All posts by Cassie Hupric

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

Holiday Season Gift Guide for the Everyday Equestrian

With December right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about gifts for your equestrian family and barn friends. Sometimes finding the perfect gift can be a little tricky – of course we’d love to gift our closest horse family something glamorous like a new horse trailer. But, reality forces us to go a more practical route. Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be a challenge – there are so many fun and practical gifts you can give that would make your friends and family happy!

Apparel

Starting with the easiest, tried and true option – the Magic Gloves. These gloves are versatile for EVERYTHING! I keep a pair in each of my coats, by the door, in my car… just about everywhere. The one-size-fits-all makes it easy to to gift without worrying about sizing! And did I mention they’re so cost efficient? These make wonderful stocking stuffers, barn exchange gifts and hey, grab a pair for yourself while you’re at it. You won’t regret having a handy, cozy pair around for barn chores and riding!

If you’re looking to gift something for the stable hand friend, or maybe a sibling that keeps their horses at home – Deerskin Gloves are a great choice and my personal favorite for cleaning stalls and working outside. I spent an entire spring, summer and fall working on big farm projects, and this was my go-to pair to keep my hands protected; not to mention they are so soft on your skin. I prefer gloves like these for the winter, opposed to big fluffy gloves – because I need to keep cleaning stalls, carrying buckets and fixing fence (thanks windy Ohio weather). They give me the flexibility I need without sacrificing quality. But if you need the extra warmth, try out the fleece lined option in the same style.


There will never be a time when rainboots aren’t a welcome gift – especially when they come in so many styles and colors! Every equestrian who frequents the barn knows the value in keeping a pair around, whether in your car or in the mudroom, keeping your toes dry during the wet season makes life so much easier!


One of the most valued items in my barn wardrobe is a nice softshell jacket. The versatility of going from the house to the barn, out on errands, riding and braving the weather make it an equestrian essential. Between the wind and water resistance and the generous pockets, these jackets quickly became a favorite for me. The Ariat Team Periscope Ladies Jacket or Hooey Mens Softshell are great options for the all-season riding enthusiasts and farm owners.

Stable

Let’s be honest, most of us really love the idea of having a barn or stall decked out in 5/A Baker gear! And when it comes to friends that love Baker, there are so many giftable items – for both them or their horse! With any budget in mind, you could get something classic like a halter and lead or go for a sturdy hay bag. Maybe you need a stocking stuffer, and let me tell you – those lunge lines and trailer ties will fit nicely over the fireplace! Splurging can be practical and 5/A Baker items prove it. Traditional and durable, they are built to last and give your horse (and yourself) some pretty nice style.


If Baker isn’t the route you want to go, leather care products are always a helpful and appreciated option. Smaller sizes make wonderful stocking stuffers or handouts to barn mates and pony clubbers, while full size favorites are perfect for your equestrian family member. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing the Effol Advent Calendar under my Christmas tree (and I promise you I would open it all at once, have you seen what cool items are in there?!).


It’s no secret I have a saddle pad/matchy obsession, so you can take my word for it when I say, the Woof Wear color collection would make an AMAZING gift for any of your friends and family that like having colorful options, while matching perfectly. The saddle pads come in Close Contact and Dressage cuts, and you can match with fly veils, brushing boots and riding shirts! Talk about a home run gift for the young, still young but paying their own board and young at heart.

Home

Does your horse-crazy sibling or equestrian teammate have a favorite famous horse? Maybe a favorite color or breed? Breyer models offer such a variety for a range of avid horse lovers. From a collector friend that proudly displays Traditional models, to the young child that likes to play with their Corral Pals – Breyer offers great options for both stocking stuffers and wrapped gifts under the tree.


There’s comes a point in everyone’s life (okay, most people, myself included) when they realize they have a favorite mug. It can be the work get-me-caffeine-asap mug or the Saturday morning coffee mug. My favorite mug was gifted to me a few years ago and I still use it more often than the rest. Sometimes finding the perfect gift can be as simple as a household comfort. We have some new mugs this year, featuring donkeys, bay, chestnut and a mare and foals – the best part? They are easily within gift-exchange budgets, so don’t wait to snag one today!


After all the practical, fun and meaningful options you’ve read through, one of the most personal is a custom gift. I am a big fan of the Small Sport Duffle Bag – the options are endless for teammates, barn friends and family. It’s the perfect “grab and go” bag for shows, lessons and vacations.

If that doesn’t seem like the right fit, what about a walnut frame with a custom nameplate? If your friend or family member recently had a photo shoot or perhaps has a favorite picture of their horse, this kind gesture of a custom frame would bring so much joy!

Does your friend like staying organized? A neat and practical gift option could be engraved key tags for keeping track of blankets and an engraved dog tags for bridles and halters. Think of how easy it would be to have color coded blanket tags and easy-to-spot tags for halters – no more hassle in the early mornings!

The Holiday season is a great time to show acts of kindness towards friends and family who share your passion for all things equine. To keep up with our latest items and sales, make sure you follow us on social media and sign up for our emails!

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie

Splurge vs Savvy – Tack

Looking for the perfect holiday gift for yourself or someone else? In the latest Big Dee’s Blog Series, we dive into the latest trends and must-haves within several categories, finding top-rated picks from our staff and fellow riders. Whether you decide to “Treat Yourself” or get the look for less, each item is guaranteed for quality construction, value, and fabulous styling.

Bridles

SplurgeNunn Finer Giulia Fancy Stitch Hunter Bridle $333.00

This bridle oozes blue-ribbon construction! The Nunn Finer Giulia Hunter Bridle features a square raised noseband and fancy stitch details throughout. Specifically designed with the supplest Italian leather, this classic bridle is made for the serious competitor and guaranteed to stand out among the field of competition.

SavvyM Toulouse MTL Standard Hunter English Bridle $149.95

Directly modeled after the $300+ bridles, the MTL Standard is a beautiful bridle for competition, or if you’re looking to upgrade your schooling tack. Featuring traditionally styling, this bridle is made from quality Austrian leather that breaks in easily and gets better with age. The elegant fancy stitching and classic look is perfect for any hunter/jumper ring from schooling to AAA-rated classes.


SplurgeSchockemohle Equitus Alpha Anatomic Bridle $329.00

The ultimate competition or schooling bridle for Dressage and Eventers, this FEI-approved bridle is designed to provide maximum comfort to your horse. Its unique engineering includes curved browbands and plush padding through the browband and crown, while the streamlined caveson protects sensitive facial nerves. Every one of Schockemohle’s bridles have exquisite German craftsmanship in mind and the highest quality of materials, ensuring that each piece is made to last.

SavvyRambo Micklem Diamante Competition Bridle Horse $249.95

Known as one of the original “anatomic” bridles of its class, the Micklem Diamante builds off the classic styling and comfortability of the original Micklem Competition Bridle, with a few upgrades that make this bridle perfect for Dressage or Eventing classes. The wider noseband and diamante crystal accents on the brow band adds subtle sparkle and glamour without becoming appearing gaudy or overdone.


SplurgeProfessionals Choice Floral Tooled Browband Headstall $122.99

Perfect for Pleasure, Barrel, and other showing classes, this Professional Choice Headstall is a quality choice that comes from a name with superior craftsmanship and unwavering brand recognition.  The gorgeous floral tooling and wide set cheek pieces are elegant enough for mares or geldings, while the decorative buckles add a whimsical old-school Western look. Collect the entire collection with coordinating breast collar and one-ear headstall!

Savvy Cashel Gallup Beaded Browband Headstall $68.99

I love the bohemian-inspired beading of this wide browband headstall. The reds and oranges compliment the rich chocolate leather of the rest of the headstall beautifully while keeping with traditional Western elements. Available in a single ear option, pairing either with the matching beaded breastcollar ($92.99) creates an eye-catching look that is sure to stand out in the ring or on the trails.

Saddle Pads

SplurgeE/A Mattes Dressage Corrective & Shaped Hunter Saddle Pads $330-$355.00

Known as the standard for long-lasting, super plush, GORGEOUS half pads and saddle pads, Mattes pads offer superior design and construction to eliminate movement under saddles and suitable for any ring. Each of their pads are have engineered sheepskin panels for protection and ultimate close contact or the ability to customize fit with shims for a precise fit. Simply put – they’re the best money can buy in a show pad. Just be sure to grab your bottle of Melp to keep your pad in tip-top shape.

SavvyProfessionals Choice Steffen Peters SMx Shearling Dressage Pad $252.99

For those looking for a Sheepskin “dupe” pad for the Dressage ring, the Steffen Peters Shearling pad features UltraShock, Professional’s Choice signature shock-absorbent material, that is perforated to allow maximum breathability and create additional support without the need of a half pad. Plus, with the 60-day guarantee, you’ll be guaranteed to love this pad!


Splurge5 Star All Arounder Western Saddle Pad starting at $218.95

Known as one of the best-selling pads among any and all Western riders, this 100% pure virgin wool USA-made pad is a fan-favorite due to its versatility, durability, support, and ease of cleaning. The wither cutout and sturdy wear leathers ensure comfort to your horse, while the variety of pad thickness and sizing make selecting the correct pad for virtually any sized horse a breeze. Grab a bottle of the 5 Star Pad Cleaner and handy Sponge.

SavvyWeaver Synergy Contoured Saddle Pad $170.95

This Weaver pad offers a similar look and impressionable support as the 5 Star. Made from a balanced wool felt/foam blend, this American-made pad features sturdy wear leathers and a wither cutout for additional comfort and durability. Available in 31 x 32 and 33 x 32 sizing, the Synergy pad is one of the most used pads among recreational and competitive riders alike.

Halters

SplurgeWalsh British Triple Stitched Halter $125.99

One of the most famous names in equine leather goods, the Walsh British Halter is nothing short of exquisite. The classic triple stitch and sturdy brass hardware makes this a beautiful halter for home or shows. To add a finishing touch, a custom nameplate creates a finished, polished presentation for your favorite horse.

SavvyQuiet Creek Premium Triple Stitched Leather Halter $52.95

Our best-selling leather halter, the likeness of the Quiet Creek Halter to more expensive brands is virtually identical. Available in a variety of sizes and featuring an adjustable chin (or check out the Quiet Creek Thoroughbred Style for a non-adjustable version), these hand-stitched USA-made halters are meant to stand up to the rigors of everyday or show use.


SplurgeTory Cody Congress Show Halter $460.25

Even more stunning in person, this Tory Congress Halter is the definition of a “wow” factor. Handstitched in the USA, this exquisite halter is accented with heavy Sterling Silver accents, including engraved cheek and nose pieces and concho-style buckles. The elegant tapering around the nose and jowl highlights the horse’s facial curves and presentation, making this halter a show-stopper for any Western class. The included matching lead comes with a chain, making this set essential for Showmanship or Halter classes.

SavvyRoyal King Congress Show Halter $64.50

Royal King’s Congress Halter is hand crafted with equally supple, durable harness leather. Just like a glass of fine wine, this halter gets better with age! The glint of the Sterling Silver and Inca berry edging highlights your horse’s facial features while the included matching lead makes this show-ring ready halter a winner for any individual.

Enjoy the Ride,
Colleen

Give Your Horse a Leg Up! Staff Picks of Our Favorite Leg Protection Products

Big Dee’s is back with a selection of our must-have leg protection items. We know how important it is to keep our beloved horse’s delicate bones, joints, and tendons properly supported and protected every day. Whether it’s for turnout, schooling on the flat, jumping, running barrels, or getting your patterns down, check out some of our top picks!

Turn Out

Country Pride Neoprene Splint Boots | Colleen, Purchasing Associate

Who says you must spend an arm and a leg (no pun intended) to get AMAZING quality? These boots are made to withstand horses that will literally eat their boots in turnout. I love the fact that the EZ Pull fasteners hold like iron; they stay in place so well, even after they are out in the field for 8+ hours! Plus, the neoprene is super durable and washes easily – I simply hose them off and hang to dry then they’re good as new!

Toklat Hind Neoprene Splint Boots | Colleen, Purchasing Associate

As someone who constantly struggled with finding the right boots to cover Rotti’s entire hind leg in turnout, these boots are fantastic! Not only does the extra padding on the inside protect his legs when he’s galloping or bucking, the extra long length and fourth fasten tab ensure that he is totally covered.

Bell Boots

Davis Pro Fit Bell Boots | Lisa, Sport Horse Specialist

Don’t be fooled by the soft, flexible rubber on these multipurpose bell boots! Available in a variety of fun colors and sizes, the Davis Bell Boots have a “fantastic” Velcro attachment and comfort collar around the pastern to keep horse’s legs protected without rubs.

Shires Fleece Trim Bell Boots | Cassie, Marketing Associate

Shires Fleece Trim Bell Boots $16.19

The Shires Fleece Trim Bell Boots are a great choice for sensitive skinned horses that need a little extra protection from rubbing – and durable resistance from overreaching.

“These bell boots did the trick for my OTTB who could easily get out of other types and needed protection from pulling his shoes. The fleece allowed him to wear the bell boots for 12+ hours a day without any rubs.”

Full-Coverage / Medicine Boots

Professional’s Choice VenTech Elite Boots | Cassie, Marketing Associate

The #1 best-selling 360-degree protective boots on the market, these boots are the ultimate leg protection item for horses. Lightweight and multi-layered, the Elite boots offer full coverage of the cannon, tendons, and fetlock without hindering movement. Features UltraShock and limestone-based neoprene to combat impact and moisture.

“The Professional’s Choice VenTech SMB’s are great for that extra level of protection while schooling. I like the variety of colors so I can match with my tack (always a bonus for me). They fit true to size and even had an option for my very petite boned Quarter Horse – easy to use, easy to clean – win, win!”

Jumping / Open Front

Eskadron Flexisoft VO Open Front & Ankle Boots | Colleen, Purchasing Associate

As someone who values durability, quality, and good styling, its no surprise that Eskadron boots have been my go-to picks when jumping for over 10 years. I love the anti-slip soft neoprene lining that keeps dirt out and molds around a wide variety of horse’s legs. Both the front and hind boots easily fit a wide variety of horse’s legs and the lightweight TPE shell protects legs from impact without weighing them down.

Flat Work

All Sport Boots | Cassie, Marketing Associate

The All Sport Boot is designed to provide excellent protection and comfort. Combined with a plush neoprene lining and covered in rugged Coverlight vinyl and strike area. Not only is it tear, puncture, and abrasion-resistant, these boots are waterproof and prevent fungal growth!

“These are my go-to boots for everyday riding. They are durable, easy to clean and fit securely. I feel better knowing my horses have protection and support when we’re schooling western and classic Dressage.”

All-Around

Woof Wear Brushing Boots | Lisa, Sport Horse Specialist

These boots are a fantastic option for those that want to add a bit of color and personality to their look – in fact, there are almost 10 colors to choose from! The unique neoprene used on these boots encourage airflow, drawing away unwanted heat from the legs. Plus, with universal sizing, you can use these as either front or hind boots. If you want to jazz up your look for cross-country, flatwork, or turnout, these are the boots for you!

“…for both work and turnout, I use [Woof Wear Sport Boots.] [They] wrap on easily, offer great protection and stay in place regardless of the weather.”

There are so many fun, innovative products out there to try out on your horse. Depending on your needs, style, discipline, or brand preference, Big Dee’s has tons of options available with over 40 different companies to choose from for boots/wraps alone!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen, Purchasing Associate

Barn Organization Made Easy

With warmer weather right around the corner, I’ve found myself opening the barn door wider, keeping windows open at night and ultimately organizing every part of my little barn to best utilize the space. Having converted a non-traditional building into a barn, I discovered a few obstacles along the way – including where to fit things like blanket bags and saddles. Luckily, I had a great team to help me revamp the barn as well as great barn supplies from Big Dee’s for organizing!

Tacking Up

The Portable Swivel Tack Rack and Adjustable Blanket Bar with Hooks are perfect to use in the space I have – and they aren’t permanent. i can always move them if needed.

The struggle with having a three stall barn with smaller dimensions, is finding the right place to tack up. The outside of my third stall serves as the “tacking-up area”. One of my absolute favorite and versatile pieces is the Portable Swivel Tack Rack – this little less-than-ten-dollars rack fits virtually anywhere, swivels both the top and bottom hooks, and is sturdy enough to hang bridles, grooming totes and more without issue. If I need more space, I can simply push the hooks to the side, or move them around as needed. My second favorite tool is the Adjustable Blanket Bar with Hooks – this cool little piece fits all sorts of odds and ends. The Blanket Bar is a great place to put my saddle pads, half pads and other tack pieces, like the lunge line and girth.

Where to Store the Halters and Fly Spray?

Storage, Barn Essentials and Organizational tools can be found at Big Dee’s!

I liked the products mentioned above so much, that I got two more for a different part of my barn! The Blanket Bar also serves as a great place for topicals. I keep my coat conditioners, shines, fly sprays and spot-treatment sprays hanging across the bar. I can adjust the length to fit the season – in the spring and summer I have a lot more products, in the fall and winter, just a handful so I can shorten the bar and take up less space. The swivel tack rack makes for a fabulous halter, lead and other miscellaneous item organizer.

Tack Locker Organization

The Bridle Brackets (left) are sturdy and work well with both English Bridles and Western Headstalls. The 10 Pocket Trailer Caddy (middle) holds my vast collection of Fly Veils and various colors and sizes of horse boots!The Three Hook Tack Rack Case (right) is my overflow, show and extra space option for bridles!

While my tack locker was build specifically for the space I had available, I am a bit of a tack collector (let’s be honest, who isn’t?) – so I needed some alternatives for using the space. I put up several Bridle Brackets to hang various bridles and headstalls on. I added the 10 Pocket Trailer Caddy to one of my doors, and it was a game-changer for storing my prized “matchy-matchy” boots and fly veils! The zip compartments fit several veils and the mesh holders fit the boots so well. Proof that you can make this Caddy tailored to your own needs. One of the latest additions was the Three Hook Tack Rack Case. When I ran out of space for bridles in my locker (oops!) I needed something sturdy, convenient and adjustable to put my extras in – and this fit the bill! It was pleasantly surprised how well it held up in my barn, and how easy it would be to move if needed.

Seasonal Storage

Utility Hooks come in a variety of sizes.

Transitioning between seasons is made easier with the most versatile Utility Hook. I have a few of these in the larger size for hanging blankets, sheets and fly sheets. In the wet season, the hooks help drip-dry the blankets and sheets. In the summer, these help keep fly sheets, masks and fly boots out of the way.

No matter the space available, the size of the barn or the amount of horse tack you have – there is an option to fit your needs at Big Dee’s!

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie

Deworming and Vaccination Basics

Last week I touched on the subject of Fly Prevention, and this week I’ll be covering two of the most important health care routines for your horse – deworming and vaccines.

Deworming

Where To Start?

Dewormers can be overwhelming for both new and seasoned horse owners. Before even diving in, it should be known that dewormers work to remove parasite infestation within the horse. It is not going to prevent more parasites in the future, it only tackles removing the current amount within the horse. Some horses can have strong resistance, while others can be extremely susceptible. Getting a routine fecal check can help determine what kind of “shedder” your horse is. Heavy shedders are horses that shed a high level of parasite eggs and need to be dewormed more often. Moderate to light shedders don’t have as much of a parasite count and can be dewormed less often. You should always consult with your veterinarian when working on a deworming schedule for your horse.

What Are You Deworming Against?

Encrusted Small Strongyles
The most susceptible are young and senior horses.
Symptoms: Weight loss, colic, diarrhea and overall poor body condition

Large Strongyles (bloodworms)
These worms can be dangerous to organs and can weaken abdominal artery walls.
Symptoms: Diarrhea, weight loss and colic

Ascarids (roundworms)
 Dangerous to foals and horses under the age of two. Once ingested the larvae move through the veins into the liver, heart and lungs. Larvae in the lungs will eventually get swallowed and develop in the small intestine. Because the larvae migrate through the lungs a young horse could develop respiratory disease, have poor weight gain and colic.
Symptoms: Colic, poor weight gain and potential to develop respiratory disease

Threadworms
Dangerous to foals and young horses. Foals can become infected by nursing from a mare with the larvae. They live in the intestinal tract.
Symptoms: Diarrhea and weakness

Bots
In the summer months bot flies lay eggs (generally on the legs) on the horse, which are then consumed. Once inside the horse, they implant themselves in the mouth or intestines.
Symptoms: Poor overall body condition and mild colic

Tapeworms
Tapeworms reside in the horse’s intestines and don’t always cause noticeable problems.
Symptoms: Mild colic and diarrhea

Pinworms
Not as dangerous as the some of the other worms listed here, but can cause very visible problems with your horse
Symptoms: Itching around the horse’s rectum and tail

What Product Should I Use (And When)?

How often you deworm can impact your horse’s health dramatically. Keep in mind over-deworming can lead to parasites building a resistance to dewormers. What product you use, and when, will help keep them healthy all year!

A general rule of thumb \ would be to use a Fenbendazole in the Spring (like Panacur), an Ivermectin/Praziquantel in the Summer and Winter (like Equimax) and a Pyrantel in the Fall (like Strongid). If problems persist with parasites, you can use a Moxidectin (like Quest) to clear out most remaining parasites. There are also daily dewormer options to help combat parasites.

What Else Can Be Done?

There are factors that can be attributed to how susceptible your horse is to parasites, including age, environment and climate. Make sure you clean up manure from your pastures and paddocks and routinely clean stalls and run-in sheds to maintain a clean environment for your horse. Keep in mind young and senior horses have weaker immune systems and may need additional assistance to thrive.

Vaccines

Where To Start?

Equine vaccines are designed to help prevent your horse from contracting known diseases. We often hear about West Nile or Rabies, but there is a full spectrum of debilitating diseases your horse could contract. The scary part is you never know when your horse could be exposed – it could be at a show, a new horse at the barn, a trail ride with friends – so it’s better to vaccinate and be prepared, rather than take a risk. Many shows now require a record of current vaccinations to participate. The core vaccines according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) are Eastern/Western Equine Encephalomyelitis, Rabies, Tetanus and West Nile Virus.

What Are Concerns In Ohio?

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)
EEE is a fatal neurological disease in horses that is mostly contracted through mosquitoes. It effects the brain and nervous system causing the horse to lose coordination, lose the ability to stand and render it unable to have normal bodily functions. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Depression, moderate to high fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, neurological signs

Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE)
WEE is very similar to EEE, being a neurological disease spread by mosquitoes – but it effects horses less severely than EEE. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Depression, moderate to high fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, neurological signs

West Nile Virus (WNV)
West Nile Virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and effects the neurological system. It can be difficult to differentiate between EEE/WEE and WNV since the symptoms are quite similar. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Depression, mild low-grade fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, neurologic signs

Tetanus
Tetanus is caused by the bacteria clostridium. Although it is commonly picked up from wounds, it is always present in the environment. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Body stiffness, spasms, sensitivity, difficulty eating (referred to as lockjaw), sweating, rapid breathing

Equine Herpesvirus – Rhinopneumonitis (Rhino)
Type 1 (EHV-1) and type 4 (EHV-4) is a highly contagious, respiratory infection. EHV-1 is widely feared for causing mares to abort their foals. Rhino is also concern for younger horses who have not had a chance to build immunity. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms:  Fever, lethargy, anorexia, nasal discharge and coughing 

Equine Influenza
The flu is another highly contagious respiratory infection. It impacts young horses and those with weak immune systems more often. It is easily contracted in high-traffic areas, like racetracks, show grounds and barns with horses coming and going regularly. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Fever, depression, muscle weakness, coughing, nasal discharge

Rabies
Rabies is a neurological disease that is fatal. The only way to test for Rabies is to send the brain into a lab to confirm, making it difficult to diagnose. Rabies is contracted by the contact of bodily fluids, often seen in bite wounds from infected animals. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Colic, depression, lameness and agitation

Potomac Horse Fever
Potomac Horse Fever is a bacterial infection from ingesting mayflies and aquatic insects. Though recovery is very possible, it is a very costly disease to treat. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Fever, diarrhea, laminitis, colic, and decreased abdominal sounds – pregnant mares may abort infected fetuses

Equine Botulism
There are three syndromes of the botulism disease – wound botulism where the toxin contaminates a wound, shaker foal syndrome where the spores are ingested and forage poisoning where contaminated food is consumed. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Muscle paralysis, difficulty chewing/swallowing and overall weakness

As always, it is encouraged to work with your veterinarian to decide which vaccines are a good option for your horse. While the core vaccines are recommended for all horses, others are deemed risk-based depending on your geographical location. Factor in the age, condition and use of your horse – if it’s a well travelled show horse or race horse, it will have different needs than an occasional trail horse. Keeping records of your horse’s vaccination history, deworming schedule and other health related information is highly encouraged.

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie

Fly Prevention

It’s almost that time again in Northeast Ohio – with the warming temperatures and shedding horses come the flies, gnats, mosquitoes and ticks. Nothing puts a damper on your good mood like swatting tiny gnats out of your face while grooming your horse. Or getting tail whipped in the eye by your trusty steed while saddling up. Luckily, there are ways to make the burden of bugs a lesser problem in the summer!

Feed Through

I’ll start with one of my favorites, and, one of the most important to start earlier in the season if you are utilizing feed thru benefits. There are two basic kinds of feed through supplements – one kind is meant to prevent flies from the inside out and the other kind helps break the cycle of fly populations. The goal of garlic based feed through supplements like Hilton Herbs Bye Bye Fly Garlic Granules and Equilite Herbals Fly Away Garlic is to deter flies from ever landing on your horse. This option may work better in boarding situations when not all horses are fed feed through fly prevention supplements.

The more complex feed through supplements like Farnam Simplifly with Larvastop and Solitude IGR don’t repel adult flies. They actually work by your horse consuming the product, which ends up in the manure and subsequently prevents the future larvae from ever reaching adulthood. This type of feed through takes the cooperation of an entire barn to truly work effectively. Every horse needs to be fed this to stop the fly population around the barn.

With both types of feed through supplements, it’s recommended to start feeding them in early spring, through summer and into fall.

Perimeter Control

The next type of bug prevention should be started early in the Spring as well since it will essentially create a barrier for your barn. I used the Spartan Mosquito Eradictor for the first time last year and was blown away by the results. I placed the canisters away from my barn early in the year and was able to prevent a large influx of mosquitoes around my barn and pasture. By keeping up with the directions, I was able to keep my property relatively mosquito-free all year. This year at Big Dee’s, we are introducing the Terry Bradshaw 4 Ring Protection Mosquito Free Zone, which works incredibly fast to make a space mosquito free.

I place four Spartan canisters around my property in mid-April. They don’t bother wildlife and are easy to spot when my trails get dense with growth.

Other tried and true methods include the sticky tape, fly bags and timed-spray control systems. I like hanging a few sticky tapes near my barn doorway to catch gnats and the straggler flies, and use a fly bag  near the pasture gates (be prepared to change these often – they work VERY well, but get heavy and gross quickly).

Masks, Leg Wraps and Sheets

One of the best investments for bug prevention is a nice fly mask. They range in materials, with or without ears, with or without extended noses or fringe and so many color and pattern options! My go-to is the Cashel mask with ears. It has darts to keep the material off of their eyes, while having a forelock hole and double secure velcro – not to mention fun new patterns every year! I use fly veils when riding in my english tack, but have found the Cashel Quiet Ride to be essential while riding in my western tack.

Sensitive skinned horses can benefit greatly from extra fly protection during the summer.

Leg wraps are another great tool if you have horses with sensitive skin, or in my case a grey gelding that gets bitten pretty badly if he goes out without anything.  Fly sheets and scrims are fabulous for turnout and as an accessory for shows and trail rides. Fly sheets are breathable, lightweight and help keep biting insects from a large part of the body. Scrims are useful at shows to keep the bugs from pestering too badly while waiting for your classes.

Fly Sprays

When it comes to fly sprays, there are so many options. It can be a little overwhelming, but having knowledge on general terms can make the decisions easier. First, there are water and oil-based fly sprays. Each have their pros and cons. Water-based doesn’t attract dust like oil, but it also isn’t as sweat resistant and easily rinses off in rain. Oil-based can last a longer in the elements but can feel a little “heavier” and attract dust. I like having both options in the barn – for an oil based spray I like Pyranha Wipe N Spray and for water based I use Absorbine Ultrashield Ex.

An alternative to chemical-based are the all natural fly sprays. These tend to be environmentally friendly and non-toxic, and serve as a great option for those who want to go green. These products use natural oils like citronella and eucalyptus but need to be applied more regularly. For trail riding, I’ll use a natural-based like Equiderma Neem and Aloe so I can re-apply (lightly) as needed.

Another thing to consider is whether the fly spray is “ready-to-use” or a concentrate. Ready-to-use you can simply apply straight from the bottle, but concentrate needs to be diluted in a separate spray bottle. It’s best to test any product before using it on the entire body. Some horses are sensitive to different ingredients, and it’s better to find out in a small part of skin. Always read the labels carefully and apply as advised – too much can saturate and cause discomfort for the horse, while too little will be ineffective against the biting insects.

Spot Treatments and Balms

The final piece to the bug prevention puzzle are spot-treatment and topical options for the delicate areas of your horse. Roll-on is a popular choice because you can easily focus on areas of the face, like ears and muzzle. My personal favorite are Mug Balm and Belly Balm. I’ll use the Mug Balm on the white markings on my horse’s faces and the Belly Balm on their sheaths to protect from nasty bites. SWAT ointment is another option to protect delicate and difficult areas. Spot treatments like Equi-Spot are great alternative for horses who live in the pasture 24/7. By following the guidelines on each application point, you could help prevent ticks, flies and mosquitoes. The same advice applies for spot treatments, roll-ons and balms – test a small area first before applying like normal.

Takeaway

There are so many tips, tricks and trusted brands when it comes to finding the perfect bug prevention plan for your situation. Here at Big Dee’s, we can help because we have used so many of these products! Feel free to reach out to our team at 1-800-321-2142, through our chat feature on our website (www.bigdweb.com) or through social media!

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie