Thinking About Clipping Your Horse This Winter?

A right hand with a gold ring on the ring finger is holding a pair of wired black clippers. The clippers are clipping the side of a brown horse.

We can help you decide whether body clipping is a good choice for your horse, and if so, how much hair you want to remove. The decision comes down to how much your horse works in cold weather and your willingness to manage blanketing to compensate for loss of natural protection.

Thick coats and the additional grease produced in horses’ skin in winter combine to protect them against wet, cold weather. These assets become detriments, however, when a horse is worked regularly to the point of sweating. Perspiration mixes with grease in the coat, creating a film that mats the hair and clogs the skin. As the hair dries painfully slowly, the horse is vulnerable to chills, muscle soreness and illness. Skin issues such as fungal infections can also result. Some amount of body clipping becomes wise if you and your horse are in a steady program of regular work.

Here’s a list of our favorite, traditional body clips. The one you choose depends on the type of work you’ll do, how much your horse perspires, and what is acceptable for your riding discipline. Some people find it helpful to mark an outline of their desired body clip using chalk or using a small set of clippers.

Strip Clip

A drawing of a brown horse against a yellow background. The horse has a strip clip: Hair is removed on the front of the horse’s neck along the jugular, through the front of the chest and under the belly.

This minimal clip is perfect for a horse in light work only and for a horse owner wishing to avoid blanketing except in the coldest temperatures. The clip pattern removes a strip of hair on the front of the horse’s neck along the jugular, through the front of the chest and under the belly.

Trace Clip

A drawing of a brown horse against a yellow background. The horse has a trace clip: Hair is removed from the underside and sides of the neck, shoulders and belly and is left intact on the legs and body.

Named after its original use on harness horses, the trace clip removes a swath of hair from areas horses perspire most—classically along the areas where the harness traces would touch the horse. This clip may be your choice if your horse typically runs cold or doesn’t grow a thick coat. Hair is removed from the underside and sides of the neck, shoulders and belly and is left intact on the legs and body. Some people clip a narrow swath of hair, while others prefer to clip hair about halfway up the horse. Managing comfort and warmth will necessitate the use of blankets.

Blanket Clip

A drawing of a brown horse against a yellow background. The horse has a blanket clip: Hair is removed from the head, neck and flanks, but is left intact on the back, hind end and legs.

You may want to use this clip if your horse gets regular, heavy work in winter. A horse will most likely need to wear a blanket with this clip, and possibly a neck cover. This clip removes hair in a pattern that leaves the horse looking as though it is wearing an exercise rug made of hair. Hair is removed from the head, neck and flanks, but is left intact on the back, hind end and legs.

Hunter Clip

A drawing of a brown horse against a yellow background. The horse has a hunter clip: Hair is removed from most of the body, leaving only a patch of hair on the horse’s back in the shape of a saddle

Named for its traditional use on field hunters, a hunter clip is helpful for horses in hard work. The clip removes most of the hair on the body, leaving only a patch of hair on the horse’s back in the shape of a saddle (to provide some protection from friction of the saddle). Hair is left on the legs for both warmth and protection. Depending on the temperatures in your horse’s climate, a hunter clip will require the use of a blanket and a neck cover.

Full Body Clip

For those horses that perspire a great deal or are in hard work, the full body clip may be best. The entire horse is clipped, including legs and face, but whiskers are left intact for sensory perception and ear hair is excluded as it is protection from frostbite. Riders who wear spurs will often leave a patch of hair in the spur area to protect against spur rubs.  Depending on the temperatures in your horse’s climate, a full body clip may necessitate a heavier, warmer blanket and neck cover.

Have tips to share about body clipping? Share your thoughts and photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Shop horse clippers, blades and accessories here.

How to Get the Best Performance from Turnout Sheets & Blankets

It’s October, a perfect time to consider the state of your horse’s turnout sheets and blankets to be sure your horse gets maximum protection against rain, mud, sleet, snow and wind—especially if body clipped. Turnout blankets and sheets represent an investment in your horse’s health and comfort—and a financial investment. Here’s how to get the most from your horse’s turnouts.

Fitting Is Foremost

More than any other factor you might consider in a waterproof turnout, proper fitting is top priority. An ill-fitting or incorrectly fastened blanket promises problems, from hair rubs to leaks to entanglement. Even when you’re reusing a turnout your horse has worn, check the fit this season. Horses’ bodies change with conditioning, workload, illness and retirement, and the size or cut of a turnout may need to change accordingly.  

A turnout should overlap on your horse’s chest. Adjustable chest closures should fasten near the middle. With the front closed, the back seam should sit in a logical spot on your horse’s hind end, not halfway down the dock or pulled onto the rump.

You should be able to slide one hand snugly but comfortably under the blanket, around the neckline and over the withers with your horse’s head in grazing position and raised. If the opening is too large, your horse could get a foot caught, and it may rub your horse’s shoulders. If the opening is too small, the blanket will pull on or rub the withers, mane or points of the shoulders or tug at the base of the neck.

Adjust belly surcingles or belly band so you can slide a flat hand between the strap and the horse’s belly. Looser straps can allow a leg to get tangled while your horse lies down or rolls; overtightened straps can make the blanket rub and restrict.

A tail strap should be adjusted to create about a hand’s width between the strap and the rump. Leg straps, one passing through the other in a crisscross and each clipped to their opposite side, should also be adjusted to about a hand’s width between each strap and the inside of the leg. If the straps are too long and hang to the hocks, a leg can entangle. If the straps are too short, they may inhibit movement and chafe the tender insides of the gaskin or groin area.

When all fastenings are secure, consider the overall look of the blanket. It should not sag, and it should not appear stretched over the withers or hips. The hem should hang above your horse’s knees, not at or below them.

A brown horse facing left is standing in a grass field with colorful fall foliage behind them. The horse is wearing a brown leather halter with a brass nameplate and an indigo turnout blanket with black straps and trim.

The designs and cut of blankets vary within and between manufacturers. If you find you have an ill-fitting blanket, consider not only trying a different size from the same range, but a different model and a different manufacturer as well. For tips on measuring your horse for a blanket, see our article.

Preserve Waterproofing

Fabrics become waterproof in various ways, but all waterproofing has one thing in common: a life expectancy. Currently, the highest quality blankets are expected to remain waterproof under normal conditions and use for three years. You can prolong waterproofing of turnouts with these easy tips:

  • Sweep or brush away dirt, mud and caked manure promptly from the outer surface to allow waterproofing to do its job. These stuck-on compounds absorb and hold water and hasten degrading of the waterproofing. Spread the turnout flat on the ground and sweep it with a broom or brush it while your horse is not wearing it.  
  • Spot clean dirty areas with cool water and a brush. Save laundering turnout blankets and sheets for end-of-season unless the turnout is foul inside and out. Over-washing will degrade waterproof performance.
A white bottle of Nikwax Rug Wash with a green top and label.
  • To prevent mildewing and saturation of fabrics, hang wet turnout to drip and dry naturally before folding.
  • For the recommended once-yearly washing, follow manufacturer’s care instructions carefully if you plan to do the cleaning yourself. Use only recommended cleaning methods and approved cleaners. Never use fabric softeners, as these ruin breathability and waterproofing. Professional horse clothing laundering services make end-of-season blanket care easy, and most are equipped to make blanket repairs.
A white bottle of Nikwax Rug Proof with a purple top and label.
  • When the waterproof layer finally fails, you can replace it yourself or have a professional service do so. The most important aspect for waterproofing a turnout is to use a product that will maintain the turnout shell’s breathability.  

Off-season storage methods are your last step in preserving your investment. Clean blankets should be kept in a pest-free environment and out of direct sunlight.  

Have tips to share for top turnout care? Share your thoughts and photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Barn Safety: Tips for Improving Your Horse’s Surroundings

The aisle-way of a clean, brightly lit, horse barn. The barn is made from light colored wood and looks brand new. There is a horse blanket hanging on the wall of one stall and a water spigot in the bottom right hand corner. There are also storage tubs neatly stacked on the left side of the aisle. The barn opens to a wooded area outside.

Before you close the barn doors on summer, take some time this September to look around your horse’s stable to identify health hazards and safety issues. You can improve your horse’s environment in simple ways, whether you own and operate your own barn or board your horse. We’ve compiled some easy steps for increasing barn health and safety.

Reduce Clutter in the Barn

An orderly barn is a healthy barn for horses as it is the easiest to keep clean and as dust-free as possible. As added benefits, orderliness saves time during chores and is aesthetically pleasing to riders and guests. Unused or obsolete equipment and extraneous items lurking in a tack or utility room, loft, cellar or even the corners of a barn attract dust, cobwebs and unwanted pests, such as rodents or insects.

Two pitchforks and one broom are propped up against the wall of a barn. There are also two more pitchforks affixed to the wall.
  • Sort through equipment to weed out items you no longer use. Rid yourself of old tack, horse blankets, supplement buckets and farm equipment you will never use again.
  • Donate unwanted items in good condition to non-profit organizations, such as a therapeutic riding center or an animal rescue. These groups will put the items to good use or sell them to raise funds for their programs. Or sell items yourself—the hardest aspect of decluttering for many people is letting go!
  • Keep only tools that are in good working order and that are used regularly. Replace worn-out brooms and repair broken manure forks, which can be refurbished with a new handle or a replacement head.

Clear Spaces for Horses

Take a fresh look around your barn to identify and remove potential hazards.

  • Clear your barn aisle so that if a horse acts up on cross ties or while being led, it won’t collide with or become entangled in items that could cut or bruise.
  • Check stall walls for exposed nails, splintered boards or sharp, worn-out feed buckets that can cut. If the plastic caps on a water bucket handle have fallen away, wrap the loops in duct tape to eliminate your horse’s tail getting caught or face being scratched.
  • Make sure all blankets, sheets, halters, leads and other equipment stored on racks or hooks are out of reach of horses that could become tangled in an item.
A brightly lit tack room with neat rows of saddles and bridles hung on the wall. There is a navy blue tack trunk and green equipment bags in the middle of the room for storage.

Deep Clean

Grab a scrub brush, rags, broom and employ some elbow grease for a healthier environment.   

  • Knock down all cobwebs; they can catch a spark and ignite fire.
  • Thoroughly sweep storage areas to rid the floors of dust, debris and rodent droppings for a healthier breathing environment.
  • Wash your horse’s “kitchen”, the walls where he or she eats; scrub water and feed buckets with a mix of white vinegar and water to cut grime.

Install Storage Solutions

Keep things tidy and out-of-the-way. A tack trunk makes an attractive solution for your horse’s multitude of gear but think “out of the box” to add convenient storage.

  • Put a laundry bag or basket in your tack room for soiled items, which should make it easier for keeping those saddle pads, wraps and towels clean.
  • If floor space is short, look to the walls for storage. There you can mount saddle and bridle racks, a whip holder and hooks for lunging supplies or other equipment. Wall-mounted wrap and bandage racks use space wisely while keeping items neatly bundled and ready for use.
  • Add wooden shelving or blanket bars or racks on a wall for crease-free storage of saddle pads.  
A brass colored metal saddle rack
A brass colored metal bridle rack
A brass colored metal and wooden blanket rack

We hope you find our basic steps to a safe, happy and healthy horse barn helpful. Share your thoughts, photos, ideas and personal experiences with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

A Barn is Your Haven

A white horse barn with royal blue trim. There is a driveway lined with trees leading up to the barn with a front door. There are three stall doors each on either side of the front door that are open.

“A barn is a sheltered place where life’s true priorities are clear. When you take a step back, it’s not just about horses—it’s about love, life, and learning. We honor our horses for their brave hearts, courage and willingness to give. Indeed, horses are warriors and often carry us into and out of our personal battles. Those who know them understand how fully a horse can hold a human heart.”                                                                                                                                                    –Lauren Davis Baker

At Dover Saddlery, horses are our lives, our partners, our friends, our beloved companions. And the barn where they live is our haven from the everyday world. A place where we can leave our cares at the door and instead become engrossed in the time spent with our horses. As our Director of Creative Services, Whitney Keeley puts it,

“As I approach the barn after a long day, I feel the comfort that being in the barn brings.  The warmth of the horses and the community of people I’ll find there envelops me from the moment I enter. The barn is majestic in itself, an iconic representation of a world that is sacred, but of which, few are aware—it’s a special secret that all horses and their riders share, a place where an unspoken language connects people to animals in a way like no other.”  

The barn satiates our senses. Immediately upon crossing the threshold, we hear the soft sounds of warm nickers and of hooves shuffling through deep beds of golden shavings. We breathe in the sweet scent of fresh-cut hay and pine shavings and the pungent odors of horses, leather and saddle soap. Our eyes are captivated by the handsome colors of coats of dappled gray, coal black, rich copper and deep bay. We are gladdened by the touch of a velvety nose leaning from a stall. In the barn, we find friendships built on trust and admiration, respected and protected above all else.

A silhouette of a horse and a woman with a pony tail facing each other is set against a yellow sunset background.

Yet, more than all the fulfillment our senses glean from being in the barn, it’s what the horses bring to our lives that is most gratifying. It’s what working with horses, inside the barn and out, gives us in terms of peace of mind and renewed focus. Working with, training and trusting these huge animals, so much bigger and stronger than we are, enriches and shapes us in ways we could never imagine. “Indeed, horses are warriors and often carry us into and out of our personal battles.” Being with our horse is therapeutic on almost every level—emotional, mental and physical. When we’re sad or hurt or struggling, being in the barn with our horse soothes our souls.

And beyond the respite we find in the barn, the character, confidence and self-esteem gains we achieve from the partnerships with our horses are life-changing and lifelong. We learn to be staunchly patient because achieving goals takes time and energy and effort. We discover the truest sense of teamwork—as one equestrian said, “you don’t know teamwork until your partner is a 1200lb free spirit!” Riding teaches us sportsmanship; it helps us become assertive and form the fundamental leadership skills we need to let the horse know we are in charge. To become comfortable handling a creature that overshadows our size in every aspect, we must overcome fear, we must learn to manage our emotions around these incredibly sensitive and sentient animals, we must be confident that we can communicate with them clearly for our own safety and for theirs as well.  And that’s just what horses and working with horses can bring to the lives of adults.

Two young girls and a brown horse with a white mark on its forehead are looking at the camera over a white stall door with black trim.

For young people, the essential life skills are even more transformative. Starting in the barn at an early age helps children understand and appreciate body language and social cues, from both their horses and from their trainers. It gives them a grasp of how responsive a horse can be to positive cues and how uncooperative that same horse can be to negative cues. Working with horses, in the barn mucking stalls and grooming or training in the arena, increases children’s ability to focus intently on the task at hand. It gives a child self-assurance. It enhances their knack for problem-solving and gives them better insights into accepting and coping with challenges.

That a barn is a place of refuge and retreat for any rider is one of the sincerest blessings of the sport. A barn is a place of unconditional love. And at Dover Saddlery, one of our firmest belief pillars is the power of horses to bring out the very best in their people.

We want to see you spending time at the barn! Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

The Art of Personalization for the Equestrian

A brown horse facing left is shown standing in a grassy field. It is wearing a blue blanket with the word "Nesto" embroidered in white on the belly.

For a sport so thoroughly steeped in its traditions, heritage and culture, a monogram (or another form of personalization) is the perfect embellishment for any equestrian. From a subtle touch with initials on a show shirt cuff to a boldly displayed logo on a tack trunk or your barn name on a gear bag, a beautifully produced personalization makes an elegant statement, exhibits ownership and enhances refinement. Monograms can range from a single initial, a traditional three-letter design, a custom logo or barn name, horse’s name or rider’s name.

“It’s special to be part of this sport, to be part of a barn family, to be among riders who take pride in showcasing their horse’s breed, name, or their own initials on a long-standing and beloved piece of riding apparel or equipment.  I especially love adding a monogram to a gift! The wide variety of thread colors and font styles really allow you to create a personalized finish to any product. The perfect present for a special show season or even schooling at home. I think a personalized accent represents a piece of a rider’s journey. It’s a true gift and something special to have or share.”

—Whitney Keeley, Dover Saddlery, Creative Director & Rider
 

Riders choose personalizations with a distinct sense of pride—pride of ownership identifying gear and tack, pride of place identifying barn, show stable or farm and, in some cases, pride of breed, identifying their horse’s type. Personalization serves a functional purpose: to identify the owner and, more importantly, to allow the owner to show their distinctive style.

A brown garment bag with light blue accent trim is hanging on the front of a wooden stall door. There is a matching accessory bag attached to the garment bag. Both are embroidered with a diamond with the initials "DEF" inside in light blue.

Riders are especially lucky to have so many unique opportunities to add personalization! Embroidered monograms from elegant to whimsical can be created to display on horse and rider clothing. Customized logos are a spirited way to highlight your barn or stable and inspire team camaraderie. Stylish stable décor incorporating director’s chairs, tack trunks and stall drapes with coordinated logos/monograms makes an eye-catching and striking display in a home or at shows. Here are a few distinguishing ways to add your singular style to your equestrian kit with monograms.

  • Embroider an initial or name on all their gear bags (boot bags, helmet bags, garment bags) as a smart detail and for ease of identification. Choose your embroidery color to match your logo, complement your horse’s color or assert your personal style.
A smiling woman with brown hair is shown wearing a blue jacket with a red and white barn logo embroidered on the left chest panel.

Professional stable and trainers may have jackets, quarter-zips, shirts and other items embroidered to promote their organization and to ensure that their representing riders present a polished uniform look, both at home and on the road

“My trainer and all her students have jackets with her logo on the center back. We all love wearing her branding at a show or clinic to support her business. It’s also fun to wear them even at the home barn—it’s a cool feeling to be part of a team.”  
—Liz Russell, Dover Saddlery, Senior Writer & Rider

  • Add your horse’s name to its dress sheets and coolers. It delivers a sophisticated impression around the show grounds or during transport and ensures that your horse’s items are completely unique. Breed logos are another way to make a bold statement
  • Monogram saddle pads, polo wraps and stable bandages to further enhance your distinguished style and clearly identify your tack.

Another truly striking personalization addition is to include engraved nameplates on your horse’s tack, or stall. Our gleaming brass or German silver plates lend a polished note beautifully engraved in your choice of classic lettering. Or choose a smart leather bracelet to accessorize your look with your name, the name of your horse or barn. With so many personalization options to choose from and so many ways to mix and match those options, you can create your own look and elevate your presence at any event, show, competition or just at home in the barn. Discover how today!

A wood and brass stall plate with a chain is shown hanging on a metal and wood stall door. The stall plate is engraved with the name "MICROCHIP".
Two leather bracelets, one with a brass plate and one with a German silver plate are shown against a white background. Both bracelets are engraved with the words "Stablemate Bracelet".

To learn more about Personalization, click here.

Shop all personalizable products here.

Have you ordered a customized product for you or your horse? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

WeatherBeeta® Therapy-Tec Makes Lives Better for Horses & Dogs

A YellowLabrador is facing forwards and lying on top of a black dog bed with red trim. The dog and bed are set against a white background.

At Dover Saddlery, we always look for ways to make our animals comfortable, healthy, and happy. When we discovered WeatherBeeta® Therapy-Tec products for horses and dogs, we had to add them to our product lineup!

Therapy-Tec involves powerful ceramic powder blended into technical fabrics that are then applied to a variety of products for horses and dogs. The ceramic fabrics in these products reflect the animal’s body heat through infrared waves, creating a soothing thermal heat. These infrared waves produce multiple beneficial effects on the animal’s body.

  • Increases circulation: By boosting blood flow, it promotes efficient oxygen delivery to tissues. Used before exercise, increased circulation helps warm muscles and prepare them to function well during exertion. It may help reduce the risk of muscle injury during warmup.
  • Supports muscle function: It eases muscle strain, stiffness and soreness. It also supports the body’s natural abilities to reduce swelling and promote healing.
  • Speeds recovery: By reducing lactic acid buildup in muscles after exercise, it decreases the time it takes for muscles to recover from exertion. It also helps support speedier healing of prior injuries.
     
  • Enhances relaxation: The gentle thermal heat soothes the body’s tissues and eases pain associated with arthritis. The reduction in discomfort and tension promotes well-being and calmness.
A brown horse with a white stripe on it's face is shown wearing a WeatherBeeta Therapy-Tec Sheet. The sheet is black with red and white trim, it also covers the horse's neck. There are four key features pointed out on the sheet:

Ceramic Fabric Technology: A ceramic powder with long lasting properties blended within the fabric lining that will not wash out. This technology reflects the horse's own body heat via infrared waves (thermal heat). Fleece outer fabric wicks away moisture.

Increases Circulation:
Boosts the horse's blood circulation and encourages oxygen supply to the tissues assisting to warm up the muscles and improve muscle function.

Muscle Function:
Eases muscle strain and soreness enhancing the horse's own ability to reduce swelling and heat.

Recovery:
Speeds up recovery and enhances relaxation.

Because ceramic powder is integrated into WeatherBeeta Therapy-Tec material, it provides ongoing therapy when the product is used, and it never washes away. Each product in the Therapy-Tec collection comes with specific care instructions; we recommend you follow the instructions carefully to ensure the longevity of your item. 

Note: As wonderful as Therapy-Tec products are, they are NOT recommended for use with pregnant mares or pregnant dogs.

Therapy-Tec for Horses

Horses of any age or performance level, including retirees, benefit from Therapy-Tec horse clothing at home or during travel. Choose from:

  • Therapy-Tec Quarter Sheet to target your horse’s hindquarters during warmups, cool-downs or hacks in cool or cold weather. 
A dapple grey horse is shown standing in the hallway of a barn with it's face turned to the right. The horse is wearing a WeatherBeeta Therapy-Tec sheet. The sheet is black with red and white trim.
Therapy-Tec Standard Neck Sheet
A dapple grey horse is shown standing on a paved road against a background of green trees. The horse is wearing a WeatherBeeta Therapy-Tec Combo Neck Sheet that covers it's body and neck. The sheet is black with red and white trim.
Therapy-Tec Combo Neck Sheet
A dapple grey horse is shown facing away from the camera, standing on a paved road against a background of green trees and a stone wall. The horse is wearing a WeatherBeeta Therapy-Tec Quarter Sheet that covers it's hindquarters. The sheet is black with red and white trim. The horse is also wearing a black bridle and saddle with a white saddle pad.
Therapy-Tec Quarter Sheet

All these items deliver Therapy-Tec benefits while also providing breathability and moisture wicking for an optimal inner climate.

Due to the profound effects of Therapy-Tec horse clothing, we advise gradually introducing these products to your horse. Increase wearing time from an initial two hours on the first day over the course of subsequent days to allow your horse to become accustomed to its effects. 

Therapy-Tec for Dogs

Whether your dog is young, active or senior, Therapy-Tec assists with pain management, inflammation and muscle recovery post-exercise.

The Therapy-Tec Dog Bed is shown. It is a square black bed with four sides and red trim. It is shown against a white background.

Choose the Therapy-Tec Dog Bed if your dog suffers from pain associated with arthritis and hip dysplasia, especially over cold winter months. This bed is also ideal for active dogs to warm up or relax and recover before or after they play. It features an all-around ceramic fleece lining inside a durable, washable outer, with plenty of plump cushioning for comfort.

A Yellow Labrador is shown standing in a grass field with a background of trees. The dog is wearing a black Therapy-Tec Dog Coat with red and white trim. The blanket has a single belly strap and a grey chest strap that fastens in the front.

When your dog is out and about, the Therapy-Tec Dog Coat makes the soothing thermal heat portable. It works to help reduce lactic acid buildup, aids with pain management and inflammation associated with arthritis, and can also be used to simply keep your companion warm and comfortable. It’s cozy, breathable, and moisture-wicking, too!

Browse our selection of WeatherBeeta Therapy-Tec products for horses and dogs here.

Already enjoying the effects of Therapy-Tec? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Fly Boots & Wraps: An Easy Solution to Multiple Problems

The belly and four legs of a white horse is shown standing in a grassy field. The horse is wearing a white mesh fly sheet with green trim and buckles across the belly, and grey mesh wraps with four dark green Velcro straps on each wrap to secure them to each of the four legs.

Most of us—and our horses—have flies on our minds as the month of May arrives. For some horses and riders in warm areas, flies have never stopped being a nuisance all winter. For those of us in colder climates, flies will soon be buzzing alongside horses in turnout, under saddle, in the stable, or wherever we go.

Stable flies bite, inflicting a stabbing pinprick of pain followed by intense itching. House flies flit from one spot to another, spreading germs, causing irritation, and creating distraction. While we are annoyed by these pests, horses can become incredibly distressed and anxious as flies land on their legs.

Horses will stomp repeatedly to try to shake flies free of their legs, and extremely sensitive-skinned horses may begin to pace or run as their distress increases. As a result of these evasive actions, a horse can experience:

  • Loose or lost shoes. (Repeated stomping or pacing may cause horseshoes to loosen or worse, a horse may accidentally rip off a shoe and damage a hoof.)
  • Wear and tear on leg joints. (Repeated stomping adds impact stress to the joints of a horse’s legs.)
  • Self-inflicted injuries to the lower legs. (While stomping or pacing, a horse’s own hoof or shoes can accidentally cut or bruise another leg.)
Two horse legs are shown standing on grass. There are grey mesh wraps with blue velcro fastened around the legs.

A set of fly boots, also called fly wraps, will help your horse avoid this distress. Fly boots create a breathable barrier around the lower legs right down to the coronary bands of the hooves. Made of durable mesh-like materials, many styles of fly boots have soft fleece trim or bindings that keep dirt as well as insects out. Contouring adds comfort, and features such as stays or elastic inserts help keep them in place. Hook-and-loop fasteners make these boots easy to put on and adjust, yet keep them secure during wearing. For fun, many fly wraps come in colors to match fly sheets and fly mask collections.

Browse our selection of fly boots and fly wraps here.

Does your horse have favorite fly gear? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Schooling Apparel: How Every Rider Benefits

A woman is riding a brown horse with a sunny background. The horse and rider are facing right. The rider is wearing a black helmet, an orange shirt with blue pants. The horse is wearing a brown bridle with a brown saddle and a multi-color saddle pad.

What is schooling apparel, and why do you want it? Loosely defined, we refer to the class of riding clothes not intended for competition as schooling apparel. It encompasses knee-patch and full-seat breeches, quarter-zip or polo shirts, plus lightweight, streamlined jackets and vests. Why is this clothing desirable for riders as opposed to t-shirts, jeans, any old tight or jacket? The answer is multifaceted: hardworking performance materials, rider-specific design features and equestrian tradition.  

Hardworking Materials

Most of the breeches and riding shirts you’ll find today are made from performance fabrics. These fabrics are constructed or treated to provide breathability, meaning your body heat vapors can escape, and you’re less likely to overheat.

A rider and horse are riding in an arena with palm trees in the background. Both the horse and rider are racing the camera. The rider is wearing a black helmet, aqua shirt, grey pants and black boots. The horse is tan and is wearing a black bridle and saddle, and white polo wraps.

Moisture-wicking action achieved through natural fiber content, a funnel-like weave or a chemical treatment means the fabric moves wetness away from you and the inner surface of the fabric to the outer surface for evaporation. You stay drier, and the fabric never feels heavy or wet. Cooling technology, an enhancement to moisture wicking, actively converts perspiration to a refrigerant while creating a cooling sensation on your skin.

Performance fabrics also promote your athleticism and freedom of movement. They contain some form of elastic fibers, or built-in stretch is achieved through fabric construction so the item can move with your body rather than restrict it.

Lastly, while all fabrics provide some degree of protection from ultraviolet rays, performance fabrics often have an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) rating clearly stating how much sun coverage it will provide. What does UPF50 mean? It indicates that 1/50th of UV rays can penetrate the fabric to reach your skin.  

Rider-Specific Design Features

While breeches, with their grippy knee patches and full seats, are quite obviously made to keep you in the tack, riding shirts, vests and jackets have design features that once you experience, you won’t want to ride without.

A rider with a black helmet, purple shirt, light purple pants and black boots is sitting on a brown horse. There is a woman with dark brown hair, sunglasses, a pink sweater, tan pants, and black boots holding onto the horse's bridle. They are standing in front of a barn facing to the left.

Riding shirts are typically made to provide a streamlined, figure-flattering fit. The fit is more than just attractive—it’s practical. It helps maintain a profile that enables a trainer to clearly see your riding position, and it lies smoothly under a sweater, vest or jacket with no uncomfortable bulk to encumber your riding. Many riding shirts, including polo shirts, have curved or dropped back hems to keep you covered as you move whether the hem is untucked or tucked into your waistband. Zippered plackets on the fronts of many shirts offer quick and easy adjustable ventilation.

Riding vest and jackets also support your in-saddle silhouette with many having a fitted cut, an adjustable waist or a back-waist belt detail. A two-way front zipper, a back riding vent or rear gussets make sitting in the saddle most comfortable. These features allow your outerwear to clear your saddle rather than riding up or catching under your seat. Jackets often have a removable hood or a snap to secure the hood to the back panel to prevent it from flapping.

Equestrian Traditions

Horse sports are steeped in tradition with an emphasis on polished turnout for horse and rider. One tradition is for riders to dress neatly and smartly when schooling at competitions, participating in riding clinics or taking lessons. Avid riders respect themselves and uphold the heritage of their sport by presenting a clean appearance with attention to detail. Shirts are tucked in, belt loops are threaded with belt, boots are polished, breeches are free of stains—and every piece fits well.

These days, dressing like a professional rider doesn’t mean you can’t wear bright colors or head-turning prints. Plenty of styles for schooling and training are available to please every rider, from the fashion-forward, to those who love bold color, to those who appreciate the most classic looks. The key is to choose items that fit and flatter your shape and your riding position and to wear colors and prints with pride.

To expand your equestrian wardrobe, browse our selection of schooling apparel here.

Do you have favorite schooling outfit? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Spring Cleaning: The Wise Rider’s Way

The right hand and torso of a person wearing a zip up hoodie is shown cleaning their black dressage saddle with saddle soap. The saddle is sitting on a wooden fence. Next to it are a pile of bridles also hanging on the fence.

Welcome March, the month when some folks embark on home spring-cleaning frenzies. Around here, our idea of spring cleaning focuses on tack. Spring marks a perfect time to thoroughly inspect and recondition your horse’s leather tack, whether you’ve competed in warm places all winter, continued training despite frigid temps, or simply enjoyed downtime with your horse.

If you’re like us, signs of wear or gradual decline in leather condition are easy to ignore in busy daily riding routines, and repairs are easy to postpone. These issues can be addressed best now, with ample time for repair or replacement, before local riding activities gain full swing. As added benefits, reconditioned tack is more comfortable for your horse to wear, safer for both of you, and it supports a maximum return on your investment.

Inspect All Tack

Just as your skin suffers abrasions and dryness from irritants such as sand and sweat, your leather does, too. Regular use can degrade leather even if you diligently wipe away grime as recommended after every ride. Saddles and bridles that have been stored improperly can dry out, grow mold and mildew or be compromised by rodents, sunlight, varying temperatures, and other environmental factors.

Look closely at each piece of your horse’s leather tack for areas under pressure during use or where sweat or saliva may collect, such as:

  • Reins and cheek pieces where they attach to bit rings.
  • Saddle billets where they buckle to the girth.
  • Stirrup leathers where irons and buckles cause creases.
  • Girths along the full length, from buckles to elastic inserts to linings.   
  • Halters where hardware meets leather.  
A close-up of a stirrup iron attached to a stirrup leather is shown. The stirrup leather is dark brown, almost black and the stirrup is made of shiny black metal.
A close-up is shown of a stirrup leather attached to the hook of a saddle underneath the protective flap.
The underside of the crown piece of a blue halter is shown against a dark grey background. The blue leather is cracked and worn.

Any cracked or torn leather may break at the worst time—during a ride or while handling a horse. These areas indicate hazard and necessitate repair or replacement. Check that all stitching is tight and intact; loose stitching on stirrup leathers, saddles or girths also poses risk.

Inspect and touch any surface that lies directly against your horse, such as girth linings or padding in bridles and halters. Although not an immediate safety hazard, any item that feels rough should be budgeted for replacement or repair to protect your horse’s skin from chafing and to ensure optimal comfort.

Note: Some leatherwork professionals won’t repair reins, girths or stirrup leathers as a safety precaution. Saddle billet straps are replaceable, and some bridle and halter repairs are worth the expense. Generally, bridle parts and reins are readily replaceable at any budget to eliminate the need for repair.

Clean & Condition

When you’re satisfied with the quality of your tack, give it a thorough once-over using your favorite leather cleaner. Now is the time to take apart a bridle, martingale or breastplate and remove grunge from creases. Warm water and a soft toothbrush can help you get grime out of crevices. Turn your saddle upside down and clean all nooks and crannies. Once the leather is dry, follow up with a nourishing leather conditioner or leather balm.

Browse our entire selection of leather care products here.

Do you have an example of extreme tack wear? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Time for a Halter Makeover

The neck and head of a brown horse wearing a brown leather halter is shown standing to the right side of the image. The horse is standing in front of a grassy field with jumps in the background.

As we handle our horses each day, we might not notice a problem developing with the way our horses’ halters fit. Leather halters in particular stretch with use, cleaning and conditioning, but even web halters with breakaway leather crowns can loosen over time.

A periodic review of your horse’s halter fit is a wise step toward keeping your horse safe and comfortable. A loose halter can slide off accidentally or ensnare a hoof; a halter that is too tight can dig into skin or interfere with a horse’s breathing, chewing or swallowing.

Many manufacturers offer halters. If you follow our fitting guidelines but cannot achieve a satisfactory fit on your horse, try a halter from a different manufacturer. A horse that is difficult to fit is best suited for a halter with a double-buckle crown and an adjustable chin.

Here’s how we like to ensure a proper halter fit:

1. Adjust the crownpiece, which will impact the placement of the noseband, the looseness of the throatlatch and the angle of the cheek pieces against your horse’s face. The crownpiece should fit over the poll, close to the back of your horse’s ears, but not press into them. Some halters have buckles on both sides of the crownpiece, and some have only one buckle on the left side. In the case of two buckles, try to use symmetrical holes for the crownpiece setting.

2. Check the noseband of the halter. It should sit about halfway between your horse’s eyes and nostrils, resting under the cheekbones so that the metal hardware joining the nose piece, chin strap and cheek piece does not press into the bones.

Adjust the noseband snugly using two to three fingers’ width between it and your horse’s face as a guideline. Some nosebands do not have buckles for adjustment. If this is the case with your halter, take extra care to be sure that you can obtain the optimum position of the noseband by raising or lowering the crownpiece with buckle, and that the noseband isn’t too loose or too tight.

If the cheek pieces are too long or the crownpiece is adjusted too loosely, the noseband will sit too low on your horse’s muzzle. In this case, it may impair your horse’s breathing or in extreme cases, slip over your horse’s nose.

3. Check the throatlatch, which should rest under your horse’s head where the neck meets the jowls. You should be able to fit three to four fingers into the throatlatch area to be sure your horse can breathe and swallow, but this spacing will not enable your horse to get a foot caught in that strap if he lowers his head.

4. Check the cheek pieces. Ideally, they should sit parallel to the cheek bones. If the throatlatch is too short or too long, or the crownpiece is not adjusted correctly, then the cheek pieces will not be able to run parallel to the cheek bones.

To browse our entire selection of halters, click here.

We want to see your #dovermodels in their halters, share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!