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I mentioned in my Dodson & Horrell Barley Rings that my one horse suffered a lot of weight loss a few years ago due to suffering from a foot condition and the stress of travelling a lot. It wasn't just weight he lost but he also lost muscle condition which takes a while to build back up. For the pas few years since he was diagnosed he has been put on a weight building diet and to this day he still remains on it just not quite as intense as he does still struggle with his weight although not as much.
Although I am a big fan of Allen & Page feeds I do also use Dodson & Horrell feeds as I find they also offer a great range of products. One mix I used and still do is the Dodson & Horrell Build Up Mix. The mix is designed for those horses who require a bit of help with weight gain and condition. My lad is prone to losing weight so this mix seemed like a perfect feed to give him.
Weight and condition loss can happen for a number of reasons; it may be due to cold weather, lack of grass, a stressful environment where the horse is fretting, the workload being performed or a clinical reason such as worms or poor teeth. In my horse's case it was a mixture of stress and clinical reasons with his feet.
Dodson & Horrell colour code all of their feed bags which make it easy to locate your feed in a large feed warehouse. The bag of Build Up Mix is yellow and blue in colour which does stand out compared to other bags. On the front of the bag is a lovely image of a coloured horse together with the D&H logo. On the back of the bags there is the feeding instructions as well as ingredients. The bags are made from reinforced paper so even though they are tough they can rip if your not careful but it does mean that they can be recycled. The bags are tightly folded over at the top and are easy to open.
The mix is a variety of pellets and flakes and are all small in size. The smell of the feed is not as nice as say a mix with added herbs but it is a perfectly pleasant aroma and certainly nothing off putting. I do find that my horses prefer a feed with a slight aroma to it as I think they find it more enjoyable. Build Up Mix is high in calories which helps encourage weight gain, it also as added yeast, B vitamins and magnesium. Added lecithin helps improve fat utilisation and supports a calm, even temperament. This helps to provide controlled, slow releasing energy to help minimise excitability. The mix contains essential fatty acids (from palm, linseed and soya oils) for skin and coat condition and is also enhanced with vitamin E & QLC antioxidants to support the immune system. Bio-Saf is also added to the feed to promote a stable hind gut and help promote better feed utilisation.
The Build Up Mix is high in protein which is essential for muscle development but this will only happen if the horse or pony is working in an appropriate exercise regime. If feeding it without actually exercising your horse/ pony the desired condition you want won't happen as they do need to be in enough work to help build up the muscle.
Feeding the Build Up Mix is no different than feeding a basic mix, you just need to know the weight of your horse before you start feeding. Dodson & Horrell recommend that you feed 800g of the mix per 100kg of your horse's bodyweight. It is important that you don't over or under feed your horse as they do require the correct amount of vitamins and minerals. The feed does need to be mixed with a little water before feeding and shouldn't be fed dry. I fed my horse the mix together with barley rings and Dengie Alfa A Oil.
I have been feeding this mix to my one horse now for a few years and although I may have tried other similar mixes I have always come back to this one. The mix is completely dry to the touch despite the high amount of oils used and you can see each individual ingredient from the cooked cereals to the pellets. You do of course need to feed this for a while in order it completely enters your horse or pony's system so results do not happen over night.
My horse can be fussy with his food which is why feeding him the barley rings didn't last very long and I did initially think that because there wasn't a high aroma to the mix that he may turn his nose up but he hasn't so far although he can push his feed around the bowl and look a little unimpressed. To get over this I just add mint to his feed which is highly palatable to horses and makes his dinner smell a lot nicer!
It took a few months for results to appear and that was combined with a structured exercise regime which was put together by vets as well as myself. His coat was wiry to the touch and it looked lack lustre. Even though he is a dapple grey he still had a nice soft sheen to his coat and it looked healthy before all the problems started. Now his coat as lovely shine and it is smooth to the touch and not as patchy in places as it was before. His mane and tail have also benefited from the feed as they are much thicker and seems better to manage than before. His skin is also a lot healthier which is even better.
It did take a while for his weight to increase but it did steadily and he now looks like a well covered horse who is in good shape. He certainly won't ever be a fat horse as that isn't him at all, even before his issues he was never fat or ever overweight but he has a nice covering and his muscle tone and condition has improved but this is all to do with the feed and a good exercise regime. His top line muscles in his neck are now visible and they are strong more importantly to support the exercise and his bodyweight.
Now I know it can't all be a result from the Build Up Mix but I do think the mix helps promote weight gain and condition and I haven't stopped feeding it because I am pleased with the results. The only thing I can fault it on is the aroma especially as my horse can be slightly fussy and the mix doesn't have such a flavoursome aroma as other mixes but that is my only gripe about it. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who owns a horse or pony that is prone to weight loss and needs to help put it back on together with condition.
The feed comes in a 20kg bag and costs around £12 per bag (varies depending on where you buy it). It is available from all Dodson & Horrell stockists and can be found in a store or online.