Do you want to know the secrets of Eric Lamaze’s show groom Bo Vaanholt? WOSJ talked to the Dutch super groom about how Lamaze’s team keeps his horses healthy and happy to perform their best, as well as getting some travelling advice – and of course we get Bo's tips on how to make the horses look amazing in the ring.
“I always make sure that the horses have enough space when travelling on the truck, so that they don’t arrive and feel sore in their muscles. On a long trip, this is especially important. I also make sure that the horses have enough fresh air, because it can easily get quite stuffy and sticky in the truck – so you need good ventilation.
On the truck, my horses usually travel with bandages on all four legs as well as bell boots on. However, there are a few that can not wear back bandages – but then they just have them in front. In general, I don’t use a lot of blankets, but it of course depends on when you travel – during the night or day – as well as the outside temperature. If I use a blanket, it is usually a light sheet to protect the horses’ backs from getting any cold wind on them. If the horses start sweating on the truck, there is a good chance they can get sick – so I prefer the horses to be on the cooler side rather than being too warm.
I don’t feed mine anything on the truck. We usually travel during night, so they have their dinner at home before they leave and the breakfast when they arrive. Horses that are a bit sensitive get a Gastro Guard before I leave, just to make sure everything is ok."
"When we fly, I always bear in mind that it can take up to a day from the moment we leave home until we actually fly out with the horses. We always take a flight bag for each horse with a blanket, an extra head colllar and extra feed for each of them.
We always bring them a bit of their regular feed mixed with mash and carrots, as it is easy to digest for the horses and they should not have too much heavy food in their stomachs when they travel as they stand still for a long period of time. Also, we give them Gastro Guard before we fly. As soon as we start loading the horses in the pallets, we give them a big hay net – that keeps them busy as it usually takes a long time to load.
We give them as much water as they want during the flight, but we usually don’t feed them. If you figure it out well with your timing, you can feed them before they get into the plane and then when they arrive.
If you fly into a destination where the horses have to go into quarantine, you also have to remember that they usually don’t get fed anything else then hay while there. So, it is also not good to feed them lots before they arrive as they will be cut off for two days – bringing them slowly down on the food then is better for the system.
We never put sheets on the horses during the flight, as it gets really hot in the containers. Secondly, if something should happen it is really difficult to get into the horses and it could potentially also be quite dangerous. So as far as bandages go, some we fly with and some without – for the same reasons. If we know they travel well they might wear them, if not they don’t. It could actually be more dangerous to have them on, than not have them on at all. The truck you can park at the gas station, and you can get into the horses should something happen – but as soon as they go into the container it is very hard to access them. I also find that the horses travel better when flying than on the truck, so usually they are very quiet and travelling without is not a big safety issue."
“Our horses get Cavalor feed. We mostly use the PerforMix and the SuperForce, that are quite high on energy. In my opinion the horses need that, even if they are quite hot – they still need their energy for the amount of work they do. If the horses are very hot, we try to fill up their food with some other kind – like StrucoMix which is more herbal and lower on energy. Also, our horses get mash every evening together with oil.
When our horses have a day off and just go in the walker or in the paddock, they have a normal breakfast but for dinner they only get mash – as it would get too heavy with normal feeding when not having worked properly.
We also use the electrolytes from Cavalor, which they get every single day. Then, we give them Tri-Acta – which is a joint support. What I really like to feed the horses is Succeed, which provides natural support for the horses’ digestive health and immunity. We also give the horses oil for their digestion, skin and coats. Some horses get a few extra, specific supplements – if they are stiff they get Vitamin E every day and if we have a few that need to build muscle they get Myo-Plast.”
“My braids depend on the horse. I like my braid to be quite small, but first I always look at the mane of the horse and how it is build. For a small horse with a thin mane, I would make less braids in stead of lots of small ones – but if I have stallion with a beautiful neck and really nice mane I make lots of smaller ones and I think that looks really pretty. I also always use Quic Braid, which makes the mane sticky and allows you to do each braid down very tight as well as collecting all the lose small hairs. Once you are used to the Quic Braid, you can not live without it anymore.
For the hoofs we use a really normal hoof grease, every day – inside and outside. You also have to make sure the hoofs are properly cleaned first; this is one of the most important thing for a healthy and happy hoof. For horses that have hoofs that break quite easily, we use Keratex which makes the hoof really strong.
We bath our horses quite a lot with shampoo. It’s not ideal, but when we are in Florida for example it is necessary as there can be a lot of bacteria in the footing due to the warm and humid weather and we don’t want the horses to get any skin problems. So, while we are there they have to be kept really clean and it’s not enough with a brush. While in Florida, I use a lot of vinegar for the skin as it keeps it very clean. After the horses have had a regular shampoo bath, I give them a vinegar bath – three quarters of water and a quarter of vinegar. I just sponge it on and don’t rinse it off. That makes the trick. On the other hand, when we are in Europe we wash a lot less…”
“Eric is sponsored by Dyon, and I love their tack – the leather quality is amazing and the tack fits the horses really well. They have a huge catalogue with so many different options, so you can always find whatever fits best for your horse.
When the bridles are new, we oil them and after this it is just about maintenance – water and Stübben saddle soap is all we use so there is really nothing special!”
As told to World of Showjumping by Bo Vaanholt // Text © World of Showjumping // Pictures © World of Showjumping or private
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