Practical Bitting Seminar

Practical Bitting Seminar

horse bits

Wondering about your choice of bits for your horse or is bitting a mystery to you?

Does your horse have telltale signs it might be the wrong choice?

Do you know how to determine the correct bit size for your horse?

Have you run out of friend’s bits to try?

We can help with all of this & more!

Join bitting experts Vivian Schmidt & Lisa Gorretta at our Herm Sprenger practical bitting seminar on Sunday April 23rd at Sweetwater Equestrian Center – 6490 Peck Rd. Ravenna, OH 44266. This seminar is FREE! Schedule a time to bring your horse to discuss issues & find the correct fit!

Time slots for horses available from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

Space is limited – call to reserve your spot today! 1-800-321-2142

No horse is necessary to attend the seminar – attendees are welcomed & encouraged!

You can also attend Vivian’s seminar during the Anniversary Sale Event at Big Dee’s on Saturday April 22nd at 1:00 pm!


Practical Bitting Seminar

Safe Spring Pasture Practices

Introducing a Horse to Spring Pasture

Eventually Spring will come.  Despite the massive snowfall much of Northeast Ohio received this past week, Spring is on its way.  Many of us have cloistered our horses in their stalls for much of the winter.  When turned out in the pasture, they have been dependent on round bales. Some sifted through the snow for any scraps of dormant grass they could find.  All of them have been dependent upon hay for their forage needs, but soon we will have lush green pastures once again.  While this is a fantastic occurrence, early spring grass presents its own challenges for us horse owners.

First, to preserve the integrity of our pastures, we need to let our grass grow and develop healthy root systems.  To ensure healthy pastures that will last all summer and into the fall, it may be necessary to use a sacrifice area or paddock for a few weeks.  According to an article found on the Penn State University Extension website – grass should be allowed to grow to 4-6 inches before introducing horses to pasture.

Diet Changes

Secondly, abrupt changes in a horse’s diet can lead to some serious problems.  One common issue that can be avoided is founder.  Horses, and especially ponies, can be prone to founder if they are turned out to pasture for an excessive length of time without an acclimation period.  According to Christine Skelly of the Department of Animal Sciences at Michigan State University, grazing time should be restricted to roughly 20 minutes the first day. Increasing in 5 minute intervals thereafter until the horse has adjusted its diet to the fresh pasture grass.  She lists other recommendations, including feeding horses hay prior to turn out.  This will hopefully cut down on the amount of pasture grass they are eating initially.

Spring Pasture | Big Dee's

Colic

Another issue that I have some personal experience with is colic.  While most horses will be trouble free when properly introduced to spring pastures, there are those who have a tendency to over indulge.  One of my horses, Sydney, will eat himself right into an impaction if left unchecked.  Other horses may have this same tendency. Or may simply be prone to obesity when left to their own designs in the pasture.

A solution to both of those issues is to use a grazing muzzle.  While your horse may hate you for the first week or so, know that you are taking a responsible step that your horse is either unable or unwilling to take for itself – limiting consumption.  After a near two week stay at a local veterinary clinic, Sydney has had to wear a grazing muzzle for the past four years.  He is still able to graze, just not at the rate he would prefer.  We offer several styles and brands of grazing muzzles at Big Dee’s.  Some clip directly to your horse’s halter, and others are a muzzle and halter combination.  I have been using the Best Friend Equine Grazing Muzzle Deluxe on Sydney, and have been very satisfied with it.

Sugar Content

Also be aware of is that the sugar levels in grass can wreak havoc on metabolic horses.  Early spring pasture grass is higher in sugar (fructan) content than either summer or fall pasture grass.  Again, grazing muzzles can be a very good solution depending on your horse’s unique requirements.  I would recommend consulting with your veterinarian if you have a metabolic horse.  As a general rule, the sugar content in grass will be highest during the afternoon hours. It builds during the day and starts to recede in the evening hours.  Night time or early morning turnout times generally will work better for metabolic horses.

Hopefully we can all be worrying about properly introducing our horses to beautiful, lush, green spring pastures in the very near future.  For the time being however, I believe I have a driveway to plow.

Multi-Vitamins for Horses

Multi-Vitamin Supplements

Deciding on an adequate nutrition program for one’s horse can, at times, be a frustrating endeavor.  There are so many differences, from types of feed to the amount one needs to feed to ensure all of your horse’s nutritional needs are being met.  Combine that with differences in the quality of hay from field to field.  First to second cut, and nutrient loss over time – one can really struggle to provide the best possible diet for one’s horse.  Feeding a general multi-vitamin can help ensure that your horse is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs.

Multi-vitamins are going to include a wide range of vitamins including vitamin A, D, E, and the B-complex vitamins.  Most horses can meet their requirements of vitamin A simply by grazing.  However, especially here in northeast Ohio, horses are unable to graze year round.  As we switch from relying on pasture for our horses forage requirements to relying on hay, we need to consider the impact storage has on vitamin content.

What Should You Look For

Hay, no matter what quality, will lose vitamins, especially vitamin A over time.  The hay we are feeding in February, March, and April is of significantly lower quality than the same hay that was fed last September or October. Because vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, horses are capable of storing it for a certain amount of time. This can somewhat offset the content lost in hay over time. However, towards the end of winter it may be a good idea to look for alternative sources for vitamin A.

Vitamin D is readily available, especially during summer months, as horses can obtain all they need from the sun.  Again though, not all of our horses are turned out all day during the winter months.  Some show horses are kept stalled and turned out either for short amounts of time, or in indoor arenas only.  For these horses, vitamin D supplementation is important as well.

Horses in strenuous work during the winter months have and horses suffering from muscular system disorders need extra help.  Supplemental vitamin E and the mineral selenium can be very valuable and help prevent certain disorders.

The B-complex vitamins are water soluble, and some are produced in sufficient quantities by a horse’s digestive system.  Depending on the quality of grain and hay being fed, you may wish to supplement B vitamins as well.  For instance, Biotin, a B vitamin, has been shown to increase the health of the hoof. Biotin is a common ingredient in most hoof supplements.  By using a multi-vitamin approach to supplementing your horse’s diet, you may be able to provide enough Biotin to eliminate that hoof supplement.

Big Dee's | Horse Supplements | Multi-Viitamins

Extra Ingredients For Multi-Vitamins

Other ingredients to look for in multi-vitamins are minerals, amino acids, and pre- and pro-biotics.  When looking at mineral levels, one thing to pay attention to is the calcium to phosphorous ratio (it should be somewhere close to 1.5 : 1).  Look to see if your supplement is supplying chelated minerals or inorganic minerals.  Chelated minerals are minerals chemically combined with at least one amino acid, and are thought to be more bioavailable than inorganic, or raw minerals.  Choosing a supplement with a pre- and pro-biotic to help your horse’s efficiency of digestion is always a good idea.

Accel and Accel Lifetime by Vita-Flex are two excellent choices for a general vitamin and mineral supplement.  They provide a comprehensive range of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and several strains of pre- and pro-biotics.  Vita-Plus, a Farnam product, is another good one, as is Dac’s Orange Superior.  I feed Progressive Nutrition’s Pro Add Ultimate, and have had excellent results in topline conditioning, coat bloom, and hoof health.  This particular supplement, similar to Purina’s Super Sport, is a high protein, amino acid supplement with added vitamins and minerals.

Take a close look at the numerous multi-purpose vitamin and mineral supplements we have to offer.  I am sure you will be able to find one that fits the needs of your horse and budget.  You can bridge the gap between your feeding program and your horse’s nutritional requirements.

Mud Fever getting you down?


We’ve all been there when our seemingly healthy horse comes in from the pasture or out of their stall one morning with blown up legs. You immediately take a gander and feel around with your hands searching for heat or a cut, only to find a colony of scabs. The entire leg may or may not look like a balloon, but your heart feels like it’s about to burst. Though this is a common nuisance for horse owners, mud fever can be a pain to deal with and can lead to chronic skin issues.

So what is mud fever? Mud fever is a common name for pastern dermatitis. It is an infection caused by a group of bacteria that flourish in wet and muddy conditions. Mud fever is a loose term for a whole slew of skin reactions affecting the lower extremities of your horse. Mud fever can also be referred to as “greasy heels” or “cracked heels”, as the heels are usually the origin of the infection.

The mud fever causing bacterial organisms do just fine living on healthy equine skin causing little to no harm on its own. However, once a cut, scrape, or wound is present, the door has been opened for the bacterial organisms to climb their way into the layers of the skin. Once the skin has been injured or breeched by being too wet, a bite, or injury, the bacteria then multiple in the damp and warm skin causing an infection.

Images of Mud Fever on the heels

Symptoms of Mud Fever in Horses Mud Fever also know as pastern dermatitis Irritation caused by Equine Mud Fever Mud Fever can spread quickly on the horses pastern and lower limbs

Mud fever can quickly spread to other areas of the lower leg and become a more severe infection.

Causes

There are conditions that predispose horses to mud fever. Even certain soil types can make horses prone to mud fever. Some of other contributing factors are:

  • White limbs or white patches (may be due to photosensitivity)
  • Prolonged exposure to damp & muddy paddocks
  • Soiled bedding
  • Sweat that has not been properly removed
  • Not thoroughly drying the limbs when excessive washing is a constant occurance
  • Feathered legs- mostly because they tend to be washed more than those without feathers
  • Injury resulting from rubs, bites, chaffing, excessive and rough grooming
  • Weak immune system compromising the integrity of the skin which is more than likely secondary to another underlying condition
  • Mites
  • Fungal infections

Signs

There are many tell tale signs of mud fever as well, as it can come in many forms:

  • Scabs beneath matted areas of hair
  • Once the hair and scab falls off, there are circular ulcerated lesions of moist and red skin
  • Discharges in a thick, creamy consistency, are usually white, yellow, or green color and found between the skin and scab
  • The scab will have a concave shape, with hair follicles protruding. Mud fever and rain rot/scald are the same thing just on different parts of the body.
  • Hair loss
  • Severe causes have been known to show the skin splitting in the back, thus the term cracked heels
  • Heat and swelling are typically present and can generate up to the knee or hock
  • In the most severe cases, lameness, loss of appetite, and depression are present

Treatment

The best preventative for mud fever is to keep the legs as dry as possible for as long as possible when there are wet and muddy conditions. Once mud fever has set in there are a few topical treatments that can be applied to help heal your horses skin. Take a look below for a few of our favorites:

Keratex Mud Shield Powder

Keratex Mud Shield Powder

This product helps guard against mud and water while disinfecting the skin. What is great about this product and makes it standout is that it is a powder. So rather than continually keeping the skin damp with promotes bacterial growth, this is a dry application that can be used as after it the legs have been shampooed and dried, or as a preventative on the way out to pasture.

Absorbine Fungasol

Absorbine Fungasol

This is a great product line that includes a shampoo, spray, and ointment. Gently scrub the entire leg with the Fungasol shampoo and let it sit for about 7-10 minutes, so that it can kill all the bad bacteria. Then thoroughly dry the legs off, top with the Fungasol spray and apply the ointment where there are deep fissures.

Muck Itch Spray

Muck Itch Spray for Horses

This is a relatively newer product on the market and the feedback has been great! It specifically treats mud fever and provides a protective barrier to the skin. What is really cool with this product is the use of organic essential oils.  This helps calm the skin and allow new hair growth to begin.

Micro-Tek Medicated Shampoo and Spray

Micro Tek Equine Spray - Soothes on Contact Micro Tek Equine Shampoo - Soothes on Contact

This product has been around for a long time. There are very few barns that you wouldn’t be able to find this product in. Known for its healing capabilities, Micro-Tek Shampoo and Spray go hand in hand. Allow the shampoo to set for roughly 10 minutes, thoroughly dry the legs off, and then apply the spray as a protective barrier.

Shapley’s MTG Plus

Shapley's MTG Plus

Lastly, a cult favorite MTG is now available as MTG Plus. The same formula as the original, but with a new herbal fragrance instead of the dreadful bacon scent of the original. This is a tried and true product that helps soothe the skin, promote hair growth, and provides a barrier as well.

Prevention

Preventing mud fever is your best defense to keep your horse suffering from this skin condition.

  • Rotating paddocks
  • Clean and dry bedding
  • Stalling your horse during treatment to keep it from reoccurring
  • Keep limps dry in inclement weather
  • Keeping areas of the paddock dry where horses stand for long periods (hay feeders, gates)
  • Disinfect equipment
  • Detailed grooming so early signs are caught
  • Avoid over washing or rough grooming
  • Administer an immune support supplement if your horse is in poor condition
  • Spray legs prior to turn out with a medicated spray to provide a barrier on the legs

Fingers crossed we are able to get out of this winter and spring without mud fever dampening our parade! All the aforementioned products are available at Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supplies via phone at 800.321.2142 or our website www.bigdweb.com. Feel free to call us to find the best product for you and your horse!

Layer Your Clothing for Changing Weather!

Always Have the Perfect Clothing!

Here in Northeast Ohio our weather can be unpredictable. Some years it seems we have a bitter cold deep freeze in the months of January and February. And other years (much like this year) we have had snow and cold one day and warmth and melting snow the next – which we all know means muddy pastures! This weather makes it hard to know the best clothing to keep you warm in the barn during  winter months. I have a hard time investing in an ultra warm coat and heavy  coveralls when the weather is so unpredictable.

The best answer I have found in a changing climate is layering clothing. The thing I like most about layering up is you can get the most use out of your barn clothing investment by being able to use it in many seasons not just winter. Here at Big Dee’s we have a company filled with animal lovers who are outside taking care of the horses and other pets 365 days a year, so I have been able to get a lot of great advice on everyone’s favorites not just mine.

Base Layer Options

The base layer is always one of the most important parts of staying warm. It’s a light weight way to keep your body heat in and have a soft comfortable fabric against your skin. One of the first things I hear when everyone talks about their favorite base layer would be Back On Track. The reason it’s so popular as a base layer is because it’s a soft thin fabric which makes it easy to wear under other clothing. The material Back on Track is made of is also moisture wicking and the ceramic in the product reflects your own body heat creating warmth (and as a side benefit it helps to reduce pain and inflammation). Back on Track offers T-Shirts, long underwear, leggings, thin gloves (great as glove liners) socks, neck covers, and even boxer shorts –  all make great warm first layer option.

Big Dee's Tack & Vet Supplies | Clothing
Other options to help keep you warm are to layer with pull on riding tights and sun shirts. Sun Shirts and riding tights are a great way to keep cool in the summer but they also make a great base layer in the winter. One of my favorite sun shirts is by Kastel Denmark. It’s a soft light weight fabric that breathes and gives a great range of options for UPF protection in the summer and warmth in the winter.  Ariat and Arista both make a beautiful Merino Wool quarter zips that will keep you so warm! Kerrits and several other brands make great quarter zips that are lined with fleece for extra warmth.

Utilize Any Season Clothing

So now that you have a lot of base layer options we can move on to what to wear over it. For bottoms it really depends on what you are doing. Are you riding, working in the barn or both? For the top layer, consider the temperature and all of the great outerwear layers that are made for winter. If you are riding English you may want to choose a pair of warm Irideon Windpro three season breeches. You could also try a Soft Shell riding Breech like the new style from Noble Outfitters. If you are doing barn work or riding western you may choose your favorite pair of jeans, chaps or coveralls.

Big Dee's Tack & Vet Supplies | Ariat | Clothing
Next up is your torso! Soft shell is a term we hear often and it might be one of the best outerwear materials ever invented! You can find soft shell in pullovers as well as zip style jackets. The great thing about soft shell is that the fabric has fleece on the inside. The exterior is smooth, with water and dirt resistance from the elements. It is super warm while being light weight and flexible.  This style jacket paired with a vest makes a great outerwear layer, especially when riding. If you start to get a little warm peel off that vest and keep on going! You can always put it back on when you start to cool down. If you’re not a fan of vests there are great  jacket options that are also light weight and flexible.

Keep Your Feet Warm & Dry

Now that we have covered the core portion of keeping the body warm let’s talk about those parts that get cold first! For me it’s always feet, ears, and hand. I have found the best way to keep your feet warm is to start with a good pair of socks and end with a great pair of boots.  One of my all time favorite socks is made by Noble Outfitters. They are comfortable, well padded and they make great options for winter. You have the option of thermo thin or merino wool.

Noble Outfitters Boots | Big Dee's Tack & Vet Supplies | Clothing
Moving on to boots, if you are working in the barn I highly recommend the Noble Outfitters Cold Front Muds Boots – they are warm and comfortable. A great option for people who ride in the winter are Mountain Horse Active Rider Tall Boot. They are warm and have a stirrup friendly sole. If you prefer a paddock boot, I really like the Ariat Extreme H2O Insulated paddock boot. It gives the look of a traditional paddock boot while staying functional for winter.  Another great option that seems to be a little secret in the Standardbred Racing crowd are the Double H Insulated leather boots.

Don’t Forget Head & Hand Protection

A good ear band goes a long way to keep your ears warm in the winter. I have heard many people who wear a helmet say they don’t like an ear bands. While many are made slim and go nicely under helmets, if you are not a fan my answer to you is Sprigs Earbags! The Earbags are two layers of fleece with Thinsulate lining and no band to interfere with your helmet. You just pop them over your ears and go. If you want to listen to your music while working in the barn, try out Sprigs Soundears!

Big Dee's Tack & Vet Supplies | Gloves | Clothing
Let’s not forget about the endless possibilities for gloves! My all time favorite pair of gloves are the Polartec  Warwick Winter Riding Gloves by Roeckl. They are soft, comfortable and flexible – you will want a pair for the barn and a pair for everyday use! If you have a need for a tougher glove with a rugged exterior try the SSG Ten Below. Many enthusiasts at Big Dee’s use and recommend this glove. The SSG Ten Below is really warm due to the Thinsulate lining. It also has a great grippy palm, but the most impressive feature is that it’s waterproof. I don’t mean if you are in a rainstorm your hands won’t get wet waterproof, I mean you can submerge your hand in a water bucket to right below the cuff and not feel a drip of water!

Finally if you love to use those handy hand and toe warmers for a little boost of warmth, the Heritage Extreme Winter Gloves are for you. There is a pocket on the top of the glove where you can place the hand warmer and zip it up. This positioning keeps it comfortable and on top of the artery that brings warm blood flow to your hands.

Hopefully these tips and insights into winter clothing can help you choose the best products for you!

The Scoop on Custom Tall Riding Boots

The Scoop on Custom Tall Riding Boots – Fitting and Selection

With Big Dee’s Custom Boot Event kicking into full swing this week, I thought it would be a great time to give your the scoop on custom tall riding boots and my recent ordering experience!

Why are Tall Boots Important?

Custom Tall Riding Boots to complete the tweed ensemble
The perfect outfit I have been dreaming of includes a classic tweed jacket, beautiful brown tall boots and a smart brown helmet.

Regardless of your riding interests and style, everyone has that perfect picture in their mind of how we would love to look and feel in the saddle. I envision myself in a classic ensemble that includes a tweed hacking jacket, rich brown boots and a smart brown helmet. Beyond the obvious fashion aspect there is more to a good quality boot. For me, my boots and helmet are the only two things that I really must have in order to feel safe and confident while riding a horse. Tall boots are a key transmitter in the language between you and your horse through your leg aids. Undoubtedly the comfort and fit of your tall riding boots can make or break your ride all together. Whether they are too tall, too tight, too small in the foot, too sloppy in the leg, or perhaps just too old, battered and broken; we’ve all been there, that moment when you decide enough is enough and you’ve got to find something better.

Why choose custom?

Last spring my schooling boots failed beyond repair, and I started wearing my Tredstep Field Boots. They are beautiful, fit me like a glove and had previously been reserved for use only while showing and foxhunting. In an effort to ensure their continuing good looks I knew I should get another pair of tall boots to take up the brunt of my daily wear.  Despite being able to shop through an extensive offering of top name brand tall boots in both brown and black, finding an off-the shelf Continue reading The Scoop on Custom Tall Riding Boots

Weight Builders for Horses

How Can You Keep Weight on Your Horse in Winter Months?

While this winter has so far been quite mild here in Northeast Ohio, it is usually very common for some horses to drop weight during the winter months.  Freezing temperatures can place quite a demand on the horse to burn calories simply to stay warm.  Horses also lack the benefit of lush pastures, and have to obtain a majority of their calories through hay intake.  One of the best ways to keep weight on a horse during the winter months is to increase hay intake.  However, not all of us have a barn full of hay that will allow us to do this.  If you have ever tried to purchase additional hay in January and February, you may have noticed it is a bit more expensive than in June and July.  Additionally, boarding facilities typically run on a tight budget, and may not be able to increase hay rations to the levels needed to maintain horses in optimal condition.  So, what can you do to supply your horse with the calories needed to stay warm and fit?

I recommend looking at a fat supplement to supply the extra calories.  Increasing the fat content of your horse’s diet can be beneficial not only for weight gain, but for skin and coat health, and a host of other reasons as well.  For weight gain, fat contains a substantial amount of energy or calories.  In fact, it contains more than twice the calorie content of carbohydrates or proteins!  When looking to add weight to a horse, look no further than fat sources.  Horses can absorb about 20% of their diet as fat, but most experts will recommend roughly 10-12% of the total diet be constituted from fat sources.

Horse Supplements
There are many ways to add fat to a horse’s diet, including top dressing with a vegetable or corn oil, using a fat supplement such as Gain Weight, Weight Builder, or Ultimate Finish 40 or 100. You can also use a fortified, extruded fat supplement such as Progressive Nutrition’s Envision, Buckeye Nutrition’s Ultimate Finish 25, Tribute’s K Finish, or Purina’s Amplify. You can opt for a stabilized rice bran supplement such as Equi-Jewel by Kentucky Performance Products.  Supplementing the diet with a cup of corn oil may be the most economical, but there are other factors to consider, especially omega fatty acid levels.

You hear quite a bit about omega fatty acid content in horse supplements, specifically, omega 3’s, omega 6’s.  There are huge differences between how these fatty acids interact with a horse’s body.  In order to give your horse the greatest benefit from a fat source, you must consider those effects when deciding which fat source is the best fit.

Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory in nature.  They help balance the immune system, protect joints and ligaments, reduce skin allergies, improve heart and vascular health, and have many other beneficial properties.  Omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory and tend to aid in blood clotting.  It is important to note, both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids, meaning horses cannot produce them on their own.  They must come from external sources, and horses need both of them.  The important component to consider is the ratio of omega 3’s to omega 6’s.

Vegetable oils, especially corn oil, tend to be high in omega 6, and low in omega 3 content.  Adding corn oil will add calories to your horse’s diet and improve coat luster, but certainly will not benefit an older horse with creaky joints or a horse subject to seasonal skin allergies. To start, I look for a product that is higher in omega 3 content than omega 6, so that I can be sure my horses are getting the added benefits omega 3’s provide.

Horse Care | Supplements
If you are feeding fat simply for the weight gain factor, I would recommend choosing a product such as Buckeye Nutrition’s Ultimate Finish 100 or Cool Calories 100.  Both of these are 99% fat and are designed simply to add weight.  They are not as engineered for Omega 3 and 6 ratios, but are excellent for bulking up that thin horse.  Another option would be to go with an oil like Coca Soya, Rice Bran oil, or FSO (which is a flax seed and soy oil mix), or Equine Omega’s Mega Gain.  Typically oils are in the 98-99% fat range and are great at adding weight.  However, palatability can be an issue with an oil, especially if fed in large amounts.

If you are looking for a product that will help with weight gain, but has been designed with Omega 3 and 6 ratios in mind, take a look at Buckeye Nutrition’s Ultimate Finish 40, Gain Weight, or Weight Builder.  All of these products are roughly 40% fat, with 14% protein.  They do a good job of putting weight on while providing the benefits of a higher Omega 3 to 6 ratio.  Currently, I have one horse on a fat supplement, more for the anti-inflammatory and coat benefit than for a weight gain.  I am using Equine Omega Complete, which is one of the best on the market.

Hopefully, this has given you some good options to consider when choosing a fat supplement.  Remember, to introduce fat slowly to the horse’s diet, and consult with your veterinarian if your horse has a history of liver issues before deciding on a fat supplement.

The importance of giving your horse electrolytes in the winter

Most of us horse owners recognize the value of electrolyte supplementation during the hot summer months.  After working one’s horse hard, or coming back from a long trail ride, or even bringing horses in on a hot day, we can see the sweat marks that indicate a horse may need electrolytes to replenish the lost salt and potassium.  However, electrolyte supplementation is at least equally important during the winter months.

Those of us who have access to an indoor arena are able to ride and work our horses year round.  During periods of hard work, regardless of temperature, horses will sweat and lose electrolytes.  By using a supplement such as Buckeye Nutrition’s Perform ‘N Win or Perfect Balance by Peak Performance, we can help our horses stay healthy by replacing valuable electrolytes lost.

Horse Electroloytes

A second reason to use electrolytes during the winter months is to encourage water consumption.  Many horses’ water consumption drops dramatically during the winter, and this can easily lead to impaction colic.  During the spring, summer, and fall, horses are able to graze and have access to fresh grass.  During the winter, when fresh grass is not available, horses have to rely on hay for their forage requirements.  The water content in grass is significantly higher, around 5 times higher, than that of hay.  Therefore, horses are able to ingest a good amount of their required water intake just by grazing on fresh grass.  Horses’ water consumption also declines when their water is cold.  So, during the winter, we have a situation where our horse is not getting water from forage, and is not inclined to drink as much from water troughs or buckets.  By adding a good, salt or sodium based electrolyte to their feed, we can help increase thirst, and improve water consumption, and hopefully avoid impaction colic issues.

When choosing an electrolyte, I tend to look for the ones that are low in dextrose or other sugars, and gravitate towards those that are sodium based.  If you have a horse with HYPP, you have to be careful about potassium intake, so look for an electrolyte that is specifically designed for horses with HYPP.

waterheater

Other ways to encourage water consumption include filling water buckets with warm water, or using heated buckets or water heaters if you are using a trough.  Ideal water temperature is around 40 degrees.  This year, I am making use of Eccotemp’s Horse Washer, which is a portable hot water on demand system.  I do not have access to hot water in my barn, and after a few years of lugging buckets of hot water down to the barn every morning and evening, I decided to make life a little easier on myself.  This system connects to my hydrant and to a propane tank.  I simply turn it on, and have instant hot or warm water to fill my water buckets with.

Combining these steps with electrolyte supplementation will hopefully lead to a healthy and happy horse this winter.  Most electrolytes can be added either to your horse’s feed or water.  If you add an electrolyte to water, you should also remember to put a second bucket of just plain water up as well.

Click here to shop a full selection fo Electrolytes

Click here to shop the Eccotemp Hot Water Horse Washer

This blog was written by Grant – one of Big Dee’s Showroom Managers

The Fledgling Foxhunter’s Gift Guide

With a busy shopping week ahead, I thought I would share out some great gift giving ideas for foxhunting enthusiasts just in time for the sales to start over at www.bigdweb.com. There are many items essential to foxhunting that can be really quite difficult to acquire. More specifically, specialty appointments such as vintage stag handled hunting whips, tweed hacking jackets, sandwich cases and flasks. It takes time and skill to find these in good condition. However, time is of the essence and the gift still has to be great. Don’t despair, I’ve put together a hand picked selection of ready to ship items that are sure to be used and appreciated.  A gift guide fill of ideas that will actually contribute to the enjoyment of life before, during and after the hunt.  Shop the Entire Collection Now or read on!

Continue reading The Fledgling Foxhunter’s Gift Guide

Breyer Horse Collecting

 

Breyer Horse Collecting

Every one of us has seen the shelves of Breyer Horses in the tack store. Many have bought  at least one of these model horses either for ourselves or for a young horse enthusiast. Some even classify themselves  as a collector. These life-like horses captivated me when I first began riding horses at age 9. I could not have a horse of my own, so I delighted in choosing my favorite Breyers that exemplified my dream horses. I made Christmas lists and saved up my own money to buy that beautiful model of Huckleberry Bey with his flowing mane and animated trot. My father built me a shelf where I displayed them all and kept them meticulously dusted. Breyer Horses hold a special place in my heart. To get these models to their finalized state it takes a lot of work by many people.

After a particular horse is decided on for a new Breyer mold, drawings and photographs  are used to create the perfect position. A wire armature is made to make the position three-dimensional and finalize the pose. Clay is sculpted overtop of the wire in order to make the cast. The sculpture can take around 3 months to complete all the intricate details. Breyer horses are cast in two halves and are hollow inside (with the exception of stablemates which are solid).  The halves are attached, sanded and cleaned. After that, each model is hand painted by multiple artists. Airbrushes are used for base colors and larger details. Small airbrushes and paint brushes help with detailing on eyes, hooves, brands and chestnuts. They are all packaged in a custom made box with information on the model.

Sketch from Breyerhorse.com on the creation of a Breyer Horse
Sketch from Breyerhorse.com on the creation of a Breyer Horse

Since there is so much that goes into each model and so many hands have added details to each horse, it is inevitable that there are differences. Each model is unique. There can be various differences that can cause an individual model to be worth more or more sought after. The quality of the paint job can vary from horse to horse. Collectors look for crisp markings, smooth paint job and no blending where separate colors touch. The eyes should be nicely detailed and glossy. In models that are coated in a glossy finish, collectors make sure it is an even coat with no embedded lint. Most of the models released by Breyer are a matte finish. A few special editions are glossy. Once in a while, a few individuals get sent out with the wrong finish. Sometimes models get changed slightly in the middle of their run, making the older one more rare and valuable.

Breyer Springtime Filly

Some models are created with the intention of variation. The Indian Pony, was released with various colorful painted symbols and some were done with a different base coat. More recently released was the AQHA 75th anniversary model. This model was released in 6 colors and some were more rare than others.  Still available at Big Dee’s is the Springtime filly, a cute red dun pinto filly, who was released in three patterns. This creates more sought after variations of models for collections.

Collectors usually have a theme to what they collect. Some focus on a certain mold (various paint jobs are given to the same mold), breed or color of horses. There are also collectors who participate in shows where they bring models they own, have created a scene with, or have painted or resculpted. These shows can be live or through photographs. Models can be repainted, repositioned, or re sculpted by artists. Other people are casual collectors and have only their favorites. A large amount of horse lovers have (or had when they are young) at least one Breyer horse. They are a wonderful introduction for kids to the world of horses.

Breyer 2016 Holiday Horse

Use this holiday season to gift a wonderful hobby and instill a love of all things equine!

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