In nearly 25 years of riding and numerous unplanned dismounts; I can cite only 4 incidents in which I was actually hurt beyond just shaking it off and moving on. Up until just last year I never understood that there really can just be a riding “accident”. I had always just thought a fall was a fall, regardless of what the ultimate cause was. My two most recent experiences redefined the term “riding accident” for me. I now refer to a riding accident as one of which neither you, nor your horse has any control over the ultimate outcome. The lack of control fundamentally changed the way I feel about riding. It is not just the rather rude introduction to fear on a level that I am not particularly familiar with, but also one of enlightenment in better understanding that a riding accident really can happen at any time for any reason.
A learning experience
In both occasions two well trained and obedient horses, which had been in regular work suddenly wiped out while working at the canter. Last year’s fall was with my then 6 year old horse. I never had falling while competing in the dressage phase on my radar. My anxiety always surrounded the possibility of a fall out on cross country. It was a great example for rule book roulette. It turns out that in USEA eventing dressage you can choose to continue if your horse falls (EV136.1.d). The fall was dramatic but it was on grass and I did not take a direct hit to my head. I was scared more so than hurt and worried more that my horse may have suffered any injury than myself. In the next few rides I felt anxiety to canter on a 20 meter circle and was hyper aware that my horse just did not seem quite right. He underwent a full lameness evaluation with the veterinarian and we came up with a plan based on his individual needs which included corrective shoeing, a change in primary discipline and additional therapies to help him gain strength in areas where he was lacking.
A bad fall
I have never had anxiety on hunting mornings, the way that I had experienced anxiety running cross country. Just three weeks ago I suffered another fall at the canter. I had been learning some of the ins and outs of Whipping-in for foxhunting and wanted to train my aged mare as a backup should my primary horse be unable to hunt. The hounds hit a line and we were cantering down a trail keeping an ideal position along with them. The trail was hard packed dry dirt. There was a very gentle curve but I did not notice any roots, rocks or other obstructions that would raise any sort of concern. My horse was balanced and comfortable when out of nowhere Continue reading The Fledgling Foxhunter’s Riding Accident→
Is it time to consider an all-in-one multi-system supplement?
Do you find yourself adding scoop after scoop of specialty nutritional supplements to your horses daily feed rations? Is your feed room storage solution bursting at the seams? If you are using 3 or more supplements, perhaps it is time to consider a multi-system supplement for your horse.
Not to be confused with multi-vitamins or ration balancers. All-in-one supplements are nutritional supplements that are formulated to cover more than one of your horses specialty needs. The greatest benefit is being able to feed a single supplement that contains all of the ingredients for joint support, gastric health, strong hooves, a shining coat and more! No matter if you keep horses for business or pleasure, any change in your supplementation routine should be met with facts and figures. Will the change be of benefit to your horse, your wallet or both? Let’s take a look at how to evaluate a change in supplements with some choices available at Big Dee’s Tack.
If you started in Classsical Dressage, like me, the whispers of a Western Dressage emerging a few years ago was either met with curiosity or derision. I spent several years learning about the fundamentals of Dressage during my final years of 4H. Later I reignited my love for the discipline in college. About the time I was finishing up my year with IDA, I started hearing about this new version of Dressage – and I have to admit, I had my doubts. Once I finally saw some pioneer riders giving this new sport a shot, I thought: “I can do this”. My little Quarter Horse has always been my “all around” horse, but he really excelled in and enjoyed Dressage. This past summer, I took the plunge and entered him in both Classical and Western Dressage Intro tests after our six year hiatus from showing together.
Lucky for me, he took to both incredibly well! While the fundamentals of the tests are essentially the same for both Classical and Western, there was a little bit of a learning curve for me understanding the correct presentation, apparel and tack for my horse.
What Sets It Apart From Classical?
What truly separates Western from Classical Dressage is not the look – it’s the horse and rider. Classical Dressage has had years and years of building into the discipline it is today. The higher up the levels you go in Classical, the more specific the type of horse that can exceed in these levels becomes. For example, my Quarter Horse shows moderately well up to about the end of Training Level. But he is not bred or built for the movements required of First, Second and higher level horses. You generally see incredibly athletic warmbloods, Thoroughbreds, baroque and other specific bred horses higher up the ranks – ultimately shooting for Grand Prix level.
Western Dressage was born from riders that enjoyed and practiced the fundamentals of Classical Dressage, but preferred stock type horses. The mission of all Dressage riders is to create cadence, balance, correctness and suppleness in their ride. Western Dressage judges base their scores off of a working western/ranch horse.
Basics in Western Dressage
Western Dressage runs nearly the same for advancing through levels – Intro, Basic, Level 1 through Level 3 and Freestyle. Western Dressage does not have a higher level than Level 3 at this time. It introduces movements like loops, halting, haunches-in, leg yields and serpentines the higher up you ride. It also recognizes Gaited horses, as well defines different forms of the walk, jog and lope gaits. While there has been a boom in Western horse classes, Western Dressage does not have any trail item elements like Ranch Riding/Pleasure or Cowboy Dressage (Cowboy Dressage is even newer than Western Dressage and may have some similar elements, but it is not the same). Western stays true to the nature of Dressage and still emphasizes the core principles.
Attire & Tack
Since Western is so fresh to many schooling and recognized shows, the norms of presentation aren’t as set as Classical. When you think of Dressage, you see; black coat, white breeches, black dressage saddle and tack and a crisp white saddle pad. For Western Dressage, there isn’t a unanimous set presentation yet. But there are basic guidelines you can follow from the WDAA Rules & Guidelines.
A nice, simple bridle with minimal silver is acceptable. Same for a nice working saddle. Silver does not boost scores. Approved breastplates, cavessons and whips are optional. The WDAA rulebook goes into detail on the legal bits, hand position on reins and curb straps – as well as illegal pieces of tack.
A button down, plain, long-sleeve shirt with a collar is acceptable. Appropriate jeans or riding pants are allowed, along with a minimal bling, but useful belt. Clean western or riding boots, as well as either a western hat or certified helmet are required. Show scarfs, chaps and spurs are optional. Think simplistic, functional, yet professional in appearance for your show wardrobe.
For overall presentation, both yourself and your horse should be prepared and clean. Banding or braiding manes for Western is acceptable, but I have seen most without, choosing long, clean manes instead. Using a lycra hood the night before the show can help tame down the mane and buff the coat’s shine. If you choose to clip, make sure you use a sharpened blade! Using coat and face gloss is not required, but a good fly spray will go a long way! Hooves do not need to be painted, but keep an eye on presentation and cleanliness to make a good impression in the ring.
The Future Looks Bright
Western Dressage is still growing as a discipline, and I find that one of the most attractive aspects of “joining the bandwagon”. It has already taken the horse world by storm, and I predict we’ll see more of it in years to come. While there will always be differences, having an outlet for Western riders to practice and perform Classical style horsemanship is a huge stride in the right direction for all horse lovers! I enjoy being able to challenge myself with both Classical and Western Dressage and hope others give it a shot!
Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supply was lucky enough to have David Royal come to our location and provide a seminar on Western Saddle Fitting! We all know how hard it can be to know if your equipment is properly fitting your horse.
David Royal is a professional saddle fitter from Morresville, North Carolina. David has been fitting saddles for over 25 years across the country and has extensive knowledge fitting problem horses. He has been a saddle expert with Circle Y, Reinsman, & Tucker Saddles for 17 years. David has competed in cutting, team roping and mounted shooting and has held board positions with several equestrian associations over the years.
The video listed below really allows any equestrian to discern if their saddle is fitting properly or not. It is important to make sure your saddle fits appropriately to avoid muscle damage, soreness, muscle atrophy, and prevent pain. For western saddles, it’s vital to know if you horse is a semi quarter horse bar or a full quarter horse bar. It is equally important to take into consideration the slope of the withers or absence of withers as you don’t want create pressure sores or slide around on the horse’s back once you’re in the saddle. Additionally, you will need to be aware if your saddle is bridging and causing back soreness to your horse. This is all important to help determine if your saddle fits appropriately or not.
There are options to help your saddle fit better if it is not already a perfect fit. You can explore using shims or corrective pads that can help relieve pressure or fill in the gaps where your horse needs it.
This is a wither riser pad that is helpful for a high withered horse that tends to rub or useful to help fill in gaps by the shoulders.
Reinsman also makes a corrective pad for shoulder correction for high withered horses to help fill in the hollows behind the shoulder blade. This will provide more comfort and a better fit to your horse.
ThinLine Correction Pad
Thinline also has a sheepskin correction pad that you can add shims to correct the fit of your saddle on your horse. This is a nice durable and comfortable pad for your horses back even without the shims, but being able to customize to provide comfort to your horse is priceless!
There are so many options to consider when searching for corrective pads that it can be overwhelming. If you have questions or need assistance we are here to help! It is always advisable to have a qualified saddle-fitter come out to assess your horse and saddle in and out of the tack!
Big Dee’s is excited to announce Enviro Equine Products! Enviro Equine believes in using naturally occurring ingredients to optimize your horse’s health. With a product line that helps with your horse’s coat, gut, and electrolytes, as well as shampoos and fly spray, we guarantee you will want to give one a try! Below we will highlight a few of their products that have a become fan favorites!
GastroBalance Plus is available in a paste, a 5lb bag, or a 25lb bucket. This supplement is an all in one for any horse as it supports a healthy immune system, promotes hoof health, skin support, hind gut health, and incorporates Zinpro Organic Trace Minerals.
Contains Zinpro performance minerals
Proprietary yeast cultures
Stabilizes intestinal tract pH
Promotes hind gut health
This is a great all around product for any horse to ensure they are able to perform at their best by supporting the entire body of the horse.
OmegaBalance with Pumpkin Seed Oil is an interesting supplement that is not only effective in horses, but in dogs and cats as well. This supplement is great for regulating inflammatory responses to help reduce post event muscle soreness. Because this supplement is rich in Omega 3’s, 6’s, and 9’s it helps promote overall health in your horse, dog, or cat. This supplement also helps promote a healthy coat, reduce seasonal allergies, increase joint flexibility, and more! OmegaBalance with Pumpkin Seed Oil is available in a quart or gallon size.
Rich source of naturally occuring mixed tocopherols
Another all natural supplement that helps provide the essential vitamins and minerals to keep your horse at their peak is ElectroBalance Electrolyte. Electrolytes are important to give during the summer months with your horse perspires more and in the winter months when they drink less water. ElectroBalance Electrolyte utilizes the Zinpro organic trace minerals just like the GastroBalance Plus. This product detoxifies, supports recovery, buffs the stomach, and encourages horses to drink to help replenish what they have lost during an event.
Replace elecetrolytes lost during exercise
Zinpro Organic trace minerals
Natural Vitamin E
Encourages horses to drink
Available in a paste, 5lb bag, and 25lb bucket, you will be feeling confident that you equine partner is getting everything they need to compete and train!
Check out the video below of Enviro Equine showing their product line!
Please note, the contest is over and no longer active.
Cox Veterinary Labs has taken their top selling supplements and is now offering them in a pelleted version! A lot of horse owners experience difficulties getting the right dosage with a liquid supplement or getting their horses to eat all of the powder that is top dressed on their feed. Now horse owners can feel more confident that their horses are going to get the proper nutrition they need to keep their joints healthy, stop the pain of new and and old injuries, and keep their tummies happy!
A cult favorite, Acti-Flex 4000, has been converted into pellets. The alfalfa based joint supplement is our number one seller that everyone loves. Acti-Flex is known for protecting the joints while fighting inflammation with it’s active ingredients of Chondroitin Sulfate and Hyaluronic Acid. Available in now in a pelleted formula, in a 5lb and 10lb bucket!
STP (Stop The Pain)
Another great product by Cox Vet Labs is their STP Stop the Pain. Available in a liquid and paste, Cox Vet Labs has turned this go-to into a pelleted version of it’s ancestors. This product is great for a bute alternative to help ease the pain with the use of ingredients such as vitamin B12, yucca extract, and devil’s claw extract. These ingredients help relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and performance injuries. It is now available in a pelleted form in a 5lb and 10lb bucket.
Finally, the last supplement to be available in pellet form is their Gastroade. Gastroade is a natural, drug-free supplement to help neutralize your horses stomach to help prevent gastric distress in your horse by utilizing calcium, magnesium, and aluminium. These ingredients help neutralize the acid in your horses stomach. Dealing with a liquid can be cumbersome, as most horse owners know. Now that Gastroade is offered as a pelleted form in a 9lb and 25lb bucket, you can’t go wrong!
Be sure to stop by our store or shop online to check out the new Cox Vet Labs pelleted supplements! Make your feeding routine less stressful and ensure your horses are getting the right amount of the supplements they need!
Equestrian fashion has made its way into mainstream street style lately and we, the multifaceted horse women, are loving it. Gone are the days of the “Day to Night” looks that fashion magazines offer us. Taking the office pencil skirt and pumps and suggesting we toss on some strappy heels, sparkly baubles and a new lip color for a night at the club. Though they may be fun to thumb through in line at the grocery store, this is just not us.
What we need is a no-nonsense application for our daily lives of either school or work and then right to the barn. The key is finding practical multi-purpose pieces without sacrificing style and comfort. Below is a look made of some of my favorite items this season that will seamlessly take you from a day out right to the barn with only a few modifications for either occasion.
Let’s face it the night before traveling with your horse is always a bit hectic. Between tracking down tack for your horse and clothes for your self then filling hay nets, bathing and braiding; saving time wherever possible will ensure you get a good night’s rest. Horse trailer organization can take the stress out of travel. Stocking up your trailer with the basic items that you know you will always need while on the road increases efficiency. Having a place for everything and everything in its place will ensure that you can head out in confidence when it is time to hit the road.
Horse Trailer Annual Maintenance and Safety Stock Up
If you are planning on traveling with your horses this year and own your own trailer, now is a great time to plan your annual trailer cleaning and maintenance. It is also a great time to restock your road side hazard kit and trailer first aid kit. Check out this handy guide to ensure that you have all you need on the road for stress-free and safe travels.