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When one of my horses was diagnosed with a foot condition a few years ago he took a real decline with his weight and condition. The stress of being in a lot of discomfort and making regular trips to Newmarket really took its toll on my very sensitive horse. In order to help him put weight back on his skeletal looking body I tried a whole host of various feeds in order to find one which he enjoyed to eat and which actually worked.
During his first winter after being diagnosed I purchased a bag of Barley Rings from Dodson & Horrell who are a leading producer of both horse and dog feeds in the equestrian world. Normally I'd shy away from adding more barley into a horse's feed but as he wasn't being ridden it didn't matter how much energy he had just as long he was putting on weight.
Barley is renowned for its conditioning properties and is widely used with horses who require weight gain and help with conditioning their coat. Barley also helps provide energy to a horse or provide additional energy in certain situations. In my case I needed it for weight gain on top of his conditioning mix which also helps with weight gain.
Like most feed producers Dodson & Horrell colour code their feed bags. Barley Rings comes in a pale cream and blue reinforced paper bag which holds around 20kg of barley rings. On the front of the bag there is the Dodson & Horrell logo together with a lovely image of a show horse/pony with an impressive coat condition. On the back of the bag there are feeding instructions together with ingredients. The bag is easy to open as it is simply folded over at the top.
The Barley Rings are as you would expect they are round in shape and are about the size of a 20p piece with a hole in the middle. They are a biscuit brown colour and are made from a barley and linseed mash and dried into the shape of a ring. If you break one in half they snap and have a crunch to them when dry. The cooking process used to produce Barley Rings has been shown to improve small intestine digestibility of starch. Linseed oil provides high quality protein and essential amino acids for a healthy skin and coat.
The Barley Rings are high in calories and are a fuss free and convenient addition to a horse's existing feed and they can be fed dry or soaked. If soaked they form a mush which can be easier for older horses and ponies to eat. You just add hot water to the barley rings in order thy soften and simply mix. The rings are packed full with vitamins and chelated minerals, they also help to provide the horse or pony with a glossy coat and healthy skin.
To feed the Barley Rings you need to know the weight of your horse in order to feed the correct amount. Dodson & Horrell recommend that you should feed 300g of Barley Rings per 100kg of a horse or pony's body weight. Personally when I fed the Barley Rings I fed them alongside his normal weight gain mix and his fibre feed which is Dengie Alfa A Oil. I did make sure he was having the right amount in order not to over or under feed him.
My horse is no longer on the Barley Rings as he doesn't seem to need them anymore as his weight is stable and because his foot condition is well under control his condition is just as it was before. He didn't like the Barley Rings dry and I did have to soak them before hand and then add them to his feed but this was hardly an issue.
The Barley Rings don't have much of a smell to them which was ideal as he is quite a fussy horse when it comes to feeding but after a few months on the Barley Rings he did start to play around with his feed and instead of eating it he would kick his bucket around the stable. Even though they were probably quite bland to the taste there is nothing in the ingredients which is interesting to a horse and I think this is why he got bored of them.
However, despite him loosing interest in his feed which is not good when I was trying to keep weight on him within a few months he had put quite a large amount of weight on and his coat was starting to look a lot better, definitely softer and not so wiry. The main improvement was that you couldn't see his hip and shoulder bones so much, he stopped looking like a starved horses and now looked well covered all over his body. Because he was putting the weight on he was clearly a lot happier and I do think the Barley Rings made a big difference even though I only fed them for a few months.
Definitely a recommend from me unless of course your horse is quite hot headed and excitable as these will just make them worse. But for horses who do need a little help with weight gain and condition then I think these do help and are easy to feed as you simply add them a horse's normal feed. I am only giving them 4 stars just because they are not interesting enough as they have no aroma and I'm guessing pretty bland on the palate.
Come in a 15kg bag and costs around £9 per bag on average. Available at all Dodson & Horrell stockists both in store and online.