As we head into fall, many horse owners are starting to think about blanketing and which layers they will need to keep their horses warm and dry this season. A turnout sheet or light blanket can be important elements to add to your horse’s wardrobe to protect from mud and rain as the weather starts to cool, and is equally useful in the spring when weather is warming but still retains a chill. A turnout sheet is a lightweight, waterproof sheet with no fill, which is great for turnout to protect from mud, rain or wind. A light turnout blanket will protect from mud, rain and wind as well, with the additional benefit of having a light fill to provide additional warmth. Each of these horse clothing options are not necessarily required, but are great options in certain conditions.
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
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
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.
With spring leaving us and summer weather settling in, barnyard insect pests are out in full force. The armies of horse flies, black flies, house flies and all other flies invading your horse’s personal space can seem overwhelming and are irritating for both you and your mount. Help keep the summer invasion under control with these fly control tactics.
- Keep Stable Grounds Clean: Removing items of attraction for flies is the first step to insect control around your barn. Ensure that manure is being removed from stalls and paddocks throughout the day, and that grassy areas around the barn are kept trimmed. For manure that cannot be removed regularly, Fly Predators is a natural way to stop pest flies where they start. Insects are also drawn to standing water as it serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the like, so emptying any unused water tubs overnight can help. Additionally, make sure grain is secured in containers that won’t let water in, and will keep feed fresh while keeping bugs out.
- Fly Free with Air Flow: Stagnant or stale air holds in barn scents and moisture, which attract flies. By keeping air circulating throughout your barn, you help to keep a fresh environment where flies and other insects don’t see the appeal. Installing some fans throughout your stable can help keep the interior environment more comfortable for everyone.
- Shield Your Horse with a Fly Sheet: A fly sheet can be great armor against flies and other biting insects that pester your horse during turnout. Since flies are typically a problem in summer months, it’s important that your fly sheet is lightweight and allows maximum air flow to keep your horse cool while protecting him from flies. Weatherbeeta’s Airflow fly sheet does just this and if your horse is particularly sensitive to flies, the detachable neck cover is a great add on to this fly sheet to reduce bites on the neck as well.
- Add Additional Armor: Fly sheets are not the only means of defense. A fly mask like the Airflow by Weaterbeeta, will shield your horse’s eyes and ears from nagging insects. Protecting these sensitive and vulnerable areas is important and helps to reduce the stress your horse feels from having to shake off pestering bugs. Additionally, fly leg wraps can lessen continuous stomping while turned out or in a stall.
- Spray Them All Away: Of course the most common and widely used fly control is fly spray. The wide array of fly control products available allows you to choose the perfect product for you, your horse, and what you will be doing. Fly spray should be liberally sprayed on the horse before turnout, before being ridden, and after any bathing or rinsing off so that they have a fresh coating.
Utilizing these strategies should give you a one up on the flies, and will certainly help to make your horse happier. Outfitting your horse in a fly sheet and fly mask has the added benefits of protecting him from the harmful UV sun rays. Avoiding sunburns on light areas of the coat will help keep your horse looking their best all season long. Feeling free from flies is the start to a wonderful summer with your four legged partner.
Regular bathing and grooming sessions are essential components of horse care, ensuring your horse’s hooves, skin, and coat are in healthy condition, while providing important bonding time for the two of you. Additionally, because grooming allows you to go over every inch of your horse, you’ll often be able to tell if something is amiss during these sessions. Horse shampoo isn’t the only thing you need to get your equine friend clean- get the most out of the time you spend bathing and grooming by having these essentials on hand.
Bathing Kit Essentials for Horses
- Horse Shampoo: There is a wide range of horse shampoo options to select from, so choose a horse shampoo that suits your horse’s individual skin and coat needs. Horse shampoo made with natural ingredients and herbs can help soothe soreness, relieve skin sensitivity, and result in a shiny coat.
- Various-Sized Sponges: Have both large and small sponges, made with natural or synthetic materials, for applying horse shampoo. Use the smaller sponges to wash the face and genital area where you need to be gentler. Keep in mind that it’s important to use sponges only for your horse, as sharing bathing essentials can spread skin conditions.
- Hand Mitt: Mitts made of plastic, sheepskin, soft rubber, and other materials are effective for gentle scrubbing and dirt removal. Mitts are often useful for removing sweat stains and dirt on your horse’s legs.
- Combo Tools: Combination tools, such as the Wash Brush are effective for efficient horse bathing. The short bristles and absorbent sponge reduce time without decreasing the quality of the grooming session.
- Sweat Scraper: A sweat scraper aids the drying process by removing excess water from your horse’s coat. They come in all different colors and are ergonomically designed for easier grooming.
Tips for Enhancing Your Horse’s Coat
- Color-Enhancing Shampoo: Horse shampoo that contains color-enhancing additives can help bring out the natural color of your horse’s coat.
- Conditioner: Conditioning your horse’s coat and skin is essential to getting that healthy gloss. Follow the shampoo with conditioner to replenish the oils and moisture lost during the cleansing process.
- Show Sheen: Use Show Sheen or other hair polish to enhance the appearance of your horse’s mane or tail. The silicone in these products makes the hair slippery, so it’s not something that should be used in places where tack goes — but it can add to your horse’s appearance at show time.
A Great Bath is Better than Frequent Bathing
Daily bathing strips necessary oils from your horse’s coat and skin, so it’s more important to bathe thoroughly, rather than frequently. Even in the warmer months of spring and summer, it’s best to rinse off sweat and mud without giving a full bath every time. To ensure your horse is reaping the full benefits of a good bath, make sure you have a good bathing kit full of essential items to helps your horse look beautiful, while maintaining health and well-being.
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.
Where there are horses, there are bound to be flies. Aside from being a nuisance to your horse, these pesky flies can lead to physical discomfort or illness. Every year, your horse will likely come into contact with a variety of fly types, including midges, house, stable, bot, deer, horse, and horn flies. These pests can cause frustration and illness as they land on and sometimes bite your horse. They are infamous for depositing the bacteria they’re carrying, leading to irritation, open sores, and disease.
Midges (commonly called black flies) can cause serious annoyance and effects on your horse. These swarming gnats love to feed in areas with running water. Streams and small creeks are a natural attraction to them. They also love aquatic plants and vegetation, including the moist dew typically found in horse pastures. These pests typically attack the head, ears, eyes, and nose. Not only can associated blood loss cause health issues, their saliva commonly causes intense itching, irritation, and swelling. The non-stop annoyance of these pests can cause your horses to relentlessly exhaust themselves trying to escape from the attacks. Some species of black flies can also cause vesicular stomatitus, a disease that can infect horses, cattle and pigs.
House flies breed in manure piles, trash, spilled feed, bedding, animal droppings, and any other area that might have decaying matter. They love barns. Even though this type of fly is non-biting, they can be very annoying to your horse. Since they typically live around moist, dirty conditions, they can carry considerable amounts of bacteria, and have the potential to transmit numerous diseases and parasites. They are drawn to cuts and scrapes on your horse, which can lead to infection in otherwise minor injuries.
The stable fly is also attracted to barns and horses. They breed in wet straw and manure, spilled feeds, grass clippings, and various other types of decaying vegetation. The stable fly feeds on blood several times a day, and can be a major nuisance to horses. Horses being bothered by stable flies will often kick and stomp since these pests love attacking horses’ legs and underneath the belly. Stable flies are known to be capable of transmitting disease, such as equine infectious anemia.
Bot flies attach their eggs to your horse’s legs. During this stage, your horse may incur weight-loss from running around or stomping. However, the direct impact comes from the eggs being ingested by your horse which happens by licking or biting at the afflicted areas. The mouth can develop sores and irritation causing a lack of appetite. Once your horse has fully ingested the bot eggs, the eggs hatch into larvae and attach to your horse’s stomach lining. This can cause colic, stomach blockages, ulcers, and anemia.
The deer fly and horse fly are both part of the family Tabanidae. They produce painful bites and inflict immediate pain to your horse. They penetrate the skin in a scissor-like action and pump anticoagulants into the wound to feed from your horse. Not only are these bites extremely painful and a source for infection, the bloody, sponge-like mouthpart of female deer and horse flies harvest numerous viruses, bacteria, and protozoa. In large numbers, these flies can cause anemia.
The horn fly is a blood-sucking fly that is most commonly seen around horses pastured with cattle. These flies typically swarm the animal which is not only irritating, but can also cause a loss of blood due to incessant biting. This can lead to anemia and weight loss, in addition to the stress they cause to horses.
Since flies can be a dangerous nuisance around the barn, it is essential to provide fly prevention in the stable. The care you provide your horse during fly season will protect and relieve your horse from fly-related irritations and illness. Good fly control around your horse’s body and face using fly sheets and fly masks is vital to a healthy, comfortable horse.
Here are ten fly control products can help you in the effort to protect your horse from flies.
Ten Products to Control Flies around Your Horse
- Rider’s International Stretch Micro Mesh Fly Sheet. This soft, breathable mesh fabric conforms to your horse’s shape while also stretching with movement. Protects your horse from insects, sun and dust.
- Rambo® Fly Buster™ Fly Sheet. This lightweight long-wearing sheet is ultra breathable and features the No Fly Zone™ technology. The odorless, colorless No Fly Zone™ technology helps to repels flies, ants, ticks, chiggers, and midges and remains effective through 70 washings. Also protects against UV damage and sun bleaching.
- Farnam Swat Clear Ointment. Protect wounds, the ears and other areas around the face with this botanically derived ointment.
- Absorbine UltraShield EX. Moisture from your horse’s sweat attracts flies. This water-based formula repels biting insects for up to 17 days, while also providing a coat conditioner and sunscreen. Provides a weatherproof and sweat resistant formula.
- Cashel® Cool Crusader™ Fly Mask. Provides excellent protection from pests and harmful UV rays. Durable and comfortable. Many design options available, including, with or without ears, as well as a standard nose length or long nose that protects the nostril area.
- Flies Be Gone Trap. This non-toxic fly trap effectively decreases the fly population in a 50- to 100-yard area for up to four weeks at a time.
- Buggzo. Dried apple cider vinegar that’s pH-buffered and aroma-controlled garlic are the mainstays behind this eco-friendly bug repellant. A truly palatable garlic-vinegar based feed-through fly protection.
- Fly Predators. Get a little help from nature with fly control problems. These tiny flies will not sting, bother or bite you or your horses, but they will destroy flies in the cocoon stage, thereby reducing the population.
- Fly Country Vet® Dispenser Kit†. A battery operated automatic fly and insect repellant dispenser. Repels and kills flies, mosquitoes, and gnats 24-hours a day for 30 days.
- Fly Wraps®. Protects your horse’s sensitive legs from pests. Soft shearling lining and imbedded stays. 24 hour protection. Comes in a set of 4.
Tips for Discouraging Fly Populations
- Keep manure and trash away from areas frequented by horses
- Control moisture that attracts flies
- Maintain clean stalls, aisles, pastures, and confinement areas for your horses
- Use large fans to keep flies away
- Turn off barn or stall lights, which attract flies
Consistent Fly Control Treatment Produces Results
Particularly during peak fly season, it’s critical to apply fly control products to your horse on a daily basis. Likewise, maintaining a clean environment for your horse will reduce the attraction for flies and the laying of eggs, which exacerbates the situation. We have a large variety of products available to help you protect your horses’ comfort and health.
Grooming is an important part of caring for a horse and maintaining horse health. A daily maintenance regiment can help prevent nagging skin and hoof conditions from occurring and escalating down the road—scratches, thrush, etc. After a tough winter for horses and riders alike, your grooming kit may be in need of resupply. Here are seven horse grooming supplies you shouldn’t be without this spring!
1. Curry Comb/ Shedding Blade: Your horse brushes can only do so much! A good curry will help lift dirt, dander, and shedding hair from your horse’s healthy coat. The course rubber fingers on the Oster Curry Comb and the Jr. Grooma Groomer are ideal for the job. For unclipped horses, a shedding blade with metal teeth does wonders for thinning out a thick winter coat and removing caked on mud. Don’t use this product on your horse’s face or legs.
2. Brushes: Every horse grooming kit should contain at least two types of horse brush—a stiff brush (to remove dirt, mud, and dried sweat) and a softer body brush (to clean dust and add shine). Personally, I’m a huge fan of flick brushes because the long, flexible bristles make brushing off dirt and dust easier and more efficient. The high quality and wide selection of Winner’s Circle brushes has made this brand particularly popular. To keep your brushes clean and looking like new, try soaking them in Brush Therapy.
3. Horse Clippers and Clipper Blades: A good set of horse clippers makes the task a whole lot easier. Check out the Oster Variable Speed Clipmaster—a model well suited for full body clipping. The 2-speed Oster Turbo A-5 is great for smaller jobs, such as clipping the ears, legs, and face. To prevent scratches, keep pasterns trimmed and dry. On the go, use the battery operated Wahl Pocket Pro to trim your horse’s whiskers.
4. Mane, Tail, and Coat Spray: Before running a comb through your horse’s tail, help protect it. Car & Day & Martin Canter Mane and Tail Detangler eases tangles, conditions, and adds healthy shine. Until the weather warms up enough to give your equine companion a full bath, Cowboy Magic Green Spot Remover provides the no-rinse solution to dissolving manure, dirt, and sweat stains.
5. Hoof Pick and Hoof Conditioner: Hoof care is a critical part of keeping your horse healthy. Pick feet on a daily basis, especially after turn-out and before and after your ride. Wet conditions foster the growth of thrush. By removing mud from the frog and sole areas, the risk of thrush development is significantly mitigated. Condition and restore brittle hooves on an as needed basis with Absorbine Hooflex Therapeutic Conditioner Liquid.
6. Liniment: As the spring/ summer horse show season begins to ramp up, our horses’ muscles and tendons are working harder than ever. Help relieve soreness and inflammation with horse liniments like Sore No-More and Vetrolin Liniment Gel.
7. Fly Spray: Be prepared for bug season. There are many great products on the market to keep your horse pest free. Choose fly spray based on the types of bugs in your area and on the sensitivity of your horses’ skin. Ultrashield Ex is a quality product that protects against mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas, ticks, and gnats. Swat Clear Ointment is the perfect solution for protecting cuts and other sensitive areas from house flies, stable flies, and face flies.
For more horse grooming supplies, check out our Horse Care section.
Your Turn: What’s In Your Horse Grooming Kit?
We love hearing from riders! What’s your horse grooming routine? What horse grooming supplies are must-haves for you and your horse? What are your favorite horse care products?
Our good friends over at Finish Line Horse Products INC, recently published an interesting study regarding their U-7 Gastric Aid product – They’ve been kind enough to compose a write up and share their results with all of you. Take a look!
Drugs or antacids? That’s what we usually have to choose from when our horse has ulcers. Not anymore. Now there is a natural product that has been clinically studied by one of the most prominent equine ulcer specialists in America—and the results are impressive!
Dr. Scott McClure, DVM, PhD, DACVS http://vetmed.iastate.edu/users/mcclures was the scientist who did important research on omeprazole (Gastroguard, Ulcerguard) and its effect on equine ulcers.
Now, Dr. McClure has used the same protocols: randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled—good science—to clinically study U-7 Gastric Aid and the results were surprising to many.
You can read the study here: https://www.finishlinehorse.com/assets/1/7/U-7_GASTRIC_AID_STUDY.pdf
- Omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor, a drug that blocks acid production in the stomach. However, it also blocks calcium uptake.
- Antacids, those products containing calcium, magnesium and aluminum work by neutralizing acid that is already in the horse’s stomach. However, PH sensors in the horse recognize the drop in acid and increase production. This is called acid rebound.
U-7 contains many ingredients that promote healthy tissues in the stomach and the hind gut. Giving U-7 Gastric Aid to your horse is easy and pleasant for the horse. Whether it is top-dressed or given orally with a syringe, horses find the botanical flavor to be extremely palatable and will even come to the front of the stall nickering and suck it out of the syringe. Horses know the good stuff.
The manufacturer makes U-7 Gastric Aid in the USA and guarantees the product to your satisfaction or your money back.
Entry represents opinion of the blogger, in this case the Finish Line Horse Products, INC brand. This post is not formally edited and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Dover Saddlery brand.