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.
For many of us, we equate “winter care” for horses to upping forage, inspecting blankets, and adjusting exercise schedule for fewer daylight hours and colder temperatures. But, have you ever considered how a horse’s hoof adjusts in winter weather?
Why Do My Horse’s Feet Stop Growing In Winter?
Even if your horse has healthy growth during the spring, fall, and summer, winter is the season producing the slowest growth rate in hooves. A lot of factors come into play for that, environmental changes like temperature, mud, snow, ice, etc.; the amount of exercise or turnout (or lack thereof) he receives, as well as changes in forage (as many horses don’t have access to fresh grass in the winter) and dietary adjustments. Adding a quality hoof supplement like Biotin will help ensure your horse gets the proper nutrition to support an ideal hoof.
Like most riders, when it’s cold and dark outside we don’t want to move much! Horses are the same way. As the ability to get to the barn in frigid temperatures and yucky weather may prevent your horse from getting longer turnout or ride time, the reduced amount of movement changes the rate of blood flow circulating through the hoof, resulting in less growth.
Caring for your Horse’s Hooves in Winter – It’s a Team Effort!
While this may mean your farrier needs to visit your horse for his routine trim and resets a little less often, it’s still important to monitor for any bruising, cracks, thrush, snow packing and other conditions that can result from winter elemental changes. Having a working relationship between your vet, farrier, and trainer will help manage your horse’s health and be able to come up with a plan in case anything goes awry.
The Woes of Winter
Mud, slush, snow, ice, and sleet can produce a variety of symptoms such as bruising, abscesses, thrush, and slippery walking conditions (that can lead to tripping, soreness, and injury). Check out these potential solutions to help your horse put his best hoof forward this winter!
Much like concrete, frozen ground can wreak havoc on a horse’s foot. While soreness, bruising, or lameness may not be noticed right away, if left untreated, laminitis or severe lameness can occur from trauma to the sole due to walking on rough, frozen ground.
The easiest way to combat this is to ensure your horse is getting as much circulation through his feet as possible on a softer surface (like an indoor arena or areas where packed snow and ice aren’t as prevalent). You can also supplement with a hoof hardening agent like Keratex or feed-through supplement.
In case your horse is experiencing slight soreness or tenderness in the sole and feet, using a hoof packing, mud, or poultice can help draw out inflammation and relieve symptoms.
Snow & Ice Build-Up
Have you ever slipped on a patch of ice while walking or driving? Snow accumulation and frozen slush can create the same result for horses in winter! While your best defense against snow packing and ice is having a solid hoof pick on hand, utilizing hoof boots help provide additional traction to a horse during riding or turnout. You can also talk with your farrier about adding “snow tubes,” studs, or snow pads/rims which act as snow tires for shod horses.
Mud and moisture can wreak havoc on a horse’s sole, causing bacteria and moisture to accumulate against the sole. If a horse is left standing with dirty feet, thrush and abscesses can creep its way in. If you notice a foul-smelling, white flaky residue when picking your horses hooves, it’s recommended to start thrush treatment right away. If left untreated, thrush deterioration can turn into white line disease, which could result in rotation of the coffin bone.
In case symptoms do not alleviate or worsen, always contact your vet and farrier for the best course of action.
Keeping up with the same proper routine and maintenance like the rest of the year will help set your horse up for success come springtime. As always, keep an eye out for anything that looks out of place and contact your vet or farrier for any issues. Otherwise, bundle up, grab some hot cocoa, and enjoy this season of playing with your pony this winter!
Enjoy the ride, Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist
With December right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about gifts for your equestrian family and barn friends. Sometimes finding the perfect gift can be a little tricky – of course we’d love to gift our closest horse family something glamorous like a new horse trailer. But, reality forces us to go a more practical route. Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be a challenge – there are so many fun and practical gifts you can give that would make your friends and family happy!
Starting with the easiest, tried and true option – the Magic Gloves. These gloves are versatile for EVERYTHING! I keep a pair in each of my coats, by the door, in my car… just about everywhere. The one-size-fits-all makes it easy to to gift without worrying about sizing! And did I mention they’re so cost efficient? These make wonderful stocking stuffers, barn exchange gifts and hey, grab a pair for yourself while you’re at it. You won’t regret having a handy, cozy pair around for barn chores and riding!
If you’re looking to gift something for the stable hand friend, or maybe a sibling that keeps their horses at home – Deerskin Gloves are a great choice and my personal favorite for cleaning stalls and working outside. I spent an entire spring, summer and fall working on big farm projects, and this was my go-to pair to keep my hands protected; not to mention they are so soft on your skin. I prefer gloves like these for the winter, opposed to big fluffy gloves – because I need to keep cleaning stalls, carrying buckets and fixing fence (thanks windy Ohio weather). They give me the flexibility I need without sacrificing quality. But if you need the extra warmth, try out the fleece lined option in the same style.
There will never be a time when rainboots aren’t a welcome gift – especially when they come in so many styles and colors! Every equestrian who frequents the barn knows the value in keeping a pair around, whether in your car or in the mudroom, keeping your toes dry during the wet season makes life so much easier!
One of the most valued items in my barn wardrobe is a nice softshell jacket. The versatility of going from the house to the barn, out on errands, riding and braving the weather make it an equestrian essential. Between the wind and water resistance and the generous pockets, these jackets quickly became a favorite for me. The Ariat Team Periscope Ladies Jacket or Hooey Mens Softshell are great options for the all-season riding enthusiasts and farm owners.
Let’s be honest, most of us really love the idea of having a barn or stall decked out in 5/A Baker gear! And when it comes to friends that love Baker, there are so many giftable items – for both them or their horse! With any budget in mind, you could get something classic like a halter and lead or go for a sturdy hay bag. Maybe you need a stocking stuffer, and let me tell you – those lunge lines and trailer ties will fit nicely over the fireplace! Splurging can be practical and 5/A Baker items prove it. Traditional and durable, they are built to last and give your horse (and yourself) some pretty nice style.
If Baker isn’t the route you want to go, leather care products are always a helpful and appreciated option. Smaller sizes make wonderful stocking stuffers or handouts to barn mates and pony clubbers, while full size favorites are perfect for your equestrian family member. I personally wouldn’t mind seeing the Effol Advent Calendar under my Christmas tree (and I promise you I would open it all at once, have you seen what cool items are in there?!).
It’s no secret I have a saddle pad/matchy obsession, so you can take my word for it when I say, the Woof Wear color collection would make an AMAZING gift for any of your friends and family that like having colorful options, while matching perfectly. The saddle pads come in Close Contact and Dressage cuts, and you can match with fly veils, brushing boots and riding shirts! Talk about a home run gift for the young, still young but paying their own board and young at heart.
Does your horse-crazy sibling or equestrian teammate have a favorite famous horse? Maybe a favorite color or breed? Breyer models offer such a variety for a range of avid horse lovers. From a collector friend that proudly displays Traditional models, to the young child that likes to play with their Corral Pals – Breyer offers great options for both stocking stuffers and wrapped gifts under the tree.
There’s comes a point in everyone’s life (okay, most people, myself included) when they realize they have a favorite mug. It can be the work get-me-caffeine-asap mug or the Saturday morning coffee mug. My favorite mug was gifted to me a few years ago and I still use it more often than the rest. Sometimes finding the perfect gift can be as simple as a household comfort. We have some new mugs this year, featuring donkeys, bay, chestnut and a mare and foals – the best part? They are easily within gift-exchange budgets, so don’t wait to snag one today!
After all the practical, fun and meaningful options you’ve read through, one of the most personal is a custom gift. I am a big fan of the Small Sport Duffle Bag – the options are endless for teammates, barn friends and family. It’s the perfect “grab and go” bag for shows, lessons and vacations.
If that doesn’t seem like the right fit, what about a walnut frame with a custom nameplate? If your friend or family member recently had a photo shoot or perhaps has a favorite picture of their horse, this kind gesture of a custom frame would bring so much joy!
Does your friend like staying organized? A neat and practical gift option could be engraved key tags for keeping track of blankets and an engraved dog tags for bridles and halters. Think of how easy it would be to have color coded blanket tags and easy-to-spot tags for halters – no more hassle in the early mornings!
The Holiday season is a great time to show acts of kindness towards friends and family who share your passion for all things equine. To keep up with our latest items and sales, make sure you follow us on social media and sign up for our emails!
Have you ever had tail envy? You know – that horse you see with the long flowing tail and you think, wow – I would love for my horse to have that tail!
I grew up around Arabians, so for as long as I can remember, I strived to achieve that long, beautiful tail. Along the way, I have learned that beautiful tails take a lot of work! There are so many factors that go into making a “perfect tail,” but hard work pays off. It is important to take tails out and put them back up regularly, especially if you are showing.
Over the weekend, I decided to tackle Rascal’s tail. Rascal has plenty of beautifully long, thick hair but I still deal with knots! As a result, I came up with my favorite “tail care” routine that works best for my routine (and my schedule).
First things first – get your supplies out and have them within reach BEFORE you begin working. This is really helpful, especially when you get to the end of the tail and you don’t have your supplies and have to let go of that braid – you’re going to be upset with yourself!
1.) Cowboy Magic Detangler– Amazing for getting the tangles out – also works on burrs! 2.) Mane Brush – I really like the Tail Tamer Rainbow Mane and Tail Brush – it is heavy duty and the bristles don’t do damage to the hair. 3.) 2 pieces of fabric that will be braided into the tail – You can use an old t-shirt or that spare polo that losts its match a long time ago. Either can be cut into strips and if you are really in a pinch, a few pieces of bailing twine will do the job. (I’ll get to the why/how in a bit) 4.) Guard-Tex 5.) Marker 6.) Tail bagor an old sock
After unwrapping the tail, apply the detangler and begin working through with your fingers. Remember, a little goes a long way! I love the Cowboy Magic because of its smells good and – added bonus – my hands are soft after I am done! Plus, when I wrap the tail back up in the bag, it keeps it nice and soft. Giving yourself small sections to work through makes the job easier. Once that’s done, take the tangle-free brush and, starting from the bottom, work through brushing out the rest of the tail.
Next, you are going to start braiding the tail. I recommend starting a few inches below the tail bone, otherwise it may cause the horse to try and rub out his tail. Allow for a few loose braids, then start your nice tight braid.
Here is where your strips of fabric come into play. Having the fabric strips will serve two purposes. First, as you braid from the top of the tail to the bottom, the braid becomes smaller and smaller, leaving you with tiny bits of hair on hair. By the time you take the braid out, it can knot and cause bits of the tail to break off, so the fabric will help save as much hair as possible. Second, by adding the strips, your braid sections will be more uniform, allowing you to braid the tail all the way to the end without any pieces being too thick or too thin. Once the braid is finished, I bring the tail up and wrap it through the loose braids at the top of the tail. One or two times around is all you need; it’s mostly to make sure all the pieces are kept together.
Next, I reach for the Guard-Tex. This self-adhering wrap is typically used for bandaging, but I like it for tails because it doesn’t get sticky or break hairs when I’m unwrapping the tail. Plus, if it gets wet, I can still remove it. You can use Vetrap, but I find it becomes real tricky to take it off if you leave it on for longer than a few weeks. When wrapping the tail, make sure you get enough of the wrap up and around the top and the bottom of the tail for as much protection as possible. I wrap it around a few times, for good measure. When finished, mark the end with a marker so you know where to start when you unwrap it later on.
To “wrap” everything up (hahaha), the last step is to put a tail bag over the wrap you just finished. In case you don’t have a tail bag, I like to use an old sock that I either lost its match (or its so riddled with holes my piggy toe constantly pokes out). Simply cut a 3” slit down each side of the sock (just enough that you’ll have something you can tie in a bow or knot), put the nicely braided and wrapped tail in the sock (or tail bag), tie at the top, and voila, you’re done!
One of the most nerve-wracking, anxiety-inducing experiences a horse owner could face is when their horse casts in their stall. For those unfamiliar with the term, casting is when a horse has laid down to roll or rest but unfortunately positions himself in a way that his legs are so close to the stall wall he can not get up nor reposition himself to roll the other way. Most horses end up panicking in this helpless position, and the effects can be devastating. It’s estimated that around 25% of horses that are injured when cast either face losing their life or end their career. Frequently, severe damage results to the hip, pelvis and leg areas.
Unfortunately, horses of any age, breed, and discipline have the potential to cast, but pay particular attention to those that spend a large amount of time in their stalls, senior horses, broodmares, and those that have a tendency of laying down when resting.
Help Has Arrived – What To Do When Your Horse Has Cast
It’s vital to stay calm if your horse has managed to get himself stuck in his stall. While time is of the essence and the horse will need your assistance, make sure to do it in a way that is safe for all parties involved and will get the horse back on his feet as quickly as possible.
First – remember horses are heavy. Even if you lift weights and clean 50 stalls a day, it’s always best to have two people around when entering a tight space with a frightened horse.
When moving to the horse, always stay on the same side as the horse’s back – NEVER in between or on the same side as his legs/feet. This could create a nightmare situation should the horse panic, a person could get caught in the cross hairs. Keep a gentle tone and make sure your horse is aware of your presence before you reach down to touch him and start the repositioning process.
Begin moving the front end of the horse toward the center of the stall – more than likely his legs will be folded against his body and very close to the wall or stall door. Never – I repeat – NEVER try to move a horse by pulling on a halter, as this could cause serious spinal and nerve damage. It’s best to grab handfuls of mane or loop a lead rope tied in a ring around his neck, if you need additional leverage. Then, pull straight back towards you until he is back far enough to be able to fold his legs underneath himself and roll onto his belly.
In case you need to free the hind end as well, use the tail. Aligning it with the spine, pull back (not up) to slide the horse away from the wall. Once your horse is in a position to move independently, stay as far back (preferably leaving the stall) as possible to let your horse regain his footing to stand. In some instances, there’s a chance a horse may thrash trying to put his legs underneath himself. Once he’s up, give him a few moments to regain his composure (and yours too!), at which point you can check him over for major cuts, swellings, vitals, etc.
How to Avoid Casting: Up-Right Anti Cast Strips
The patented design and proven technology of the America’s Acres Anti-Cast Safety Strips provide the leverage and assistance needed to horses that find themselves cast – especially if no one is around to help. Like a seat belt in your car, one hopes they’ll never be in a situation where you’ll need it, but when it happens, it can save your life.
These 3-foot long heavy duty rubber strips are designed with a unique 4-row design that allows a horse’s hooves to push against and gain leverage when trying to roll over. Ultimately, most horses are able to get to their feet independently, keeping your horse (and you) safe and out of harm’s way. These strips are able to be mounted in either wooden or cement stall walls – most 10×10 stalls use 3 strips per wall. Mounting the strips about 32 – 36″ above the stall floor is the right height, generally.
In addition to keeping a suitable banking of bedding in your horse’s stall and providing adequate turnout for your horse to roll freely, the Up-Right Safety Strips add an additional layer of protection and peace of mind to any horse owner. The investment of providing a safer stalling situation can save you hundreds (or thousands) on emergency vet calls, injury rehabilitation, and months of therapy afterwards.
Enjoy the ride, Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist
Born in 1919 in the foothills of Germany, Haas has created a legacy of dedicated craftsmanship, handmade engineering, and longevity in each of their grooming tools. Designed without glues, nails, or screws, these shatter-proof tools are often designed from a single plastic mold, ensuring durability and long-lasting quality. Professional grooms, trainers, amateur owners, and horse care enthusiasts around the world attest to these colorful, hardworking brushes, curries, and hoof picks.
Whatever your grooming preference, Haas brushes are available in a wide variety of bristle materials (synthetic rice root, coconut fiber, horsehair, sheepskin), sizes, and functions to accommodate even the dirtiest and most sensitive-skinned horses. Tested and proven for generations, feel confident and rest assured Haas brushes will produce a clean, glittering horse every time its pulled from a grooming caddy.
Brush for Caked-On Mud & Tough Spots
Striegel Der GuteCurry– THE BEST CURRY COMB EVER. Roomy leather strap and rounded plastic “teeth” easily work out dried mud and hard-to-clean dirt spots.
Schimmel: Stiff, dense coconut fibers easily remove stubborn manure, grass, and dirt stains. Perfect for the night-before a show and your white horse is suddenly green!
Putzi Double Sided Brush: Features horsehair on one side and massaging curry on the other, this multi-functional tool can be used to clean heavy dirt away from the hoof, mane, or body.
Joker Hoof Pick – Fastened with an extra-stiff brush and steel pick, perfect for digging out embedded rocks or for deep set hoof grooves.
Best for Body
Welsh Brush: Wide leather hand strap and horsehair bristles cleans and polishes the coat for any moderate sized dust particles
Fellglanzburstse : Great to use as a body brush for those thin-skinned Thoroughbreds or sensitive horses, this soft yet densely-woven horsehair brush creates a luxurious finish.
Brenig Madoc Combo Brush:The #1 best-selling Haas brush, this tool features extended synthetic bristles and wide set brush that covers a large surface area. Gentle, yet effective on removing dirt, sand, and shavings.
Best for Mane & Tail
Mahnenburste Large Dandy Brush: This 8cm tall brush is great for flicking away mud post-curry and trapped dust particles. Can also be used on the body.
Mahnenburste Small Dandy Brush: The short, 3cm synthetic bristles are great for working caked on mud and brambles through manes and tails without damaging or breaking hair.
Best for Legs and Face
Grundys Finest : Made with super-soft horse hair and short bristles to collect even the finest dust particles, this brush creates a show ring shine and comfortably sized enough to slip over joints and ears.
Kopfburste Face Brush: Features an elastic hand strap to get into nooks and crannies, this palm sized brush can alternately be used for thin-skinned, super sensitive horses. Made from uber-soft white horse hair.
Best for Finishing Touches
Diva Best and Diva Girlie Girl: Designed with the most luxuriously soft Mattes sheepskin and softest horsehair bristles, the Diva essentially buffs and waxes your horse’s coat to create a blue-ribbon finish and show-stopping shine. Perfect to give as a gift – even if it’s for yourself!
Kinderwurzel– Made from stiff, synthetic rice-root bristles, the elastic hand strap and vibrant colors make grooming time fun for children young and young at heart!
Smile Dandy Brush: 5cm synthetic brisles easily flick away dirt and dust, plus the fun smiley face handle is sure to cheer any little groom’s day.
Schmuserburste: Palm sized and with an elastic strap, the exceptionally soft horse hair bristles smooth and glide over legs, body, and face.
Hufkratzburste – Single plastic mold and brightly colored, this hoof pick is great for everyday hoof cleaning, while the contoured grip keeps your hand comfortable. Plus, the nail hole up top makes it easy to hang or attach to a key ring.
Whether you’re new to grooming or a seasoned pro, most grooms value a quality set of brushes including a curry, stiff brush, soft brush, hoof pick, and mane brush for just about any job. With a variety of fun colors available and easy-to-wash convenience, these tools will enhance the bonding and care taking experience grooming has to offer. An important reminder, Haas brushes will last for years to come, if kept with proper care and storage practices. Simply wash with cold water and mild soap on occasion, and leave to air dry.
For those who love the strengthening ability of a lunging surcingle, but want to feel that connection first hand, say hello to the EquiBand System! In the past, many riders and trainers may have utilized various DIY methods to encourage better carriage of the hind end – from polo wraps tied to wrap behind a hind end to the saddle to ace bandages holding the core in place.
Thankfully, the EquiBand System is a patented, proven surcingle attachment that offers the unique ride-ability that no other product on the market has been able to before. Any horse can benefit from a stronger core, improved topline, and better body awareness, including those who may benefit from using the EquiBand as a therapeutic measure. From improved topline muscling, improved Kissing Spine symptoms, and overall rehab, the EquiBand is a product that any horse of any discipline can benefit from. From jumping to dressage to Western riders, experience the difference for yourself and watch your horse’s balance, strength, and core stability improve with this unique training tool.
Curious about how the EquiBand works and how to fit your new system to your horse? Continue reading below!
*According to the official EquiCore Methods website
The Equiband itself is made of latex-free rubber, specifically designed for use on horses. The Equiband system uses either one or both bands on the horse; one shorter band attaches the left side of the saddle pad to the right, passing under the abdomen (abdominal band or AB). The band sits well behind the rider’s leg. Its function is to stimulate the abdominal musculature during locomotion. The abdominal musculature supports the horse’s back. The position of this band is especially indicated for horses that have recovered from a colic surgery, have poor (inverted) posture and in clinical cases such as diagnosed conditions of the back including ‘kissing spines’.
The second and longer Equiband attaches at an oblique angle from the left side of the saddle pad to the right, passing under the tail behind the horse’s hindquarters (hindquarter band or HQ). It will settle in the point of least resistance, above the hock and just below the level of the stifle. Its function is to make the horse aware of the position of his hind limbs in locomotion and to enhance strength length and lateral symmetry during forward movement. The position of this band is especially indicated for horses with asymmetrical hind limb movement, poor engagement and poor development of major muscle groups such as biceps femoris (which is associated with movement) as well as horses recovering from diagnosed musculoskeletal or neurological (EPM) conditions.
The two lengths of Equiband are delivered pre-threaded but will need to be adjusted for each horse as per instructions below. If the bands are only used on one horse it is advisable to trim the ends of the band with scissors after fitting and adjustment. If the band is used on multiple horses the fit and adjustment needs to be checked prior to use.
Each Equiband system comes complete with saddle pad, two pre-threaded sets of Equiband (two shorter abdominal bands and two longer hindquarter bands), as well as a tape measure and user guide. For safety, it is essential to follow the guide on how to fit and use the Equiband system.
Gently rub Equiband across the horse’s abdominal and hindquarter regions on both sides, and under the tail.
2. Fit the First Band
For this stage, have a helper present. Fit the Equiband slowly and carefully, with sufficient tension to not hang loose. Hand walk, jog and lunge the horse. Even sensitive horses will rapidly accustom to the sensation of Equiband. Some horses will show more difference in back flexion with the abdominal band, and others will be more reactive to band around the hindquarters. To start, apply only one band at a time and repeat the same process when introducing the horse to a second band.
3. Adjust the Band for Optimal Tension
Adjust the tension of the band prior to mounting. Equiband is delivered pre-threaded and is adjusted by shortening or lengthening the band below the safety clip band through the triglides (below the safety clips) that attach the band to the saddle pad. Excess can be trimmed using scissors.
To adjust for ideal tension, take the band to full stretch and reduce it to less than 50% stretch, which is an optimal tension for use of Equiband. Using the tape measure supplied, measure the distance between the two clips on the pad (between left and right sides: either along the hindquarter region or under the abdomen). The clips on the actual band can then be measured at no more than 50% or half of the distance apart. For example, if the distance between the two clips on the pad (left to right side) is 1.00m, the clips on the band should be no less than 50cm apart. Excess tension will inhibit movement.
4.Jog in Hand and/or Lunge the Horse Prior to Mounting
Before mounting, hand jog and trot or lunge the horse. Have a helper present when mounting the horse for the first time after fitting Equiband. Allow the horse to accustom to the feeling of Equiband at walk before moving into trot or canter.
5. Adding or Adjusting Equiband
To add or swap to second band repeat steps 1 and 2. Only fit Equiband without the rider on the horse. Always dismount when adding or swapping Equiband and have a helper present until the horse is fully accustomed to use of the Equiband system.
The Equiband system is intended for in-hand work, and during lunging and riding. Use the Equiband system at the start of a workout graduating to use for a full session. Ensure that the horse receives regular breaks as the increased engagement of the core musculature will cause earlier fatigue in work. If the horse’s movement or conditions worsen with use of the Equiband system, cease use immediately and seek veterinary evaluation and/or advice. Use Equiband from the start of work, emphasizing transitions between and within gaits. Reduce full riding time by half as increased core muscle engagement may cause fatigue.
If the abdominal band slips back or if the hindquarter band rides up, check the tension – it is often too loose. For optimal postural fit, ask for an abdominal lift when fitting the abdominal band, and ensure that the horse is standing under itself with the hind legs when fitting the hindquarter band.
Always use the band system at the start of a workout, and remove the bands if necessary. Do not add the bands after warm-up or during a riding/training session: this defeats the objects of neuromuscular stimulation. Neuromuscular activation is best achieved at the start of a session, particularly during the warm-up phase. We recommend use of the abdominal band before adding the hindquarter band.
For optimal care of your saddle pad, it is suggested to delicate wash in cool water, with low tumble dry or air drying after washing. The Equiband bands can be washed with petroleum-free soap (like Dawn), and left to air-dry. Do not leave bands exposed to full sun/extreme cold. Do not use fly spray over the bands or over any area where the bands are in direct contact with the horse. Regularly check the tension strength of the bands and that the fastenings for fraying, excessive wear, etc.
My Personal Experience
I’ve used the Equiband system on Rotti for over a year, and I will vouch it has helped improve Rotti’s performance over poles, gymnastics, and on the ground. The fact I don’t have to rely on forcing him into any sort of position, but instead allow his body to comfortably carry himself properly, has improved his stride length, evenness, and further improved his topline.
The Equiband System has my vote for something every avid equestrian should have in their training arsenal. I’ve been blown away by its results – it’s easy to use and easy to set up, and it’s improved my horse’s physical condition. To me, the Equiband is priceless.
For those that habituate in areas that frequent (unbearably) hot, humid summers; frigid, subzero winters; or dry, arid temperatures year round, respiratory issues seem to be just as common as seasonal allergies or leaves changing colors.
However, the innovators at HayGain have created a solution for keeping your horse’s lungs comfortable and meal time more enjoyable. Used by professionals, Olympic/Gold Cup/Pan-Am Games/4* Eventing Champions, and amateur horse owners alike, the HayGain Hay Steamer maximizes the nutritional value of hay, eliminating toxins, dust, bacteria, and unwanted weeds, while improving horse’s respiratory conditions for those that suffer from coughing, allergies or weakened immune systems.
“We were always concerned about infection and pneumonia and Haygain steamed hay was a huge thing for us… I could really feel the effect when I rode [recently-retired star partner] Ballynoe Castle R.M, and his career really took off and he was a much more relaxed horse. I put all my horses on it and felt it was a huge asset.”
Buck Davidson, International Event Rider, Team USA World Equestrian Games in 2010 & 2014, Olympic alternate in 2008 & 2012
A “Tail” As Old As Time
Developed by a group of equine enthusiasts back in the early 2000s in southern England, the HayGain was a brainchild of horse owners who were concerned about the nasal discharge, coughing, heaving, and other respiratory problems in their horses. They realized – much like a hot shower or steam room helps to open up blocked airways and steaming vegetables to bring out their best nutrient content – these same principles could apply to their horse’s forage.
While soaking hay is a centuries-old method of controlling airborne particles, it isn’t entirely effective, and doesn’t eliminate potentially harmful bacteria that may be ruminating within each bale. In 2007, the HayGain was born and the results were proven – clean, dust and mold free, palatable hay.
“Everything They Need and Nothing They Don’t”
While soaking hay can be a quick, on-the-go way of dampening hay, bacteria and mold-inducing spores can still linger – up to 55%! Thankfully, HayGain has been scientifically proven as an effective, safe way to reduce airborne particles (mold, dust, etc) by up to 98%. As a result, horse’s can receive quality, nutritionally-maximized forage with 0% mold, fungal spores, bacteria, and yeast that can cause equine asthma and chronic respiratory inflammation. Hay will become so palatable to your horse that he will want to gobble every flake, saving money on wasted food or messy water buckets from dunked hay! Plus, the HayGain is clean and easy to use, saving users from dealing with messy, heavy Rubbermaid containers filled with gallons upon gallons of water for minimal results.
While HayGain improves horse’s airway quality with their hay-treating system and prevents inflammatory airway diseases by up to 65%, it also boasts a variety of health benefits that any horse can appreciate.
Increased hydration – Steamed hay has an increased water content of over 3x its normal value, ensuring your horse is getting the water intake needed to keep his digestive system running smoothly
Palatability – Picking eaters have no match against the HayGain, as it boosts the smell, taste, and texture of forage.
Allergy reduction – Sensitive horses with allergy related issues such as coughing, skin-conditions, etc. can benefit from the reduced dust, air microbials, and yeast/mold spores found in poor-quality hay.
Maximize performance – Hay is the #1 source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for horses. HayGain offers top-quality results with hay treated from its system to maximize respiratory, digestive, and ultimately, athletic performance.
“Hay is crucial for the health, well-being and performance of horses. Haygain ensures for us that our horses get what they need and nothing that they don’t from their hay.”
Beezie Madden, International Showjumper, Team USA Four Olympic medals, Three Pan American Games medals, 4x World Championship medals
How It Works
Steaming hay is a relatively quick process that can be easily done during riding, feeding, stall cleaning, or everyday barn chores. Because each HayGain is equipped with a timer, each bale or flake will have the perfect “cook time,” every time. Even if left overnight, the HayGain allows steamed hay to be contained for up to 24 hours, allowing in-advance steaming to be done.
Available in unique options to fit various needs and lifestyles, the HayGain is available to order from Big Dee’s in portable and half-bale units – perfect for home, trailer, and away at competition.
Each HayGain steamer is designed with a patented manifold system that hold flakes or bales in place and injects high-temperature steam evenly from the inside out. Its double insulated chest and aluminum manifold materials enables the steam to reach ultra-high temperatures within the chest (up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit), maximizing the effectiveness of the unit.
Whether you ride, race, compete, or use as a preventative/treatment measure, the HayGain is the ultimate game-changer. Not only will it help to increase your horse’s respiration, appetite, safety, forage and water consumption, it’s backed from years of scientific research and testimonials from some of the top professionals and trainers in the world. Experience the difference for yourself!
“Before I was introduced to Haygain, I was soaking hay for Brentina to make sure that it was more palatable and dust free. Then I found Haygain and not just Brentina but every horse in our barn is so happy. Now after our horses are fed the only sound you hear are the horses chewing. I no longer hear sneezing or coughing due to dust or mold spores. Once you have fed Haygain you will never go back!”
Debbie McDonald, International Dressage Rider, Team USA US Equestrian Dressage Team Chef d’Equipe Olympic and World Cup medalist
If you’re considering a supplement that offers a multitude of related benefits while providing great value and easy feeding, I hope my experience can provide an inside look into the probable benefits and results of using either of these!
For the most part, Rotti is generally an easy keeper when it comes to feeding and maintaining weight. As a Westphalian (Warmblood), his build is one like a bull-dog – he’s stout, big chested, and naturally “thicker” than some horses.
However, when I started increasing his workload to more demanding Dressage, Jumping, and Trail Riding endeavors, I noticed that while he was still keeping good weight and eating plenty of hay and grain, his topline wasn’t quite as defined as it had been previously. In addition, he had developed some attachment issues with his pasture mate, and I was struggling to keep his focus during “work time,” constantly dealing with bouts of constant hollering, squealing, and the occasional buck or stubbornness when I would apply leg. After consulting with my vet/trainer/farrier/chiropractor, I ruled out his attitude and tone issues were not due to other issues like saddle fit, misalignment in his spine, teeth/hoof issues, etc.
It was also important to me to make sure he was on a competition legal supplement, as we do attend rated shows, and Quiessence and Balance EQ are legal in the USEA, USEF, and even FEI levels.
What Is it?
Quiessence’s primary ingredient is magnesium, which supports to achieve several purposes within equine biology. Typically, magnesium is used to soothe and ease nervous, overly tense horses who have a difficulty relaxing. This was definitely something I needed, as Rotti would work himself into a frenzy with his nervous energy – sweating profusely due to his anxiety.
According to the Quiessence label, it states “because Magnesium is important to nerve and muscle function, Quiessence may help horses that are tense, spooky and inattentive to attain a more balanced mental state.” Plus, magnesium is commonly used in muscle supplements to provide relief to stiffness or soreness due to tight, overexerted muscles. Considering that I was working Rotti 4-6 days a week, with weekly lessons that would noticeably wear him out the next day, I was excited to see that I could get a couple benefits from a single supplement. Since Magneisum is also an agent used in maintaining a healthy weight in horses, Quiessence is also primarily fed to horses who have a tendency of being a bit too “fluffy,” usually those with cresty necks and a tendency toward laminitis (or founder). Because Rotti is an easy keeper I don’t need to worry about losing weight, it was an added benefit that the Quiessence helps to keep him in peak condition.
Available in a pelleted form, the recommended dosage is 1 ounce a day per 250 lb, with the ability to go down to 1/2 ounce per 250 pounds once the desired results are achieved. Because Rotti weighs 1,215 pounds, I gave him 5 scoops, but most horses would be okay with the recommended 4 scoops (1 ounce) per day.
An interesting thing to note about the Quiessence is that it does not contain any Tryptophane or Taurine, which many other calmers offer. Instead, it offers Niacin (Vitamin B3), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Biotin (Vitamin B7) and Thiamin (Vitamin B1) , which all contribute to maintaining healthy weight.
Balance EQ is made of a proprietary blend of 7 amino acids, antioxidants, Chasteberry, Fenugreek, Jiagoluan, and Kelp. According the label, it is designed to “aid in promoting muscle integrity, definition, and proper body composition.” It also helps to support a shiny coat, good muscling, and healthy skin.
In addition, it also provides Chasteberry, an ingredient that provides unique benefits. One of my personal favorites, this “super food” is helpful in maintaining healthy pituitary gland function and normal shedding habits, especially with horses that suffer from Cushing’s Syndrome. My favorite thing about it are the hormone balancing abilities, making it great for those with moody mares, irritable geldings, or in my case, “spaced out Rotti syndrome.”
Because it’s a natural blend, Balance EQ comes in a granular powder form. All that’s needed for dosage is 1 scoop per day, so each jar provides a 60 day supply.
Results – Does It Work?
What I was hoping to achieve for the Quiessence was the ability to bring Rotti back to a more relaxed, workable partner under saddle, in addition to bulking up his muscle tone without stringing him out. Before I started using the Quiessence, anytime I would have him in the ring by himself or in the cross ties while his barn mates would be turned out, he would constantly throw temper tantrums and I had a limited amount of time to work with him each day before I risked having a complete meltdown on my hands. For the Balance EQ, I was hoping to see what Rotti’s reaction would be with his recovery from intense workouts and increase his muscle tone, while hopefully relieving the soreness he would occasionally experience after our rides or groundwork.
The first thing I wanted to test was if Rotti would even eat the supplement. Since I was already dealing with one supplement he was picking at, I was having to add in a mash to try and encourage him to eat it. Excitedly, as soon as I poured his grain and put the supplements on top, he immediately started eating and finished his entire meal!
While I cannot attest to any of the metabolic claims that Quiessence and Balance EQ offers, I can offer some insight into its performance as a calming supplement and muscle developer, respectively.
I put Rotti on both supplements, and within 4-5 days, I noticeably saw a difference of Rotti’s demeanor when working. I didn’t want him to become a deadhead and dull to my aids, instead I wanted him to be more willing to work and easier to regain his composure during moments of asking more challenging exercises or separating him from his friends.
Rotti became a totally different horse than what I had been previously dealing with. What was tossing his head and pacing in the crossties was now a super relaxed horse, even to the point of almost snoozing! While this may not seem like a big deal for some owners, I’ve worked with Rotti for 6 years now, and he NEVER fell asleep in the cross ties. Even at his best, he would still paw occasionally and had to be constantly stimulated and paid attention to in order to keep his manners in check.
It’s now been a little over a month that I’ve been using both supplements, and I will say that it has been so much more enjoyable working with Rotti again. He still occasionally “peeks” at sudden sounds or call to his buddies once or twice, and has returned to his “normal” antics of pawing in the cross-tie when he wants a cookie after a job well done. However, I feel much more secure and confident in his ability to come back to me with a more focused, attentive energy. In fact, I’ve forgotten to use our normal ear plugs on occasion and didn’t even notice until after I came back to the barn after a long ride! I no longer feel like I have a ticking time bomb in my hands; I’m much more eager to head to competitions and clinics with my best buddy. Plus, he’s still eating everything!
In regard to his muscle definition, I can say that hands-down, the Balance EQ has blown me away with its results. He is no longer coming out achy and grumpy after our lessons, and I’ve noticed more definition and tone throughout his back and neck.
The biggest difference, though, was in his BOOTY! In fact, we did a half-pirouette in the canter for the first time the other day all on his own and proceeded to have energy and impulsion for the rest of our ride.
All in all, I’m sold on the claims Foxden Equine makes for these two supplements, and while I do not think it is a catch-all for everything (Rotti still gets a separate joint supplement), their benefits are proven and exceeded my expectations.
Have you ever wondered what supplement to choose for your horse? With so many options available, it may be overwhelming to know where to start. Thankfully, Big Dee’s has come to the rescue with a list of our top supplement picks for a variety of conditions. In addition to a proper nutrition, veterinarian, and exercise regiment, help enhance your horse’s well-being with these products below!
Don’t just ask us – ask the ELEVEN THOUSAND happy customers who choose Equinety for their horses! This revolutionary supplement, known as the “Miracle Worker,” is specifically designed to enhance the entire life of your horse with it’s 100% pure Amino Acid formula. Not only does it help support muscle strength and recovery; healthier, strong hooves and a glossy coat; and a focused, calm attitude, its patented formula is known to repair and regenerate damaged cells throughout the entire body.
Ulcer & Gut Health
UlcerGard | Tish C. – Senior Buyer, Cindy M. – Showroom Associate, Grant R. – Showroom Manager
FDA-approved, this highly recommended and proven agent is the ONLY non-prescription product of its kind used in the treatment and prevention of ulcers and gastric distress in horses. Research has shown that 2 out of 3 performance horses suffer from ulcers, with flare ups occurring due to shows, racing, hauling, season changes, or other periods of stress. Easy to use and provides up to 4 doses for treatment or preventative use, UlcerGard is something that should always be in your medicine cabinet at the barn.
From racehorses to show horses to any horses in between, Gastra FX is ideal for horses that are prone to ulcers, experience GI upset due to stress, or sensitive to changes in their environment. Lisa loves it for her senior Dressage mount, Indy, and has noticed major improvements in his overall well-being.
“I found the Omega Alpha [Gastra FX] when searching for a better product to address periodic “irritated gut syndrome”. My horse is very sensitive to environmental changes: big temperature swings, a different hay supplier, bad allergy conditions, etc. Any one of these can turn his usual normal manure balls into wet cow patties – messy to clean up and groom off. I’ve tried many remedies from basic probiotics to major gut bacteria re-population therapies. The Gastra works the best… in just one or two doses he is comfortable and back to normal.”
Whether it be age, performance level, arthritis, or prevention, all horses can benefit from adding a joint supplement in their feeding regiment. Not only will certain ingredients like Hyluronic Acid and Glucosamine help keep joints moving comfortably, you can trust the recommendations of Big Dee’s staff that what they use for their horse makes a difference!
“I give this to both of my horses to maintain healthy muscle and joint support. I can see (and hear) the difference in them while taking this supplement. They move easier, with longer strides and don’t “click” their joints like you can sometimes hear in older horses. Both of them still take off in the pasture like young horses and never come up lame or sore. I absolutely recommend this!”
“Equithrive Joint is my product of choice for the joint health for my horse. I have tried many, but this one was particularly recommended by my lameness specialist Veterinarian for the long term maintenance of my FEI level dressage partner. Still in a regular work program at age 27, he of course suffers some wear and tear arthritis, but his xrays could easily be presumed to be of a horse half his age!”
Riding and showing are supposed to be fun for both you and your horse, however if your horse is too nervous, stressed out, anxious, or distracted it can be difficult to manage. On top of trying to keep yourself calm and collected, it can be virtually impossible to focus on if your horse is having a meltdown, too. When choosing a calming supplement, it’s important to consider if it is an herbal or non-herbal and if you want a daily feed through or a pre-event paste. Whatever you select, it’s important to check your organization’s rulebook if you show, as some governing bodies ban the use of certain ingredients, like Valerian Root, Lavender, Chamomile, Vervain, and others. After trying virtually every calmer on the market, Ramard’s Total Calm & Focus and Perfect Product’s Training Day has continued to provide the most consistent, safe, show-ready results to help manage Rotti’s anxiety and attention.
The Training Day is my secret weapon at home when schooling, trail riding, or taking a lesson – I swear by this stuff! Rotti can be extremely herd bound, and prior to using this we would always experience some sort of meltdown once he realized he was separated from his barn buddies, screaming, bucking, and carrying on – a literal temper tantrum! My trainer recommended the Perfect Prep Training Day, and within 2 days, I noticed a difference. Not only does it smell like Fruit Loops, it’s really easy to mix into his morning breakfast mash and still keeps him level-headed by the time I get to ride later in the day. It’s perfect for those that want to have a fast-acting show prep regiment or are looking for a daily feed-through calmer.
I love this paste because it’s relatively fast-acting and I can feed it the morning of a show with plenty of time for it to work into his system and provide lasting results. It doesn’t dull Rotti out and helps manage his Cortisol levels to keep him from becoming irritable and stressed to create a positive situation for the both of us.
A multi-purpose supplement, dac Oil is beloved by many classes of horse owners. The 98% fat supplement’s unique blend of vegetable and fish oils helps to improve skin and coat condition, promoting healthy weight gain without making horses “hot.”
“I give both of my seniors a pump of dac Oil in the summer for maintenance and two pumps in the colder months to maintain a nice overall body condition. They absolutely glow! Their skin feels soft, they have a healthy shine and keep weight on easy. Plus, they love the taste!”
When temperatures heat up, the first thing I worry about is if my horse is drinking enough water. On really hot, humid days where the life is sucked out of the both of us, I tried things like adding Gatorade to his water and put a salt block in his stall, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. A friend of mine recommended I try the Redmond Rock products. As soon as I hung up the rock in Rotti’s stall, he immediately started licking and couldn’t seem to get enough! The top-dressing minerals are super easy to use and takes the worry out of wondering if he is getting the essential minerals in his daily feed. I’m now obsessed with all of the Redmond products and is the ONLY rock salt I will ever use. In fact, my barnmates switched from their previous blocks to Redmond after seeing the difference in my horse’s water drinking habits!
“I feed electrolytes all year round to make sure that my horses are always drinking enough water. Especially when we have large temperature swings, Apple A Day keeps my horses hydrated. They like the taste, it’s a small scoop compared to other brands and the 5lb pail is economical. Finish Line makes supplements with no added sugars or fillers so I know that my horse is getting the right nutrients that they need.”
When Kayla started using Top-Line Advanced in summer 2019, she wanted to find a solution for Merlin, her Thoroughbred gelding, who suffered from chronic back pain and inability to sustain muscle throughout his back. In addition to testing at 100% on the back pain threshold, Merlin also was dealing with a case of Scoliosis (curvature) in his spine.
“I was blown away with the results [of Progressive Top-Line Advanced.] Within 30 days, not only did his body condition massively improve, but within 2 months, his back pain went down to 30%. The combination of acupuncture and chiropractic helped, but I definitely think the biggest difference came from using Top-Line Advanced. Merlin is so much more comfortable now and happy to work – even when I didn’t ride him much over the spring and he was mostly on turnout, by the time I started riding him again he looked better than ever and I owe that completely to the Top-Line.”
For horses that are rehabbing or need help in muscle development and overall condition, the Progressive Top-Line products are a fantastic choice with an optimum balance of essential amino acids for muscle growth, development, and performance.
“My lean built Quarter Horse is given E natural to help with his topline and overall comfort as he ages. I can see a big difference between how he looked last summer without dac’s E Natural, and now!”
For any horse to succeed, it’s important to work with the proper professionals to suggest and guide the routines, nutrition, fitness regiment, and care-taking habits for your horse to thrive. Let us know your favorite supplements in the comments below!
Enjoy the ride, Colleen, Purchasing Associate
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