Sham is a 21 year old grey Arab stallion. He is 100% Old English bloodlines, with over 90% Crabbet breeding. Sham had a chequered past, having been kept entire as a stallion and stalled in a small shed for over a year with no contact with other horses.
He came to join Thunderbrook in 2003 at the age of nine where most of his behavioural problems were resolved (he even did quite well being ridden and at in-hand showing for a few years), but his former lifestyle has left him with a propensity to box walk or fence line walk when he is separated from other horses or when mares are in season.
Sham has helped us to research and develop our herbal calmers Stay Calm, and also Gut Restore and Liquid Gold, with the aim of calming and soothing his nervous digestive system and hyperactive character. He currently has no medication, shows no signs of arthritis, tests negative for PPID and EMS, has never had colic, no respiratory or skin conditions, and has no known ailments (only residual behavioural issues). He wears a turnout rug only on the coldest days in winter due to his age, but otherwise has no need for rugs, fly sheets, etc.
Sham’s daily diet is Base Mix and Healthy Herbal Chaff, and he occasionally has Gut Restore and Liquid Gold to sooth his digestive system. If exposed to pesticide spray, Sham loses excessive amounts of condition and his behaviour becomes extremely stressy.
Pridie is a 21 year old chestnut Welsh Section D mare. Formerly a brood mare living on a Welsh stud farm, with mountain spring water, little hard feed and mainly organic mountain grazing, she came to join us at Thunderbrook in Norfolk in 2002. Pridie’s lack of exposure to arable farming and commercial feeds for most of her early life is most likely why she is one of our healthiest horses. She is Debbie’s main riding horse, has been barefoot all of her life, has good strong feet, takes no medication, shows no signs of arthritis, tests negative for PPID and EMS, has never had colic, no respiratory or skin conditions, and no known ailments.
If we want to donate healthy bacteria in the form of ‘healthy poo tea’ to other horses, it’s always Pridie that provides the poo! Even at 20 years old, Pridie wears no rugs, even during harsh winters. Her daily diet is just Base Mix and Healthy Herbal Chaff. If exposed to pesticide sprays, Pridie becomes itchy skinned, but her feet still stay strong.
Fleur is a 21 year old black Welsh Section D mare. Formerly a brood mare from Wales, she came to join Thunderbrook when we were based in Wiltshire prior to 2001. When we first moved from Wiltshire to Norfolk, Fleur and her mother Wdig were both exposed to our fields being sprayed extensively with pesticides (ragwort problem) and chemical nitrate fertilisers (poor soil), before we made the connection with the use of chemicals and our horse’s ill health, and reverted back to organic land management.
Fleur and her mother Wdig were fed a whole winter with glyphosate pre-harvest treated hay (unbeknown at the time), and exposed to regular adjacent crop spraying. Wdig developed swollen supraorbital sockets, fat pads (that we now know as indicators of EMS), low grade laminitis, gut issues and blood tests showed liver problems. Wdig was one of the first horses we had put to sleep at the age of 22 in 2008, before we realised our whole herd was exhibiting symptoms of what is now known to be EMS.
Wdig’s daughter Fleur is one of the remaining original Thunderbrook horses that had this level of chemical exposure, and it shows. The slightest exposure now to certain crop sprays and Fleur will develop swollen supraorbital sockets, and deteriorate into full acute laminitis within 2 to 6 hours. She will also suffer from respiratory problems (requiring Ventopulmin), allergic skin reactions (urticaria), and raised insulin levels, which also appear to correlate with exposure to pesticide and fertiliser chemicals. She used to test positive for PPID, but returning to an organic diet and fed our supplements, she is able to constantly report normal ACTH levels now (no pergolide required). Fleur can eat organic rye grass with no ill effect, but cannot tolerate non-organic hay.
Fleur’s daily diet is Base Mix with Healthy Herbal Chaff, but she has been a key horse for researching and developing Gut Restore, Liquid Gold, LaminEase and Metabolic Minerals – all of which she needs when exposed to chemical sprays. She is best when on the organic summer water meadows (with no surrounding arable crops), when her feet, breathing, skin and general health are at their best, and she has no need for supplements.
Nest is an 18 year old black Welsh Section D mare. Again, she came to us as an adult from a Welsh mountain stud, having lived on mainly untreated grazing, very little hard feed and fresh mountain water. In Wales she had no known health issues for many years, and as a brood mare, bred two lovely foals.
On relocating to Norfolk, fed chemically fertilised hay and grass, and surrounded by crop spraying of arable fields, Nest quickly developed fat pads, cresty neck, itchy skin, reactions to fly bites and then full blown laminitis. Her laminitis was so acute, she was very much borderline being put to sleep on numerous occasions as her quality of life was very poor. With all the signs of EMS, Nest had raised insulin levels, raised ACTH, raised liver enzymes and constantly threw abscesses in her feet. Changing back to an organic pasture, organic hay diet, with controlled exposure to local pesticide spraying, Nest’s blood’s have returned to normal.
She is fed Base Mix and chaff as her day to day feed, only receiving supplements (EquiCarb when crop spraying is taking place) as necessary. Nest, in common with all of the other Thunderbrook herd, has never had pergolide or metformin to control the insulin resistance or raised ACTH levels. This has been done solely through an organic diet, our own supplements and controlled exposure to pesticides. Nest will quickly (within 2 to 6 hours) develop acute laminitis if exposed to certain pesticide spray drift, and will become very itchy. These days, Nest wears no rugs (not even in the harshest winters), no fly sheets, has no mudfever, no sweet itch, and is sound of foot, etc.
QC is a 15 year old chestnut Welsh Section D stallion. QC has always been barefoot and has never been foot sore. Like Star, QC was born on a welsh mountain stud farm, with no hard feed, mountain grazing, and fresh mountain spring water (he ran with Star as a foal). He moved to Norfolk as a yearling. As a stallion, QC is turned out during the day (and some summer nights) but kept stabled at night in winter. Like Star, his exposure to crop spraying has been less than the other horses in our herd because his stallion turnout is protected by a 50 foot high tree belt.
His day to day diet consists of organic grazing, organic hay, Base Mix and chaff. Up until the age of 14 (in 2014) QC had never had any veterinary drugs such as anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, etc. An interesting observation was when QC badly knocked his knee and fetlock on a metal chain harrow, causing an open wound, his limb to swell significantly in size, and his breathing rate to increase with the subsequent pain. QC was prescribed strong anti-inflammatories and antibiotics for 5 days. Interestingly, QC’s wound and swollen leg resolved nicely, but by the end of the 5 day period, he was tucked up, stressed, chewing his stable door, foul smelling manure, and so itchy all over his skin in general that he almost rubbed his stable wall down! He was fed Liquid Gold, UlsaGon and Gut Restore supplements and his behaviour, itchy skin, tucked up, etc all quickly returned to normal. This fits in with the scientific research that shows non steroidal anti inflammatories and antibiotics have an inflammatory and dysbiosis effect on the horse’s digestive system.
Acer is a 16 year old chestnut Welsh Section D gelding. He is the son of Buckswood My Fair Lady. Acer was born in Wales on a mountain stud farm and came to live with us in Wiltshire at 6 months old. In Wiltshire, our horses were based next to livestock farming and organic farming and Acer had no health problems whilst living in Wiltshire. On our move to Norfolk, surrounded by arable farming and crop spray drift, he quickly developed fat pads, cresty neck, raised liver and raised insulin levels, itchy skin, mudfever and reactions to fly bites. Along with the rest of our herd, his EMS symptoms have been managed solely through his diet, by returning to organic grazing, hay, feed and supplements.
His day to day feed is Base Mix and chaff. He receives no other supplements except EquiCarb during crop spraying season. Acer is now back to full health – he wears no rugs (not even in the harshest winters), no fly rugs, has no mud fever, no sweet itch, no laminitis, etc.
Magic is a 9 year old black Welsh Section D gelding. He is the son of Buckswood and Star, and was bred here in Norfolk. Magic was born at the time when we had just experiencing huge health problems with our herd (most of them showing EMS symptoms), so we had just begun the path of changing back to organic hay, away from processed feeds, beginning to avoid pesticide spray drift, etc. Magic was exposed to these things only in his first year or two.
Beyond that age, he has been fed organic pasture, organic hay, Base Mix and Healthy Herbal Chaff. He has never tested high for liver enzymes, insulin resistance, or high ACTH levels. He has always been barefoot and never been foot sore or shown symptoms of laminitis.
Star is a 15 year old black Welsh Section D stallion. Star has almost perfect feet (according to numerous farriers, trimmers and podiatrists!). He has always been barefoot and has never been foot sore. Star was born on a welsh mountain stud farm, with no hard feed, mountain grazing, and fresh mountain spring water. He moved to Wiltshire at 6 months old where he was based next to livestock farming, grass pastures and organic farming. In Wiltshire he had no known health issues, but in Norfolk (surrounded by crop spraying) he has had raised liver enzymes and raised ACTH levels. As a stallion, Star is turned out during the day (and some summer nights) but kept stabled at night in winter.
His exposure to crop spraying has been less than the other horses in our herd because his stallion turnout is protected by a 50 foot high tree belt. His liver enzymes and ACTH levels are now back down to normal, on a diet of organic hay, Base Mix and chaff (no use of pergolide). At the age of 13, Star developed a problem with his left hind leg (he is unable to stand correctly on it at rest, yet he can trot, canter, buck etc as normal) which despite x rays, scans, chiropractic manipulations and much veterinary treatments, drugs, steroids, etc we are unable to diagnose the problem or treat it.
Star has UlsaGon and Liquid Gold digestive aids on a daily basis, as underlying health problems can often manifest themselves as stress, leading to gastric ulcers, etc. An interesting ‘quirk’ of Star’s is that he does not handle flu vaccinations well. After vaccination, the area around the injection site swells like a golf ball and he goes quiet, lethargic, off his feed and hay, and lays down for long periods of time, for days afterwards. We have stopped flu vaccinations with Star because of his reaction to them.
Abi was a Welsh Section D mare, deceased in 2012 aged 22 years.
Harley, or Quinnie as he was known, was a Welsh Section D gelding, deceased in 2010 at the age of 19 years.
All of our horses graze organic mixed grasses, with large multi-acre summer water meadows, conservation grade. None of our horses have their grazing restricted in terms of strip grazing, paddock paradise, grazing muzzles, etc in the summer – we allow them to self-regulate their own grazing. Most of winter is spent in all-weather turnout paddocks (wood chip), with some limited organic winter grazing (limited only because there is not a lot of it!). Grazing is supplemented all year round with ad lib organic meadow hay. At home, our land is surrounded 360 degrees with intense arable farming, and pesticide sprays are used on a weekly basis with drift across our land. This is when we find our horses have problems, so a system has been set up with our neighbouring farmer to text message us when chemical sprays are to be used, so that our horses can be stabled, with top doors closed, fed EquiCarb (to absorb toxins) and field water tanks cleaned out afterwards, before returning the horses to the paddocks. This system has significantly reduced the amount of foot soreness, acute laminitis, itchy skin and respiratory problems in our herd.