Equine Leg Protection

Do you have a horse that needs some leg support?
Where to begin, right?
There are so many options now that it’s easy to choose exactly what your horse needs for where they need support. Leg protection can be used for a few reasons – as a preventative, as a barrier, or as support.

Bell Boots

Let’s start with the easy one – Bell Boots.
Is you horse tracking up too far and catching his back hooves on his front hooves? Does he pull his shoes occasionally?
Bell boot come in two basic styles with some variation – Pull On Boots or Velcro Boots. For people who use Bell Boots for turn out, or know their horse can get the Velcro off, the Pull On boots are for you. After a little bit of stretching over your horse’s hoof, the bell boots will stay on as long as you need them and are incredibly sturdy! The second style is the Velcro attachment, these come in a few more options such as having a fleece lined top, no turn style, or wrap style to fit your horses comfort level! Velcro Boots are great for protection while working your horse.

Polo Wraps

Next up – the Polo Wraps.
Do they serve a purpose?
When I was first learning about horses I was taught to polo wrap your horses’ legs for all around leg and tendon support. Years later while working for a dressage trainer, I learned the safe and effective way to wrap Polos. It does take practice to be wrap the correct way in order to help your horse while in work. Polo Wraps are beneficial during intense workouts and training sessions to support the horse’s lower leg. One of the best bonuses of Polos, is that they come in so many different colors to match your tack!

Specialized Sport Boots

Following the faithful Polo Wraps – Sport Boots
Do you want Open Front or Fleece Lined?
Before mastering the polo wrap I looked into sport boots, there are a few options and some of them have better uses depending on what your discipline is (although most can be used for any discipline).

Open front jumping boots have a strong outer shell to protect the horses fetlocks when jumping over poles or cross country obstacles. They sometimes have a matching back set of boots to protect the horses hind legs from knocking as well!

The Dressage Sport Boot (DSB) are designed for intensive work, with its hard vinyl shell and tear resistant Coverlight™ strike area to protect the most vulnerable areas of your equine athlete.

Dressage Sport Boots offer protection on the inner sides of your horse legs that help prevent rubbing or knocking into each other when doing those advanced movements. These boots are either neoprene or fleece lined for extra padding and protection.
I personally love the DSB boots!

Specialized Western Boots
This Neoprene Skid Boot by Classic Equine offers clean, close, flexible fit for protection and comfort.

We covered Open Front and Dressage Boots – how about western?
How are Skid Boots different than Athletic Boots?
For Reining and Western Riding, skid boots wrap around your horses fetlock and cannon bone and have a soft neoprene lining. There is a skid cup around the bottom to prevent the sand from scraping your horses fetlock when doing sliding stops or cutting.

Skid Boots are very similar to the Athletic Boot style which has an extra supportive strap that wraps along the bottom of the horses fetlock and helps with dropping fetlocks and overall support with the tendon. They can be used on both the front and hind legs.
These can come in fun colors and patterns – sometimes with matching bell boots!

Splint and Tendon Boots

Last and certainly not least is the faithful Tendon/Splint boots.
Are Splint and Tendon Boots ideal for general leg protection?
Splint Boots are usually padded on the inside with Velcro straps on the outside of the leg. These boots offer cannon bone protection and helps with brushing of the legs and support the most important tendons on your horses legs.

Tendon Boots are great for just adding to your horse as a preventive that helps add a basic level of protection for your horses legs for a great price.

So which is best for you and your horse?

Well, first you need to question where your horse needs that extra bit of support. Then, what level and type of riding are you doing?
If you have any further questions and can’t quite decide call us here at Big Dee’s and we would be happy to find you the right fit!

Written by Laura Brubaker, Customer Service Representative

Equine body clipping

The Good, the Bad, and the Hairy…

That time of the year is upon us! Just as we bundle up from the elements with many layers of Cuddle Dudds, winter breeches, and multiple vests, jackets, scarves, hats, and gloves; so does your horse. With shortened daylight hours and dropping temperatures, your horse’s protective winter coat keeps him protected from the elements.

Like a massive puffer jacket, your horse’s winter coat keeps him cozy when temperatures drop!

However, that fluffy seasonal exterior can become a hassle for those that work their horses regularly, show, or find that it takes 2 hours and multiple coolers to get their otherwise sweaty and mud-ridden horse groom-worthy after a lesson, ride, or post-turnout. That’s why many equestrians decide to clip their horse, to help their horse cool off easier without risking a chill, as well as clean mud, check for scrapes and scratches, and have a show-ready appearance year-round.

Thermoregulation & Body Clipping

Photo courtesy of Arioneo

The skin is the largest organ for both horses and humans. With horses, their entire body systems adapt as a direct result of heat production (thermogenesis) or the loss of heat (thermolysis). With thermogenesis, horses remove excess body heat by evaporation via the respiratory system and sweating. Conversely, exposure to cold will produce a decrease in respiratory rate, to decrease heat loss. Horses are naturally the most comfortable and do not experience thermoregulated stress when their thermal zones are in the 60 to 72 degree range. In fact, scientific studies have shown that clipped horses experienced less strain on the thermoregulatory system due to an enhanced heat loss. Some clipped horses showed a more efficient power output than those that were unclipped!

If your horse suffers from medical issues, such as Cushing’s, they could have a more difficult time regulating body temperature and an appropriate clip can help keep them comfortable. Rain rot or scratches can also be a sign that is it time to clip.

Types of Body Clips

Depending on your horse’s activity level, the climate you live in, showing schedule, and the sheer amount of hair your horse has; there are multiple varieties of clips to choose from.

Trace Clip:  The most common type of body clip, this one is fairly minimal – it only removes the coat in the most sweat-prone areas, including the underside of the neck and chest. This is great for horses that are in a lesson program or ridden lightly and take a long time to cool down or groom and spend a decent amount of time in the elements.

Blanket Clip:  Following along the muscles in the topline (read our other blog post to learn more about it!), this clip leaves a padding of hair on the back, keeping the muscles warm and legs protected but making sweat removal and cooling down much more efficient! Otherwise known as the “Quarter Sheet Clip,” this method is great for horses in moderate work, while still getting moderate outdoor turnout time.

Hunter Clip: This clip takes down all the hair except for the legs and a minimal, pad or saddle-shaped tracing along the back. Honorably named after field hunters, this clip keeps the legs protected during jumping, turnout, and fox-hunting. The removal of most of the body hair including the face and ears keeps the horse’s thermoregulation at its optimum point, even on long gallops across the terrain. For any horses with this clip, it’s ideal they are properly blanketed for adequate coverage from the cold.

Full Body Clip: This “au naturale” clip is perfect if your horse is heading down to WEC or regularly showing this winter season, live in Florida or other milder climates, has a heavy workload, and spends most of his times indoors. This option leaves a show-ready shine and makes grooming a breeze; but leaves no protection from the elements. Make sure your horse is well-blanketed including a neck cover, fleece layer, and heavyweight especially if you’re in temperate zones (like I am in Ohio).

Helpful Hint: When doing a trace clip, hunter clip, or any clip that has an outline or lines involved, I find it helpful to use chalk or a blade to trace clean lines of where I want to go. Give yourself a little extra room on the outline so you can clean up edges as needed. Remember, you can always take hair away than put it back!

What Blade Should I Use…

And what do all these numbers even mean?
There are many makes, models, and lengths of clipper blades, and knowing what type to use on what part of the body can be confusing. Depending on the length of hair you want after clipping, that number will correspond to the blade you use.
RULE OF THUMB: The higher the number on the blade, the shorter your hair will be.

Courtesy of Andis

#10 – Course Cut: This size blade leaves hair the longest. Many people use this size for body clipping, and many clippers provide a free #10 blade with the original purchase. It is a wise choice of blade to use on the horse’s legs, as it leaves a long enough length of hair to provide some protection. It’s also a great choice if you’re new to horse clipping techniques. Finishing mistakes are easier to correct with this blade as you have more length of hair left to work with.
Note: #10 blades are available in regular and wide sizes, with the wider size most appropriate for body clipping, since it removes more hair per swipe.

#15 – Medium Cut: This size blade cuts the hair a bit shorter than the #10 blade, making it a great option when clipping hair on a horse’s head or bride path.

#30 – Medium or Fine Cut: One of the more popular blade length options, this length is the standard for most showing disciplines. Presents a clean trimmed look by removing excess hair and whiskers from the horse’s face, ears, around the eyes and nose, and fetlock area.

#T- 84 – Medium Cut: This extra-wide, medium cut blade from Andis has become increasingly popular among amateur and professional clippers due to its large area coverage when clipping and the finish they give. Due to its extra-wide design, allowing for more hair to be removed per pass, it’s not uncommon for the entire body to be clipped using the T-84’s.

#40 – Fine or Surgical Cut: This blade cuts the hair extremely close to the skin. In fact, if you put a magnifying glass up to the skin, you can see tiny nicks. This blade is pretty much only used for medical purposes.

5-in-1 – Multipurpose Cut: A huge innovation to the Clipper World, these blades from Wahl can adjust from a #9, #10, #15, #30, and #40 length in as little as moving your thumb. They make clipping a breeze and the hassle of changing blades (or needing multiple clippers to get the job done)

Before You Start Clipping

Because clipping is a time-extensive process, especially if you’re new and less confident in your clipping abilities, it’s crucial to give both you and your horse plenty of time, patience, and a few extra cookies to prep for the perfect clip.


Not only does a dirty horse dull and eat away at your blades, plus put extensive wear and tear on your clippers themselves; it also makes clipping uncomfortable by pulling on your horse’s skin in addition to making lines very uneven and not clipping evenly. Blades are supposed to smooth through a horse’s coat like a hot knife through butter – pushing/forcing your clippers through is the sign of a dirty horse.
My favorite tools when prepping and clipping tools are the following:

HandsOn Grooming Gloves: $24.99 My horse loves the mini-massage he gets every time I groom him!
  • Hands On Grooming Gloves: If I could stand from the rooftops with a giant banner to tell everyone that they MUST have these grooming gloves, I totally would. These are fantastic for bathing by evenly distributing shampoo throughout the coat, especially if it’s a thicker winter layer. In lieu of a curry, the little nubs throughout the palm and fingertips really get in there to lift dirt and crud.
  • A gentle, non-oil-stripping shampoo for a good bath beforehand to bring out that squeaky clean shine. My go to is a combination of Dawn dish soap and the EquiFuse Concentrate Paste Shampoo. A little goes a long way with this deep cleaning and gentle mixture, plus the EquiFuse is infused with natural Citrus essential oils that makes this shampoo smell oh-so-heavenly!

I’ve used Show Sheen for years and it continues to be my preferred go-to! Absorbine ShowSheen $16.95
  • Once dried, apply some form of grooming spray that will add a light layer of oil back to the coat, allowing for a quicker, cleaner clip that keeps the coloring and sheen in the hair.
  • For clipping tools themselves, my all-time favorites are the Wahl KM10 clippers with a 10W Competition Blade for body clipping. For touch-ups and show prep (face, bridle paths, ears, legs, muzzle), the Wahl Creativa or Wahl Bravura clippers are in my arsenal. Both the Wahl Bravura and Creativa clippers run on Lithium batteries – these long-running cordless clippers stay cool for multiple clips and the adjustable blades make my life so much easier.
  • When finished clipping and post-grooming, use a damp hot cloth to remove any grease from the blades and loose hair, then spray a light mist of the Shapelys No.2 Oil to remoisturize the coat while softening the hair and adding shine.

Top Tips to Clips

Before clipping begins, turn the clippers on away from your horse to get him used to the noise and vibration. If working with a sensitive or spooky horse, I’ll hold the clipper itself to his shoulder for a minute or until he begins to relax. Then, start at the shoulder as this is less sensitive than other areas on his body. There are different schools of thought on whether to do long broad strokes or short ones. I personally go in short strokes in a Y pattern, but whatever your method, make sure you go against the hair.

Give yourself plenty of time and patience – especially for your horse! Depending on your experience, the type of clip, pre-clip prep, and the personality of your horse, clipping can go anywhere from a 2 to 4-hour job including breaks, oiling, blade changing, and more. Prepare to commit, follow through and finish with the job. Be conscious of your horse’s mood, the temperature of the blades, and have plenty of clipper oil and cookies handy to make the entire clipping experience a positive one for the both of you!

Lister Clear Oil: $12.50 Drip oil does a better job lubricating and getting in the blades than a spray does.

You’ll oil your blades more frequently than you cool them, applying it to the blades every 15 to 20 minutes. Use a coolant only twice – once before going onto the other side and then when finished to clean the blade and disinfect before going onto the next horse. If you over-use the cool lube spray it cruds up the blades and they won’t work as effectively. Make sure you brush away any excess hair from the blades and clipper drive.

When working in tricky areas where the skin folds and creases, use your free hand to pull skin taught as you clip – including the chest, face, elbow, and throat latch areas. When clipping whorls, change the direction/angle of your clippers to correspond with the many direction the hair grows. Step back every time you oil your blades to get a birds-eye view of your clipping job thus far. If lines are present, go back over with the blades. If they still don’t go away, it means the blades aren’t oiled properly, the blades are dull, or the blade drive in the clippers need to be replaced.

This is a variation of an Irish/Trace clip on Demi, the beautiful OTTB mare!

In conclusion, if this is your first time clipping, take a deep breath and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Having a helper nearby makes it much easier when clipping legs, in case you need to pull them away from the horse, holding him as you work near the ears or tail, and hand necessary tools to you. Horse clipping is an art and can take years to perfect. At the end of the day, if you mess up, it’s okay – hair will always grow back!

Enjoy the ride,

Caring for Senior Horses

Childhood Dreams to Adult Responsibility

I remember the first time I met Copper, as a completely horse-crazy pre-teen. He was this sassy little four-year old that came as a package deal to a far more seasoned horse. My first thought for Copper was “no way, not MY horse”.

After several years on the farm, I was tasked with continuing his training to help family, and soon discovered an honest and willing partner. We both just needed time to mature and to realize what a cool team we could make! Who would have thought the horse I didn’t want as a kid, would become the horse I would never sell?

We had shown Dressage for years, dabbled in several other disciplines (to be honest we weren’t amazing in any of them, be he was always willing to let me try it out) and found our way to many fun trails. Not bad for a little Quarter Horse!

Cherokee was my “step-up” horse that came into my life about the same time I realized Copper and I were pretty good teammates. Life changes had us part ways for nearly ten years, but in February of 2019, he came back to me to live out his years. While he is twenty-four years young, he’s not the spry teenager he once was.

The dreaded grey horse – surprisingly, Dream Scout “Cherokee” isn’t THAT hard to keep clean! He once had a dark grey mane and tail with deep dapples – now he’s almost completely light grey!

Both of these horses played a pivotal role in my childhood, shaping me into the Equestrian I am today. It is both an honor and a privilege to care for them as they continue aging into their senior years.

Easing Into the Older Years

I have been able to watch Copper as he ages. It hasn’t been sudden or abrupt – it has been gradual changes through the years. It was in the moments of hearing clicking joints, feeling him take longer to warm up, and noticing he doesn’t keep muscle tone over the winter like he used to, that I learned I needed to adjust with him.

Cherokee’s changes were a little bit harder for me to experience. When came back into my care, he needed improvement. I immediately worked on bringing him back to his former shine, which included dental care, complete nutrition and building his fitness. I discovered along the way, that senior health care can be improved dramatically with a few key factors.


All horses need to be able to stretch out, not just seniors. Older horses might be a little slower out of the stall, but to keep them in great health, the need that fresh air and movement! The mantra “use is or lose it” applies here. While I don’t ride intense workouts like I used to, I try to keep Copper and Cherokee in motion daily from turnout in their winter paddock, as well as turnout in a large field for them to run, hand grazing or riding. It’s harder to accomplish in the rainy season – but it truly helps their body and mind.

What a difference Mega-Flx has made – I like that it’s extremely palatable, both horses eat it eagerly.

I help combat the joint discomfort by feeding Spectra’s Mega-Flx to both horses to help with their joints and mobility. Mega-Flx helps reduce inflammation and provides key amino acids, MSM and HA.

Blanketing and Coat Growth

A heated topic among equestrians  is often whether or not to blanket. With blanketing, there is no “one size fits all” method. Some older horses grow glorious coats, while others may need the additional help to maintain their weight and not use up their calories trying to stay warm. This year has been a disaster for coat growth – our temperatures have been so unpredictable and unseasonably warm, so neither Copper nor Cherokee grew a heavy coat. While they are in excellent weight, I don’t feel comfortable letting them go out “naked” on really cold, windy or heavy rainfall/snowfall days. They are turned out for twelve hours a day, without a run-in, so they usually need an extra layer of protection.

The Country Pride 1680D Rainier Heavyweight Turnout Blanket is perfect for the occasional blizzard in Northeast Ohio! I have four blankets of varying insulation per horse so I can rotate depending on the weather – always pay attention, especially if the weather changes often!

I use a rain sheet for the chilly days and light rain when I need just a protective shell (usually anything with rain under 45°F). I go for a midweight like the Arctic Breeze when I need some warmth (usually days between 20°-30°F) and a heavyweight turnout blanket for really cold and wet days (under 20°). The forecast always plays an important role each morning, determining if they need a blanket, sheet, or can go au naturale!


One of the most important factors for keeping a senior horse healthy, is their ability to eat and utilize their food. First and foremost, teeth should be checked regularly. While I check their mouths often, I also schedule a dental float with my veterinarian annually to keep them in tip top shape.

I first soak alfalfa cubes (I usually refill the bucket after the prior feeding and let it soak overnight/during the day), add beet pulp, weigh their grain, then finally top dress with their supplements. I soak the entire bucket in hot water for a couple of minutes – then feed. They love their grain mashes!

I provide 24/7 access to quality hay, but Cherokee has started quidding more frequently (chewing up hay bits then spitting them out) as he loses more teeth. To supply him with the calories he loses from quidding, I have added soaked alfalfa cubes and beet pulp to his morning and evening rations. Both horses are fed Buckeye Nutrition grain for a complete diet. Copper eats Gro N Win in the Spring/Summer months and transitions to Safe N Easy in the colder months for extra nutritional support. Cherokee has maintained beautifully on EQ8 Senior; he used to have loose stool, but the probiotics along with added beet pulp has balanced him out! 

I have recently added dac E Natural to help with muscle support and topline for Cherokee and dac Oil to both of their diets for the Omega 3 benefits. I’m already seeing some filling in Cherokee’s hindquarters – I can’t wait to see more improvement!

Final Words

It sometimes takes trial and error to find the perfect combination for your senior- but that’s okay! Start with the basics, and go from there. Just remember to be kind and forgiving as they slow down – they deserve the same dignity now as they were given in their youth.

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie Huprich

Equine Lunging Systems: The What, How, and Why?

As horsemen and horsewomen, we have all heard the term “topline” and the importance of building, maintaining, and properly supporting the horse’s topline for optimal movement, soundness, and performance.

What is The Topline?

The topline is a collection of muscles that support the spine, from neck to hindquarters. Specifically, the longissimus dorsi which attaches spine to pelvis; latissimus dorsi that attaches the upper and mid back vertebrae to the lower lumbar vertebrae, and the thoracic trapezius which attaches the neck and mid back vertebrae to the shoulder blade.

Photo courtesy of Topline Balance

In addition to proper nutrition, turnout, correct saddle fit, and overall care, the topline can strengthen and grow with regular work – including riding, ground work, and lunging (specifically with some sort of lunging system). Having a properly balanced topline will not only improve your horse’s appearance and performance, his sense of balance, posture, and comfort will improve much like strengthening our own core does!

A regular working schedule including riding, groundwork, and lunging can utilize and exercise your horse’s topline. A fun and proven way to make your horse move his booty in the saddle is by incorporating trot poles, stretching, various terrain work, and lots of transitions. It’s worth mentioning that ensuring a proper fit is CRUCIAL to this process, as an ill-fitting saddle will inhibit your horse’s topline growth, as well as a source of soreness, injury, imbalance, and overall negativity for your horse (and you)!

Pole work is a GREAT way to develop your horse’s rhythm, balance, and overall topline
Photo courtesy of FEI.org

Another popular way to build your horse’s topline, for any English, Western, or Equine-related discipline is with the use of a Lunging system. One of the best things about using a lunging system is that it takes the stress and worry out of forcing your horse into a frame, as the rig encourages the horse to self-carry and any resistance is from the horse and not you. Originally developed by American showjumper Nelson Pessoa, it was the first set designed specifically to lift and engage a horse’s core and topline to develop self-carriage and encourage proper movement.

Today, there are great options for those that are wanting to purchase a Lunging System of their own, but it’s important to make sure you have all the essential items needed for lunging.

What You’ll Need

  1. Lunging System:The Pessoa Lunging System is more of an investment, priced at $235, or Waldhausen Lunging System is more of an economic pricepoint at $55. Personally, I love both of them but I’ve had my Pessoa now for about 5 years, and it’s held up beautifully!
  2. Lunge Line Surcingle: These have various attachments, depending on the frame you’d like your horse to be in. There are many different types of material these are made in, from leather to neoprene to nylon. I personally use this one because of the variety of D rings available – so I can use it for dressage, hunters, or Western frames.
  3. Saddle Pad: Because the surcingles are designed to fit snug against the horse, I make sure I use a pad of some kind to keep it in place and prevent slipping, plus add to my horse’s comfort. I use the Back on Track Back Pad because it covers the entire topline area, and it’s great for bareback riding too!
  4. Bridle or Lunging Cavesson: Lunging systems must always be used with a bit for the lines and pulleys to attach to. You can either use a regular bridle with a lunging attachment (like this one) or Lunging Cavesson.
  5. Lunge Line: These can be made in either nylon or cotton. You’ll want to make sure yours has plenty of length for proper control and to change the size circle your horse goes in, depending on the amount of collection or engagement preferred. Ideally, you’ll want one with a 25 or 30-foot length with a durable, heavier snap.
  6. Lunge Whip
  7. Lots of treats for rewarding and praising your horse for a job well done!

I love this surcingle from Big Dee’s! With the multiple rings and sturdy neoprene grip, I can use this for Dressage, Hunters, or Western frame
Mustang Neoprene Training Surcingle : $34.95

When you’re done, then end result should look something like this!

How To Fit Your Lunging System

  1. Fit your surcingle and pad on your horses back. Gather all your clips in place to avoid a detangling mess!
  2. Take the snap that branches from the “V-clip” and attach to the D ring on your surcingle that is at the center of your horse’s back.
  3. Set the bum roll under your horse’s tail. A note for fitting, it may look a little high at first when standing, but as you encourage him to move and tuck underneath, the roller will lower.
  4. Separate the left and rein lines from each other, then gather the right line to keep in place, making sure it’s tidy and away from the ground to avoid getting caught in your horse’s legs.
  5. Take the pulley snap and attach to the solid ring near the girth attachment of the surcingle.
  6. Attach the end snap to the bit as a place holder and repeat on the other side.
  7. Take the front clips and run them through the bit rings going out-to-in towards the middle of the horse’s front legs).
  8. Attach the clips at the D-ring underneath the surcingle. Some people use baling twine for younger or green horses as an easy break point.
  9. You’re done! You can send your horse out on the line and begin lunging.

Waldhausen Lunging System in Practice

One of our Customer Service Support Specialists, Laura, had been curious about trying various Lunging Systems. After trial and error with other Lunging Systems, hear how she found a winner with the Waldhausen Lunging System!

” I purchased the Waldhausen lunging system when other lunging aids were not cutting it for my dressage gelding. He would pull himself into frame and be “collected” but not engage his hind end on the ground. After a lot of research, I found the Waldhausen system and decided to purchase it and test it out! The instructions were very simple to understand and they show a few different ways to hook up the system on your horse. I started with the most basic, which is what is pictured. After my horses’ first initial few steps of confusion with the padded strap behind his legs, he started tracking up better in both the walk and the trot. Moving on to the canter, he showed actual full collection and engaged both his hind end and back going into the transition. I have now started to use the Waldhausen system in our monthly training/lunging program to help keep his mind working with the rest of his body which helps him both move and feel better when being ridden!”

Customer Service Rep Laura’s handsome OTTB gelding, Cash, quickly improved his self-carriage and hind-end engagement with the Waldhausen system, while Laura loved the price tag and ease of setup.

Tips and Final Words

When using any Lunging System for the first time, it’s always important to desensitize your horse to all the lines, pulleys, and clips before putting it on. Start slowly when you begin, begin at a walk encouraging your horse to move freely and without resistance. As your horse begins to become more comfortable and trained to the system, feel free to experiment and have fun with different gaits, transitions, circle sizes, and change of directions. As always, make sure you are working with a professional and in a safe environment with the addition of any new training aid, to make sure everything fits correctly and she can observe the initial reactions of your horse.

Like any training aid, it’s important to not over-do the frequency of use. These are designed to be used in conjunction with proper riding and training, not to replace it. But lastly, have fun and be patient! Take this time to bond with your horse out of the saddle and not be afraid to try something new.

Rotti’s well-developed topline has resulted from patience, consistency, and kindness. We use a Lunging System at least once a week.

Enjoy the ride,


How to Keep Your New Years Resolutions (and Not Drive Yourself Crazy)

With the arrival of a new year, and a new decade, I’ve wracked my brain over the final days of 2019 to figure out, “What do I need to do to become a better me?” especially when it comes to time at the barn.

Year-end reflections can be a daunting thing… So making a list of what went will and what you hope to avoid for 2020 will make your goals that much more attainable!

If you’re anything like me, a busy, working adult trying to keep the career, bills, riding, sleep – oh, and MAYBE a social life – all in check, you know how overwhelming and chaotic it can be. Add owning a horse into the mix, let alone trying to find time to ride in between managing shots, deworming schedules, farrier bills, massage appointments, Reiki sessions (because Millennial) and it’s downright exhausting. To be honest, there are days (or weeks) that go by that I do so much FOR my horse that I don’t actually get to spend time WITH my horse!

This is Rotterdam, or “Rotti,” my 2010 Westphalian gelding. He’s a total chunk and a total HUNK!

So on January 1, I made a list of New Years Resolutions of all the bad habits I will break…. and within the first week of the new year I broke them. And I realized, instead of putting myself under all this pressure and stress (with a side of lingering guilt) why not put my energy into making a list of the things I WANT to do and a list of things I absolutely DO NOT want in 2020 that keep me from enjoying myself at the barn.

So here’s the list I came up with:

  1. Ride at least 3 times a week, including 1 lesson
  2. Get smart! Read up to become a more well-rounded horsewoman (like this one for my fellow English riders!)
  3. Attend at least 2 clinics – whether an auditor or a participant
  4. Submit my application for the 2020 RRP Project (Retired Racehorse Project)
  5. Get measured and order a pair of custom boots. I’ve been dying to get a pair of custom DeNiro’s for years to replace my current tall boots and would love to do something crazy like a patent leather toe and boot crown!
  6. Ride in the Cleveland Metroparks or on the beach at Lake Erie!
  7. Groom for one weekend at the Chagrin Hunter Jumper Classic
  8. Attend one show every season (winter, spring, summer, fall)
  9. Be a better boarder – if that means being 5 minutes early for my lesson, bringing my farrier a heating pad when he’s stuck putting shoes on in subzero temperatures, and being a positive role model for the younger girls that ride with me.
  10. HAVE FUN!
On the list for this year is to get measured for custom DeNiro tall boots! Even though I know these are by no means acceptable in “Hunter Land,” I LOVE the patent accent at the top combined with the sleek, dress boot design.
Janet Foy is one of my favorite horsewomen of all time! Her no-nonsense and easy to understand explanations and diagrams in this book are perfect to apply to any sort of riding.
The Chagrin Hunter Jumper Classic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio is one of my most looked-forward to equine events each year. As a competitor or a spectator, watch the action unfold July 2 – 12, 2020!

I think whatever your goals are for the year, whether you’re an active participant in any discipline or the World’s Best Cheerleader, it’s important to be mindful of the time you spend. So often, we get stuck in the daily routine – and while it’s comforting – it can also be limiting. Growth and positive change never happens by standing still. It doesn’t matter if your goals are riding once a week or qualify for Washington International Horse Show or cleaning that moldy bridle that’s been sitting in the corner of your basement.  Just give yourself something to shoot for, write it down, and GO DO IT!

So relax. Hug your horse. Trust you’re doing the best you can. And remember to check in with your inner horse crazy child, to remind yourself why you fell in love with these amazing creatures in the first place.

What’s on YOUR list to make 2020 your best horsey-year yet?

Enjoy the ride, Colleen

Celebrate Small Business Saturday

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


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

Hometown Proud

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

Happy Holidays!

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

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

The Original 5/A Baker Blankets

5/A Baker Blanket, Bag & Accessories Collection

We have expanded our 5/A Baker collection ! Yes, we have the Original 5/A stable blanket in its traditional tan and blue colors and now carry their wide collection in turnouts, rainsheets, coolers, and stable blankets along with various matching barn supplies and tack carrying bags.  And we also carry the Original 5/A Baker sheet and blanket in Mini Size!

5/A Baker Original Stable Sheet

For the turnout sheets blankets we have the 2 styles, the more traditional look of the stable blankets and the Black Label collection that has the eye-catching black binding and stripe along the bottom of the blankets. We carry the original style 5/A turnouts in a waterproof sheet, medium weight 200gm fill, heavy weight 400gm fill, and an extreme heavy weight blanket with 555gm fill. Options for the coldest of winters! To match the original turnout blanket style we carry the matching waterproof neck covers, in the lined sheet style, medium weight 200gm fill, and extreme heavy weight 2100D with 200gm fill.

The Black Label collection comes in 3 different options all in the same black and tan plaid. The first being the lined turnout waterproof sheet that has no insulation, then the midweight 200gm fill, and finally the heavyweight 400gm fill blanket.

5/A Baker Black Label Turnout Blankets and Rainsheet

Along with the blankets, we have brought in the other needed blanket items by Baker as well!  We have the anti sweat sheet, square rain cover, fleece dress sheet, square fleece cooler and fleece Quarter Sheet! We even have the matching blankets for foals and your dog.

As for the stable items, you can get into the true matchy-matchy with the 5/A Baker nylon breakaway halter and chain lead rope. Hook up your horse in aisle with the Baker cross ties, and then exercise him with the matching 30 ft lunge line with chain. After your ride you can put your saddle pads on the 5/A blanket bar (also great for hanging those winter blankets/sheets) and cool your horse down with the Baker Ice boots.

5/A Baker Nylon Halter with Breakaway Crown

Of course for the human, (we can’t leave you out), you can wear the tan plaid winter scarf and there are even 2 different styles of throw blankets. They are perfect for the barns viewing room on a cold afternoon, or to bring the Baker flair home with you.

The bag collection gives you two color options for the leather binding, black and a dark brown. There are two styles for the saddle carrier bags, dressage and all purpose. And for other riding equipment there is a bridle bag, helmet bag, garment bag, and tall boot bag. Even a duffle bag for the things that don’t have their specific place! To finish the full collection there is the 5/A Baker Elizabeth Bag, which is for around down and a black or brown leather finish cross body bag.

5/A Baker Bag Collection

Make sure to check out this great collection of 5/A Baker products today!

5/A Baker Blankets, Bags and Accessories

Equi Resp Nebulizer

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to learn about the Equi-Resp from Tonda Collins, the owner of the company.  I was thoroughly impressed with the thoughtfulness that went into the design of this nebulizer.  The unit has multiple fans to help keep the motor free of dust and ensure a long lifetime of use.  It seemed easy to use, with only a few parts: a motor, a mask, and the tubing and cup. 

Perhaps, most importantly, it had clinical data behind it in the form of a nuclear scintigraphy study performed by Rood & Riddle.  The results of the nuclear scintigraphy procedure proved that this machine, when used at the proper psi, would effectively deliver medication to the horse’s lungs and respiratory system.  Therefore, I felt confident that the Equi-Resp would be a fantastic neb unit at a very reasonable price for our thoroughbred and standardbred race horse customers, and maybe some serious barrel racers as well.

A Cure For Chronic Sinus Problems?

Turns out, I was not wrong about that, but I completely underestimated the usefulness of this machine for every horse in every discipline.  One of my horses has been struggling with a chronic sinus issue.  His right nostril was draining constantly.  Faced with the prospect of taking the horse for a sinus scope and possible flap surgery costing thousands of dollars, I decided that I would first try the Equi-Resp. 

Equi Resp Nebulizer Complete

Above all, I have been thrilled with the results!  As a result of using the Equi Resp, the horse drained and drained.  My wife and I used the unit on him twice a day.  We found it extremely easy to use and disinfect after use.  Currently, we are down to using the Equi-Resp on him once to twice per week, and he is doing much better.  We plan on continuing to use it on this horse one to two times per week for the foreseeable future.

A Nebulizer For Any Horse

My wife and I decided to try it on other horses.  If a horse was coughing, out came the Equi-Resp.  What I found most surprising was that the horses enjoyed it.  I had envisioned a crazy-eyed horse rearing and backing up the moment I turned it on – maybe even running down the barn aisle with the machine flailing about behind it.  So far, every horse we have put the neb unit on has just relaxed into it and stood quietly.  Every single one.  This includes an Arabian weanling.

EquiSilver Respiratory Solution 16 oz

During show season, we have decided it would be a really good idea to use the Equi-Resp at the show, especially shows that last more than a few days, and on horses returning from the show.  The chelated silver solution will knock out any bugs the horse may have picked up while traveling or from a barn mate down the aisle.  It does not matter what discipline you are showing in, this machine will help keep your horse healthy, and improve performance.

Respiratory ailments are very common during the winter months.  I know that I do my best to keep my barn as warm as possible.  However, that also means there are more contaminants in the air since my barn doors are closed.  Regular use of the Equi-Resp will help ward off those infections and keep your horse’s airways clear and clean. 

If you have a horse that has allergies, COPD, Roaring, Heaves, etc., try the Equi-Resp.  This includes the motor, with two internal fans, two medicine cup and tubing sets, the mask (which is flexible and will not break if dropped – I know), a bottle of Pure (cleaner), and a bottle of Equi Silver nebulizer solution.  Replacement cups and tubing are sold in sets of two.  If you have been on the fence about purchasing one of these machines, I would encourage you to make the investment.  My horses and I are glad I did!

Written by Grant R, one of our Showroom Managers.

Once in a whorl

Horse Electrolytes in the Winter

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


Centurion satatue

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


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


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

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

Small Business Saturday Is November 24, 2018

,small business saturdaySmall business Saturday is celebrated in the United States this year on November 24, 2018. It began in 2010 and has grown into a way to welcome local patronage to brick and mortar shopping and create a hometown atmosphere in person or online. Shopping small means you support your community, neighborhoods and local establishments.

Big Dee's then and now

Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supplies is one of your local hometown companies. From humble beginnings at a local race track to our storefront in Streetsboro, Ohio, Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supplies has grown into a pillar of your community. Through the guidance of Dennis Osterholt, “Big D”, the family-owned business philosophy continues.  Most of our employees own horses or have horses in their backgrounds. Employees that share your interests in all things horse and hound, english, western or racing,  give you a customer experience second to none!

At Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supplies, our mission is to serve you in a polite, friendly, most competent way. We offer saddle, helmet, and blanket fitting tips. Gifts for all your critters. A clothing selection sure to please and holiday specials throughout the store and online. Join special offerour customer loyalty program and receive special discounts throughout the year.

In years past shoppers set records all across the country sharing their support of small businesses just like ours. In the spirit of giving and being grateful for families and friends, shopping small means promoting our community in a national way.

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

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


Complete selection of equine and rider products since 1976!