Your name: Paige Hobart
Your horse’s name: Mary Anne

Background on your horse:
I’ve been lucky enough to own Mary Anne from a yearling, and this year she turns 18 (although don’t use the ‘v’ word around her!). She is a 15’2″ TGCA registered traditional gypsy cob, and typically of her breed, she is a very good doer and will turn her hoof to any discipline.

Over the years we have always been happy hackers at our core, enjoying sponsored rides and mock hunting around the beautiful British countryside. But in recent years we’ve got into the showing scene as the TGCA have fought hard to create a showing pathway for even solid-colour traditional to get to HOYS – so we figured it’d be rude not to join in!

We’ve also been working on my confidence in jumping. Whilst Mary can clear a metre with a confident rider, I freeze up at an 80cm show jump. Around five years ago, when we first moved to the area, I went to an 80cm combined training event at a local venue. I ended up pulling out after the second fence in tears. Our goal for 2021 (or maybe 2022 depending on covid and EHV) is to go back and nail that course!

What you most enjoy about riding:
Riding is the best form of therapy. No matter the weather, going out for a hack and putting the world to rights with a livery friend or just your four-legged companion will solve any problem. Riding and being outside has been a particular blessing over lockdown – ensuring that every day I leave the house and spend time outdoors.

The other thing that riding helps with, is keeping Mary healthy and happy. As she’s grown older, riding and schooling is a way of getting her to move her body in a way that keeps her supple and flexible. The harder exercise keeps her weight controlled, making life easier for her joints.

In essence, it is what keeps us both going.

Your horse’s weight control plan:
Keeping control of a cobs weight is just as important as any other breed, but it’s often overlooked or missed because they’re expecting to be rounder.

During the first lockdown in 2020, three horses on our farm got laminitis. It was a real wake up call to how fat they’d all gotten over the mild winter, then exacerbated by us being banned from riding to alleviate the strain on the NHS.

Our first challenge was finding a weight tape that went up to the numbers we needed (600+!). We then, and every day since, have used the weight tape after exercise to keep a record of whether we’re up, down, or maintaining weight. This measurement, plus her food intake, exercise and any other notes, are recorded in a diary so I can see trends over time.

Mary Anne currently weighs 532kg (on the tape), at her worst in spring 2020 she was 640kg. To lose more than 100kg we had to use a combination of muzzling, ad lib soaked hay and exercise. Once the bulk of the weight was shifted we downgraded to no muzzle whilst turned out at night, and eventually we were able to stop soaking the hay and introduce the tricklenet to maintain the better weight.

This year I’ve caught her weight creeping up early and have introduced the tricklenet now before it becomes a problem.

How Trickle Nets have helped you:
I’ve been using tricklenets as part of our weight control plan since I discovered them in 2015. They are an amazing way to ensure that limited forage lasts the horse the whole time it’s stabled, keeping the gut working as it should.

We don’t use tricklenets exclusively all year round, they’re a tool in your arsenal to reduce calorie intake during times when other things, like exercise, aren’t enough to keep the weight off. This year we’ve got four of us on the farm using tricklenets as part of our spring weight gain prevention!

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