Among all the preparations that go into getting ready for a show, cleaning up your horse is a big item to check off the list. It’s important to look your best when you enter the ring, regardless of your discipline, and the appearance of your horse is a major part of the overall picture. Your horse’s tail should appear long, thick and neat, with mane pulled, combed or braided. Overall coat condition should be rich and sheen from a habit of healthy grooming, exercise and nutrition, along with high quality grooming products. Luckily, a new company, Ponytail, has launched a high-end grooming collection of shampoos, conditioners, and other helpful items to get your horse’s coat to shimmer and make your horse show prep easier.
Horse clippers are always an asset to have on hand, whether you do all your own grooming, just a few touch-ups here and there, preparing for a show, or clipping to clean up any wound areas for treatment. Certain types of clippers are better suited than others for specific tasks and areas of the horse, so it’s important to select the clipper that will do what you need the best. Consider the following when you go to purchase a new pair of clippers: Continue reading
Selecting a pair of tall riding boots is an important decision, as they are a vital element of your riding gear. Tall boots are both useful for schooling and necessary for showing. There is a large range of tall boots available, from affordable options for any budget to top of the line custom boots made just for you. No matter which tall riding boots you select, the quality and styling make them an investment. It is worth spending the time to consider the different options of tall boots, what style is right for the type of riding you do, and ensure a proper fit. Continue reading
Flies around the barn are unavoidable. All day, while your horse is turned out, he is likely being pestered by biting and nuisance flies. A liberal coating of fly spray and a fly mask are pretty standard, but the less frequently used fly boots and fly sheet can really complete the fly barrier package for those roughest months. Continue reading
A halter might be one of the most useful pieces of equipment you have for your horse. They wear it while being groomed, for leading around the property from paddock to stall, during bathing, while being hand grazed, during travel and sometimes while in turnout. The halter is the primary means of controlling your horse when you’re on the ground. While all types of halters have benefits, and a nylon or rope halter is also a great selection, a leather halter is particularly versatile. Here are some reasons why.
- Appearance – The clean, crisp look of a leather halter offers an enviable, polished appearance. With triple stitching, brass or nickel hardware and rolled throat straps, a leather halter looks great and gives your horse a finished, show ready appearance. You can find leather halters in various shades of leather, from light tan to jet black, with colored leather piping or padding for an extra flourish in some models.
- Customization – A custom nameplate featuring your horse’s name is the perfect final touch to a leather halter. Not only does this make the halter truly his, but it keeps it from getting mixed up with other halters around the barn or show stable.
- Affordable – Leather halters do not need to be expensive. A fancy one for shows can be an investment, but for about $20, you can acquire an excellent, affordable leather halter for daily use at home.
- Longevity – With proper care, your favorite tack items can last a long time. Leather halters are top quality, which combined with good care, will keep them in use a good long while.
A leather halter does require some maintenance over other types of halters, as the leather will need to be kept supple and preferably clean. An occasional wipe down and oiling of the leather shouldn’t take long and will ensure your leather halter looks top of the line. This upkeep is surely worth the tradeoff of knowing your horse is looking his best in an affordable halter that will last.
When your horse injures its leg in one way or another, cold hosing is one of the most common go-tos for treatment assistance. It can be one of the most useful and beneficial ways of reducing inflammation and controlling swelling and pain. If you dread standing in the wash stall cold hosing for what seems like eternity, ice boots offer a time-efficient, alternative solution, and can help you get some of that valuable barn time back. Ice boots can be wrapped around the horse’s legs and left on for about 15 minutes while you do other things, like clean stalls, organize your tack, or groom your horse. Continue reading
Riding boots are somewhat unique in the footwear world. They must blend practicality for use while riding and working around the barn, with style for wearing with pride. Dublin boots do this perfectly, supplying barn-durable boots in a wide variety of popular styles and fashions. Dublin boots are designed to give you high performance and comfort in a stylish boot that you can wear all day, whether you are at the barn or out around town.
While traditionally riding boots have been made exclusively of leather and wood, Dublin boots are made with top quality leather augmented by high-tech rubber and composite materials to give you both better functionality and a classic look. Dublin riding boots are made of the finest materials available today, and while a good pair of riding boots is not inexpensive, a pair of Dublin boots is sure to give you many years of service. Designed to give you the ideal balance between fashion and performance, Dublin boots will hold up to whatever nature throws at them. Their rubber and composite soles are designed to give you a secure grip both in stirrups and on all surfaces in any weather.
The Dublin Renegade Boots are a great example of what the brand has to offer. They feature both a lace front and side zipper to be adjustable, yet easy to put on and take off. The breathable mesh lining ensures that your feet stay dry and cool all day, while the steel shank and comfortable foam insole give you unparalleled support while cushioning your feet. Finally, these boots are made of beautiful distressed leather, making each pair a unique work of art.
For cold weather riding next winter, the Dublin Eskimo River Boots are designed to keep your feet warm and comfortable in any weather. The waterproof treated Redskin leather keeps your feet dry, and the rubber sole helps you keep your feet firmly planted on any surface, even in wet or muddy conditions. The drawstring closure keeps your pants securely in your boots to help keep water and snow out as you work with your horses. In the warmer months, the Dublin RCS Tall River Boot is a popular choice. Featuring redskin leather, a Tough Tech sole, and a breathable construction, Dublin River Boots are as comfortable as they are versatile.
In addition to these models, Dublin has many other styles of boots to fit any need. From rugged working boots that will get you around the barn, to sleek boots that are suitable for any social situation, Dublin boots are ready to stand up to anything you are.
The peak of summer has arrived, and with it comes high temperatures and often humidity. It can be hard to stay motivated to work with your equine partner on a sweltering day, and often in extreme heat a day off is a good idea. If it’s just too hot, and health is a concern, trade ring work for a leisurely trail ride or a horse “spa day” and give your horse a thorough bath. If you do decide to ride though, there is a multitude of ways to help keep both you and your horse cool during the process.
Cooling Help for Humans
- Gloves – The idea of putting on gloves when it’s not cold is a bit strange, but not for most riders. Many of us wear gloves while in the saddle, as well as during chores around the barn. Gloves can be cool and allow air flow though. The Kool Flow Gloves by SSG have a mesh backing, which makes them a perfect summer glove, and are styled to be suitable for schooling and showing.
- Shirt – Wearing a top that’s made specifically for exercising while you ride is ideal. One option is Cool Blast Riding Sport shirts, which are made of IceFil® fabric. This fabric changes perspiration to a cooling refrigerant to help lower your body temperature. Moisture wicking, quick-dry technology combined with air circulation will keep you comfortable in the saddle and around the barn.
- Jacket – Summer season is also show season, so inevitably you are going to have to put a show coat on in hot weather. Make the best of adding layers by wearing a show coat that offers exceptional breathability. Layers of PowerMesh open cell fabric are featured in the Fits® Zephyr coat, which appears as an opaque fabric, but actually is layers of mesh in areas it’s needed most. This is an exceptionally lightweight jacket, which makes it ideal for summer competitions.
- Tights – Your legs are doing a lot of work while you’re riding, so making sure you keep them cool is important. The TuffRider® Ventilated Schooling Tights are perfect for hot summer days. Ventilated stretch fabric the runs the length of the leg and across the back allows air in to keep you cool, while wicking moisture away. These tights are tough enough to hold up to barn abuse, but lightweight enough that you never feel like your lower body is hot.
- Socks – A common oversight, socks can provide a great deal of warmth, and therefore should be adjusted in hot summer months. A sock with moisture-wicking properties to keep your skin feeling dry, like the Tredstep Pure Ultracool Socks, will help your feet feel cool while you’re running around the barn and pressing into your stirrups.
- Cooling Vest – If you’re someone who runs hot and likes a bit of extra help to keep cool, the HyperKewl Evaporative Cooling Vest may be for you. Dip this vest in water for a few minutes, squeeze out the excess, and put it on for 5-10 hours of cooling relief.
Cooling Help for Horses
- Cooling Blanket – Just like the cooling vest for you, there is an equine counterpart. Submerge the cooling blanket in water, squeeze out, and put on your horse for 4-6 hours of cooling relief from the heat. As any horse blanket should be, this is very durable and obviously lightweight.
- Cooling Leg Wraps – Match that blanket with HyperKewl leg wraps for full body cooling. Like most leg wraps, these are easy to secure with three Velcro straps.
- Saddle Pad – The sweatiest part of your horse is always under the saddle and saddle pad. Help keep that area cool with a lightweight saddle pad that wicks moisture away. The Lettia Coolmax® ICE pad is designed specifically for this purpose and summer riding. As a bonus it comes in beautiful, bright summer colors!
- Electrolytes – Supplementing regular water in the summer is a smart idea. Adding electrolytes, such as Apple Elite, to your horse’s diet will provide minerals and nutrients lost through sweating, and keep your horse hydrated by encouraging them to drink.
There are many other products designed to keep you cool that are perfect for hot weather riding as well. Aside from using the right equipment, make sure you give your horse proper breaks during exercise in hot weather, and pay attention to how humidity is affecting both of your breathing. Cooling out properly afterwards, and giving your horse a nice, cool rinse off after working will ensure you both enjoy the summer without melting away.
Performance horses carry an immense amount of strength in their bodies, which translates to powerful and graceful movements that need to be protected with the right equipment. There is a lot of weight coming down on the thin legs of a horse, so when you ask them to work performing intricate dressage movements or jumping fences, you need to make sure you are protecting and supporting their legs the way you need to. Horse boots are used to protect from interference from other legs and potential puncture wounds or scrapes, as well as support tendons and ligaments from the shock of impact during riding or turnout.
While many horses, particularly those with big movements in their gaits, wear boots preventatively, it is especially important for those with prior injuries or prone to recurring injury in their legs. If you are considering purchasing new or replacement boots for your horse, here are a few selection points to keep in mind.
- Front or Hind – For many horses, it’s both. Horse boots will typically come in front or hind specific varieties. Ankle boots are the most popular style of hind boot, but full length boots can also be used. Many brands offer matching front and hind boot, with both designed for optimal shock absorption and strength to last through impacts.
- Category of Boot – Depending on what you do with your horse, different boots may suit your needs and style of riding better. Horse boots made of lightweight, strong material that will allow for ventilation and not absorb water are ideal for cross country jumping. Open front boots are typically used for stadium jumping and provide strike protection from opposite front and back legs, while leaving the front open to encourage the horse not to rub jump rails. Ankle boots are usually paired with these for the hind legs. Dressage boots offer a quicker, easier alternative to polo wraps and are typically lined with fleece or neoprene. Other support boots surround the leg entirely with a strap to cradle the fetlock joint and help prevent hyperextension. Finally, all purpose splint boots are great for horses that may likely hit themselves with their other legs, and feature a reinforced inner strike area.
- Material – There are a variety of materials to choose from when selecting the right horse boots. Neoprene is very easy-care and plastic boot exteriors are also simple to wash off. Leather boots are popular for a more upscale, show ring ready appearance. Fleece linings are very common, and are especially useful for support and protection if your horse has had a splint bone injury and needs that extra padding.
- Size – Most boots come in S, M, L, with some brands offering pony or XL sizes. While there are often sizing charts specific to manufacture, the height, weight, and breed of your horse combined with the circumference of its leg should give you an estimate for size. Smaller, refined breeds like Arabians or large ponies will likely be a small, while average height horses like Thoroughbreds will be mediums, and most Warmbloods will wear larges.
When you do select horse boots, make sure they fit properly by sliding one finger between the boot and the horse’s leg. It should feel snug but not squished. Also make sure the boot is not tall enough that it rises into the back of the horse’s knee and restricts movement. With the extensive horse boot selection out there, shopping for your horse’s new, stylish boots should be just as much fun as shopping for your own!
There’s no denying it: cleaning your horse tack is a chore. At the end of a long day of other barn chores and schooling or showing, you’re tired, your body aches, and the last thing you want to do is more work. Cleaning your horse tack, however, is essential to preserving the life of your tack and keeping it in working condition. Having tack that functions as it should keeps accidents from happening while you’re using it. Dry, cracking stirrup leathers or bridle parts can snap, putting you in a risky situation. Make sure you have what you need to take proper care of your tack items, and set yourself up to clean everything in a streamlined process.
The Essential Tack-Cleaning Supplies
There is a multitude of tack cleaning products available, from various soaps to many ways of conditioning and keeping your leather horse tack supple. Start with finding your favorite of these:
- Tack Sponges – You’ll need these to apply whichever products you select to clean your tack with. The tried and true standbys are the little round sponges, which come in a 12 pack so you always have extras. There are also natural sponges which many riders swear by. Combined with a rag to scrub the tough to remove grime, any sponge will work great.
- Leather Cleaner – A good leather cleaner will remove dirt and sweat from the horse tack you use daily, and also clean away mildew and grime from any leather tack that has been sitting in improper storage. If you’re not sure which leather cleaner to buy, one of our favorites is the Belvoir Tack Cleaning Spray. Using leather cleaner is the first step in the horse tack cleaning process.
- Leather Conditioner – Once your tack is dry from the cleaner step, you may wish to apply a leather conditioner. New leather tack needs conditioning frequently to help stiff leather become suppler in its early life, but a good conditioning is beneficial to tack of all ages. You can use a formulated leather conditioner, or go with straight Neatsfoot oil. If you use oil, it is best applied with a brush- our hoof dressing applicator can works as a great holder and applicator for leather oil as well.
- Glycerine Soap– Glycerine works to seal the pores of the leather, providing a like-new glossy finish and protecting it from dirt. Wiping your saddle with glycerine after the cleaning process will allow you to just wipe down the leather quickly with a damp cloth for the next ride or two, instead of doing a full cleaning.
- Bit Wipes – You can always give your bit a good rinse and scrub with water and a sponge, or run it through your dishwasher for a super clean. If you want to treat your horse though, bit wipes provide a great cleaning and leave a tasty flavor for your horse to enjoy on the next ride. These are a favorite of ours to stock the horse trailer with for on-the-go wipe downs.
Create a Horse Tack Cleaning Station
Setting up an area in the barn where you routinely clean your tack can make the process easier and more inviting. The same way you have a specific location for things like pitchforks and brooms, and feeding supplies, dedicate an area to tack cleaning and related products.
- Start by hanging a chrome tack cleaning hook from the ceiling to make cleaning hanging items a snap. This kind of hook holds really securely, and keeps bridles from falling down as you stretch out the reins to wipe them clean, giving you leverage for those tough to scrub out dirt spots. Your tack can also then air dry for a bit on these hooks, rather than piling up in the corner.
- Stash a saddle rack near the cleaning hook for easy saddle cleaning. A portable saddle rack is easy to store and can be used in whatever location you need- at home or on the road.
- Store all your tack cleaning products in a utility bucket near your cleaning station. You’ll want to include sponges, rags, cleaning solutions and leather conditioner as the basics. When it’s time to clean your tack, the bucket can be used to hold the water for cleaning. Bonus if there is a water source in your tack cleaning area.
Caring for your tack regularly may require some extra work, but it’s worth it. By taking care of your horse tack after every ride, you’ll extend its life and save money on replacements. Put together a tack cleaning kit, allocate a space in your barn to get the job done, and clean away!