All posts by Cassie Hupric

Hoof Injury Recovery

We often hear the No Hoof, No Horse mantra, and it can apply to so many different aspects of the horse’s hoof. I have been lucky enough to never have a horse with “really awful feet”. I’ve had some that needed to be shod, ripped out shoes, cracked toes or grew too fast/too slow. A lot of those problems could be remedied with a better diet or supplement like Hoof Secret and a little extra topical and environmental care.

One issue I had not dealt with extensively prior to my horse’s recovery, was a serious injury to the hoof itself. My Quarter Horse, Copper, always had good feet. He managed to make a handful of not great choices in his life that left him a little banged up, but otherwise, is a very healthy horse that maintains barefoot year round exceptionally well. When I moved him onto my property a few years ago, he was officially retired from being a little Sport Show Pony and now enjoys leisurely trail rides with twelve hour days in the field.

Discovering the Injury

When I went out to the barn one brisk September morning in 2019, I immediately knew something was wrong. First, his gate was open. And second, he was actually standing in his stall. He is notoriously impatient and would live outside 24/7 to gorge himself if allowed. Seeing him remain in his stall, quiet and head down, I was extremely worried. First glance over he seemed spotless…. And then I saw the hoof. He had a deep gash in his coronary band that looked like it fully separated the hoof from his leg.

I will never known exactly what happened, but we think he got his leg stuck between logs from a tree we cut down in the pasture. He never had an interest in the logs prior, but if he escaped his stall at night, he might not have seen the logs before he stumbled into them.

A lot of cold hosing ensued, followed by vet and farrier calls. Initially, there was a lot of “well, we’ll see how this goes” and some tentative “he can recover, but he might have a weaker leg” which to me translated to – hope, but also the chance of never riding him again. While our days of showing were done, I had hoped we would have years of trail riding ahead of us.

I shelved my stress about his future to stay in there here and now. Following both vet and farrier advice, we simply had a long road ahead of us and it required patience, time and occasionally some extra help.

First Stage [ Rain Season ]

The first several months were the hardest, I had to keep his wound both clean and open to the air during the fall rain season. In Northeast Ohio, that rain turns the dry lots into mud. I was diligent in cleaning the wound every day using warm water and cotton pieces, I would wipe out the dirt and debris, pat dry, then spray with Alushield.

After the initial few days of heat in his leg, he never took a lame step, and he didn’t get an infection (thankfully). I kept his stall extra clean to give him the best environment for recovery (after a full day in a muddy pit followed by the cleaning routine above). This was the most touch and go time, with follow-up vet appointments and farrier care to make sure we caught any problems early.

Second Stage [ Spring ]

By the following Spring, I started noticing rapid growth, and that meant seeing just how deep his wound really went. It started peeling back in places to the point I used a stiff hoof brush to clean out the grass that got stuck in it every day.

I also bought Back on Track bell boots to assist with the blood flow and hoof growth. At that point, my farrier was surprised just how well the coronet band healed. She had prepared me for the possibility that there would be an indent in his coronet band, and that it could be very sensitive and weak. Despite this, he kept healing stronger each day – and I snuck in a few easy rides without issue!

Third Stage [ The Ugly Part ]

By far the most “gasp” worthy phase were the summer months. For a time, I wasn’t sure I would be able to ride him, but we plugged along anyway (with the approval of his equine professionals).

The hoof kept growing out, and with that, chips and chunks from the old wound were pealing away. I kept the hoof moisturized with Farrier’s Fix and kept thrush at bay with Koppertox. That combination along with his bell boots brought us to the final part of his healing journey.

Final Stage [ One Year Later ]

After a full year of meticulous care, treatments and regular trimmings – his old wound grew out and his new hoof growth was just as healthy as it had been prior.

I attribute a lot of his success to both the genetics of being a hardy breed as well as his diet. He has been fed Buckeye Gro N Win for years now, and he just glows. Without the proper nutrition, he wouldn’t have been able to grow out a new hoof. I fully expected a longer process with bigger bumps along the way. But his recovery is proof – sometimes you just have to give it time.

He’s back to his mostly retired life – looking sharp in his LeMieux!

Copper continues to have solid, healthy hooves, nearing the two year anniversary of “the day he decided to give his mom a near-heart attack”. It wasn’t always easy, sometimes it was downright terrible. But by following the guidance of his care team, using supplies as need and giving him time to heal, he came back better than ever! If someone were to take a peak at him in the field right now, they would have no idea what hoof had the injury!

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie

Show Ready This Summer

Show season is in full swing and we want our horses looking their best! As someone who has been showing for over 20 years, I have tried a lot of products on the market. Below, please find my top picks for making your horse stand out and shine on show day:

Shampoo

My two favorite shampoos are the Cowboy Magic Rosewater Shampoo and the Eqyss Premier Horse Shampoo. Both shampoos work wonderfully removing dirt and prepping the coat for the conditioner! They also smell great and rinse out easily. I use these on the coat as well as manes and tails.

Conditioner

After shampooing, I stick with the same brands and use either the Cowboy Magic Rosewater Conditioner or the Eqyss Avocado Mist Conditioner. These products make the coat silky smooth, and I love the way they smell. They also work well to detangle and soften the tail. Both of my horses have tails that are at least a foot on the ground, so I appreciate having a conditioner that allows me to detangle without damaging the hair.

Whitening Shampoo

My go to for whitening is the Exhibitors Quic Silver Shampoo. I usually curry it into my horse’s white markings and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing out. I have not had an issue with it turning the hair purple, but it could happen if you let it sit for too long.

Coat and Shine Spray

After I finish bathing, I always spray my horses with a shine spray while the coat, mane, and tail are still wet so it can moisturize and set in the hair before it dries. My favorites are the Vetrolin Shine as well as Laser Sheen. These keep my manes and tails tangle free as well as give the horse a healthy shine!

Hooves

To complete the look, I sand their hooves and apply the Absorbine Supershine Hoof Polish. It is easy to use and a little goes a long way! It stays on for the show, makes their hooves shine, and it rarely needs any touch-ups.

Dry Shampoo

If you need extra shine on show day, my new favorite is the E3 Elite Argan Oil Waterless Shampoo. This product locks in moisture and makes your horse shine! It works perfectly to get any stains out of your horse’s white spots or anything else they might have gotten into the night before the show. Even though this is an oil-based product, it does not leave the horse greasy and really brings out the shine.

While these are my personal favorites, there are a lot of new products we are offering so please check them out and reach out if you have any questions. I know there are a few I have my eye on to try this show season!

Written by Customer Service Representative, Erica

Select And Mix A Bridle With Schockemohle

Some of us in the equestrian world are lucky to have a horse that fits within the parameters of standard horse sizing – this means you could just pick up a bridle from the showroom and walk out. You might need to make a few minor adjustments, but overall, it fits well! Others however, aren’t quite so lucky. Maybe you have a small horse with cob or pony sized cheeks but a massive jowl that always requires a longer throatlatch. Or maybe you have a petite horse that needs a smaller browband and noseband, but longer cheeks. It can be an absolute pain to fall in love with a bridle, only to realize you need to spend additional money to replace a piece or several.

Luckily, there is an answer! And it isn’t limited to just horses with unique facial structures – any horse can benefit from a custom mix and match bridle . Schockemohle’s Select & Mix line of bridle pieces offers an array of options, from browbands to nosebands, there is a way to get a custom fit bridle at a reasonable price!

Anatomic Curved Browband

The browband is a simple, yet important part of the bridle. The first step in selecting a browband is to measure your horse from the back edge of it’s ear, around it’s forehead and to the back side of it’s other ear. Schockemohle browbands come in cob, horse and large horse sizes as well as in brown or black leather. If you want to add a little more bling, check out the Diamond Browband options in cob and horse!

Anatomic Curved Crown Piece

The crown piece is an exceptional addition to this Select & Mix as it features soft padding and reduces pressure. The throat latch adjusts on both sides – which helps with that perfect custom fit! To measure the crown piece, you will need to take into account the cheek pieces, which also take into account the bit you use. To start, measure from the base of the ear, over the poll and to the bottom of the other ear. This is your first measurement. The second measurement will be from the corner of the horse’s mouth, all the way over the poll and down to the other side at the mouth. The final measurement is the throatlatch; start at the back of your horse’s ear, go under the throat and to the back of the other ear. These measurements will help you determine the right size to go with to accommodate both the cheek pieces as well as offer options for bit changes. Schockemohle crown pieces offer variety between cob, horse and large horse. Also available in black and brown leather.

Bridle Cheek Pieces

The cheek pieces come in cob, horse and large horse options to give wiggle room when selecting the other features of your bridle. It helps to know what bit you will be using so you can subtract the bit ring size from the measurement – however, we all know bits can change as a horse progresses in training. This is why measuring from the corner of the horse’s mouth to just level with the outside of their eye, will give you a starting point. From there, you can coordinate the crown piece, noseband and factor in the general size of the bit.

Stanton or Montreal Noseband

The Stanton Noseband is one of my favorites! Not only is the leather supple, its shaped in an anatomic design with slim, attractive flat cheeks. It gives a classy, quality turnout for your horse and offers black or brown leather to complete the overall look of the bridle. The Montreal is a great alternative if the Stanton is too much “bulk” for the shape of your horse’s face or you don’t want a flash. To measure the noseband, start two fingers below the cheekbone and wrap around to meet where you started – make sure you can fit two fingers under the tape, you do not want a super tight noseband! For the cheek hangers, measure from where you started the first measurement, to the outside of your horse’s eye. These measurements will help you in selecting cob, horse or large horse for the noseband.

Reins

Reins are the final part of making a bridle from scratch! While they are not a part of the Select & Mix lineup, Schockemohle does have a large variety of options. Choose between Neo Rubber with clips, Neo Web with clips, Durasoft with buckle ends or any of the other options offered at Big Dee’s!

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie

Understanding Equine Joint Supplements

In the world of joint supplements, there are so many options it can be overwhelming to decide which one might work best for your horse! Joint supplements naturally support your horse’s joints against normal wear and tear that happens with activity, age, and breed. Just  like people, individual horses with similar conditions may respond differently to the same product and doses.

Horses are built for movement, but their size puts strain and pressure on the joints, which can lead to degeneration quicker than you realize. By the time your horse starts to show soreness, they may have been uncomfortable for a while. Joint supplements are great to use as preventative maintenance. They help by keeping joints lubricated to support shock absorption, block inflammatory reactions, prevent cartilage breakdown, and aid in new cartilage growth.

What Ingredient Should You Look For?

Equine joint supplements have been around for a long time with a variety of options. The best way to select one is by looking at the ingredients list. The most common ingredients in joint supplements are Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, MSM, Hyaluronic Acid, and Collagen Type II. By understanding what the ingredients are and their importance, that will help you make an educated decision on what may be the best option for your horse!

Glucosamine

Glucosamine is one of the most common and well-studied ingredients in joint supplements. Glucosamine is the building block of all connective tissue and cartilage. When looking for glucosamine in supplements, it is best to stick with either the manufactured pure glucosamine or natural shellfish sources. Recommended doses of glucosamine range from 6,000 to 10,000 mg/day with the max dose being for a horse that is in heavy work.

Chondroitin Sulfate

Chondroitin Sulfate works with Glucosamine to support healthy joints and promotes new cartilage growth while limiting cartilage breakdown. Chondroitin Sulfate helps with inflammation and is a key component in the body’s ability to produce hyaluronic acid. The pain-relieving effects are not as obvious as glucosamine, but it does help with cartilage breakdown. An effective dose is between 1,250 and 5,000 mg/day.

Glucosamine is shown to work synergistically with Chondroitin Sulfate, which is why you will often see them together in joint supplements. Studies have shown that these two ingredients seem to work better together than they do separately. The main thing to watch for is when these two ingredients are together in one product, they may contain lower dosages than the recommended amounts. There are no studies out there that confirm they are effective in the lower doses so I would recommend still using a supplement with the correct dose of Glucosamine and finding one that has close to the correct amount of Chondroitin. These are the two most popular joint supplements for a reason … they work great together and target each aspect of the joint.

Methylsulfonylmethane

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a source of organic sulfur that acts as an anti-inflammatory. The amounts needed may vary which is why they recommend adding pure MSM product to your horse’s supplements and trying different amounts to see what may be effective.

Hylauronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid helps with lubrication and viscosity of the joint fluid. Dosage recommendations are 100 mg per day. Studies have shown that as little as 20 mg of Hyaluronic Acid added to Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate supplements may make a difference. But in other horses, they may need the full 100 mg dose. If your horse has not responded to the Glucosamine or Chondroitin sulfate, Hyaluronic Acid is a great next step to try with them.

Collagen Type II

Collagen Type II is the primary structural protein in connective tissue found in tendons, ligaments, bone cartilage, and skin. It represents 95% of the collage found in articular cartilage tissue.

Other Options

These are the main ingredients to look for when trying to find the best joint supplement for your horse. Other ingredients that aid in joint health are Avocado and Soy Unsaponifiable (ASU), Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin C, and Cetyl-M just to name a few.

With all of the joint supplements on the market, it is beneficial to know what you are looking at so you do not feel overwhelmed. As with any supplement, it may be beneficial to run bloodwork on your horse to make sure you are not over supplementing, which could cause more harm than good to your horse. Always remember, when giving your horse a joint supplement, make sure they are maintaining appropriate weight, have a balanced nutrition, regular hoof care, and regular exercise- these will aid in maintaining joint health as well.

It is important to buy from a reputable company and select a supplement formulated specifically for joint health to have the maximum effect. Supplements do take time to show results, give at least 30 days before determining if the supplement works best for your horse.

Below you will find a helpful comparison chart highlighting the top ingredients in joint supplements:

IngredientSourceEffectsDaily Dosage
GlucosamineBuilding block of all connective tissue and cartilageEncourages healing, growth, and slows cartilage breakdown6,000-10,000 mg
Chondroitin SulfateNatural building block of cartilage, bone, and tough connective tissues; also aids in production of hyaluronic acid  Primarily functions to prevent further cartilaginous breakdown1,250- 5,000 mg
MSMFound in the immune system and connective tissueEffective anti-inflammatoryVaries depending on horse
Hyaluronic AcidVital component of synovial fluid and cartilageControls swelling, heat, and pain; very effective in acute flare-ups20 – 100 mg
Collagen Type IIPrimary structural protein in connective tissues and found in tendons, ligaments, bone cartilage, and skinProvides lubrication, strength and stimulates growth of articular cartilage480 mg
Avocado Soy Unsaponifiable (ASU)Found in avocado and soybean oilsProtects against cartilaginous breakdown but not known to reduce pain; helps reduce inflammation1,200 mg
Omega-3 Fatty AcidsFound mainly in plant oils and fishHelps reduce inflammation6.75- 25 g
Cetyl-M (Cetyl Myristoleate)Found in fish oils, dairy products, butter, and animal fatHelps reduce inflammation5,500 mg
Vitamin CEssential for health of cartilage and other connective tissueMay help with oxidative stress induced by exerciseDo not exceed 4,000 mg/day

Written by Customer Service Representative, Erica

Which Grazing Muzzle Works Best For Your horse?

Do you suffer from grazing muzzle envy while watching other horses graze comfortably with their muzzle on? When you have a horse that requires a grazing muzzle due to sugar sensitivities or you just need to slow down their eating, it is hard finding the right muzzle that doesn’t rub and is comfortable on their face for extended periods of time.

Before grazing muzzles were created, owners were limited to dry lot turnout (if they had one) or keeping their horse locked in a stall for fear of causing health issues to their easy keepers! We all know this is not ideal as horses need movement, natural grazing, and social interactions with their herd.

A muzzle forces your horse to eat slowly and more deliberately and allows you to limit the amount of forage your horse can consume. Horses are meant to graze 16-18 hours per day, and grazing muzzles can be beneficial as they can consistently consume small amounts of grass while wearing the muzzle.

My horse, Gracie, is an 18-year-old Morgan who was diagnosed with Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and now has Insulin Resistance (IR). She absolutely loves food and was not happy watching all her pasture mates enjoying the grass while she was stuck in the dry lot. I decided it was time to do research on the available grazing muzzle options to see what would work best for her. My biggest concerns were if the muzzle would cause rubs/sores on her face, ability to access water, breathable material, and not being able to slip it off.  I was also concerned about the wear on her teeth that can happen from trying to graze with a muzzle on. After trying out a variety of muzzles, here are my findings:

I started with two canvas muzzles, the Best Friend Padded Leather Crown Grazing Muzzle and the Easy Breathe Adjustable Grazing Muzzle. While I did like the size of the grazing hole on these muzzles, the canvas material gave her sweat lines, however, these grazing muzzles provide a lot of adjustability to fit different horse head shapes!

Within the last few years, ThinLine came out with a Flexible Filly muzzle which was so different than the traditional canvas or cage-like grazing muzzles! It boasts UV resistance, antimicrobial properties, and durability with plenty of airflow. I tried this one on my horse two years ago and it has been my favorite so far. She can get small amounts of grass and the muzzle is much more flexible in its’ movement. She was able to drink water, eat through snow covered grass, and even groom her pasture mates with no issues! I also like that it doesn’t directly touch her face so there hasn’t been any rubbing.

Recently, Big Dee’s started carrying the GreenGuard muzzle which has received high ratings. I tried this muzzle and wanted to share my thoughts. I really like how open and breathable it is. The way it hangs on the halter leaves plenty of room for airflow. I have it attached to a nylon halter and I like that the muzzle attaches to the halter with breakaway straps.  This muzzle is known to be “anti-escape artist” and so far, she has managed to keep this on! Her other muzzles she slipped out of them rather quickly.

All in all, there are a variety of muzzles available on the market to fit each horse’s need. As they become more prevalent, new technologies are being created leading to great new products! If you are interested in trying a muzzle or are not sure which one might be the best fit for you, please reach out to us and we will be happy to help!

Written by Customer Service Representative, Erica



Are You Show Ready?

As some of us are hoping for a brighter show season ahead of us in 2021, one of the things we may not have practiced/thought of much in the last year is putting our hair up neatly for a show. But as spring has sprung, so has horse show season and its time to brush up on this all-important skill!

Classic Hair Up Process

Step 1: I place my hair net (I prefer the one knot) over the top half of my head (yes, it always gets in your eyes to start!). Pull the sides of your hair down over the tops of your ears while tucking the elastic under the hair. 

Step 2: Then pull your hair net snug over the top of your head, wrap it around the base of your ponytail and secure with a non-bulky elastic.  Now you can push the hairnet out of your eyes and up to your hairline, adjusting the hair over the top of your ears if needed. Depending on the length of your hair you can feed it into the hair net and flip that up on top of your head or if you have longer hair like I do, just flip your loose ponytail on top.

Step 3: Time to put on your helmet starting back to front. Place the elastic into the back pocket of the harness if you have a helmet with that option and rotate your helmet forward onto your head keeping a hand on the elastic to keep it outside of the actual helmet so it doesn’t interfere with fit.

Final step: Once your helmet is on your head securely tuck in any extra pieces to keep your look extra neat. Be sure the front of your helmet sits about 1” above your eye brows – too high and the helmet cannot protect you effectively, too low and you can’t see! 

Your helmet should feel like it’s giving your head a hug, not a headache!

It very important to have your helmet fitted for how you plan to wear your hair daily.  If you don’t want to wear your hair up everyday but plan to put it up for show and have medium/long length hair it would be best to invest in 2 helmets so you don’t compromise the fit and safety.

Alternatives

In the 4H ring or the dressage ring show bows or buns are appropriate (but don’t try to use one in the rated hunters!). If you plan to use a show bow, I would still use the hairnet to neatly contain your hair under your helmet and secure with an elastic.  Then clip the bow in the hair above the elastic (you may need to pull the elastic a bit lower so everything sits out of the way of the helmet). Tuck your hair into the remainder of the hair net and then into the show bow net for added security- having your hair flop out in the middle of your class is very distracting!

If you are using a bun cover start the same but twist/wind your hair into a bun at the base of your neck and secure with another elastic and some bobby pins before placing the cover over it.  If it doesn’t feel secure, tuck a few more bobby pins in until you can jump up and down without it moving.

Kids

Under 12 with long hair can show in braids.  As a kid who lived in French braids to keep my long hair contained at the barn I don’t recommend them under a helmet as I find they create pressure points and an uncomfortable fit.  If your kid is tougher then I am go for it! I personally like to do 2 braids starting just below where the helmet sits, secure with elastics at the bottom and add bows of your choice.

Regardless of your chosen style practice before show day! Wear your hair the way you will for the show and take a lesson.  This way you know if it will stay put for the whole show and you can avoid embarrassing/distracting flying hair incidents.  Let’s face it, shows are stressful enough, don’t let your hair be part of the worry!

Written by Sponsored Rider, Sarah Freeman from Serendipity Stable

Boredom Busters for 2021

Muddy paddocks and bored horses are right around the corner as the snow melts and rain begins in Northeastern Ohio. We all try to physically and mentally prepare for what this means – horses who start feeling those Spring weather vibes and turn simple turnout into a game of “which part of the pasture/stall/companion shall I chew on and destroy today”?

Of course we would love to turn them out in lush fields of summer grass, but right now is the waiting game for warmer weather. With that, means more time in sacrifice lots, arenas and stalls. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to try to re-direct that energy and encourage playfulness and mental stimulation in a safe way.

Shires Ball Feeder

I recently discovered the Shires Ball Feeder for my six month old Saddlebred colt. He was getting bored with his paddock twigs and started removing the water trough heater and other important farm essentials from their appropriate places. So I bought him this this ball to hopefully curb the mouthiness – and he loved it! I toss this out into his paddock filled with just a little bit of his Buckeye Growth feed and he’ll play off and on all day. When I turned my senior gelding out with the colt, he also played with this treat ball and was far more successful with getting the grain out, but still enjoyed nuzzling it around.

The Shires Ball Feeder is the choice for a rowdy colt!

Jolly Ball

A tried and true classic, the Jolly Ball was a great addition to my colt’s paddock. In fact, I have a Jolly Ball in every pasture so all of my horses have a fun, sturdy toy to maim in their spare time. I still have several that were bought years ago, and while some may have been deflated, they still can handle the energy of a playful horse. My colt has figured out how to grab the handle and parade it around for his pasture mates to watch.

Horse Quencher

While this may not fit in a traditional boredom buster checklist, I have found the single Horse Quencher packets (apple, peppermint, root beer and butterscotch) to be perfect for a once a week snack at night for my horses. Not only does it encourage them to drink a little extra while the weather fluctuates, it also gives them something new and fun to try out. So far I have established that my colt and grey gelding have a more refined palette for traditional flavors, while my chestnut gelding feasts on anything that resembles food. Overall, it’s a fun way to spend a few extra minutes at the barn.

Copper’s favorite is Root Beer!

Stall Essentials

I keep my horses turned out during the day and put them up at night. This serves many purposes including safety, paddock maintenance and it helps give each horse separate personal space to eat, sleep and relax. It is a lot easier to keep senior horses occupied, whereas my colt needed extra enrichment while stalled.

Chew Toys

My mother shared some useful knowledge when I got my colt – use dog toys for the “teething phase”. This phase is the time frame when a young horse wants to put just about everything it can in its mouth and chomp – sticks, muck buckets, feed buckets, human hands, you name it. She figured out that certain dog toys could cater to the biting and curiosity these young horses have, without risking injury to the handler. Of course, only appropriate and safe toys should be used and they should be checked daily. Her filly really liked squeaker toys. My colt prefers the Jolly Pets Romp N Roll Ball and Jolly Pets Treader Red. I tied them to his gate with bailing twine to give him a fun “enrichment” area in his stall.

Stall toys help keep Remington occupied through the night!

Redmond Rocks

I have a Redmond Rock on a Rope in every horse stall. This not only encourages more water intake, but also allows each horse to regulate their own body for minerals. They usually last several months, so they are a great investment long term!

Hay Bags and Nets

I keep hay bags in my older horse’s stalls in addition to hay on the ground. This helps regulate how quickly they eat, and ensures they have hay well into the evening and early morning. I will be adding the Burlingham Hay Ball Feeder to each stall soon, to get a little more play and movement in the stalls!

I have more exciting plans with my colt in the future (including the Jolly Mega Ball), but for now, he and his older buddies are happy with the toys and treats provided during the “mud season” we are about to have.

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie

Custom Boot Event 2021

Our Custom Boot Event is back! February 10th-20th we will be able to get your custom fit for the perfect boot of your dreams! It’s not too late to schedule an appointment, click here to schedule!

Types of Tall Boots

There are three main types of tall riding bootsField Boots, Dress Boots, and Dressage Boots. Each type of boot has a specific purpose, depending on the discipline you ride. Over the years, much like the rest of riding gear within the equine community, styles have evolved, but the biggest change was the introduction of zippers and stretch panels. This allowed for a much closer fit as well as an easier time putting on and taking off tall boots.

Black is still the most popular and traditional color, however more colors have been seen in the rings as of recent, including brown in the hunter/jumper arenas. In fact, there is a whole rainbow of colors and materials available that are appearing more in the Jumper, Dressage, and Eventing show rings, or even for schooling. From blues to burgundy to crocodile to patent leather and more custom boots are meant to make you stand out in a crowd. Just be careful, you don’t want it to be for the wrong reasons. If you intend on competing, make sure it’s within the guidelines and rules of your discipline.

Take a walk on the wild side: With various accents such as front zippers, full-front lace, animal or patent leather, crystals, engraving, and more, your dream boot can literally come to life!

Why Custom?

Custom boots are a fabulous way to express one’s personality and put all eyes on you. Depending on the circuit and discipline you show in, they’re an exciting way to keep up with the latest trends and make a fashion statement. It’s a thrill to pick and choose the colors, details from toe-punch to custom embroidery or engraving, and crystals or exotic leathers to make your boot fantasy come to life, and even more exciting when you put them on and enter the ring! The most important thing, however, is that custom boots are exactly that – custom. People that may have issues with fitting a particularly wide calf, high arch, wide footbed, or find that their tall boots are never “tall” enough, fully custom boots are made-to-measure with intricate detail and done in a one-on-one setting to make sure they are carefully and correctly designed. Custom boots are hand-made and hand-stitched, because these aren’t an off-the-shelf purchase but are made just for YOU. When the boots are done, there is usually a second fitting to ensure that the boots are exactly as ordered. In addition, you generally are working with a representative the entire process to answer any questions, resolve any issues, and to make sure you are completely satisfied in your investment.

What to Expect?

Big Dee’s represents The DeNiro Boot Company, Königs, The Dehner Company, and Cavallo as their custom boot makers. Lisa Goretta is one of the flagship members in the Big Dee’s Showroom and has been extensively skilled and involved in the equestrian industry professionally for over 30 years. She is our custom boot fitter here in the store and highlighted the most important things to keep in mind when preparing for a fitting appointment.

Safety Measures: Extra safety measures are in place to keep both our customers and associates safe and we ask that you schedule an appointment before arriving. Social distancing of six foot will be followed. Due to Ohio’s public mask mandate, face masks are required by our associates and customers. All high touched areas area continually sanitized.

Fitting Process: Generally, the measuring itself takes around 30 – 45 minutes. You’ll be measured beyond your basic foot and calf size, but also the exact height of your leg, width of the ball of your foot, and the depth of your instep are all carefully considered in the design of your boots.

What to Wear: If you wear full seat fleece-lined breeches and wool socks in the winter and thin tights and thin socks in the summer, bring those. You want your boots to fit perfectly, so it’s important to wear what you will most likely be riding in them with when getting measured.

With your new boots, it’s vital they are stored properly, kept free from moisture and excess sweat, and cleaned/conditioned/polished routinely. If you keep up with basic care and necessary maintenance, you’ll be thrilled with the lifespan of your new boots. In fact, Lisa’s custom Dehner boots from 30 years ago are still in use – “They’re old, but I love them, and they look just as good as custom boots today!”

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen

Adventures With a New Colt

A New Chapter

I made a decision well before 2021 – I wanted a new, young horse to “grow” with. After retiring my last show horse, I knew there would be many more great years of trail riding, but I was going to miss actively working towards something – whether it was preparing for a show or taking lessons.

I started on projects around the property to accommodate another horse – updated fencing, built a barn extension for hay, updated inside the barn. It was getting serious – a new horse was on the horizon!

I dipped my toes into breeder and adoptions options – was I going to go for a draft cross? A stock horse? An off-track Thoroughbred? I had grown up being able to ride the same horse in a Dressage test in the morning, out into a cornfield at night and then pop over some logs the next day. I hold both English and Western riding styles dear, so I wanted that versatility in my next horse – and there were so many great options to choose from!

Updating fencing included both wooden and “no-climb” to make sure the new addition had a safe place to acclimate to my property. Tying Marking Tape ( found at home improvement stores ) made the fence extra visible for both my seniors and the new horse.

As soon as I saw the picture of my soon-to-be new colt, my goal of patiently waiting and shopping in the Fall was out the window. After a few weeks of hustled preparations, getting advice from seasoned equestrians, ordering an absurd amount of Cherry Hill books and working with the organization that was fostering him – my new horse, Remington “Remi”, arrived on a cold Friday morning.

Remi was already posing in his new home!

All Hands On Deck

Let me tell you, I got a dose of “baby life” immediately! Remi was opinionated straight off the trailer. After an outpouring of encouragement and taking the advice of my family and friends, we took progress a day at a time. The first test in owning him, was giving him, and myself, the patience we both needed to figure out our new life together.

It took only a few days to establish haltering and walking around his paddock, a few more days to be comfortable with him being loose, and a few more days after that to really relax. Who knew I could stress so much over him making good choices!? I realized how much I took for granted the things older horses just know. Years and years of building a relationship with my seniors made everything so easy – while I had to start at the very foundation for Remi.

Remi figured out haltering quickly, so he was able to transition to a Weaver Weanling Breakaway Halter for safety. Next on the list was getting him desensitized to his new Horseware Amigo Mio Turnout Blanket! Letting him be curious, sniff and go at his own pace gave him the confidence he needed when the blanket was actually put on!

It’s both overwhelming and exciting being the person that teaches a young horse the fundamentals. That privilege comes with great responsibility as well. Every interaction with him is a lesson – for both of us. What I allow from him as a baby will translate into a full grown horse.

Waiting for food, getting brushed, picking up all four legs and ultimately going outside to burn off energy are very easy things for a seasoned horse, but for a baby it’s about the repetition and comfort in routine. Space and patience are something we work on every single day. In just three weeks of working together, he trusted me enough for “scarier” introductions – like wearing a blanket for the first time and getting his first round of vaccinations!

We have so much to look forward to on our journey together! Do you have a young horse? What are some of your favorite experiences working with a baby?

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie

Every Ride. Every Time.

For those of you that don’t know me, I am a HUGE helmet advocate.  As a child, my mother, thankfully, was also a helmet advocate long before it was trendy and that probably saved my life. Just before starting 2nd grade, I was dragged 35 feet by a horse that had become uncharacteristically spooked. Thankfully, my helmet was on and correctly fitted (which the paramedics stated it likely saved my life).  When you ride horses, it is only a matter of time before you experience a fall – Not “if,” but “when.” This makes helmets a necessity in my book.  But it goes much further than just plopping any old helmet on and going on your merry way!  There are many dos and don’ts involved in helmet fit and care of which you may not be aware.

Helmet Fit

Helmet fit has come a long way, baby! Gone are the days of ridiculously heavy and hot velvet helmets with their stiff plastic harness and uncomfortable chin cups.  Now, we have vented helmets that are lighter than ever, complete with softer nylon harnesses and a chin strap that is narrow enough to not cut into your neck. There are round and long oval options to enhance safety and comfort. You can even find many options with liners that can be removed and washed, which is one of my favorite features!

Safety Upgrades

Along with an improvement in comfort has come a safety upgrade.  The latest technology on the market is MIPS, which stands for Multi-directional Impact Protection System. Part of what sets this technology apart is that it mimics the function of cerebrospinal fluid (natural fluid that occurs between your brain and skull) by adding a low friction layer that allows a small relative movement between your head and helmet in any direction.  This is important for all of us, but in particular if you have suffered a concussion in the past. 

Getting the Right Fit

In order to reap the benefits of all this amazing technology, you need to be sure your helmet fits properly.  Thankfully, Big Dees has staff trained to help you achieve the best fit possible!  A helmet fitter should take a measurement of your head before trying any helmet on.  This will give them the information they need to gather helmets in the correct sizes for you to try.  If you wear your hair up, bring the tools you use (hairnet in the style you use, elastic, clips, etc.) will help assure you get the absolute best fit possible. 

A helmet should feel like it is hugging your entire head, not just the front and back.  If you feel pressure only at the front and back you may need a long oval shape. Conversely, if you feel extra pressure on the sides of your head you may need a rounder shape.  It is important to have your helmet fitted to the way you will wear your hair and consistently wear it that way to ensure you are protected. There are some models that come with multiple liners to adjust the fit which can allow you to wear your hair up or down, but be aware that the manufacturer does not recommend that. 

Once you have your helmet on, it should sit approximately 1 inch above your eyebrows and if you grab the brim and gently tug it up or down your scalp should move with it. If it slides easily, it is too big and will not offer you the correct protection.  The position of the helmet on your head is also crucial.  I often see riders that have pushed their helmets up several inches above their eyebrows, this negatively impacts the function of the helmet, leaving crucial areas of your head with compromised protection.

One Impact

So now you have a comfortable, well-fitting helmet. Fantastic!  But it doesn’t end there… How do you properly care for your helmet so it can keep your all-important brain safe?  DO NOT DROP IT.  All helmets are designed to be ONE impact only, this includes dropping it (even when you can’t see damage).  How do you avoid compromising the integrity of your precious helmet?  Investing in a good helmet bag with padding is a great way to keep your helmet safe when it isn’t on your head, I personally love the Professional Choice Helmet Bag.  This bag has padding, a solid bottom with feet and pockets to stash my hairnets and gloves.

Maintenance

Now your helmet is secured, everything is great right? Maybe. Are you going to toss that helmet into your back seat until the next ride? That’s a big no-no if it’s summer time as heat can cause the protective foam in your helmet to break down, causing damage you can’t see.  Never leave your helmet in a hot car, or in direct sunlight when its not on your head. Ideally, we could keep our helmets in a climate-controlled room when they were not in use, unfortunately that is not always an option but you can be aware of areas that may expose your helmet to extreme heat and avoid them as much as possible.  However, be aware that if you regularly expose your helmet to higher temperatures that you will need to replace your helmet more frequently. 

Replacing Your Helmet

Speaking of replacing your helmet, when is it time?  Helmet manufactures recommend replacing any helmet every 3-5 years.  If you wear your helmet a lot (professional or have multiple horses a day) or spend most of your rides out in the sun you should probably aim for every 3 years or less. The average amateur with one horse often in an indoor can probably wait up to 5 years if the helmet is stored well.  Remember, this only applies if your helmet has not been dropped or if you have fallen off your horse. If there has been an impact- go directly to your tack shop and find a suitable replacement.

Case in point: say you took a spill off your saintly horse when he tripped last week and you popped off. It wasn’t a hard fall and mostly just bruised your ego. Surely your helmet doesn’t need to be replaced, after all it dusted right off and looks fine, right? Wrong!  Helmet manufactures are serious when they say ONE impact.  Helmet shells are designed in a way that the foam layer compresses to absorb impact but the shell often pops back into shape.  If you were to fall off again and hit that same spot on your helmet, it would serve as nothing more than an expensive decoration. 

Now, I know that replacing a helmet shortly after you purchase it almost as painful as the fall itself! Did you know that several manufacturers offer a discount on a replacement helmet within a year or two? This might be something worth checking into when you purchase your helmet. I make sure to file my helmet purchase receipt in my box or with my tax information so I can find it if I need it. If you are unable to turn your helmet in after a fall, or your helmet has simply aged out, please cut the straps off so it can no longer be used. Professionals, if you have a student fall – cut their straps so they are not tempted to ride in an unsafe helmet. Your insurance provider will thank you.

Helmet Care

 After covering fit, care and expiration of helmets, what’s left? How do you keep your helmet looking and smelling it’s best?  I have a synthetic suede covered helmet that definitely attracts the dust. so I keep a soft boot brush in my helmet bag to flick the dust off after I’m done riding. If you have a helmet with a smooth shell, a soft, damp cloth can restore its shine after your rides. In addition to washing my liners regularly, I throw a dryer sheet in the bag to keep things smelling a bit fresher (this comes in handy particularly in the summer)!  There are also spray deodorizers you can purchase at Big Dee’s to keep your helmet as fresh as a daisy after those sweaty rides.

Moss Fresh Rider Deodorizing Spray: $9.95

Written by Sponsored Rider, Sarah Freeman from Serendipity Stable