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Sonja’s Tribute To Sam

Sam 18th July

Sam was a much loved and adored pony who was welcomed into the Walker family over 11 years ago. Standing at 14hh, this 22-year-old black Dales x Cob was the sweetest natured pony you could meet and charmed everyone who met him by performing his tricks in turn for receiving treats (low sugar ones, of course!).

Said Sam’s owner, Sonja: “He loved to show his smile, flashing his moustache in the hope for an additional treat!”

“Sam and I were a team, supporting each other through the difficult times. Horses do not ask for much – they just want you to show them kindness, love and care for them and show mutual respect and that is what Sam and I had for each other and it was evident for everyone to see.”

Although Sam had never had laminitis, he was the type of pony who could be prone to it, so when Sonja first got him she took advice from a qualified equine nutritionist about what was the best feed for him and how to keep him at the correct weight, thus minimising the risk as far as was reasonably possible. He was a typical cob – a good doer who loved his food and would hoover up all the grass given half the chance! He was on restricted grazing with an electric fence which was extended by a small amount every couple of days. If there was sunshine and rain, then the paddock was reduced to allow for the additional growth spurt of grass. Due to Sam having restricted grazing, Sonja supplemented his diet with Timothy HorseHage, chaff and a low sugar/high fibre beet plus a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement.

Sonja has used HorseHage for many years and was impressed with its excellent quality and any questions she had about it were answered by knowledgeable and friendly staff at her supplier.

HorseHage Timothy

For the first three years Sam was kept at a livery yard and Sonja bought everything in for him as the haylage provided by the yard was not suitable for his needs. Many yards provide regular ryegrass haylage which is simply not suitable for ponies prone to laminitis, a case of one size fits all. Sam was then moved home for his last eight and a half years with Sonja.

Through her research she knew that as horses get older their chances of being diagnosed with problems increased, so Sam’s diet was strictly controlled and he maintained his correct weight well, with Sonja using a weigh tape on a regular basis. However, six months after having colic surgery he went from being a good doer to being the complete opposite. This meant that he required additional calories from feeds that also needed to be low in sugar and starch. Thanks to advice from her equine nutritionist, Sonja was able to achieve this and often received compliments from Sam’s vet about how well he looked and the fact he was never overweight. Ideally horses should be fed little and often and Sonja and her family were in a position to cater for this so between them Sam got fed every
two and a half hours, with either Timothy HorseHage or chaff mixed with the low sugar/high fibre beet. Every morsel he ate was weighed out but Sonja did have a rest at night time!

Sam had his first bout of laminitis in June 2016, but it was low grade and he recovered within a few days. His grazing became even more restricted but in order to
give him as much freedom in his paddock as possible, a gardener friend of Sonja’s used an industrial strimmer to remove as much grass as possible, leaving only bare ground. This idea worked wonders although it was incredibly time consuming, it allowed Sam to have a much larger paddock.

His diet was high fibre and low in sugar and starch which is so important when dealing with a pony that is prone to laminitis.

Sam 4 August

Despite him being on a diet suitable for a pony that could be prone to laminitis, his nutritionist re-evaluated his diet to reduce the sugar and starch levels even further. The only part of his diet to remain untouched was his Timothy HorseHage, of which Sam relished every mouthful.

Sonja chose Timothy HorseHage as she was advised that in terms of its analysis, it is the most stable in terms of sugar and starch levels out of any of the forages. Having analysed many batches of hay she found some of the sugar levels to be very high. Although owners are advised to soak hay to reduce the sugar levels, there is a lot of conflicting advice out there as to how long you are meant to soak for and at what temperature. With Timothy HorseHage Sonja got excellent quality and it was easy to use, plus Sam thoroughly enjoyed it. Timothy HorseHage is made from timothy grass which has a different ‘nose’ to ryegrass and is extremely palatable to horses and ponies.

Sonja wanted to tell Sam’s story to help others who may have ponies that are prone to laminitis.

Said Sonja: “I can’t stress the importance of taking expert advice from a qualified equine nutritionist. I have worked with the same one since I got Sam and I could not have managed without her help, advice and support.”

Posted in Uncategorized by admin.

A Happy Ending For Rescued Shetland Pony, Pearl!

In 2013, Essex-based horse lover, Ellie Ingram, was contacted by a friend who told her she had heard about 25 Shetland ponies on their way to slaughter as they were deemed as ‘wastage’. The friend agreed to take two of the ponies and Ellie agreed to be responsible for their day-to-day care. They named the pair Pearl and Peaches.


Ellie’s friend then moved away to Wales so they decided she would take Peaches with her as a companion for her horse and Ellie agreed to keep Pearl. Ellie had recently lost her 26-year-old son in tragic circumstances and spent a lot of time helping her friend with the horses as it was a real help to her whilst she was grieving, and so Pearl became her life-saver, giving her a reason to go on. Ellie describes her as her very own ‘My Little Pony’, standing at just nine hands high, with her passport name of Banoffee reflecting her beautiful colouring of cream and white Palomino with a flaxen mane and tail.

When they first arrived, Pearl wouldn’t even go into a stable and so had to be kept in the manège. She would compete for food and hay and always had her ears back. The little Shetland had obviously been neglected for some time and had a resistant worm load and many scabs on her skin as well as being overweight.  Her hooves were cracked and splitting and she had lice. Ellie tried many different feeds which were suitable for horses and ponies prone to laminitis but had to keep adding linseed meal and supplements for Pearl’s hoof condition.

Shetland ponies are the Labradors of the horse world and love their feed, grass and forage and Pearl was no different. Ellie was soaking her hay every day to keep her satisfied and trickle-feeding. She also used a feeding muzzle when Pearl was turned out, to slow down her grass intake. Her main problem was sourcing a suitable feed that offered palatability, digestibility and longer satisfaction without high levels of sugar and starch but she didn’t want to reduce her energy levels.

In January this year, Ellie heard about Mollichaff HoofKind Complete – a complete fibre-based feed which is low in starch and sugar and does not contain any cereals. It provides a low level but high quality protein with restricted calories and is ideal for horses and ponies prone to laminitis. Because it’s high in fibre, it takes Pearl longer to chew and so she is more satisfied. Mollichaff HoofKind Complete is exactly that – ‘complete’. It contains a broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement and when fed at the recommended levels, it provides all Pearl’s dietary requirements and so can be used as the sole concentrate feed alongside plenty of good quality forage.


Said Ellie: “I have noticed that since Pearl has been on Mollichaff HoofKind Complete she is more satisfied with her feed and seems to enjoy the chewing of it, rather than bolting it down. I no longer need to add any supplements and so it saves time and I am confident that Pearl is getting everything she needs for her energy without the complication of too much sugar and starch, which helps with preventing her becoming overweight and prone to laminitis.”


“She is now a very different pony to the one we rescued. Her hooves, mane and tail are in tip-top condition and her temperament is so calm. She has no stereotypies, comes to call and can be handled, groomed and plaited up by a child in safety. She is currently ridden by my eight-year-old grand-daughter and has been trained to harness as well as doing a little jumping, although as Pearl is now fifteen, this isn’t a regular activity. I hope she can go on to be a great first pony to another child as she’s now in great health and has excellent manners.”

“I would not hesitate to recommend Mollichaff HoofKind Complete as I believe it has made a real difference to Pearl and has been well-researched nutritionally to provide the perfect feed for ponies that are good doers and prone to laminitis.”

Mollichaff HoofKind Complete

Posted in HoofKind Mollichaff Hoofkind by admin.

The Sky’s The Limit For New Therapy Donkey


Bryndafydd Animal Assisted Therapy which is supported by Mollichaff Donkey, has a new star on the scene!

With huge hooves to fill, it is hoped that new donkey, Sky, will take over the role of being a very special therapy donkey following the retirement last year of 26-year-old Enoch, a foster donkey from The Donkey Sanctuary. Enoch was the absolute master in visiting nursing homes, hospices and hospitals. He formed a strong bond with his foster owner, Ann Slater, which gave him the confidence to happily enter any environment and to bring happiness and love to many people. He is now enjoying his retirement and just has twice weekly visits from school children to keep him ticking over.

Although Ann’s five other donkeys are very well behaved and do a great job as therapy animals, Ann wasn’t sure that they had quite the temperaments required to do the very important duties of visiting hospital wards and nursing home bedrooms. Her miniature Shetland pony, Robbie, has mastered the role perfectly and often accompanies her, but fantastic as he is, it’s the donkeys that seem to really inspire and bring out the confidence in many people.

So with help from the grooms at The Donkey Sanctuary, Ann has been searching for the right donkey to follow in Enoch’s footsteps. She wanted a small gelding suitable for therapy work but ended up travelling down the M5 to meet a 12.1hh mare called Sky – not quite what she envisaged.

However, she went with an open mind and as soon as she met Sky for the first time, Ann immediately knew that she had the vital characteristics required for the task ahead and that the grooms had made a great choice.


Said Ann: “She has a calm nature and her love of people just makes her perfect for the job!”

So Sky is now in residence at Bryndafydd Animal Assisted Therapy and over the next 12 months will settle in to establish a bond with Ann. She will experience meeting new people and new environments until Ann is sure she is fully ready to make special visits as a fully- fledged therapy donkey.

Posted in MolliChaff Donkey by admin.

Variety Is The Spice of Life For Alfie

Ballydoolagh Alfie, owned by Huddersfield-based endurance rider, Jeni Gilbert, is proof that variety is the spice of life for this 11-year-old Connemara.

Alfie is making his mark in the sport of endurance with Jeni, a former Novice Champion, Endurance GB Senior and Supreme Champion (2007, 2011) and winner of several other titles. He has now completed more than 2300km in 48 competitions in his five year endurance career – an impressive feat for a native breed in a discipline that is dominated with Arab horses.


Photo: West End Photography

Photo: West End Photography

Jeni believes that competing in endurance gives an important advantage over other horse sports. As well as improving the fitness of your horse and regularly assessing his soundness, endurance also helps to develop a horse’s confidence and manners, and gives him great experience in learning to balance and cope with different types of terrain.

Over the past few winters Jeni has expanded on Alfie’s experiences by competing him in Winter Trec, which takes place indoors and so is very different to endurance. It provides obstacles and questions for horse and rider and, although the instant obedience to change of pace proved to be a bit of a challenge for Alfie at first, Jeni is working on improving it! The pair were placed 11th in the National Trec Winter Series last season.

Alfie has also enjoyed turning his hooves to show jumping and cross country classes at riding club level and this summer Jeni looked at other sports as the ground was so hard. He tried eventing, although Jeni handed over the reins for this to Emma Martin, a friend who enjoys jumping. He competed in three BE80 classes and a couple of British Riding Club Area qualifiers, and in the latest one he was placed second with the Ackworth & District RC team out of 75 entrants.

Said Jeni: “He loved the eventing and did fairly well in the dressage, but we were so pleased when he finished on his dressage score with a placing. We do need to work a bit more on his movements as they are slightly different to Trec and endurance. I would say to other riders to make sure your horse is fit and then go ahead and try some other disciplines and see what you and your horse can do!”

Jeni is sponsored by HorseHage and has a wealth of experience. She enjoys endurance riding as a hobby rather than a career.

Mollichaff HoofKind Complete


Posted in Mollichaff Hoofkind by admin.

Pony Success with Mollichaff Donkey!

Missy (Small and Handy) at Hickstead

Missy (Small and Handy) at Hickstead

Although Mollichaff Donkey has been formulated as a complete fibre feed for donkeys, it is also a fantastic low energy choice for horses and ponies too, as young rider, Thalia Nuttall, can testify to.

12-year-old Thalia from Lincolnshire grew up surrounded by donkeys as her father is award-winning beach donkey owner, John Nuttall. She started riding the donkeys at a very young age and moved onto ponies when she was just five years old. Her parents soon realised she was naturally talented and she quickly progressed to show-jumping, having success with her starter ponies, Victor and Cruise, including winning the Under-10 Style & Performance at the Pony of the Year Show 2016 on Another Victory.

Just Ozzie qualifying for HOYS

Just Ozzie qualifying for HOYS

In August 2015, her father purchased a coloured pony called Ozzie – a little skewbald mare standing at 126cm – from Ireland. At eight years old, Ozzie hadn’t really done much and was quite buzzy so not a typical child’s ride. The Nuttall’s decided to let Ozzie settle in for a month or so as Thalia was still only nine years old herself but the pair soon bonded and became friends, forming a close partnership.

Thalia worked hard with Ozzie and they were registered to jump affiliated with British Show Jumping in February 2016, with Ozzie showing promise with her bold jump and character. Over the following two years the partnership had amazing success, qualifying for the Great Yorkshire Show in 2017 and partnering up with Chloe Smith for the Mini Majors class. This achievement was repeated in 2018 and Thalia competed in the Mini Majors again, this time with Nigel Coupe. They also qualified for the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS) at Hickstead; the Graham Heath Equestrian Final at the Scope Festival; the Silver League Final at the British National Championships (finishing in 7th place). But the icing on the cake was winning the Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) qualifier at the British Show Jumping Welsh Home Pony Show at the David Broome Event Centre in July 2018. It was Thalia’s dream to qualify for HOYS on a pony she had produced herself. Sadly she didn’t get the result she hoped for but it was a great experience and a marvellous achievement to produce her own pony to this standard.

Thalia’s other pony, Missy, also qualified for the Great Yorkshire Show; Scope Graham Heath and the Silver League Final as well as the RIHS at Hickstead where they were placed 10th.

Both Thalia’s ponies are fed on Mollichaff Donkey (as are John’s beach donkeys) as it provides a palatable fibre feed which is low in sugar and starch but high in fibre.

Said Michelle (Thalia’s mum) “Mollichaff Donkey provides a good, balanced feed which includes all the vitamins and minerals they need plus soya oil. Both ponies are highly strung and we prefer to feed a fibre-based feed rather than concentrates.  The ponies are also fed on High Fibre or Timothy HorseHage as they have lower energy values and are handy to take to our stay-away shows as the highly compressed bales are easy to fit in the lorry and the ponies love it.”

Thalia with her father John

Thalia with her father John

Mollichaff Donkey is made from a balanced blend of dried grass, fibre pellets, oat straw and soya oil with camomile, mint and lemon balm. It also contains a broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement which includes limestone for additional calcium and magnesium as this is often deficient in UK soils. It is low in sugar, starch and energy and is safe to feed to equines that are prone to laminitis. When fed at the recommended levels, there is no need for further supplementation other than good quality forage, and it can be used as a partial hay replacer.

Thalia is currently coming to the end of her time competing in 128cm classes as she will be 13 years old in May next year so has to move on to the 138cm ponies. She has had an amazing few years with her two lovely ponies, Ozzie & Missy and is currently producing her next pony. So fingers (and hooves!) are all crossed for some good results next season.

Mollichaff Donkey