HorseHage & Mollichaff Helpline – 01803 527274

March/April 2016

This month we have been working more on our flatwork; the showing divas have had another successful outing and Patch has had some veterinary attention!

Rupert the super all-rounder!

Now that we have had Rupert for almost four years, it’s hard to imagine the yard without him. He’s the kind of horse that you can literally do any discipline with. Ok -maybe not all successfully (Dressage!)

Rupert schooling

He is a very kind horse, but it’s not always plain sailing with him. Although he tries very hard, he can also be a right brat! He gets bored easily, likes to try it on and given half the chance he’d have you on the floor in an instant – but when channelled in the right direction he’s quite the all-rounder. He’s highly annoying to hack in company but bold as a lion when hacking on his own; scared of a leaf blowing on the yard but calmly rides up a busy road in heavy traffic. I’ve never known a horse quite like him.  Show jumping has certainly become his favourite sport – perhaps it’s to do with his Olympic legend of a trainer or the fact that he doesn’t have to get his precious hooves muddy. Either way, I am glad this is the direction we are now going in.

Cassie with Rupert

His second forte – showing, brought home more red ribbons this month and three sashes! Slowly Rupert is ticking off my horsey winning bucket list: Rug – Check, Sash – Check, Huge rosette- Check, Winning picture in Horse and Hound – Check …. All that’s left is a car and the Hicksetad Derby (aim high and all that!)

Rupert and Simon with his sashes for showing

This month we have been working on control between the fences as Rupert has become a little confident, me not so! We have also worked on altering the striding between fences using cavaletti and gridwork. Unfortunately there has been a strangles scare in our competition area and many venues have cancelled shows, so it’s been a quiet month on the competition side, but it’s been a nice break to iron out some bad habits.


Patch the personal trainer

Patch schooling

Patch is feeling fantastic at the moment. He started the month a little stiff and I noticed that the more flatwork we were doing, the more I noticed it. I got Simon to have a look at him and he found him to be slightly lame behind. He x-rayed his hocks and found that he had some arthritic changes on the joint. We then decided to medicate his hocks, which has made a huge difference. The lameness was only subtle but since he has had this done, it’s made him feel a lot more athletic.

Patch having hocks x-rayed

I have noticed a huge difference in my own fitness since having Patch back in full work. Getting him eventing fit does require the rider to be a lot fitter than I was! So we have both been on a fitness regime together. Patch is doing lots of road work, hills and cantering and I am doing a lot of work on my bike. Working as an equine dentist also offers the advantage of developing upper body strength. We didn’t enter the event we were aiming for – Sapey Horse Trials – due to the weather. I am glad we made that decision early on as it has since been abandoned.

Patch out hacking

This week we are off to a dressage clinic and then a competition. Our plans were also slightly affected with lots of events in our area being cancelled.

Poppy the birthday girl!

Poppy is 20-years-old this month and to celebrate we are having a few friends over for ‘Poppy’s 20th Carrots, Cupcake’s and Cocktails Party!’ I think she will certainly like all the attention! Other than that she is still doing a great job of keeping the boys in order, enjoying some lovely hacking and generally being a good doer! I never thought I would have a Thoroughbred veteran that held its condition as well as Poppy is doing – she looks fantastic! I am certain that Mollichaff Veteran has paid a huge part in keeping her looking great over the winter.

Poppy snoozing

Last month I promised that I would get Simon to write a little bit on gastric ulceration, and here it is. Hopefully some of you will find this useful especially those who are competing or those who have horses prone to becoming a little stressed.

That’s all from me,



Gastric Ulceration by Simon Woods, BVSc, MRCVS

Gastric ulceration is a common condition in all types of horses. Studies have shown that 93% of racehorses, 63% of competition horses and even up to 37% of leisure horses can be affected by gastric ulceration.


What is gastric ulceration?

Gastric ulceration is when there is ulcer within the lining (mucosa) of the stomach wall. An ulcer is when this lining is disturbed and not intact. There are four different grades of gastric ulceration ranging from grade 0 (no ulcers present) to grade 4 (large extensive bleeding ulcers).


What causes gastric ulceration?

Feeding regimes, management, lifestyle, exercise and stress can all play parts in causing gastric ulceration. As horses are naturally trickle feeders (eating for the majority of the day), their stomachs have evolved to secrete acid into the stomach continuously. If there is no food in the stomach there is no buffer to the acid and so can make the stomach wall probe to erosion from the acid. Feeds that are high in starches and carbohydrates, those that cause a quick transit through the stomach and limited access to grazing can all increase the chance of ulceration.


How can you treat gastric ulceration?

Gastric ulceration can be treated in a number of ways. Severe cases may need a course of omeprazole (proton pump inhibitor) to help heal the ulcers, whilst mild cases may respond to management and diet change. It is important to look at management changes with all cases as often if it is left to the same regime, the ulcers will return once treatment has finished. Increasing turnout and grazing, decreasing stress, changing feeds towards high oil, high fibre, low starch, low carbohydrate rations can also help. Using chaffs such as Mollichaff Alfalfa Oil can help increase chewing time, meaning more saliva buffers the stomach acid and also stay in the stomach longer to buffer the acid.