Category Archives: Horse Care

Don’t Leave It To Beaver

If you are like most horse owners’ winter represents a big change in horse care, stabling and enjoyment of our equine friends. The dreaded four letter word, snow, is on the way for those horse owners living in colder climates, however winter signals change for all horses and owners. As we begin to stable more and turn out less horses boredom levels can rise. Farm buildings, stalls and even trees may take the brunt of this when horses begin to chew wood, crib or wind suck. There are differences to these behaviors but most horse owners agree they are not ideal behaviors. These equine beavers can destroy our stables and wreck havoc on their own health in the process. It is incumbent on us to help our horses through these behaviors and to save our own sanity!

This horse is chewing on a fence rain

Let’s look at the what

Cribbing in horse terms is the physical behavior of a horse latching on to a hard surface, arching the neck and sucking in air. As we investigate this stable vice we find the behavior could be associated to stomach ulcers and may develop into colic. Another related behavior, wind sucking, is the act of sucking in air without latching on to a hard surface.  Finally wood chewers can eat us out of stable and barn in no time causing unsightly barns and paddocks not to mention costly repairs.

The emotional why

These three behaviors are thought to be caused by boredom, frustration, habit and/or nutritional deficiencies. Boredom and frustration may be relieved by the numerous stall and paddock toys available. Equine animals in the wild were foragers. Horses are rudimentary animals and as such rely on routine.  For stabled horses, feeding small amounts of hay throughout the day can help them follow a natural routine in a less than natural life.  Slow hay feeders during turnout can also help with boredom but be sure to incorporate ample grazing and regular exercise. As for the elephant or equine beaver in the room pastes, sprays and wood chewing deterrent applications are available. But take heed they may make the problem worse.  When these remedies fail, capping stall doors fence posts and interior stall partitions with metal or mesh or stringing electric fence in the cribbing or chewing area can discourage this behavior and save our horses from indigesting wood splinters.

The physical why

Nutritional deficiencies or gastric ulcers can be the root cause. Be sure to discuss the situation with your veterinarian who will examine your horse and perform blood testing to identify any minerals lacking in the diet. If mineral deficiencies are the culprit supplements can be fed. Something as simple as a salt block can often help. If gastric ulcers are suspected many remedies are available to horse owners. Simply using a grazing muzzle could be the ticket to solving the issue.

Grazing Muzzles for horses

Can you manage the habit?

Managing horses with these behaviors can be challenging but not impossible. Regular exercise, turnout or hand walking and regular grooming may help with boredom. Working with your veterinarian, stable owner, trainer, other horse people and Big Dee’s can be insightful. Horses give us such enjoyment. They can be our friends and our therapists; wouldn’t you agree that they need the same from us in return.

Himalayan Rock Salt is great for horsesCheck out our website for a full line of equine products to help curb these behaviors.

Click here for Cribbing and Habit Control Solutions

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!

Big Dee’s welcomes Enviro Equine Product Line!

Big Dee’s is excited to announce Enviro Equine Products! Enviro Equine believes in using naturally occurring ingredients to optimize your horse’s health. With a product line that helps with your horse’s coat, gut, and electrolytes, as well as shampoos and fly spray, we guarantee you will want to give one a try! Below we will highlight a few of their products that have a become fan favorites!

GastroBalance Plus

GastroBalance Plus is available in a paste, a 5lb bag, or a 25lb bucket. This supplement is an all in one for any horse as it supports a healthy immune system, promotes hoof health, skin support, hind gut health, and incorporates Zinpro  Organic Trace Minerals

  • Contains Zinpro performance minerals
  • Stomach buffer
  • Hydration Support
  • Proprietary yeast cultures
  • Detoxification
  • Stabilizes intestinal tract pH
  • Promotes hind gut health
  • Skeletal support
  • Drug Free
  • Sugar Free

This is a great all around product for any horse to ensure they are able to perform at their best by supporting the entire body of the horse.

OmegaBalance with Pumpkin Seed Oil

OmegaBalance with Pumpkin Seed Oil is an interesting supplement that is not only effective in horses, but in dogs and cats as well.  This supplement is great for regulating inflammatory responses to help reduce post event muscle soreness. Because this supplement is rich in Omega 3’s, 6’s, and 9’s it helps promote overall health in your horse, dog, or cat. This supplement also helps promote a healthy coat, reduce seasonal allergies, increase joint flexibility, and more! OmegaBalance with Pumpkin Seed Oil is available in a quart or gallon size.

  • Rich source of naturally occuring mixed tocopherols
  • Promotes skin and coat health
  • Pumpkin Seed Oil for digestive health
  • Seasonal Allergy Support
  • Omega 3, 6 and 9 Fatty Acids
  • Natural vitamin E
  • Improves joint mobility

ElectroBalance Electrolyte

Another all natural supplement that helps provide the essential vitamins and minerals to keep your horse at their peak is ElectroBalance Electrolyte. Electrolytes are important to give during the summer months with your horse perspires more and in the winter months when they drink less water. ElectroBalance Electrolyte utilizes the Zinpro organic trace minerals just like the GastroBalance Plus.  This product detoxifies, supports recovery, buffs the stomach, and encourages horses to drink to help replenish what they have lost during an event.

  • Replace elecetrolytes lost during exercise
  • Zinpro Organic trace minerals
  • Natural Vitamin E
  • Stomach Buffer
  • Detoxification
  • Recovery support
  • Encourages horses to drink
  • Drug Free
  • Sugar Free

Available in a paste, 5lb bag, and 25lb bucket, you will be feeling confident that you equine partner is getting everything they need to compete and train!

Check out the video below of Enviro Equine showing their product line!

Please note, the contest is over and no longer active. 

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

Horse Trailer Organization for the Travel Pro

Horse Trailer Organization for the Travel Pro

Horse trailer organization
A well organized trailer with its own necessities will make travel more enjoyable.

Let’s face it the night before traveling with your horse is always a bit hectic. Between tracking down tack for your horse and clothes for your self then filling hay nets, bathing and braiding; saving time wherever possible will ensure you get a good night’s rest. Horse trailer organization can take the stress out of travel. Stocking up your trailer with the basic items that you know you will always need while on the road increases efficiency. Having a place for everything and everything in its place will ensure that you can head out in confidence when it is time to hit the road.

Tools of the trade

Beyond having a plethora of bridle racks, tack hooks and sturdy saddle racks, there are a lot of options to help keep your trailer well organized here are some of my favorites Continue reading Horse Trailer Organization for the Travel Pro

Horse Trailer Annual Maintenance and Safety Stock Up

Horse Trailer Annual Maintenance and Safety Stock Up

If you are planning on traveling with your horses this year and own your own trailer, now is a great time to plan your annual trailer cleaning and maintenance. It is also a great time to restock your road side hazard kit and trailer first aid kit. Check out this handy guide to ensure that you have all you need on the road for stress-free and safe travels.

The importance of annual maintenance.

An annual thorough cleaning of your horse trailer both inside and out, is an important part of ensuring years of safe service. This annual routine will Continue reading Horse Trailer Annual Maintenance and Safety Stock Up

Fly Season is Upon Us!

This week Tish and I did a Facebook Live event discussing our picks for the upcoming Fly Season. You can view the video here and read further about a few of the products highlighted in this video:

The new fly sheet scrim made it’s debut this week! This is a great option for those at the track, tying horses out on the trailer, or hanging out ringside at a horse show. This scrim is lightweight and breathable while keeping the flies off from your horse! Available in three colors, with choices of red, blue, and green. This scrim is not ideal for turn out as it does not have any additional fasteners under the belly or around the hind legs, allowing this sheet to easily become misaligned on your horse’s body.

Next we moved along to the mesh fly sheet with belly surcingle straps. This fly sheet is ideal for turning out in, as it is able to be secured with leg straps and belly straps. New for this year is the attached next cover! This provides great coverage to keep those flies off and help protect against being sunbleached!

Another great option for keeping flies off is our protective fly sheet. This one is ideal for those horses that like to be rough on their clothing or have other horses that tug and pull on them. They are a bit stiffer, but they do provide more durability.

After going over these great options for fly protection we touched on some of our favorite fly masks. These included the Crusader, Absorine Supermask, UltraShield Fly Mask, Noble Outfitters Guardsman, and our cult favorite our lycra with mesh fly mask.  There are so many options that it would be impossible for you to not find one that suits your horse’s needs!

We soon moved onto our favorite topical options, including some of the best all natural fly repellents. Pyranha and Aborbine definitely make effective fly sprays that I would highly recommend. The Pyranha aerosol is my personal favorite followed by the UltraShield Ex, as they have the highest levels of pyrethrins which is what kills the fly as it bites your horse. For a more natural approach Fly Bye is our #1 go-to and we have a new product EcoVet which seems to make an impression on Tish if you watch the video!

Of course we touched on some other fly protection items like the rump and belly guard, attachable neck guard, and the big seller leg fly wraps. You can see all of those here. If you have any questions about a particular product shoot us a text at 800.321.2142 or send us a message! We can certainly find something to fit your needs!

Click here to shop Fly Control

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

Body clipping the horse – goals and purpose

I was recently blessed with an opportunity to have my horse Paladin clipped by Natasha from A Pampered Pony for a facebook live demo. Even though I have been body clipping my own horses for years I really enjoyed the tips and pointers that Natasha was able to provide. I am so very thankful to both Wahl and Lister for helping to arrange this fabulous event. The response to the demo was overwhelmingly positive. Though I did see a number of questions surrounding the general practice of body clipping. I hope to be able to offer a little more information, about the purpose and goals of body clipping. From the perspective of a performance horse owner.

A little bit about my horse

My horse Paladin is and always has been a show horse, eventer and most recently a field hunter. In an effort to help prepare my horse for his performance career I chose to show him extensively his first

Full Body Clipped Yearling
Full Body Clip for show as a yearling.

three years of life. Regardless of if the show was local or recognized, I always take pride in producing a well turned out horse. I strongly believe that quality show turnout starts in the stable. Providing quality food and forage, regularly scheduled vet, farrier and dental care and allowing ample turnout helps to promote a strong body and sound mind. Everything that you do at home to benefit your horses overall health will be obvious in the show ring or out working in the field. I feel that clipping further enhances all of that hard work you put into your horse on a daily basis.

Clipping for show and ease of grooming

Clipping has been an important part of my horses grooming program since he was a foal.  When showing him as a yearling and two year Continue reading Body clipping the horse – goals and purpose

Formula 707 Simplifies their Product Line!

We are really excited here at Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supply that Formula 707 has made a huge effort to make their product easier to administer to horses! I am sure barn owners and boarders alike can attest to the challenges of setting up their supplement routine for their horses. Formula 707 has introduced Fresh Packs! Their supplements are now available in pre-packaged servings to make traveling to events easier and making sure that feeding routines are simplified. What else makes these Fresh Packs great, you ask? Well, for one- these fresh packs insure just that, your supplement stays fresh! We all know how it is when you get half-way through a supplement and it’s hardened or changed consistency. It’s money right out the window. Another great aspect of this product is you know that you are giving the right amount needed for your horse, and they are extremely convenient to use. Also, they are affordable!

For me, I find the Fresh Packs extremely desirable.  First reason being, I know that my horse is getting the correct serving based on these pre-measured packets. Secondly, I know that when I head to shows, I don’t have have to find containers to ration the servings out or drag the whole tub with me. I can also imagine for those that are responsible for feeding horses at a large barn will enjoy the amount time that is reduced by using these new Fresh Packs!

Lets get into the actual products by Formula 707 that are available at Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supply! Continue reading Formula 707 Simplifies their Product Line!