The World of Breyer: Sharing the Magic of Horses

What better time than the holiday season to celebrate the magic of Breyer® Model Horses? Breyer Animal Creations® as a company has spread joy and inspired dreams among horse lovers young and young-at-heart since its serendipitous inception in 1950. For many of us here at Dover Saddlery, the first horse we ever owned was a Breyer creation. We played with the model horses, lined our shelves with them, named them and loved them—and we’re willing to bet many of our customers have fond memories of their own Breyer collections, too.

A Breyer Christmas Ornament is shown. A brown horse facing to the left is hanging from a red ribbon.

Every year, as Breyer’s Holiday Horse makes its debut in all its festive finery, we feel that same spark of wonder and excitement we had as children whenever a new model horse was introduced. We take pleasure at gifting Breyer model horses to the children in our lives, treasure keepsake Breyer Christmas ornaments, and let our imaginations delight in the intricacies of the latest Breyer stable or horse transport.

From the detailed recreations of the world’s most famous competitive equines, to breed-specific models, to fanciful unicorns, and the annual Halloween Horse—Breyer never disappoints. Each lifelike model horse tells a story. Hundreds of accessories, figurines, companion animal models, play sets, and craft kits round out the Breyer experience, all supported by a wide network of Breyer events, model horse shows, clubs and more. And to think, Breyer as we know it today was formed by a happy accident!

#57 Wester Horse produced by Breyer in 1950. The horse is light brown with a gold colored western saddle and bridle. It is being viewed to the side with the horse facing left.
Breyer’s #57 Western Horse

The story began in Chicago, Illinois with Breyer Molding Company filling industry needs as a plastics manufacturer. F.W. Woolworth Company commissioned a special order to accent a mantelpiece clock—it was the #57 Western Horse—and no one could predict how that single commissioned model would lead to a thriving specialty business with a worldwide following of fans of all ages. Woolworth’s clock made its debut in 1950 on the shelves of the department store, and the Breyer Molding Company was soon flooded with requests from people who wanted to purchase just the horse! The Breyer Molding Company’s business focus thus changed forever, taking on the goal of making the world’s finest model horses.

Each model horse is created in resin based on an artist’s highly detailed and creative sculpture. It is painted to reflect authenticity, quality and realism, all with the goal of delivering the most high-quality toy or collectible the world has to offer. To hold a Breyer model horse in your hand is to enter the magical world of horses—no matter how young or how old you may be.

Click here to shop our wide selection of Breyer Horses and Accessories.

Do you have a favorite model horse? Or, pictures of your Breyer Horse Collection? Share them with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Equestrian Country Boots: Iconic Style with a Punch of Practicality

A pair of legs from the thigh down are shown standing in a grassy field. The person is wearing tall country boots over knee-high socks and blue pants.
A pair of tall country boots made from brown leather and light brown suede. The boots have laces at the top and black tread on the bottom.

If you haven’t experienced country boots yet, November is a good month to pull on a pair. Ruggedly protective and remarkably stylish, this versatile ladies’ footwear takes you anywhere in comfort despite chilly or wet weather. You can traipse through soggy paddocks, exercise your dog, or stroll through a day of window shopping— these distinctive boots keep feet dry while reflecting an enviable equestrian aesthetic. They partner perfectly with breeches, tights and jeans, and some designs even have stirrup-friendly outsoles to allow an impromptu ride.

A step up in casual style from traditional rain or muck boots, lifestyle boots are crafted from a variety of leathers and resilient textiles that stand up to wear and maintain their good looks. Waterproof treatments or waterproof membrane construction keep weather and mud out; inside, technical materials may be used to wick moisture and provide breathability to maintain a dry climate.

A pair of light brown country boots. The boots are mid-calf height with black tread on the bottom.

Outsoles feature long-lasting tread patterns designed to keep you on your feet as weather conditions vary throughout the year. Most in the category are tall boots, but individuals preferring mid-calf or ankle-high styles will not be disappointed with the variety of shorter boots available. And, these great boots come at all price points, ensuring a pair exists to fit every budget.

We love our country boots so much that we offer nearly as many styles of them as we do traditional riding boots and from all the top bootmakers. Here’s why:

  • Timeless: Classic silhouettes and equestrian-inspired details never look out of style.
  • Versatile: They’re hardwearing and easy to wear anywhere from the stable to streets to hiking on trails.
  • Stirrup-friendly: Some models feature outsoles and heels designed for casual riding.
  • Muck or groom: The tall height keeps stall bedding and barn debris out and your feet clean.
  • Closed, hard toes: Naturally tough foot construction is protective if a horse should step on your foot.
  • Deep treads: Lug outsoles provide good traction on slippery footing.
  • Pant legs stay dry and clean: The boots slip on easily over the bottoms of breeches, jeans and tights, creating a cool look and keeping your hems protected.

Most of all, we love our country boots because they’re comfortable. Cushioned insoles, weatherproof construction, and adjustable features such as drawstring cuffs or buckle gussets combine to ensure your feet are pampered during a long day at the barn—or anywhere else life takes you.

Browse our entire selection of country boots here.

Do you have a favorite pair of country boots? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Coolers for Cold Weather: How to Cool Your Horse Properly

A dark bay horse is standing in front of a barn wearing a black fleece cooler.

As the month of October ushers in lower temperatures, we horse owners and riders dig out the coolers we packed away last spring—or consider shopping for a fresh one! Coolers are a time-tested means of caring for our hot or sweaty horses properly after a workout in cool or brisk weather.

A cooler keeps a horse’s warm muscles and wet skin protected from uncomfortable chills that could otherwise cause muscle stiffness or overall make a horse susceptible to illness. Covered, the freshly worked muscles can recover gradually from exertion while the cooler wicks moisture away from the horse and helps hair and skin dry most efficiently. A cooler can also be helpful in warming and drying a horse after a bath or a rain shower when temperatures turn a bit brisk.

Commonly made of wool or synthetic fleece fabrics, coolers come at a variety of price points and in a variety of styles and colors from the most basic to those with prints, plaids, contrast trims, embroidery, or brand decorations. Some models feature advanced technical fabrics to increase efficiency and provide rapid cooling—perfect for riders on a tight timeline. A simple cooler can become an amazing one when you add your own personal monogram with your horse’s name, stable name, or your initials.

A bay horse is shown wearing a black American style cooler with blue trim.

The original American Cooler style is a large rectangular piece of wool with colored bindings and that may have ties at the neck or brow and tail straps. This type of cooler drapes over the horse entirely, from jawline to tail. American style coolers can still be seen today, usually as a treasured vintage item prized by its owner for ease of use and efficiency. It should be worn by a horse that is being walked, handled or very closely monitored, as it can slide and entangle a stabled horse if it rolls in the cooler.  

A horse is standing in front of barn doors wearing a black and blue fleece plaid cooler.

Most commonly, coolers today are more fitted styles cut like a stable sheet, leaving the neck exposed. Others fit right up the neck to the jawline and secure along the under-neck with hook-and-loop fastenings. This type of cooler can be left on a horse that is stalled and unattended if it secures at the front, belly and has a tail cord. A fitted cooler can also be used in cold weather as a base layer under a blanket.

Remove & Replace

Just as important as getting a cooler onto a horse promptly is removing it promptly when you see a dew-like coating formed along the top surface of the cooler. A saturated cooler can no longer wick moisture and prevent drafts. Sometimes, a very wet or sweaty horse will require one or two changes of coolers during the cooling and drying process, so it is always good to have an extra, dry cooler on hand.

 


Browse our entire selection of horse coolers and anti-sweat sheets here.

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

Body Protectors & Inflatable Vests: Beyond the Cross-Country Course

Horse and rider are jumping over a cross country jump. The view is looking up towards the sky from below the horse and rider.

Three-day event riders on cross-country courses have long enjoyed the added coverage and confidence provided by the two main types of riding vests on the market today: traditional body protector vests and inflatable vests. At competitions, a protective vest is required to be worn in warmup for and during the cross-country test at any level. An inflatable vest is permitted in competition when worn over the traditional protective vest.

While neither of these vests is required to be worn during everyday riding in any discipline, we’ve witnessed an uptick in riders across equestrian sports choosing to wear one for added safety. We’re seeing these products in schooling rings, at the highest levels of showjumping competition, in the hunter ring and during dressage competitions—no USEF rule prohibits their use in front of a judge. Often these vests are used while working with young or fractious horses, during rider injury rehabilitation, and even on trail rides. The extra protection offered by this equipment has proven to be an asset. Some parents choose to have their children wear a body protector during regular lessons.

Body Protector Vest

Green eventing body protector vest

This type relies on foam to help dissipate shock and lessen severity of injuries in the event of a fall.  It is designed to protect the rider’s abdomen, internal organs, chest and ribs, and it offers a degree of protection against potentially dangerous objects while riding. These vests flex with the rider and allow for full mobility in various riding positions.

Outer fabrics are durable and give riders a chance to express personal style for those models in which colors or custom colors are available. Correct sizing to achieve accurate coverage is essential and is determined by a series of simple measurements. For a detailed description on fitting a protective vest, refer to our article here.

Inflatable Vest

An air vest is generally not considered to be a replacement for a traditional body protector vest. It is worn over a body protector vest to provide increased impact protection in the event of a fall.

Black inflatable eventing vest

An air vest has a cord or a lanyard that attaches to the saddle. If the rider is ejected from the saddle, the cord or lanyard triggers the vest’s activation device, which is fueled by a CO2 canister. In turn, this action punctures the air canister, which instantly releases air to inflate the vest before the rider hits the ground. 

Most air vests have protection zones which include chambers around the jaw to stabilize the head and neck, a protective area around the thorax and torso, and an area across the chest to protect the sternum and ribs. Some models have cushions to protect the rider’s hips.

While the air vest is reusable, after deployment a replacement canister must be installed. Outer fabrics are tough, wipe clean easily and are mostly black with some limited color options available. Sizing is simple and runs according to a rider’s weight and height.

Browse our entire selection of safety vests here.

Do you ride in a safety vest? Share your action photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Liniments & Braces: Go “Old School” When It’s Hot

Horse getting sprayed with a hose

It’s August, the dog days of summer are here, and temperatures are high everywhere. You and your horse just finished a great ride—and now both of you are hot, sweaty and a bit tired.

As you head for the wash rack to rinse your horse with cool water (perhaps looking forward to a bit of the overspray yourself) consider using a brace to refresh, revive and relax your horse. Concerned about minor swelling or soreness in your horse post-workout? A liniment might be just the preventative measure to take.

At Dover, we’ve noticed many of our more senior staff members grew up using horse liniments and braces regularly, while the younger generation of staff members isn’t always as familiar with this great grooming aid.

Applying a liniment wash to a horse's front leg.

For years, horse owners and trainers have used horse liniments to temporarily soothe tired, sore or stiff muscles, ease minor aches, pains and swelling, help lessen arthritic pain, and even to act as a topical antiseptic. Applied to legs or other specific areas after a workout, a liniment can help support tissue recovery, relieve post-exertion fatigue or help prevent stocking up (edema) in the legs, especially when topped with standing wraps.

Added to a bucket of water, a liniment becomes a brace that can be sponged onto a wet horse. It is left without rinsing to provide a cooling sensation and to relieve minor muscle soreness as the horse relaxes after a workout.  Use of a liniment or brace in helping a horse recover from exercise can in turn help keep the horse comfortable and better prepared to perform the next day.

Liniments are available in liquid and gel forms, and they come in a range of formulas and scents ranging from brisk or medicinal, to lighter or natural. Most contain alcohol, which evaporates quickly. As a main ingredient in a liniment, alcohol’s rapid evaporation can help cool a horse quickly. Essential oils, herbs or medicines added to the liniment lend their supportive, beneficial or aromatic properties.

Read Liniment Labels

With all this said, liniments (and braces) are not all the same. Take these tips into consideration as you choose a new liniment for your horse, and always read manufacturer’s labels carefully.

  • Some liniments contain substances on the USEF banned substance list and should not be used if you plan to compete in recognized shows.
  • Some liniments are mild enough to be used under bandages or coverings or on broken skin, but some can cause blistering or tissue damage if covered.
  • Not all liniments can be diluted in water to make a brace.

Test a small spot on your horse prior to full application to look for signs of an allergic or adverse reaction.

As a final note: While we love our liniments, they are not the remedy for a major soreness or lameness. Always contact your veterinarian with questions and concerns about your horse’s comfort, soundness, and managing exercise in high heat.

Browse our entire selection of horse liniments here.

Does your horse enjoy a liniment bath? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Have You Heard About MIPS—The Multi-Directional Impact Protection System?

Rider putting on a riding helmet
Yellow MIPS Logo with black text

If you’ve heard people talk about MIPS®, you may be wondering what the buzz is about. MIPS stands for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System. It was invented in Sweden by Neurosurgeon Hans von Holst and PhD student Peter Halldin. As avid bicyclists, and professionals studying the brain every day, they knew that not every head injury resulted in a forward or backward fall, but most likely people fell to the side, and usually at an angle.

In bicycling, like equestrian sports, wearing a helmet is a choice. Using a helmet with MIPS technology is a choice, too. MIPS is not a full helmet, but a special liner inside the helmet. A MIPS helmet looks identical to a non-MIPS helmet, but inside you will see a thin yellow liner in addition to the foam of the helmet itself. Many helmet manufacturers carry helmet styles with the MIPS liner and without.

Yellow MIPS liner is shown inside of a helmet and how it sits on a riders head when wearing a helmet

The MIPS liner technology was developed to reduce rotational motion. This motion is a combination of rotational energy and rotational forces from angular acceleration that both affect the brain and increase the risk for brain injuries. The liner is made from yellow polycarbonate plastic, and it is designed to sit below the foam of the helmet. After putting the helmet on, you don’t even notice there is a little system cradling your noggin. It just sits there, protecting you from any unexpected rotational motion that could transfer to your brain and cause injury.

Do you need a riding helmet with a MIPS liner? With the new MIPS technology, the customer is now able to decide for themselves whether it is something they want to upgrade to and incorporate into their riding. The results point to less rotation in a helmet with MIPS than without MIPS. So, again, it is a choice. If you feel like an extra layer of protection couldn’t hurt, give it a try!

Browse our entire selection of helmets here.

Do you love to ride in your MIPS Helmet? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Sun Shirts: Portable Shade for Riders

Three riders are on their horses wearing sun shirts to protect themselves from the sun while they ride.

Summer riding is here! We equestrians love our long days at the barn, outdoor training sessions, attending shows, and simply enjoying sunshine with our horses. Particularly for those of us in the Northern regions of the United States, summer is a time of adventure with our horses and for soaking up sunlight for as long as possible, every day, right up until the sun sets.  This is the way it has always been in the equestrian lifestyle, and we wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

As we go about keeping our horses healthy and strong, we too have to keep ourselves healthy. An outdoor lifestyle with plenty of fresh air and exercise is a proven way to stay strong. Unfortunately, being outside means we’re exposed to damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. It’s a major cause of skin cancer, which is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. The good news is we live in a world of technological advancements in fabrics that can protect us from the sun and its UV rays.

The newest in UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) sun protective clothing acts like sunscreen for the areas it covers and is the perfect choice for our active lifestyle. That’s why we love our sun shirts! The coverage goes along with us as we ride, graze our horses, or work around the barnyard.

UPF is the rating system used for apparel, and SPF (sun protection factor) is the rating system used for sunscreen. SPF protects against UVB rays, and UPF-rated fabrics protect against both UVA and UVB rays. The higher the rating on a sun shirt (or other garment), the higher level of overall sun protection it provides.

A UPF rating of 15 or 20 is considered good, 25-35 very good and 40+ is considered excellent at preventing UV transmission through the fabric to the skin. Average apparel fabrics are rated UPF 5-15 and are not considered UV protection. For a long day riding outside, you need to find a shirt rated higher than UPF 15.

Sun shirts come in an assortment of styles and colors to please every taste. The most popular sun shirts have long sleeves, stand collars to shield the back of the neck and quarter zippers for adjustable ventilation. V-neck styles, short sleeve shirts and those with extra details such as ruching or raglan sleeves are also available.

In addition to the UPF rating, many sun shirts offer features to maximize comfort, such as cooling technology, mesh inserts, quick-dry capabilities or moisture wicking to pull perspiration away from skin—all while maintaining the integrity of the UPF of the fabric. Many have high elastane content to ensure your ability to move freely, and naturally, most are lightweight.

Dover Saddlery CoolBlast® 100: Our Favorite Way to Block UV Rays & Stay Cool

Two riders are sporting Dover Saddlery CoolBlast Long Sleeve Shirts while spending time at the barn.

We developed the CoolBlast 100 Collection of riding shirts using the most superior cooling fabric on the market! Not only do we love to ride in these sun shirts, they’ve proven to be best sellers, so we know our customers love them, too.

CoolBlast 100 fabric provides UPF 100, meaning it blocks 99.89% UVA and 99.93% UVB rays.  Rapid, permanent cooling properties built into the fabric outperform others in wicking moisture and converting it to a cooling energy to keep your skin dry. The fabric is also extremely breathable, stretchy, quick-drying and so lightweight we forget we’re wearing long sleeves.

As a final note: Remember to apply sunscreen to areas not covered by UPF-rated clothing, wear sunglasses to protect your eyes and be mindful of UV exposure on cloudy days as well as sunny days. Most of all, enjoy many great summer rides!

Do you have a favorite sun shirt to ride in? Share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook by tagging @doversaddlery!

Should My Horse Wear a Fly Mask?

Why should you use a fly mask on your horse? Keep reading to find out!

The Fly Mask: A Must for Every Horse
It’s May and we’re embracing spring! Being outside and around the barn in this wonderful season brings a sense of joy. We look forward to long summer days riding, showing, grooming and just being with our horses. But… flies and other biting insects are enjoying the warm weather too, and they are as annoying as ever.

No matter which types of flies you’re dealing with—face flies, stable flies, horse flies, deer flies, black flies, even mosquitoes—your horse will appreciate help keeping them away from their face. A fly mask is an essential piece of equipment that not only repels insects, but helps protect against disease, provides protection to the eyes against harmful ultraviolet rays, protects sensitive skin and ultimately helps alleviate related anxiety and discomfort.

  • Disease Prevention: Flies and insects bite! Bites pose a problem as they can transmit disease, cause itching and create open wounds that can get infected. Flies love any moisture-rich areas on a horses’ body, especially the delicate face. Eye excretions, small wounds, scratches and cuts on faces are prime attractants for flies and infections.
  • UV Protection/Cooling Technology: Horses are sensitive to bright light, just like humans. Horses with light colored faces and pink skin are especially susceptible to sunburns. Choosing a fly mask with UV protection will alleviate harsh light, block some of the damaging UV rays and provide shade for sensitive eyes. Some masks have nose pieces that extend for extra protection, and some have new cooling technologies for those long hot days.
  • Sensitive Skin: The skin around the face is some of the most sensitive skin on your horse. Some horses have very sensitive skin or skin that is susceptible to hives or other allergic reactions. A fly mask can help prevent these issues before they become a problem.
  • Anxiety: We’ve all experienced anxiety as we enjoy a picnic only to then be chased by a deer fly or a buzzing bee. We run and swat and generally try to get away. Our horses do that too, with constant head shaking and pacing, so we must help them out. The ongoing anxiety of having flies around the eye area makes horses jittery, uncomfortable and unable to enjoy turnout or focus during training sessions. Flies that are constantly obstructing vision increase stress levels and keep your horse in a constant state of distress.

Mask Styles

  • Without Ears: If introducing a fly mask to your horse for the first time, an earless mask may be the design to try. It will offer protection to the eyes and skin around the eyes and let your horse learn to appreciate that coverage. Fly Mask Without Ears
    • With Ears: If your horse doesn’t mind having their ears covered, a mask with ear covers is the best bet for full protection. Just make sure the fit is not restrictive on the ears so they can rotate freely. Fly Mask With Ears
    • Masks for Riding: Some masks are designed to be worn over a bridle to provide coverage while riding. Typically made of extra-fine, lightweight mesh, this type of mask is a great solution for reducing or eliminating head tossing. Fly bonnets, fly veils, fly hoods and ear bonnets, a single design with many names, are a close-fitting alternative to a full fly mask for riding. These fit under a bridle to provide coverage for your horse’s ears during work without covering the horse’s eyes.

Fly Mask for Riding

  • Masks with Fringe: Fringe on a fly mask is not just for show; fringe simply shoos away flies just like a horse’s tail will. Fly Mask With Fringe

When to Use a Mask
While ideal for turnout, a standard mask will limit your horse’s vision and depth perception slightly and should not be used for riding. The mask should be taken off a few times every day so you can check for dirt and debris and make sure there are no chafed areas or eye problems. Do not leave masks on at night unless recommended by a veterinarian.

Fitting a Mask
A fly mask must not be too tight or too loose. Your horse should be able to blink without hitting any area of the mask. Look through the mask as your horse moves around and make sure eyelashes are not touching. Your horse should also be able to move their ears freely, and they should not be rubbing on the mask.

Mask Maintenance
Cleanliness of your horse’s mask is essential. Using a mask to keep disease away will not help if the mask is dirty. A dirty mask will increase the likelihood of an infection from mud, dust, or sweat embedded into the fleece lining or mesh. A good rule of thumb is to keep two masks on hand, so you have one while the other is being washed and dried.

To browse our entire collection of fly protection, click here.

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

Valentine’s Day Gifts for the Equestrian in Your Life

A bay horse touching foreheads with a grey pony to form a heart shape for Valentine's Day.

Searching for the perfect gift to show the horse lover in your life just how much you care this Valentine’s Day? We’ve got you covered. Whether you are gift shopping for an equestrian loved one, a four-hoofed Valentine, or treating yourself, our 2020 Valentine’s Day gift roundup features a range of swoon-worthy gifts to fit every budget.

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Stocking Stuffers for Horse Lovers

The holiday season is fast approaching and here at Dover Saddlery we know that finding the perfect gift for the horse lover in your life can be hard. That’s why our 2019  Holiday Gift Guide is our favorite one yet. We’ve brought all of our old favorites (and some new ideas too) together in one place to make it easy for you to find that perfect equestrian gift.

And if you’re looking for a little inspiration, we’ve listed our top 5 stocking stuffer ideas below.

Happy gifting!

Kelly Herd Horseshoe Collection Necklace

If jewelry is on your horse lover’s list this year, our beloved horseshoe necklace is sure to please, and its petite size make it perfect for a stocking stuffer!

Personalized Hand Painted Ceramic Ornament

If you’re feeling sentimental, a personalized ornament painted by artist Nola Watkins is just the ticket. Beautifully crafted with your personal message, this stunning ornament is a keepsake piece that your horse lover will adore. And best of all, it fits into a stocking perfectly!

Tory Leather Company Sleigh Bell Door Hanger

In our neck of the woods, nothing reminds us of the holidays more than the sound of sleigh bells. Whether it’s a quiet midnight ride through the woods or a rendition of “Jingle Bells”, everyone loves the sound. Give your favorite equestrian the joy of sleigh bells all year long with our adorable sleigh bell door hanger. Perfect for stockings!

SSG® Winter Rancher Gloves

Rancher gloves are the perfect stocking stuffer for the horse lover in your life working long (and cold!) hours out in the stables. Whether you’re mucking stalls or out for an afternoon ride, these gloves can keep up.

Dover Saddlery Gift Card

Overwhelmed with choices and not sure what to choose? No problem! If you can’t decide on the perfect stocking stuffer, give the gift of choice with a Dover Saddlery gift card. We guarantee that your favorite horse lover will be thrilled.