A day with Westgate Labs and Hackett Equine!

In this blog I'll share some of the goings on, aims and information that's as a result of my day photographing Westgate Labs. Westgate have been on my personal horizon for many years after spending time working in a local tack shop after finishing 6th form (oh, those were the days!). Prior to her well earned retirement our boss, Janette Moss (of Janette Moss Horse Wear for the Hertfordshire OGs!) was an SQP (Suitably Qualified Person) and when I look back now - we're talking over 10-15 years ago, more... the concept that Jan instilled in us as her staff was ahead of the time. She talked to us regularly about the threat of over-worming and what that would mean for horses and owners alike. We regularly had programmes running by Westgate via our shop, and hearing Jan working as the middleman between Westgate and the customers was just fascinating. When the opportunity came around in 2023 to work with them in this way as photographer-Holly, I almost bit their hand off! What a fantastic full circle, personally and professionally!

What we got up to...

After pulling together plans and a detailed brief via emails and video calls, the day finally arrived where we met in Hertfordshire at Hackett Equine! Miri Hackett is a brand ambassador for Westgate and I was lucky enough to be commissioned to document it all. We worked through various series of shots and got so much done! The bonus for me was hearing Claire and Kristie share their knowledge with Miri about parasite control on a wider scale. The thing that stuck with me most was that with the nature of Miri's business (training and helping horses who're having a tough time), horses naturally come and go. It's hard enough keeping on top of one horse in regards to parasite control, but when running a 5 star business like Miri's with all the fantastic services and knowledge she has to offer, having a targeted programme like this one in place with scientifically-backed support is of upmost importance for the welfare of the animals and for the peace of mind of clients. Having worked with Miri consistently for a couple of years now, I like to think I really understand her mission and ethos. Similarly, knowing what I know about Westgate, it's abundantly clear to me that this partnership is a perfect match. Two companies who care deeply about the future of equine welfare, who care about the idea of development in science, care about the planet and sustainability.

So, who are Westgate Labs?

In case you're not too sure, Westgate Labs have been showing horse owners and livestock owners the way when it comes to parasite control since 1999! A family business based in Northumberland, they run their own laboratory and spend their days talking about a tailored, best practice approach to managing parasites in grazing animals and grazing land. That's not even the best bit - Westgate offer their services via postal samples! Yes, (simply put) you as a horse owner package up samples of dung, pop it in the post and they do the sciencey bits! Owners are then contacted to discuss results and are advised over the phone regarding next steps. Everybody can be sure they're getting the most relevant, up to date advice possible. It also means anybody anywhere in the UK can benefit from their services!

Who is Miri Hackett?

Many of my clients find me via Miri but in case you're not already familiar, Miriam Hackett runs her very own equestrian training establishment in Hertfordshire, Hackett Equine. Miri's approach to training our equines takes more of a partnership approach. She believes as owners and riders, it's our responsibility to develop a common language with our horses, to listen to each horse as an individual, training every step through positivity and understanding. It's not enough to brandish a horse as 'naughty', 'uncooperative' and try to just 'get on with it' - I personally see Miri as the voice horses have always needed. She works with the whole horse - from the inside out, and it's for this reason I believe she'll do fantastically as an ambassador for Westgates hard work.

What makes Westgate special?

Westgate have their own in-house vet, and a whole team of SQPs (Suitably Qualified Professionals). Everything that they advise is backed up by medical science. Whilst the team are qualified to prescribe wormers and give advice, they are an impartial organisation with no affiliation to any of the brands of wormers on the market. They are completely aligned with the BEVA (British Equine Vet Association).

Why is this an important topic?

I'm assuming you mean other than ensuring our four-legged best friends are healthy inside and out of course... Wormer resistance is a very real threat. It's been one that has been mentioned for years and years, but is something that needs immediate attention from all of us. It requires all of the little guys to do our little bit for the greater good. Westgate take the approach of avoiding pumping your horse full of the unnecessary (and expensive!) drugs unless they really need them. The more frequently we worm our animals, the more likely it is that the parasites become more and more resistant to the drugs we are using. It's knowing that a little goes a long way, and the rest of the time when we aren't worming, we are worm counting (that's where the lab comes in, you see!). Westgate strive to uphold their core values of integrity and their commitment to the greater good of animal health and doing the right thing for the planet.

Why is all of this positive news?

Westgate Labs are making incredibly important strides. Our horses will ultimately be happier and healthier in the long run. Parasite control in the way Westgate Labs suggests is far more environmentally friendlier than the 'old school' way of doing things - from the perspective of the beetles, to the fact their packaging is biodegradable. The results speak for themselves, just give them a call and you'll find out for yourself! And of course the money we save on wormers can be used in other ways - woohoo!

How can we all get involved?

If you're a horse owner - give the lovely people a call at Westgate. As an idea you could ask for some more information about a worming programme, or about worm egg counting, tell them you're looking to learn more about what might benefit your horse...

If you're a yard owner - again, make the phone call. They have a service especially for the juggling act of managing yards of multiple horses!

If you're interested in learning more, you can find below the links to all of the fabulous businesses and organisations who feature in this blog post beloW...

Westgate Labs - www.westgatelabs.co.uk

Hackett Equine - www.hackettequine.co.uk

BEVA - www.beva.org.uk

Some of the results...

Hello, my name is Holly...

Welcome to my blog

I am a equine photographer based in Essex, England. I've owned and ridden horses always, and I've never known a life without them. You'll find me writing regularly about all things photography, horses and dogs - so if you like any of those things, you're in the right place! Thanks for joining x

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