Do you suffer from grazing muzzle envy while watching other horses graze comfortably with their muzzle on? When you have a horse that requires a grazing muzzle due to sugar sensitivities or you just need to slow down their eating, it is hard finding the right muzzle that doesn’t rub and is comfortable on their face for extended periods of time.
Before grazing muzzles were created, owners were limited to dry lot turnout (if they had one) or keeping their horse locked in a stall for fear of causing health issues to their easy keepers! We all know this is not ideal as horses need movement, natural grazing, and social interactions with their herd.
A muzzle forces your horse to eat slowly and more deliberately and allows you to limit the amount of forage your horse can consume. Horses are meant to graze 16-18 hours per day, and grazing muzzles can be beneficial as they can consistently consume small amounts of grass while wearing the muzzle.
My horse, Gracie, is an 18-year-old Morgan who was diagnosed with Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) and now has Insulin Resistance (IR). She absolutely loves food and was not happy watching all her pasture mates enjoying the grass while she was stuck in the dry lot. I decided it was time to do research on the available grazing muzzle options to see what would work best for her. My biggest concerns were if the muzzle would cause rubs/sores on her face, ability to access water, breathable material, and not being able to slip it off. I was also concerned about the wear on her teeth that can happen from trying to graze with a muzzle on. After trying out a variety of muzzles, here are my findings:
Within the last few years, ThinLine came out with a Flexible Filly muzzle which was so different than the traditional canvas or cage-like grazing muzzles! It boasts UV resistance, antimicrobial properties, and durability with plenty of airflow. I tried this one on my horse two years ago and it has been my favorite so far. She can get small amounts of grass and the muzzle is much more flexible in its’ movement. She was able to drink water, eat through snow covered grass, and even groom her pasture mates with no issues! I also like that it doesn’t directly touch her face so there hasn’t been any rubbing.
Recently, Big Dee’s started carrying the GreenGuard muzzle which has received high ratings. I tried this muzzle and wanted to share my thoughts. I really like how open and breathable it is. The way it hangs on the halter leaves plenty of room for airflow. I have it attached to a nylon halter and I like that the muzzle attaches to the halter with breakaway straps. This muzzle is known to be “anti-escape artist” and so far, she has managed to keep this on! Her other muzzles she slipped out of them rather quickly.
All in all, there are a variety of muzzles available on the market to fit each horse’s need. As they become more prevalent, new technologies are being created leading to great new products! If you are interested in trying a muzzle or are not sure which one might be the best fit for you, please reach out to us and we will be happy to help!
The Five Love Languages are a useful tool to understand relationship dynamics better and define qualities that speak a person’s “love language.” These characteristics, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Physical Touch can apply to any relationship between friends, family, loved ones, and especially your horse! Read on to see what practices you can do at the barn to share your Love Language this Valentines Day.
Words of Affirmation
Everyone likes to feel validated and encouraged, your horse does too! Keeping a positive dialogue and mindset when you go to the barn will help keep any of the stress or baggage you might unintentionally bring from work, home, or other situations. Much like us, horses thrive on praise and uplifting words and tone, even if they may not necessarily speak the same language we do.
When working or riding your horse, shower them with praise when they do a job well done. So often, if we are working on an exercise trying to fix or get through something, we are more focused on the “wrong” that when they do give a release or a movement we ask, we act as if that was the expected response and wait for them to “mess up” again. Instead, when your horse does give the desired response, a simple “good boy!” or reassuring scratch at the withers will help increase your horse’s confidence, and make him eager to do it again the next time you ask. Much like physical exercise and new movements, practice makes perfect. The same thing applies to Words of Affirmation – it may not stick right away, but keep at it. Your horse – and your relationship between horse and rider – will thank you.
Although your horse may not appreciate a new saddle pad or fancy bridle as much as you, treats and toys are something any horse can enjoy! Perhaps you can try a new stretching technique or some groundwork exercises and use treats as a positive reinforcement tool. I love the Buckeye Treats as training tools because of their size and variety of flavors – my horses especially love the Peppermint!
When your horse is by himself during the day in his stall, treating him to a new toy or boredom buster like the Jolly Stall Toy will help engage his brain and keep him focused on a fun, yummy task. On days that it might be too cold to ride, have a play day with your horse in the arena with the Jolly Mega Ball! You can also cover it to look like a Beach Ball or Soccer Ball so you and your horse can play tag, “catch,” or a variety of other fun, desensitizing exercises.
Acts of Service
Kindness always reaps kindness. If you board your horse at home, or if you take care of your horses at home, having a helping hand to show someone their appreciation for all the hard work they do. Not only will it help encourage a positive, working relationship between your barn owner, the stable hands who help take care of your horse everyday, it always feels good to give back!
Whatever you put into your relationship with your horse is what you will get out of it. So be sure to spend time getting to know your horse and build your partnership! Whether it’s doing something fun like showing, taking a lesson, having a relaxing trail ride, or sharing a quiet moment in his stall, all of these will nurture and grow the bond between horse and rider. If needed, go for quality over quantity. Even if you’re super busy between work, family members, and other priorities, taking the time to find your happy place (for most, myself included, that means being at the barn) will result in a positive relationship and wonderful memories for years to come.
Even though your horse may not appreciate a bouquet of roses, gift card (though we certainly would!), or an expensive dinner, each horse has their own love language that allows them to interpret affection and the desire to achieve a close bond with their partner. Take time this Valentine’s season to discover all the many ways you can show love to your four-legged bestie!
Enjoy the ride, Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist
I made a decision well before 2021 – I wanted a new, young horse to “grow” with. After retiring my last show horse, I knew there would be many more great years of trail riding, but I was going to miss actively working towards something – whether it was preparing for a show or taking lessons.
I started on projects around the property to accommodate another horse – updated fencing, built a barn extension for hay, updated inside the barn. It was getting serious – a new horse was on the horizon!
I dipped my toes into breeder and adoptions options – was I going to go for a draft cross? A stock horse? An off-track Thoroughbred? I had grown up being able to ride the same horse in a Dressage test in the morning, out into a cornfield at night and then pop over some logs the next day. I hold both English and Western riding styles dear, so I wanted that versatility in my next horse – and there were so many great options to choose from!
As soon as I saw the picture of my soon-to-be new colt, my goal of patiently waiting and shopping in the Fall was out the window. After a few weeks of hustled preparations, getting advice from seasoned equestrians, ordering an absurd amount of Cherry Hill books and working with the organization that was fostering him – my new horse, Remington “Remi”, arrived on a cold Friday morning.
All Hands On Deck
Let me tell you, I got a dose of “baby life” immediately! Remi was opinionated straight off the trailer. After an outpouring of encouragement and taking the advice of my family and friends, we took progress a day at a time. The first test in owning him, was giving him, and myself, the patience we both needed to figure out our new life together.
It took only a few days to establish haltering and walking around his paddock, a few more days to be comfortable with him being loose, and a few more days after that to really relax. Who knew I could stress so much over him making good choices!? I realized how much I took for granted the things older horses just know. Years and years of building a relationship with my seniors made everything so easy – while I had to start at the very foundation for Remi.
It’s both overwhelming and exciting being the person that teaches a young horse the fundamentals. That privilege comes with great responsibility as well. Every interaction with him is a lesson – for both of us. What I allow from him as a baby will translate into a full grown horse.
Waiting for food, getting brushed, picking up all four legs and ultimately going outside to burn off energy are very easy things for a seasoned horse, but for a baby it’s about the repetition and comfort in routine. Space and patience are something we work on every single day. In just three weeks of working together, he trusted me enough for “scarier” introductions – like wearing a blanket for the first time and getting his first round of vaccinations!
We have so much to look forward to on our journey together! Do you have a young horse? What are some of your favorite experiences working with a baby?
For many of us, we equate “winter care” for horses to upping forage, inspecting blankets, and adjusting exercise schedule for fewer daylight hours and colder temperatures. But, have you ever considered how a horse’s hoof adjusts in winter weather?
Why Do My Horse’s Feet Stop Growing In Winter?
Even if your horse has healthy growth during the spring, fall, and summer, winter is the season producing the slowest growth rate in hooves. A lot of factors come into play for that, environmental changes like temperature, mud, snow, ice, etc.; the amount of exercise or turnout (or lack thereof) he receives, as well as changes in forage (as many horses don’t have access to fresh grass in the winter) and dietary adjustments. Adding a quality hoof supplement like Biotin will help ensure your horse gets the proper nutrition to support an ideal hoof.
Like most riders, when it’s cold and dark outside we don’t want to move much! Horses are the same way. As the ability to get to the barn in frigid temperatures and yucky weather may prevent your horse from getting longer turnout or ride time, the reduced amount of movement changes the rate of blood flow circulating through the hoof, resulting in less growth.
Caring for your Horse’s Hooves in Winter – It’s a Team Effort!
While this may mean your farrier needs to visit your horse for his routine trim and resets a little less often, it’s still important to monitor for any bruising, cracks, thrush, snow packing and other conditions that can result from winter elemental changes. Having a working relationship between your vet, farrier, and trainer will help manage your horse’s health and be able to come up with a plan in case anything goes awry.
The Woes of Winter
Mud, slush, snow, ice, and sleet can produce a variety of symptoms such as bruising, abscesses, thrush, and slippery walking conditions (that can lead to tripping, soreness, and injury). Check out these potential solutions to help your horse put his best hoof forward this winter!
Much like concrete, frozen ground can wreak havoc on a horse’s foot. While soreness, bruising, or lameness may not be noticed right away, if left untreated, laminitis or severe lameness can occur from trauma to the sole due to walking on rough, frozen ground.
The easiest way to combat this is to ensure your horse is getting as much circulation through his feet as possible on a softer surface (like an indoor arena or areas where packed snow and ice aren’t as prevalent). You can also supplement with a hoof hardening agent like Keratex or feed-through supplement.
In case your horse is experiencing slight soreness or tenderness in the sole and feet, using a hoof packing, mud, or poultice can help draw out inflammation and relieve symptoms.
Snow & Ice Build-Up
Have you ever slipped on a patch of ice while walking or driving? Snow accumulation and frozen slush can create the same result for horses in winter! While your best defense against snow packing and ice is having a solid hoof pick on hand, utilizing hoof boots help provide additional traction to a horse during riding or turnout. You can also talk with your farrier about adding “snow tubes,” studs, or snow pads/rims which act as snow tires for shod horses.
Mud and moisture can wreak havoc on a horse’s sole, causing bacteria and moisture to accumulate against the sole. If a horse is left standing with dirty feet, thrush and abscesses can creep its way in. If you notice a foul-smelling, white flaky residue when picking your horses hooves, it’s recommended to start thrush treatment right away. If left untreated, thrush deterioration can turn into white line disease, which could result in rotation of the coffin bone.
In case symptoms do not alleviate or worsen, always contact your vet and farrier for the best course of action.
Keeping up with the same proper routine and maintenance like the rest of the year will help set your horse up for success come springtime. As always, keep an eye out for anything that looks out of place and contact your vet or farrier for any issues. Otherwise, bundle up, grab some hot cocoa, and enjoy this season of playing with your pony this winter!
Enjoy the ride, Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist
Have you ever had tail envy? You know – that horse you see with the long flowing tail and you think, wow – I would love for my horse to have that tail!
I grew up around Arabians, so for as long as I can remember, I strived to achieve that long, beautiful tail. Along the way, I have learned that beautiful tails take a lot of work! There are so many factors that go into making a “perfect tail,” but hard work pays off. It is important to take tails out and put them back up regularly, especially if you are showing.
Over the weekend, I decided to tackle Rascal’s tail. Rascal has plenty of beautifully long, thick hair but I still deal with knots! As a result, I came up with my favorite “tail care” routine that works best for my routine (and my schedule).
First things first – get your supplies out and have them within reach BEFORE you begin working. This is really helpful, especially when you get to the end of the tail and you don’t have your supplies and have to let go of that braid – you’re going to be upset with yourself!
1.) Cowboy Magic Detangler– Amazing for getting the tangles out – also works on burrs! 2.) Mane Brush – I really like the Tail Tamer Rainbow Mane and Tail Brush – it is heavy duty and the bristles don’t do damage to the hair. 3.) 2 pieces of fabric that will be braided into the tail – You can use an old t-shirt or that spare polo that losts its match a long time ago. Either can be cut into strips and if you are really in a pinch, a few pieces of bailing twine will do the job. (I’ll get to the why/how in a bit) 4.) Guard-Tex 5.) Marker 6.) Tail bagor an old sock
After unwrapping the tail, apply the detangler and begin working through with your fingers. Remember, a little goes a long way! I love the Cowboy Magic because of its smells good and – added bonus – my hands are soft after I am done! Plus, when I wrap the tail back up in the bag, it keeps it nice and soft. Giving yourself small sections to work through makes the job easier. Once that’s done, take the tangle-free brush and, starting from the bottom, work through brushing out the rest of the tail.
Next, you are going to start braiding the tail. I recommend starting a few inches below the tail bone, otherwise it may cause the horse to try and rub out his tail. Allow for a few loose braids, then start your nice tight braid.
Here is where your strips of fabric come into play. Having the fabric strips will serve two purposes. First, as you braid from the top of the tail to the bottom, the braid becomes smaller and smaller, leaving you with tiny bits of hair on hair. By the time you take the braid out, it can knot and cause bits of the tail to break off, so the fabric will help save as much hair as possible. Second, by adding the strips, your braid sections will be more uniform, allowing you to braid the tail all the way to the end without any pieces being too thick or too thin. Once the braid is finished, I bring the tail up and wrap it through the loose braids at the top of the tail. One or two times around is all you need; it’s mostly to make sure all the pieces are kept together.
Next, I reach for the Guard-Tex. This self-adhering wrap is typically used for bandaging, but I like it for tails because it doesn’t get sticky or break hairs when I’m unwrapping the tail. Plus, if it gets wet, I can still remove it. You can use Vetrap, but I find it becomes real tricky to take it off if you leave it on for longer than a few weeks. When wrapping the tail, make sure you get enough of the wrap up and around the top and the bottom of the tail for as much protection as possible. I wrap it around a few times, for good measure. When finished, mark the end with a marker so you know where to start when you unwrap it later on.
To “wrap” everything up (hahaha), the last step is to put a tail bag over the wrap you just finished. In case you don’t have a tail bag, I like to use an old sock that I either lost its match (or its so riddled with holes my piggy toe constantly pokes out). Simply cut a 3” slit down each side of the sock (just enough that you’ll have something you can tie in a bow or knot), put the nicely braided and wrapped tail in the sock (or tail bag), tie at the top, and voila, you’re done!
For those who love the strengthening ability of a lunging surcingle, but want to feel that connection first hand, say hello to the EquiBand System! In the past, many riders and trainers may have utilized various DIY methods to encourage better carriage of the hind end – from polo wraps tied to wrap behind a hind end to the saddle to ace bandages holding the core in place.
Thankfully, the EquiBand System is a patented, proven surcingle attachment that offers the unique ride-ability that no other product on the market has been able to before. Any horse can benefit from a stronger core, improved topline, and better body awareness, including those who may benefit from using the EquiBand as a therapeutic measure. From improved topline muscling, improved Kissing Spine symptoms, and overall rehab, the EquiBand is a product that any horse of any discipline can benefit from. From jumping to dressage to Western riders, experience the difference for yourself and watch your horse’s balance, strength, and core stability improve with this unique training tool.
Curious about how the EquiBand works and how to fit your new system to your horse? Continue reading below!
*According to the official EquiCore Methods website
The Equiband itself is made of latex-free rubber, specifically designed for use on horses. The Equiband system uses either one or both bands on the horse; one shorter band attaches the left side of the saddle pad to the right, passing under the abdomen (abdominal band or AB). The band sits well behind the rider’s leg. Its function is to stimulate the abdominal musculature during locomotion. The abdominal musculature supports the horse’s back. The position of this band is especially indicated for horses that have recovered from a colic surgery, have poor (inverted) posture and in clinical cases such as diagnosed conditions of the back including ‘kissing spines’.
The second and longer Equiband attaches at an oblique angle from the left side of the saddle pad to the right, passing under the tail behind the horse’s hindquarters (hindquarter band or HQ). It will settle in the point of least resistance, above the hock and just below the level of the stifle. Its function is to make the horse aware of the position of his hind limbs in locomotion and to enhance strength length and lateral symmetry during forward movement. The position of this band is especially indicated for horses with asymmetrical hind limb movement, poor engagement and poor development of major muscle groups such as biceps femoris (which is associated with movement) as well as horses recovering from diagnosed musculoskeletal or neurological (EPM) conditions.
The two lengths of Equiband are delivered pre-threaded but will need to be adjusted for each horse as per instructions below. If the bands are only used on one horse it is advisable to trim the ends of the band with scissors after fitting and adjustment. If the band is used on multiple horses the fit and adjustment needs to be checked prior to use.
Each Equiband system comes complete with saddle pad, two pre-threaded sets of Equiband (two shorter abdominal bands and two longer hindquarter bands), as well as a tape measure and user guide. For safety, it is essential to follow the guide on how to fit and use the Equiband system.
Gently rub Equiband across the horse’s abdominal and hindquarter regions on both sides, and under the tail.
2. Fit the First Band
For this stage, have a helper present. Fit the Equiband slowly and carefully, with sufficient tension to not hang loose. Hand walk, jog and lunge the horse. Even sensitive horses will rapidly accustom to the sensation of Equiband. Some horses will show more difference in back flexion with the abdominal band, and others will be more reactive to band around the hindquarters. To start, apply only one band at a time and repeat the same process when introducing the horse to a second band.
3. Adjust the Band for Optimal Tension
Adjust the tension of the band prior to mounting. Equiband is delivered pre-threaded and is adjusted by shortening or lengthening the band below the safety clip band through the triglides (below the safety clips) that attach the band to the saddle pad. Excess can be trimmed using scissors.
To adjust for ideal tension, take the band to full stretch and reduce it to less than 50% stretch, which is an optimal tension for use of Equiband. Using the tape measure supplied, measure the distance between the two clips on the pad (between left and right sides: either along the hindquarter region or under the abdomen). The clips on the actual band can then be measured at no more than 50% or half of the distance apart. For example, if the distance between the two clips on the pad (left to right side) is 1.00m, the clips on the band should be no less than 50cm apart. Excess tension will inhibit movement.
4.Jog in Hand and/or Lunge the Horse Prior to Mounting
Before mounting, hand jog and trot or lunge the horse. Have a helper present when mounting the horse for the first time after fitting Equiband. Allow the horse to accustom to the feeling of Equiband at walk before moving into trot or canter.
5. Adding or Adjusting Equiband
To add or swap to second band repeat steps 1 and 2. Only fit Equiband without the rider on the horse. Always dismount when adding or swapping Equiband and have a helper present until the horse is fully accustomed to use of the Equiband system.
The Equiband system is intended for in-hand work, and during lunging and riding. Use the Equiband system at the start of a workout graduating to use for a full session. Ensure that the horse receives regular breaks as the increased engagement of the core musculature will cause earlier fatigue in work. If the horse’s movement or conditions worsen with use of the Equiband system, cease use immediately and seek veterinary evaluation and/or advice. Use Equiband from the start of work, emphasizing transitions between and within gaits. Reduce full riding time by half as increased core muscle engagement may cause fatigue.
If the abdominal band slips back or if the hindquarter band rides up, check the tension – it is often too loose. For optimal postural fit, ask for an abdominal lift when fitting the abdominal band, and ensure that the horse is standing under itself with the hind legs when fitting the hindquarter band.
Always use the band system at the start of a workout, and remove the bands if necessary. Do not add the bands after warm-up or during a riding/training session: this defeats the objects of neuromuscular stimulation. Neuromuscular activation is best achieved at the start of a session, particularly during the warm-up phase. We recommend use of the abdominal band before adding the hindquarter band.
For optimal care of your saddle pad, it is suggested to delicate wash in cool water, with low tumble dry or air drying after washing. The Equiband bands can be washed with petroleum-free soap (like Dawn), and left to air-dry. Do not leave bands exposed to full sun/extreme cold. Do not use fly spray over the bands or over any area where the bands are in direct contact with the horse. Regularly check the tension strength of the bands and that the fastenings for fraying, excessive wear, etc.
My Personal Experience
I’ve used the Equiband system on Rotti for over a year, and I will vouch it has helped improve Rotti’s performance over poles, gymnastics, and on the ground. The fact I don’t have to rely on forcing him into any sort of position, but instead allow his body to comfortably carry himself properly, has improved his stride length, evenness, and further improved his topline.
The Equiband System has my vote for something every avid equestrian should have in their training arsenal. I’ve been blown away by its results – it’s easy to use and easy to set up, and it’s improved my horse’s physical condition. To me, the Equiband is priceless.
Hi everyone, Colleen here from the Purchasing Department at Big Dee’s. Personally, fall is my favorite season – I love the subtle shift in the air when you step outside on a brisk, sunny day. When I walk out to feed the horses in the morning, complete with my Pumpkin Spice Latte and favorite flannel, I get so excited for the upcoming season and the chance to regroup and focus on what lies ahead. Thankfully, the chilly air and changing leaves inspire me to get some organizing done in the barn, too – plus some new upgrades!
Rubbermaid Big Wheel Farm Cart
Just like a woman has her favorite Little Black Dress, this Big Farm Cart is the best thing. EVER. I have found so many uses for this 7.5 cubic foot utility cart from loading feed/hay/equipment from my truck to the barn (it easily moves up to 300 pounds), cleaning stalls, or using as an oversized feed cart when walking up and down the aisles. I never worry about it getting stuck in mud or losing traction on slippery surfaces with the oversized 8″ wheels. Added bonus – it’s made in the USA and has a 1-year warranty!
Stainless Steel Pails & Galvanized Scoops
I love the feeling of having squeaky clean tack and buckets, and these shiny steel scoops and pails make a perfect addition to my feed room and tack room. Both items come in a variety of sizes and rust-proof; built to last for everyday use. Whether I’m scrubbing tack or need a water bucket when my dog comes to the barn, I’m good to go. Personally, I think the smaller sizes of the pails are stinking cute – I even have a couple in my home I’ve turned into flower pots! The galvanized scoops are easy to hold and scoop the exact amount I need.
Country Pride Insulated Bucket Cover
As much as I hate to admit it, frozen temperatures will be here before you know it. However, I can feel a little better knowing I won’t have to deal with frozen buckets with these insulated bucket covers. They have just the right amount of insulation that keeps them from being bulky or a pain to put on, and the Velcro reinforcements keep it in place. I like the unique design with the extra nylon ring around the lip of the bucket so Rotti’s face stays protected. Plus, if they ever get dirty, I just throw mine in the wash or spray it off with a hose, let it dry, and it’s good as new.
Burlingham Sports Grad-Dual Grain Feeder
With my horses gradually getting less turnout time and exercise between the dropping temperatures, bad weather, and a busy schedule, the Grad-Dual Feeder was an easy solution to managing their weights and making sure they stay in optimal body condition. On top of adding a Slow Feed Hay Net, this USA-made feeder features different slots for grain to sit in, making feeding time fun for Rotti by working to get in each of the little slots to eat his grain. I don’t have to worry about it using it indoors out outside, as it’s made from heavy-duty plastic in a single mold. It keeps Rotti’s tummy happy by preventing him from gulping down grain and saves me money from having to deal with wasted feed!
Little Giant DuraTote Stool & Tool Box
I am all about efficiency, and the Little Giant DuraTote offers the best of both worlds as both a roomy grooming caddy and sturdy mounting step. They come in several fun colors (the pink was my favorite). I love I can store all my brushes, spray bottles, and more in one convenient spot, whether I’m home or traveling to shows and clinics. Plus, I can add fun decals and stickers all over it to make it instantly recognizable!
After a hard day’s work, I know the first thing I look forward to is a comfortable place to sit. The High Country Plastic Barn Buddy Stool is a lightweight, portable option that doubles as a handy barn tool organizer. I like having one in my trailer to use as a useful carry-all, but the seat is the best part. It’s the perfect height and I don’t feel like I am about to fall over while sitting (which says a lot, because I’m particularly klutzy).
As crazy as this year as turned out for myself and everybody else, take this time to refresh and rejuvenate yourself to come up with some fun projects to make the barn an exciting place to be! Grab a broom, tidy up your feed room, scrub your tack until it’s squeaky clean, and get to work! And maybe grab a hot apple cider and donut on the way 🙂
Enjoy the ride, Colleen C. – Purchasing Specialist
For those that habituate in areas that frequent (unbearably) hot, humid summers; frigid, subzero winters; or dry, arid temperatures year round, respiratory issues seem to be just as common as seasonal allergies or leaves changing colors.
However, the innovators at HayGain have created a solution for keeping your horse’s lungs comfortable and meal time more enjoyable. Used by professionals, Olympic/Gold Cup/Pan-Am Games/4* Eventing Champions, and amateur horse owners alike, the HayGain Hay Steamer maximizes the nutritional value of hay, eliminating toxins, dust, bacteria, and unwanted weeds, while improving horse’s respiratory conditions for those that suffer from coughing, allergies or weakened immune systems.
“We were always concerned about infection and pneumonia and Haygain steamed hay was a huge thing for us… I could really feel the effect when I rode [recently-retired star partner] Ballynoe Castle R.M, and his career really took off and he was a much more relaxed horse. I put all my horses on it and felt it was a huge asset.”
Buck Davidson, International Event Rider, Team USA World Equestrian Games in 2010 & 2014, Olympic alternate in 2008 & 2012
A “Tail” As Old As Time
Developed by a group of equine enthusiasts back in the early 2000s in southern England, the HayGain was a brainchild of horse owners who were concerned about the nasal discharge, coughing, heaving, and other respiratory problems in their horses. They realized – much like a hot shower or steam room helps to open up blocked airways and steaming vegetables to bring out their best nutrient content – these same principles could apply to their horse’s forage.
While soaking hay is a centuries-old method of controlling airborne particles, it isn’t entirely effective, and doesn’t eliminate potentially harmful bacteria that may be ruminating within each bale. In 2007, the HayGain was born and the results were proven – clean, dust and mold free, palatable hay.
“Everything They Need and Nothing They Don’t”
While soaking hay can be a quick, on-the-go way of dampening hay, bacteria and mold-inducing spores can still linger – up to 55%! Thankfully, HayGain has been scientifically proven as an effective, safe way to reduce airborne particles (mold, dust, etc) by up to 98%. As a result, horse’s can receive quality, nutritionally-maximized forage with 0% mold, fungal spores, bacteria, and yeast that can cause equine asthma and chronic respiratory inflammation. Hay will become so palatable to your horse that he will want to gobble every flake, saving money on wasted food or messy water buckets from dunked hay! Plus, the HayGain is clean and easy to use, saving users from dealing with messy, heavy Rubbermaid containers filled with gallons upon gallons of water for minimal results.
While HayGain improves horse’s airway quality with their hay-treating system and prevents inflammatory airway diseases by up to 65%, it also boasts a variety of health benefits that any horse can appreciate.
Increased hydration – Steamed hay has an increased water content of over 3x its normal value, ensuring your horse is getting the water intake needed to keep his digestive system running smoothly
Palatability – Picking eaters have no match against the HayGain, as it boosts the smell, taste, and texture of forage.
Allergy reduction – Sensitive horses with allergy related issues such as coughing, skin-conditions, etc. can benefit from the reduced dust, air microbials, and yeast/mold spores found in poor-quality hay.
Maximize performance – Hay is the #1 source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for horses. HayGain offers top-quality results with hay treated from its system to maximize respiratory, digestive, and ultimately, athletic performance.
“Hay is crucial for the health, well-being and performance of horses. Haygain ensures for us that our horses get what they need and nothing that they don’t from their hay.”
Beezie Madden, International Showjumper, Team USA Four Olympic medals, Three Pan American Games medals, 4x World Championship medals
How It Works
Steaming hay is a relatively quick process that can be easily done during riding, feeding, stall cleaning, or everyday barn chores. Because each HayGain is equipped with a timer, each bale or flake will have the perfect “cook time,” every time. Even if left overnight, the HayGain allows steamed hay to be contained for up to 24 hours, allowing in-advance steaming to be done.
Available in unique options to fit various needs and lifestyles, the HayGain is available to order from Big Dee’s in portable and half-bale units – perfect for home, trailer, and away at competition.
Each HayGain steamer is designed with a patented manifold system that hold flakes or bales in place and injects high-temperature steam evenly from the inside out. Its double insulated chest and aluminum manifold materials enables the steam to reach ultra-high temperatures within the chest (up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit), maximizing the effectiveness of the unit.
Whether you ride, race, compete, or use as a preventative/treatment measure, the HayGain is the ultimate game-changer. Not only will it help to increase your horse’s respiration, appetite, safety, forage and water consumption, it’s backed from years of scientific research and testimonials from some of the top professionals and trainers in the world. Experience the difference for yourself!
“Before I was introduced to Haygain, I was soaking hay for Brentina to make sure that it was more palatable and dust free. Then I found Haygain and not just Brentina but every horse in our barn is so happy. Now after our horses are fed the only sound you hear are the horses chewing. I no longer hear sneezing or coughing due to dust or mold spores. Once you have fed Haygain you will never go back!”
Debbie McDonald, International Dressage Rider, Team USA US Equestrian Dressage Team Chef d’Equipe Olympic and World Cup medalist
Have you ever wondered what supplement to choose for your horse? With so many options available, it may be overwhelming to know where to start. Thankfully, Big Dee’s has come to the rescue with a list of our top supplement picks for a variety of conditions. In addition to a proper nutrition, veterinarian, and exercise regiment, help enhance your horse’s well-being with these products below!
Don’t just ask us – ask the ELEVEN THOUSAND happy customers who choose Equinety for their horses! This revolutionary supplement, known as the “Miracle Worker,” is specifically designed to enhance the entire life of your horse with it’s 100% pure Amino Acid formula. Not only does it help support muscle strength and recovery; healthier, strong hooves and a glossy coat; and a focused, calm attitude, its patented formula is known to repair and regenerate damaged cells throughout the entire body.
Ulcer & Gut Health
UlcerGard | Tish C. – Senior Buyer, Cindy M. – Showroom Associate, Grant R. – Showroom Manager
FDA-approved, this highly recommended and proven agent is the ONLY non-prescription product of its kind used in the treatment and prevention of ulcers and gastric distress in horses. Research has shown that 2 out of 3 performance horses suffer from ulcers, with flare ups occurring due to shows, racing, hauling, season changes, or other periods of stress. Easy to use and provides up to 4 doses for treatment or preventative use, UlcerGard is something that should always be in your medicine cabinet at the barn.
From racehorses to show horses to any horses in between, Gastra FX is ideal for horses that are prone to ulcers, experience GI upset due to stress, or sensitive to changes in their environment. Lisa loves it for her senior Dressage mount, Indy, and has noticed major improvements in his overall well-being.
“I found the Omega Alpha [Gastra FX] when searching for a better product to address periodic “irritated gut syndrome”. My horse is very sensitive to environmental changes: big temperature swings, a different hay supplier, bad allergy conditions, etc. Any one of these can turn his usual normal manure balls into wet cow patties – messy to clean up and groom off. I’ve tried many remedies from basic probiotics to major gut bacteria re-population therapies. The Gastra works the best… in just one or two doses he is comfortable and back to normal.”
Whether it be age, performance level, arthritis, or prevention, all horses can benefit from adding a joint supplement in their feeding regiment. Not only will certain ingredients like Hyluronic Acid and Glucosamine help keep joints moving comfortably, you can trust the recommendations of Big Dee’s staff that what they use for their horse makes a difference!
“I give this to both of my horses to maintain healthy muscle and joint support. I can see (and hear) the difference in them while taking this supplement. They move easier, with longer strides and don’t “click” their joints like you can sometimes hear in older horses. Both of them still take off in the pasture like young horses and never come up lame or sore. I absolutely recommend this!”
“Equithrive Joint is my product of choice for the joint health for my horse. I have tried many, but this one was particularly recommended by my lameness specialist Veterinarian for the long term maintenance of my FEI level dressage partner. Still in a regular work program at age 27, he of course suffers some wear and tear arthritis, but his xrays could easily be presumed to be of a horse half his age!”
Riding and showing are supposed to be fun for both you and your horse, however if your horse is too nervous, stressed out, anxious, or distracted it can be difficult to manage. On top of trying to keep yourself calm and collected, it can be virtually impossible to focus on if your horse is having a meltdown, too. When choosing a calming supplement, it’s important to consider if it is an herbal or non-herbal and if you want a daily feed through or a pre-event paste. Whatever you select, it’s important to check your organization’s rulebook if you show, as some governing bodies ban the use of certain ingredients, like Valerian Root, Lavender, Chamomile, Vervain, and others. After trying virtually every calmer on the market, Ramard’s Total Calm & Focus and Perfect Product’s Training Day has continued to provide the most consistent, safe, show-ready results to help manage Rotti’s anxiety and attention.
The Training Day is my secret weapon at home when schooling, trail riding, or taking a lesson – I swear by this stuff! Rotti can be extremely herd bound, and prior to using this we would always experience some sort of meltdown once he realized he was separated from his barn buddies, screaming, bucking, and carrying on – a literal temper tantrum! My trainer recommended the Perfect Prep Training Day, and within 2 days, I noticed a difference. Not only does it smell like Fruit Loops, it’s really easy to mix into his morning breakfast mash and still keeps him level-headed by the time I get to ride later in the day. It’s perfect for those that want to have a fast-acting show prep regiment or are looking for a daily feed-through calmer.
I love this paste because it’s relatively fast-acting and I can feed it the morning of a show with plenty of time for it to work into his system and provide lasting results. It doesn’t dull Rotti out and helps manage his Cortisol levels to keep him from becoming irritable and stressed to create a positive situation for the both of us.
A multi-purpose supplement, dac Oil is beloved by many classes of horse owners. The 98% fat supplement’s unique blend of vegetable and fish oils helps to improve skin and coat condition, promoting healthy weight gain without making horses “hot.”
“I give both of my seniors a pump of dac Oil in the summer for maintenance and two pumps in the colder months to maintain a nice overall body condition. They absolutely glow! Their skin feels soft, they have a healthy shine and keep weight on easy. Plus, they love the taste!”
When temperatures heat up, the first thing I worry about is if my horse is drinking enough water. On really hot, humid days where the life is sucked out of the both of us, I tried things like adding Gatorade to his water and put a salt block in his stall, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. A friend of mine recommended I try the Redmond Rock products. As soon as I hung up the rock in Rotti’s stall, he immediately started licking and couldn’t seem to get enough! The top-dressing minerals are super easy to use and takes the worry out of wondering if he is getting the essential minerals in his daily feed. I’m now obsessed with all of the Redmond products and is the ONLY rock salt I will ever use. In fact, my barnmates switched from their previous blocks to Redmond after seeing the difference in my horse’s water drinking habits!
“I feed electrolytes all year round to make sure that my horses are always drinking enough water. Especially when we have large temperature swings, Apple A Day keeps my horses hydrated. They like the taste, it’s a small scoop compared to other brands and the 5lb pail is economical. Finish Line makes supplements with no added sugars or fillers so I know that my horse is getting the right nutrients that they need.”
When Kayla started using Top-Line Advanced in summer 2019, she wanted to find a solution for Merlin, her Thoroughbred gelding, who suffered from chronic back pain and inability to sustain muscle throughout his back. In addition to testing at 100% on the back pain threshold, Merlin also was dealing with a case of Scoliosis (curvature) in his spine.
“I was blown away with the results [of Progressive Top-Line Advanced.] Within 30 days, not only did his body condition massively improve, but within 2 months, his back pain went down to 30%. The combination of acupuncture and chiropractic helped, but I definitely think the biggest difference came from using Top-Line Advanced. Merlin is so much more comfortable now and happy to work – even when I didn’t ride him much over the spring and he was mostly on turnout, by the time I started riding him again he looked better than ever and I owe that completely to the Top-Line.”
For horses that are rehabbing or need help in muscle development and overall condition, the Progressive Top-Line products are a fantastic choice with an optimum balance of essential amino acids for muscle growth, development, and performance.
“My lean built Quarter Horse is given E natural to help with his topline and overall comfort as he ages. I can see a big difference between how he looked last summer without dac’s E Natural, and now!”
For any horse to succeed, it’s important to work with the proper professionals to suggest and guide the routines, nutrition, fitness regiment, and care-taking habits for your horse to thrive. Let us know your favorite supplements in the comments below!
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!
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.”
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
Complete selection of equine and rider products since 1976!