All posts by Cassie Hupric

Curb the Destructive Seasonal Boredom

Curb the Destructive Seasonal Boredom

When horses are stuck in their stalls for extended periods of time, either from injury rehab or uncooperative weather – we all know how bored and destructive they can become. Sometimes towards the end of winter, we also experience “winter boredom”. I have  dealt with both of these. I rehabbed a  leg wound on a horse that spends most of his life outside. And both of my geldings started getting destructive a few weeks ago as the temperatures rose.

One gelding that is used to freedom and turnout for a large portion of the day was restricted to hand-walking twice a day. He soon became unhappy and started chewing on his stall, buckets and anything he could find (and he is not a cribber). I had to come up with some ways to keep him occupied for large periods of time for two weeks and luckily, there’s a lot of options out there!

I also needed to be ready for the winter blues from both of my horses and provide enrichment when training and riding was limited. If not completely halted during waves of frozen, flooded or muddy ground.

Slow Feed Hay Nets
Slow feed hay nets are a great addition for your barn, trailer and show routine!

Slow Feed Nets

My go-to answer was of course slow feed hay nets. This would not only slow them down and conserve hay, but also keep them  from trashing their stalls. I can also set up a second hay bag on the opposite side of the stall for longer days. This not only keeps them moving if they get bored. But also ensures endless hay for both a happy attitude and healthy gut.

Salt and Treats
Salt and stall snacks offer a fun and engaging way for horses to pass the time.

Salt and Treats

Another option I have used is attaching either a Himalayan salt rock, Redmond Rock on a Rope or a stall snack like Licky Things. I usually lean towards the salt or mineral blocks on a rope rather than treats. One of my geldings is not exactly gentle with sweet goodies. He hasn’t quite mastered the simple lick on stall treats like his off-track brother has. With a mineral or salt block he can access it at leisure. And he doesn’t feel the need to gobble it down in a day.

Jolly Balls
Jolly Balls come in many different sizes and colors!

Jolly Balls

One great remedy for pasture boredom (when all that delicious hay just doesn’t strike their fancy) is adding Jolly Balls! I have two in their pasture now, and every day they move from their previous location so I know they play with them! This helps keep them occupied on the right items to chew and toss around, rather than the trees in the pasture or blankets! Bonus, dogs love them too! If my horses stay inside I can also hang one of the smaller Jolly Balls so they can unleash their energy on that and not their nice stalls!

 

Break Winter Boredom

The bottom line is – keep your horse engaged! Sometimes things come up and we can’t keep our horses in a working routine for a little while. Keeping forage in front of them at all times to encourage a healthy mind and gut is essential. Having your horse on a digestive health supplement is also beneficial. For those of use with extra sassy horses, a few extra horse toys are crucial for keeping them happy!

It Happens Every Spring

It Happens Every Spring

I heard a colleague say today that spring was about 30 days away! My inner child immediately surfaced as I remembered this passage of time to bring all things green and blooming, AND continuing in that state of mind a thought bubble appeared of me riding my pony again for hours on end without freezing!

Oh, sorry, back to reality. Indeed spring means warm temperatures, longer days and the joy of being outside with our horses in much more conducive weather. Horse shows, racing, fox hunting, trail riding and all our horse activities will be in full swing before we know it. The older I get the faster the seasons change. I think that’s a good thing?

Spring Changes

Spring also brings the need to evaluate our horses’ health including hoof care, teeth floating, deworming and vaccinations. Hoof care and the mud that comes along with spring can be a concern. Through the winter months you may have your horse on a longer trimming schedule to allow the frog to grow cushion and protect the hoof from the uneven dry frozen ground conditions. Going into spring hooves begin to grow more quickly so be sure to get back to a regular trimming schedule with your farrier.

Thrush can rear its head this time of year and mud can be a culprit. Symptoms of this bacterial and sometimes fungal infection are black ooze at the frog and a distinct rotting odor that gives a whole new meaning to stinky feet! Wet stabling conditions or muddy low lying pastures can be breeding grounds for the bacteria that cause thrush.

Mud alone does not cause thrush but if the organism that does get packed in the hoof under mud an infection could begin.  Daily inspection is a must on the road to healthy hooves. Trimming the frog, making sure to clear out the clefts or crannies beside the frog will help relieve the condition. There are many remedies available over the counter specifically developed to treat thrush. Keeping hooves dry and clean is a key component in alleviating the infection. Try to give your horse a dry area to get out of the mud through the day.

No Hoof, No Horse

As a horsewoman I heard the saying “no hoof, no horse” many, many times. This common sense phase rings true and is proven over time. Our horses’ hooves are the foundation of restoring soundness. Abscesses, thrush, white line disease and side wall separation are all costly side effects of un-healthy hooves. A balanced diet that includes a hoof supplement and a dry mud-free turnout can go a long way to preventing spring hoof aliments. Topical hoof dressing can also be used to bolster hoof integrity.

We will soon be seeing flowers and roses, and even the Run for the Roses! Make plans now for a stress free spring for your horses’ hooves. Visit www.bigdweb.com for all your spring horse care needs!

 

This article was written by Kathy Kilbane – Big Dee’s Web Products Specialist

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.