World of Showjumping
World of ShowjumpingWorld of Showjumping

Show Trunk Secrets - with Marlen Schannwell

Friday, 18 December 2015
Show Trunk Secrets

Bertram Allen's groom Marlen Schannwell with Romanov. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.
Bertram Allen's groom Marlen Schannwell with Romanov. Photo (c) Jenny Abrahamsson.


“Secrets? H x HHL = is the formula! Horse x Healthy / Happy / Love. You are always in trouble if one of these keys are missing. And you are also in trouble if you discover this at a show. So, make sure to get your home work done!

We are very happy that we have huge airy stables with Belmondo rubber flooring in the boxes, they are like comfy matrasses to support the horses’ joints when sleeping and avoid slipping when they roll or get up. All horses get out daily as well in big grass fields even in rain. There's no bad weather if you are dressed well like in Horseware paddock rugs as they are 100% rain, wind and mud proof.

A clean dust free bed of straw or shavings of good quality, as Plospan XL, is also very important to have horses resting at a high standard when they are at home. If you feel like taking a nap on your horses’ beds yourself, then its just good enough for your horse. I always bring our Plospan shavings from home to the shows to be sure the horses are sleeping in a fluffy dust free bed at the show. Also the horses can get skin reactions of shavings with bad quality and nothing is worse than having a horse with bubbles at the show (if so I always have an emergency kit in the truck with apple vinegar to spray on the skin and malt beer to put in feed).”


To the show bring your own shavings and hay from home, Marlen recommends.
To the show bring your own shavings and hay from home, Marlen recommends.

 “I do the same with the hay; bring our own to make sure the horses have the best nutrition possible as hay is the most important part of a horse diet.

Always, and with no excuses feed forage, hay or haylage first before you fill your horse's stomach with hard feed. This is to help the digesting and avoid acid production in the stomach. 

As we are using Connolly’s Red Mills feed, there are no more worries about the horses’ energy or gastro problems – together with Foran Equine Supplements the horses are well taken care of. Both companies have had a lot of success in the racing industry over the last decades so there is some real brain behind it and the horses love it and it works.

Supplements we feed as little as possible though. If the horse is all happy it only needs saltlick 24/7 or electrolytes if it's hot. Everything else would only confuse the horses’ metabolic system. Well sure, if you want to help your horse build up muscles then feed vitamin E supplements and to support joints and tendon use MSM for example. And a real new wonder weapon for nice coat and hoofs, immunboost and better stamina is Garlic Seaweed from Ireland. 

We take poo and blood samples yearly to make sure everything is sound; that's much cheaper and healthier than 299 supplements…

Much doesn't work, too much will put the levels into negative till toxic – which is very bad for liver and blood and also distracts the horses’ condition. So always check back with your nutrition or count all feeds and supplement ingredients together to make sure you are not over- or under-dosed, and that your horses don't have a lack of fibers or an overdose of protein. It's hard to figure out how much of what every horse needs, but it's worth it to get it right.

So whenever all these issues are sorted out, it's about how to get to the show with the horses arriving there as fit and sound as they left the stables.”


Travelling all over the world with Bertram's horses, Marlen comes with some very good advice as how to take your horses around safely - on the truck or on a plane.
Travelling all over the world with Bertram's horses, Marlen comes with some very good advice as how to take your horses around safely - on a truck or on a plane.

“A safe, comfy and airy ride is what we need. I try to keep every horse on his spot or next to his buddy on the truck to avoid stress and fights. Some horses travel better in a big partition, and some in a very tiny to have something to lean on. After a while you know what is the best seat for your horse. Like Molly Malone for example; she can't stand at the end or the beginning of the truck – so the second or third place is hers, extra wide with the left wall parallel so she can lean on her left shoulder. She needs the feed place too, but to put her head on to have a snooze till we are there.

Lots of shavings is a must, so that especially the stallions are comfy to pee – avoiding bladder infection and colic.

I never feed hay in the truck. I think it only causes problems, and can be dangerous. Hay is dry, if not dusty, and the horses can't put their head down to eat in natural position so they will always start coughing or get an eye infection with the hay bag banging in there face. And if you wet it, it gets very hot in about an hour which is bad for their stomachs. A horse needs ten liters of water per kilo hay to digest it, so unless you water your horse every five minutes to not feed it…

Water they get every five hours with a few carrots or mash in it, even if they don't want to drink they wet their mucous membrane.

On the boat and at the flight or if we travel really long I feed haylage, what is 100% dust free and together with a bucket of water hanging next to it the horses never complained.

To protect the legs, I only use the Veredus stable boots with big pads as they reach over the hoofs. The horses feel comfy with them and you don't need to worry about not 100% perfect sitting bandages.

I always use a rug – or in summer a flysheet or cooler. I hate using elastic girths, they are either too tight or slide, so I prefer blankets with cross girths. I also never use any pads under the rugs to keep the rug from rubbing. If the rug rubs or leaves marks on the horse it doesn't fit, so get a fitting one… Or to be sure get a Horseware one; they last forever and fit perfect."

Ring refinement…

Made by Marlen: Molly's knot plaits.
Made by Marlen: Molly's knot plaits.

“Well, if you will ever see how our horses look at home:-/ They are allowed to be horses so they are quite fluffy and earthy with a little smell of wet dog…

But, if they are on the board to go to the show this coat comes off, then a good shampoo and ready we are!

We use all care products from Veredus, like shampoo, show sheen and hoof grease – they are natural and make them look stunning.

At the show, I love lots of tiny plaits. But unfortunately Molly hates plaits and gets very grumpy if they are too tight so she only gets plaited for important stuff and she knows this. I actually invented some Molly plaits; knotted instead of rolled so they are very loose but last very long.”


Bertram uses CWD products. Photo Jenny Abrahamsson.
Bertram uses CWD products. Photo Jenny Abrahamsson.

"Whenever It comes to the tack there are no excuses. It has to fit perfect. If you are not sure about the right fitting of your bridle, martingale or saddle do not use it until you find help of a salesman or trainer...

Tack is also the wrong part to save money on. If something brakes when you are riding it's to late to regret buying the 30€ bridle.

We are very happy with CWD; Bertram has been using it since he was on ponies and even the 6-year-old bridles are still like new.

For safety I always put a bike tube (26") on the martingal where it is attached to the girth to make sure the horse doesn't get stuck with anything on the buckles. Like this you also don't have problems with sweat and sand as on a sheep skin.

We use Veredus boots as they come in a big range, and fit perfect whilst protecting the horses’ legs. They also look very good and are easy to maintain.

I do use rubber overreach boots on nearly every horse with tape under them just around the bottom of the hoof to secure they stay in place. Some horses have quite soft heels so it's not very comfy if you remove the tape later, so I put make up remover pads under the tape - problem solved.

For turn-out in the field never ever use jumping boots! We use dressage boots or flat work books without straps in front to prevent boot rash soreness.”


"Never forget to bring enough treats and Polo mints!"


As told to WoSJ by Marlen Schannwell who adds a big Merry Christmas to everyone and a huge thanks to the great Allen-team at home (Rike, Barbara, Aga, Sean, Jack and Adam) - they are the ones doing the daily homework so the success abroad wouldn't be possible without them!

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