Fall Riding Apparel Essentials

fall riding apparel

After a summer of wearing the most lightweight riding tights and tank tops you could find to stay cool, the weather is finally shifting. The crisp fall weather has arrived, and with it the need for a change in riding wardrobe. Fall riding apparel is all about the layers. Having the right items will keep you comfortable while you’re getting ready to ride, and allow you to shed a layer as you warm up in the saddle. Make sure you have everything you need to be appropriately outfitted this season.  Continue reading

Different Horse Clippers for Different Jobs

horse clippers

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

How to Select Tall Riding Boots – Style and Size

tall riding boots

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

Benefits of a Leather Halter – Style, Function and Comfort

leather halter

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.

Selecting Horse Boots – Protection from the Ground Up

equifit front boots

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!

One Day Helmet Sale! – Tips on Selecting a Helmet You Will Love

Dover_071014_HelmetDayPreview_fb

Today is International Helmet Awareness Day and to celebrate we are offering up to 20% off all our non-custom helmets! Your helmet is arguably the most important piece of riding apparel or tack you use, so make sure you are utilizing one every time you get on a horse. If you’ve been meaning to replace your aging helmet, dreaming of a new style with the latest technology, or ready to make your very first helmet purchase, today is the day for you!
Take a look at some of the high-quality brands that are discounted for today’s special sale:

But before you make your selection, here are 5 tips on what to watch out for to ensure you select a helmet that you’ll love.

  1. Size:  If a helmet doesn’t fit, it’s not filling its purpose. Start about an inch above your eyebrows, around over the top of your ears, and across the widest part of the back of your head to get an accurate measurement. If you have thick hair that you wear up in your helmet, you may need to go up one size.
  2. Shape:  Some people have rounder heads, while others have long ovals, and different brands are geared more towards one of these two shapes. Riders with a round head are likely to have more luck with GPA’s and Troxel, while riders with long oval shaped heads will do better with Charles Owen’s and IRH’s.
  3. Adjustments:  Many manufactures offer padding systems to adjust fit, thereby making sure a helmet will sit as securely and perfectly as possible on your head. Some helmets also have adjustments to tighten fit that can be made on the back.
  4. Technology:  Helmet manufactures are always looking to improve their products. Keep an eye out for new features that may not be present in your current helmet. Some helmets have ventilation to allow air flow and keep you from overheating, others utilize flexible or detachable visors that will give or break off in a fall.
  5. Standard Approval:  Most competitions and equestrian events require you to wear an approved helmet that meets standards. The most common approvals that you will need are ASTM/SEI certification. It is always a good idea to check for the SEI label in any protective helmet you purchase. All Dover’s protective helmet brands carry the ASTM/SEI certification.

Happy Helmet Shopping!

It’s All About the Fit: Riding Helmet Fitting Guidelines

Helmets- Sizing

A properly fitting helmet is one of the most important purchases you will make. It can help to protect you and instill confidence to aid you in working with your horse. Finding the right one that fits your head best is crucial, so put some time and effort into your new helmet fitting. Start helmet fitting by measuring your head to get an idea for what size you should aim for. A tape measure should be used about one inch above your eyebrows, just above the top of your ears, and around the bump at the back of your head- measuring the widest part of your head. This measurement can then be compared to each brand’s sizing chart.

Helmet fitting, however, is more than just a measurement. Different head shapes call for different helmets, so you may find that the same size fits significantly better in one brand than another. Wear your hair however you will normally wear it with the helmet, try the helmet on, and notice the following:

  • Pivoting in all directions with a shake of your head or sitting low on the eyebrows means the helmet is too large
  • Popping up and sitting more on the top of your head means the helmet is too small; also be conscious of headaches caused after a few minutes of wearing
  • Pressure on the forehead but rocking side to side means the helmet is too round for your head shape
  • Pressure on the sides but rocking front to back means the helmet is too oval for your head shape
  • Ensure the helmet is sitting level on your head, with the brim about two finger’s width above your eyebrows
  • If you try to move the helmet up and down from the brim, the skin on your forehead and eyebrows should move with it if the fit is correct
  • If you bend forward, the helmet should remain securely on your head regardless of the chin strap being fastened

Once you find a helmet that seems to fit properly, the chin strap should be adjusted so it is snug and helps to hold the helmet in place, but not too tight that it inhibits swallowing. You will want to ensure that the option you select during helmet fitting is snug, since the lining will break in over time, and the fit will loosen slightly. A loose helmet can be ineffective, so it’s important that old, loose helmets are brought back to a correct fit with replacements, either with new lining or an entirely new helmet.

Ultimately, there is no shortage of top of the line helmet options for any budget and head shape. Take your time and enjoy the helmet fitting process. If you want assistance, come into one of our retail stores for a complimentary helmet fitting and help finding the perfect helmet for you. Or if you are ready to make your selection now, choose from the many riding helmets we have to offer- you’re sure to find the right fit.

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

Turnout Blanket vs. Turnout Sheet: TIps for Blanketing a Horse

In our recent posts, we shared tips to help equestrians stay warm when riding in winter. A good pair of winter breeches and winter riding boots are essential for winter horseback riding. But what about keeping your horse warm?

To blanket or not to blanket? That is always the question. Horses with thick, fluffy coats that are seldom ridden in winter may not need a blanket at all. These horses do well with natural protection, and may only need a mid-weight blanket to put on for extra cold or wet weather. Other horses will strongly benefit from the regular use of winter blankets. These include horses that are ridden in the winter months, clipped horses, older horses or horses that have trouble keeping on weight.

All horses turned out in wet or windy weather will certainly appreciate the protection a good winter turnout blanket can provide. We get a lot of questions about horse blankets, so we thought we’d share a few tips on blanketing a horse.

What Type of Winter Horse Blanket Should I Buy?

There are two main styles of horse blankets designed for your horse to wear in the winter. Turnout Blankets are waterproof and durable articles of horse clothing that are made to stand up to the elements. Stable Blankets are designed for use in and around the stable and under supervision, rather than for the rigors of turnout. They provide warmth in the barn at night and are great for layering. Stable blankets are typically water repellent to resist urine or manure stains, but are not waterproof.

What Determines the Warmth of a Horse Blanket?

Blanket warmth is determined by grams of fill. The more fill or “weight” a blanket has, the more insulation it offers. Turnout blankets and stable blankets are available in lightweights, mid-weights, and heavyweights.

The lightest turnout option is called a turnout sheet. Similar to a raincoat, these protect from the wind and wet conditions, but have no fill for additional insulation. The lightest stable blanket available is known as a stable sheet. These sheets are intended to keep your horse clean and do not have any fill to insulate or warm your horse.

Lightweight turnout blanket from Riders InternationalLike the turnout sheet, the light weight turnout is waterproof and it typically adds 100 grams of fill, making it an ideal choice for fall and spring, as well as areas with a mild winter. Consider the Riders International Hug, a lightweight turnout.

Medium weight turnouts and blankets have 180-250 grams of fill. Midweights work well for horses with shorter coats that switch to a heavier blanket in severe weather. They are also popular for horses that are not typically blanketed who need the help of a warm blanket on wet or exceptionally cold days. The heavyweight turnout has 300 to 440 grams of fill and are best reserved for extreme cold weather conditions, body clipped horses, and horses that struggle with keeping warm.

Stable Blankets contain insulating fill weights that range from 100 to 400 grams. These insulated blankets are commonly used in the stable allowing you to replace a horse’s heavier outerwear with a loftier item that will keep your horse warm while stabled. They are also ideal for layering under turnout blankets on extra cold days.

Do I Need to Worry about Denier When Blanketing a Horse?

The Denier of the blanket refers to how tough and sturdy the outer of a turnout blanket is. Blanket deniers typically range from 200d in stable blankets up to 2000d in turnouts. The higher the denier, the more closely woven the material of the blanket outer making it less likely to rip. Some horses are not hard on blankets, while others work to masterfully take them off the minute you put it on. If your horse is turned out with other horses, or is known as the barn Houdini, investing in a blanket with a higher denier may be worth your while.

Which Horse Blanket is Best for My Horse?

Stay tuned later this week when we’ll profile Weatherbeeta, a longtime leader in horse blankets. Weatherbeeta has a range blankets to keep your horse comfortable in any weather condition. We’ll review the most popular choices, share customer reviews, and offer more tips for blanketing a horse.

Dover Saddle Camp 2013

What happens when you combine 100 saddles, 25 Dover Saddlery associates, 12 Saddle Fit Experts, 8 horses and 1 big white tent? Dover Saddle Camp 2013!

We’re serious about saddles at Dover Saddlery, and we are equally serious about providing our employees opportunities to learn and gain knowledge. That’s why we recently brought key employees from all of our retail stores and from all of our call centers together for three days of intensive, hands on saddle training at a beautiful equestrian facility near our headquarters in Massachusetts. We affectionately called this seminar “Dover Saddle Camp 2013!”

Camp started with an introduction from Gary Severson, better known as the Saddle Doctor. Gary has an impressive resume as an equine physiologist and a lifelong independent saddle fitter, including some time as the official saddle fitter to the United States Equestrian Team! He provided an extremely thorough overview of saddle fit concepts, equine anatomy as it applies to saddle fit and correct use of shims and correction pads. Best of all, we used several different horses to visually demonstrate his points. It’s great to read about these concepts and learn about them in a classroom, but all the associates agreed that actually seeing the saddles on horses of varied shapes and sizes really drove the message home. Best of all, this overview provided everyone with a very strong foundation for the rest of the seminar.

Camp continued with brand specific training sessions led by the principal experts from all the saddle brands we carry at Dover Saddlery. We invited representatives from Bates, Wintec, Collegiate, Vega by Amerigo, Passier, Pessoa, Ovation, PDS, Custom Saddlery, Stubben, Marcel Toulouse and Tad Coffin and they all enthusiastically accepted our invitation to share their knowledge with our associates.

Each representative gave a comprehensive overview of the specific features and benefits of their saddle brand. They reviewed the construction from the inside out, and showed our associates the trees of their saddles. This all took place in our make shift tent “classroom”. Afterwards, our entire group moved into the arena and had the opportunity to see everything in action on horses. We asked all our experts to bring a wide range of their saddles in different widths and styles so we could find the best solution for each horse. Along the way, we encountered some great saddle fit challenges, and our associates, under the close supervision of our invited experts, worked together to solve each of them.

Armed with tons of fresh information and excellent contacts and support from all the saddle reps, each of our associates enthusiastically headed home. They are all eager to share what they’ve learned with other employees in their stores, and ultimately, with you, our fantastic Dover customers!

We look forward to helping you find your next saddle! We’ve got a saddle option for everyone- all disciplines, all budgets and all horse types! All of our stores maintain a well stocked saddle room, and have access to 1000’s more. Call 1-800- 989-1500 or visit your local Dover Saddlery and we’ll be happy to discuss your saddle needs with you.

Take a look at some of the pictures below!

Our classroomOur Classroom/ Office for Saddle camp! Didn’t hurt that we had three beautiful sunny days!

The whole group

 

Listening intently as the day ends.

Cary Wallace

Carry Wallace and our saintly model, Liam!

Chory

Cary demonstrates the fit of the Steffens Advantage on a different horse.

Good Boy, Buster

Buster was our deceivingly wide model! He’s ready for his turn.

photo

Associates discussing the best Pessoa panel for this horse after learning about the Pessoa Master Fit system.

Good Boy, Chorey!

Chorey actually seemed to enjoy the attention as everyone assessed the fit of this saddle!

Group 2

Buster  is ready to try on some Stubben saddles.

Keith and RobertKeith Brooks from Stubben and Robert, our short backed model.

Kimberly- PDSKimberly Stinson and our associates find the perfect PDS for Buster!

Steve

Stephen Day, our president and CEO, talks about the challenges he has faced finding the right saddle for his horse, Chorey.

Adjusting a MTL Genesis tree

Cynthia, one of our assistant call center managers, about to try her hand at adjusting a Genesis Tree.

BrennanBrennan had a great time at camp. He was always nearby and was relieved no one put any saddles on him!

Justin - Tad Coffin

Justin Kenney from Tad Coffin Performance Saddles brought Buster into our classroom to discuss  the performance horse’s back.