He warmed up well for the show jumping, but then when I went into the ring he went very backward-thinking and stopped at the second and third fences, which he’s never done in his life. Once he exited the ring and his adrenaline from the large atmosphere died down, it showed that he had tied up (this is a form of cramp which some horses suffer from due to a chemical imbalance inside their muscles). So unfortunately that was the end of his Blair debut. He travelled home happily and was examined closely by our home vet, Richard Stringer, to make sure he returned to full health as soon as possible.

“I then had a week at home, training and taking the younger horses to shows before re-packing and heading off to Blenheim Palace CCI*** with Dre! He was fantastic – he felt on top form all week, doing a beautiful test of 45. Unfortunately there was a huge difference in marks from one judge compared to the other two and this moved him out of the top few but I was still over the moon. He really is becoming amazingly consistent in the complex 3* tests – he’s so balanced, beautifully uphill and obedient, he’s a pleasure to ride on the flat. After giving me a great ride about the meaty and undulating Blenheim cross country course, unfortunately we were one of the 40%  of starters to fall into trouble at the arrow head, ‘C’ element, of fence 15. You jumped into the dark woods over an upright rail, one stride to a wide ditch, then a curving two strides to the arrowhead. I felt he just genuinely didn’t actually see the final element due to the rustic profile of the brush blending into the dark wonder background. He’s very straight normally and after this little blip, he gave me a fantastic ride around the rest, finishing with plenty of petrol still in the tank. He’s now enjoying a well-deserved holiday and I’m very excited about him for next year!


“The last few events sweetly concluded a successful year, with Zara winning the OIu21 at Pontispool and Quinn (Quinlan Z) winning the Open Novice at Sapey and then going on to finish 10th and winning the leading six-year-old prize at Lignieres, France. I’m immensely proud of Quinn’s progress this year – it’s amazing to think he only jumped his first ever cross country fence in January and now he’s an Intermediate level event horse gaining eleven top ten placings this year, three of them being victories! He’s a stallion and we’ll hopefully collect from him in the Spring so it’ll be exciting to see his offspring hopefully coming up through the levels in a few years’ time! Speaking of babies – we did four embryo transfers with Zara last year, resulting in four beautiful little foals this year (all out of surrogate mums)! They are absolutely adorable! Bay and Fern (by Royaldik) and Maggie and Maple (by Jaguar Mail) are all a picture of health and are dancing around the field, dreaming of filling their mother’s shoes!


Quinn at Lignieres


Maggie and Barry

“As I finish writing this, I’m currently sitting in beautiful, sunny Corfu, where I’m enjoying a rare, beautiful holiday with my boyfriend, Sam. I always think it’s important to soak up a little sun before layering up for the cold, dark winter ahead!! I return home in a few days’ time and then I shall spend the winter training for a few weeks in Germany with the legendary showjumper, Marcus Ehning, and then at home with my younger horses.

Lots of ups and downs and invaluable lessons to take forward to 2018… fingers crossed for a good un!


Posted in Emily King HorseHage by admin.

Great Show Offers at Your Horse Live on Mollichaff Complete!


If you’re going to Your Horse Live this weekend (11th – 12th November), don’t miss our great show offers on the Mollichaff Complete range!

We will be selling Mollichaff Condition Complete at just £6 per bag (RRP: £10.50), and Mollichaff Calmer Complete and Mollichaff HoofKind Complete at just £5 per bag (RRP: £9.50) on HorseHage – Stand number 28.

The offer will only be available at Your Horse Live while stocks last and for cash sales only.

Marvin’s Story

Here we feature the story of Marvin (Spot of Luck) and his owner, Julia Wilkinson, of County Durham. The pair won HorseHage sponsorship for one year and featured in a major advertising campaign. You may also have spotted them on our tradestand back drop at the shows and events we attend.

Julia and Marvin galloping

“My horse Marvin (Spot of Luck) and I have experienced some huge highs over the past few years,” writes Julia Wilkinson of County Durham.

“In 2012, I won a year’s sponsorship from HorseHage and Marvin and I starred in an advertising and marketing campaign for the feed company. As a keen eventer, I had set myself the challenge of competing at the prestigious Mitsubishi Motors Grassroots Championships (now called the Mitsubishi Motors Cup), which takes place at Badminton each May, just before the famous horse trials.

“I was bursting with pride when Marvin and I qualified for Badminton, by winning our section at Burgham Horse Trials to qualify for the Regional Finals which were held at Skipton Horse Trials in August 2013. Luck was on our side again as we jumped a double clear, completing on our dressage score of 22.

“Things didn’t go our way at the finals, unfortunately, and we didn’t finish the cross country, but it was still an amazing experience and an incredible achievement just to get there.

“I had a fantastic few days at the event with my good friends around me, and have some great memories to look back on.

Julia and friends walking the course at Badminton

Julia and friends walking the course at Badminton

“One thing that only my close friends knew during the build up to Badminton was that my husband and I had agreed to split up (and latterly divorce). I stayed with a close friend and then moved to a rented property in the village where Marvin was on livery. That time in my life was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. ”

Moving On
“I had always said that once I had been to Badminton in the Mitsubishi Motors Championship, I would have a break from competing and take my life in a new direction. I was on my own for the first time in 12 years.

“After Badminton, I sold my horsebox as I knew it would not be used very much. I was sad to see it go but knew it was the right decision and I later bought a trailer and did a few BE100s and latterly BE90 competitions as I felt Marvin missed going to a party and when he was there, he felt fantastic. It was lovely to compete without any pressure of needing to qualify for a change!

“I moved permanently to the village I had been staying in, as there were two big positives. Firstly, Marvin was just a mile up the road and secondly, I would be close to my good friend, Karen.

“The village is a lovely place to live and everyone is very friendly. I soon became friends with my new neighbour, Johnny Smith.

“Johnny and I seemed to have a lot in common. He and his wife had also split up, and it was nice to have a friend to talk to, and he felt the same.

“We became close friends and later that year started a relationship – it was time to introduce Jonny to Marvin!

“Johnny loved coming to the farm where Marvin was on livery. He has a busy job as a station manager for the fire service and found that being at the stables was very relaxing for him. We all know there is nothing more uplifting than fresh air and horse muck!


Johnny progressing well

“In March 2015, I asked Johnny if he wanted to have a sit on Marvin. He was a bit nervous at the suggestion, but I helped him get into the saddle and then led him around the indoor school in walk.

“Marvin was a saint, never putting a foot wrong and, to my amazement, Johnny really enjoyed it. He loved it so much, he went out and bought a riding hat and riding boots without me knowing!”


A developing partnership
“I began to help Johnny learn to ride on my amazing horse, who I never thought for a moment would be capable of being so patient with a total beginner.

“In no time at all, Johnny and Marvin progressed to trotting and cantering in the school. They would also hack out around the village, first me with on foot and then with Johnny going it alone.

“The pair were soon trying out some low cross-poles, then little jumps and eventually popping round some of the cross-country fences we have at the yard.

“Johnny loved every minute of his time in the saddle and it was lovely to see Marvin having fun, too.

“Friends at the stables offered me their horses so I could ride out with Johnny. It felt weird to be on another horse and I did feel guilty that I was not on Marvin, but it meant that Johnny would be safe with Marvin and we could enjoy hacking together. I don’t think Marvin really minds!

A first fall
“As Johnny progressed, he went to some unaffiliated show-jumping and cross country competitions at our stables, and at local venues such as Leamside, Ivesley and Gloucester Lodge Farm – the places where Marvin and I started out at.

“One of my favourite days was the Hulne Park Ride, held on the Duke of Northumberland’s estate. A friend lent me their ex-event horse so Johnny and I could go together.

“I can’t tell you how proud I was to be riding around the Duke of Northumberland’s estate with my boyfriend riding my horse of a lifetime. It was also memorable because that’s where Johnny had his first fall from Marvin! If you’re going to fall off, why not fall in style at such a beautiful venue.

“There was an enforced break when Johnny had a hip replacement operation, which meant three months off riding. When he felt ready, he made a steady return to the saddle, with Marvin continuing to be an absolute star and looking after his novice rider.

“It’s wonderful to see Marvin move into older age in fantastic health and as a true schoolmaster in every capacity. He is now 17 years old, so classed as a ‘veteran’, and is so easy for Johnny to manage, both in and out of the stable. This is really good as Johnny has no previous experience of handling horses. He has had to learn how to groom, pick out feet, put on and take off rugs, as well as field management and how to deal with multiple horses around each other.

“Marvin has made all of these things really easy to learn. He has been so patient and has never done anything naughty.”

“We have recently moved livery yards to Ivesley Equestrian Centre, for a number of reasons – one is that it offers access to superb hacking. Also, it holds regular unaffiliated competitions, which Johnny and I can take part in.

Johnny, Marvin and Julia

“This year, we thought it would be great to share Marvin for the events. I competed him in some Novice-level dressage classes and achieved an amazing score of 81 per cent and enjoyed a spin round the 95cms one-day-event.

“Johnny has set his sights on competing in a one-day event and did a ‘show cross’ class in preparation, which combines show-jumping and cross-country. They were brilliant!

“Marvin was very excited to be out competing and was quite a handful in the show jumping – I think he wanted to jump the fences in any order, but it was great to watch. They also had a fantastic cross-country round. Having achieved a double clear, they came second.

“Johnny still has a lot of work to do in the dressage phase – especially as he hasn’t learnt any of the letters around the arena yet – so that’s currently his homework. That said, all you need to do is set Marvin’s satnav – he’s so experienced he’ll take him round! Then they can go off to enjoy what they really love – the fun jumping bits.

“Our last bit of news is that Johnny proposed to me last year, the day after my 40th birthday, so we also have a wedding to look forward to.

“I hope Marvin will be our guest of honour. We know only too well he loves being the main attraction – as long as he doesn’t stand on my dress!

So, we will continue to enjoy life with Marvin and here’s hoping we all have even more exciting times ahead.”


Julia uses Mollichaff Veteran to bulk out Marvin’s feed ration. It’s a high fibre forage mix that’s highly palatable and is ideal for horses and ponies that are unable to consume long stem forage.

Posted in HorseHage MolliChaff by admin.