The Perfect Fit – How to Measure for a Horse Blanket

As I sit here looking out one of the windows in the office, and I see the first snow of the year falling, I’ve come to the realization that it is that time of year again, and I haven’t replaced my horses winter blankets yet! Which got me thinking, maybe I should post a reminder on how to measure your horse for the perfect fit.With literally hundreds of different brands and types of horse blankets out there, finding the perfect fit for your horse can be overwhelming. However, if you find your horse’s size before starting to shop, you are already ahead in the game. Although many first-time blanket shoppers think that their horse’s blanket size is based on his/her height or weight, it is actually based on your horse’s length. Here is a quick breakdown of how to measure you horse for a blanket:


stand your horse on a hard leveled surface being sure that he or she is nice and square.


using a soft measuring tape or a long piece of string, place one end in the center of your horse’s chest.  Measure from the center of the chest, along the left side, to the middle of the tail. Be sure to cross over the point of shoulder (widest part of the shoulder), and that you keep your tape pulled tight. If you used a piece of string, once you got the length, simply compare it to tape measure to get your horse’s size.

Measuring is usually easiest with the help of a second person, however if you have to do it alone, draw the tape along your horse’s left side as far as you can, once you have reached as far as you can, mark the spot with your right thumb AND take notice of the measurement. Then restart measuring from that point to the furthest point of the rump, then simply add the two measurements together to get your horse’s size.

Most stock blankets come in even sizes, so if your horse measures an odd number, round up to the closest even size. For example, if you horse measures 73″, use a size 74 blanket.


Why is finding the correct size important?

A blanket that is too big is more likely to cause rubs than one that is too small, and can be dangerous.

Leg Straps and surcingles that are not properly adjusted (allow for a hands width) can cause rubs if too tight or you run the risk of your horse’s legs getting caught and tangled in the straps if they are too long.

If the neck of the blanket is too big, the blanket will hang off the back of the horse, which will place pressure on the chest and shoulders, which can restrict the movement of your horse and cause muscle soreness. It can also increase the possibility of rubbing and slippage and the horse may be in danger of stepping on the blanket when trying to stand after laying down or rolling.

Now comes the fun part!

Just like dressing smartly for winter riding, you want your horse to look classy and smart in their winter dubs too! Also, don’t forget your dog! We carry matching blankets for dogs and horse!

Measuring your dog is pretty easy too:


Does My Horse Need Fall Shots?


The following blog was written by Dr. Corey Paradine of the Cleveland Equine Clinic. If you have any questions regarding this topic please feel free to ask by leaving us a comment below. We will be sure to submit them to Dr. Paradine and post her reply back in a timely manner.

Does My Horse Need Fall Shots?

The answers is it depends. And of course, contact your veterinarian for their recommendations for your specific horse.

1) Does your horse go to shows, clinics, or anywhere it will come into contact with other horses?

Then yes – your horse would benefit from a flu/rhino booster in the fall.

2) Does your horse live at a boarding facility, or barn where other horses travel/come into contact with others?

Yes again, for a flu/rhino booster

3) Did your horse get a rabies vaccine in the spring?

If the answer is no, then a rabies vaccine in the fall is advised.  The rabies vaccine should be given yearly, but is not season dependent. Some prefer to give the rabies vaccine separately from the other routine spring vaccines.

4) Did your horse get a tetanus vaccine in the spring?

As with the rabies vaccine, tetanus should be given yearly but is not season dependent.

5) Will your horse travel to a warmer climate for the winter?

Then yes, a flu/rhino booster is advised as well as a booster for the mosquito-borne viruses (West Nile, EEE, WEE).

6) Does your horse live in a barn with a closed herd (none of them ever leave and no new horses are added) and doesn’t travel and received all yearly vaccines in the spring?

Then no, your horse does not need a booster for flu/rhino.

Deworming Dilemma? New Protocol for Deworming Horses

We would like to thank the folks at Merck for providing us with this article to pass along to our customers. With the most recent studies in deworming horses, it is important that all horse owners become aware of the new deworming protocols and WHY they are so important! This article was written by:

MERCK – SAFE-GUARD / Stewart & Associates





Deworming Dilemma?

Three Things You Must Know

Ever felt that every other dewormer ad you see offers different or conflicting advice about how best to deworm your horse, leaving you more confused than ever? Or that the media is jammed with warnings about parasite resistance to equine dewormers that is impossible to understand?

Well, the truth is that since research studies turned up evidence of dewormer resistance, horse owners are left wondering where to go from here. Horse owners and managers can no longer blindly rotate dewormers, nor can they rely on a one-product-fits-all program. When parasites get tough, or the science starts to baffle us, horse owners need to get tougher – and smarter.  We got our horses into this. Now, we need to get them out.

Three Simple Steps

The good news is that there is a relatively simple, three-step solution to the deworming dilemma, and it starts with knowing the enemy – those tiny thieves that steal your horse’s health. From there, you can create a custom program that promises optimum health and reins in resistance.

Also remember that your veterinarian is an excellent source for instruction and guidance when you have questions regarding your deworming program.


As any smart strategist knows, your best offense is a defense based on understanding the enemy – in this case, parasites – in order to mount a successful assault.

The Criminal Line-up – A basic understanding of these tiny thieves, their life cycles and their preferred modes of attack, is vital. That’s where both timing and the right choice of deworming compounds join the fight.

The main culprits include small strongyles (particularly encysted small strongyles), ascarids, large strongyles, pinworms, threadworms, bots and tapeworms. Each has a unique life cycle and is more threatening at various times of the year, or to different horses, depending upon age, environment and climate. But we’ll try to keep it simple.

encystedsmstronglyesEncysted Small Strongyles

Perhaps the sneakiest invaders are encysted small strongyles, larvae that, once they are embedded in the intestines, pose a severe health risk.  The presence of large numbers of larvae can cause weight loss and poor overall condition. Even worse, the possibility of a mass emergence of hungry adults from the intestinal walls – all at the same time – can cause a potentially fatal case of colic or severe diarrhea. Young and old horses are more vulnerable, while most healthy adult horses are fairly resistant. (About 20% of adults are more susceptible that the rest and are classified as “high shedders,” but more on that later.) Not all dewormers are effective against these parasites, particularly in the encysted stage. Only two drugs can kill off encysted small strongyles: a five-day larvicidal dose of fenbendazole (Safe-guard Power-Dose or Panacur Powerpac) or moxidectin.


Also known as roundworms, ascarids are most dangerous to foals and young horses under age two. Infected foals may develop respiratory disease associated with larval migration through the lungs and intestinal disease from juvenile and adult parasites in the small intestines. Once on the pasture, ascarid eggs are like impenetrable fortresses and can survive hot summers and freezing winters. And, because on many breeding farms certain compounds like ivermectin and moxidectin are not longer effective due to overuse and increased resistance, a special deworming program using a two-day dose of Safe-Guard is recommended for foals. Those details are shared below.

largestronglyesLarge Strongyles

Commonly called bloodworms, large strongyles are extremely dangerous if left unchecked. Larvae weaken abdominal artery walls, causing problematic blood clots, and some species migrate to other organs, wrecking havoc wherever they trudge. Symptoms range from diarrhea and weight loss to potentially fatal colic due to obstruction of blood flow to entire segments of the  intestines. All compounds are effective against adult stages, and if little or no resistance is detected, it is best to use an established dewormer and save newer compounds from resistance build-up for as long as possible. Only macrocyclic lactones and larvicidal dosages of fenbendazole are effective against the damaging larval stage.


Although relatively harmless to overall health, pinworms can be irritating when they cause severe itching around the rectum and tailhead. As a horse scratches there may be tail hair loss and skin patches rubbed raw. Dewormers used for other parasites usually destroy pinworms at the same time, although there are reports of pinworm infections that appear to be resistant to some dewormers.

Threadworms – These guys target young foals under six months of age.  Adult threadworms that live in the intestinal tract can cause weakness, diarrhea and emaciation. Controlling threadworms in adult horses, particularly broodmares, is important to protect nearby youngsters. All three drug classes can blast away threadworms.


Those irritating botflies buzzing around each autumn lay yellow eggs on your horse’s hair, mainly on the legs. The horse licks the eggs, the eggs hatch and the larvae are swallowed. These little  squatters take up residence in the stomach for a year, eventually turning into grubs and passing out in the animal’s feces. While in the stomach, they can cause digestive problems, weight loss, poor condition and poor feed conversion. Remove any visible eggs on the hair coat and administer a macrocyclic lactone compound, such as ivermectin. An ideal time to treat for bots, in temperate climates, is after fly season is over and cold weather arrives.


These guys enjoy a category all their own. Tapeworms attach to the intestinal walls and absorb any food that happens to pass by, while disrupting motility in surrounding segments of the intestines.  A heavy infestation can cause dangerous blockages. Praziquantel is effective against tapeworms, but has no effect on any other parasites. A double dose of pyrantel can also be used to treat tapeworm infections.

An educational, entertaining, and easy-to-follow barn chart  is provided with this article, courtesy of  Safe-Guard(R), or from that describes the life cycles and threats of each parasite, as well as the compounds known to work best to treat  specific infestations.


It used to be enough to just know the worms. Scientific research, however, suggests that there is much more to know today, as horses vary in their susceptibility to parasites, and some worms have become resistant to certain classes of dewormers.

Each individual horse faces a  unique parasitic challenge, beginning with age and adding in life circumstances. By factoring age in with geographic region, living conditions, and the results of properly-timed fecal egg counts, a straightforward deworming program can be devised. Your veterinarian is a great resource to assist you.

Age Groups

In general, horses fall into four age groups: 1) foals; 2) adolescents – yearlings through age two; 3) adults; and 4) seniors over age 15. Each has specific challenges. Again, the provided chart is helpful.


Unlike older horses, foals are dangerously susceptible to roundworms (ascarids). Unfortunately, resistance to ivermectin and other macrocyclic lactones exists in some regions and these compounds may no longer be effective to use in foals to treat ascarids. Therefore, a double-dose of a fenbendazole product is recommended at eight weeks of age or older. From there, young foals through weaning age benefit from deworming at two-month intervals to help prevent ascarids from maturing into egg-laying adults that lay eggs in pastures, waiting to infect the next generation of foals. Since foals and weanlings are more susceptible to most parasites, they require more frequent deworming. The chart provides helpful guidelines about which compounds to consider and when to treat.


Young horses from yearlings through age two, with their immature immune systems, also require more frequent dewormings using a variety of compounds over that time. These treatments are usually administered during the grazing seasons.  Again, the handy chart is helpful here.


Each adult horse, on the other hand, may need a slightly different program, depending upon living conditions and whether each is a high shedder or a low shedder, based on the number of strongyle eggs in their fecals. Most horses over age two have developed varying degrees of immunity to parasites, and, as a general rule, are only mildly affected by their presence – unless infestations become heavy.

Shedding status is most likely a genetic or inherited trait. High shedders (about five to 20 percent of mature horses) can look just fine, but secretly go about contaminating pastures and infecting everyone around them. Determining, via fecal egg count tests, which of your horses are high shedders can and should affect management and stocking practices. High shedders may need to be treated for parasites more often and compounds used may vary, while low shedders may not need to be dewormed as often, or with different products.


 Horses over age 15 are similar to adults, unless they have developed health conditions, such as Cushing’s Disease, that affect their aging immune systems. If a senior’s immune system is compromised, that individual may require a customized deworming program.

New Horses

Also keep in mind that when a new individual of unknown background is introduced, it is important – and safest for the horse – to administer a larvicidal dose of fenbendazole over the first five days it is in residence and prior to turnout on pasture.


Once you know which enemies specifically threaten each of your horses, it is time to set up the right rotational deworming plan for each individual. This program should span one year’s time, at the end of which a new plan for the following year may or may not be warranted.

Choose Your Weapons (Carefully!)

No new deworming molecule has been developed in more than 20 years and resistance to the existing compounds is growing. In addition, there are no new compounds on the near horizon, although research is progressing. Therefore, just as with antibiotics, it is best to use the right dewormer at the right time against the parasites of concern. Save a “big gun” dewormer for use only when other drug classes fail.

Each of the three primary drug classes, plus one specific to tapeworms only, has its place in most rotation programs. They include:

1)      Benzimidazoles – Fenbendazole, Example: Safe-guard, Panacur; Larvicidal fenbendazole, Example: Safe-guard Power-dose, Panacur Powerpac;

2)      Macrocyclic lactones – Ivermectin, Example: Zimecterin, Eqvalan, or Moxidectin, Example: Quest;

3)      Pyrimidines – Pyrantel, Example: Strongid C, Pyrantel Paste; and

4)      Praziquantel (for tapeworms only), offered in combination with a macrocyclic compound. Example: Zimecterin Gold (combination), Quest Plus (combination).

The attached chart offers a basic, easy-to-follow rotational outline to help you get started developing a program for each horse in your care. Look at age first, then read through the suggested compounds and treatment times, making adjustments that better fit your program based on living conditions, climate, and fecal egg count test results.

It is important to note that all three classes of deworming compounds are effective against adult small strongyles, when resistance build-up is minimal. However, only a larvicidal dose of fenbendazole can safely destroy all larval stages (EL3 and LL3) of encysted small strongyles where they hide out, killing them before a disastrous adult mass emergence through intestinal walls. The macrocylic lactone Moxidectin (a deworming compound to consider reserving for cases of resistance) is also effective against later stages of these encysted small strongyle larvae (LL3), but this drug is not recommended for young foals and thin, debilitated horses of any age.

Geography & Management

It is smart to know the unique parasitic challenges of the farm where your horse resides. For example, in some regions of the country, macrocyclic lactone dewormers, such as ivermectin, no longer are effective against roundworms, due to overuse and increased resistance to this molecule. This can especially be detrimental to foals and, instead, a double-dose treatment of fenbendazole is advised at approximately eight weeks of age. Weather and climate also affect the life cycles of some parasites, so taking into consideration  wet versus dry conditions, amount of sunshine, and hard frost events is helpful.

Another powerful weapon against parasites is adopting good environmental management practices. These include, but aren’t limited to, daily manure removal in stalls and twice weekly removal from pastures and paddocks; pasture rotation; inter-species grazing (sheep, cattle, goats, etc. rotated through horse pastures); providing any supplemental grain or hay in raised containers off the ground; and  keeping overcrowding to a minimum.

Customized Rotation Programs

The analysis of a fecal egg count (FEC) test can help you understand the parasitic challenges of a particular horse, especially when trying to determining which adult horses are high shedders and therefore may need a tougher deworming program, and which are low shedders, and don’t require treatment as often (saving money and slowing resistance build-up). You may even decide to house horses differently when shed rates are known. FEC tests also can be used to confirm that the drugs you are using are still effective.(Please see sidebar for easy tips on how to gather samples.)

Those Three Things You Must Know?

Once you know (1) which parasitic enemies are a threat, and (2) you factor in your horse’s age, environment and deworming history, you can (3) create the right rotational deworming program for each horse in your care. Although the complete, 100% elimination of those little bandits is impossible, no matter what the circumstances, the proper use of available compounds will thin their ranks and ensure your horse’s long-term health.

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Understanding Equine Cushings & Equine Metobolic Syndrome



Cushings (Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction)

Cushings in horses is a disease of the pituitary gland, specifically the pars intermedia. This is unlike Cushings disease in other species in which either the pituitary gland or the adrenal gland may be affected.  Due to this species difference, experts prefer to call this disease Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction (PPID).  This area of the pituitary becomes hyperplastic (enlarged; often on a microscopic level) and causes the body to secrete excess of certain hormones.  This leads to a variety of symptoms, such as a long hair coat, failure to shed out in the spring, a cresty neck, abnormal fat deposits, wasting of the topline, chronic infection, and laminitis. 

Testing for PPID usually involves a blood test, either an endogenous ACTH test or a low-dose dexamethasone suppression test.  Both tests should be done in a low-stress situation as stress can artificially raise the levels and give a false positive result to the test.  When testing from August – November a higher reference range for these tests must be used as all horses have natural increase in these levels during the fall months

The Good: 

For most horses PPID is very manageable.  The drug Pergolide is the mainstay of treatment, but sometimes the drug Cyproheptadine is also used.  Cyproheptadine is generally not as effective in managing PPID when used alone but when used is often in conjunction with pergolide.

The Bad: 

Though PPID is treatable it is not curable and these horses need daily treatment to manage the disease. Horses with PPID will often then need years of treatment which can be a financial strain.  The disease in some horses will become resistant to treatment, requiring an increased dose of pergolide or pergolide + cyproheptadine to control symptoms, which then further increases the cost of treatment.

The Ugly:

The worst consequence of PPID (particularly in uncontrolled PPID) is laminitis.  Laminitis is a disease involving severe inflammation within the feet.  It can range in severity and each case is different, but it is the number one reason horses with PPID are euthanized. 

Equine Metabolic Syndrome

Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) is a condition in horses involving obesity and insulin resistance.  These horses are the classic “easy keeper”, maintaining or even gaining weight with fairly little food.  Insulin resistance is a condition in which the horses’ insulin receptors are no longer sensitized to insulin and the horse therefore must make more and more insulin in order to get the same response by cells.  Symptoms include obesity, abnormal fat deposits (termed by specialists as “regional adiposity”) and laminitis, which can range in severity. 

Testing includes a fasting insulin blood test.  For this test the horse is fasted for 10-12 hours prior to blood collection.  Insulin levels can be altered by feed, in particular grains, which is why most clinicians prefer fasting prior to the test.  Since the symptoms of EMS can be similar to those of PPID, often testing for both is done at the same time.

The Good: 

This condition is treatable with diet and exercise and occasionally medications, such as thyroid medication.  While true hypothyroidism is rare in horses, thyroid medications can improve glucose utilization and insulin sensitivity and can encourage weight loss, particularly those that are not able to be exercised.

The Bad:

Getting these horses to lose a significant amount of weight can be very frustrating and takes perseverance.  Most of these horse require a strict low-carbohydrate/low sugar diet, which usually means little to no grass.  These horses often need to be on this strict diet for life, as they gain weight easily and are at an increased risk for laminitis.  A consistent exercise program is also essential in maintaining these horses.  Exercise is a key factor in achieving weight loss, and it increases the sensitivity of the insulin receptors as well.

The Ugly:

 Like PPID, this disease can lead to laminitis.  EMS horses with laminitis are in the proverbial “between a rock and a hard place” – they need to lose weight to improve their insulin sensitivity, but they are too lame to get the needed exercise to help their condition.

Bugging OUT: The Battle of the Bugs!


Have you ever felt like a warrior or wizard when you are trying to protect your horse(s) from biting flies, gnats, deerflies and mosquitoes? Have you ever declared war on the flies in your barn? I do, have, and will continue too, but I wonder if I am alone?

The following steps may or may not be top secret, but one thing is for sure, every summer, horse people do wage war on bugs and there is sufficient evidence that these steps work!

Step 1: Becoming the wizard; preparing your horse for chemical warfare.

Of course, by chemical warfare, what I mean is suiting up in an invisible layer of “under-armor.” To do this, envision you are a wizard and you are concocting a very special potion.  Using three different fly sprays (ones that might have worked for your horse), spray your horse all over his body, thoroughly coating him in a fine mist of each. Next apply a magical salve (a.k.a. some kind of repellent cream), being sure to target his belly, ears, eyes, muzzle, armpits, and in his sheath area.

When both are applied correctly, your horse will be thoroughly drenched, possibly even dripping wet.   The theory behind this “slightly excessive” tactic, is that at least one of the four products might be a useful defense in making the bugs  fly away, fearing for their life. However, it is not likely, UNLESS of course, ALL four are used together! This might be defense enough for the thickest-skinned horses, but why take any chances? Please proceed to step two.

Step 2: Preparing the warrior; introducing Captain Bug-buster!

WARNING: Captain Bug-buster has been known to cause the stable staff, boarders, and neighbors to fall down in fits of laughter. Seriously, your other horse friends might laugh at you and your horse, but pay no attention to that. Instead, prepared to be WOW’d! Once your horse transforms into Captain Bug-Buster, watch and be amazed at his effective abomination of bugs. You will see them bounce off him several times but don’t be alarmed. Simply the sight of Captain Bug-Buster grips them in such a way that they fly blindly, fearing for their lives. After the first few bounces, you will notice them fly off, never to be seen again (that is, of course, until tomorrow).

To turn your horse into Captain Bug-buster, he will first need a mask to protect his identity. We suggest this because there is a theory that bugs cannot tell one Captain Bug-buster from another provided the horse is wearing a mask! Next, you will need a cape which will also act as a shield. What better then a high neck fitted fly sheet? Even better would be one that is infused with bug repellent!  That would be a bugs triple “Whammy!”


So for a recap, we’ve got under-armor, then our Captain Bug-buster costume, and if you do not have a bug repellent infused fly sheet, no worries, you can always spritz one more layer of fly spray all over Captain Bug-buster!

Not into chemical warfare? There are other all natural products out there that are effective to varying degrees. One new product that is getting 5-star reviews is the BugPellent Pest Control system. It contains only natural essential oils and organic waxes. It can be used in a number of areas including in a barn, garage, patio deck, and even hang it from trees in the pastures! If you’re looking for something topical, I have also discovered that several homesteading blogs have instructions on how to make your own all natural bug repellents! Finally, one can look into biological warfare such as using harmless (to human and horses alike), gnat-sized wasps and fly parasites which are known  natural enemies of flies.

Does any of this sound remotely familiar to what you might do? If so PLEASE let me know, so that I know I am not alone! Also by leaving a comment about this blog, you will automatically be entered into a drawing to win a free BugPellent Pest Control starter kit!


Winner will be selected from those that leave a comment or a question between 6/11/2013 & 6/25/2013. Winner must have a valid US mailing address!

Employee Product Review: Two Products Essential to Growing a Long Mane & Tail

Most, if not all of our employees here at Big Dee’s are true horse-people. Meaning they have owned, worked with, and/or show/shown horses. Many have been involved in the horse industry for numerous years. Within that knowledge, we’ve all had personal experiences with horse related products. We know what products really work and we want to share our experiences with our customers!

Big Dee’s Marketing Assistant, Mollyann Piunno was excited about sharing her two favorite products that she uses to help keep her Gypsy Stallion, FF Chavo, looking like “Fabio!”

FF Chavo as a 3 y/o, before discovering Omega Horseshine!

Growing out Mane & Tail

Having a “hairy” breed in which mane, tail, and feather are important staples within the breed standard, I have tried several different products in effort to find the best match for my Gypsy Stallion. I wanted to touch on two products that I feel contribute the most to my stallion’s beautiful hair. I freely admit that when I run out of either of these products, panic soon follows! They are that good!  Since I’ve been called upon on several occasions by our showroom staff to come to the showroom to help a customer with questions on hair care, I feel it only appropriate to start with a review of my two favorite products.

A 5 year old Chavo & Mollyann

Hair Growth

The most important aspect in getting a horse’s mane and tail to grow is to maintain the proper balance of moisture and nutrients needed for healthy hair growth. One product that I use to provide the needed nutrients for a healthy coat and skin is Omega Horseshine made by Omega Fields. I am really big in trying to find the most natural products for my horses, especially when it is something they are going to be ingesting. I feel I’ve hit the jackpot since I started using Omega Horseshine.

This non-GMO all natural product supplies a positive punch of vitamins and minerals that every horse can benefit from. Not only does it restore and promote strong solid hoof growth, soothe aching muscles, strengthen the immune system and helps prevent sand colic, but it also provides the powerful  nutrients for growing a healthy coat and keeping skin smooth and properly moisturized. Everyone that I have suggested this product too has told me that they see a huge difference in as little as 2 weeks!

Mollyann & Chavo, with Dressage Trainer, Victoria Patterson-Pirko AFTER discovering Omega Horseshine!


Aside from regular grooming and bathing, the single most important topical product that is absolutely vital in keeping my stallions mane,  tail, and feather looking luxurious in the show ring is Carr & Day & Martin’s Canter Mane and Tail Conditioner. Not only does this product keep him tangle-free, but is adds a layer of shine while truly conditioning the hair. What sets this product apart from some of the other mane and tail products is that this product is one of the few detanglers made without any drying agents. Many horsemen do not realize how important it is to use a product that doesn’t contain silicone based products when you are trying to promote hair growth.

While silicone products DO add a high level of gloss and shine, they do so by coating the hair follicle with a form of liquid plastic.  This coating actually traps air and moisture out, which prohibits the hair from gathering the proper level of moisture for healthy growth. In turn, prolong use of these kind of products will actually cause breakage and become counter-productive when trying to grow a long and luxurious mane and tail.

Chavo at age 7. (Note: Chavo’s feathers are clipped off in this picture)

Fit or Fat? The Overfed Horse

Most, if not all of our employees here at Big Dee’s are true horse-people. Meaning they have owned, worked with, and/or show/shown horses. Many have been involved in the horse industry for numerous years. Within that knowledge, we’ve all had personal experiences with horse related products. We know what products really work and we want to share our experiences with our customers!

I freely admit, since my horse has retired, I spoil him rotten  horse treats and extra hay. Not to mention an excellent high-quality Diet Balancer feed. Including all of the supplements he is on for his joints, digestion and immune system.

In all seriousness, overweight horses are at a greater risk for developing major health issues, and Dr. Corey Paradine wrote the blog below to help horse owners trim down their plump ponies and keep them in fit condition.


The Over-fed Horse

There are a lot of fat horses these days, and it’s a problem.  A serious problem.  A problem that is so widespread that peoples’ assessment of normal is becoming skewed – often what most consider to be normal is actually obese, and what is actually healthy is often seen as too lean.

Horses are not exempt from health risks associated with obesity. Insulin resistance, for example, is a common weight-related disease.  Insulin resistance is a disease in which the bodies’ insulin receptors become increasingly resistant to insulin and as such the body must increase the levels of insulin to achieve the desired effect – mainly, affecting glucose uptake by cells.  Think of it as Type 2 diabetes in people – not exactly the same disease but similar.  Inappropriately large body size also increases the stress on many joints and ligaments – in other words, increases the “wear and tear” on them by having to carry more weight than they should every minute of every day as well as increasing their load during performance.

So your horse is fat – now what?

Diet and exercise.  Calories IN must be less than calories OUT in order to shed pounds.  Grain should be cut first when starting to decrease feed.  Many horses, especially the easy keepers, do not need grain in their diet.  The horses’ digestive tract is made to digest forages, not grains, and unless the grain is needed to meet energy requirements (often high performing horses, like racehorses, eventers, barrel horses), it’s unnecessary.  That being said, a diet of hay or grass alone is not considered to be a balanced diet. While a lot of horses do not need grain, they should be fed a diet balancer to provide vitamins and minerals. Most major feed companies make one.

Weight tapes are useful to help gauge weight loss – I recommend using a weight tape every couple weeks and keeping a log of the number.  It can be very useful to chart trends in your horses’ weight.  It’s important to be consistent in your placement of the tape as you can create false “gains” or “losses” by inconsistent placement and tension on the tape.  The tape is most accurate when placed in the girth area, just behind the elbows and over the withers.

Weight loss is not always easy.

There is considerable evidence that there are genetic factors that contribute to a propensity for weight gain and even insulin resistance.  It takes time and persistence and often a complete lifestyle/management change to achieve and maintain significant weight loss in many of these horses.  Products like slow-feeder hay nets are helpful for horses on strict diets as they slow feed intake and make the limited amount of hay last longer for the horse.

Another key component to feeding is weighing feed (both grains/diet balancers and forages) as horses should be fed by weight (so many pounds of hay per day, so many pounds of grain or diet balancer per day – recommended amounts depend on the individual) rather than volume (flakes, scoops, coffee cans….).  Your veterinarian can provide some guidance for your individual horse, and it may benefit to contact a feed representative or nutritionist as well.

Employee Review of Back On Track Mesh Sheet

Most, if not all of our employees here at Big Dee’s are true horse-people. Meaning they have owned, worked with, and/or show/shown horses. Many have been involved in the horse industry for numerous years. Within that knowledge, we’ve all had personal experiences with horse related products. We know what products really work and we want to share our experiences with our customers!

Big Dee’s Marketing Assistant & Customer Service Rep, Jen Ahwash, says her favorite products would have to be anything made by Back on Track.

kit 1

7862C – Ceramic Mesh Sheet by Back on Track

“My Irish Draught/Arabian mare has always been fairly tense and nervous.  She was always the horse that spooked at everything and carried a lot of tension in her whole body so when we warmed up, especially at shows, it took me a long time to get her to relax and move more freely.  I mainly do eventing so a long warm up before dressage is not a good thing when you either have cross country or stadium to do later in the day. I bought the Back On Track mesh sheet and started using it and gradually built up the time she was wearing it.

It made a huge difference and cut our warm up time in half! I could trailer her in it, leave it on her overnight, or put it on her while I braided her.  She would start out so much more relaxed and looser through her body.  It made such a difference that I bought the t-shirt for myself.  We went from having good tests to having great tests with a lot of low scores. Our jumping improved because she was more relaxed and able to use her body and become much more adjustable.  The price is well worth it because you can use it for years and years and use it on other horses as well.”



Employee Review of Cosequin Optimized w/MSM & Calphormin

Most, if not all of our employees here at Big Dee’s are true horse-people. Meaning they have owned, worked with, and/or show/shown horses. Many have been involved in the horse industry for numerous years. Within that knowledge, we’ve all had personal experiences with horse related products. We know what products really work and we want to share our experiences with our customers!

Big Dee’s Assistant Showroom Manager, Caitlyn Thurman, says her 10 y/o gelding, Austin is a much happier horse since she started him on Cosequin Optimized w/MSM.


658C – Cosequin Optimized with MSM

“This joint supplement by far exceeds anything else I have tried.  I absolutely love this product! I use this product on my 10 year old gelding that has arthritis. He used to be so stiff especially in the winter or after being in his stall for long periods of time. I tried a lot of different joint supplements, all with excellent reviews, but none were able to provide as much relief as the Cosequin.  When first looking at the Cosequin, it does not appear that it would work as well as it does not contain as much Glucosamine and MSM as most joint supplements.

Cosequin uses a more purified product that absorbs better.  While I was hesitate at the price, since this provides an 84 day supply, the price evens out to approximately $40 a month.  He is a much happier horse since starting this supplement! If I happen to run out for a couple days, the difference is immediately noticeable. This gelding is super picky and he will actually eat this supplement, it really is apple flavored and fills the whole room with the smell of apples. If you are looking for a great joint supplement, this will not disappoint. The proof is in the horse.  Since using the Cosequin, I won’t use anything else.”

Caitlyn also owns a young gelding, named Shooter, that had some tendon issues as a baby. Although, Shooter has made a HUGE turnaround, and Caitlyn believes some of that can be attributed to Calphormin.


802P – Calphormin

“This is such a great product. It has everything you are looking for to help a baby grow up right. It is palatable and my finicky horse eats it right up. I have used this product with my gelding since I purchased him at 3 months old. When he was x-rayed him last winter, at 1 1/2 yr. and he had no OCD or juvenile arthritis.  I have continued to use this product, as he was diagnosed with contracted tendons, due to his large size and fast growth.  When he was first diagnosed, the vet had me stop using the Calphormin and switch to a supplement that could only be gotten through my vet.  It was much more expensive and only came in a powder.  The first problem was that my horse did not eat the supplement so I was constantly mixing and fighting with him to get him to eat it.

  Finally, I stopped using it and switched back to the Calphormin.  I saw a huge difference with the Calphormin compared to the vet’s product.  He is now almost three and I have continued to use the Calphormin with great results.  When he goes through a large growth spurt, I double the dosage and he seems much more comfortable.  This is the only calcium supplement I have found that comes in a pellet.  While this is a great product for any growing horse, it is especially helpful for the finicky baby and for simple feeding.  I would recommend this to anyone who is breeding or raising babies.  You can feed it at any age and I think it is well worth the investment. The 6lb pail will last around 60 days. If you are feeding multiple horses or if you are going to keep a horse on this product for longer than 60 days, this is available in a 22lb (#802) and it is much more cost effective.”

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