Olympic Eventer Will Coleman adds steamed hay as one of many “small things that make a big difference.”
It’s notoriously hard to make long-term competitive plans in equestrian sports because the variables are doubled by having a horse and a human athlete involved in reaching any goal.
“You focus on your short-term plans because that’s what will take you to your long-term goals,” explains Olympic and World Equestrian Games U.S. team eventer Will Coleman.
Maintaining peak horse health is the most important aspect of those short-term goals at Will Coleman Equestrian. That’s why Will and his wife and partner Katie added Haygain Steamed Hay to their horses’ daily routine, at their Florida and Virginia bases, and at competitions throughout North America and abroad.
“For a long time, we’ve prided ourselves on feeding really nice hay,” Will explains. “It’s as dust free as you could hope for in forage. At the same time, there’s always going to be an element of dust that you can’t entirely eliminate unless you go the steaming route. Being able to guarantee dust free forage for our horses has been a game changer for us.”
The Will Coleman Equestrian team is coming off the winter and early spring based in Ocala, Florida. “When things get dry in the spring, you get windy days with a lot of pollen and dust blowing around.” Haygain’s one-hour steaming cycle eliminates those irritants and adds appetite-inducing texture to the hay.
Will and Katie typically get most of their Timothy hay in tightly-bound, 50-pound bales from a trusted source. Before they had a steamer, they carefully shook out each feeding to release dust and other particles and to check its quality. Now, they give that hay a quick shake and inspection before steaming, and the post-steam double-check reveals “beautifully opened up hay that looks, smells and feels good.”
Will is a long-time regular on the USET High Performance roster, starting with the 2012 Olympics and including last fall’s World Equestrian Games. With several top horses in peak form, and more in the pipeline, he looks likely to retain that status through and well beyond the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Off to an awesome start
The current season is off to an awesome start. A highlight was last month’s successful defense of the Ocala Horse Properties Eventing Prix Invitational title, this time with TKS Cooley Syndicate’s TKS Cooley. The current focus is the Land Rover Kentucky at the end of this month, followed by May’s Badminton Horse Trials in England, two of the world’s most prestigious and hotly-contested equestrian competitions.
“My horses this year have performed kind of remarkably in terms of how easily they’ve handled the horse trials,” Will comments. “There are many variables to that, and a clean airway is a huge part of it. At the level at which we compete, success is the result of all the little things you do adding up to give you the results you want. Steamed hay is one of those little things that can make a big difference.”
Horses with allergies and mild wind issues have benefited the most from getting steamed hay, Will notes. But he’s grateful to be able to feed it to all their horses. Intermittent coughing throughout the barn is virtually gone and, on course, he knows it’s helping his horses perform better and more comfortably. “It’s a wonderful thing for any performance horse. Their systems are put through a lot of stress and there’s no question they can run and perform much better when they can breathe easily.”
With 20 to 25 horses in their program, Will Coleman Equestrian’s HG600 half-bale steamer is constantly in use. “Haygain is a great system that makes it easy for the barn staff to use. The whole process is an efficient, streamlined way to provide beautiful hay for our horses.”
With increasing recognition of respiratory ailments as an otherwise sound horse’s biggest performance limiter, horse owners round the world are following the Colemans’ lead in adding steamed hay to their horse’s daily diet.