by Kim F Miller
Canadian Olympian and World Equestrian Games equestrian Selena O’Hanlon took a tip from the top in adding high temperature steamed hay to her horses’ routine. It came from Sir Mark Todd, the six-time New Zealand Olympian designated by the International Equestrian Federation as its “Rider of the 20th Century.”
Selena and her longtime top international partner Foxwood High were stabled at Todd’s base in England while prepping for the Badminton Horse Trials in 2014. He was one of the first to embrace Haygain steamed hay after it was introduced in 2010 as a means to protect and improve equine respiratory health. Todd counts on it because it’s been scientifically proven to rid hay of 98% of breathable dust, bacteria, mold and fungi that put the horse’s vulnerable respiratory system at great risk. Conditions on the Equine Asthma Spectrum affect a shockingly high percent of horses – over 80% -- often without obvious symptoms.
In the case of Foxwood High, aka “Woody,” he was initially fed haylage at Todd’s farm, but Selena noticed the big horse was not eating very much of it. His appetite improved significantly once he began steamed hay, and he stayed on it for the next three weeks before Badminton. That alone sold Selena and mother, Morag, an extremely experienced horsewoman, on steaming’s benefits.
Back home at their base, the Datta family’s 100-acre farm in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, the O’Hanlons have seen steamed hay help all their horses. “Over time, we’ve had a few horses with allergies and Haygain steamed hay has made a big difference,” Selena reports. “We’ve seen a lot less coughing.”
Selena’s resume includes helping Canada to its first eventing international silver in over 30 years, with the team gold at the 2010 WEG. She represented Canada in the 2008 Olympics, then both the 2014 and 2018 World Equestrian Games.
She and Woody have more international competitions in their sights with the continued help of Sir Mark Todd. “The new long-term goal is Badminton 2020,” she recently told followers of her blog for Horse Canada. She’s also bringing along several future equine stars and she and her mom continue to coach several of Canada’s top riders, Selena through regular clinics and Morag from their home base and at competitions.
Here’s to ongoing steamed powered successes for Selena, Morag and the team at O’Hanlon Eventing.
To learn more about Haygain hay steamers click here.