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

Webinar Series – Equine Deworming

Big Dee’s Webinar Series

Dr. Ken Keckler from Buckeye Veterinary Services in Burton, OH, spoke during Big Dee’s Anniversary Event about the importance of equine deworming and keeping a healthy routine for your horses. Dr. Keckler is a graduate from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1987 and a DVM in 1991. Whether you have been caring for horses for years, or are just starting in the world of equine ownership; Dr. Keckler’s guide into the simple steps you can take for the well-being of your horse are invaluable.

Where do I start?
Dr. Keckler recommends regular fecal exams to determine how much your horse sheds parasite eggs. Horses range from heavy, to moderate and light shedders. Some horses have greater immunities to the parasites and may not need to be dewormed as often.

What types of parasites should I be deworming for?
• Bots
• Ascarids (roundworms/bloodworms)
• Tapeworms (a common problem with yearling horses)
• Stronglyes
• Pinworms (very common and can be identified by horses scratching their butts)

How often should I deworm?
If fecal tests come back clean, generally every three months with the appropriate dewormer is accepted. Over-deworming can build a resistance in the parasite to dewormers and may be harder to get rid of them. Dr. Keckler recommends a rotation of dewormers:
• Spring – Use a Fenbendazole, like Panacure
• Summer – Use an Ivermectin/Praziquantel, like Equimax
• Fall – Use a Pyrantel, like Strongid
• Winter – Use an Ivermectin/Praziquantel, like Equimax
If problems persist with parasites, using a Moxidectin, like Quest, will kill most parasites due to them having a low resistance to it.

What else can I do?
As often as possible, clean manure from pastures, paddocks and everywhere your horse has access to. Be sure to use the appropriate dewormer for your horse and keep an eye on any changing or concerning symptoms. Keep in mind the age, condition and well-being of your horse; older horses may have resistance to some parasites, but their immune systems can be weaker and require regular deworming. Foals and pregnant mares also have a different routine than the average horse.

Disclaimer: This seminar was given at Big Dee’s Anniversary Event. All content provided by Dr. Keckler on Big Dee’s blog is for informational purposes only. Big Dee’s will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Keep Your Horse Hydrated with Electrolyte Supplements

Imagine this:

It’s hot. You’re sweating, your mouth is as dry as the Sahara desert. You just whizzed around a course in the heat of the day. You reach over grab a Gatorade and sloshes down like you are barreling down a luge in the Olympics. So here’s the thing. By taking that swig of Gatorade you replenished most of what you lost while cooking in the sun… But, what about your horse?

What is an electrolyte?

Electrolytes are positively and negatively charged ions that are formed when minerals and other salts dissolve in water. Similar to the ocean, the body’s fluids (blood, plasma, saliva, etc.) are full of salts and minerals. They are important because they are what the cells use to maintain voltage stability across cell membranes. Electrolytes carry electrical impulses such as muscle contractions & nerve impulses across themselves and to other cells. Without electrolytes, the cells in the body couldn’t properly communicate with each other and perform essential functions.

Horse Electrolyte SupplementsHow do we lose electrolytes?

Electrolytes are typically lost through sweat. The three main salts that need to be replaced are sodium, chloride and potassium. Calcium and magnesium can also be lost through sweat but typically on a much smaller scale than the other three. Each salt plays an important role in the body. Sodium helps to maintain blood pressure and balance water levels in the body. Chloride balances the alkalinity (acids and bases) of the body fluids. Potassium helps balances the cellular fluid and is vital for optimal muscle, heart and kidney function.

When should I use electrolytes?

Electrolyte supplementation is not necessary for every horse, every day. As long as the horse has access to fresh water and free choice minerals/salt, the horse’s electrolytes should be in balance. Conditions in which you would want to consider the use of electrolytes would be:

  • Heavy workload/training in which the horse sweats considerably much
  • Long trailer hauls (especially in the heat)
  • Endurance events such as racing, cross-country/eventing, competitive trail or other long riding/driving events

Ideally, if you know you and your horse will be engaging in activities like those mentioned above electrolyte supplementation would occur before, during and after the event. However, there are times when those activities are not foreseen.

A few signs that your horse may be in need of electrolytes:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Lack of thirst
  • Increased capillary refill time
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Poor performance
  • Abnormal heart rhythm or rate
  • Lethargy
  • Diaphragm spasms/thumps

What types of electrolytes are out there?

There are typically 3 types of electrolytes on the market. The recommended time of administration on these electrolyte supplements can vary greatly, so it’s important to read the manufacturer’s instructions to find the one that is right for you.

  • Powder/Granules: Electrolytes that come in the form of powder or granules are typically given as a top dressing to feed or put in the horse’s water. Oftentimes these come in flavors appealing to the horse such as apple, orange or cherry. This form of supplement would be ideal for those horses that are less picky of eaters.
  • Liquid: This form of electrolyte is often put directly in the horse’s drinking water or as a drench. Drenches are ideal for those horse owners that are practiced in drenching. Otherwise, we recommend contacting your veterinarian regarding the correct procedure. The liquid that is given through the horse’s water is good for a horse that will still drink water, but needs an electrolyte boost.
  • Paste: Paste electrolytes are administered to the horse orally. By giving the paste, you know that the horse is getting most, if not all, of the electrolytes.

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!

Before and After: The Benefits of Cocosoya Horse Supplement

Fabio’s Story:

Fabio Fabulous is a 13 year old miniature horse gelding that is owned and loved by Big Dee’s employee, Mary. His events include halter, showmanship, in-hand trail, jumping, being spoiled and snuggled. Mary has used Cocosoya as a supplement for various horses over the years, but has been giving it to Fabio a year and a half. As you can see in the pictures below, Cocosoya has greatly improved Fabio’s mane, tail, coat and overall body condition.

Fabio Before Cocosoya

Fabio After Cocosoya

Cocosoya, manufactured by Uckele Health & Nutrition is a fatty acid horse supplement. This supplement provides Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9 essential fatty acids. Horses, as well as humans, that are deficient in essential fatty acids may show hair loss, skins problems, and impaired immunity and reproduction issues. This supplement helps with coat, hair and hoof strength and shine. The increase fat in the horse’s diet may also help build and maintain weight. Cocosoya is also highly palatable – which is great for a picky eater or if you want to mask the taste of other supplements or medications. Cocosoya horse supplement is recommended for all ages, breeds and disciplines of horses.

What are essential fatty acids?

Omega 3

  • Alpha-linolenic acid, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
  • Improved skin and hair coat quality
  • Decreased joint pain in arthritic individuals
  • Improved bone formation
  • Reproductive benefits
  • Prevention of gastric ulcers
  • Anti-inflammatory effects

Omega 6

  • Linolenic acid
  • Pro-inflammatory (needed to fight infection and repair tissue)
  • Produce steroids & hormones
  • Regulating pressure in body fluids, cell division and smooth muscle activity

Omega 9

  • Oleic acid and Erucic acid
  • Supports the function of Omega 3 and Omega 6
  • Nonessential fatty acid because the horse can produce it

Enter to win a gallon of Cocosoya! A $23.00 value.

Enter here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/ee3f1c9990/

How Horse Calming Supplements Can Help

Horse Calming Supplements | Big Dee's Horse Tack & SuppliesDo you have a horse that is tense, on-edge or unfocused? Perhaps a calming supplement would be the right choice to bring out the best behavior in your horse without sacrificing performance.

Typically, there are two types of horse calming supplements. The first is a top dressing for feed that will help with everyday handling, work and training – this usually comes in the form of a powder or pellets. Second are “day of” supplements given before an event – these most likely come in the form of a paste. Calming supplements can be given anywhere from 1 hour to 5 days before the event – each supplement has its own specific time frame.

While the types of calming supplements greatly vary, there are a few common ingredients that can be found in products on the market today:

  • Vitamin B1/Thiamine: This is a water-soluble vitamin that is not stored in the horse’s body – as a result, it must be supplied by the horse’s diet. This vitamin is used in metabolizing carbohydrates and fat. Horses with a deficiency of this vitamin often appear stressed and nervous – the reason for its inclusion in a lot of calming supplements.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium deficiency in a horse is characterized by nervousness, irritability, muscle tremors and incoordination. This mineral plays a role in over 300 enzyme reactions – including cellular energy generation and genetic information decoding. It also works in part with calcium in nerve transmission and muscle contraction.
  • Vitamin B12: This vitamin aids in nervous system regulation, metabolism and red blood cell production. The recommended usage of this vitamin is for a horse in a stressful situation or to help increase appetite. A calming supplement with this ingredient would be ideal for situations such as long trailer rides or moving to a new location.
  • Tryptophan: This is an essential amino acid from which the horse is unable to product itself. This is used to increase levels of serotonin in the brain, which in turn creates a calming effect in horses. This includes increased sleepiness, reduced aggression and reduced fearfulness.
  • Valerian Root: This natural herb is used to reduce anxiety and excitability without reducing the horse’s mental function. Valerian can also be used as an antispasmodic in cases of colic or muscle spasms. This calming supplement would be recommended in stress-inducing events as opposed to competitive events.

If competing, it’s important to make sure that your association or registry accepts the use of the calming supplements you are using. This can usually be done by taking a look at the rule book or calling the office of the association or registry. If the supplement is not approved, be sure to give it time to leave the horse’s system before competition.

Other considerations for an edgy horse would be the horse’s diet. If the horse is being fed a grain that is high in sugar – they will react the same way as a human who has had too much sugar (hyper & unfocused). Consider switching to a grain lower in sugar or consult with a nutritionist or veterinarian to find the best way to reduce sugar in the horse’s diet. Another thing that can affect the horse’s attitude would be an overabundance of calcium. Like we mentioned earlier, calcium and magnesium work together – too much calcium means too little magnesium. Rich grass and alfalfa hay are often the culprits when it comes to a surplus of calcium. More exercise and turn out time can also reduce the amount of excitability and anxiety within a horse.

Do you have a go-to calming supplement? Let us know your favorites!

The Truth Behind Hoof Care and Horse Hoof Care Supplements

Horse Hoof Care Supplements - Horse CareHealthy hooves are influenced by a variety of factors – some controllable and some not. Genetics, age, climate, environment, nutrition, activity, hoof care and breed, along with countless other factors, play a key role in how healthy your horse’s hoof is. Things like genetics and age can’t be controlled but proper hoof care is in our hands.

Proper nutrition is the start of healthy hoof growth. Your horse should have constant access to fresh water and free choice minerals. Since the horse’s diet is based on forage good hay should be given priority. In addition to good hay, a grain with essential nutrients can also be given. Healthy hoof care is an everyday thing – hooves don’t get time off.  So it’s important to be diligent about caring for your horse’s hoof, inside and out.

Daily Hoof Care:

  • Check all four hooves & pick out any dirt/mud/rocks/other debris using a hoof pick. Be mindful of the sensitive “V” of the hoof, the horse’s frog, as it is more sensitive than the other parts of the hoof.
  • Make sure there are no injuries to the hoof or the leg.
  • If your horse has shoes make sure they are all securely on the hoof – no loose nails or bent ends. If there is an issue with the shoe, be sure to get in touch with your farrier. The longer the horse walks on a thrown or loose shoe the possibility for injury and soreness increases.

In addition to daily hoof care, you can use topical products such as hoof dressing to maintain the appearance and feel of hooves. The use of hoof dressing is ideal if your horses live in an area that is particularly dry or if the horse has a naturally dry hoof. Hoof dressing is also beneficial to those horse’s that have minor cracks and splits in the hoof.

Benefits of Hoof Dressing:

  • Helps to retain moisture to combat dry and brittle hooves
  • Conditions and brings out natural shine
  • Enhances texture
  • Prevents cracks and splits

If your horse needs a little more support than the above mentioned practices, a feed through hoof supplement might be a good idea. Like so many other types of supplements, there are plenty of hoof supplements on the market to choose from. One difference, however, is that is can take approximately 6-9 months of using a hoof supplement to see any change or improvement. This is because the hoof grows at such a slow rate that the new (and hopefully improved) growth won’t be evident for quite some time. In accordance with that, hoof supplements typically need to be fed on a continued basis and not just during certain periods of time.

Key Ingredients in Horse Hoof Care Supplements:

  • Vitamins: E, Biotin
  • Minerals: Zinc, copper and calcium
  • Amino acids/Proteins: Lysine, methionine and threonine
  • Fatty Acids: Omega 3 & 6

Any questions regarding hoof health? We would love to help you out!

How to Choose an Equine Joint Supplement for Your Horse

How to Choose an Equine Joint Supplement

Looking for a joint supplement for your beloved horse can be tough – there is a variety  of options out there and a lot of questions you have to ask yourself (powder, liquid or pellet? MSM or HA? Budget?). We’re going to go over a few key factors in making a decision on a joint supplement for your horse.

First, you want to look at what active ingredients the product offers. While there can be a variety of ingredients found in equine joint supplements, there are a few key players in most supplements found on the market today. Keep in mind that a joint supplement can contain one, a few or none of these ingredients – it’s important to research what the supplement offers.

  • Glucosamine Sulfate: This is a naturally occurring chemical found in the fluid surrounding joints – it’s responsible for the manufacturing of cartilage, ligaments and tendons. It’s been proven to have anti-inflammatory effects and is crucial to the development and maintenance of joints. Glucosamine Sulfate is the most readily absorbed ingredient in joint supplements due to the small molecular size.
  • Chondroitin Sulfate: This compound is found in the cartilage surrounding the joint – it acts as a flexible connector in cartilage. It also helps neutralize destructive enzymes in the cartilage. Where glucosamine helps build the cartilage, chondroitin helps to slow the degradation of it. However, due to the large molecular size chondroitin is harder for the body to absorb.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: This is found in the fluid surrounding the joints. HA helps to thicken the fluid to around the joints for added protection and lubrication. A joint supplement with HA would be beneficial to a senior horse, since natural HA production slows with age.
  • MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane): A readily usable form of sulfur which is necessary for the production of collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin as well as the formation of the connective tissue. MSM is proven to be beneficial to horses with arthritis but it can also helps in preventing scar tissue from forming so horses with injuries might find this beneficial as well.
  • Yucca: Plant that is found in The Southwest US and Mexico which is believed to have natural pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. This product isn’t specific to joint supplements, but is still often found in many of those on the market today.

It’s also important to consider why you are looking at putting your horse on a joint supplement. Is it because of arthritis, injury, age or a combination of factors? Or are you trying to take a preventative step towards the care of your horse’s joints? Most companies target their supplement to a specific cause – so be sure to look for that.

Senior Injury Arthritis Combination
  Glucosamine Sulfate Yes Yes  Yes
  Chondroitin Sulfate  Yes  Yes  Yes
  Hyaluronic Acid  Yes  Yes  Yes
  MSM  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
  Yucca  Yes  Yes  Yes

 

Joint supplements also come in a variety of substances – all of which have their benefits. The biggest factor that I consider when choosing between different formulas is how good of an eater the horse is. If your horse will eat pretty much anything, then you could go with any of the options. However, if the horse is a picky eater, going with a liquid or powder would most likely be the best option. All of the supplements are easy to feed as a top dressing to your horse’s grain. If your horse doesn’t receive a grain ration on a regular basis, the pelleted joint supplements would be a good option because they can be fed on their own.

As always, we recommend consulting with a licensed veterinarian about your horse’s specific case before starting them on a supplement.

What joint supplement do you use? And what do you like about it? Let us know!

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