Category Archives: Horse Tack

Celebrate Small Business Saturday

Celebrate Small Business Saturday in the United States this year on November 30, 2019.

Tradition

This shopping tradition began in 2010 and has grown into a welcoming way to bring local patronage to brick and mortar shopping and create a hometown atmosphere in person or online. Shopping small means, you support your community neighborhoods and local establishments.

Hometown Proud

Big Dee’s Tack & Vet Supplies has grown into a pillar of your community. Most of our employees own horses, livestock and pets or have them in their backgrounds. Employees that share your interests in all things horse and hound, english, western or racing, give you a customer experience second to none! Our mission is to serve you in a polite, friendly, most competent way. We offer saddle, helmet, and blanket fitting tips. Gifts for all your critters and a clothing selection sure to please the most competitive to the casual equestrian. We offer holiday specials throughout the store and online. Join our customer loyalty program and receive special discounts throughout the year. In years past shoppers set records all across the country sharing their support of small businesses just like ours.

Happy Holidays!

So, shop small America and share your support for local family-owned companies just like Big Dee’s Tack & Vet Supplies! Support your friends and neighbors and the local economy along the way. From our family to yours we extend a happy holiday invitation to stop in for a cup of hot chocolate this season and to shop small!

Written by: Big Dee’s Web Products Specialist, Kathy Kilbane

Once in a whorl

Horse Electrolytes in the Winter

In the off-season when the snow is flying and the dread of going to the barn to crack water buckets is looming, reading about a favorite topic (wait for it) HORSES, can be a favorite pastime! Once in a “while,” you come across interesting reads about little know horse factoids. Yet finding historical references explaining the extent of the horse’s involvement in civilization’s prominence are not readily found.

HUMAN-HORSE RELATIONSHIP

Centurion satatue

From the beginning of the human-horse relationship, historical evidence shows us that owning horses was a privilege reserved only for the upper crust of society. With the Romans, horses were a show of power and strength. Generals rode while the foot soldiers walked. However, without the domestication of the horse ancient civilizations might not have been, and quite possibly our world could look much different. Throughout history, the horse’s usefulness has been at the forefront of what it has become. Harnessing the power of horses probably enabled the building of the great pyramids or the Coliseum. Horses pulled great shovels to dig canals and build infrastructure. Becoming a mode of transportation was one of the most significant historical turning points. No longer would humans walk but could ride and carry their wares to market or to other tribal areas with more speed than other animals. The average 1,000-pound horse can pull a wagon of twice its weight and travel at a top speed of around 35 miles per hour.

EVOLUTION

The horse has evolved over 50 million years. Originally known as eohippus, horses were no bigger than a dog and were prey animals that walked on three toes. The chestnut of modern-day horses is said to be a remnant of the toes that became a hoof. Something else that is unclear about the horse is the existence of whorls; those cute little hair patterns that look like crop circles on the face and body. No one can explain whorls any more than they can explain cowlicks in humans.  Whorls  have been studied for centuries resulting in correlations between whorls and temperament. Gypsies believed one whorl on the center of the forehead could mean an easygoing temperament and two whorls high on the forehead meant a more complicated temperament giving way to more modern training methods. Theories about flight responses and predicting the direction a horse will go when startled were recently studied by Colorado State University. After exposure to a spoke stimulus, researchers determined if the hair pattern in a whorl on a horse’s face grows counterclockwise it most likely turned to the left and if the hair grows clockwise, it will go right. Could this also indicate if a horse is right-sided or left-sided? I find this fascinating!

UNSUNG AND UNDER REPRESENTED

The human-horse relationship roles seem a bit reversed today. Have horses become our masters? We carry their water and grain to them when history tells us they carried ours. We willingly groom, clean, care for and pamper them. Well I say they have earned it! They are the unsung and overlooked heroes of our civilization. In every aspect of our world history, from depictions in cave drawings to the pinnacle of competition, the horse has always served man well. Today the status symbol of a horse is not as shiny as it once was, but caring for a horse is truly a rewarding experience. I always know that whatever is troubling can be resolved while grooming a horse. Whether you use horses for pleasure, competition, or as a therapy animal you have to agree they are in fact magnificent creatures!

Written by: Big Dee’s Web Products specialist, Kathy Kilbane

All That Glitters Is Not Always Gold

Fair and fall show seasons evoke so many great memories. Starting out on my little Shetland pony and graduating to breed shows and beyond grounded me in life lessons too many to count! Preparation and professionalism being top-of-list and, always do and look your best.

There are several considerations to make when sprucing up show clothing or choosing a new show outfit. Horse show associations usually have rules governing attire. For example, the hunt seat hunt coat division usually requires show coats in traditional conservative colors while the western division is more liberal. The right color can have a favorable or adverse effect on your desired outcome. Take a look at these questions to get started. Will you be showing indoor under artificial light or outside in the bright sunshine emojisunshine? What color is your horse? What color is your tack and saddle pad? Can you just dress in your favorite colors? Answers to these questions will weigh heavily on your decision as you put together the perfect show ready ensemble.

Let’s unpack this

coat color chartAlways start with silhouette and clean lines. Choose a color to compliment your horse’s coat color. For example, chestnuts look good in earth tones where a bay looks good in jewel tones. It is the same as finding the perfect dress to match your own hair and skin tone. Go to a department store and cruise the towel section. There is usually a great selection of colors. Choose a bath towel that most matches the color you are thinking of using.  Shades of blue or green will work with most coat colors. Black and dark colors are always versatile and a good choice.

Evaluate to uncomplicate

Now take the towel to the barn and drape it on your horse like a saddle pad in the cross-ties and stand back to evaluate. Enlist someone’s help to take your horse to the indoor arena and outdoor paddock and stand at a distance similar to where a judge would stand (50-100 feet away) to see what the color actually looks like. At the show, take time while not showing to watch other classes. Look for horses with coat color similar to your horse and make note of how color plays a big role in overall appearance.

western show jacket and pad
Pulling it together

After settling on your new color, be sure it looks good on you too. Use a subdued “cool” version of that color as your base and then accessorize. Add a complimentary saddle pad or blanket to accent outfit and tack to pull everything together.

In the western division, the amount of bling you add will depend on where you are showing. Sequenced and jeweled outfits will play better indoor under soft light. If showing primarily outdoor, give careful consideration to the placement of your shimmer and shine, and factor in how the sun’s reflection will affect your ride. 

Hunt boot
Boot detail

For the purist, bling is frowned upon in the hunt seat division, although some leeway is afforded for tall boot detail, helmet bling, and shirt color. From the judge’s perspective, if you are wearing a lot of bling in showmanship or under saddle your position must be spot-on. Light sparkling from your outfit or tack appointments will be a beckon for anything out of position. After all, you want to draw attention to your performance not blind the judge!

A stitch in time

Tailored show clothing will make a big difference. Hunt coats, and western show jacket, vests and blouses should be form fitted. Attire for boys and men should be conservation, pressed, and 4-H graphiccomplementary to the class. Call your local 4-H extension office to find a seamstress. They can put you in touch with sewing clubs in your county. Your outfit could be a 4-Hers projects for the year. Equitation and horsemanship clothing that moves in the breeze at a canter or lope can translate into looking out of position and could cost you a ribbon.

I know children grow, sometimes overnight! Be sure western pants are long enough to cover the boot to the heel while mounted. If your child shows in short stirrup classes and wears jodhpurs and paddock boots, don’t forget the garters or knee straps.

Budget friendly tip

injured piggy bank
Ouch!

Don’t feel like you need to break the bank. Buy a couple neutral pieces to base your show wardrobe around. Invest in a  great western hat and keep it in a hat carrier so it will hold its shape longer. Keep your boots and tack clean and polished. Nothing says lack of preparation like a misshapen western hat or dusty hunt boots! Hey, you could use the towel you bought to clean your boots!

medals Remember, it is not the outfit that shines through but the preparation and performance that gets the gold.

Written by Big Dee’s Web Product Specialist, Kathy Kilbane

New Bates Advanta Monoflap Saddle Now Available!

I was privy to an exciting unveiling of the Bates Advanta Monoflap saddle the other night. It has stuck in with me since then. Their new saddle has so many thoughtful changes in comparison to previous models. As an eventer, I cannot wait for the opportunity to sit in this saddle over a few fences and get the feel of what it has to offer.

From first glance the saddle is attractive and luxurious. The calfskin leather is velvety and tacky for grip and provides a soft yet durable feel.

Bates Monoflap Advanta Eventing SaddleThe knee and thigh blocks are adjustable with a simple turn of a screw! This is such a nice feature that I am sure plenty will take advantage of it.

New Bates Advanta Eventing SaddleAnother great addition to this saddle is the adjustable stirrup bar that allows you to choose your setting and where you want your stirrup leathers to fall below your leg. This is great to help with your position over fences and center of gravity. I also enjoy the recessed stirrup bar because it allows my leg to lay closer to saddle.

The Advanta Saddle "Sweet Spot"

The Advanta sports a more narrow twist than their other saddles. I have a Bates DS+ Elevation close contact and I could immediate tell the difference in the twist. The seat definitely puts you in a great place and you feel like you are in the “sweet spot”. My leg closely wrapped around the saddle stand when I decided to take a seat in the Advanta.

More Flap in the Bates Advanta Saddle

Because of the monoflap design eliminating the additional panel my leg fell into a nice secure place where you can really feel close with your horses body. The Advanta has done a lot to bring you closer to your horses body by removing the bulk of additional material between you and your horse.

Synergy Panel on the Bates Advanta

The SynergyPanel underneath the saddle has been streamlined and contoured to allow more freedom in your horses shoulders as they move. Complete with the CAIR panel system like their other saddles, you are able to eliminate pressure points and encourage blood flow and muscle movement beneath the Advanta. The changeable gullet system has also seen some improvements with steel hardware and updated tapering of the tree points which provides an easier change of gullets. The girthing system on this saddle encourages a balanced placement of pressure as they lay over the tree in the front and rear portions.

If you are in the market for a new saddle, this is definitely one to consider. Bates spent over 3 years developing this saddle and make over 60 prototypes based on rider feedback. These saddles were ridden by professionals and tested to the limits. Their result is second to none. I am really excited to give this saddle a try. At Big Dee’s we do offer an a demo saddle that can be tried by our local clients. Please set up an appointment Lisa in or showroom and she can get you started! The Advanta is available in 2 color options of black and two tone brown and black. Seat sizes are available in 16.5″, 17″, and 17.5″.

Western Saddle Fitting with David Royal!

Western Saddle Fitting

Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supply was lucky enough to have David Royal come to our location and provide a seminar on Western Saddle Fitting! We all know how hard it can be to know if your equipment is properly fitting your horse.

David Royal is a professional saddle fitter from Morresville, North Carolina. David has been fitting saddles for over 25 years across the country and has extensive knowledge fitting problem horses. He has been a saddle expert with Circle Y, Reinsman, & Tucker Saddles for 17 years. David has competed in cutting, team roping and mounted shooting and has held board positions with several equestrian associations over the years.

The video listed below really allows any equestrian to discern if their saddle is fitting properly or not. It is important to make sure your saddle fits appropriately to avoid muscle damage, soreness, muscle atrophy, and prevent pain. For western saddles, it’s vital to know if you horse is a semi quarter horse bar or a full quarter horse bar. It is equally important to take into consideration the slope of the withers or absence of withers as you don’t want create pressure sores or slide around on the horse’s back once you’re in the saddle. Additionally, you will need to be aware if your saddle is bridging and causing back soreness to your horse. This is all important to help determine if your saddle fits appropriately or not.

There are options to help your saddle fit better if it is not already a perfect fit. You can explore using shims or corrective pads that can help relieve pressure or fill in the gaps where your horse needs it.

Riser Pad for Western Saddle

Riser Pad

This is a wither riser pad that is helpful for a high withered horse that tends to rub or useful to help fill in gaps by the shoulders.

T3 Matrix Western Saddle Pad Shims

T3 Matrix Shims

These are T3 Matrix Shims for the Toklat T3 Shimmable western saddle pads. They come in a set of 12 and are to be used for the front, middle, and/or back of the saddle pad to help saddles fit better if they are gaps between your horse’s back and the saddle.

T3 Matrix Extreme Pro Impact Performance Western Saddle Pad

T3 Matrix Extreme Pro

This is an example of a Toklat T3 Shimmable western saddle pad that you can use to correct your saddle fit.

Reinsman Shoulder Fill Correction Western Saddle Pad

Reinsman Shoulder Fill

Reinsman also makes a corrective pad for shoulder correction for high withered horses to help fill in the hollows behind the shoulder blade. This will provide more comfort and a better fit to your horse.

Thinline Sheepskin Correction Western Saddle Pad

ThinLine Correction Pad

Thinline  also has a sheepskin correction pad that you can add shims to correct the fit of your saddle on your horse. This is a nice durable and comfortable pad for your horses back even without the shims, but being able to customize to provide comfort to your horse is priceless!

There are so many options to consider when searching for corrective pads that it can be overwhelming. If you have questions or need assistance we are here to help! It is always advisable to have a qualified saddle-fitter come out to assess your horse and saddle in and out of the tack!

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

Expanding Horizons: Jessica R. for Team Big Dee’s

Up & Over Double Points Hunter show at Buckeye Horse Park, June 20th & 21st, 201510246688_10205730420957612_6759050269869428867_n

When someone asks what discipline I best associate myself with, my first answer would be as an eventer. My answer as to what comes in 2nd is fast becoming the hunters. My first true and lasting experience with hunters was just last year when Paladin was 4. After his first two mini-trials, with less than ideal dressage scores, I wanted to give him some time to mature mentally. He really enjoyed the jumping phases and I decided that I wanted to find more opportunities to build his confidence over fences than just a stadium round here and there at the mini trials. I firmly believe that building a safe and reliable horse over fences, takes consistent steps to build confidence and trust through the lower heights.  I figured that showing in the hunters would allow both of us to gain experience together and expand our horizons. I found the added difficulty of attempting to present a horse with a relaxed and steady way of going particularly challenging. Trying to ride like I know what I am doing is even more so, especially since historically my only goal in jumping was what I call the 3 S’s ((Stay on (rider), Stay up (rails) and Stay Sane (horse)). Last year we enjoyed showing in the cross-rails and 18” divisions, the lower heights really allowed us to get a feel for the ring and to better understand proper striding.

The Up & Over Hunter Jumper Association is an ideal fit for us. With shows scheduled around northeast ohio nearly every weekend of the summer, there are plenty of opportunities to get out and show at any height.  Even though I still would not consider myself a “hunter”, I thoroughly enjoy the relaxed pace of the shows, the challenge of memorizing courses (without the aid of numbered fences) and meeting new friends. My attempts to ride “like a hunter” are generally futile Continue reading Expanding Horizons: Jessica R. for Team Big Dee’s

Horse Saddles: What the Fit is Telling You

March is an excellent time to take a look at the fit of your horse saddles with a critical eye. With our Northern Ohio winters, it is very typical to see changes in weight and fitness in our equine athletes and this can have a dramatic affect on the fit of this very important piece of training equipment.

Some tell tale signs that you might have an issue include changes in your horse’s attitude about grooming or tacking:

  • Is your normally docile horse getting a little gnarly when you are grooming – especially along the spine or girth area?
  • Do you see friction rubs or bare patches where the saddle panels make contact?
  • Does this grouchy behavior continue under saddle…pinned ears especially in upward transitions, “cold back” or a refusal to stand at the mounting block?
  • Are you experiencing difficulty picking up the canter or with lead changes?
  • Does your instructor more frequently mention that you are sitting off to one side or do you feel that your balance is “a bit off”?
  • Is your normally symmetrical lateral work now more difficult in one direction over the other?

Another typical cause of saddle fitting issues is seasonal changes in weight.  People tend to gain a pound or three over the winter, but your horse can have swings either up or down, or changes in muscle tone, especially over the back. Have you noticed that you have gone up or down a hole or two when girthing your saddle? Have you noticed that the surcingles on the winter blanket have required adjustment since the start of the season?

Once you have determined that you have an issue, how can you determine what and how serious the issue might be?  The following few easy steps will provide a wealth of information…

1. Check your horse’s weight with a weight tape or centimeter tape.  Place the tape around the heart girth and snug up the tape gently. If you can get into a habit of doing this a couple of times a year, note that it is most important to be consistent in tape placement and degree of snugness, as you are really watching for a change in the number more than the actual weight or centimeter reading.

Saddle Fit | Big Dee's Horse Tack

2. Examine the surface bearing area of the saddle panels on your horse’s back. Are there any sub-surface swellings, particularly along the sides of the withers?

 

3. Are there rubs on the withers or friction hair rubs on the back? Is your horse sensitive to palpation with moderate pressure of your finger tip (be careful if you have long finger nails as your horse may give you “false positive” reactions).

Horse Friction Hairs | Big Dee's Horse Tack

This is a classic example of a friction rub caused by a saddle that is out of balance – check the tree width and condition of the panels if flocked. If the rub mark looks suspiciously like the binding edge of your saddle pad, possible culprits are that your pad is too small and the end of the saddle panels sit over the outside edge of the pad; your laundry detergent or washing frequency isn’t keeping up with the increased demands of winter skin conditions ; your horse’s coat is dry and in need of a good coat conditioning spray at the end of a really good grooming.

4. Pull out your last set of pictures to compare the view from the side and over the back (to see muscling and symmetry of the shoulder area). If you have attended one of our talks on saddle fitting, you know already the importance I place on these shots taken periodically throughout your horse’s career or certainly when you are starting the process of saddle shopping.

Horse Muscle | Big Dee's Horse Tack  Horse Muscle Symmetry

Of course if you have a saddle with a changeable gullet, it is a good idea to also look at the gauge and snap a photo that you can date and keep in your horse health file.

Gullet Guage | Big Dee's Horse Tack

If your saddle is flocked, examine the panels to check for asymmetry in the panel shape, softness or lumps and bumps within the flocking material itself. The panels should be symmetrical (I prefer to address asymmetry that your horse may suffer with therapeutic pads rather than adjusting the actual panels). When the saddle (without pads) is placed on the horse’s back, you should feel consistent contact as you run your hand along the panel from the pommel to the cantle. Bridging (absence of contact) or tight spots are indications that your saddle fitter is due for a visit.

This is a good time to examine the condition of stitching and your billets as well!

Western Saddle Stitching | Western Tack

Taking a small amount of time to look over your saddle fit now can pay off big in preventing both lost training time and potential bills later to bring your horse back into good training condition when the weather finally breaks. As always, I recommend you maintain and encourage open communication with all members of your horse’s health care team: Vet, Nutritionist, Farrier, Physio, Dentist, Trainer and Saddle Fitter in order nip possible problems in the bud and keep your horse ready for whatever is your riding pleasure!

Remember: Think Spring!