Nutrition is Key to Horse Health

When I first bought my horse in March 2017 he was about 3 steps away from being featured on a Sarah McLachlan commercial. He had a dropped topline, 0 neck muscle, and about 100lbs+ skinnier than I wanted to see him be. He weight taped under 1000lbs…as a 16.2 hand Thoroughbred.  His coat was thin and patchy and ribs were starting to show. I don’t even have any before pictures of him without a blanket on because I was embarrassed for him.

So let’s investigate the cause. This one, luckily, was pretty clear- he needed some groceries and probably a good dewormer to help. Horse nutrition comes from three different sources. Number 1, feed– I’m pretty sure the grain he was on at the time was about $6 a bag of “livestock feed” and he got 1 lb. per feeding. Ouch. Number 2, turnout- barely any, and with about 8 other horses on an eaten down pasture in February. And number 3, hay- actually not that bad, but they only fed twice a day.

Let’s begin our slow process of weight gain and getting him nutritionally healthy.

It took me about 4 weeks to find him somewhere to live and arrange his transportation, so unfortunately at that point he probably dropped a little bit more. I actually have an Equine Studies degree, and honestly all of the school horses were fat and happy so it was never something went over in class on how to start to fix this particular weight problem. So I started off with what I had, I know previously he was healthy a different feed, but I wanted to add more than just grain to his diet for a little extra support. I was able to get  half container of Weight Builder by Farnam. Good place to start really, Weight Builder contains flax meal which is high in omega-3 fatty acids. I saw a difference pretty fast, he was completely in a different location by then,eating more hay and eating a 12% grain with 2 scoops of Weight Builder. Within about 2 weeks he had gained back about 30lbs.

I was coming to the end of my Weight Builder container and I began looking into other supplements. There are many options that all do separate things. I have seen many other supplements/feed choices before in horses to get them to gain weight and by many, I mean MANY. I didn’t want to overload him in calories. I wanted to build muscle and weight correctly and ease him back into work.  I didn’t want to up his grain by a lot due to risking stomach problems and colic. And I didn’t want to make him hot by adding the wrong type of calories; (sugars).

There are some great supplements out there that are going to help with weight gain. They are all really based on what you are wanting. Do you want to build muscle? Add calories? Add energy? Add protein? Help with your horse’s coat? So I went back to the drawing board. What is something he is going to eat, I mean, really eat and what is going to add safe calories? So I took a jump on a completely different supplement and tried Cocosoya Oil!  (It also comes in granules as well) Wow. He ate it. He loved it. And I was happy. Cocosoya has Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, soybean oil, and coconut oil, all without raising his sugars and at a budget friendly cost. Oh and fun fact, you can feed it to your dogs.  Fast forward into the summer time (about 2 months on Cocosoya) and he was a different horse. Weight taped at 1045lbs and had the shiniest coat in the barn. It’s amazing what good nutrition can do!

Proper nutrition for your horse is imperative

Weight supplements aren’t aren’t that difficult, although it feels that way while you’re overwhelmed with the many different options. But first, look at what your horse needs it for and what they are eating overall – then experiment. Maybe you just need a little more hay, or a little more grain? Then try out some weight building supplements. You never know what your horse is going to adjust to the best until you try.

 

This article was written by Laura Robertson, Big Dee’s Customer Care Representative

Salt sense and your horse

The holidays are over but I’d like to reflect on something that struck me as I sat around my family’s dinner table Christmas Day. Salt! As I looked around, my family was busily talking, laughing and salting their food. Knowing my family, I had two sets of salt shakers on the table which were in heavy use. I tried not to take this as a review of my cooking! The striking part of this is the importance of sodium in our diets and the diets of our horses. Cell and proper organ function are critically linked to the consumption of salt or sodium. It is the backbone of sustaining blood and body fluids that transport oxygen and nutrients contributing to cell, brain, nervous system and muscle processes. Salt gets a bad rap, but is important to all diets in moderation.

Horses need salt in their diet

Salt’s role in your horse’s body is like a super hero quietly going to work keeping all systems functioning and safe from the evils of deficiencies. The lack of adequate sodium could be compared to Superman’s kryptonite; cell processes and body function change and your horse will not be at its best. Our furry super heroes use their spidy-sense to instinctively know when their bodies are low on sodium and will search for it sometimes excessively licking our hands or chewing things.

Horse licking hand for salt

Large pressed salt blocks used to be the standard dotting shared pastures, but they were developed for the course tongues of cattle that may lick these blocks to get their daily allowance. Horses’ tongues are smoother and softer so salt should be offered free choice loose or crushed to augment their diet. Offer salt in a bucket under cover in a shed in the pasture or in your horses stall to help satisfy their need. Just be sure to keep it dry. Electrolyte supplementation could also be considered to avoid dehydration and increase your horses thirst response.

Sodium is central in regulating many bodily functions. During an average day of hanging out with their buddies in a paddock or in their stall, horses excrete sodium through urine and manure making toxicity uncommon. Sweating during a workout increases daily loss of electrolytes. Put in prospective, some horses weigh in at 1000 to 1500 pounds or more; their salt and water consumption need to reflect this. Check your feed label and ask the advice of your veterinarian about salt intake for your horse’s activity level. Be careful to always offer an adequate water supply. As with all things you need to strike a balance. Without this balance of salt and water consumption your horse may struggle to process sodium through their system properly.

Big Dee’s has a full line of products to help you meet your horse’s daily mineral requirements.

Shop Electrolytes

Shop Salt and Salt Holders

Shop Water Buckets

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

Small Business Saturday – November 25th!

From the humble beginning at a local race track to our new location in Streetsboro, Ohio, Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supplies was founded in 1976 by Dennis Osterholt. Through the guidance of “Big D” the family approach to business continues and incorporates his two daughters Brenda and Gail. It is with a sense of pride that Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supply now employs over 60 people. Most of our employees own horses or have horses in their backgrounds. Employees that share your interests give you a customer service experience that cannot be rivaled!

Big Dee's Then and now

In the United States, this Saturday, November 25th is Small Business Saturday. Last year all across the country shoppers came out in record crowds to share their support of small businesses just like ours. Shopping small helps foster a sense of the greater national community. In the spirit of the season help local family-owned companies like Big Dee’s by supporting your friends and neighbors and the local economy! At this special time of year Big Dee’s values your support in this effort to shop small!

Wonderful Big Dee Showroom Employees

What you’ll find at Big Dee’s in Streetsboro –

Happy Holidays!

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

The Fledgling Foxhunter’s Riding Accident

Redefining the Riding Accident

In nearly 25 years of riding and numerous unplanned dismounts; I can cite only 4 incidents in which I was actually hurt beyond just shaking it off and moving on. Up until just last year I never understood that there really can just be a riding “accident”. I had always just thought a fall was a fall, regardless of what the ultimate cause was. My two most recent experiences redefined the term “riding accident” for me. I now refer to a riding accident as one of which neither you, nor your horse has any control over the ultimate outcome. The lack of control fundamentally changed the way I feel about riding. It is not just the rather rude introduction to fear on a level that I am not particularly familiar with, but also one of enlightenment in better understanding that a riding accident really can happen at any time for any reason.

A learning experience

In both occasions two well trained and obedient horses, which had been in regular work suddenly wiped out while working at the canter.  Last year’s fall was with my then 6 year old horse. I never had falling while competing in the dressage phase on my radar. My anxiety always surrounded the possibility of a fall out on cross country. It was a great example for rule book roulette. It turns out that in USEA eventing dressage you can choose to continue if your horse falls (EV136.1.d). The fall was dramatic but it was on grass and I did not take a direct hit to my head.  I was scared more so than hurt and worried more that my horse may have suffered any injury than myself. In the next few rides I felt anxiety to canter on a 20 meter circle and was hyper aware that my horse just did not seem quite right. He underwent a full lameness evaluation with the veterinarian and we came up with a plan based on his individual needs which included corrective shoeing, a change in primary discipline and additional therapies to help him gain strength in areas where he was lacking.

A bad fall

I have never had anxiety on hunting mornings, the way that I had experienced anxiety running cross country. Just three weeks ago I suffered another fall at the canter.  I had been learning some of the ins and outs of Whipping-in for foxhunting and wanted to train my aged mare as a backup should my primary horse be unable to hunt. The hounds hit a line and we were cantering down a trail keeping an ideal position along with them. The trail was hard packed dry dirt. There was a very gentle curve but I did not notice any roots, rocks or other obstructions that would raise any sort of concern. My horse was balanced and comfortable when out of nowhere Continue reading The Fledgling Foxhunter’s Riding Accident

Simplify Supplementation All-in-one Horse Supplements

Is it time to consider an all-in-one multi-system supplement?

Do you find yourself adding scoop after scoop of specialty nutritional supplements to your horses daily feed rations? Is your feed room storage solution bursting at the seams? If you are using 3 or more supplements, perhaps it is time to consider a multi-system supplement for your horse.

All in one horse supplements
Are the number of supplements in your feed room growing? Is there a better way?

Not to be confused with multi-vitamins or ration balancers. All-in-one supplements are nutritional supplements that are formulated to cover more than one of your horses specialty needs. The greatest benefit is being able to feed a single supplement that contains all of the ingredients for joint support, gastric health, strong hooves, a shining coat and more! No matter if you keep horses for business or pleasure, any change in your supplementation routine should be met with facts and figures. Will the change be of benefit to your horse, your wallet or both? Let’s take a look at how to evaluate a change in supplements with some choices available at Big Dee’s Tack.

Can and all-in one supplement work for my horse?

My horse is in full work and eats a well balanced feed that provides optimal levels of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. He is on grass turnout a minimum of 14 hours per day. Due to his unique needs his vet recommended Continue reading Simplify Supplementation All-in-one Horse Supplements

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.

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!

Western Saddle Fitting with David Royal!

Western Saddle Fitting

Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supply was lucky enough to have David Royal come to our location and provide a seminar on Western Saddle Fitting! We all know how hard it can be to know if your equipment is properly fitting your horse.

David Royal is a professional saddle fitter from Morresville, North Carolina. David has been fitting saddles for over 25 years across the country and has extensive knowledge fitting problem horses. He has been a saddle expert with Circle Y, Reinsman, & Tucker Saddles for 17 years. David has competed in cutting, team roping and mounted shooting and has held board positions with several equestrian associations over the years.

The video listed below really allows any equestrian to discern if their saddle is fitting properly or not. It is important to make sure your saddle fits appropriately to avoid muscle damage, soreness, muscle atrophy, and prevent pain. For western saddles, it’s vital to know if you horse is a semi quarter horse bar or a full quarter horse bar. It is equally important to take into consideration the slope of the withers or absence of withers as you don’t want create pressure sores or slide around on the horse’s back once you’re in the saddle. Additionally, you will need to be aware if your saddle is bridging and causing back soreness to your horse. This is all important to help determine if your saddle fits appropriately or not.

There are options to help your saddle fit better if it is not already a perfect fit. You can explore using shims or corrective pads that can help relieve pressure or fill in the gaps where your horse needs it.

Riser Pad for Western Saddle

Riser Pad

This is a wither riser pad that is helpful for a high withered horse that tends to rub or useful to help fill in gaps by the shoulders.

T3 Matrix Western Saddle Pad Shims

T3 Matrix Shims

These are T3 Matrix Shims for the Toklat T3 Shimmable western saddle pads. They come in a set of 12 and are to be used for the front, middle, and/or back of the saddle pad to help saddles fit better if they are gaps between your horse’s back and the saddle.

T3 Matrix Extreme Pro Impact Performance Western Saddle Pad

T3 Matrix Extreme Pro

This is an example of a Toklat T3 Shimmable western saddle pad that you can use to correct your saddle fit.

Reinsman Shoulder Fill Correction Western Saddle Pad

Reinsman Shoulder Fill

Reinsman also makes a corrective pad for shoulder correction for high withered horses to help fill in the hollows behind the shoulder blade. This will provide more comfort and a better fit to your horse.

Thinline Sheepskin Correction Western Saddle Pad

ThinLine Correction Pad

Thinline  also has a sheepskin correction pad that you can add shims to correct the fit of your saddle on your horse. This is a nice durable and comfortable pad for your horses back even without the shims, but being able to customize to provide comfort to your horse is priceless!

There are so many options to consider when searching for corrective pads that it can be overwhelming. If you have questions or need assistance we are here to help! It is always advisable to have a qualified saddle-fitter come out to assess your horse and saddle in and out of the tack!

Big Dee’s 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. 

Foxhunting Apparel Trunk Show

Foxhunting apparel trunk show!

I’ve got some exciting news from the Fledgling Foxhunter for our local (and not so local) foxhunters! Our purchasing department

Taste of Hunting Trunk Show
Taste of Hunting Trunk Show with The Chagrin Valley Hunt

has graciously given in to my incessant pleading to add a selection of foxhunting apparel and tack.  On a recent visit with members of the Chagrin Valley Hunt, I brought along a small selection of my favorite additions for a literal trunk show during Continue reading Foxhunting Apparel Trunk Show

Complete selection of equine and rider products since 1976!