Tag Archives: Horse Health

Which Grazing Muzzle Works Best For Your horse?

Do you suffer from grazing muzzle envy while watching other horses graze comfortably with their muzzle on? When you have a horse that requires a grazing muzzle due to sugar sensitivities or you just need to slow down their eating, it is hard finding the right muzzle that doesn’t rub and is comfortable on their face for extended periods of time.

Before grazing muzzles were created, owners were limited to dry lot turnout (if they had one) or keeping their horse locked in a stall for fear of causing health issues to their easy keepers! We all know this is not ideal as horses need movement, natural grazing, and social interactions with their herd.

A muzzle forces your horse to eat slowly and more deliberately and allows you to limit the amount of forage your horse can consume. Horses are meant to graze 16-18 hours per day, and grazing muzzles can be beneficial as they can consistently consume small amounts of grass while wearing the muzzle.

My horse, Gracie, is an 18-year-old Morgan who was diagnosed with Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and now has Insulin Resistance (IR). She absolutely loves food and was not happy watching all her pasture mates enjoying the grass while she was stuck in the dry lot. I decided it was time to do research on the available grazing muzzle options to see what would work best for her. My biggest concerns were if the muzzle would cause rubs/sores on her face, ability to access water, breathable material, and not being able to slip it off.  I was also concerned about the wear on her teeth that can happen from trying to graze with a muzzle on. After trying out a variety of muzzles, here are my findings:

I started with two canvas muzzles, the Best Friend Padded Leather Crown Grazing Muzzle and the Easy Breathe Adjustable Grazing Muzzle. While I did like the size of the grazing hole on these muzzles, the canvas material gave her sweat lines, however, these grazing muzzles provide a lot of adjustability to fit different horse head shapes!

Within the last few years, ThinLine came out with a Flexible Filly muzzle which was so different than the traditional canvas or cage-like grazing muzzles! It boasts UV resistance, antimicrobial properties, and durability with plenty of airflow. I tried this one on my horse two years ago and it has been my favorite so far. She can get small amounts of grass and the muzzle is much more flexible in its’ movement. She was able to drink water, eat through snow covered grass, and even groom her pasture mates with no issues! I also like that it doesn’t directly touch her face so there hasn’t been any rubbing.

Recently, Big Dee’s started carrying the GreenGuard muzzle which has received high ratings. I tried this muzzle and wanted to share my thoughts. I really like how open and breathable it is. The way it hangs on the halter leaves plenty of room for airflow. I have it attached to a nylon halter and I like that the muzzle attaches to the halter with breakaway straps.  This muzzle is known to be “anti-escape artist” and so far, she has managed to keep this on! Her other muzzles she slipped out of them rather quickly.

All in all, there are a variety of muzzles available on the market to fit each horse’s need. As they become more prevalent, new technologies are being created leading to great new products! If you are interested in trying a muzzle or are not sure which one might be the best fit for you, please reach out to us and we will be happy to help!

Written by Customer Service Representative, Erica

Winter Hoof Care – How to Promote and ensure health and proper growth

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.

Adding a quality hoof supplement, with the added benefits of joint support, will help keep hooves happy and healthy all year-round! Farriers Formula Double Strength Plus Joint, 11 lb: $119.99

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!

Hoof Bruising

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.

This feed-through pellet is packed with nutrients like Biotin, Calcium, Iodine, and Methionine essential to strong and healthy hoof growth; 11 lb $49.95

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.

The Pure Sole Hoof Mud is packed with essential oils, herbs, and Apple Cider Vinegar to help treat soreness, thrush, cracks, and other common hoof ailments. $39.95
Proven to pinpoint and treat inflammation and hoof soreness, Magic Cushion is one of the best! 4 lb, $48.95

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.

Be sure to check out the wide variety of hoof boots and accessories available on www.bigdweb.com. With brands to select from like EasyCare, Scoot Boots, and Cavallo, there is something for any size, shape, or need.

Thrush and Abscesses

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.

As temperatures fluctuate, causing the hoof wall to expand and contract, bacteria has the chance to invade the hoof capsule, where painful abscesses can occur. Using a abscesses treatment kit or poultice, epsom salt, and a hoof wrap can draw out painful bacteria and bring the abscess to the surface.

The SteriHoof Kit has everything you need for cleaning, disinfecting, and treating abscesses! $49.95

In case symptoms do not alleviate or worsen, always contact your vet and farrier for the best course of action.

Final Thoughts

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!

Bundle up and grab some mittens, enjoy this winter season!

Enjoy the ride,
Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist

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.


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

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

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

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.


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 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 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

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.

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 body clipping

The Good, the Bad, and the Hairy…

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

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

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

Thermoregulation & Body Clipping

Photo courtesy of Arioneo

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

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

Types of Body Clips

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Blade Should I Use…

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

Courtesy of Andis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before You Start Clipping

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


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

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

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

Top Tips to Clips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the ride,

Multi-Vitamins for Horses

Multi-Vitamin Supplements

Deciding on an adequate nutrition program for one’s horse can, at times, be a frustrating endeavor.  There are so many differences, from types of feed to the amount one needs to feed to ensure all of your horse’s nutritional needs are being met.  Combine that with differences in the quality of hay from field to field.  First to second cut, and nutrient loss over time – one can really struggle to provide the best possible diet for one’s horse.  Feeding a general multi-vitamin can help ensure that your horse is getting the vitamins and minerals it needs.

Multi-vitamins are going to include a wide range of vitamins including vitamin A, D, E, and the B-complex vitamins.  Most horses can meet their requirements of vitamin A simply by grazing.  However, especially here in northeast Ohio, horses are unable to graze year round.  As we switch from relying on pasture for our horses forage requirements to relying on hay, we need to consider the impact storage has on vitamin content.

What Should You Look For

Hay, no matter what quality, will lose vitamins, especially vitamin A over time.  The hay we are feeding in February, March, and April is of significantly lower quality than the same hay that was fed last September or October. Because vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, horses are capable of storing it for a certain amount of time. This can somewhat offset the content lost in hay over time. However, towards the end of winter it may be a good idea to look for alternative sources for vitamin A.

Vitamin D is readily available, especially during summer months, as horses can obtain all they need from the sun.  Again though, not all of our horses are turned out all day during the winter months.  Some show horses are kept stalled and turned out either for short amounts of time, or in indoor arenas only.  For these horses, vitamin D supplementation is important as well.

Horses in strenuous work during the winter months have and horses suffering from muscular system disorders need extra help.  Supplemental vitamin E and the mineral selenium can be very valuable and help prevent certain disorders. Continue reading Multi-Vitamins for Horses

Deworming Horses 101

Deworming Horses 101 | Big Dee's Tack & Vet Supplies

Deworming guide

Have you ever been in a tack store staring at the wall of dewormers wondering “what should I give again“? Hopefully a savior (in the form of a store associate) arrives to tell you what to give. Then one arrives, but they are full of questions you just can’t remember the answers to! What did you de-worm your horse with last? , How often do you de-worm?, Have you had a fecal sample taken?  Since most of us have been there, here is an overview that we hope is helpful when planning your horses deworming schedule this year.

Let’s start with some basics –

What types of worms cause trouble?

Encrusted Small StrongylesMost susceptible are young and older horses. The larva can embed in the intestines. Large numbers of small strongyles can cause weight loss, colic, diarrhea and overall poor condition.

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 to 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.

Large Strongyles (bloodworms) – These worms can be dangerous to organs and can weaken abdominal artery walls. Common symptoms – diarrhea, weight loss and colic.

Pinworms – Not as dangerous as the other worms listed here – these worms typically cause itching around the horse’s rectum and tail.

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. Common symptoms – diarrhea and weakness.

Bots In the warm seasons bot flies swarm around horses with the main purpose of finding a place on the horse to lay its eggs. After the eggs are laid – the horse can ingest them. Once inside the horse, they implant themselves in the mouth or intestines. While living in the intestines they can cause poor overall condition and mild colics.

Tapeworms – These are probably the least worrisome worm of them all. Tapeworms reside in the intestine and just live off of the food that comes to them. Mild colic and diarrhea are common symptoms of a horse carrying many tapeworms.

Now that we know about the worms… let’s find out how to treat them!

What types of dewormers are there?

Ivermectin Paste &  Praziquantel – For the removal & control of large and small strongyles, pinworms, hairworms, threadworms, stomach worms, lungworms, ascarids (roundworms) and bots.

Moxidectin Paste & Praziquantel – For the removal & control of large and small strongyles, ascarids (roundworms), pinworms, hairworms, stomach worms and bots.

Fenbendazole – For the treatment of large and small strongyles, ascarids (roundworms) and pinworms

Pyrantel Pamoate – For the removal and control of large/small strongyles, roundworms and pinworms

Daily Dewormers – Pryantel Tartate – Provides continuous protection against large and small strongyles, ascarids (roundworms) and pinworms.

Many veterinarians recommend fecal exams every three months. The exam will determine how much your horse sheds parasite eggs. Horses can range from heavy, to moderate to light shedders. Some horses have a high immunity to the parasites while others don’t. Horses that are in the pasture with other horses have a higher risk of becoming infected with roundworms and strongyles. A horse needs to ingest the eggs to become infected. Horses that are kept in well cleaned stalls are less likely to become infected. There are other factors as well – age, environment, climate, etc.

Your vet will most likely come up with a proper deworming program for you that will last a year. After a year, you will need to reevaluate and come up with an updated program.

Hot Picks from the 2012 Last Chance for Summer Savings Flyer

The new Last Chance for Summer Savings Flyer will be arriving in mailboxes soon. If you’ve shopped at Big Dee’s for years, then you know our sales flyers are your exclusive ticket to amazing savings. Since I know all of you must be “Chomping at the Bit,” I wanted to give you a sneak peek at some of my favorite deals.

Acti-Flex 4000

If you haven’t heard about the equine joint supplement Acti- Flex yet, then you are missing out on one of the greatest trade secrets in the business. This powerful liquid joint supplement combines Chondriotin Sulfate, MSM, Glucosamine Sulfate, Ascorbic Acid, Boswella Serate and Hyaluronic Acid (125 mg per oz). If you still need convincing, check out the label, or better yet the reviews. Acti-Flex 4000 has 64 reviews and averages a FIVE STAR rating. Most importantly, you can’t beat the deal. When you take advantage of the promotion, Acti-Flex is only $0.53 a day! I challenge you to beat that deal. If you find a joint supplement that combines the same ingredients at the same dosages at a cheaper price, I would love to hear about it. Not to sound too Hair Club for Men, but I also use Acti-Flex for my hunter mare. It really works!

Horse Health Ivermectin

Whether you’re on a rotation, do fecal testing, or just deworm when you feel like it, we all have to deworm our horses. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil. Here at Big Dee’s we want to make this process as easy and hopefully painless as possible. How you ask? We work with our suppliers to give you the BEST possible deals on dewormers. Whether you choose Ivermectin, Bimectin, Pyrantel, or Fenbendazole, we have the best deals to keep your horse healthy and worm free. With Horse Health Ivermectin costing as low as $2.05 per tube, it was an easy choice!

Fly Mask by Horse Sense

Summer is upon us and fly season is in full force.This Fly Mask by Horse Sense will help both you and your horse beat the bugs this season. The durable netting not only protects your horses eyes, but is also easy to wash. The comfort cotton trim will make your horse both calm and cool during these hot summer months. At $9.99, this fly mask’s price is hard to beat.

OOPS Jolly Balls – Assorted Colors

“OOPS” during production means BIG savings for you! These Jolly Balls may have irregular colors, but they still have the same functionality and quality craftsmanship as all Horsemen’s Pride products. These balls, which require no air to inflate, have become a stable staple. With over 29 reviews, these Jolly Balls still maintain a FIVE STAR rating. If you’re looking for a great horse toy at an amazing value, then this is the product for you!

Want to check out more of these great deals before everyone else? View the flyer deals online now – HERE!

Products mentioned in this article: Acti-Flex, Horse Health Ivermectin, Fly Mask by Horse Sense, and Jolly Balls