Category Archives: Horse Care

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

Let’s Talk About b(It) – Choosing the Right Bit for Your Horse

Since the domestication of horses, there has been a considerable amount of headway on the topic of bits and their practices, usage, technology, and understanding for what may be “best” for each horse.

What was at one point a simple rope across a horse’s tongue has been refined to specially formulated metals to increase salivation. In addition, varying schools of thought on the types of bits and practices used when biting a horse has evolved over the centuries, and the development of Master Loriners (metal workers for the use of bits and spurs with horses) has given access to further knowledge and advanced technology for the development of more complex mouthpieces. Now, more than ever, riders have a virtually endless amount of information available at their fingertips to add to their toolbox to further enhance their understanding of bits and enhance their relationships with their equine partners.

Rotti uses a jointed Blue Sweet Iron Pelham with brass rings to play with and encourage a soft mouth in the Hunter ring

With so many different types of bits available – including assorted cheek pieces, mouth pieces, materials, Curb/Leverage vs. Snaffle, and other factors – it can be overwhelming to decide which one to select. This blog will dive more into the different types of bits used in English disciplines, and the varying types of functions that each are used.

How Bits Work

Depending on the construction of each bit pressure can be extended to 7 different points.

  1. Tongue – The first point of contact when using a bit on a horse, this area will feel the pressure, weight, and effects of the bit being used. Depending on the number of “breaks” or joints on a bit, the size and depth of a mouth piece, more or less pressure can be administered.
  2. Bars – Evolution favored the domestication of horses by allowing a natural resting point between the front incisors and molars on a horse where a bit rests. Most bits will exert some pressure here on the gums at some point.
  3. Corners – When rein aids are applied, the corners of the lips on the mouth where the bit rests against will transmit pressure (depending on the mouthpiece and the rider’s hands, the pressure can be gentle to more severe). This creates a “smiling” effect and where a “wrinkle test” can be done to see if a bit is adjusted to the right level on the bridle. There is always pressure on the corners of the mouth when using a bit, with the exception of a Hackamore or “Bitless” bridles.
  4. Palette – Otherwise known as the roof of a horse’s mouth, pressure is administered via ports for a response. Depending on the shallowness of some horse’s mouths, certain bits may cause irritation and should be used with extreme caution and advanced hands (ie: those with high ports, etc.)
  5. Chin Groove / Lower Jaw – When a curb chain or strap is used in conjunction with a curb bit, that piece will apply pressure to the underside chin groove when rein aids are applied. In addition to creating pressure, the curb strap or chain also prevents the bit from sliding back and rotating too far in the horse’s mouth – particularly for ported bits. Note: It’s crucial to have the curb chain fitted without twists and that two flat fingers can be inserted between the chain and skin of the groove. Twisted chains or incorrectly set chains (going through the bit) can cause damage to the horse’s jaw, bars, and tongue.
  6. Poll – This point is located at the top of the horse’s head and will have pressure applied to it by the main part of the bridle. Generally, poll pressure is known to release endorphins but should be cognizant of how much and how often pressure is used, as the types of bits used to apply pressure to this area are usually for more advanced hands (ie: curb/shank/Pelham)
  7. Nasal Bone – This extremely delicate area along and across the nasal bone area can be utilized via specialty bits (Hackamore) or training equipment that will use various types of nosebands to apply pressure for a desired response. In this instance, you may see tools used like drop nosebands, flashes and figure 8 attachments.

Different Bits for Different Trips

Depending on your discipline (Hunters, Jumpers, Dressage, Eventing, Pleasure Driving, Field Hunting, Etc.), there are commonly found bit types for training and showing in.

Hunters: Known for its upholding of tradition throughout various horse and rider presentation, jump styles, and more, hunters are typically seen in traditional Snaffle or Pelham bits. Currently, many horses are seen in a King Dee Ring, a snaffle bit featuring a larger-styled Dee cheek piece, or a classic Pelham bit, which can feature various mouthpieces and metals such as “sweet iron,” stainless steel, composite synthetic rubber, and more. Unconventional bits such as Hunter Gags, Hackamores, Kimberwickes may be subject to penalty during judging, however may not be eliminated. Occasionally, double bridles are seen in the ring.

Jumpers: While there is no black and white rule for what bits may be used in the ring, you will typically see various combinations of fixed mouthpieces (as opposed to a loose ring which allows more mobility for the bit sliding along the horse’s corners) and various Curb and Leverage bits. When horses are expected to adjust their balance very quickly and efficiently between maximum jumping efforts, certain bits like the Gag and Hackamore allow increased poll pressure (generally encouraging the horse to drop his head) and giving the rider the ability to have an upper hand against the horse’s neck strength for better control and quality of aids. Lower level jumpers may use a Kimberwicke (with a curb chain) or Wilkie/Bevel bit for a combination of light leverage plus a Snaffle effect with the mouthpiece distributing pressure along the tongue and mouth.

Dressage: Throughout the various levels of showing, Dressage is known to have strict requirements of what can and cannot be used for showing purposes. For lower levels, a plain Snaffle bit is permitted. Third and Fourth Levels may use the same Snaffle bit or use the addition of a double bridle (Bridoon) with a curb chain. For FEI tests at national competitions, a plain snaffle bridle or simple double bridle may be used. However, for some qualifying classes and divisions, a double bridle is mandatory. The most common mouthpiece among dressage riders is a double-jointed bit (otherwise known as a Lozenge bit). Different pieces such as rollers, French link, or Dr. Bristol can add play and different levels of control are available in Lozenge bits.

Eventing: When going cross-county, especially over large, solid fences, it’s vital for any rider to feel comfortable and in control of their horse. In addition to making sure your horse has the proper fitness level to balance jumping and galloping over varying terrain. A lot of event riders prefer something with a little more leverage and added control for the cross-country phase like a 2- or 3-Ring Elevator, or Pelham.

Pleasure / Carriage Driving: A lot of driving bits use a Mullen (straight-bar) mouthpiece, to evenly distribute pressure throughout. These bits can use varying ports depending on the level of control desired. Another type of bit seen in driving, particularly with horses and ponies, is the Half Spoon/Half Check Snaffle bit. Designed to prevent sliding into a horse’s mouth, these bits can either be designed with a Mullen mouth or single-joint mouthpiece. The Wilson Snaffle and Coronet Berry Bits can apply more corner and cheek pressure with the different ring set-ups available. For larger horses in Carriage or Team Driving, 2- or 3-Loop Butterfly Bits act as a leverage and snaffle bit combination with the ability to apply more or less severe pressure to encourage the horse to break at the poll, depending on where the driving reins attach to the fixed loop, while the curb chain applies additional chin pressure. Straight, ported, or double-jointed mouth pieces are available if more or less bar, tongue, and palate pressure is desired.

*Note: It is always a good idea to check with your showing or breed registration for the most up-to-date rules and restrictions on certain bits for showing. For example, in hunter divisions, the only bits that are deemed “conventional” and free of potential penalties from Judges are Snaffles and Pelhams on traditional full bridles.

Take a Test Ride

Big Dee’s Tack offers a unique ability to allow riders to “try before you buy,” on various bits here in the store, including multiple manufacturers to allow you to Test Ride some of the most popular bit brands like Myler, Herm Sprenger, and Neue Schule. We have several expert guides on staff to guide in your selection that take the worry out of selecting the perfect bit for your horse. With over 130 bits available to Test Ride, you’ll be sure to find one that you, your horse, and your wallet will love!

Myler Level Best For Your Horse Book And Dvd Value Pack
The purchase of every Myler bit (including Test Ride options), you’ll receive a free booklet and DVD discussing the various levels Myler offers to allow further education to select the perfect bit for your horse through his training.

Words of Wisdom

The key to selecting the right bit for your horses is more than the selection of the bit alone. Training between legs, seat and hands is the most important factor in communicating with the horse. What may be appropriate for an upper-level Dressage rider on a Grand Prix mount will differ greatly for a beginner pony rider developing her aids and steering control.

Often, the problems perceived as resulting from not having the correct bit are usually due to issues in riding training, or could be an issue resulting from a horse that may need its teeth examined and routinely maintained. Some common reactions to an incorrect bit fit, selection, or incorrect hand pressure include head tossing, shaking, “dull-mouthed,” to the more severe reactions like refusing or rearing. Generally, inexperienced horses often have not been schooled to the desired responses certain bit cues requested and may be overwhelmed, confused, or become irritated by severe bits.

Regardless of what you bit you choose, it’s crucial to experiment with bit selection to determine which bit works best for each horse and rider combination. As horse and rider’s relationship, fitness levels, and experience grows, the bit you may need one season could differ from the next, resulting in different needs to address. As always, working with an experienced professional trainer, veterinarian, saddle fitter, and other professionals in the industry are all parts of finding a winning combination.

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen, Purchasing Associate

Fan Favorites: Big Dee’s Employee Picks for Mud Season

It’s our favorite time of year! The time of the season where horses have turned into shedding wildebeests and what was once known as a horse farm has turned into a mud farm.

Thankfully, the Big Dee’s Crew has come to the rescue to hand-select some of our favorite, must-have products to get us through mud season. Whether you’re dealing with issues like 5 layers of mud or ways to bring your horse’s dull winter coat to a shiny spring glow, we’ve got you covered!

Curry On a Stik’

Picked by Purchasing & Showroom Department Manager, Gail L.

Are you looking for a grooming tool that will lift caked-on mud after your horse has spent all day rolling in his favorite puddle? Look no further, the Curry On A Stik’ allows deep cleaning with its large rubber prongs and exfoliating bristles.

Curry On a Stik’ $28.95

What makes this grooming tool out of this world isn’t just the fact it is Veterinarian tested and recommended, the unique handle design prevents hand fatigue – say goodbye to cramped fingers and “claw” hands! The dual-sided head provides a gentle massaging effect that horses crave, creating a bonding ritual your horse will look forward to.

“Finally, a round curry that is balanced and easy to hold! [Curry On a Stik’] will not make your hand cramp up. It’s great for getting out mud and shedding and there is a soft bristle side for finishing…” – Gail L.

E3 Antibacterial / Anti-Fungal Shampoo

Picked by Operations Manager, Jess R.

Who says you have to sacrifice penetrating, deep-cleaning properties for a gentle, pleasant-smelling formula? Elite Equine Evolution’s Antibacterial & Antifungal Shampoo proves you can have the best of both worlds!

This pH-balanced medicated shampoo is the solution to ensure a clean coat, while its fortification of Nano Vitamins A, C, E, & F ensure maximum absorption and diffusion of the vitamins to prevent inflammation and promote rapid healing. The E3 Antibacterial Shampoo’s truly one of the most effective bathing items out there for controlling Hot Spots, Ring Worm, Rain Rot, mud-related skin disorders, and more. Plus, it’s safe for dogs!

“E3 Antibacterial/Antifungal shampoo is my top-pick to keep my horses skin clean and healthy year-round. While it can be used for all-over cleaning, I absolutely rely on this shampoo to care for my horses legs.

During the wet season I like to do a deep clean with E3 and a full dry out at least once a week to keep nasty mud related afflictions at bay. The other 6 months of the year I use it as an integral part of my post-foxhunting routine. This high-sudsing cleanser has a pleasant scent and leaves the hair soft and radiant. I truly believe that the E3 Antibacterial/Antifungal shampoo is the absolute best defense against minor cuts and scrapes from brush, brambles and wire.” – Jess R.

Epona Grooming Tools

Picked by Operations Manager, Jess R.

Epona has designed some of the leading grooming tools great for tackling dirt, dust, and debris on any horse, any time of the year. From brushes to curries and sponges galore, you’ll definitely want to stock up for your own grooming box

The Epona Ulta-Mitt is super effective for bathing and removing sweat marks from both clipped and unclipped horses. The gentle, cactus-like material helps lift dirt and debris free from the skin, then simply hose off and hang to dry! The April Power Shower Sponge with Tiger’s Tongue is one of Big Dee’s best-selling items, a two-sided and super absorbent sponge to scrub away dirt or use with your favorite coat conditioner to bring out a dazzling finish.

“The Epona April Power Shower Sponge with Tigers Tongue is a great dual-purpose sponge. This tool makes bucket baths quick and easy, the sponge holds lots of soap, while with a simple flip the tigers tongue makes quick work of tough stains. I also use it dry to power through crusted mud and sweat marks. Flip it over to the sponge side and give it a spritz with your favorite coat conditioner for a quick spot clean.

The Epona Ulta-Mitt is the one tool I think every equestrian should have in their bath bucket. The tightly woven loops help to create a rich lather while attaining a deep clean right down to their skin. The flexible fabric allows my hand to easily conform to my horses legs to make scrubbing easy and comfortable for my horse. I give the Epona Ulta-Mitt two thumbs up for quality and durability.” – Jess R.

EQyss Survivor Super Detangler & Shine

Picked by Purchasing Associate, Colleen C.

One of the most treasured grooming items in my tack box, I have been a big fan of the EQyss Survivor Super Detangler & Shine for everyday grooming and last-minute touch-ups before entering the show ring. I swear by this stuff and any person who wants to make a “wow” statement for their horse’s turnout needs this product. This heavenly-smelling gel slides easily through burrs, knots, and tangles without being sticky or greasy. A little goes a long way on this detangler – a nickel to quarter size drop is all I need!

Some of favorite things about this all-natural gel is that it’s specifically formulated to reduce hair breakage, keeping Rotti’s tail nice and fluffy and full. The long-lasting results keep the same bottle around for a long time and make quick touch-ups a breeze right before entering the ring. Many of EQyss’s grooming products are in my trunk, due to their non-toxic, pH-balanced formulas that smell FANTASTIC and used for moisturizing dry coats, hooves, helping with a variety of skin issues, and more.

Zarasyl

Picked by Senior Buyer Tish C.

Zarasyl is a Superman-like agent that does it all! This scientifically-designed barrier cream is used for a variety of preventative and treatment methods for most types of skin ailments. It’s steroid- and antibiotic-free, making it safe for any level of competition.

Zarasyl Barrier Cream 6.7 oz $52.50

Its proprietary formula contains bio-available Silica for healthy connective tissue growth and enriched with Beeswax for gentle soothing and healing of abrasions while creating a protective barrier against harmful bacteria. Zarasyl also contains Tree Tree Oil for antibacterial properties, Zinc for cell growth and wound healing, and Lanolin for a moisturized skin barrier. Extremely easy to use and apply, the slightly sticky formula allows you to pinpoint exactly where you want the cream to go – no mess, no fuss.

“[With Zarasyl], a little goes a long way! Test-Free and I found it starts to heal up limestone/mud rash within  a few days.” – Tish C.

Coat Defense

Picked by Purchasing / Product Management, Christie F.

What started out as a non-toxic, sustainable, and Eco-friendly human skincare solution has turned into an international phenomenon for the effective cleaning, treatment, and management of a healthy skin and coat for horses.

Coat Defense Trouble Spot Drying Paste & Daily Preventative Powder $17.89 – $35.95

This all-natural line of effective products is without harsh ingredients like chemical preservatives, synthetic detergents and fragrances – but don’t let that fool you – their topical skincare products pack a punch! The Coat Defense Powder & Paste can be used for a variety of common skin issues like rain rot, bug bites, sweet itch, various cuts and scrapes, and makes a FANTASTIC dry shampoo! Plus, its delicate Peppermint scent will keep you reaching for both of these fantastic products throughout the year.

 “For many years I have battled mud fever until I found Coat Defense.  Now using Coat Defense combined with a daily grooming routine we have had no mud fever episodes (yay!).  I focus on the problem areas, legs, hocks and spine area cleaning off dirt and debris using the Epona Tigers Tongue, it easily removes dirt and debris from hard to reach areas because it so easily conforms to the body part you’re grooming.   I follow up with a generous amount of Coat Defense powder making sure to rub it into the coat to get to the skin.  During Spring and Winter months when the horses are wearing their blankets more frequently I will even put a little Coat Defense on prior to blanketing.  Coat Defense is now my go-to product for Mud Fever prevention!” – Christie F.

What Will YOU Choose?

With over 200 brands and thousands of items to select within our vast inventory, Big Dee’s is certain to have the products you need to bring out the best from your horse – both on the inside and the outside! Whether you’re battling caked on mud in a dirty tail, dealing with a shedding woolly mammoth, or brightening a coat that was left dull from the winter, our expert staff is here to ensure you have the grooming tools and bathing essentials to create a dazzling finish.

Tell us YOUR favorite spring-time grooming faves!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen, Purchasing Associate

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

Ariat Spring/Summer Apparel

Ariat has always been known for its fantastic colors, materials, technology, and performance in each of their apparel and footwear items – and the latest Spring/Summer 2020 Collection did not disappoint! Read on to see some of our favorite pieces and Pinterest-worthy looks to add to your must-have wish list.

Golden Hour

Inspired by the rich hues of a Sedona sunset, the eye-catching Ariat Tribal shirt pairs beautifully with the authentic Turquoise and Copper matching Cross earrings and necklace set. This ensemble is perfect for a night out after a hard day’s work, completely balanced in feminine touches and fabulous style. Pair the Round Up Bella boots with your favorite pair of jeans for a statement look that goes with any outfit.

Cowboy Up

Who says you can’t work hard and play hard at the same time? Fashioned from 100% cotton, the Jupiter shirt brings a new twist to the classic Pearl snap front button down with its extended arm seam for maximum mobility. Stay comfortable and flexible with the gentle stretch of the Ariat M4 jeans in its sharp dark Indigo wash. The Sierra boots prove you can have function and fashion together in a work boot, with added features like an oil-and slip-resisting sole and Goodyear Welt construction on this square-toed option.

Wide Open Spaces

Bring out your inner cowgirl with this fun, vibrant pairing! The bright, sunny colors in the Ariat Fatbaby Aztec boots are sure to stand out with your equally sunny personality, while the comfortably stretchy mid-rise Ariat Whipstitch Jeans are made to move and groove with you in and out of the saddle. The Ariat Puff Print tee is flirty and fun with its delicate v-neck and breathable cotton keeping you looking and feeling cool while running barrels or relaxing with friends at a bonfire.

Home On the Range

These steel-toed boots are meant for those that aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, with its lightweight, composite shank offering the stability and protection needed. The Ariat M5 Legacy Jeans are guaranteed to be your new favorite pair of pants with just the right amount of stretch and iron-clad durability. Whether you’re riding a steel horse (or an actual one), this polished look of the Jurlington shirt is perfect from 9-to-5 to date night.

What Will You Discover?

Ariat has been a long-standing favorite among our customers and Big Dee’s Family, for good reason. It doesn’t matter your age, riding discipline, or whatever lies ahead on your daily adventures, you will be sure to find something to love!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen, Purchasing Associate

The Value of Equestrian Community During COVID-19

While many of us are more than likely experiencing some version of cabin fever during this period of social distancing, separation, and limited access to our usual everyday activities and routines, there are ways to remain positive and have a bright outlook on this bizarre time in our world’s history.

Even though many local, rated, and international shows have been either postponed or cancelled, we are able to take this time to perhaps find other productive ways to spend our now-abundant free time.

Social distancing at its finest – Rotti and I have been doing lots of trail rides to develop his hill work while shows and clinics have been postponed/cancelled

If you’re like me, I consider the barn to be my “home away from home” and a safe space for me to disconnect with the stressors of the outside world like scheduling doctor’s appointments, deadlines, voicemails, grocery shopping (even before the TP shortage), and general everyday life stress. However, while I’m still fortunate enough to be able to go to the barn to take care of my gelding, some individuals may be struggling with recent changes that may not allow regular boarders to come and see their horse, much less even ride or have more than an hour with them. While this may be frustrating, it’s important to understand and appreciate that those who are taking care of our beloved animals are on the frontlines and need to ensure their health and safety in order to ensure that for our horses.

Curious to discover ways to connect with your equestrian community while still getting your “fix?” Continue reading to find out more!

1. Spring Cleaning

During this time, take this opportunity to sort through all your tack, saddle pads, schooling/show clothes, and more.  Are there any items that are worn through, rotted, or overall unsafe/unusable? If so, throw it away to create room for the good stuff – plus it makes more room in your tack trunk for new gear! Take the remaining bridles, halters, saddle pads, and more to inspect the quality of each and break out the elbow grease to give everything a good scrubbing/cleaning/conditioning (check out Cassie’s blog for some tips and tricks to make your leather sparkle)!

2. Get Fit

Just because your mighty and noble steed may have transformed into a temporary Pasture Puff, that doesn’t mean you can’t get ahead of the curve and build your fitness level to be ready to hit the ground running with your horse by the time you’re back at the barn. Take the time to enjoy some fresh air and build your cardio by walking your dog, having a dance party by yourself to some of your favorite tunes, or go hiking at your local park with equestrian friends – while keeping with proper social distancing guidelines. Think about engaging your core throughout the day and promoting proper posture while sitting at home, making sure to keep up with healthy eating habits. By giving yourself a goal to strive for, it’ll help keep you on track and stay excited about building a positive routine.

 Stay tuned for an upcoming post on some of the best exercises specifically for equestrians!

3. Time Capsule

In between your Netflix binging of The Office and Tiger King, go through old videos and photos from previous shows and lessons. While this may not necessarily be an exciting or enjoyable thing to do – reliving chipped distances or “ugly” riding – It’s amazing what taking the time to appreciate the growth between you and your horse can do to give inspiration for new exercises and patterns to try. I discovered that the reason Rotti would sometimes buck after fences wasn’t because he was being naughty, but because I would lay on his neck in the landing and didn’t allow him to stretch after the landing stride, so he had to work extra hard to try and regain his balance and rhythm! With the knowledge and experienced you’ve likely gained since those videos were taken, you probably didn’t realize how much you’ve learned or some of the bad habits you’ve worked through (or picked up).

Looking over old photos and videos can be a confidence boost , as well as get you excited for new things to practice on for the future!

4. No Such Thing as Too Much Learning

Utilize your trainer and schedule a “virtual” lesson with them or try online resources like The Equivault, Total Horse Channel, or The Equestrian Coach in the meantime to gain a fresh perspective on your discipline or learn something new! Youtube also provides a TON of information for training tips and more (even Olympic champion Beezie Madden is giving a free lesson on her Channel)!

You can also check out governing body websites like FEI, USEF, USHJA, USDF, and other resources like The Chronicle of the Horse to watch old show videos for you to “ride along” with to help envision your success plan for the future. Doing all these things shows your support to your coach or various small businesses during these stressful times, and keep you engaged with what’s going on in the equestrian community.

 Also, take this time to catch up on going through your various magazines like Horse Illustrated, Practical Horseman, or organizations like AQHA Magazine, In Stride, and more to read up on the latest updates for show updates and what’s going on in your breed or discipline-specific community. You can also dust off some of the various books stacked in your tack room to brush up on your riding, horsemanship, grooming, or horse care knowledge – I know I’ll be diving into my copy of World-Class Grooming and looking forward to warmer weather coming upon us for him to get his first bath of the season and shedding underway for him to be show-ring ready!

What books will you be reading in the meantime?

5. Trust

Myself included, it can be really easy to worry about “what’s next?” We are wondering when our beloved barns and shops will reopen, the next time we can ride, when our next show will be, or when life as we know it will get back to “normal.” The biggest thing to rely on is trust. Your horse will (likely) not become some feral animal or forget everything you’ve learned together, and his fitness will not have completely fallen apart. You will not “forget” how to ride. Thankfully, there is a light at the end of the tunnel – this will not last forever. Before you know it, we will be back in our barns so take the time to reflect and discover a new-found appreciation for this world we love so much.

Hang in there, guys. We are all in this together.

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen, Purchasing Associate

New Items for Spring!

Spring has sprung!  Finally, after what I would consider a mild winter here in Ohio, the birds are chirping, flowers sprouting, and the wind is losing it cold chill. And of course, the horses are shedding like mad!

Along with the Spring sunshine come the new collections of riding and casual apparel. Kastel has released their new 2020 line which includes new pastel colors. Their Signature Sun Shirts come in a variety of colors (traditional and pattered) and sleeve lengths to keep you comfortable and stylish while riding.

Ariat has come out with a great assortment of riding and casual wear for everyday use for both men and women.  The new colors of this season for Ariat are a pastel blue, grey and light patterns in a variety of styles and clothing options. Along with their new Fatbaby colors, they have released their new patterns of their Cruiser pull on shoes which include some sunny yellow prints that I am in love with! To round out their Spring color collection, Ariat has new patterned and solid baseballs hats which are perfect to cover up that barn and helmet hair!

Kerrits’ 2020 Spring Collection as a matchy rider’s dream. They have new lines of colorful breeches and riding tights that perfectly coordinate with their Ice Fil short sleeved and long sleeved riding shirts. Their new colors of breeches and riding tights are in both ladies and girls sizes and have both full seat and knee patch options. Kerrits have also put out casual wear such as headbands, tee shirts and some cute riding tank tops to keep you cool this spring and summer!

Did I mention the coming shedding season? And you know what that means, here comes the flies!  Big Dee’s has brought in Terry Bradshaw’s  fly product line! He has developed a variety of fly relief products starting with limiting the amount of flies around your barn. The “4 Ring Protection Mosquito Free Zone” products come in a 2 day, 7 day and 15 day packs that deter the flies naturally away from your property. These are not only great for horse barns, but for family parties and cookouts as well!  Terry has also made topical fly treatment formulas that range from repellent, no bite lotion and sunscreens that are safe for your pet friends and yourself!

Keep checking our “New Arrivals” section on our home page, as we are adding new Spring products all the time!

Written by Customer Service Representative, Laura

One of the Greats – Riding with an American Legend

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to ride with one of the greats in the Hunter/Jumper community – Jeff Cook.

A professional rider and trainer since 1979, Mr. Cook was in the midst of “Forward-Riding Enlightenment” and old school horsemanship. He was fortunate to work for George Morris as his assistant on two occasions, five years each, where he honed his skills under the perfectionist hunter/jumper trainer.  He continued to successfully compete as a Grand Prix rider, and ultimately turned his attentions to being one of the best  A” circuit rider/trainer across the country, with students winning at both national and international competitions.

His no-nonsense but simple, easy-to-approach instruction and methods made him a blast to clinic with. I struggled with riding and performance anxiety for many years, and it was my first formal clinic I attended and not audited, so I felt a ton of pressure to perform. I was so blown away by his gentle, understanding nature and amazed that he personally adjusted his verbiage and explanation to each of the riders in my division – regardless of age, goals, and abilities (of both horse and rider). His perceptiveness, extreme attention to detail (especially turnout, oh my goodness he was a drill sergeant to anyone whose boots were not spit shined polish and hair not tucked in), and sense of accomplishment he provided to each of his riders that weekend (including myself) is something I will not soon forget.

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen, Purchasing Associate