Category Archives: Horse Care

Fly Season is Upon Us!

This week Tish and I did a Facebook Live event discussing our picks for the upcoming Fly Season. You can view the video here and read further about a few of the products highlighted in this video:

The new fly sheet scrim made it’s debut this week! This is a great option for those at the track, tying horses out on the trailer, or hanging out ringside at a horse show. This scrim is lightweight and breathable while keeping the flies off from your horse! Available in three colors, with choices of red, blue, and green. This scrim is not ideal for turn out as it does not have any additional fasteners under the belly or around the hind legs, allowing this sheet to easily become misaligned on your horse’s body.

Next we moved along to the mesh fly sheet with belly surcingle straps. This fly sheet is ideal for turning out in, as it is able to be secured with leg straps and belly straps. New for this year is the attached next cover! This provides great coverage to keep those flies off and help protect against being sunbleached!

Another great option for keeping flies off is our protective fly sheet. This one is ideal for those horses that like to be rough on their clothing or have other horses that tug and pull on them. They are a bit stiffer, but they do provide more durability.

After going over these great options for fly protection we touched on some of our favorite fly masks. These included the Crusader, Absorine Supermask, UltraShield Fly Mask, Noble Outfitters Guardsman, and our cult favorite our lycra with mesh fly mask.  There are so many options that it would be impossible for you to not find one that suits your horse’s needs!

We soon moved onto our favorite topical options, including some of the best all natural fly repellents. Pyranha and Aborbine definitely make effective fly sprays that I would highly recommend. The Pyranha aerosol is my personal favorite followed by the UltraShield Ex, as they have the highest levels of pyrethrins which is what kills the fly as it bites your horse. For a more natural approach Fly Bye is our #1 go-to and we have a new product EcoVet which seems to make an impression on Tish if you watch the video!

Of course we touched on some other fly protection items like the rump and belly guard, attachable neck guard, and the big seller leg fly wraps. You can see all of those here. If you have any questions about a particular product shoot us a text at 800.321.2142 or send us a message! We can certainly find something to fit your needs!

Click here to shop Fly Control

Electrolyte Supplementation

Summer Electrolyte Guide

As the summer months arrive, most of us are much more active with our horses which means time for an electrolyte.  Whether we are participating in shows, contesting, pleasure classes, jumping, dressage, or out on the trail, we need to pay extra attention to hydration levels in our horses during these next several months.

Horses sweat profusely.  They sweat more than people, about 3 times more, and lose more electrolytes through their sweat than we do.  In fact, horses dissipate about 85% of excess heat through sweating, and the remainder through respiration (Read More).   Additionally, horse sweat is saltier than human sweat; it contains high levels of sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, and calcium.  These macromineral electrolytes are essential for conducting electricity, and keeping muscles firing correctly.  Skeletal muscles, muscles in the digestive tract, and heart muscles are all negatively impacted by electrolyte imbalance. As is proper absorption of feed nutrients.

Big Dee's | Electrolytes | Supplements

Effects of Imbalances

Conditions such as Thumps and Tying-up can both be linked to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.  If you plan on trail riding, eventing, showing, fox hunting, certainly racing, or even trailering your horse this summer, consider using electrolytes to restore that balance and improve recovery times for your horse.

There are many commercial electrolytes available these days.  Some of them contain high levels of sugars, while others do not.  I tend to look for those that are higher in chloride and low in sugar.  Dr. Clair Thunes of Summit Equine Nutrition recommends looking for one with a sodium : potassium : chloride ratio that is similar to that found in sweat, 2:1:3.8 (Read More).  Perfect Balance by Peak Performance is one such electrolyte.

Big Dee's | Electrolytes | Supplements

How to Feed Electrolytes

One of the best ways to feed electrolytes is to mix them in with your horse’s water.  Be sure to read the feeding guidelines on your electrolyte container, as the ratio may vary depending on how heavily your horse has worked.  When offering electrolytes in water, ALWAYS be sure to offer plain water as well.  Sometimes horses will not drink the electrolyte water, and if that is all that is available, their electrolyte imbalance and dehydration will only worsen.

Another method is to top dress the electrolyte on their feed.  I have found this method to be more palatable for one of my horses, however, be sure to monitor water consumption when feeding the electrolyte.  If your horse is not drinking after ingesting electrolytes top dressed on its feed, it may urinate more frequently to restore sodium balance, resulting in increased dehydration.

Whatever activities you have planned for your horse this summer, don’t forget to include electrolytes as a staple of your horse’s recovery.  They can be used before and after work to ensure that your horse remains healthy and happy.

 

Click here to shop all Electrolytes

Body clipping the horse – goals and purpose

I was recently blessed with an opportunity to have my horse Paladin clipped by Natasha from A Pampered Pony for a facebook live demo. Even though I have been body clipping my own horses for years I really enjoyed the tips and pointers that Natasha was able to provide. I am so very thankful to both Wahl and Lister for helping to arrange this fabulous event. The response to the demo was overwhelmingly positive. Though I did see a number of questions surrounding the general practice of body clipping. I hope to be able to offer a little more information, about the purpose and goals of body clipping. From the perspective of a performance horse owner.

A little bit about my horse

My horse Paladin is and always has been a show horse, eventer and most recently a field hunter. In an effort to help prepare my horse for his performance career I chose to show him extensively his first

Full Body Clipped Yearling
Full Body Clip for show as a yearling.

three years of life. Regardless of if the show was local or recognized, I always take pride in producing a well turned out horse. I strongly believe that quality show turnout starts in the stable. Providing quality food and forage, regularly scheduled vet, farrier and dental care and allowing ample turnout helps to promote a strong body and sound mind. Everything that you do at home to benefit your horses overall health will be obvious in the show ring or out working in the field. I feel that clipping further enhances all of that hard work you put into your horse on a daily basis.

Clipping for show and ease of grooming

Clipping has been an important part of my horses grooming program since he was a foal.  When showing him as a yearling and two year Continue reading Body clipping the horse – goals and purpose

Formula 707 Simplifies their Product Line!

We are really excited here at Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supply that Formula 707 has made a huge effort to make their product easier to administer to horses! I am sure barn owners and boarders alike can attest to the challenges of setting up their supplement routine for their horses. Formula 707 has introduced Fresh Packs! Their supplements are now available in pre-packaged servings to make traveling to events easier and making sure that feeding routines are simplified. What else makes these Fresh Packs great, you ask? Well, for one- these fresh packs insure just that, your supplement stays fresh! We all know how it is when you get half-way through a supplement and it’s hardened or changed consistency. It’s money right out the window. Another great aspect of this product is you know that you are giving the right amount needed for your horse, and they are extremely convenient to use. Also, they are affordable!

For me, I find the Fresh Packs extremely desirable.  First reason being, I know that my horse is getting the correct serving based on these pre-measured packets. Secondly, I know that when I head to shows, I don’t have have to find containers to ration the servings out or drag the whole tub with me. I can also imagine for those that are responsible for feeding horses at a large barn will enjoy the amount time that is reduced by using these new Fresh Packs!

Lets get into the actual products by Formula 707 that are available at Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supply! Continue reading Formula 707 Simplifies their Product Line!

Bitless Training with Justin Dunn!

We had an amazing opportunity to team up with Weaver Leather and Justin Dunn with Justin Dun Mustang Horsemanship to host a few seminars at our 3rd Annual Anniversary Event at our store located in Streetsboro, Ohio. We were really excited to have Justin Dunn join us to talk to us about his Bitless Bridle that he partnered with  Weaver Leather to make. Justin Dunn gained his notoriety through the Extreme Mustang Makeover.

We got to know Justin a little bit more and how he got his start with Bitless training and mustangs. We also had the opportunity to host a contest for a local Big Dee’s fan to win a private one hour session with Justin Dunn!

The winner of the contest was Sarah and her recently rescued mustang mare Mae, whom she was fostering. Sarah had been experiencing difficulty gaining Mae’s trust and this couldn’t be more up Justin’s alley! Here are some pictures from when we first arrived to meet Sarah and Mae: Continue reading Bitless Training with Justin Dunn!

Horse Feed Room Storage and Organization

Feed Room Storage and Organization

Feed Scoop | Big Dee's
Horse Feed Storage and Feed Room Organization

The efficiency of feeding time is reliant on how well organized and accessible your grain and supplements are stored. From a small back-yard barn to the largest boarding facilities the ultimate goal should be the same: ease of use, maintaining feed quality, accuracy of feeding and minimizing unnecessary footsteps. I hope to offer some great ideas on how to handle feed room storage and feed room organization.

Having a safe and secure feed storage area will aid in ensuring the overall health and well-being of your horse. While we never wish for a horse to get loose, it is always a possibility and as such all grain should be kept in an area off-limits to horses. If your facility does not have a separate stall or room that can be secured from the threat of a loose horse you will need to source feed storage containers that horses are unable to break into. Do not be fooled by that reassuring click of a trash can, horses can get into them successfully and the results of a horse overeating can be devastating.

Feed Storage

Grain stored in bags can be susceptible moisture and rodent damage and could easily be damaged by a loose horse.  Grain maintains it freshness best in cool, dry conditions. An ideal feed storage container should offer a tight seal to keep the freshness of the feed in while keeping pests, contaminants and moisture out. Continue reading Horse Feed Room Storage and Organization

Practical Bitting Seminar

Practical Bitting Seminar

horse bits

Wondering about your choice of bits for your horse or is bitting a mystery to you?

Does your horse have telltale signs it might be the wrong choice?

Do you know how to determine the correct bit size for your horse?

Have you run out of friend’s bits to try?

We can help with all of this & more!

Join bitting experts Vivian Schmidt & Lisa Gorretta at our Herm Sprenger practical bitting seminar on Sunday April 23rd at Sweetwater Equestrian Center – 6490 Peck Rd. Ravenna, OH 44266. This seminar is FREE! Schedule a time to bring your horse to discuss issues & find the correct fit!

Time slots for horses available from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm.

Space is limited – call to reserve your spot today! 1-800-321-2142

No horse is necessary to attend the seminar – attendees are welcomed & encouraged!

You can also attend Vivian’s seminar during the Anniversary Sale Event at Big Dee’s on Saturday April 22nd at 1:00 pm!


Practical Bitting Seminar

Safe Spring Pasture Practices

Introducing a Horse to Spring Pasture

Eventually Spring will come.  Despite the massive snowfall much of Northeast Ohio received this past week, Spring is on its way.  Many of us have cloistered our horses in their stalls for much of the winter.  When turned out in the pasture, they have been dependent on round bales. Some sifted through the snow for any scraps of dormant grass they could find.  All of them have been dependent upon hay for their forage needs, but soon we will have lush green pastures once again.  While this is a fantastic occurrence, early spring grass presents its own challenges for us horse owners.

First, to preserve the integrity of our pastures, we need to let our grass grow and develop healthy root systems.  To ensure healthy pastures that will last all summer and into the fall, it may be necessary to use a sacrifice area or paddock for a few weeks.  According to an article found on the Penn State University Extension website – grass should be allowed to grow to 4-6 inches before introducing horses to pasture. Continue reading Safe Spring Pasture Practices

Multi-Vitamins for Horses

Multi-Vitamin Supplements

Deciding on an adequate nutrition program for one’s horse can, at times, be a frustrating endeavor.  There are so many differences, from types of feed to the amount one needs to feed to ensure all of your horse’s nutritional needs are being met.  Combine that with differences in the quality of hay from field to field.  First to second cut, and nutrient loss over time – one can really struggle to provide the best possible diet for one’s horse.  Feeding a general multi-vitamin can help ensure that your horse is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs.

Multi-vitamins are going to include a wide range of vitamins including vitamin A, D, E, and the B-complex vitamins.  Most horses can meet their requirements of vitamin A simply by grazing.  However, especially here in northeast Ohio, horses are unable to graze year round.  As we switch from relying on pasture for our horses forage requirements to relying on hay, we need to consider the impact storage has on vitamin content.

What Should You Look For

Hay, no matter what quality, will lose vitamins, especially vitamin A over time.  The hay we are feeding in February, March, and April is of significantly lower quality than the same hay that was fed last September or October. Because vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, horses are capable of storing it for a certain amount of time. This can somewhat offset the content lost in hay over time. However, towards the end of winter it may be a good idea to look for alternative sources for vitamin A.

Vitamin D is readily available, especially during summer months, as horses can obtain all they need from the sun.  Again though, not all of our horses are turned out all day during the winter months.  Some show horses are kept stalled and turned out either for short amounts of time, or in indoor arenas only.  For these horses, vitamin D supplementation is important as well.

Horses in strenuous work during the winter months have and horses suffering from muscular system disorders need extra help.  Supplemental vitamin E and the mineral selenium can be very valuable and help prevent certain disorders. Continue reading Multi-Vitamins for Horses

Mud Fever getting you down?


We’ve all been there when our seemingly healthy horse comes in from the pasture or out of their stall one morning with blown up legs. You immediately take a gander and feel around with your hands searching for heat or a cut, only to find a colony of scabs. The entire leg may or may not look like a balloon, but your heart feels like it’s about to burst. Though this is a common nuisance for horse owners, mud fever can be a pain to deal with and can lead to chronic skin issues.

So what is mud fever? Mud fever is a common name for pastern dermatitis. It is an infection caused by a group of bacteria that flourish in wet and muddy conditions. Mud fever is a loose term for a whole slew of skin reactions affecting the lower extremities of your horse. Mud fever can also be referred to as “greasy heels” or “cracked heels”, as the heels are usually the origin of the infection.

The mud fever causing bacterial organisms do just fine living on healthy equine skin causing little to no harm on its own. However, once a cut, scrape, or wound is present, the door has been opened for the bacterial organisms to climb their way into the layers of the skin. Once the skin has been injured or breeched by being too wet, a bite, or injury, the bacteria then multiple in the damp and warm skin causing an infection.

Images of Mud Fever on the heels

Symptoms of Mud Fever in Horses Mud Fever also know as pastern dermatitis Irritation caused by Equine Mud Fever Mud Fever can spread quickly on the horses pastern and lower limbs

Mud fever can quickly spread to other areas of the lower leg and become a more severe infection.

Causes

There are conditions that predispose horses to mud fever. Even certain soil types can make horses prone to mud fever. Some of other contributing factors are:

  • White limbs or white patches (may be due to photosensitivity)
  • Prolonged exposure to damp & muddy paddocks
  • Soiled bedding
  • Sweat that has not been properly removed
  • Not thoroughly drying the limbs when excessive washing is a constant occurance
  • Feathered legs- mostly because they tend to be washed more than those without feathers
  • Injury resulting from rubs, bites, chaffing, excessive and rough grooming
  • Weak immune system compromising the integrity of the skin which is more than likely secondary to another underlying condition
  • Mites
  • Fungal infections

Signs

There are many tell tale signs of mud fever as well, as it can come in many forms:

  • Scabs beneath matted areas of hair
  • Once the hair and scab falls off, there are circular ulcerated lesions of moist and red skin
  • Discharges in a thick, creamy consistency, are usually white, yellow, or green color and found between the skin and scab
  • The scab will have a concave shape, with hair follicles protruding. Mud fever and rain rot/scald are the same thing just on different parts of the body.
  • Hair loss
  • Severe causes have been known to show the skin splitting in the back, thus the term cracked heels
  • Heat and swelling are typically present and can generate up to the knee or hock
  • In the most severe cases, lameness, loss of appetite, and depression are present

Treatment

The best preventative for mud fever is to keep the legs as dry as possible for as long as possible when there are wet and muddy conditions. Once mud fever has set in there are a few topical treatments that can be applied to help heal your horses skin. Take a look below for a few of our favorites:

Keratex Mud Shield Powder

Keratex Mud Shield Powder

This product helps guard against mud and water while disinfecting the skin. What is great about this product and makes it standout is that it is a powder. So rather than continually keeping the skin damp with promotes bacterial growth, this is a dry application that can be used as after it the legs have been shampooed and dried, or as a preventative on the way out to pasture.

Absorbine Fungasol

Absorbine Fungasol

This is a great product line that includes a shampoo, spray, and ointment. Gently scrub the entire leg with the Fungasol shampoo and let it sit for about 7-10 minutes, so that it can kill all the bad bacteria. Then thoroughly dry the legs off, top with the Fungasol spray and apply the ointment where there are deep fissures.

Muck Itch Spray

Muck Itch Spray for Horses

This is a relatively newer product on the market and the feedback has been great! It specifically treats mud fever and provides a protective barrier to the skin. What is really cool with this product is the use of organic essential oils.  This helps calm the skin and allow new hair growth to begin.

Micro-Tek Medicated Shampoo and Spray

Micro Tek Equine Spray - Soothes on Contact Micro Tek Equine Shampoo - Soothes on Contact

This product has been around for a long time. There are very few barns that you wouldn’t be able to find this product in. Known for its healing capabilities, Micro-Tek Shampoo and Spray go hand in hand. Allow the shampoo to set for roughly 10 minutes, thoroughly dry the legs off, and then apply the spray as a protective barrier.

Shapley’s MTG Plus

Shapley's MTG Plus

Lastly, a cult favorite MTG is now available as MTG Plus. The same formula as the original, but with a new herbal fragrance instead of the dreadful bacon scent of the original. This is a tried and true product that helps soothe the skin, promote hair growth, and provides a barrier as well.

Prevention

Preventing mud fever is your best defense to keep your horse suffering from this skin condition.

  • Rotating paddocks
  • Clean and dry bedding
  • Stalling your horse during treatment to keep it from reoccurring
  • Keep limps dry in inclement weather
  • Keeping areas of the paddock dry where horses stand for long periods (hay feeders, gates)
  • Disinfect equipment
  • Detailed grooming so early signs are caught
  • Avoid over washing or rough grooming
  • Administer an immune support supplement if your horse is in poor condition
  • Spray legs prior to turn out with a medicated spray to provide a barrier on the legs

Fingers crossed we are able to get out of this winter and spring without mud fever dampening our parade! All the aforementioned products are available at Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supplies via phone at 800.321.2142 or our website www.bigdweb.com. Feel free to call us to find the best product for you and your horse!