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SUCCEED Sponsored Rider Tip – Chester Weber: Weigh Your Horses Before you Determine What to Feed Them

Photo © 2013, Friederike Scheytt, www.scheytt-photography.de

Photo © 2013, Friederike Scheytt, www.scheytt-photography.de

Weber, a 10-time winner of the USEF Four-In-Hand Champion and a multiple medalist at the World Equestrian Games and the World Driving Championships, has a barn full of powerful, well-muscled Mixed Warmbloods. His horses weigh an average of 1,250 pounds apiece — and Weber keeps track of every pound.

He weighs each horse every two weeks. Based on that number, he adjusts each horse’s hay ration to either build up, maintain, or take off mass. He spaces feedings out over the day to mimic a horse’s natural feeding schedule, controlling his horses’ weight down to the pound by adjusting hay rations.

Sometimes those numbers change — Weber believes in increasing muscle mass during the off-season, as he places a high demand on his team during the competitive months. He also factors in the effect of SUCCEED on his horses’ weight.

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“What I’ve seen is actual, objective proof that horses maintain better weight at competitions when they’re on SUCCEED,” he says. “It’s all part of the routine, and part of my plan to offer the best animal husbandry I possibly can.”

And best of all, he knows it — right down to the pound.

An ‘Ultra’ Success Story

Last summer, Weber, a 10-time winner of the USEF Four-In-Hand championship, added a Dutch Warmblood gelding to his team of four. Ultra, a top performer for the Dutch national team, had always been slightly underweight for his stature. That hadn’t affected his performance, but when Ultra arrived at Weber’s farm in Ocala, Florida, Weber wanted to figure out why the otherwise healthy gelding’s hip bones were always slightly visible.

“He wasn’t malnourished at all, but he had just never bloomed in all of his competitive career,” Weber said. “We kept him in training but put him on SUCCEED like the rest of our horses, and this past fall he put on 170 pounds!”

Weber was surprised to see Ultra’s formerly spare frame fill out until he reached “Neanderthal proportions,” according to the horseman. “He was getting fed enough before, but we were able to give him a nutritional boost when we put him on SUCCEED,” he says.

When the U.S. team coach saw Ultra in January, he barely recognized him. He told Weber he thought the horse was looking a little overweight. The idea makes Weber laugh.

“I appreciate the fact that he looks too fat,” Weber says. “I say let him be fat once in his life over this winter — it’s so great to see him running and playing in the paddock when it’s a cold day. It’s pretty rare that you take a horse that has already had so much success and won medals and change their whole nature and what they look like. People come up and ask us if Ultra is the same horse!”

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