Seven Must-Have Dressage Accessories for the Competition Arena

Riding a dressage test successfully involves countless hours of practice with your horse as well as a lot of other prep work to get ready for your big moment. Once you are done packing all your riding essentials, you might want to consider a few finishing touches to personalize your look to your taste. You can also improve your riding experience by bringing the right accessories with you to the competition.

The next time you head out to compete, remember to pack these easy-to-forget items:

    1. Copies of your dressage tests: It’s easy to get nervous just before you go into the ring and feel like you are forgetting your test. If you remember to bring copies of your dressage tests, you can look over the tests at the last minute, or have someone read the test aloud during your performance. Try out the Whinny Widgets Pocket Test Books for convenient pocket-sized, bound and laminated copies of your tests.

 

    1. Hairnets: Your hair must be neat on the day of a show, and except for young riders who can wear braids or ponytails, this usually means you need a hairnet. Hairnets come in an assortment of colors to blend in naturally with your hair color.

 

    1. Stock tie pin: Available in a wide array of styles and fabrics, stock ties are part of the typical dressage attire, worn around the neck of a rider during an event. But don’t forget to purchase a stock pin for your stock tie, too. Also, if you opt for the traditional stock tie instead of a pre-tied one, practice tying the knot several times before the day of your show.

 

    1. Safety pins: Safety pins can serve many purposes on the day of a show. You can use them, for example, to secure the loose ends of your stock tie to your competition shirt so they don’t flap out while you’re riding. Keep a few in your pack to be prepared for anything.

 

    1. Conservative stud earrings: It’s fine to wear earrings with in the dressage arena, as long as they are conservative and tasteful rather than flashy or gaudy. In general, this means to stick with gold, silver or pearl studs.

 

    1. Belt: If you’ll be wearing breeches with belt loops, pair them with a belt. A belt adds to the polished appearance of your dressage outfit and can really complete your look.

 

  1. Rain gear: You never know what the weather will be like the day of a show, so a clear raincoat and a waterproof helmet cover are essential accessories to bring. If the weather is wet and rainy, you’ll have excellent, budget-friendly protection on hand.

11 Organizing Tips to Keep Your Barn Clutter Free

When it comes to your barn, maintaining a clutter-free space is more about safety than aesthetics. Debris, clutter and disorganization can spook your horse, increase the risk of injury and lead to other safety hazards. As you care for your horse, barn cleaning and maintenance should be a regular part of the routine. Make it easier on yourself and more effective by incorporating these 11 organizing tips to keep your barn clutter-free.

Create and Maintain an Organized, Clutter-Free Barn

  1. Clear the Barn Aisle. A clear barn aisle is important as you walk in and out of the barn to ensure your horse doesn’t bump into clutter and get cut or bruised. Likewise, if he acts up on the cross ties, you won’t have to worry about injuries.
  1. Maintain a Cobweb-Free Space. Cobwebs or spider webs are a fire hazard and are best removed.
  1. Monitor Surfaces. Periodically check to ensure that no nails have popped through the walls and that the surfaces are splinter-free.
  1. Keep it Well Lit. Replace burned out lights to prevent your horse from becoming spooked in the barn or from getting injured as you walk to and from the stall.
  1. Clean Away Dust and Debris. A daily cleaning makes it much easier to maintain a barn that’s not cluttered with dust and debris. Toss trash immediately and give your horse’s area a quick sweeping.
  1. Store Grain Securely. Secure metal trash bins or containers are best for storing horse feed to avoid attracting rodents.
  1. Store Tack and Equipment Safely. Horse tack, blankets and other equipment should be stored securely on hooks or in cubbies where your horse can’t get tangled in them. Organized storage will also make it easier to find what you need.
  1. Remove Glass and Cardboard. Glass can accidentally break, causing a health hazard for horses. Likewise, cardboard is attractive nesting material for rodents.
  1. Have Separate Grooming Kits. To avoid the spread of skin conditions or bacteria, it’s important to have a separate grooming kit for each horse. Use a bucket, grooming bag or box to store brushes and other supplies.
  1. Keep an Equine Medical Kit Nearby. In the event of an emergency, an equine medical kit or first aid kit should always be kept handy.
  1. Store Tools Out of the Way. Brooms, shovels and manure forks should always be stored on a secure wall rack where they can’t be knocked over and become a hazard.

Turn Tips into Habits

If you’re beginning to clear out a messy barn or preparing a new area for your horse, these tips may feel overwhelming. Tackle them one at a time, allowing sufficient time for each task to be completed. As you continue incorporating these organizational tips into your daily routine, you’ll find that they will easily become a matter of course. Once they become habits, you’ll find that these tips take less time to include, while continuing to provide you and your horse with a multitude of benefits.

Spotlight on Ice Horse™ Cold Therapy Products

The Ice Horse™ Brand

For over 15 years, Ice Horse™ has lead the way in designing Equine Cold Therapy products. Made in the USA, their innovative wraps, boots, and cooling machines have defined product standards and garnered international acclaim from vets and riders alike. Ice Horse™ is dedicated to creating products designed to prevent injury and speed recovery for equine athletes. The multi-disciplinary team of Ice Horse™ sponsored riders includes some of the best competitors the sport has to offer.

The Basics of Equine Cold Therapy

When your horse experiences a leg injury, the affected area will usually swell and feel hot to the touch. These symptoms are indicators of increased blood flow to the site of the injury. Although this is a normal sign of the body’s healing response, swelling and inflammation can exacerbate soft tissue damage and potentially cause further damage. So what do you do?

Cooling down the injured leg will help alleviate pain and reduce swelling and inflammation. This form of treatment is most beneficial and effective within the first 48 hours after an injury occurs. Cold hosing has been (and will remain) a simple and effective way to reduce swelling and draw heat out of an injury. However, the major drawback to this method of equine cold therapy is the amount of time that it takes out of your day. Luckily, there are a lot of products on the market that can help your treatment sessions become more time efficient while remaining equally effective.

Cold therapy can be used as both a treatment and as a tool in preventative maintenance for horses with a past history of muscle, joint, or soft tissue injury.

Quick Facts:

  1. Immediately after an injury (within 0-48 hrs.), cold treatment slows the circulation of blood to the area to reduce swelling and protect undamaged tissue
  2. Apply cold therapy for about 15-20 min. at a time
  3. Allow at least 30 min. in between treatment sessions
  4. Cold therapy is most effective when ice and/or cold water are applied with consistent pressure and surface contact

Ice Horse™ Cold Therapy Products

For applying cold to the lower leg, Ice Horse™ has created a couple different options:

  1. The Ice Horse™ Evendura Wrap is designed to provide extra coverage from below the knee to the pastern and fetlock area. These wraps contain eight reusable FirstIce® inserts that are guaranteed to stay cold for two hours.
  2. An alternative choice is the Ice Horse™ First+Ice Boots. These boots come with four FirstIce® bags (two for each leg) that are arranged to target the canon bone, splint bone, and flexor tendons, in particular.
  3. All reusable Ice Horse™ FirstIce® Packs are filled with small ice crystals that allow the bag to stay malleable so it can conform to any body part. Packs can be purchases individually.

Ice Horse™ makes several convenient products for applying cold therapy to hard to reach spots on your horse’s legs and body:

  1. Instead of cold hosing that hock or stifle, try the Ice Horse™ Hock Wrap and Stifle Wrap. These products are formed specifically to fit their respective areas. The neoprene and FirstIce® packs are held securely in place by velcro straps so that the wrap applies even, cold compression.
  2. The Ice Horse™ Back Blanket provides an easy cold therapy option for your horse’s back. This product comes with 10 removable FirstIce® packs for flexible treatment options. Use all 10 for maximum cooling coverage from the withers to the sacroiliac joint, or use just a few to target specific problem areas.
  3. The Ice Horse™ Big Black Boot makes cooling off a horse’s hoof a little less hassle. FirstIce® inserts wrap around the hoof and coronet band to provide uniform coverage. This product comes with three FirstIce® inserts and one polymer shoe. The unique elastic strap configuration keeps the boot secure on your horse’s hoof. Available in either standard (horse) or small (pony).
  4. The Ice Horse™ Emergency Wrap can be used virtually anywhere on your horse’s body, including the neck, upper leg, and shoulder. The wrap’s anti-migration fabric keeps the pack securely in place. The Ice Horse™ Emergency Wrap comes with two reusable FirstIce® packs.

Please consult your vet, as splits and other conditions can become severe and cause significant lameness if not treated properly.

Choosing a Fly Sheet

Help your horse beat the heat and the bugs this summer! Dover has plenty of protective fly gear for all your equine friends. You may be wondering which brand is the best, what fabric is the most practical, and what sorts of accessories are necessary–neck and belly guards, for instance.  Put simply, there’s more than one correct answer. When picking out a fly sheet, identify your main concerns and consider the functional purposes that it needs to serve.

Does My Horse Need a Fly Sheet?

There are numerous reasons to consider purchasing fly protection for your horse. Horses that suffer from insect skin allergies will appreciate the relief they get with the addition of a fly sheet or mask.

Some horses don’t have allergies to bugs, but can still be frustrated by the constant pestering of insects in the paddock or stall.  Horses will often shake their heads, twitch ears, swish their tails, and stomp their hooves as visible signs that they are annoyed by bugs. If your horse is exhibiting these behaviors, fly protection could help lower your horse’s daily stress levels. If you see visible bites on your horses, you may want to consider a fly sheet. There are few things worse than having itchy welts from bug bites.

Many fly sheets and masks on the market today provide protection from the sun. In addition to bleaching out your horse’s beautiful coat, UV rays can be harmful to your horse and also cause painful sunburns. There is a misconception that fly sheets will overheat your horse. UV protection and the light colored fabrics reflect the sun’s rays away from your horse’s body, keeping them cooler and more comfortable on hot, sunny days. Horses with dark coats or light skin are particularly vulnerable to being effected by sunlight. Another great benefit to fly protection, is keeping your horse’s coat clean and shiny. Some blankets are made from materials that polish the coat.

If any of these situations match up with you and your horse, a fly sheet could be a worthwhile investment.

How to Pick the Best Fly Sheet for Your Horse

Consider where and for how long your horse is turned out. The amount of coverage should depend, in part, on your horse’s sensitivity level. Horses with a low tolerance for pests are good candidates for fly sheets made with neck and belly guards or out of fabric treated with bug repellent. Neck covers can also help protect the coat from UV rays that cause fading. For horses that are rough on their blankets, consider fly sheets made out of durable, high denier mesh.

Just like any other blanket, the right fit hinges on finding the brand that suits your horse’s body type. As a general rule, companies that make their blankets with particular features–leg straps, leg arches, shoulder gussets, etc.–likely design fly sheets with similar attributes. So, if you know your horse fits into a particular brand, start your search there.

A few popular options:

Rider’s International Stretch Micro Mesh Fly Sheet

Rider’s International blankets are made exclusively for Dover Saddlery. The Micro Mesh Stretch Fly Sheet is soft, lightweight, and breathable. The shoulders are lined with nylon to protect against shoulder rubs. The mesh material is slightly stretchy, so the sheet will conform nicely to your horse’s body. This fly sheet features a two buckle front closure and adjustable leg straps, as well as a hidden belly surcingle and protective fleece at the withers. Available in sizes 62”-84”

Rambo® Fly Buster™ Fly Sheet

Horseware Ireland makes great blankets. The Rambo Fly Buster is one of their most versatile fly sheets. The polyester knit fabric offers UV protection and is both breathable and lightweight. No Fly Zone™ technology is proven to repel mosquitoes, ants, ticks, and chiggers for up to 70 washes. A removable neck cover and an oversized tail flap help provide maximum protection.

Additional Fly Gear: Fly Masks and Leg Guards

Horses with allergies are sensitive to dust, pollen, and other airborne particles that can cause runny eyes. This condition attracts insects that cause further irritation and discomfort. Fly masks are really helpful in protecting your horse’s face from outdoor elements, bugs, and sunburn.

When you’re out on the trail, or riding in the ring the Cashel Quiet Ride™ Fly Mask can give your horse a little more protection than the average ear bonnet. It fits like a regular mask and is made from lightweight material that won’t obscure vision.

For the ultra sensitive horse, leg guards help keep flies away and continual stomping and stress to a minimum. The Cashel Cool Crusader Leg Guards keep pests away from your sensitive legs and provide full coverage from the knee to the coronary band.

For more information on beating the bugs, check out The Dover Library:

How to Control Flies on the Farm

How to Protect Your Horse from Flies

Do’s and Don’ts of Using Horseshoe Studs

There are many good reasons for using horseshoe studs: They provide extra traction and gripping on slippery surfaces like grass or mud, and, because of these benefits, they can make all the difference when a rider is accelerating through sharp turns or high jumps. Horseshoe studs must be used properly, however — and that requires a thorough understanding of what to do and what not to do. So with that in mind, here’s a look at some of the top do’s and don’ts of using horseshoe studs:

  • DO choose the smallest studs you can. Studs come in a variety of sizes and shapes. You will need to choose the stud type based off the terrain that will be covered. Studs change the stance and the balance of your horse. This balance change increases as the stud size increases. Therefore, it is best to use the smallest studs that will work for the occasion.
  • DO insert studs just before using (and remove right after). When your horse is wearing horseshoe studs, it is very easy for injuries to occur. Your horse might step on himself damaging a hoof or leg. This is one of the reasons why you should only insert studs right before riding (and remove them immediately after using). If your horse lies down, it would be very easy to cause harm to their body or legs. Your horse may also scratch themselves using their hoof. If this happens with horseshoe studs on, your horse may unintentionally inflict serious damage to an ear or other sensitive body parts. Finally, it does not feel very good to the rider to have a foot stepped on by their horse. This is especially true if your horse is wearing studs.
  • DO protect your horse. The entire time your horse is wearing studs, be sure to have him wear protective horse boots, too. Leave your horse’s protective boots on until the studs are being removed. Likewise, if your horse will be taking large jumps, have him wear a belly guard or stud guard. It should always be the rider’s top priority to keep their horse safe from injury while wearing horseshoe studs.
  • DO practice: Always use studs at home before trying to use them at a horseshow or event. This way, you have ample time to practice putting them on and taking them off when you and your horse are in a relaxed environment. It is also imperative for your horse to get used to the balance changes that occur with the use of studs. Being away from home is not the best time to try this out for the first time.
  • DO use studs in pairs. This rule includes using one on each side of the hoof as well as on both the left and right hoof. Failure to do so could cause your horse balance and traction issues. Use similar height studs on the inside and outside of the shoe to provide better balance. When using grass tip type studs, place a duller stud to the inside to prevent your horse from injuring himself.
  • DO plug your stud holes when your horse is not using the studs.  If you leave the stud holes unplugged in your horseshoes and put your horse on pasture, it’s easy for dirt and debris to get stuck inside, closing up your stud holes. Fill the holes with rubber, cotton, or foam plugs or stud blanks. Forgetting to plug your stud holes can cause damage to the shoe threads and also potentially injure your horse.
  • DON’T place studs on a horse with signs of lameness. You should never put studs on a lame horse, so if your horse shows any signs of leg injury, don’t insert studs.
  • DON’T put a horse on hard surfaces in studs. Hard surfaces and studs don’t mix. This includes horse trailers, paved roads, and cement, to name a few.  Since the studs will be unable to sink into the hard surface, the studs will put undue pressure and stress on your horse’s legs.

In addition to the above tips, try to get an experienced farrier to show you how to insert the studs into horseshoes. Also, never leave your horse unattended with the studs inserted. By following all of these tips, you will help ensure the safety of your horse while getting the best use from your horseshoe studs.

Jessica Adcock is a lifelong equestrian and a member of the e-commerce team at Dover Saddlery, a leading retailer of quality English horse tack, supplies and riding apparel for horse and rider.