Tag Archives: Horse Care

Give Your Horse a Leg Up! Staff Picks of Our Favorite Leg Protection Products

Big Dee’s is back with a selection of our must-have leg protection items. We know how important it is to keep our beloved horse’s delicate bones, joints, and tendons properly supported and protected every day. Whether it’s for turnout, schooling on the flat, jumping, running barrels, or getting your patterns down, check out some of our top picks!

Turn Out

Country Pride Neoprene Splint Boots | Colleen, Purchasing Associate

Who says you must spend an arm and a leg (no pun intended) to get AMAZING quality? These boots are made to withstand horses that will literally eat their boots in turnout. I love the fact that the EZ Pull fasteners hold like iron; they stay in place so well, even after they are out in the field for 8+ hours! Plus, the neoprene is super durable and washes easily – I simply hose them off and hang to dry then they’re good as new!

Toklat Hind Neoprene Splint Boots | Colleen, Purchasing Associate

As someone who constantly struggled with finding the right boots to cover Rotti’s entire hind leg in turnout, these boots are fantastic! Not only does the extra padding on the inside protect his legs when he’s galloping or bucking, the extra long length and fourth fasten tab ensure that he is totally covered.

Bell Boots

Davis Pro Fit Bell Boots | Lisa, Sport Horse Specialist

Don’t be fooled by the soft, flexible rubber on these multipurpose bell boots! Available in a variety of fun colors and sizes, the Davis Bell Boots have a “fantastic” Velcro attachment and comfort collar around the pastern to keep horse’s legs protected without rubs.

Shires Fleece Trim Bell Boots | Cassie, Marketing Associate

Shires Fleece Trim Bell Boots $16.19

The Shires Fleece Trim Bell Boots are a great choice for sensitive skinned horses that need a little extra protection from rubbing – and durable resistance from overreaching.

“These bell boots did the trick for my OTTB who could easily get out of other types and needed protection from pulling his shoes. The fleece allowed him to wear the bell boots for 12+ hours a day without any rubs.”

Full-Coverage / Medicine Boots

Professional’s Choice VenTech Elite Boots | Cassie, Marketing Associate

The #1 best-selling 360-degree protective boots on the market, these boots are the ultimate leg protection item for horses. Lightweight and multi-layered, the Elite boots offer full coverage of the cannon, tendons, and fetlock without hindering movement. Features UltraShock and limestone-based neoprene to combat impact and moisture.

“The Professional’s Choice VenTech SMB’s are great for that extra level of protection while schooling. I like the variety of colors so I can match with my tack (always a bonus for me). They fit true to size and even had an option for my very petite boned Quarter Horse – easy to use, easy to clean – win, win!”

Jumping / Open Front

Eskadron Flexisoft VO Open Front & Ankle Boots | Colleen, Purchasing Associate

As someone who values durability, quality, and good styling, its no surprise that Eskadron boots have been my go-to picks when jumping for over 10 years. I love the anti-slip soft neoprene lining that keeps dirt out and molds around a wide variety of horse’s legs. Both the front and hind boots easily fit a wide variety of horse’s legs and the lightweight TPE shell protects legs from impact without weighing them down.

Flat Work

All Sport Boots | Cassie, Marketing Associate

The All Sport Boot is designed to provide excellent protection and comfort. Combined with a plush neoprene lining and covered in rugged Coverlight vinyl and strike area. Not only is it tear, puncture, and abrasion-resistant, these boots are waterproof and prevent fungal growth!

“These are my go-to boots for everyday riding. They are durable, easy to clean and fit securely. I feel better knowing my horses have protection and support when we’re schooling western and classic Dressage.”

All-Around

Woof Wear Brushing Boots | Lisa, Sport Horse Specialist

These boots are a fantastic option for those that want to add a bit of color and personality to their look – in fact, there are almost 10 colors to choose from! The unique neoprene used on these boots encourage airflow, drawing away unwanted heat from the legs. Plus, with universal sizing, you can use these as either front or hind boots. If you want to jazz up your look for cross-country, flatwork, or turnout, these are the boots for you!

“…for both work and turnout, I use [Woof Wear Sport Boots.] [They] wrap on easily, offer great protection and stay in place regardless of the weather.”

There are so many fun, innovative products out there to try out on your horse. Depending on your needs, style, discipline, or brand preference, Big Dee’s has tons of options available with over 40 different companies to choose from for boots/wraps alone!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen, Purchasing Associate

Fan Favorites: Big Dee’s Employee Picks for Mud Season

It’s our favorite time of year! The time of the season where horses have turned into shedding wildebeests and what was once known as a horse farm has turned into a mud farm.

Thankfully, the Big Dee’s Crew has come to the rescue to hand-select some of our favorite, must-have products to get us through mud season. Whether you’re dealing with issues like 5 layers of mud or ways to bring your horse’s dull winter coat to a shiny spring glow, we’ve got you covered!

Curry On a Stik’

Picked by Purchasing & Showroom Department Manager, Gail L.

Are you looking for a grooming tool that will lift caked-on mud after your horse has spent all day rolling in his favorite puddle? Look no further, the Curry On A Stik’ allows deep cleaning with its large rubber prongs and exfoliating bristles.

Curry On a Stik’ $28.95

What makes this grooming tool out of this world isn’t just the fact it is Veterinarian tested and recommended, the unique handle design prevents hand fatigue – say goodbye to cramped fingers and “claw” hands! The dual-sided head provides a gentle massaging effect that horses crave, creating a bonding ritual your horse will look forward to.

“Finally, a round curry that is balanced and easy to hold! [Curry On a Stik’] will not make your hand cramp up. It’s great for getting out mud and shedding and there is a soft bristle side for finishing…” – Gail L.

E3 Antibacterial / Anti-Fungal Shampoo

Picked by Operations Manager, Jess R.

Who says you have to sacrifice penetrating, deep-cleaning properties for a gentle, pleasant-smelling formula? Elite Equine Evolution’s Antibacterial & Antifungal Shampoo proves you can have the best of both worlds!

This pH-balanced medicated shampoo is the solution to ensure a clean coat, while its fortification of Nano Vitamins A, C, E, & F ensure maximum absorption and diffusion of the vitamins to prevent inflammation and promote rapid healing. The E3 Antibacterial Shampoo’s truly one of the most effective bathing items out there for controlling Hot Spots, Ring Worm, Rain Rot, mud-related skin disorders, and more. Plus, it’s safe for dogs!

“E3 Antibacterial/Antifungal shampoo is my top-pick to keep my horses skin clean and healthy year-round. While it can be used for all-over cleaning, I absolutely rely on this shampoo to care for my horses legs.

During the wet season I like to do a deep clean with E3 and a full dry out at least once a week to keep nasty mud related afflictions at bay. The other 6 months of the year I use it as an integral part of my post-foxhunting routine. This high-sudsing cleanser has a pleasant scent and leaves the hair soft and radiant. I truly believe that the E3 Antibacterial/Antifungal shampoo is the absolute best defense against minor cuts and scrapes from brush, brambles and wire.” – Jess R.

Epona Grooming Tools

Picked by Operations Manager, Jess R.

Epona has designed some of the leading grooming tools great for tackling dirt, dust, and debris on any horse, any time of the year. From brushes to curries and sponges galore, you’ll definitely want to stock up for your own grooming box

The Epona Ulta-Mitt is super effective for bathing and removing sweat marks from both clipped and unclipped horses. The gentle, cactus-like material helps lift dirt and debris free from the skin, then simply hose off and hang to dry! The April Power Shower Sponge with Tiger’s Tongue is one of Big Dee’s best-selling items, a two-sided and super absorbent sponge to scrub away dirt or use with your favorite coat conditioner to bring out a dazzling finish.

“The Epona April Power Shower Sponge with Tigers Tongue is a great dual-purpose sponge. This tool makes bucket baths quick and easy, the sponge holds lots of soap, while with a simple flip the tigers tongue makes quick work of tough stains. I also use it dry to power through crusted mud and sweat marks. Flip it over to the sponge side and give it a spritz with your favorite coat conditioner for a quick spot clean.

The Epona Ulta-Mitt is the one tool I think every equestrian should have in their bath bucket. The tightly woven loops help to create a rich lather while attaining a deep clean right down to their skin. The flexible fabric allows my hand to easily conform to my horses legs to make scrubbing easy and comfortable for my horse. I give the Epona Ulta-Mitt two thumbs up for quality and durability.” – Jess R.

EQyss Survivor Super Detangler & Shine

Picked by Purchasing Associate, Colleen C.

One of the most treasured grooming items in my tack box, I have been a big fan of the EQyss Survivor Super Detangler & Shine for everyday grooming and last-minute touch-ups before entering the show ring. I swear by this stuff and any person who wants to make a “wow” statement for their horse’s turnout needs this product. This heavenly-smelling gel slides easily through burrs, knots, and tangles without being sticky or greasy. A little goes a long way on this detangler – a nickel to quarter size drop is all I need!

Some of favorite things about this all-natural gel is that it’s specifically formulated to reduce hair breakage, keeping Rotti’s tail nice and fluffy and full. The long-lasting results keep the same bottle around for a long time and make quick touch-ups a breeze right before entering the ring. Many of EQyss’s grooming products are in my trunk, due to their non-toxic, pH-balanced formulas that smell FANTASTIC and used for moisturizing dry coats, hooves, helping with a variety of skin issues, and more.

Zarasyl

Picked by Senior Buyer Tish C.

Zarasyl is a Superman-like agent that does it all! This scientifically-designed barrier cream is used for a variety of preventative and treatment methods for most types of skin ailments. It’s steroid- and antibiotic-free, making it safe for any level of competition.

Zarasyl Barrier Cream 6.7 oz $52.50

Its proprietary formula contains bio-available Silica for healthy connective tissue growth and enriched with Beeswax for gentle soothing and healing of abrasions while creating a protective barrier against harmful bacteria. Zarasyl also contains Tree Tree Oil for antibacterial properties, Zinc for cell growth and wound healing, and Lanolin for a moisturized skin barrier. Extremely easy to use and apply, the slightly sticky formula allows you to pinpoint exactly where you want the cream to go – no mess, no fuss.

“[With Zarasyl], a little goes a long way! Test-Free and I found it starts to heal up limestone/mud rash within  a few days.” – Tish C.

Coat Defense

Picked by Purchasing / Product Management, Christie F.

What started out as a non-toxic, sustainable, and Eco-friendly human skincare solution has turned into an international phenomenon for the effective cleaning, treatment, and management of a healthy skin and coat for horses.

Coat Defense Trouble Spot Drying Paste & Daily Preventative Powder $17.89 – $35.95

This all-natural line of effective products is without harsh ingredients like chemical preservatives, synthetic detergents and fragrances – but don’t let that fool you – their topical skincare products pack a punch! The Coat Defense Powder & Paste can be used for a variety of common skin issues like rain rot, bug bites, sweet itch, various cuts and scrapes, and makes a FANTASTIC dry shampoo! Plus, its delicate Peppermint scent will keep you reaching for both of these fantastic products throughout the year.

 “For many years I have battled mud fever until I found Coat Defense.  Now using Coat Defense combined with a daily grooming routine we have had no mud fever episodes (yay!).  I focus on the problem areas, legs, hocks and spine area cleaning off dirt and debris using the Epona Tigers Tongue, it easily removes dirt and debris from hard to reach areas because it so easily conforms to the body part you’re grooming.   I follow up with a generous amount of Coat Defense powder making sure to rub it into the coat to get to the skin.  During Spring and Winter months when the horses are wearing their blankets more frequently I will even put a little Coat Defense on prior to blanketing.  Coat Defense is now my go-to product for Mud Fever prevention!” – Christie F.

What Will YOU Choose?

With over 200 brands and thousands of items to select within our vast inventory, Big Dee’s is certain to have the products you need to bring out the best from your horse – both on the inside and the outside! Whether you’re battling caked on mud in a dirty tail, dealing with a shedding woolly mammoth, or brightening a coat that was left dull from the winter, our expert staff is here to ensure you have the grooming tools and bathing essentials to create a dazzling finish.

Tell us YOUR favorite spring-time grooming faves!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen, Purchasing Associate

Deworming and Vaccination Basics

Last week I touched on the subject of Fly Prevention, and this week I’ll be covering two of the most important health care routines for your horse – deworming and vaccines.

Deworming

Where To Start?

Dewormers can be overwhelming for both new and seasoned horse owners. Before even diving in, it should be known that dewormers work to remove parasite infestation within the horse. It is not going to prevent more parasites in the future, it only tackles removing the current amount within the horse. Some horses can have strong resistance, while others can be extremely susceptible. Getting a routine fecal check can help determine what kind of “shedder” your horse is. Heavy shedders are horses that shed a high level of parasite eggs and need to be dewormed more often. Moderate to light shedders don’t have as much of a parasite count and can be dewormed less often. You should always consult with your veterinarian when working on a deworming schedule for your horse.

What Are You Deworming Against?

Encrusted Small Strongyles
The most susceptible are young and senior horses.
Symptoms: Weight loss, colic, diarrhea and overall poor body condition

Large Strongyles (bloodworms)
These worms can be dangerous to organs and can weaken abdominal artery walls.
Symptoms: Diarrhea, weight loss and colic

Ascarids (roundworms)
 Dangerous to foals and horses under the age of two. Once ingested the larvae move through the veins into the liver, heart and lungs. Larvae in the lungs will eventually get swallowed and develop in the small intestine. Because the larvae migrate through the lungs a young horse could develop respiratory disease, have poor weight gain and colic.
Symptoms: Colic, poor weight gain and potential to develop respiratory disease

Threadworms
Dangerous to foals and young horses. Foals can become infected by nursing from a mare with the larvae. They live in the intestinal tract.
Symptoms: Diarrhea and weakness

Bots
In the summer months bot flies lay eggs (generally on the legs) on the horse, which are then consumed. Once inside the horse, they implant themselves in the mouth or intestines.
Symptoms: Poor overall body condition and mild colic

Tapeworms
Tapeworms reside in the horse’s intestines and don’t always cause noticeable problems.
Symptoms: Mild colic and diarrhea

Pinworms
Not as dangerous as the some of the other worms listed here, but can cause very visible problems with your horse
Symptoms: Itching around the horse’s rectum and tail

What Product Should I Use (And When)?

How often you deworm can impact your horse’s health dramatically. Keep in mind over-deworming can lead to parasites building a resistance to dewormers. What product you use, and when, will help keep them healthy all year!

A general rule of thumb \ would be to use a Fenbendazole in the Spring (like Panacur), an Ivermectin/Praziquantel in the Summer and Winter (like Equimax) and a Pyrantel in the Fall (like Strongid). If problems persist with parasites, you can use a Moxidectin (like Quest) to clear out most remaining parasites. There are also daily dewormer options to help combat parasites.

What Else Can Be Done?

There are factors that can be attributed to how susceptible your horse is to parasites, including age, environment and climate. Make sure you clean up manure from your pastures and paddocks and routinely clean stalls and run-in sheds to maintain a clean environment for your horse. Keep in mind young and senior horses have weaker immune systems and may need additional assistance to thrive.

Vaccines

Where To Start?

Equine vaccines are designed to help prevent your horse from contracting known diseases. We often hear about West Nile or Rabies, but there is a full spectrum of debilitating diseases your horse could contract. The scary part is you never know when your horse could be exposed – it could be at a show, a new horse at the barn, a trail ride with friends – so it’s better to vaccinate and be prepared, rather than take a risk. Many shows now require a record of current vaccinations to participate. The core vaccines according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) are Eastern/Western Equine Encephalomyelitis, Rabies, Tetanus and West Nile Virus.

What Are Concerns In Ohio?

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE)
EEE is a fatal neurological disease in horses that is mostly contracted through mosquitoes. It effects the brain and nervous system causing the horse to lose coordination, lose the ability to stand and render it unable to have normal bodily functions. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Depression, moderate to high fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, neurological signs

Western Equine Encephalitis (WEE)
WEE is very similar to EEE, being a neurological disease spread by mosquitoes – but it effects horses less severely than EEE. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Depression, moderate to high fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, neurological signs

West Nile Virus (WNV)
West Nile Virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and effects the neurological system. It can be difficult to differentiate between EEE/WEE and WNV since the symptoms are quite similar. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Depression, mild low-grade fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, neurologic signs

Tetanus
Tetanus is caused by the bacteria clostridium. Although it is commonly picked up from wounds, it is always present in the environment. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Body stiffness, spasms, sensitivity, difficulty eating (referred to as lockjaw), sweating, rapid breathing

Equine Herpesvirus – Rhinopneumonitis (Rhino)
Type 1 (EHV-1) and type 4 (EHV-4) is a highly contagious, respiratory infection. EHV-1 is widely feared for causing mares to abort their foals. Rhino is also concern for younger horses who have not had a chance to build immunity. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms:  Fever, lethargy, anorexia, nasal discharge and coughing 

Equine Influenza
The flu is another highly contagious respiratory infection. It impacts young horses and those with weak immune systems more often. It is easily contracted in high-traffic areas, like racetracks, show grounds and barns with horses coming and going regularly. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Fever, depression, muscle weakness, coughing, nasal discharge

Rabies
Rabies is a neurological disease that is fatal. The only way to test for Rabies is to send the brain into a lab to confirm, making it difficult to diagnose. Rabies is contracted by the contact of bodily fluids, often seen in bite wounds from infected animals. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Colic, depression, lameness and agitation

Potomac Horse Fever
Potomac Horse Fever is a bacterial infection from ingesting mayflies and aquatic insects. Though recovery is very possible, it is a very costly disease to treat. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Fever, diarrhea, laminitis, colic, and decreased abdominal sounds – pregnant mares may abort infected fetuses

Equine Botulism
There are three syndromes of the botulism disease – wound botulism where the toxin contaminates a wound, shaker foal syndrome where the spores are ingested and forage poisoning where contaminated food is consumed. Find vaccine options here.
Symptoms: Muscle paralysis, difficulty chewing/swallowing and overall weakness

As always, it is encouraged to work with your veterinarian to decide which vaccines are a good option for your horse. While the core vaccines are recommended for all horses, others are deemed risk-based depending on your geographical location. Factor in the age, condition and use of your horse – if it’s a well travelled show horse or race horse, it will have different needs than an occasional trail horse. Keeping records of your horse’s vaccination history, deworming schedule and other health related information is highly encouraged.

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie

Fly Prevention

It’s almost that time again in Northeast Ohio – with the warming temperatures and shedding horses come the flies, gnats, mosquitoes and ticks. Nothing puts a damper on your good mood like swatting tiny gnats out of your face while grooming your horse. Or getting tail whipped in the eye by your trusty steed while saddling up. Luckily, there are ways to make the burden of bugs a lesser problem in the summer!

Feed Through

I’ll start with one of my favorites, and, one of the most important to start earlier in the season if you are utilizing feed thru benefits. There are two basic kinds of feed through supplements – one kind is meant to prevent flies from the inside out and the other kind helps break the cycle of fly populations. The goal of garlic based feed through supplements like Hilton Herbs Bye Bye Fly Garlic Granules and Equilite Herbals Fly Away Garlic is to deter flies from ever landing on your horse. This option may work better in boarding situations when not all horses are fed feed through fly prevention supplements.

The more complex feed through supplements like Farnam Simplifly with Larvastop and Solitude IGR don’t repel adult flies. They actually work by your horse consuming the product, which ends up in the manure and subsequently prevents the future larvae from ever reaching adulthood. This type of feed through takes the cooperation of an entire barn to truly work effectively. Every horse needs to be fed this to stop the fly population around the barn.

With both types of feed through supplements, it’s recommended to start feeding them in early spring, through summer and into fall.

Perimeter Control

The next type of bug prevention should be started early in the Spring as well since it will essentially create a barrier for your barn. I used the Spartan Mosquito Eradictor for the first time last year and was blown away by the results. I placed the canisters away from my barn early in the year and was able to prevent a large influx of mosquitoes around my barn and pasture. By keeping up with the directions, I was able to keep my property relatively mosquito-free all year. This year at Big Dee’s, we are introducing the Terry Bradshaw 4 Ring Protection Mosquito Free Zone, which works incredibly fast to make a space mosquito free.

I place four Spartan canisters around my property in mid-April. They don’t bother wildlife and are easy to spot when my trails get dense with growth.

Other tried and true methods include the sticky tape, fly bags and timed-spray control systems. I like hanging a few sticky tapes near my barn doorway to catch gnats and the straggler flies, and use a fly bag  near the pasture gates (be prepared to change these often – they work VERY well, but get heavy and gross quickly).

Masks, Leg Wraps and Sheets

One of the best investments for bug prevention is a nice fly mask. They range in materials, with or without ears, with or without extended noses or fringe and so many color and pattern options! My go-to is the Cashel mask with ears. It has darts to keep the material off of their eyes, while having a forelock hole and double secure velcro – not to mention fun new patterns every year! I use fly veils when riding in my english tack, but have found the Cashel Quiet Ride to be essential while riding in my western tack.

Sensitive skinned horses can benefit greatly from extra fly protection during the summer.

Leg wraps are another great tool if you have horses with sensitive skin, or in my case a grey gelding that gets bitten pretty badly if he goes out without anything.  Fly sheets and scrims are fabulous for turnout and as an accessory for shows and trail rides. Fly sheets are breathable, lightweight and help keep biting insects from a large part of the body. Scrims are useful at shows to keep the bugs from pestering too badly while waiting for your classes.

Fly Sprays

When it comes to fly sprays, there are so many options. It can be a little overwhelming, but having knowledge on general terms can make the decisions easier. First, there are water and oil-based fly sprays. Each have their pros and cons. Water-based doesn’t attract dust like oil, but it also isn’t as sweat resistant and easily rinses off in rain. Oil-based can last a longer in the elements but can feel a little “heavier” and attract dust. I like having both options in the barn – for an oil based spray I like Pyranha Wipe N Spray and for water based I use Absorbine Ultrashield Ex.

An alternative to chemical-based are the all natural fly sprays. These tend to be environmentally friendly and non-toxic, and serve as a great option for those who want to go green. These products use natural oils like citronella and eucalyptus but need to be applied more regularly. For trail riding, I’ll use a natural-based like Equiderma Neem and Aloe so I can re-apply (lightly) as needed.

Another thing to consider is whether the fly spray is “ready-to-use” or a concentrate. Ready-to-use you can simply apply straight from the bottle, but concentrate needs to be diluted in a separate spray bottle. It’s best to test any product before using it on the entire body. Some horses are sensitive to different ingredients, and it’s better to find out in a small part of skin. Always read the labels carefully and apply as advised – too much can saturate and cause discomfort for the horse, while too little will be ineffective against the biting insects.

Spot Treatments and Balms

The final piece to the bug prevention puzzle are spot-treatment and topical options for the delicate areas of your horse. Roll-on is a popular choice because you can easily focus on areas of the face, like ears and muzzle. My personal favorite are Mug Balm and Belly Balm. I’ll use the Mug Balm on the white markings on my horse’s faces and the Belly Balm on their sheaths to protect from nasty bites. SWAT ointment is another option to protect delicate and difficult areas. Spot treatments like Equi-Spot are great alternative for horses who live in the pasture 24/7. By following the guidelines on each application point, you could help prevent ticks, flies and mosquitoes. The same advice applies for spot treatments, roll-ons and balms – test a small area first before applying like normal.

Takeaway

There are so many tips, tricks and trusted brands when it comes to finding the perfect bug prevention plan for your situation. Here at Big Dee’s, we can help because we have used so many of these products! Feel free to reach out to our team at 1-800-321-2142, through our chat feature on our website (www.bigdweb.com) or through social media!

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie

THE ULTIMATE HORSE GIRL DATING SURVIVAL GUIDE

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, if you’re reading this you’re either a) Someone who is dating/married to an equestrian or b) a Horse Girl and feel like this “manual” will help those wayward individuals that don’t quite understand the “rules” to dating someone involved with horses.

If you fall into the category of a non-horse person who is now dating a horse girl – congrats. You have superior taste, and this guide will help make your dating relationship a success! These helpful hints will give some insight to the Horse Crazy Brain and how to win her heart (and hooves) over.

  1. Understand that the horse will ALWAYS come first. Horses were her first love, and nothing is going to replace that. Don’t take it personally – it’s not to say she doesn’t love you dearly, it’s just a little less. Horse Girls spend a lot of their time with horses. If a Horse Girl has chosen to involve you in her hectic schedule, you can rest assured with the fact she knows you’re worth it.
  2. Learn your way around baling twine and duct tape. Horse girls appreciate the gift of resourcefulness. We can and will reattach the same pitchfork head five times instead of buying a new one.
  3. Horse Girls are known for their signature…. aroma. Don’t be surprised if we show up for a date covered in dewormer paste, have hay in our hair, and sit down to eat without washing our hands. We consider Effax or Leather Balsam to be a nice rub-on perfume.
  4. The Horse Girl is easy to shop for. You do not need to go all out for a seafood dinner or trip to Paris to impress the Horse Girl. Simply provide a bag of treats or a gift card to Big Dee’s and she will be thrilled.
  5. If you attend a horse show with a Horse Girl, do NOT ask how long it will be till you go home. Unless the Horse Girl has a set ride time for her Dressage or Cross-Country test, prepare for a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. This will be an exercise in strengthening your patience. Use this opportunity to ask the Horse Girl how to polish boots.
  6. The same rules apply for asking a Horse Girl how long she will be at the barn. Time is a foreign concept to us. Unless you have set dinner reservations at 7, expect that we will show up at least 2 hours after we said we would be there.
  7. I’ll just say it – horses are ungodly expensive. Between lessons, boarding, feeding, shoeing, showing, vet bills, and more, the Horse Girl will have no qualms in spending thousands of dollars on Fluffy. If you are dating a Horse Girl, understand that these costs will never diminish. It’s best not to argue with her about the cost of a new custom saddle or show coat. There is no such thing as too many saddles pads. Chances are she already bought it and was considerate enough to tell you.
  8. Expect to have your phone on you at all times. More than likely, the Horse Girl has an Instagram page set up for Fluffy and requires a constant feed of new content to post of her riding or grazing Fluffy. This designates your job as the on-call photographer.
  9. Do NOT tell us that horseback riding isn’t a sport. Or that it’s easy. It’s in the Olympics and classified as an NCAA Division-1 athletic. You will lose that debate every time.
  10. If the Horse Girl ever has a bad day, suggest a date night at the barn. It will mean the world to her that you want to support her and watch her ride. Ask questions, be attentive, and show interest. A little goes a long way.

Horse girls are a rare breed. Are we crazy? Sure. Are we hardworking, passionate, and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty? You bet. Are we worth it? 100% percent.

P.S. Just remember, it won’t hurt your chances if you show up on your first date with a truck and 4-horse trailer

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen

Winter Woes – Keeping Your Horse Clean (and Healthy!)

My horses LOVE to roll in mud, and it is especially muddy in their winter paddock (thanks Ohio). So every morning they go out relatively clean, and every night they come back in various shades of mud. Sometimes if I’m really lucky (insert eyeroll) there’s a little bit of precipitation and that mud really burrows into their winter coats.

While the majority of their body stays mostly clean thanks to their turnout sheets, I have some really messy legs and necks to deal with. Keeping them clean isn’t just for looks, it’s also for their health. Mud is just a mixture of water and earth (soil, organic matter, etc). That means that the slop out in the paddock is a thriving breeding ground for all sorts of nasty bacteria. That bacteria can find its way into your horses hooves (thrush), onto your horse’s skin (Rain Rot and Scratches) and even infect any open wounds. Doing daily body checks and regular grooming is the only way to help prevent possible skin problems, and even then, it might not be enough. Treating the problem before it gets out of hand can save both time and money.

My Grooming Process
Make sure you clean your grooming tools often – dirty brushes won’t help you get a clean horse!

Step 1 – Mane & Tail
I always start with the mane and tail using my trusty Cowboy Magic Detangler and gloss it over generously. I like using brushes for this rather than combs – like the Oster or the Mane and Tail Brush. These allow me to glide into the hair without pulling strands out, and really makes quick work of cutting through the tangles and dirt. The Detangler also conditions the hair while repelling dirt and dust.

Detangler is a must-have in my barn! Not only does it help speed up the grooming process, it also helps stop hair breakage and adds a nice shine.

Step 2 – Cutting Through All that Dried Mud
Next step is getting all of the big chunks of mud off with a simple Rubber Curry. It’s gentle and conforms to their body so I can really work into the mud spots, without fear of digging too roughly. After the big chunks are gone, I go back in with my Wahl Stiff Body Brush and work more of the dirt out. Next up is probably my favorite barn tool invention – the Epona Tiger’s Tongue! This little sponge might look deceivingly small, but once out of the package, it turns into a fabulous multi-use tool. I prefer to use it dry, and it helps pick up the last little chunks of dirt and dust. It’s gentle and functional enough to use it all over – head, neck, body and legs!

Helpful tip – it’s a lot easier to clean off dried mud than fresh, wet mud. If you aren’t in a time crunch, wait a little for the mud to dry, then start grooming.

Step 3 – Out with the Stains, In with the Shine
After the bulk of mud and dirt it gone, I go in with a waterless shampoo. My go-to is Cowboy Magic’s Green Spot Remover, but I also love the new Argan Oil Waterless Shampoo as well as Showsheen Stain Remover. I spray generously in particularly dirty looking or stained areas, then let it sit. While it sits, I clean out hooves with my favorite hoof pick – the Combo with a Brush! Talk about a deal;  for only $1.75, this sturdy little pick scrapes out the dirt then can go in and brush out the sole. After the hooves are picked, I go back to the dirty spots I sprayed earlier, and wipe away with a rag. Just like that, the staining and dirt it gone, leaving a soft, bright grey underneath.

A grey owner’s constant struggle – poop stains! With a good spot cleaner, a rag and a few minutes of your time, that stain can be removed!

Step 4 – Final Touches
Now that the majority of the of the body is cleaned, I go back in for coat conditioning and a quick brushing from a soft brush. My all-time favorite coat conditioner is the EQyss Avacado Mist – not only does it smell amazing, the second it’s sprayed on the coat, you can feel it work into hair. Conditioning the coat after cleaning help moisturize and reduce hair damage – and it also helps if your horse sometimes gets “zapped” by blanket static. An honorable mention in my grooming locker is also the Tenda Sheen – I usually keep this handy for a quick shine and it smells refreshing. When using a post-groom conditioner or shine, I spray onto the coat, then spray onto a cloth. I use the cloth on the face so I can easily shine up gently. I always take care around the eyes, but also wipe down the jaw, ears and muzzle.

You can’t go wrong with a good stain remover and conditioner!

Step 5 – Treatment and Prevention
If at any point along those steps I find a wound, scrape, signs of thrush or a skin condition, I have a locker full of treatment and prevention options! My most essential item during the mud season is Kopertox – I use it for both prevention and treatment of thrush. It is a little more than other brands, but it definitely does the job – and quickly! It can be a little intimidating to use, it stains very easily (let’s not even talk about the smell) but there are ways to make it easier. I actually pour my Kopertox into a spray bottle which helps me get the entire sole and pinpoint certain areas with relative ease.

It’s always a good idea to have a few first aid and skin/hoof care products on hand!

If I notice any wounds, I will first clean them up (usually with either just water if it’s a scrape or a diluted iodine solution if it’s a little bit deeper). I like having two different types of wound treatment on hand – something in a cream form, like the Banixx Wound Care, and something in a spray form like Vetericyn Plus. I like using the Banixx for easy to reach and small scrape wounds. It helps soothe and heal the skin while protecting it. The Vetericyn is perfect for hard to reach areas and bigger wounds. A simple spray and protected!

Last, but not least, my favorite skin condition product to use is the Coat Defense. It comes in two forms – Paste and Powder. The paste is perfect for clearing up fungal and bacterial problem areas. I use it on my gelding’s hind legs as both a prevention (in the mud season) and a treatment (in the Spring when they get a little bit of dew scald from the grass). The paste continually dries out, and since bacteria thrives on moisture – it keeps working well after applying.

Coat Defense Paste is easy to apply, simply scoop a chunk with your finger and wipe on. It works in the cold and heat without issue or hardening.

The powder form works fabulous as a grooming tool and treatment for larger areas. It’s very easy to shake on, then with your fingers or a curry, work the powder into the coat. The results are immediate! A clean, fresh coat, and no dirt! The powder works great for my horses in the summer months when they sweat in the heat and humidity, a little bit of powder on the forehead – problem solved! It’s also a great way to help treat rain rot and other fungal/bacterial skin conditions in the muddy season.

The results are immediate with the powder! It help keep horses “fresh” when bathing might not be an option in the cold months.
Conclusion

Having the right tools, supplies and awareness can help make the gloomy season easier to bare. Simple body checks and grooming habits will make sure your horse is comfortable while enduring the rain, wind and mud – and though it may seem never-ending, bright sunny skies are just on the horizon!

Written by Marketing Associate, Cassie Huprich

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.

First… BATHE YOUR HORSE!

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,
Colleen

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.

Mobility

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!

Nutrition

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

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.