All posts by Cassie Hupric

Western Dressage

An Introduction Into Western Dressage

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.

Big Dee's | Western Dressage

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.

Big Dee's | Western Dressage
Can a horse crossover and do both? Absolutely! My gelding  has respectable schooling scores from both, and I have seen other horses succeed in higher levels than me. I would not however, expect to see a Third Level Classical horse doing Level 3 Western tests – but anything is possible!

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.

Big Dee's | Western Dressage

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.

Tack

Big Dee's | Western Dressage Big Dee's | Western Dressage Big Dee's | Western Dressage
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.

Apparel

 Big Dee's | Western DressageBig Dee's | Western Dressage Big Dee's | Western Dressage
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.

Presentation

Big Dee's | Western Dressage Big Dee's | Western Dressage Big Dee's | Western Dressage
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!

Equestrian Fashion

Street To Stable

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.

Street to Stable | Big Dee's
Obsessed with Horses Ladies Tee
Obsessed with Horses Ladies Tee by One Horse Threads

Be bold about your love for horses in this Continue reading Equestrian Fashion

Electrolyte Supplementation

Summer Electrolyte Guide

As the summer months arrive, most of us are much more active with our horses which means time for an electrolyte.  Whether we are participating in shows, contesting, pleasure classes, jumping, dressage, or out on the trail, we need to pay extra attention to hydration levels in our horses during these next several months.

Horses sweat profusely.  They sweat more than people, about 3 times more, and lose more electrolytes through their sweat than we do.  In fact, horses dissipate about 85% of excess heat through sweating, and the remainder through respiration (Read More).   Additionally, horse sweat is saltier than human sweat; it contains high levels of sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, and calcium.  These macromineral electrolytes are essential for conducting electricity, and keeping muscles firing correctly.  Skeletal muscles, muscles in the digestive tract, and heart muscles are all negatively impacted by electrolyte imbalance. As is proper absorption of feed nutrients.

Big Dee's | Electrolytes | Supplements

Effects of Imbalances

Conditions such as Thumps and Tying-up can both be linked to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.  If you plan on trail riding, eventing, showing, fox hunting, certainly racing, or even trailering your horse this summer, consider using electrolytes to restore that balance and improve recovery times for your horse.

There are many commercial electrolytes available these days.  Some of them contain high levels of sugars, while others do not.  I tend to look for those that are higher in chloride and low in sugar.  Dr. Clair Thunes of Summit Equine Nutrition recommends looking for one with a sodium : potassium : chloride ratio that is similar to that found in sweat, 2:1:3.8 (Read More).  Perfect Balance by Peak Performance is one such electrolyte.

Big Dee's | Electrolytes | Supplements

How to Feed Electrolytes

One of the best ways to feed electrolytes is to mix them in with your horse’s water.  Be sure to read the feeding guidelines on your electrolyte container, as the ratio may vary depending on how heavily your horse has worked.  When offering electrolytes in water, ALWAYS be sure to offer plain water as well.  Sometimes horses will not drink the electrolyte water, and if that is all that is available, their electrolyte imbalance and dehydration will only worsen.

Another method is to top dress the electrolyte on their feed.  I have found this method to be more palatable for one of my horses, however, be sure to monitor water consumption when feeding the electrolyte.  If your horse is not drinking after ingesting electrolytes top dressed on its feed, it may urinate more frequently to restore sodium balance, resulting in increased dehydration.

Whatever activities you have planned for your horse this summer, don’t forget to include electrolytes as a staple of your horse’s recovery.  They can be used before and after work to ensure that your horse remains healthy and happy.

 

Click here to shop all Electrolytes

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. Continue reading Safe Spring Pasture Practices

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. Continue reading Multi-Vitamins for Horses

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!

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.

Clipping Horses in Winter Months

When Should You Clip Your Horse?

Big Dee's Tack & Vet SuppliesWinter horse care does present certain challenges: from feeding properly and ensuring proper intake of water for your horse, to simply completing common barn chores that seem so much more difficult when it’s only 10 degrees outside.  One area that can be neglected is preparing your horse for exercise in these frigid temperatures.

In northeast Ohio, temperature change occurs gradually over the fall months, so most of our horses are able to naturally acclimate to the cold.  Most horses grow thicker coats which will help trap air and insulate them from the cold.  However, not all horses can grow nice, thick coats, and sometimes, those coats actually work to make our horses colder.

Big Dee's | Clippers & BladesIf you are exercising your horse, in any discipline, during the winter months, you should consider clipping your horse.  There are a variety of clipping styles to choose from, including trace clipping, blanket clipping, hunter clips, and a full body clip.  While shortening your horse’s coat during the winter months seems counter-productive at first, the advantage is in the cool down period after exercise.  According to Marcia Hathaway, PhD and Krishona Martinson, PhD, both from the University of Minnesota, horses should be exercised and turned out winter months to prevent stocking up.  However, leaving hot, sweaty horses in a cold barn can very easily lead to illness.  Clipping a horse drastically shortens drying time after exercise, or in the event that a horse gets wet during turnout.  Check out the Lister Star, Lister Liberty (with portable power pack) or Oster Clipmaster for some heavy duty clippers that have the power needed for body clipping.  Remember to keep your clipper blades cool and well lubricated while clipping.  Plan on purchasing an extra blade or two and make sure your horse’s coat is clean before you start.

Big Dee's CoolersWhile clipping your horse will help reduce drying time after exercise, consider purchasing a cooler as well if you do not already have one.  Covering a hot, sweaty (or just wet) horse with a cooler will help keep it warm while it dries, and a cooler will also help wick moisture away from the horse and shorten drying time even further.  Clipped horses, and horses with short coats will require blanketing as well.  Blanketing horses begins early for some people.  In fact, once the night temperatures start to fall below 60 degrees, some of us start the blanketing process.  Always be sure that if you are turning your horse out, your horse has a sheet or blanket designed to be wind, water, and weather resistant.  Using a stable blanket for turnout will only lead to a soaked blanket and horse – so keep the stable blankets for inside the stable!

Dr. Hathaway and Dr. Martinson also state that “…blanketing a horse is necessary to reduce the effects of cold or inclement weather when:

  • There is no shelter available during turnout periods and the temperatures drop below 5°F, or the wind chill is below 5°F
  • There is a chance the horse will become wet (not usually a problem with snow, but much more of a problem with rain, ice, and/or freezing rain)
  • The horse has had its winter coat clipped
  • The horse is very young or very old
  • The horse has not been acclimated to the cold (i.e. recently relocated from a southern climate)
  • The horse has a body condition score of 3 or less”.

View full article here.

Check out the variety of coolers, stable blankets, and weather resistant turn out blankets we have at Big Dee’s.  I am sure we will be able to find a combination that will help keep your horse warm and dry all winter long.

Gut Health Tips for Fall

Keep Your Horse Healthy & Happy as the Weather Gets Colder

Grant, one of our Showroom Managers gave us a little insight into how he helps prepare his horses for the colder months ahead.

Big Dee's | Gut HealthAs our temperatures begin to drop, and Autumn (not to mention Winter) sets in, there are a number of things we should keep in mind regarding horse health.  I pay special attention to water consumption during these times.  If your horse’s water consumption tends to wane in the colder weather, your horse will be at a much greater risk of colic.

Some of the precautions I take include watering down my horses’ hay and grain, filling water buckets with warm water, and making use of products such as Purina’s Hydration Hay and Standlee’s Alfalfa Pellets (soaked).  Soaking a forage product is a great way to increase water consumption AND help your horse regulate temperature while providing extra calories.  Remember, forage requirements can increase by as much as thirty percent during the winter months!

Big Dee's | Gut HealthOften horses are stalled more during this time of year than the summer months.  I try to preserve my pasture’s root system by keeping my horses inside during periods of sloppy, wet weather.  While this is great for the pasture, my horses will be under more stress than when they are freely grazing.  One of the ways to combat this extra stress is to toss more hay.  I need to do all I can to keep their forage intake up, which means I need to keep hay in front of them as much as possible when they are inside.  Of course, when they trample all over their hay and waste it, my stress level tends to increase!

One of my solutions is to use slow feed hay nets.  These are incredible!  They not only slow down the rate of consumption, and allow the horse to mimic a more natural grazing rate, the slow feeders also keep the stalls much, much cleaner.

Big Dee's | Gut HealthI also supplement my horse’s diet with Gut Health by Basic Equine Health.  While my show horses are on this product throughout the year, I will add it to my retired and young horses’ diet during the fall and winter months as well.  The product works by simply raising the pH in the stomach and hind gut (where forage is digested).  Gut Health helps prevent ulcers, reduce stress, and build hind gut environments conducive to beneficial bacterial populations.

 

 

New Fall Equestrian Clothing!

Big Dee's | Fall Apparel

Fall Has Truly Arrived!

Before the temperature even started to drop, fall began arriving here at Big Dee’s! In our store we have been busy changing over displays and decor to match the fall season. Gone are the tank tops and bright colors of spring, they have been replaced by warm winter coats, cozy pullovers, and fashionable vests in a warm rich color pallet.

Have you ever wondered the process that brings all the fun fall styles into Big Dee’s? Well here is a firsthand account written by one of our buyers (Christie Ferrara)  that will give you some insight into the process from the very beginning stages:

Big Dee's Fall Apparel

Most people don’t realize it, but while you’re thinking spring, we in the purchasing world have bypassed the tulips and blazing heat of summer and moved right into the blistering cold of Winter.  If you have ever thought “Wow, I’d love to purchase at a place like Big Dee’s“, it may not be as easy as you think.  First, you need to bypass your horse loving mentality and move into a practical mode. Let’s face it, when you own horses (like most of us do) you could literally drown in the sea of possibilities to clothe yourself and your horse and have lots of fun doing it.  Going to trade shows and seeing the latest and greatest riding gear, clothes and boots is a shopper’s paradise! So let’s rein it in and talk about the great things we get to see and decide to purchase for our customers.

A trade show is one great place to see all of the latest innovations in riding gear, the latest trending colors and styles of clothing and footwear for a variety of disciplines.  Vendors set up huge booths and talk to you one on one about what is so great about each of the products they carry.  Now you as the buyer must first, think about this:  they are in the business to sell “their” product, so what is it that YOU like about the product?  Secondly, ask yourself these questions: Have your customers asked for something like this? Have you tried a product like this before? Would YOU use this product? What is trending in your industry?  What are the “hot” colors? What are some of the features to you like? What is your customer willing to pay for this? Make some mental notes, jot them down and snap a picture if you can because you’re going to need them!

After a long day of viewing fabulous items the time for buyer collaboration begins. You must now dig out your notes, and catalogs and head to the round table.  Luckily for us, we have a few different perspectives, owners, riders in a variety of disciplines, and industry professionals, which allows us the ability to whittle down the variety of choices and think outside of the box.  This is just a small glimpse of what we do purchasing here at Big Dee’s.  Hopefully, our staff and customers are just as excited as we are about the products we choose.  When we get to read great reviews on some of the exciting new apparel for this season, we know we’ve done something right!

Big Dee's Fall Apparel

Our store staff, (who are horse lovers just like  you) are always excited to see the seasons new  styles as they arrive.

Here are some of their favorite picks:

Brendana Coat from Schockemohle Sports | Big Dee'sThe first pick was from Cathy Brogan, here is what she picked, and why – “Love at first sight for me is the NEW Brendana Coat from Schockemohle Sports. It’s very trendy and versatile. Some of the features I really like are the two way zipper, the zipper in the back, and the detachable hood with a stand up collar. The weight of this coat is fabulous, it will keep the rain and wind out without all the extra bulk. You will look good on and off your horse if you choose this style like I did!”

Noble Outfitters Elements Cowl Neck Sweatshirt | Big Dee'sNext up our store manager Tabi Day had this to say about Noble Outfitters Elements Cowl Neck Sweatshirt. “I absolutely love this sweatshirt, the fit is perfect for any shape.  It’s drawstring at the top of neckline allows you to adjust the fit comfortably around your neck. It will keep the wind off your neck without the bulk of a scarf. It is also fitted around the wrist to keep your arms warm and stop a breeze from creeping in. I own this sweatshirt in both colors! If you try it on you will buy one in a new color every fall like I do.”

Pikeur Evita Vest | Big Dee'sEmily’s Pick The Pikeur Evita Vest is the perfect style for the barn! It’s warm, comfortable, and has zippered pockets to keep valuables in. The Faux fur detachable hood adds style and keeps your face shielded from the chilly winter wind.”

 

Ariat Sophia Fleece Jacket | Big Dee'sDanielle’s Favorite “I love the Ariat Sophia Fleece Jacket! it’s perfect for cool fall weather. The fleece is super soft and warm. There are lots of pockets to keep track of your belongings the chest pocket is especially useful. It comes in two color choices the black and teal as well as brown and pink. The black and teal is my first choice, check it out and see which one you like best.”

Goode Rider Military Jacket | Big Dee'sTerri’s Choice “Fall is here and with it comes cool weather. The Goode Rider Military Jacket is my favorite new coat. It features a warm lining throughout the body and lightly lined sleeves that really allow you to move. The removable hood, zippered sleeves and drawstring waistline all help make this jacket look like a custom fit when you wear it. There are lots of convenient pockets to keep your keys phone and other necessities in. Oh, and there is a flap that snaps at the back so you can wear this coat easily in the saddle.”

Ariat Idea Down Jacket | Big Dee'sLauren’s Choice “The Ariat Ideal Down Jacket has to be the perfect piece of outerwear! It’s warm, lightweight and best of all packable.  This cute jacket folds up small in its own baggie to be taken anywhere. I would pack it up for cold horse show mornings,  or cool evening rides at the barn, and if you’re like me pack it in your backpack for misty morning rides.”

Ariat Soft Shell Jacket | Big Dee'sPeyton gave us the guys perspective “The Ariat SoftShell Mens Jacket is a great choice for a cool windy day. It’s internal fleece lining keeps it insulated and comfortable for all day wear. The outside shell is very flexible and keeps me dry I use it mostly at school walking from one class to the next at KSU.”

Ariat Conquest Quarter Zip | Big Dee'sMariah’s favorite “I recently purchased the Ariat Conquest Quarter Zip, and I absolutely love it! It’s perfect for fall weather because it’s super warm but not too heavy. I have had so many compliments on it at the barn as well as other places. I am very pleased with my purchase and am looking for my next one in another color.”

Noble Outfitters Girl Tough Vest | Big Dee'sAshley K’s pick “I like the Noble Outfitters Canvas Girl Tough Vest. It is great for layering to keep you warm when it starts getting chilly all the way to when it’s cold. It is made of a tough material to stand up to daily barn chores. It has a fluffy collar and a very soft inner lining as well!”

 

Ariat Ideal Down Vest | Big Dee'sJen’s favorite “My choice for winter outerwear was Ariat Ideal Down Vest. This vest is packable and easy to take on the go. The vest is not too puffy or overwhelming. It fits perfectly and is the right weight. I chose this vest because it’s not too thick and actually flattered me.”

 

Kerrits Tailor Made Trench Coat | Big Dee'sAshley R’s pick “My choice was easy with the Kerrits Tailor Made Trench Coat. The mid length cut is flattering  and the angled pockets make it easier to access them. Normally mid length cut would be more difficult to move around at times, but this coat has a gusset at the back which help prevent that problem. With it being wind and water resistant, it’s perfect for Fall; whether at the barn or out on a date. Fleece interior makes it cozy for those cooler nights and the zipper allows you to open the bottom or top of the jacket to cool down.”

Click here to shop our full selection of jackets, vests and casual wear!