All posts by colleen chartier

The 5 Love Languages – Equestrian Version

The Five Love Languages are a useful tool to understand relationship dynamics better and define qualities that speak a person’s “love language.” These characteristics, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Physical Touch can apply to any relationship between friends, family, loved ones, and especially your horse! Read on to see what practices you can do at the barn to share your Love Language this Valentines Day.

Words of Affirmation

Everyone likes to feel validated and encouraged, your horse does too! Keeping a positive dialogue and mindset when you go to the barn will help keep any of the stress or baggage you might unintentionally bring from work, home, or other situations. Much like us, horses thrive on praise and uplifting words and tone, even if they may not necessarily speak the same language we do.

When working or riding your horse, shower them with praise when they do a job well done. So often, if we are working on an exercise trying to fix or get through something, we are more focused on the “wrong” that when they do give a release or a movement we ask, we act as if that was the expected response and wait for them to “mess up” again. Instead, when your horse does give the desired response, a simple “good boy!” or reassuring scratch at the withers will help increase your horse’s confidence, and make him eager to do it again the next time you ask. Much like physical exercise and new movements, practice makes perfect. The same thing applies to Words of Affirmation – it may not stick right away, but keep at it. Your horse – and your relationship between horse and rider – will thank you.

Gifts

Although your horse may not appreciate a new saddle pad or fancy bridle as much as you, treats and toys are something any horse can enjoy! Perhaps you can try a new stretching technique or some groundwork exercises and use treats as a positive reinforcement tool. I love the Buckeye Treats as training tools because of their size and variety of flavors – my horses especially love the Peppermint!

With 3 yummy flavors to pick from, give your horse a tasty reward for a job well done using the Buckeye Treats (or whatever treat your horse may love! Plus, you can buy 2 bags and get 1 free!

When your horse is by himself during the day in his stall, treating him to a new toy or boredom buster like the Jolly Stall Toy will help engage his brain and keep him focused on a fun, yummy task. On days that it might be too cold to ride, have a play day with your horse in the arena with the Jolly Mega Ball! You can also cover it to look like a Beach Ball or Soccer Ball so you and your horse can play tag, “catch,” or a variety of other fun, desensitizing exercises.

The Jolly Stall Snack combines a bun Jolly Ball attachment and delicious snack your horse can play with during quiet hours in his stall. My horses love the Molasses flavor especially!

Acts of Service

Kindness always reaps kindness. If you board your horse at home, or if you take care of your horses at home, having a helping hand to show someone their appreciation for all the hard work they do. Not only will it help encourage a positive, working relationship between your barn owner, the stable hands who help take care of your horse everyday, it always feels good to give back!

Offering to sweep an aisle, pick a stall, or scrub buckets is a small act of service but it goes a long way. Do your part and use your choice of pitchfork like the Future Fork or Ames Pitch Fork will make the job go by much quicker. And most importantly, remember to say “thank you!”

I love this pitchfork for grabbing large clumps in the stall or lots of bedding – work smarter, not harder!

Quality Time

Whatever you put into your relationship with your horse is what you will get out of it. So be sure to spend time getting to know your horse and build your partnership! Whether it’s doing something fun like showing, taking a lesson, having a relaxing trail ride, or sharing a quiet moment in his stall, all of these will nurture and grow the bond between horse and rider. If needed, go for quality over quantity. Even if you’re super busy between work, family members, and other priorities, taking the time to find your happy place (for most, myself included, that means being at the barn) will result in a positive relationship and wonderful memories for years to come.

Physical Touch

Do you love the sensation of a great massage or comforting hug? So does your horse! Grooming is one of the best ways to comfort and bond with your pony, plus it helps you assess his physical condition firsthand. The Epona Dressager is a WONDERFUL tool to give your horse the same feeling of a heavenly massage and gives you the chance to work out any areas of knots or tension he might be holding. Finish off with the Haas Diva brush for a soothing sensation that provides a dazzling finish!

Final Thoughts

Even though your horse may not appreciate a bouquet of roses, gift card (though we certainly would!), or an expensive dinner, each horse has their own love language that allows them to interpret affection and the desire to achieve a close bond with their partner. Take time this Valentine’s season to discover all the many ways you can show love to your four-legged bestie!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist

Product Review: CVL EX-Cell Pure Amino Acids

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of hype about amino acids in horses, and the multitude of benefits they can provide. Known as “the building blocks of life,” BCAA’s (branched chain amino acids) are naturally occurring compounds that combine to form proteins. While horses use 22 of the roughly 500 amino acids that exist on earth, their bodies only produce 12 of those 22. The 10 remaining “essential” amino acids are obtained through proper nutrition – lysine, methionine, arginine, histidine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine, leucine and isoleucine.

Amino Acids – What do they do?

Imagine a Lego set: each color block has a specific size, shape, and purpose in the kit. If the kit calls for a blue block, but say you lost it one Christmas under your couch, it doesn’t matter how many red or green blocks you have, the final model won’t be able to come together properly.

That’s essentially how aminos work in the body; if a particular protein isn’t available, the body can’t substitute it with a different amino acid and the protein can’t be made. The most commonly deficient amino acids in horses are lysine, methionine, and threonine. Lysine is responsible for bone and skeletal health. Methionine is essential for keratin/biotin systems and vital for the growth and maintenance of coat, hair, skin, and hoof health, plus promotes the bio-availability of selenium. Threonine promotes overall growth, muscle mass retention and efficient use of feed, plus helps with the endocrine system and hormone production to support overall good body condition and energy levels. While horses can achieve proper nutrition levels of these essential aminos through hay consumption, most domestic horses do not get the grazing and pasture time they need to ingest the levels of forage that will get their levels to the proper rate. Other factors come into play like hay quality, soil content, activity levels, and other preexisting conditions.

CVL Ex-Cell Pure Amino Acids

The no-fuss, no-nonsense formula by Cox Vet Labs provides pure amino acids with no fillers, sugars, starches that “provides maximum endurance, faster recovery and focus while hauling and showing.” I liked the fact there were no sugars or starches, as Tego has Cushing’s, and the added superfood astaxanthin is beneficial for muscle and osteo support.

According to the label, each scoop of Ex-Cell packs a potent 5900 mg of CVL1000, the specially formulated amino blend created by Cox Vet Lab. It includes Lysine, Arginine, Ornithine, Glycine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine, Glutamine, and Axtaxanthin.

Before and After – My Story

After reading about the effects of amino acid deficiencies and the positive effects CVL Ex-Cell Pure Amino Acids advertised, I wanted to try the Ex-Cell out for myself. Of my two horses, I have a 21-year old OTTB, Tego, that is a little on the hard keeper side, and have been struggling to build muscle mass and keep his weight where I’m happy with during the winter. Plus, he’s prone to chronic scratches on his rear pasterns/heel bulbs and has a bit of a dull, slightly wiry coat. He also had a slower healing time from some random scrapes and bites he had received in turnout.

I recently added some additional quality alfalfa and warm soaked shredded beet pulp to his feeding regiment, but I wasn’t overly enthused with the results. His muscle mass wasn’t building evenly throughout his topline, and he had some minor wasting along the top of his right rear even after doing slow walk work over poles and on the ground. He also started some weird skin condition on the left side of his neck and the top of his back that wasn’t quite a fungus but left a dry, flaky residue – almost like dandruff, but chunkier.

Note: the slightly shadowed area on his neck is that weird fungus I was dealing with
Relatively shiny coat, but minimal muscle throughout the topline and shoulder
Note the more dramatic slope along the right hind.

Over the next 30 days, I decided to give Tego the recommended booster dose over the course of two weeks (2 scoops/day) and then ease to 1 scoop for the rest of the month as maintenance. I did not change anything else to his routine, and kept his work/turnout/feeding regiment the same. If anything, I rode him less due to my busy schedule and the cold – plus, I had my other gelding, Rotti, to keep up and in shape.

The first test to any new supplement I try is if my horses eat it. Tego is a notoriously picky eater, so I often have to mask his meds by soaking with his food or put into a molasses treat. At first, Tego sniffed and ate around the Ex-Cell when I put a scoop on top of his, but after I mixed it, he ate it no problem. So, picky eater approved! It does not have any strong or offensive odor, if anything it smells a little like yeast.

The Astaxanthin gives the Ex-Cell its unique pink hue, a unique chemical that causes the pink/red color in salmon, lobster, and shrimp!

I’ll be honest – I was not expecting to see any “wow” results. I figured, Tego’s an old horse, I’m sure he’s not going to turn into some spring chicken.

HOW WRONG I WAS.

This horse was moving in ways I have NEVER seen him go. From turnout and acting like a 3-year old colt to his stamina improving under saddle, within 2 weeks I already knew there was something brewing – and it was definitely a good thing.

By the end of the 30 days, his coat and skin condition and majorly improved (the weird fungus on his neck disappeared!), his body condition had filled out, and his muscle mass was noticeably improved. Even the unevenness of his hind end was significantly better! While the scratches didn’t completely go away, they definitely lessened in size, and are easier to manage. Plus, on the days I didn’t get to ride, when his ankles would get a little puffy, they didn’t get nearly as stocked up and with a 5 minute walk would minimize in inflammation.

So shiny!!!!!

Final Thoughts

For anyone on the fence about trying new supplements, I will attest this is one that Tego will never go a day without it again. In such a short amount of time, I was blown away by the results. Tego is a much happier horse, I might even put Rotti on it, too!

It really works!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist

Winter Hoof Care – How to Promote and ensure health and proper growth

For many of us, we equate “winter care” for horses to upping forage, inspecting blankets, and adjusting exercise schedule for fewer daylight hours and colder temperatures. But, have you ever considered how a horse’s hoof adjusts in winter weather?

Why Do My Horse’s Feet Stop Growing In Winter?

Even if your horse has healthy growth during the spring, fall, and summer, winter is the season producing the slowest growth rate in hooves. A lot of factors come into play for that, environmental changes like temperature, mud, snow, ice, etc.; the amount of exercise or turnout (or lack thereof) he receives, as well as changes in forage (as many horses don’t have access to fresh grass in the winter) and dietary adjustments. Adding a quality hoof supplement like Biotin will help ensure your horse gets the proper nutrition to support an ideal hoof.

Adding a quality hoof supplement, with the added benefits of joint support, will help keep hooves happy and healthy all year-round! Farriers Formula Double Strength Plus Joint, 11 lb: $119.99

Like most riders, when it’s cold and dark outside we don’t want to move much! Horses are the same way. As the ability to get to the barn in frigid temperatures and yucky weather may prevent your horse from getting longer turnout or ride time, the reduced amount of movement changes the rate of blood flow circulating through the hoof, resulting in less growth.

Caring for your Horse’s Hooves in Winter – It’s a Team Effort!

While this may mean your farrier needs to visit your horse for his routine trim and resets a little less often, it’s still important to monitor for any bruising, cracks, thrush, snow packing and other conditions that can result from winter elemental changes. Having a working relationship between your vet, farrier, and trainer will help manage your horse’s health and be able to come up with a plan in case anything goes awry.

The Woes of Winter

Mud, slush, snow, ice, and sleet can produce a variety of symptoms such as bruising, abscesses, thrush, and slippery walking conditions (that can lead to tripping, soreness, and injury). Check out these potential solutions to help your horse put his best hoof forward this winter!

Hoof Bruising

Much like concrete, frozen ground can wreak havoc on a horse’s foot. While soreness, bruising, or lameness may not be noticed right away, if left untreated, laminitis or severe lameness can occur from trauma to the sole due to walking on rough, frozen ground.

The easiest way to combat this is to ensure your horse is getting as much circulation through his feet as possible on a softer surface (like an indoor arena or areas where packed snow and ice aren’t as prevalent). You can also supplement with a hoof hardening agent like Keratex or feed-through supplement.

This feed-through pellet is packed with nutrients like Biotin, Calcium, Iodine, and Methionine essential to strong and healthy hoof growth; 11 lb $49.95

In case your horse is experiencing slight soreness or tenderness in the sole and feet, using a hoof packing, mud, or poultice can help draw out inflammation and relieve symptoms.

The Pure Sole Hoof Mud is packed with essential oils, herbs, and Apple Cider Vinegar to help treat soreness, thrush, cracks, and other common hoof ailments. $39.95
Proven to pinpoint and treat inflammation and hoof soreness, Magic Cushion is one of the best! 4 lb, $48.95

Snow & Ice Build-Up

Have you ever slipped on a patch of ice while walking or driving? Snow accumulation and frozen slush can create the same result for horses in winter! While your best defense against snow packing and ice is having a solid hoof pick on hand, utilizing hoof boots help provide additional traction to a horse during riding or turnout. You can also talk with your farrier about adding “snow tubes,” studs, or snow pads/rims which act as snow tires for shod horses.

Be sure to check out the wide variety of hoof boots and accessories available on www.bigdweb.com. With brands to select from like EasyCare, Scoot Boots, and Cavallo, there is something for any size, shape, or need.

Thrush and Abscesses

Mud and moisture can wreak havoc on a horse’s sole, causing bacteria and moisture to accumulate against the sole. If a horse is left standing with dirty feet, thrush and abscesses can creep its way in. If you notice a foul-smelling, white flaky residue when picking your horses hooves, it’s recommended to start thrush treatment right away. If left untreated, thrush deterioration can turn into white line disease, which could result in rotation of the coffin bone.

As temperatures fluctuate, causing the hoof wall to expand and contract, bacteria has the chance to invade the hoof capsule, where painful abscesses can occur. Using a abscesses treatment kit or poultice, epsom salt, and a hoof wrap can draw out painful bacteria and bring the abscess to the surface.

The SteriHoof Kit has everything you need for cleaning, disinfecting, and treating abscesses! $49.95

In case symptoms do not alleviate or worsen, always contact your vet and farrier for the best course of action.

Final Thoughts

Keeping up with the same proper routine and maintenance like the rest of the year will help set your horse up for success come springtime. As always, keep an eye out for anything that looks out of place and contact your vet or farrier for any issues. Otherwise, bundle up, grab some hot cocoa, and enjoy this season of playing with your pony this winter!

Bundle up and grab some mittens, enjoy this winter season!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist

Splurge vs. Savvy – English Apparel

Hello my fellow equestrian fashionistas – we are back with the latest installment of the “Splurge Vs. Savvy” series! This week, I’m going to share some of my top picks for apparel for English riders, including showing, schooling, and everyday looks. No matter what the budget or discipline, there is something for everyone that is guaranteed to be fabulous.

Show Coats

Splurge – AA Motionlite Competition Jacket; $289.95

I am OBSESSED with this jacket. The fact it’s lightweight and breathable while still providing the sleek, streamlined silhouette I want in a show coat makes the AA Platinum Motion Lite Jacket perfect for wear any time of the year. Suitable for the hunters and stylish for the jumpers or equitation divisions, this jacket is also available in a Shadbelly option for those Derby days (& Dressage rings, too!). While we carry this jacket in traditional Grey and Navy Blue, it’s also available in Black, Burgundy, Aviation Blue, Espresso, and Hunter Green. I’ve had my jacket for the past 2 show seasons and still get compliments on it!

Savvy: Horseware Competition Jacket; $109.95

Ladies Competition Jacket

This highly technical, modernized show jacket is perfect for jumpers and eventers, featuring maximum convenience with a fully machine washable soft shell/spandex material and stylish silver accents that provides fun style elements on an otherwise more traditional jacket. Available to orders in a variety of fun colors such as black, navy, hunter green, burgundy, and taupe, more traditional riders can swap out the silver buttons for more neutral look that’s suitable for the hunter and equitation rings.

Breeches

Splurge – Tailored Sportsman Trophy Hunter; $195 – $225

A staple for generations, Tailored Sportsman were the “original” Euroseat breeches on the market for hunter/jumper riders. Today, TS continues to provide iron-like fabric that holds up for the most rigorous of rides; appealing, unique colors, and classic tailoring and fit that has proven superior for decades. When I say I’ve had the same pair of breeches for over 5 years and they still wash out just as well as the day I bought them, I mean it.

Savvy – ROMFH Sarafina Euroseat/Euro Grip Ladies Breech; $169.95

Made to look and feel like the $200+ options on the market, the Sarafina provides an amazing feel and modern styling, without breaking the bank. The Clarino knee patches t hold up to intense wear while the Euro Grip Silicone Knee Patches keep you held in place over fences, combining the best of durability, fit, and comfort. One of my favorite things about these breeches is the natural rise and how UNBELIEVABLY comfortable they are. I can be a pretty tricky fit when it comes to breeches (hello super-long legs and no waist!), but these have become my hands-down favorite – they’re amazing for any shape or size!

Tall Boots

Splurge: DeNiro Custom Tall Boots; starting at $1,000+

Have you been drooling over having your own pair of custom calfskin tall boots, specifically measuring each point of your feet, ankles, legs, even toe length? Since 1981, DeNiro has produced exquisite footwear for Hunter/Jumper, Foxhunting, Eventing, and Dressage riders (both amateur and professionals alike), including stock and custom chaps, paddock boots, tall boots, and even tennis shoes. Whether your are wanting a bold, stand-out pair of boots for competition or a timeless, classic black field boot, let us create the boots of your dreams!

Savvy: Ariat Heritage Contour II Field Boot; $319.95

Made to create the illusion of a custom Italian boot, Ariat has stepped up their tall boot game with some of the best-selling, long-lasting, nicest looking boots on the market. Every time we fit someone in a pair of these at Big Dee’s, I get so excited because they look that darn good. I swear, these boots are magic, they manage to make ankles look so tiny and legs so long, even if the rider is 5′! The leather is supple, the stretch panel is super forgiving, and with calf heights and widths available to accommodate 99% of riders, the Heritage Contour II performs even better than they look. Available in men’s and women’s sizing.

Helmets

Splurge: KASK Star Lady Helmet; $640.00

I’ve been ogling over the Star Lady for quite some time now. Not only is it one of the safest helmets out there, with European and American safety ratings, but it is specifically designed for female equestrians. The sleek, low profile and wide brim highlights cheekbones, creating a lovely profile while offering superior safety. I love the oversized vent across the top to allow as much air to go through as possible when riding, which would definitely come in handy on hot days.

Savvy: Tipperary Royal Wide Brim Helmet; $199.99

If you’re looking for a stylish low profile, wide brim helmet with great ventilation and various trim options, the Tipperary Royal Helmet checks all the boxes. If you’re a traditionalist like myself, the Carbon Leather top is a stylish option while the Gloss adds a subtle sheen without being overwhelming. There are plenty of great design elements to both helmets, including 9 strategic air vents for maximum air flow, adjustable fit, all necessary safety certifications, and a removable, washable comfort liner.

Stay tuned for our next installment featuring Western apparel!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen C. – Purchasing Associate

Boots, Boots, Boots!

Are your barn boots no longer waterproof? Paddock boots splitting at the seams? Tall boots held together via duct tape? Need a recommendation for what to get your little one for their first lesson? Or simply looking for an excuse to go shopping? Check out my top boot picks of the season!

Muck Boot Muckster II Mid Ladies Boot

The Muckster II Mid Boot is perfect for shoveling snow or stalls while keeping toes toasty warm. The super cozy fleece lining on the inside can be rolled down to highlight the stylish navy of the boots for a super-cute look when paired with jeans and a pullover. These aren’t your Grandma’s barn boots!

Ariat Round Up Remuda Ladies Western Boot

The stitching on the Black Deertan give a feminine touch to these daring boots. MSRP $169.95

Just like every girl needs a Little Black Dress, these Big Bad Black Boots are made for fun. The subtle gold tone stitching on these Onyx black stand out and are perfect to go with your favorite pair of jeans or dress up for a night out.

Ariat Extreme H2O Insulated Ladies Paddock Boot

These paddock boots are my go-to for cold/wet weather riding or barn work. MSRP $169.95

If you’re looking for a quality paddock boot you can comfortably ride and walk in, these are my hands-down favorites. Completely waterproof and insulated, the Extreme H2O is great for 3-season use. These are my everyday barn boots during the colder months, as I can walk through rain, mud, or snow without getting my feet wet. Plus, I can throw a pair of half chaps on and ride in them without having to change footwear.

DeNiro Salento Ladies Tall Boot

Luxe calfskin, Spanish top, Italian craftsmanship: What more could you want in a pair of boots? MSRP $799.00

You can never go wrong with a pair of new tall boots. Between the Vibram soles, Italian calfskin, stretch panel, and high Spanish top, the Salento looks and fits just like custom boots. Suitable for the Dressage or Hunter/Jumper rings, I know what I’m asking Santa for this Christmas!

Ariat Terrain H2O Pull On Mens Boot

These fully waterproof leather/suede boots come in ladies sizes too!

Working off the same sturdy, endurance-based foot bed as the shorter Ariat Terrain Shoe, these boots are perfect for any equestrian, hunter, fisher, or outdoorsman. Made with a shock-absorbing sole, these boots will feel like they’re broken in from day one. They’re also available in a ladies version (and a Western one, too), in case you need to grab a pair for yourself.

Ovation Quantum Zip Youth Paddock Boot

Perfect for little one’s rapidly growing feet, these boots won’t break the bank! MSRP $38.95

Ever thought you could get a pair of quality paddock boots for less than $50? Now you can! Made with innovative Vega manmade leather, these boots are polished, lightweight, yet sturdy for riding lessons galore. Plus, they come in ladies’ sizing too!

Final Thoughts

With so many options available from brands like Ariat, Dublin, Tredstep, The Muck Boot Company, Bogs, Justin, and more, what will be at the top of your wishlist this season?

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist

Up-Right Anti-Cast strips – they could save your horse’s life

One of the most nerve-wracking, anxiety-inducing experiences a horse owner could face is when their horse casts in their stall. For those unfamiliar with the term, casting is when a horse has laid down to roll or rest but unfortunately positions himself in a way that his legs are so close to the stall wall he can not get up nor reposition himself to roll the other way. Most horses end up panicking in this helpless position, and the effects can be devastating. It’s estimated that around 25% of horses that are injured when cast either face losing their life or end their career. Frequently, severe damage results to the hip, pelvis and leg areas.

Unfortunately, horses of any age, breed, and discipline have the potential to cast, but pay particular attention to those that spend a large amount of time in their stalls, senior horses, broodmares, and those that have a tendency of laying down when resting.

When a horse lays down too close to a wall, casting can occur. In this situation, it’s vital to keep a horse calm until help has arrived to gently roll the horse the other way.

Help Has Arrived – What To Do When Your Horse Has Cast

It’s vital to stay calm if your horse has managed to get himself stuck in his stall. While time is of the essence and the horse will need your assistance, make sure to do it in a way that is safe for all parties involved and will get the horse back on his feet as quickly as possible.

First – remember horses are heavy. Even if you lift weights and clean 50 stalls a day, it’s always best to have two people around when entering a tight space with a frightened horse.

When moving to the horse, always stay on the same side as the horse’s back – NEVER in between or on the same side as his legs/feet. This could create a nightmare situation should the horse panic, a person could get caught in the cross hairs. Keep a gentle tone and make sure your horse is aware of your presence before you reach down to touch him and start the repositioning process.

Begin moving the front end of the horse toward the center of the stall – more than likely his legs will be folded against his body and very close to the wall or stall door. Never – I repeat – NEVER try to move a horse by pulling on a halter, as this could cause serious spinal and nerve damage. It’s best to grab handfuls of mane or loop a lead rope tied in a ring around his neck, if you need additional leverage. Then, pull straight back towards you until he is back far enough to be able to fold his legs underneath himself and roll onto his belly.

In case you need to free the hind end as well, use the tail. Aligning it with the spine, pull back (not up) to slide the horse away from the wall. Once your horse is in a position to move independently, stay as far back (preferably leaving the stall) as possible to let your horse regain his footing to stand. In some instances, there’s a chance a horse may thrash trying to put his legs underneath himself. Once he’s up, give him a few moments to regain his composure (and yours too!), at which point you can check him over for major cuts, swellings, vitals, etc.

How to Avoid Casting: Up-Right Anti Cast Strips

The patented design and proven technology of the America’s Acres Anti-Cast Safety Strips provide the leverage and assistance needed to horses that find themselves cast – especially if no one is around to help. Like a seat belt in your car, one hopes they’ll never be in a situation where you’ll need it, but when it happens, it can save your life.

Save on a single or 3-pack of the Up-Right Safety Strips here! $44.95 – $134.85

These 3-foot long heavy duty rubber strips are designed with a unique 4-row design that allows a horse’s hooves to push against and gain leverage when trying to roll over. Ultimately, most horses are able to get to their feet independently, keeping your horse (and you) safe and out of harm’s way. These strips are able to be mounted in either wooden or cement stall walls – most 10×10 stalls use 3 strips per wall. Mounting the strips about 32 – 36″ above the stall floor is the right height, generally.

Final Thoughts

In addition to keeping a suitable banking of bedding in your horse’s stall and providing adequate turnout for your horse to roll freely, the Up-Right Safety Strips add an additional layer of protection and peace of mind to any horse owner. The investment of providing a safer stalling situation can save you hundreds (or thousands) on emergency vet calls, injury rehabilitation, and months of therapy afterwards.

Senior horses especially benefit from the application of Anti-Cast Strips, as they may have a harder time rolling over than when they were younger.

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist

Grooming Tools: The Ultimate HAAS Brush Guide

Born in 1919 in the foothills of Germany, Haas has created a legacy of dedicated craftsmanship, handmade engineering, and longevity in each of their grooming tools. Designed without glues, nails, or screws, these shatter-proof tools are often designed from a single plastic mold, ensuring durability and long-lasting quality. Professional grooms, trainers, amateur owners, and horse care enthusiasts around the world attest to these colorful, hardworking brushes, curries, and hoof picks.

Whatever your grooming preference, Haas brushes are available in a wide variety of bristle materials (synthetic rice root, coconut fiber, horsehair, sheepskin), sizes, and functions to accommodate even the dirtiest and most sensitive-skinned horses. Tested and proven for generations, feel confident and rest assured Haas brushes will produce a clean, glittering horse every time its pulled from a grooming caddy.

Brush for Caked-On Mud & Tough Spots

Striegel Der Gute Curry– THE BEST CURRY COMB EVER. Roomy leather strap and rounded plastic “teeth” easily work out dried mud and hard-to-clean dirt spots.

Schimmel: Stiff, dense coconut fibers easily remove stubborn manure, grass, and dirt stains. Perfect for the night-before a show and your white horse is suddenly green!

Putzi Double Sided Brush: Features horsehair on one side and massaging curry on the other, this multi-functional tool can be used to clean heavy dirt away from the hoof, mane, or body.

Joker Hoof Pick – Fastened with an extra-stiff brush and steel pick, perfect for digging out embedded rocks or for deep set hoof grooves.

Best for Body

Welsh Brush: Wide leather hand strap and horsehair bristles cleans and polishes the coat for any moderate sized dust particles

Fellglanzburstse : Great to use as a body brush for those thin-skinned Thoroughbreds or sensitive horses, this soft yet densely-woven horsehair brush creates a luxurious finish.

Brenig Madoc Combo Brush: The #1 best-selling Haas brush, this tool features extended synthetic bristles and wide set brush that covers a large surface area. Gentle, yet effective on removing dirt, sand, and shavings.

Best for Mane & Tail

Mahnenburste Large Dandy Brush: This 8cm tall brush is great for flicking away mud post-curry and trapped dust particles. Can also be used on the body.

Mahnenburste Small Dandy Brush: The short, 3cm synthetic bristles are great for working caked on mud and brambles through manes and tails without damaging or breaking hair.

Best for Legs and Face

Grundys Finest : Made with super-soft horse hair and short bristles to collect even the finest dust particles, this brush creates a show ring shine and comfortably sized enough to slip over joints and ears.

Kopfburste Face Brush: Features an elastic hand strap to get into nooks and crannies, this palm sized brush can alternately be used for thin-skinned, super sensitive horses. Made from uber-soft white horse hair.

Best for Finishing Touches

Diva Best and Diva Girlie Girl: Designed with the most luxuriously soft Mattes sheepskin and softest horsehair bristles, the Diva essentially buffs and waxes your horse’s coat to create a blue-ribbon finish and show-stopping shine. Perfect to give as a gift – even if it’s for yourself!

Best for Petite Hands

Striegel New Generation Soft Curry – Able to fit in little one’s hands, the soft rubber is great for ponies, nooks and crannies with a soft-touch feel

Kinderwurzel – Made from stiff, synthetic rice-root bristles, the elastic hand strap and vibrant colors make grooming time fun for children young and young at heart!

Smile Dandy Brush: 5cm synthetic brisles easily flick away dirt and dust, plus the fun smiley face handle is sure to cheer any little groom’s day.

Schmuserburste: Palm sized and with an elastic strap, the exceptionally soft horse hair bristles smooth and glide over legs, body, and face.

Hufkratzburste Single plastic mold and brightly colored, this hoof pick is great for everyday hoof cleaning, while the contoured grip keeps your hand comfortable. Plus, the nail hole up top makes it easy to hang or attach to a key ring.

Haas Kinderwurzel - Equine Tack&Nutritionals
Taste the rainbow! Perfect for adult and children’s hands alike, the Kinderwurzel Stiff Brush is clearing bodies and tails free from dirt and mud

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re new to grooming or a seasoned pro, most grooms value a quality set of brushes including a curry, stiff brush, soft brush, hoof pick, and mane brush for just about any job. With a variety of fun colors available and easy-to-wash convenience, these tools will enhance the bonding and care taking experience grooming has to offer. An important reminder, Haas brushes will last for years to come, if kept with proper care and storage practices. Simply wash with cold water and mild soap on occasion, and leave to air dry.

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen C. – Purchasing Associate

The Equiband system: Revolutionizing the horse’s posture and body stability

For those who love the strengthening ability of a lunging surcingle, but want to feel that connection first hand, say hello to the EquiBand System! In the past, many riders and trainers may have utilized various DIY methods to encourage better carriage of the hind end – from polo wraps tied to wrap behind a hind end to the saddle to ace bandages holding the core in place.

Thankfully, the EquiBand System is a patented, proven surcingle attachment that offers the unique ride-ability that no other product on the market has been able to before. Any horse can benefit from a stronger core, improved topline, and better body awareness, including those who may benefit from using the EquiBand as a therapeutic measure. From improved topline muscling, improved Kissing Spine symptoms, and overall rehab, the EquiBand is a product that any horse of any discipline can benefit from. From jumping to dressage to Western riders, experience the difference for yourself and watch your horse’s balance, strength, and core stability improve with this unique training tool.

From Western to Dressage to Jumping to Groundwork and any other discipline, the EquiBand maximizes your horse’s topline, core strength, stride evenness, and thoracic lift.

Curious about how the EquiBand works and how to fit your new system to your horse? Continue reading below!

What is the Equiband System?

*According to the official EquiCore Methods website

The Equiband itself is made of latex-free rubber, specifically designed for use on horses. The Equiband system uses either one or both bands on the horse; one shorter band attaches the left side of the saddle pad to the right, passing under the abdomen (abdominal band or AB). The band sits well behind the rider’s leg. Its function is to stimulate the abdominal musculature during locomotion. The abdominal musculature supports the horse’s back. The position of this band is especially indicated for horses that have recovered from a colic surgery, have poor (inverted) posture and in clinical cases such as diagnosed conditions of the back including ‘kissing spines’.

The second and longer Equiband attaches at an oblique angle from the left side of the saddle pad to the right, passing under the tail behind the horse’s hindquarters (hindquarter band or HQ). It will settle in the point of least resistance, above the hock and just below the level of the stifle. Its function is to make the horse aware of the position of his hind limbs in locomotion and to enhance strength length and lateral symmetry during forward movement. The position of this band is especially indicated for horses with asymmetrical hind limb movement, poor engagement and poor development of major muscle groups such as biceps femoris (which is associated with movement) as well as horses recovering from diagnosed musculoskeletal or neurological (EPM) conditions.

The two lengths of Equiband are delivered pre-threaded but will need to be adjusted for each horse as per instructions below. If the bands are only used on one horse it is advisable to trim the ends of the band with scissors after fitting and adjustment. If the band is used on multiple horses the fit and adjustment needs to be checked prior to use.

Each Equiband system comes complete with saddle pad, two pre-threaded sets of Equiband (two shorter abdominal bands and two longer hindquarter bands), as well as a tape measure and user guide. For safety, it is essential to follow the guide on how to fit and use the Equiband system.

Check out this helpful video for a step-by-step fitting guide!

How to Fit and Use the Equiband System

1. Desensitize the Horse to the Touch of Equiband

Gently rub Equiband across the horse’s abdominal and hindquarter regions on both sides, and under the tail.

2. Fit the First Band

For this stage, have a helper present. Fit the Equiband slowly and carefully, with sufficient tension to not hang loose. Hand walk, jog and lunge the horse. Even sensitive horses will rapidly accustom to the sensation of Equiband. Some horses will show more difference in back flexion with the abdominal band, and others will be more reactive to band around the hindquarters. To start, apply only one band at a time and repeat the same process when introducing the horse to a second band.

3. Adjust the Band for Optimal Tension

Adjust the tension of the band prior to mounting. Equiband is delivered pre-threaded and is adjusted by shortening or lengthening the band below the safety clip band through the triglides (below the safety clips) that attach the band to the saddle pad. Excess can be trimmed using scissors.

To adjust for ideal tension, take the band to full stretch and reduce it to less than 50% stretch, which is an optimal tension for use of Equiband. Using the tape measure supplied, measure the distance between the two clips on the pad (between left and right sides: either along the hindquarter region or under the abdomen). The clips on the actual band can then be measured at no more than 50% or half of the distance apart. For example, if the distance between the two clips on the pad (left to right side) is 1.00m, the clips on the band should be no less than 50cm apart. Excess tension will inhibit movement.

4.Jog in Hand and/or Lunge the Horse Prior to Mounting

Before mounting, hand jog and trot or lunge the horse. Have a helper present when mounting the horse for the first time after fitting Equiband. Allow the horse to accustom to the feeling of Equiband at walk before moving into trot or canter.

5. Adding or Adjusting Equiband

To add or swap to second band repeat steps 1 and 2. Only fit Equiband without the rider on the horse. Always dismount when adding or swapping Equiband and have a helper present until the horse is fully accustomed to use of the Equiband system.

The Equiband system is intended for in-hand work, and during lunging and riding. Use the Equiband system at the start of a workout graduating to use for a full session. Ensure that the horse receives regular breaks as the increased engagement of the core musculature will cause earlier fatigue in work. If the horse’s movement or conditions worsen with use of the Equiband system, cease use immediately and seek veterinary evaluation and/or advice. Use Equiband from the start of work, emphasizing transitions between and within gaits. Reduce full riding time by half as increased core muscle engagement may cause fatigue.

Helpful Hints

If the abdominal band slips back or if the hindquarter band rides up, check the tension – it is often too loose. For optimal postural fit, ask for an abdominal lift when fitting the abdominal band, and ensure that the horse is standing under itself with the hind legs when fitting the hindquarter band.

Always use the band system at the start of a workout, and remove the bands if necessary. Do not add the bands after warm-up or during a riding/training session: this defeats the objects of neuromuscular stimulation. Neuromuscular activation is best achieved at the start of a session, particularly during the warm-up phase. We recommend use of the abdominal band before adding the hindquarter band.

Care Instructions

For optimal care of your saddle pad, it is suggested to delicate wash in cool water, with low tumble dry or air drying after washing. The Equiband bands can be washed with petroleum-free soap (like Dawn), and left to air-dry. Do not leave bands exposed to full sun/extreme cold. Do not use fly spray over the bands or over any area where the bands are in direct contact with the horse. Regularly check the tension strength of the bands and that the fastenings for fraying, excessive wear, etc.

My Personal Experience

I’ve used the Equiband system on Rotti for over a year, and I will vouch it has helped improve Rotti’s performance over poles, gymnastics, and on the ground. The fact I don’t have to rely on forcing him into any sort of position, but instead allow his body to comfortably carry himself properly, has improved his stride length, evenness, and further improved his topline.

The Equiband System has my vote for something every avid equestrian should have in their training arsenal. I’ve been blown away by its results – it’s easy to use and easy to set up, and it’s improved my horse’s physical condition. To me, the Equiband is priceless.

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen C., Purchasing Specialist

Get Your Barn Ready For Fall! The Ultimate Barn Gear Guide

Hi everyone, Colleen here from the Purchasing Department at Big Dee’s. Personally, fall is my favorite season – I love the subtle shift in the air when you step outside on a brisk, sunny day. When I walk out to feed the horses in the morning, complete with my Pumpkin Spice Latte and favorite flannel, I get so excited for the upcoming season and the chance to regroup and focus on what lies ahead. Thankfully, the chilly air and changing leaves inspire me to get some organizing done in the barn, too – plus some new upgrades!

Rubbermaid Big Wheel Farm Cart

The Rubbermaid Big Wheel Farm Cart is a lifesaver – every farm owner needs one of these! $189.95

Just like a woman has her favorite Little Black Dress, this Big Farm Cart is the best thing. EVER. I have found so many uses for this 7.5 cubic foot utility cart from loading feed/hay/equipment from my truck to the barn (it easily moves up to 300 pounds), cleaning stalls, or using as an oversized feed cart when walking up and down the aisles. I never worry about it getting stuck in mud or losing traction on slippery surfaces with the oversized 8″ wheels. Added bonus – it’s made in the USA and has a 1-year warranty!

Stainless Steel Pails & Galvanized Scoops

I love the feeling of having squeaky clean tack and buckets, and these shiny steel scoops and pails make a perfect addition to my feed room and tack room. Both items come in a variety of sizes and rust-proof; built to last for everyday use. Whether I’m scrubbing tack or need a water bucket when my dog comes to the barn, I’m good to go. Personally, I think the smaller sizes of the pails are stinking cute – I even have a couple in my home I’ve turned into flower pots! The galvanized scoops are easy to hold and scoop the exact amount I need.

Country Pride Insulated Bucket Cover

Never worry about breaking frozen buckets again! Country Pride Insulated Water Bucket Cover : $31 – $34.95

As much as I hate to admit it, frozen temperatures will be here before you know it. However, I can feel a little better knowing I won’t have to deal with frozen buckets with these insulated bucket covers. They have just the right amount of insulation that keeps them from being bulky or a pain to put on, and the Velcro reinforcements keep it in place. I like the unique design with the extra nylon ring around the lip of the bucket so Rotti’s face stays protected. Plus, if they ever get dirty, I just throw mine in the wash or spray it off with a hose, let it dry, and it’s good as new.

Burlingham Sports Grad-Dual Grain Feeder

I have two of the Burlingham Sports Grad-Dual Feeders – one for indoors and one for in the field! $69 – $79.00 each

With my horses gradually getting less turnout time and exercise between the dropping temperatures, bad weather, and a busy schedule, the Grad-Dual Feeder was an easy solution to managing their weights and making sure they stay in optimal body condition. On top of adding a Slow Feed Hay Net, this USA-made feeder features different slots for grain to sit in, making feeding time fun for Rotti by working to get in each of the little slots to eat his grain. I don’t have to worry about it using it indoors out outside, as it’s made from heavy-duty plastic in a single mold. It keeps Rotti’s tummy happy by preventing him from gulping down grain and saves me money from having to deal with wasted feed!

Little Giant DuraTote Stool & Tool Box

This lockable carry-all is great for shows or mounting anywhere with its built in tack caddy! $36.95

I am all about efficiency, and the Little Giant DuraTote offers the best of both worlds as both a roomy grooming caddy and sturdy mounting step. They come in several fun colors (the pink was my favorite). I love I can store all my brushes, spray bottles, and more in one convenient spot, whether I’m home or traveling to shows and clinics. Plus, I can add fun decals and stickers all over it to make it instantly recognizable!

Kensington Aisle Guard

These fashionable, functional Kensington Stall Guards come in so much fun colors, I had a hard time picking out which one I wanted! $114.85

The Kensington Aisle Guards did a fantastic job of adding some color and breathing new life into the barn space, with its classic plaid in a variety of fun colors. My favorite thing about it is the peace of mind I get from having an extra safety net when I leave the barn for the evening, reinforced with heavy duty D-rings and included screweyes and double end snaps. Plus, I can match it to my other Kensington gear, like the Stall Guard and Mesh Totes!

Corn Broom

Available in a single or 4-pack, you can never have too many of a good thing! $20.95 – $76.95

If you’ve been around horses long enough, you know the value of a good broom. This one in particular is a 1st place Champion. Made with the perfect blend of corn and sotol fibers, reinforced with a 4 sew with metal band, the smooth lacquered wood handle is easy to grip and maneuver. If you want a little extra hold, I recommend wrapping it with the Diamond Tool Wrap Tape (I put it on all my pitchforks too). I bought the 4-pack to keep one in my aisleway, my garage, my basement, and get my Halloween costume ready early.

Barn Buddy Barn Stool

Capable of holding brooms, pitchforks, shovels, and more, this handy carrier flips over to become a comfortable place to sit! $44.95

After a hard day’s work, I know the first thing I look forward to is a comfortable place to sit. The High Country Plastic Barn Buddy Stool is a lightweight, portable option that doubles as a handy barn tool organizer. I like having one in my trailer to use as a useful carry-all, but the seat is the best part. It’s the perfect height and I don’t feel like I am about to fall over while sitting (which says a lot, because I’m particularly klutzy).

Final Thoughts

As crazy as this year as turned out for myself and everybody else, take this time to refresh and rejuvenate yourself to come up with some fun projects to make the barn an exciting place to be! Grab a broom, tidy up your feed room, scrub your tack until it’s squeaky clean, and get to work! And maybe grab a hot apple cider and donut on the way 🙂

Take advantage of the sunshine and let it inspire you to tackle whatever projects you have coming next – it’ll be snowy before you know it!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist

Product Review: HAYGAIN Hay Steamer

For those that habituate in areas that frequent (unbearably) hot, humid summers; frigid, subzero winters; or dry, arid temperatures year round, respiratory issues seem to be just as common as seasonal allergies or leaves changing colors.

However, the innovators at HayGain have created a solution for keeping your horse’s lungs comfortable and meal time more enjoyable. Used by professionals, Olympic/Gold Cup/Pan-Am Games/4* Eventing Champions, and amateur horse owners alike, the HayGain Hay Steamer maximizes the nutritional value of hay, eliminating toxins, dust, bacteria, and unwanted weeds, while improving horse’s respiratory conditions for those that suffer from coughing, allergies or weakened immune systems.

“We were always concerned about infection and pneumonia and Haygain steamed hay was a huge thing for usI could really feel the effect when I rode [recently-retired star partner] Ballynoe Castle R.M, and his career really took off and he was a much more relaxed horse. I put all my horses on it and felt it was a huge asset.”

Buck Davidson, International Event Rider, Team USA
World Equestrian Games in 2010 & 2014, Olympic alternate in 2008 & 2012

A “Tail” As Old As Time

Developed by a group of equine enthusiasts back in the early 2000s in southern England, the HayGain was a brainchild of horse owners who were concerned about the nasal discharge, coughing, heaving, and other respiratory problems in their horses. They realized – much like a hot shower or steam room helps to open up blocked airways and steaming vegetables to bring out their best nutrient content – these same principles could apply to their horse’s forage.

While soaking hay is a centuries-old method of controlling airborne particles, it isn’t entirely effective, and doesn’t eliminate potentially harmful bacteria that may be ruminating within each bale. In 2007, the HayGain was born and the results were proven – clean, dust and mold free, palatable hay.

“Everything They Need and Nothing They Don’t”

While soaking hay can be a quick, on-the-go way of dampening hay, bacteria and mold-inducing spores can still linger – up to 55%! Thankfully, HayGain has been scientifically proven as an effective, safe way to reduce airborne particles (mold, dust, etc) by up to 98%. As a result, horse’s can receive quality, nutritionally-maximized forage with 0% mold, fungal spores, bacteria, and yeast that can cause equine asthma and chronic respiratory inflammation. Hay will become so palatable to your horse that he will want to gobble every flake, saving money on wasted food or messy water buckets from dunked hay! Plus, the HayGain is clean and easy to use, saving users from dealing with messy, heavy Rubbermaid containers filled with gallons upon gallons of water for minimal results.

Why steaming hay is more effective than soaking

While HayGain improves horse’s airway quality with their hay-treating system and prevents inflammatory airway diseases by up to 65%, it also boasts a variety of health benefits that any horse can appreciate.

  1. Increased hydration – Steamed hay has an increased water content of over 3x its normal value, ensuring your horse is getting the water intake needed to keep his digestive system running smoothly
  2. Palatability – Picking eaters have no match against the HayGain, as it boosts the smell, taste, and texture of forage.
  3. Allergy reduction – Sensitive horses with allergy related issues such as coughing, skin-conditions, etc. can benefit from the reduced dust, air microbials, and yeast/mold spores found in poor-quality hay.
  4. Maximize performance – Hay is the #1 source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for horses. HayGain offers top-quality results with hay treated from its system to maximize respiratory, digestive, and ultimately, athletic performance.

“Hay is crucial for the health, well-being and performance of horses. Haygain ensures for us that our horses get what they need and nothing that they don’t from their hay.”

Beezie Madden, International Showjumper, Team USA
Four Olympic medals, Three Pan American Games medals, 4x World Championship medals

How It Works

Steaming hay is a relatively quick process that can be easily done during riding, feeding, stall cleaning, or everyday barn chores. Because each HayGain is equipped with a timer, each bale or flake will have the perfect “cook time,” every time. Even if left overnight, the HayGain allows steamed hay to be contained for up to 24 hours, allowing in-advance steaming to be done.

Available in unique options to fit various needs and lifestyles, the HayGain is available to order from Big Dee’s in portable and half-bale units – perfect for home, trailer, and away at competition.

Each HayGain steamer is designed with a patented manifold system that hold flakes or bales in place and injects high-temperature steam evenly from the inside out. Its double insulated chest and aluminum manifold materials enables the steam to reach ultra-high temperatures within the chest (up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit), maximizing the effectiveness of the unit.

Final Thoughts

Whether you ride, race, compete, or use as a preventative/treatment measure, the HayGain is the ultimate game-changer. Not only will it help to increase your horse’s respiration, appetite, safety, forage and water consumption, it’s backed from years of scientific research and testimonials from some of the top professionals and trainers in the world. Experience the difference for yourself!

Before I was introduced to Haygain, I was soaking hay for Brentina to make sure that it was more palatable and dust free. Then I found Haygain and not just Brentina but every horse in our barn is so happy. Now after our horses are fed the only sound you hear are the horses chewing. I no longer hear sneezing or coughing due to dust or mold spores. Once you have fed Haygain you will never go back!”

Debbie McDonald, International Dressage Rider, Team USA
US Equestrian Dressage Team Chef d’Equipe Olympic and World Cup medalist

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen C., Purchasing Associate