Category Archives: Stable & Grooming

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.

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

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

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

Curry On a Stik’

Picked by Purchasing & Showroom Department Manager, Gail L.

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

Curry On a Stik’ $28.95

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

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

E3 Antibacterial / Anti-Fungal Shampoo

Picked by Operations Manager, Jess R.

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

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

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

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

Epona Grooming Tools

Picked by Operations Manager, Jess R.

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

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

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

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

EQyss Survivor Super Detangler & Shine

Picked by Purchasing Associate, Colleen C.

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

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

Zarasyl

Picked by Senior Buyer Tish C.

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

Zarasyl Barrier Cream 6.7 oz $52.50

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

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

Coat Defense

Picked by Purchasing / Product Management, Christie F.

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

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

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

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

What Will YOU Choose?

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

Tell us YOUR favorite spring-time grooming faves!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen, Purchasing Associate

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

Horsepower

horses running

No matter what horsepower you are taking care of this winter, a sports car, boat or our 4-legged friends preparation is key to keep performance high.  Heading into fall all horse owners, stable owners, horse lovers, trainers, and riders should be thinking ahead to  fall horse care before the first flakes fly or cold weather strikes.

An Ounce of Prevention

Horse activities may be slowing down but much like a boat or a seasonal vehicle, your horse needs care going into the winter months. No, you don’t need to pull the battery, shrink wrap and dry dock, or add more antifreeze but you will need to give this some thought. Beyond buying a blanket, fall health maintenance is a consideration. While cooler temperatures diminish insect-born disease, core vaccines and boosters could be needed. Mares who will be foaling bay foal standing beside grey mareduring the winter months need to be on a vaccine schedule consistent  with their due date. Likewise, foals that are weaned this fall will begin their own vaccination schedule. Check the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) website for recommended vaccine guidelines. Set up a herd health review with your veterinarian. Most veterinarians recommend at minimum vaccines, deworming and teeth floating.

Horse Care 101

Blanketing is a personal decision depending on your horse’s job. If he is a pasture pal he could get by with just a turnout rug for wet weather. Horses are generally healthy being out in the elements if they have a shelter, water, and forage. If you are on the show circuit, finishing or continuing your race meet, blanketing will be necessary to ensure a lighter hair coat for competition. Heavy exercise in cold weather can make cool-out time longer. Blanketing and clipping can help. Remember, stabled horses need year-round daily exercise and plenty of hay and water through their day to avoid health issues. hay bag tied to trailerUsing slow feed hay nets is a great idea for stabled horses and could cut down on hay cost. You may decide to pull your horse’s shoes. Just like checking your tires for the winter be prepared with an easy boot or two in the barn to handle any hoof issues that may crop up during turnout on frozen ground.

Fencekeeping

Is that a word? Nothing is more aggravating than a downed board in bay horse walking in pasturethe middle of winter during the worst snowstorm…it always happens that way am I right? Avoid this scenario by taking a walk-about to check fencing.  Pick up fencing tools and repair items, and keep a toolkit in the tack room.

It is the perfect time of year! Fly free weather is around the corner. So trail riding on bridle pathenjoy trail riding through the leaves, showing or racing.  Remember “There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man”, Winston Churchill.  Take care of your horse and he will take care of you!

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