Category Archives: Horse Care

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

Tail Envy

Have you ever had tail envy? You know – that horse you see with the long flowing tail and you think, wow – I would love for my horse to have that tail!

I grew up around Arabians, so for as long as I can remember, I strived to achieve that long, beautiful tail. Along the way, I have learned that beautiful tails take a lot of work! There are so many factors that go into making a “perfect tail,” but hard work pays off. It is important to take tails out and put them back up regularly, especially if you are showing.

Over the weekend, I decided to tackle Rascal’s tail. Rascal has plenty of beautifully long, thick hair but I still deal with knots! As a result, I came up with my favorite “tail care” routine that works best for my routine (and my schedule).

Cowboy Magic Detangler and Guard-Tex – Amazing for Tails!

First things first – get your supplies out and have them within reach BEFORE you begin working. This is really helpful, especially when you get to the end of the tail and you don’t have your supplies and have to let go of that braid – you’re going to be upset with yourself!

Supplies:

1.) Cowboy Magic Detangler – Amazing for getting the tangles out – also works on burrs!
2.) Mane Brush – I really like the Tail Tamer Rainbow Mane and Tail Brush – it is heavy duty and the bristles don’t do damage to the hair.
3.) 2 pieces of fabric that will be braided into the tail – You can use an old t-shirt or that spare polo that losts its match a long time ago. Either can be cut into strips and if you are really in a pinch, a few pieces of bailing twine will do the job. (I’ll get to the why/how in a bit)
4.) Guard-Tex
5.) Marker
6.) Tail bag or an old sock

After unwrapping the tail, apply the detangler and begin working through with your fingers. Remember, a little goes a long way! I love the Cowboy Magic because of its smells good and – added bonus – my hands are soft after I am done! Plus, when I wrap the tail back up in the bag, it keeps it nice and soft. Giving yourself small sections to work through makes the job easier. Once that’s done, take the tangle-free brush and, starting from the bottom, work through brushing out the rest of the tail.

Split the tail into three sections and start braiding a few inches from the tail bone

Next, you are going to start braiding the tail. I recommend starting a few inches below the tail bone, otherwise it may cause the horse to try and rub out his tail. Allow for a few loose braids, then start your nice tight braid.

Here is where your strips of fabric come into play.  Having the fabric strips will serve two purposes. First, as you braid from the top of the tail to the bottom, the braid becomes smaller and smaller, leaving you with tiny bits of hair on hair. By the time you take the braid out, it can knot and cause bits of the tail to break off, so the fabric will help save as much hair as possible. Second, by adding the strips, your braid sections will be more uniform, allowing you to braid the tail all the way to the end without any pieces being too thick or too thin. Once the braid is finished, I bring the tail up and wrap it through the loose braids at the top of the tail. One or two times around is all you need; it’s mostly to make sure all the pieces are kept together.

Next, I reach for the Guard-Tex. This self-adhering wrap is typically used for bandaging, but I like it for tails because it doesn’t get sticky or break hairs when I’m unwrapping the tail. Plus, if it gets wet, I can still remove it. You can use Vetrap, but I find it becomes real tricky to take it off if you leave it on for longer than a few weeks. When wrapping the tail, make sure you get enough of the wrap up and around the top and the bottom of the tail for as much protection as possible. I wrap it around a few times, for good measure. When finished, mark the end with a marker so you know where to start when you unwrap it later on.

To “wrap” everything up (hahaha), the last step is to put a tail bag over the wrap you just finished. In case you don’t have a tail bag, I like to use an old sock that I either lost its match (or its so riddled with holes my piggy toe constantly pokes out). Simply cut a 3” slit down each side of the sock (just enough that you’ll have something you can tie in a bow or knot), put the nicely braided and wrapped tail in the sock (or tail bag), tie at the top, and voila, you’re done!

Have a bunch of mismatched, “holey” socks lying around? Repurpose them into a cute tail bag!

Written by Marketing Manager, Jena

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

Product Review: Foxden Equine Quiessence Calming & Balance EQ Muscle Supplements

Hi Big Dee’s Fam!

If you have been keeping up with some of the exciting new items that has come into our showroom and on our website, one of our latest brands are Foxden Equine Supplements.

I have been a fan of Foxden for years and always admired their transparency of ingredients and unique approach to equine nutrition supplementation. Recently, I tried out the popular Quiessence calmer and Balance EQ Muscle/Metabolic Support supplements and were impressed with the results!

If you’re considering a supplement that offers a multitude of related benefits while providing great value and easy feeding, I hope my experience can provide an inside look into the probable benefits and results of using either of these!

Power Horse

For the most part, Rotti is generally an easy keeper when it comes to feeding and maintaining weight. As a Westphalian (Warmblood), his build is one like a bull-dog – he’s stout, big chested, and naturally “thicker” than some horses.

However, when I started increasing his workload to more demanding Dressage, Jumping, and Trail Riding endeavors, I noticed that while he was still keeping good weight and eating plenty of hay and grain, his topline wasn’t quite as defined as it had been previously. In addition, he had developed some attachment issues with his pasture mate, and I was struggling to keep his focus during “work time,” constantly dealing with bouts of constant hollering, squealing, and the occasional buck or stubbornness when I would apply leg. After consulting with my vet/trainer/farrier/chiropractor, I ruled out his attitude and tone issues were not due to other issues like saddle fit, misalignment in his spine, teeth/hoof issues, etc.

It was also important to me to make sure he was on a competition legal supplement, as we do attend rated shows, and Quiessence and Balance EQ are legal in the USEA, USEF, and even FEI levels.

What Is it?

Quiessence (left) is in pellet form and BalanceEQ (right) is available in a granular powder.

Quiessence

Quiessence’s primary ingredient is magnesium, which supports to achieve several purposes within equine biology. Typically, magnesium is used to soothe and ease nervous, overly tense horses who have a difficulty relaxing. This was definitely something I needed, as Rotti would work himself into a frenzy with his nervous energy – sweating profusely due to his anxiety.

According to the Quiessence label, it states “because Magnesium is important to nerve and muscle function, Quiessence may help horses that are tense, spooky and inattentive to attain a more balanced mental state.” Plus, magnesium is commonly used in muscle supplements to provide relief to stiffness or soreness due to tight, overexerted muscles. Considering that I was working Rotti 4-6 days a week, with weekly lessons that would noticeably wear him out the next day, I was excited to see that I could get a couple benefits from a single supplement. Since Magneisum is also an agent used in maintaining a healthy weight in horses, Quiessence is also primarily fed to horses who have a tendency of being a bit too “fluffy,” usually those with cresty necks and a tendency toward laminitis (or founder). Because Rotti is an easy keeper I don’t need to worry about losing weight, it was an added benefit that the Quiessence helps to keep him in peak condition.

Available in a pelleted form, the recommended dosage is 1 ounce a day per 250 lb, with the ability to go down to 1/2 ounce per 250 pounds once the desired results are achieved. Because Rotti weighs 1,215 pounds, I gave him 5 scoops, but most horses would be okay with the recommended 4 scoops (1 ounce) per day.

An interesting thing to note about the Quiessence is that it does not contain any Tryptophane or Taurine, which many other calmers offer. Instead, it offers Niacin (Vitamin B3), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Biotin (Vitamin B7) and Thiamin (Vitamin B1) , which all contribute to maintaining healthy weight.

Easy to measure, easy to feed – The pellets made it super easy to give the exact dosage I needed.

Balance EQ

Balance EQ is made of a proprietary blend of 7 amino acids, antioxidants, Chasteberry, Fenugreek, Jiagoluan, and Kelp. According the label, it is designed to “aid in promoting muscle integrity, definition, and proper body composition.” It also helps to support a shiny coat, good muscling, and healthy skin.

In addition, it also provides Chasteberry, an ingredient that provides unique benefits. One of my personal favorites, this “super food” is helpful in maintaining healthy pituitary gland function and normal shedding habits, especially with horses that suffer from Cushing’s Syndrome. My favorite thing about it are the hormone balancing abilities, making it great for those with moody mares, irritable geldings, or in my case, “spaced out Rotti syndrome.”

Because it’s a natural blend, Balance EQ comes in a granular powder form. All that’s needed for dosage is 1 scoop per day, so each jar provides a 60 day supply.

Results – Does It Work?

What I was hoping to achieve for the Quiessence was the ability to bring Rotti back to a more relaxed, workable partner under saddle, in addition to bulking up his muscle tone without stringing him out. Before I started using the Quiessence, anytime I would have him in the ring by himself or in the cross ties while his barn mates would be turned out, he would constantly throw temper tantrums and I had a limited amount of time to work with him each day before I risked having a complete meltdown on my hands. For the Balance EQ, I was hoping to see what Rotti’s reaction would be with his recovery from intense workouts and increase his muscle tone, while hopefully relieving the soreness he would occasionally experience after our rides or groundwork.

The first thing I wanted to test was if Rotti would even eat the supplement. Since I was already dealing with one supplement he was picking at, I was having to add in a mash to try and encourage him to eat it. Excitedly, as soon as I poured his grain and put the supplements on top, he immediately started eating and finished his entire meal!

While I cannot attest to any of the metabolic claims that Quiessence and Balance EQ offers, I can offer some insight into its performance as a calming supplement and muscle developer, respectively.

I put Rotti on both supplements, and within 4-5 days, I noticeably saw a difference of Rotti’s demeanor when working. I didn’t want him to become a deadhead and dull to my aids, instead I wanted him to be more willing to work and easier to regain his composure during moments of asking more challenging exercises or separating him from his friends.

Rotti became a totally different horse than what I had been previously dealing with. What was tossing his head and pacing in the crossties was now a super relaxed horse, even to the point of almost snoozing! While this may not seem like a big deal for some owners, I’ve worked with Rotti for 6 years now, and he NEVER fell asleep in the cross ties. Even at his best, he would still paw occasionally and had to be constantly stimulated and paid attention to in order to keep his manners in check.

It’s now been a little over a month that I’ve been using both supplements, and I will say that it has been so much more enjoyable working with Rotti again. He still occasionally “peeks” at sudden sounds or call to his buddies once or twice, and has returned to his “normal” antics of pawing in the cross-tie when he wants a cookie after a job well done. However, I feel much more secure and confident in his ability to come back to me with a more focused, attentive energy. In fact, I’ve forgotten to use our normal ear plugs on occasion and didn’t even notice until after I came back to the barn after a long ride! I no longer feel like I have a ticking time bomb in my hands; I’m much more eager to head to competitions and clinics with my best buddy. Plus, he’s still eating everything!

In regard to his muscle definition, I can say that hands-down, the Balance EQ has blown me away with its results. He is no longer coming out achy and grumpy after our lessons, and I’ve noticed more definition and tone throughout his back and neck.

The biggest difference, though, was in his BOOTY! In fact, we did a half-pirouette in the canter for the first time the other day all on his own and proceeded to have energy and impulsion for the rest of our ride.

Rotti’s hind end muscle development flourished in a rapid amount of time with the Balance EQ, plus his coat has achieved a healthy glow – even on the days I don’t give him a thorough groom!

Final Thoughts

All in all, I’m sold on the claims Foxden Equine makes for these two supplements, and while I do not think it is a catch-all for everything (Rotti still gets a separate joint supplement), their benefits are proven and exceeded my expectations.

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen, Purchasing Associate

The Ultimate Supplement Buying Guide

Have you ever wondered what supplement to choose for your horse? With so many options available, it may be overwhelming to know where to start. Thankfully, Big Dee’s has come to the rescue with a list of our top supplement picks for a variety of conditions. In addition to a proper nutrition, veterinarian, and exercise regiment, help enhance your horse’s well-being with these products below!

Best All-Around Supplement:

Equinety Horse XL Powder: $24.99 – $99.99

Equinety | #1 Best Selling Supplement

Don’t just ask us – ask the ELEVEN THOUSAND happy customers who choose Equinety for their horses! This revolutionary supplement, known as the “Miracle Worker,” is specifically designed to enhance the entire life of your horse with it’s 100% pure Amino Acid formula. Not only does it help support muscle strength and recovery; healthier, strong hooves and a glossy coat; and a focused, calm attitude, its patented formula is known to repair and regenerate damaged cells throughout the entire body.

How Equinety XL Works

Ulcer & Gut Health

UlcerGard (Omeprazole) for Horses Merial - Ulcer Control ...
Merial UlcerGard: $35.00

UlcerGard | Tish C. – Senior Buyer, Cindy M. – Showroom Associate, Grant R. – Showroom Manager

FDA-approved, this highly recommended and proven agent is the ONLY non-prescription product of its kind used in the treatment and prevention of ulcers and gastric distress in horses. Research has shown that 2 out of 3 performance horses suffer from ulcers, with flare ups occurring due to shows, racing, hauling, season changes, or other periods of stress. Easy to use and provides up to 4 doses for treatment or preventative use, UlcerGard is something that should always be in your medicine cabinet at the barn.

Omega Alpha Gastra FX | Lisa G. – Sport Horse Specialist

Omega Alpha Gastra-FX: $17.95 – $112.50

From racehorses to show horses to any horses in between, Gastra FX is ideal for horses that are prone to ulcers, experience GI upset due to stress, or sensitive to changes in their environment. Lisa loves it for her senior Dressage mount, Indy, and has noticed major improvements in his overall well-being.

“I found the Omega Alpha [Gastra FX] when searching for a better product to address periodic “irritated gut syndrome”. My horse is very sensitive to environmental changes: big temperature swings, a different hay supplier, bad allergy conditions, etc. Any one of these can turn his usual normal manure balls into wet cow patties – messy to clean up and groom off. I’ve tried many remedies from basic probiotics to major gut bacteria re-population therapies. The Gastra works the best… in just one or two doses he is comfortable and back to normal.”

Joint

Whether it be age, performance level, arthritis, or prevention, all horses can benefit from adding a joint supplement in their feeding regiment. Not only will certain ingredients like Hyluronic Acid and Glucosamine help keep joints moving comfortably, you can trust the recommendations of Big Dee’s staff that what they use for their horse makes a difference!

Spectra Mega-FLX+ HA | Cassie H. – Marketing Associate

Spectra Mega-FLX + HA: $28.95 – $84.95

“I give this to both of my horses to maintain healthy muscle and joint support. I can see (and hear) the difference in them while taking this supplement. They move easier, with longer strides and don’t “click” their joints like you can sometimes hear in older horses. Both of them still take off in the pasture like young horses and never come up lame or sore. I absolutely recommend this!”

Equithrive Complete Joint | Lisa G. – Sport Horse Specialist

Equithrive Complete Joint Pellets $139 – $387

“Equithrive Joint is my product of choice for the joint health for my horse. I have tried many, but this one was particularly recommended by my lameness specialist Veterinarian for the long term maintenance of my FEI level dressage partner. Still in a regular work program at age 27, he of course suffers some wear and tear arthritis, but his xrays could easily be presumed to be of a horse half his age!”

Even at 27, Indy has no problem performing upper-level dressage movements like a horse half his age!

Calming

Riding and showing are supposed to be fun for both you and your horse, however if your horse is too nervous, stressed out, anxious, or distracted it can be difficult to manage. On top of trying to keep yourself calm and collected, it can be virtually impossible to focus on if your horse is having a meltdown, too. When choosing a calming supplement, it’s important to consider if it is an herbal or non-herbal and if you want a daily feed through or a pre-event paste. Whatever you select, it’s important to check your organization’s rulebook if you show, as some governing bodies ban the use of certain ingredients, like Valerian Root, Lavender, Chamomile, Vervain, and others. After trying virtually every calmer on the market, Ramard’s Total Calm & Focus and Perfect Product’s Training Day has continued to provide the most consistent, safe, show-ready results to help manage Rotti’s anxiety and attention.

Perfect Prep Training Day Powder | Colleen C. – Purchasing Associate

Perfect Prep EQ Training Day: $106.20

The Training Day is my secret weapon at home when schooling, trail riding, or taking a lesson – I swear by this stuff! Rotti can be extremely herd bound, and prior to using this we would always experience some sort of meltdown once he realized he was separated from his barn buddies, screaming, bucking, and carrying on – a literal temper tantrum! My trainer recommended the Perfect Prep Training Day, and within 2 days, I noticed a difference. Not only does it smell like Fruit Loops, it’s really easy to mix into his morning breakfast mash and still keeps him level-headed by the time I get to ride later in the day. It’s perfect for those that want to have a fast-acting show prep regiment or are looking for a daily feed-through calmer.

Rotti is now super confident and way easier to tap into his brain when working. Having the right calming regiment makes me able to enjoy a whole different side of him!

Ramard Total Calm & Focus | Colleen C. – Purchasing Associate

Ramard Total Calm & Focus: $10.75 – $309.95

I love this paste because it’s relatively fast-acting and I can feed it the morning of a show with plenty of time for it to work into his system and provide lasting results. It doesn’t dull Rotti out and helps manage his Cortisol levels to keep him from becoming irritable and stressed to create a positive situation for the both of us.

Weight & Conditioning

dac Oil | Cassie H. – Marketing Associate

dac Oil: $39.95 – $129.95

A multi-purpose supplement, dac Oil is beloved by many classes of horse owners. The 98% fat supplement’s unique blend of vegetable and fish oils helps to improve skin and coat condition, promoting healthy weight gain without making horses “hot.”

“I give both of my seniors a pump of dac Oil in the summer for maintenance and two pumps in the colder months to maintain a nice overall body condition. They absolutely glow! Their skin feels soft, they have a healthy shine and keep weight on easy. Plus, they love the taste!”

Electrolytes & Salt

Redmond Rock Mineral Salts & Rock | Colleen C. – Purchasing Associate

Redmond Rock Loose Mineral Salts and Rock: $11.95 – $42.95

When temperatures heat up, the first thing I worry about is if my horse is drinking enough water. On really hot, humid days where the life is sucked out of the both of us, I tried things like adding Gatorade to his water and put a salt block in his stall, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. A friend of mine recommended I try the Redmond Rock products. As soon as I hung up the rock in Rotti’s stall, he immediately started licking and couldn’t seem to get enough! The top-dressing minerals are super easy to use and takes the worry out of wondering if he is getting the essential minerals in his daily feed. I’m now obsessed with all of the Redmond products and is the ONLY rock salt I will ever use. In fact, my barnmates switched from their previous blocks to Redmond after seeing the difference in my horse’s water drinking habits!

Redmond Rock on a Rope: $9.99

Finish Line Apple-A-Day | Jen A. – Purchasing Associate

Finish Line Apple-A-Day Electrolyte: $12.55-$49.45

“I feed electrolytes all year round to make sure that my horses are always drinking enough water.  Especially when we have large temperature swings, Apple A Day keeps my horses hydrated.  They like the taste, it’s a small scoop compared to other brands  and the 5lb pail is economical.  Finish Line makes supplements with no added sugars or fillers so I know that my horse is getting the right nutrients that they need.”

Jen understands the importance of keeping her horses properly hydrated as an active 3-Day Event Rider!

Body Condition & Muscle Development

Progressive Top-Line Advanced Support | Kayla M. – Showroom Associate

Progressive Top-Line Advanced: $45.95

When Kayla started using Top-Line Advanced in summer 2019, she wanted to find a solution for Merlin, her Thoroughbred gelding, who suffered from chronic back pain and inability to sustain muscle throughout his back. In addition to testing at 100% on the back pain threshold, Merlin also was dealing with a case of Scoliosis (curvature) in his spine.

“I was blown away with the results [of Progressive Top-Line Advanced.] Within 30 days, not only did his body condition massively improve, but within 2 months, his back pain went down to 30%. The combination of acupuncture and chiropractic helped, but I definitely think the biggest difference came from using Top-Line Advanced. Merlin is so much more comfortable now and happy to work – even when I didn’t ride him much over the spring and he was mostly on turnout, by the time I started riding him again he looked better than ever and I owe that completely to the Top-Line.”

For horses that are rehabbing or need help in muscle development and overall condition, the Progressive Top-Line products are a fantastic choice with an optimum balance of essential amino acids for muscle growth, development, and performance.
Image may contain: horse, sky, cloud, outdoor and nature
Merlin the OTTB thrives on Top-Line Advanced, helping him to build a consistent, well-developed topline from head to tail!

dac E Natural | Cassie H. – Marketing Associate

dac E Natural $64.95

“My lean built Quarter Horse is given E natural to help with his topline and overall comfort as he ages. I can see a big difference between how he looked last summer without dac’s E Natural, and now!”

Image may contain: horse, tree, outdoor and nature
Cherokee, the senior AQHA, doesn’t let age slow him down and has benefited from the antioxidant and Amino Acid support provided by dac E Natural!

For any horse to succeed, it’s important to work with the proper professionals to suggest and guide the routines, nutrition, fitness regiment, and care-taking habits for your horse to thrive. Let us know your favorite supplements in the comments below!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen, Purchasing Associate

Hoof Health Action Plan

Take action now to help head off cracked hooves this summer and beyond!

Whether your horse struggles with cracked hooves year-round or suffers from seasonal chipping, now is the time to formulate your very own hoof health action plan!

The why’s and how’s of hoof cracks

Hoof cracks and chips can occur from a variety of reasons including genetics, nutritional deficiencies, and environmental concerns including their everyday living arrangements and what types of surfaces they work on. While we cannot improve the genetics of a horse we already have in the barn, it is possible to influence improvement by managing the parts that we do have control over including nutrition, farrier care, topical remedies and improvements to their living environment.

Hoof Showing Sand Cracks
Hoof Showing Sand Cracks or Grass Cracks. With patience, extra care, time and luck these too can be improved.

Building better hooves from the inside out.

Strong Hooves
Crack free hooves showing slight growth rings from seasonal transitions.

While modern complete feeds and access to quality forage are vital to the overall health of the horse; other considerations such as age, conformation, workload and even the changing seasons, can present unique challenges. This is especially true in northern climates where horses often spend their summers on grass and winters on hay. If you look closely at these horses you may even be able to see differences in the form of slight visual rings on the horses hoof (not to be confused with ridges and depressions which may indicate underlying pathology).

While genetics plays a big part in the quality of hoof that a horse grows without added intervention, those that struggle will greatly benefit with the addition of a quality hoof supplement. Hoof supplements provide the boost your horse needs to round out those seasonal changes while ensuring that he has all the nutrients he needs year-round for optimum hoof health. The building blocks of most quality hoof supplements such as Horseshoers Secret, Hoof Secret and Bio Hoof rely on specific amino acids, vitamins and minerals such as Biotin, DL-Methionine, Lysine and Zinc. Some hoof supplements such as Farrier’s Formula, Nu Hoof Maximizer, and Hoof Secret; take their formula a step further with the addition of Cystine, Threonine, Copper, and/or Iodine. While any of these choices are sure to be a great addition to your horse’s nutritional needs one must be patient. With the average amount of new hoof growth measuring just around a 1/4″ per month, it can take as long as 9-12 months to truly reap the benefits of a quality hoof supplement.

Hoof care from the outside in.

A skilled farrier is an essential partner in the care of your horses hooves whether or not they are shod or barefoot. Adhering to a regular schedule for trimming hooves and resetting shoes is paramount in doing all you can to maintain a sound and comfortable horse. Missing or delaying an appointment by even a single week can cause lasting damage that can take months to overcome. You may find that those in heavy work are growing hoof at a faster rate and may need to be on a shorter schedule than those who are retired. If your farrier is suggesting that you adjust an individual horses schedule, he may be seeing an issue that can be better controlled with more frequent care. While many horses thrive barefoot, horses that present with chronic conditions such as full length central toe cracks may greatly benefit with shoeing specifically to take the load off of the crack and allow it to grow out stronger. Your farrier handles hundreds if not thousands of horses and can best advise what can be done to address cracks quickly and effectively.

Creating an environment for healthy hooves

The environmental challenges that your horse faces every day directly affect how well the hoof will hold up under stress. While genetics, nutrition and regular trimming will provide long term results and are the foundation of your hoof care plan. Providing a pro-hoof healthy environment will help to ensure success in maintaining the hooves overall appearance and strength.

Impact damage – While nutrition is key over the longer term, a frequent cause of chipping during the summer months is simply from the horses standing around and stomping at the flies. The addition of fly wraps such as Crusader Leg Guards or the Original Fly Wraps prior to the onset of the insect season can greatly help to mitigate the related damage to hooves and legs while minimizing stress and frustration to your horse.

Hoof Showing Nail Holes Chipping Out.

Shod horses that are frequently worked on hard dry surfaces such as roads and limestone trails may suffer from the previous nail holes chipping out. In severe cases this can leave very little hoof to retain a shoe. This issue is commonly attributed to the presence of bacteria or fungi that takes hold in the old nail holes. Early intervention is key and positive results are frequently achieved with the addition of Life Data Hoof Clay or Keratex Nail Hole Disinfectant as part of your re-set process. In severe cases your farrier may have to rebuild the hoof with synthetic materials to improve stability.

Too Wet – Constant exposure to mud and standing water can result in soft hoof walls, mushy frogs, thin soles and invite invasion from fungal and bacterial enemies. Ultimately eliminating mud needs to be an absolute priority as soon as drier weather arrives. Until then adopt a routine to clean legs and hooves and allow them to fully dry prior to re-exposure. Thoroughly washing with an anti-bacterial/anti-fungal shampoo such as E3 Medicated Shampoo or Equishield CK is a big step in the right direction. Alternatively for wet and humid conditions sans mud, or prior to exposure the use of topical dusts like Coat Defense powder or Mud Shield can help to improve the overall condition of the skin on the the legs and around the coronary band. Treating hoof walls with a hoof sealant such as Kevlar Tuff Hoof Guard can help seal out excess moisture. For sensitive soles treatment with Durasole, or Farrier Barrier can help to ward off infection while aiding in toughening up the sole. Should your clean hoof present with a foul odor from thrush, serious consideration needs to be made to ensure your horse stays extra clean dry during regular applications of a thrush product such as No Thrush Powder or Thrush buster. Choosing a bedding that is more drying such as kiln dried sawdust can help speed the drying process and build a better balance until you can take steps to more effectively eliminate mud and welcome drier days.

Hoof Moisture Hoof Oil
Hoof Oil Can help to add moisture back into dry hooves and makes hooves look nice too.

Too Dry – Excessively dry hooves may be more inherently prone to form chips and cracks as well as heel and frog contraction due to a pure lack of moisture. This is frequently observed in horses that live in hot arid regions. Regular application of topical hoof products such as Hoof Moisture hoof oil, Hooflex conditioner or Leovet Summer Oil-Gel will help increase moisture content to some degree. Alternatively hoof sealants such as SBS TopCoat or Horseshoers Secret Hoof Sealant can help to seal in the hooves natural moisture and prevent excessive drying. For horses stabled a portion of the day, choosing a bedding that is slightly less drying such as peat moss, pelleted bedding or straw can help to contribute positively to hydration of the sole surface. However, to best avoid the risks of fungal and bacterial infections maintaining cleanliness of all bedding types is paramount.

Wrapping it up

The recipe for great hooves requires year-round dedication. First committing to feed a quality hoof supplement long term. Sticking to a scheduled routine for hoof care from an experienced farrier and providing a pro-hoof healthy environment to help build and maintain beautiful, strong and resilient hooves. Being attentive to seasonal changes and adjusting your topical and environmental care will help to ward off problems before they become more serious.

If you have already been feeding a quality hoof supplement for a year or more in addition to the other suggestions outlined above and are still struggling with poor hoof quality, it may be time to enlist the help of your veterinarian, farrier and an equine nutritionist for a full on hoof care intervention. While there is most definitely a subset of horses that suffer from poor hoof quality simply due to their genetics or past serious injury, in many cases with a professional diagnosis and care you can succeed in helping your horse to be more comfortable,

Do you have a hoof care journey that you would like to share? We would love to hear (and see) all about it!

Written by Jessica R.