Horse of the Week – FERGUS



"Fergus is a 9-year-old chestnut, purebred Irish Draught fireball who's been on quite a journey!

Early in 2021, Fergus's performance began to decline. We couldn't get him to gain weight or develop muscle. He had faecal water syndrome and was weak in his ridden work. Between myself, an equine sports therapist, and another great physio, Kazia Lyons, we applied all our knowledge and rehab ideas. We increased his feed, checked his saddle, and spent hours hacking, but Fergus did not improve. He started to get irritable and sore - being a ginger, he can be "quite" expressive with his feelings, so it was very clear that he did not want to be touched. So, we called the vet...

Fergus was found to have extremely mild arthritic changes in the hocks. After some stem cell treatment, box rest, and a fair few weeks of walking and hacking, he got back to groundwork and some schooling. However, despite feeding him vast amounts and correct work, he still didn't thrive. In November 2022, he was scoped for ulcers and had a tiny grade 1 squamous and nothing glandular. Bizarrely, it was found that Fergus does not empty his stomach efficiently, so he would retain food such as chaff up to 72 hours after feeding it. Therefore, cue a horse that was one in a million for the wrong reasons!

Therefore, after research, a diet change was needed! No chaff allowed and a purely forage-based diet required; we at least halved as hay replacer - bring on the vast quantities of soaked grass nuts and sugar beet, with soaked soft hay and grass only. However, Fergus did put on a little weight but was still touchy to deal with, hated being touched and groomed, and still the topline did not develop. In his work, it was difficult to encourage softness and engagement with a lot of resistance. I tried everything for both the fore and hind gut - if there is a supplement, I've tried it, and nothing worked. It was exhausting, and nearly 2 years later, I still could not help Fergus - I cried a lot, I was frustrated, and I just wanted my cheeky chestnut back instead of this angry, irritable, overly sensitive horse whose body was just on fire in all directions. Nothing's more devastating than showing the whole world, as an equine therapist, that my own horse is not thriving. Then I heard on the grapevine about EquiNectar, and after reading the research, I contacted them. Not to lie, I was skeptical, but the research and the reviews spoke for themselves. EquiNectar were incredibly helpful, and soon a 5-litre barrel was winging its way to me! That was in May 2023.

Fergus was weighed in April at 648 kg and recently was weighed in again at a whopping 705 kg - a whole 57 kg in weight gain—which is in old money, 8st 10lbs!

He's on less feed (still just grass nuts and sugar beet, salt, and a vitamin/mineral supplement and extra vitamin E), eating more hay, lessening his grass sensitivities, and keeping his weight on. Fergus's cheeky gingerness is back; he's wanting scratches and is OK with being groomed. His whole body has softened and relaxed, and he's much more engaged when riding. EquiNectar has helped his foot quality, ensuring Fergus is managing very well barefoot. He's got his expression back, and through a carefully implemented rehabilitation plan through groundwork, lots of hacking, and school work, his topline has improved, and he's feeling super strong and confident in himself. He's still sound and is working at elementary dressage level at home while enjoying lots of hacking, groundwork, and turnout. Most importantly, I have my lovely horse back, and we are having a great time!

Through my business, Huquine Sports Therapy, I provide soft tissue therapy for horses, and when it comes to the hind gut, I will always recommend EquiNectar - without dealing with these digestive issues, soft tissue therapy is just a sticking plaster and does not address the primary issue.

I have several clients who now use this, and combining this with soft tissue therapy and therapeutic groundwork, they are seeing the same fantastic results! Their horses are fitter and stronger, and they are absolutely thriving!"

Hayley, Fergus's owner