Show season is in full swing and we want our horses looking their best! As someone who has been showing for over 20 years, I have tried a lot of products on the market. Below, please find my top picks for making your horse stand out and shine on show day:
After shampooing, I stick with the same brands and use either the Cowboy Magic Rosewater Conditioner or the Eqyss Avocado Mist Conditioner. These products make the coat silky smooth, and I love the way they smell. They also work well to detangle and soften the tail. Both of my horses have tails that are at least a foot on the ground, so I appreciate having a conditioner that allows me to detangle without damaging the hair.
My go to for whitening is the Exhibitors Quic Silver Shampoo. I usually curry it into my horse’s white markings and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing out. I have not had an issue with it turning the hair purple, but it could happen if you let it sit for too long.
Coat and Shine Spray
After I finish bathing, I always spray my horses with a shine spray while the coat, mane, and tail are still wet so it can moisturize and set in the hair before it dries. My favorites are the Vetrolin Shine as well as Laser Sheen. These keep my manes and tails tangle free as well as give the horse a healthy shine!
To complete the look, I sand their hooves and apply the Absorbine Supershine Hoof Polish. It is easy to use and a little goes a long way! It stays on for the show, makes their hooves shine, and it rarely needs any touch-ups.
If you need extra shine on show day, my new favorite is the E3 Elite Argan Oil Waterless Shampoo. This product locks in moisture and makes your horse shine! It works perfectly to get any stains out of your horse’s white spots or anything else they might have gotten into the night before the show. Even though this is an oil-based product, it does not leave the horse greasy and really brings out the shine.
While these are my personal favorites, there are a lot of new products we are offering so please check them out and reach out if you have any questions. I know there are a few I have my eye on to try this show season!
Some of us in the equestrian world are lucky to have a horse that fits within the parameters of standard horse sizing – this means you could just pick up a bridle from the showroom and walk out. You might need to make a few minor adjustments, but overall, it fits well! Others however, aren’t quite so lucky. Maybe you have a small horse with cob or pony sized cheeks but a massive jowl that always requires a longer throatlatch. Or maybe you have a petite horse that needs a smaller browband and noseband, but longer cheeks. It can be an absolute pain to fall in love with a bridle, only to realize you need to spend additional money to replace a piece or several.
Luckily, there is an answer! And it isn’t limited to just horses with unique facial structures – any horse can benefit from a custom mix and match bridle . Schockemohle’s Select & Mix line of bridle pieces offers an array of options, from browbands to nosebands, there is a way to get a custom fit bridle at a reasonable price!
Anatomic Curved Browband
The browband is a simple, yet important part of the bridle. The first step in selecting a browband is to measure your horse from the back edge of it’s ear, around it’s forehead and to the back side of it’s other ear. Schockemohle browbands come in cob, horse and large horse sizes as well as in brown or black leather. If you want to add a little more bling, check out the Diamond Browband options in cob and horse!
Anatomic Curved Crown Piece
The crown piece is an exceptional addition to this Select & Mix as it features soft padding and reduces pressure. The throat latch adjusts on both sides – which helps with that perfect custom fit! To measure the crown piece, you will need to take into account the cheek pieces, which also take into account the bit you use. To start, measure from the base of the ear, over the poll and to the bottom of the other ear. This is your first measurement. The second measurement will be from the corner of the horse’s mouth, all the way over the poll and down to the other side at the mouth. The final measurement is the throatlatch; start at the back of your horse’s ear, go under the throat and to the back of the other ear. These measurements will help you determine the right size to go with to accommodate both the cheek pieces as well as offer options for bit changes. Schockemohle crown pieces offer variety between cob, horse and large horse. Also available in black and brown leather.
Bridle Cheek Pieces
The cheek pieces come in cob, horse and large horse options to give wiggle room when selecting the other features of your bridle. It helps to know what bit you will be using so you can subtract the bit ring size from the measurement – however, we all know bits can change as a horse progresses in training. This is why measuring from the corner of the horse’s mouth to just level with the outside of their eye, will give you a starting point. From there, you can coordinate the crown piece, noseband and factor in the general size of the bit.
Stanton or Montreal Noseband
The Stanton Noseband is one of my favorites! Not only is the leather supple, its shaped in an anatomic design with slim, attractive flat cheeks. It gives a classy, quality turnout for your horse and offers black or brown leather to complete the overall look of the bridle. The Montreal is a great alternative if the Stanton is too much “bulk” for the shape of your horse’s face or you don’t want a flash. To measure the noseband, start two fingers below the cheekbone and wrap around to meet where you started – make sure you can fit two fingers under the tape, you do not want a super tight noseband! For the cheek hangers, measure from where you started the first measurement, to the outside of your horse’s eye. These measurements will help you in selecting cob, horse or large horse for the noseband.
Reins are the final part of making a bridle from scratch! While they are not a part of the Select & Mix lineup, Schockemohle does have a large variety of options. Choose between Neo Rubber with clips, Neo Web with clips, Durasoft with buckle ends or any of the other options offered at Big Dee’s!
In the world of joint supplements, there are so many options it can be overwhelming to decide which one might work best for your horse! Joint supplements naturally support your horse’s joints against normal wear and tear that happens with activity, age, and breed. Just like people, individual horses with similar conditions may respond differently to the same product and doses.
Horses are built for movement, but their size puts strain and pressure on the joints, which can lead to degeneration quicker than you realize. By the time your horse starts to show soreness, they may have been uncomfortable for a while. Joint supplements are great to use as preventative maintenance. They help by keeping joints lubricated to support shock absorption, block inflammatory reactions, prevent cartilage breakdown, and aid in new cartilage growth.
What Ingredient Should You Look For?
Equine joint supplements have been around for a long time with a variety of options. The best way to select one is by looking at the ingredients list. The most common ingredients in joint supplements are Glucosamine, Chondroitin Sulfate, MSM, Hyaluronic Acid, and Collagen Type II. By understanding what the ingredients are and their importance, that will help you make an educated decision on what may be the best option for your horse!
Glucosamine is one of the most common and well-studied ingredients in joint supplements. Glucosamine is the building block of all connective tissue and cartilage. When looking for glucosamine in supplements, it is best to stick with either the manufactured pure glucosamine or natural shellfish sources. Recommended doses of glucosamine range from 6,000 to 10,000 mg/day with the max dose being for a horse that is in heavy work.
Chondroitin Sulfate works with Glucosamine to support healthy joints and promotes new cartilage growth while limiting cartilage breakdown. Chondroitin Sulfate helps with inflammation and is a key component in the body’s ability to produce hyaluronic acid. The pain-relieving effects are not as obvious as glucosamine, but it does help with cartilage breakdown. An effective dose is between 1,250 and 5,000 mg/day.
Glucosamine is shown to work synergistically with Chondroitin Sulfate, which is why you will often see them together in joint supplements. Studies have shown that these two ingredients seem to work better together than they do separately. The main thing to watch for is when these two ingredients are together in one product, they may contain lower dosages than the recommended amounts. There are no studies out there that confirm they are effective in the lower doses so I would recommend still using a supplement with the correct dose of Glucosamine and finding one that has close to the correct amount of Chondroitin. These are the two most popular joint supplements for a reason … they work great together and target each aspect of the joint.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a source of organic sulfur that acts as an anti-inflammatory. The amounts needed may vary which is why they recommend adding pure MSM product to your horse’s supplements and trying different amounts to see what may be effective.
Hyaluronic Acid helps with lubrication and viscosity of the joint fluid. Dosage recommendations are 100 mg per day. Studies have shown that as little as 20 mg of Hyaluronic Acid added to Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate supplements may make a difference. But in other horses, they may need the full 100 mg dose. If your horse has not responded to the Glucosamine or Chondroitin sulfate, Hyaluronic Acid is a great next step to try with them.
Collagen Type II
Collagen Type II is the primary structural protein in connective tissue found in tendons, ligaments, bone cartilage, and skin. It represents 95% of the collage found in articular cartilage tissue.
These are the main ingredients to look for when trying to find the best joint supplement for your horse. Other ingredients that aid in joint health are Avocado and Soy Unsaponifiable (ASU), Omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin C, and Cetyl-M just to name a few.
With all of the joint supplements on the market, it is beneficial to know what you are looking at so you do not feel overwhelmed. As with any supplement, it may be beneficial to run bloodwork on your horse to make sure you are not over supplementing, which could cause more harm than good to your horse. Always remember, when giving your horse a joint supplement, make sure they are maintaining appropriate weight, have a balanced nutrition, regular hoof care, and regular exercise- these will aid in maintaining joint health as well.
It is important to buy from a reputable company and select a supplement formulated specifically for joint health to have the maximum effect. Supplements do take time to show results, give at least 30 days before determining if the supplement works best for your horse.
Below you will find a helpful comparison chart highlighting the top ingredients in joint supplements:
Building block of all connective tissue and cartilage
Encourages healing, growth, and slows cartilage breakdown
Natural building block of cartilage, bone, and tough connective tissues; also aids in production of hyaluronic acid
Primarily functions to prevent further cartilaginous breakdown
1,250- 5,000 mg
Found in the immune system and connective tissue
Varies depending on horse
Vital component of synovial fluid and cartilage
Controls swelling, heat, and pain; very effective in acute flare-ups
20 – 100 mg
Collagen Type II
Primary structural protein in connective tissues and found in tendons, ligaments, bone cartilage, and skin
Provides lubrication, strength and stimulates growth of articular cartilage
Avocado Soy Unsaponifiable (ASU)
Found in avocado and soybean oils
Protect against cartilaginous breakdown but not known to reduce pain; helps reduce inflammation
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Found mainly in plant oils and fish
Helps reduce inflammation
6.75- 25 g
Cetyl-M (Cetyl Myristoleate)
Found in fish oils, dairy products, butter, and animal fat
Helps reduce inflammation
Essential for health of cartilage and other connective tissue
May help with oxidative stress induced by exercise
Do you suffer from grazing muzzle envy while watching other horses graze comfortably with their muzzle on? When you have a horse that requires a grazing muzzle due to sugar sensitivities or you just need to slow down their eating, it is hard finding the right muzzle that doesn’t rub and is comfortable on their face for extended periods of time.
Before grazing muzzles were created, owners were limited to dry lot turnout (if they had one) or keeping their horse locked in a stall for fear of causing health issues to their easy keepers! We all know this is not ideal as horses need movement, natural grazing, and social interactions with their herd.
A muzzle forces your horse to eat slowly and more deliberately and allows you to limit the amount of forage your horse can consume. Horses are meant to graze 16-18 hours per day, and grazing muzzles can be beneficial as they can consistently consume small amounts of grass while wearing the muzzle.
My horse, Gracie, is an 18-year-old Morgan who was diagnosed with Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and now has Insulin Resistance (IR). She absolutely loves food and was not happy watching all her pasture mates enjoying the grass while she was stuck in the dry lot. I decided it was time to do research on the available grazing muzzle options to see what would work best for her. My biggest concerns were if the muzzle would cause rubs/sores on her face, ability to access water, breathable material, and not being able to slip it off. I was also concerned about the wear on her teeth that can happen from trying to graze with a muzzle on. After trying out a variety of muzzles, here are my findings:
Within the last few years, ThinLine came out with a Flexible Filly muzzle which was so different than the traditional canvas or cage-like grazing muzzles! It boasts UV resistance, antimicrobial properties, and durability with plenty of airflow. I tried this one on my horse two years ago and it has been my favorite so far. She can get small amounts of grass and the muzzle is much more flexible in its’ movement. She was able to drink water, eat through snow covered grass, and even groom her pasture mates with no issues! I also like that it doesn’t directly touch her face so there hasn’t been any rubbing.
Recently, Big Dee’s started carrying the GreenGuard muzzle which has received high ratings. I tried this muzzle and wanted to share my thoughts. I really like how open and breathable it is. The way it hangs on the halter leaves plenty of room for airflow. I have it attached to a nylon halter and I like that the muzzle attaches to the halter with breakaway straps. This muzzle is known to be “anti-escape artist” and so far, she has managed to keep this on! Her other muzzles she slipped out of them rather quickly.
All in all, there are a variety of muzzles available on the market to fit each horse’s need. As they become more prevalent, new technologies are being created leading to great new products! If you are interested in trying a muzzle or are not sure which one might be the best fit for you, please reach out to us and we will be happy to help!
As some of us are hoping for a brighter show season ahead of us in 2021, one of the things we may not have practiced/thought of much in the last year is putting our hair up neatly for a show. But as spring has sprung, so has horse show season and its time to brush up on this all-important skill!
Classic Hair Up Process
Step 1: I place my hair net (I prefer the one knot) over the top half of my head (yes, it always gets in your eyes to start!). Pull the sides of your hair down over the tops of your ears while tucking the elastic under the hair.
Step 2: Then pull your hair net snug over the top of your head, wrap it around the base of your ponytail and secure with a non-bulky elastic. Now you can push the hairnet out of your eyes and up to your hairline, adjusting the hair over the top of your ears if needed. Depending on the length of your hair you can feed it into the hair net and flip that up on top of your head or if you have longer hair like I do, just flip your loose ponytail on top.
Step 3: Time to put on your helmet starting back to front. Place the elastic into the back pocket of the harness if you have a helmet with that option and rotate your helmet forward onto your head keeping a hand on the elastic to keep it outside of the actual helmet so it doesn’t interfere with fit.
Final step: Once your helmet is on your head securely tuck in any extra pieces to keep your look extra neat. Be sure the front of your helmet sits about 1” above your eye brows – too high and the helmet cannot protect you effectively, too low and you can’t see!
Your helmet should feel like it’s giving your head a hug, not a headache!
It very important to have your helmet fitted for how you plan to wear your hair daily. If you don’t want to wear your hair up everyday but plan to put it up for show and have medium/long length hair it would be best to invest in 2 helmets so you don’t compromise the fit and safety.
In the 4H ring or the dressage ring show bows or buns are appropriate (but don’t try to use one in the rated hunters!). If you plan to use a show bow, I would still use the hairnet to neatly contain your hair under your helmet and secure with an elastic. Then clip the bow in the hair above the elastic (you may need to pull the elastic a bit lower so everything sits out of the way of the helmet). Tuck your hair into the remainder of the hair net and then into the show bow net for added security- having your hair flop out in the middle of your class is very distracting!
If you are using a bun cover start the same but twist/wind your hair into a bun at the base of your neck and secure with another elastic and some bobby pins before placing the cover over it. If it doesn’t feel secure, tuck a few more bobby pins in until you can jump up and down without it moving.
Under 12 with long hair can show in braids. As a kid who lived in French braids to keep my long hair contained at the barn I don’t recommend them under a helmet as I find they create pressure points and an uncomfortable fit. If your kid is tougher then I am go for it! I personally like to do 2 braids starting just below where the helmet sits, secure with elastics at the bottom and add bows of your choice.
Regardless of your chosen style practice before show day! Wear your hair the way you will for the show and take a lesson. This way you know if it will stay put for the whole show and you can avoid embarrassing/distracting flying hair incidents. Let’s face it, shows are stressful enough, don’t let your hair be part of the worry!
Written by Sponsored Rider, Sarah Freeman from Serendipity Stable
I know that I am not alone when I say – equine viruses worry me. I have been keeping up with the outbreak of the aggressive strain of the neurological form of the Equine Herpes Virus in Europe. While there have been no reports in the United States the USEF is recommending that people take important steps to protect their horses.
1 .Review and ensure you are prepared for quick implementation of an isolation plan at a competition grounds and/or at your home farm or facility
2. Check your horse’s temperature twice daily and maintain a temperature log. Any horses with a fever about 101.5-102.5°F should isolate in separate facilitates on the competition grounds or at separate veterinary facility off-site
3. Isolate horses at first signs of symptoms or illness and contact your vet immediately
4. Keep separate feed buckets, brushes, rags, and tack/equipment for each horse. Eliminate communal or shared water troughs and buckets.
5. Ask your veterinarian about appropriate cleaning solutions
6. Practice hand washing in between handling horses
7. Maintain social distancing for horses; limit nose to nose contact with other horses at the ring
8. Ensure your horse is vaccinated for EHV (Rhinopneumonitis vaccine)
Please note that the vaccine does not protect against the neurological form of EHV, which is referred to as Equine Herpes Myeloencephalopathy (EHM) but does reduce the clinical signs and shedding of the virus. Early identification and reporting of ill horses is critical in order to trace possible points of exposure and to aid in the prevention of further spread of the disease. The first 30 minutes following identification of a potentially infectious horse frequently determines the extent and scope of transmission and potential outbreak. You should contact your veterinarian immediately for testing if a horse begins to display any symptoms of EHV. Competition managers should also be notified if the horse is at a competition.
Big Dee’s carries vaccines to protect against EHV – you can view them by clicking here
The USEF has also made a Vaccination record for Equine Influenza and Equine Herpes – you can download it by clicking here
They have also made an isolation supplies list – click here to download the list
We hope that these tips will help to keep your horse happy and safe.
Muddy paddocks and bored horses are right around the corner as the snow melts and rain begins in Northeastern Ohio. We all try to physically and mentally prepare for what this means – horses who start feeling those Spring weather vibes and turn simple turnout into a game of “which part of the pasture/stall/companion shall I chew on and destroy today”?
Of course we would love to turn them out in lush fields of summer grass, but right now is the waiting game for warmer weather. With that, means more time in sacrifice lots, arenas and stalls. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to try to re-direct that energy and encourage playfulness and mental stimulation in a safe way.
Shires Ball Feeder
I recently discovered the Shires Ball Feeder for my six month old Saddlebred colt. He was getting bored with his paddock twigs and started removing the water trough heater and other important farm essentials from their appropriate places. So I bought him this this ball to hopefully curb the mouthiness – and he loved it! I toss this out into his paddock filled with just a little bit of his Buckeye Growth feed and he’ll play off and on all day. When I turned my senior gelding out with the colt, he also played with this treat ball and was far more successful with getting the grain out, but still enjoyed nuzzling it around.
A tried and true classic, the Jolly Ball was a great addition to my colt’s paddock. In fact, I have a Jolly Ball in every pasture so all of my horses have a fun, sturdy toy to maim in their spare time. I still have several that were bought years ago, and while some may have been deflated, they still can handle the energy of a playful horse. My colt has figured out how to grab the handle and parade it around for his pasture mates to watch.
While this may not fit in a traditional boredom buster checklist, I have found the single Horse Quencher packets (apple, peppermint, root beer and butterscotch) to be perfect for a once a week snack at night for my horses. Not only does it encourage them to drink a little extra while the weather fluctuates, it also gives them something new and fun to try out. So far I have established that my colt and grey gelding have a more refined palette for traditional flavors, while my chestnut gelding feasts on anything that resembles food. Overall, it’s a fun way to spend a few extra minutes at the barn.
I keep my horses turned out during the day and put them up at night. This serves many purposes including safety, paddock maintenance and it helps give each horse separate personal space to eat, sleep and relax. It is a lot easier to keep senior horses occupied, whereas my colt needed extra enrichment while stalled.
My mother shared some useful knowledge when I got my colt – use dog toys for the “teething phase”. This phase is the time frame when a young horse wants to put just about everything it can in its mouth and chomp – sticks, muck buckets, feed buckets, human hands, you name it. She figured out that certain dog toys could cater to the biting and curiosity these young horses have, without risking injury to the handler. Of course, only appropriate and safe toys should be used and they should be checked daily. Her filly really liked squeaker toys. My colt prefers the Jolly Pets Romp N Roll Ball and Jolly Pets Treader Red. I tied them to his gate with bailing twine to give him a fun “enrichment” area in his stall.
I have a Redmond Rock on a Rope in every horse stall. This not only encourages more water intake, but also allows each horse to regulate their own body for minerals. They usually last several months, so they are a great investment long term!
Hay Bags and Nets
I keep hay bags in my older horse’s stalls in addition to hay on the ground. This helps regulate how quickly they eat, and ensures they have hay well into the evening and early morning. I will be adding the Burlingham Hay Ball Feeder to each stall soon, to get a little more play and movement in the stalls!
I have more exciting plans with my colt in the future (including the Jolly Mega Ball), but for now, he and his older buddies are happy with the toys and treats provided during the “mud season” we are about to have.
Our Custom Boot Event is back! February 10th-20th we will be able to get your custom fit for the perfect boot of your dreams! It’s not too late to schedule an appointment, click here to schedule!
Types of Tall Boots
There are three main types of tall riding boots – Field Boots, Dress Boots, and Dressage Boots. Each type of boot has a specific purpose, depending on the discipline you ride. Over the years, much like the rest of riding gear within the equine community, styles have evolved, but the biggest change was the introduction of zippers and stretch panels. This allowed for a much closer fit as well as an easier time putting on and taking off tall boots.
Black is still the most popular and traditional color, however more colors have been seen in the rings as of recent, including brown in the hunter/jumper arenas. In fact, there is a whole rainbow of colors and materials available that are appearing more in the Jumper, Dressage, and Eventing show rings, or even for schooling. From blues to burgundy to crocodile to patent leather and more custom boots are meant to make you stand out in a crowd. Just be careful, you don’t want it to be for the wrong reasons. If you intend on competing, make sure it’s within the guidelines and rules of your discipline.
Custom boots are a fabulous way to express one’s personality and put all eyes on you. Depending on the circuit and discipline you show in, they’re an exciting way to keep up with the latest trends and make a fashion statement. It’s a thrill to pick and choose the colors, details from toe-punch to custom embroidery or engraving, and crystals or exotic leathers to make your boot fantasy come to life, and even more exciting when you put them on and enter the ring! The most important thing, however, is that custom boots are exactly that – custom. People that may have issues with fitting a particularly wide calf, high arch, wide footbed, or find that their tall boots are never “tall” enough, fully custom boots are made-to-measure with intricate detail and done in a one-on-one setting to make sure they are carefully and correctly designed. Custom boots are hand-made and hand-stitched, because these aren’t an off-the-shelf purchase but are made just for YOU. When the boots are done, there is usually a second fitting to ensure that the boots are exactly as ordered. In addition, you generally are working with a representative the entire process to answer any questions, resolve any issues, and to make sure you are completely satisfied in your investment.
What to Expect?
Big Dee’s represents The DeNiro Boot Company, Königs, The Dehner Company, and Cavallo as their custom boot makers. Lisa Goretta is one of the flagship members in the Big Dee’s Showroom and has been extensively skilled and involved in the equestrian industry professionally for over 30 years. She is our custom boot fitter here in the store and highlighted the most important things to keep in mind when preparing for a fitting appointment.
Safety Measures: Extra safety measures are in place to keep both our customers and associates safe and we ask that you schedule an appointment before arriving. Social distancing of six foot will be followed. Due to Ohio’s public mask mandate, face masks are required by our associates and customers. All high touched areas area continually sanitized.
Fitting Process: Generally, the measuring itself takes around 30 – 45 minutes. You’ll be measured beyond your basic foot and calf size, but also the exact height of your leg, width of the ball of your foot, and the depth of your instep are all carefully considered in the design of your boots.
What to Wear: If you wear full seat fleece-lined breeches and wool socks in the winter and thin tights and thin socks in the summer, bring those. You want your boots to fit perfectly, so it’s important to wear what you will most likely be riding in them with when getting measured.
With your new boots, it’s vital they are stored properly, kept free from moisture and excess sweat, and cleaned/conditioned/polished routinely. If you keep up with basic care and necessary maintenance, you’ll be thrilled with the lifespan of your new boots. In fact, Lisa’s custom Dehner boots from 30 years ago are still in use – “They’re old, but I love them, and they look just as good as custom boots today!”
The Five Love Languages are a useful tool to understand relationship dynamics better and define qualities that speak a person’s “love language.” These characteristics, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Physical Touch can apply to any relationship between friends, family, loved ones, and especially your horse! Read on to see what practices you can do at the barn to share your Love Language this Valentines Day.
Words of Affirmation
Everyone likes to feel validated and encouraged, your horse does too! Keeping a positive dialogue and mindset when you go to the barn will help keep any of the stress or baggage you might unintentionally bring from work, home, or other situations. Much like us, horses thrive on praise and uplifting words and tone, even if they may not necessarily speak the same language we do.
When working or riding your horse, shower them with praise when they do a job well done. So often, if we are working on an exercise trying to fix or get through something, we are more focused on the “wrong” that when they do give a release or a movement we ask, we act as if that was the expected response and wait for them to “mess up” again. Instead, when your horse does give the desired response, a simple “good boy!” or reassuring scratch at the withers will help increase your horse’s confidence, and make him eager to do it again the next time you ask. Much like physical exercise and new movements, practice makes perfect. The same thing applies to Words of Affirmation – it may not stick right away, but keep at it. Your horse – and your relationship between horse and rider – will thank you.
Although your horse may not appreciate a new saddle pad or fancy bridle as much as you, treats and toys are something any horse can enjoy! Perhaps you can try a new stretching technique or some groundwork exercises and use treats as a positive reinforcement tool. I love the Buckeye Treats as training tools because of their size and variety of flavors – my horses especially love the Peppermint!
When your horse is by himself during the day in his stall, treating him to a new toy or boredom buster like the Jolly Stall Toy will help engage his brain and keep him focused on a fun, yummy task. On days that it might be too cold to ride, have a play day with your horse in the arena with the Jolly Mega Ball! You can also cover it to look like a Beach Ball or Soccer Ball so you and your horse can play tag, “catch,” or a variety of other fun, desensitizing exercises.
Acts of Service
Kindness always reaps kindness. If you board your horse at home, or if you take care of your horses at home, having a helping hand to show someone their appreciation for all the hard work they do. Not only will it help encourage a positive, working relationship between your barn owner, the stable hands who help take care of your horse everyday, it always feels good to give back!
Whatever you put into your relationship with your horse is what you will get out of it. So be sure to spend time getting to know your horse and build your partnership! Whether it’s doing something fun like showing, taking a lesson, having a relaxing trail ride, or sharing a quiet moment in his stall, all of these will nurture and grow the bond between horse and rider. If needed, go for quality over quantity. Even if you’re super busy between work, family members, and other priorities, taking the time to find your happy place (for most, myself included, that means being at the barn) will result in a positive relationship and wonderful memories for years to come.
Even though your horse may not appreciate a bouquet of roses, gift card (though we certainly would!), or an expensive dinner, each horse has their own love language that allows them to interpret affection and the desire to achieve a close bond with their partner. Take time this Valentine’s season to discover all the many ways you can show love to your four-legged bestie!
Enjoy the ride, Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist
I made a decision well before 2021 – I wanted a new, young horse to “grow” with. After retiring my last show horse, I knew there would be many more great years of trail riding, but I was going to miss actively working towards something – whether it was preparing for a show or taking lessons.
I started on projects around the property to accommodate another horse – updated fencing, built a barn extension for hay, updated inside the barn. It was getting serious – a new horse was on the horizon!
I dipped my toes into breeder and adoptions options – was I going to go for a draft cross? A stock horse? An off-track Thoroughbred? I had grown up being able to ride the same horse in a Dressage test in the morning, out into a cornfield at night and then pop over some logs the next day. I hold both English and Western riding styles dear, so I wanted that versatility in my next horse – and there were so many great options to choose from!
As soon as I saw the picture of my soon-to-be new colt, my goal of patiently waiting and shopping in the Fall was out the window. After a few weeks of hustled preparations, getting advice from seasoned equestrians, ordering an absurd amount of Cherry Hill books and working with the organization that was fostering him – my new horse, Remington “Remi”, arrived on a cold Friday morning.
All Hands On Deck
Let me tell you, I got a dose of “baby life” immediately! Remi was opinionated straight off the trailer. After an outpouring of encouragement and taking the advice of my family and friends, we took progress a day at a time. The first test in owning him, was giving him, and myself, the patience we both needed to figure out our new life together.
It took only a few days to establish haltering and walking around his paddock, a few more days to be comfortable with him being loose, and a few more days after that to really relax. Who knew I could stress so much over him making good choices!? I realized how much I took for granted the things older horses just know. Years and years of building a relationship with my seniors made everything so easy – while I had to start at the very foundation for Remi.
It’s both overwhelming and exciting being the person that teaches a young horse the fundamentals. That privilege comes with great responsibility as well. Every interaction with him is a lesson – for both of us. What I allow from him as a baby will translate into a full grown horse.
Waiting for food, getting brushed, picking up all four legs and ultimately going outside to burn off energy are very easy things for a seasoned horse, but for a baby it’s about the repetition and comfort in routine. Space and patience are something we work on every single day. In just three weeks of working together, he trusted me enough for “scarier” introductions – like wearing a blanket for the first time and getting his first round of vaccinations!
We have so much to look forward to on our journey together! Do you have a young horse? What are some of your favorite experiences working with a baby?
Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie
Complete selection of equine and rider products since 1976!