Confessions of An Aspiring Amateur: Outing Myself

I did a survey about my blog a while back to see what my readers liked and didn’t like about the blog. I got a lot of requests for more posts about my own riding experiences, so I’ve decided to start a series on my blog called “Confessions of an Aspiring Amateur.” While I think it is self-explanatory, I would like to show in the amateurs one day, and I am working towards that – hence, the “aspiring.”

This is my first post.

For those of you that don’t know much about me, I have been riding for 19 years. During that time, I didn’t do a lot of jumping. I had a period of a few years where my confidence was completely obliterated by terrible trainers, being overmounted, and my war with riding anxiety that I still am waging to this day, though it has gotten easier.

I never competed because the barn I grew up at was not into competition. They weren’t into jumping very high either, and I really never got experience cantering jumps. Most of my jump work was trotting courses and cantering in between the jumps but always breaking to the trot before the next one. When the barn I rode at for 10 years closed, I bounced from barn to barn trying to find a good fit – and it was extremely hard.

I began working with my current trainer almost two years ago. She has an amazing riding background. She trained her show horse, who came from an abusive owner, and showed in the 3′ equitation classes while schooling 3’6″ at home. She didn’t have the money to buy a horse that could do the 3’6″ equitation, so she never got to do the Big Eq. She also started teaching lessons as a junior rider. She eventually left her show barn and found a trainer job at my current barn.

When I first came to my trainer, I was a nervous wreck about riding. I wanted to start riding consistently again, and I wanted to get my fitness back. At the same time, I didn’t want to canter or jump due to my bad experiences and my completely shattered confidence. My trainer saw me ride and told me she couldn’t help me at the walk and the trot. She encouraged me to canter and do a few tiny crossrails. From then on, I was paired with Rascal – a horse I have written about before and that completely changed my riding ambitions. I discovered last year that I wanted to really start jumping and working towards showing. And then, he died.

I eventually found my current horse, L, so that I could work towards moving up to the 3′ jumps. My trainer says that I progressed extremely quickly. I went from not being able to do a full course to cantering full courses in 2 months. Then, my horse got hurt and was out of commission for 10 days.

My goal was to reach 2’6″ by the end of this summer and 2’9″ by the end of this year. I know my goals are ambitious, but that is how I am. I am a perfectionist, and I put a lot of pressure on myself. I work better that way. My horse getting hurt frustrated me extremely. My barn doesn’t have a lesson horse for me to ride and/or jump, so I wasn’t able to ride the whole time my horse was on stall rest.

I am now working full-time, and I won’t have as much time to ride. My riding time will be cut in half more when winter comes because my current barn does not have an indoor – though I am working on finding a new facility. My lack of time to ride has frustrated me more because I had two weeks to really work on my riding, and one of them was taken up by stall rest, emergency vet calls, hand walking, and wrapping bandages. I want to clarify I am extremely grateful that my horse’s injury wasn’t worse, but being unable to ride was killing me. If you’ve ever seen the t-shirt that says ‘I ride so I don’t kill people,’ I am sure you understand. I am very motivated towards reaching my goal, moreso because my former second trainer and barn manager told me that she didn’t think I could reach my goal this year, and she also has cut down my long-term goal of competing at the 3’6″ level. Nothing is more frustrating than wanting to prove the haters wrong and not being able to.

My horse in back in work, but during all the frustration and waiting, I realized that I want more than being at a backyard barn for the rest of my life. While I knew this for months, the intention and drive was even more clear due to being unable to ride. I am judged at my barn for how serious and focused I am on my lessons and on progressing. I am truly passionate about riding. I watch videos of big name riders when I’m not riding. I study them to see where I can improve and what I need to excel at that level. I am constantly observing. I do it any moment I can. I school when I am not lessoning. I am always trying to improve, and I actually ask my trainer to nitpick my position so I can be the best I can be. Many of the riders at my barn think I’m nuts.

So here are my confessions:

I wish I was able to ride as a junior. I never got the chance, or rather, I didn’t have the desire because I was never at a barn that promoted it. I wish I was a pony kid. I have met some amazing riders since starting my blog and since getting serious about my goals and realizing I want something more for my riding: My trainer – we’ll call her LD – Dani, Ashley, Georgie, Kendra. I look up to so many big name riders – Lillie Keenan, McLain Ward, Beezie Madden, Liza Boyd, Kent Farrington, Tori Colvin. I know I’m missing some. I wish I could be half the riders they are. I am envious, and I use the word envious because it is appropriate when one lacks a quality another has. Envy is actually a good thing, as weird as that sounds. Jealousy is the one we have to watch out for.

I want more than being at a backyard barn where I am considered “weird,” “crazy,” “too intense” for being passionate about my riding, for having goals, for being a little too ambitious.

I went to a Grand Prix with my trainer a few weeks ago, and she was detailing someone’s ride to me. I commented that she could totally do Grand Prix classes, even if she had once told me she could never do it. She responded that I would be doing them one day, and she meant it. That’s how driven I am. She believes that I, a rider that has never jumped over 3′ in her 19 years of riding, could make it to Grand Prix level one day. Even if you think that’s ridiculous (I admit, I did too), I do have the drive and the motivation. I want something so much more for my riding career than what I have, and the injury, and the setbacks in my riding have fueled that desire more and made me even more frustrated at the same time.

I am making a big change in the next week, and I do believe it is the best thing I can do for my riding and sanity at this point, but it’s scary. I am looking forward to a new chapter in my riding life that is taking me towards where I want to go not keeping me where I want to be.

Product Review: Higher Standards Leather Care Saddle Soap & Conditioner

In full disclosure, I received a request to review these two products. In more full disclosure, I REALLY did love it, and I will be buying another container of saddle soap!

Embarrassing confession: I never used to clean my tack. I would do it every once in a while because the leather on my saddle or bridle felt dry. This changed one day when my trainer shunned me for not cleaning my tack after every use. She can often be found cleaning her saddle, boots, half chaps, and the bridle of the horse she rode, in the back of her car in the barn parking lot after her training/exercise rides. Now, it’s become something we do together after my lesson and her training ride!

Higher Standards Leather Care was started when Libby, the company’s founder, began making saddle soap as presents for her friends for Christmas. According to the product website, Libby took a chance and sent her soap to Karen O’Connor’s groom, and the groom ended up requesting more!

I also have to confess that Libby and I seem to be kindred spirits. In her email to me, she revealed that she is an attorney, and the product name came from the fact that Libby had been asked to leave a couple of boarding facilities for being “too picky.” I laughed at this because I have been called “needy” and “high maintenance” by my barn manager because I expect certain things to be done that, in my opinion, should be done – but that has been detailed in other posts. While others may describe us as “picky,” I consider it to be the expectation of excellent care for our horses.

I received the Ben’s Rosemary Mint scented saddle soap. Each jar comes with a sponge to make tack cleaning easy and convenient. Everything you need is right there in the jar, except for the water to do a pre-clean and a post-clean to wipe the soap off. I also have to say that even though I left the jar in the trunk of my car which caused the soap to melt due to the hot summer weather, the soap still effectively cleans my tack and leaves it soft, supple, and without the sticky, tacky feeling some leather cleaning products leave! (Editor’s Note: You should probably just not be an idiot like me and leave your soap in the car during hot weather…..)

Flash noseband attachment before cleaning.

Flash noseband attachment before cleaning.

This soap is super effective and gets rid of grime, even stuff that has been dried up and on the leather for a few days. My Arab has a flash noseband, and after rides, it often is gunked up with foam that is also mixed with hay and grass. By the time I get to tack cleaning, it’s often dried up and hard to remove. To see just how effective Higher Standards was, I skipped bridle cleaning for my Arab for a day and then cleaned it after he had been ridden the next day. Higher Standards definitely cut through the grime and made the leather look shiny and new again. It did take a bit of elbow grease and scrubbing though.

Flash noseband attachment after cleaning.

Flash noseband attachment after cleaning.

I also used the soap on my paddock boots, which I don’t ride in that often but wear a lot around the barn, so they get beat up with all the dust, dirt, horse poop, and water I walk in on a daily basis. I also do not clean them often. The soap got all of the dirt and grime off and made them look almost new again.

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Paddock boots before cleaning.

Paddock boots after cleaning.

Paddock boots after cleaning.

Finally, I cleaned my saddle. My saddle is pretty brand new, so it hasn’t gotten the chance to get super grimy or dirty yet, but that’s also because I clean it after every ride. However, here is what it looked like after Higher Standards.

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I also really like the leather balm. This is not something to be used every time you clean your tack. It’s best if you use it when you feel your tack needs a bit more moisture or hasn’t been conditioned in a while. It definitely leaves the leather feeling soft and supple, and my saddle didn’t feel dry at all. Because you don’t need to use it often, the balm will definitely last a long time.

Now for the fun part: the saddle soap comes in different scents! I am a huge fan of scented items, so this was a big selling point for me. I received the Ben’s Rosemary Mint for my test run, and it smelled great. It wasn’t too strong or overpowering. As an added bonus, mint is soothing to migraine headaches, which I get a ton of during the summer, so cleaning tack did not irritate my head because I was using something that had a soothing scent to my particular ailment. For my next tub of soap, I will be buying the Vanilla Lavender because vanilla is my absolute favorite scent in the world. I also got some compliments from fellow boarders about how good the soap smelled, and they said the mint was particularly “soothing.”

If you’re interested in trying this awesome soap & conditioner, you can find Higher Standards’ retail partners here, or you can order their products online!

Support Just World International Team Honduras!

For those of you who do not know what Just World International is and does, please click here.

I have several equestrian friends that are on Team Honduras, and I wanted to let everyone know how you can help Team Honduras with their fundraising campaign. The money Team Honduras collects will go towards helping children in Honduras.

I asked a Team Honduras member how we all could help, and below are some ways to donate to this great cause.

Money can be sent to 11924 West Forest Hill Blvd., Suit10A-396, Wellington, FL, 33414. Your note must designate that the donation is for Team Honduras.

If you prefer to donate online, you can do so here – make sure you put Team Honduras in the comment section.

My Barn Child Abalone Turtle Charm to benefit Just World International’s Team Honduras.

Finally, My Barn Child has created some awesome items to support Team Honduras. My personal favorite is the abalone turtle charm!

There will also be an auction to raise money at Maclay Regionals. If you are a company interested in doing so, the auction is September 13th at Showpark in San Juan Capistrano, California.

We believe it is super important to give back to those less fortunate, and we love Just World International’s mission and donation campaigns!

Balancing Grad School & Horses

Photo Credit: SignSpecialist.com

I have been debating writing a post on this topic because I didn’t know if people would be interested, but the other day I got an email from a reader asking me how I managed law school and owning a horse, so I figured I would go through with my idea!

For the past 3 years, I have been in law school. But since I am assuming all graduate schools are difficult, no matter what program you’re in, I hope this advice can apply to everyone who is thinking of, or in, graduate school and trying to keep up with their riding!

Time management is key

If you have great time management skills, then you’ve already won the battle. I think time management is super important, and it’s a great skill to have for ANYTHING in life, but it helped me especially in law school when I wanted to continue riding during each semester. Graduate school is a lot of work, and you will no doubt have a lot of additional homework to do besides attending classes. If you also participate in extracurriculars or do an internship, that just adds onto it. During my first year of law school, I only had classes to deal with – partially because we weren’t allowed to have internships or participate in many extracurricular activities. However, I wanted to continue to be able to ride and see my pony, so I forced myself to do the majority of my work ahead of time. Most professors will give a syllabus that will tell you what is due when, so I used that in order to get ahead during the semester. That way, I wouldn’t have to do all the work due the next day the night before. I had more time to ride and see my pony, and I wasn’t stressed about doing my reading and writing assignments.

My second year of law school, I got my Arab, who also happened to still be a stallion and wasn’t broke to ride at all. However, I followed the same strategy. I did my work ahead of time, if I could, which left more time for me to do things I actually enjoyed. I did have to make some sacrifices. For example, I concentrated in Health Law, and some of the health law classes that were required were only held at night. If I had a full day of classes, I wasn’t able to go to the barn that particular day. Thankfully this only happened once or twice a week, but you have to be prepared to give up some horse time, especially when it comes to scheduling classes and/or if you have to work.

Fortunately, as you get further in graduate school, scheduling gets more flexible. During my third year, I only had classes on certain days, which allowed me to have days off where I could work on assignments ahead of time and see my horses. The second semester of my third year, I started leasing L and riding at least 4 days a week. While my schedule was more flexible, I also was handling a couple of real cases in my pro bono clinic, an editor on a law journal, and a member of my school’s appellate advocacy moot court board. That may seem like a lot, but I was rarely stressed. And I’m not lying. My ability to manage my time and do my work efficiently was key to making sure I could continue my riding career while also honing my own outside-of-riding career.

Be ready to make sacrifices

Like I said, sacrifices do need to be made. You might not be able to go out with your friends all the time, or you may not be able to ride 6 days a week, or you might have to give up that work shift at the barn because of classes. While it may seem like a big deal, making sacrifices is important for graduate school. You’re there because you want to be (I hope), and the sacrifice is only temporary. Just because I had night class one semester didn’t mean I had it again the next semester. Your schedule will change and vary as you progress, so not being able to ride 6 days a week one semester may change the next semester. Unless you’re making a career out of horses, we need to continue to further ourselves outside of horses. This is an expensive sport, unfortunately, and solidifying our ability to have a work life we love while still pursuing our passion is imperative.

Associate with horse people you trust

There will be a point where you might have to forgo going to the barn or only be there for 5 minutes just to drop in and say hi. I am going to say that this point will probably be towards the end of the semester when final exams and projects are all due. You cannot, and should not, spend your time worrying about whether your horses are being properly cared for. You will already be stressed out about getting good grades or getting something done on time, so worrying about whether your barn manager is following your instructions or whether someone will notice if your horse is injured or feeling sick is NOT something you need. Trust me on this one. Being at a facility with top quality care and attention to detail will make sure that your head is not spinning in circles when you’re writing a term paper or studying for a final, which in law school at least, is worth 100% of your grade.

Know your limits

Sometimes you just have to say no, and saying no is okay. If you are stressed out or have too much on your plate and need a break from whatever it is you need a break from, say so! This can be difficult. I used to help out a lot at my barn, and this past summer when I was studying for the bar, I had to take a step back and cut back my time doing barn work. I was bummed because I enjoyed helping out, but studying for and passing the bar was more important. If you are doing something, and it is not serving you at this point and time when you are in graduate school, you need to cut back or cut it out of your life – whether it is temporary or becomes permanent. This obviously only applies to things that you don’t need to do. If you are working because you need money to pay bills, student loans, or for other things, then you might not be able to say ‘no’ if you’re feeling overwhelmed, and I completely get that not everyone has that luxury. But, if you do, definitely be aware of how you are feeling and how much you are doing. Keeping up your mental and physical health is important, especially when you are working to obtain an advanced educational degree. Also, if you’re feeling stressed/sick/tired/overwhelmed, you won’t enjoy riding as much, and we can’t have that!

These are some of the things I learned while trying to balance my riding and attending graduate school. I am sure these would also work for college life as well, if you are able to ride while in college. In fact, these principles are probably applicable to most things we experience in life, whether it’s education-related or career-related. The key is finding the right balance, and it can be difficult.

Have you tried these tips, or have some others that you’ve found to be helpful when it comes to balancing your horse life and your non-horse life? Let me know in the comments below!

10 Signs It’s Time to Start Looking for A New Boarding Facility

I have been to several different barns, and each time I’ve moved it has been for a different reason. I know sometimes I have a hard time deciding when to leave a barn, but experience has shown me that there are a few tell-tale signs that you should start looking for a new place for you and your horse(s).

1. You’re not happy with the care your horse(s) is/are receiving: There are varying degrees of this, obviously. One of the more extreme ones happened to me when I was at the barn previous to where I am now. I got there during the summer. It was a hot day, and to my horror, my horses had NO water in their trough – as did none of the others that were turned out. I promptly made a complaint to the barn manager. After it happened for the second time, I knew it was time to start looking for a new barn. Of course, you should only think of moving if it is something that can’t be fixed. For example, if you don’t like that your barn does night turnout in the summer, and they aren’t willing to turn your horse/horses out during the day to accommodate you, then maybe it’s time you find a place that either will accommodate your needs or only turns out in the daytime.

2. Your riding goals have changed: A lot of barns have more than one trainer, usually in more than one discipline, so if you decide you want to do the jumpers when you’ve been doing hunters your whole life, you can just switch trainers. However, some barns don’t have this luxury, or you may be at a discipline-specific barn so you wouldn’t be able to switch even if you tried. Sometimes this fix is as easy as bringing in an outside trainer – if allowed -but if you’ve decided you want to get into cross country, and your barn doesn’t have a cross country schooling course, then perhaps you should start looking for some good eventing barns in your area to pursue your riding dreams.

3. You don’t feel welcome at your barn anymore: Sometimes things happen, and the atmosphere of your facility changes. It could be a fight you had with a barn manager, too much drama amongst boarders/riders, or you just don’t like the people anymore. If you don’t feel welcome at your barn, that isn’t fair to you or your horse! We ride because we love it, and we shouldn’t have to get stressed out every time we want to ride or see our furry friends.

4. Too much drama: This is not always the case, but a bunch of girls + horses + competition + money = drama. However, there ARE barns out there that do not have a bunch of drama all the time. In my personal opinion, they are few and far between, but if you’re at a place now where the drama is constant, even if you try to stay away from it, leave! You’ll be much happier, trust me.

5. You don’t feel like you can make specific requests to your barn manager regarding your horse: You are paying a good amount of money every month for the type of board you’ve selected, and if having a certain food, supplement, blanket, etc. is covered, then you should never feel silly or uncomfortable making that request. I was once called “needy” by my barn manager for making a reasonable request regarding the farrier coming out on a more regular basis for one of my horse’s because he needed to be trimmed and reshod sooner than some of the others at my barn. You should never, ever feel silly or have a staff member belittle you for making a reasonable request regarding your horses’ care, so if you have gotten to the point where you don’t want to talk to your barn manager about something that is going on, you need to find a place where you do feel comfortable. Your barn manager is there to care for your horse, and you are paying far too much money (at least, that’s how it is in New Jersey. Board can go upwards of $1500 a month depending on the type of barn you are at) to feel like you can’t have what you want.

6. You would like different things from a boarding facility than when you first arrived: This is somewhat like #2, but more about amenities. I have only boarded at two barns that had indoor rings. Since I grew up at a barn that only had outdoor rings, not having an indoor ring never bothered me. I simply sucked it up and rode in the cold/accepted there may be some times where I can’t ride because of snow. This past winter, however, was BRUTAL, and I’ve found myself wanting an indoor ring because I just can’t deal with the cold and/or snowstorms that sometimes prevent me from riding for weeks. If you find yourself wishing for amenities that your current barn doesn’t have, and those things are a priority on your list, you should think about moving barns. This can be anything from having an indoor ring, to having a cross country course on the property, or having a barn with more turnout/bigger stalls/FEI-regulation dressage ring.

7. You aren’t happy with the on-staff trainers: I am very picky about who I ride with, and I currently will only ride with one trainer. My horses are also only allowed to be ridden by my trainer, and my horse that was being leased was only allowed to be in lessons with my trainer. This may be extreme, but everyone has their own preferences. Unfortunately, trainers sometimes leave to pursue better opportunities for themselves or because they can’t take the atmosphere at the current barn (I recently read an article about how barn managers/owners often have power struggles with resident trainers – this DOES happen). If your barn allows outside trainers to come in, then this may not be a problem for you. However, if you are only allowed to use the trainers that are on staff at your current barn, and you are not happy with the quality of their instruction or services, then moving to a new place with more suitable trainers might be the right decision for you. Or you could consider moving to the facility where your preferred trainer now works, if this is possible.

8. You can’t afford your current barn’s board: Horses are expensive. My dad often says the least expensive part of horse ownership is actually buying the horse. Many barns offer different types of board – from a less expensive option to a most expensive option. Additionally, different barns may offer one rate, but depending on the facilities and services, that rate may be more or less expensive. If you are struggling to pay board for your horse every month, you may want to consider moving. Struggling financially to care for your horse can be extremely stressful, and it can take away from the enjoyment of horseback riding. If you do not want to move, you should look into options such as leasing your horse to a rider or allowing your horse to be used in lessons. If you do this, it is important to have an agreement with the lease rider or lesson program operator to ensure that nothing goes wrong, and there is an understanding among the parties as to what can and cannot be done with your horse. You could also see if your barn manager will allow you to work off some or all of your board. However, if this doesn’t seem appealing to you, or these options aren’t available, you should look into going to a barn that offers cheaper board.

9. Being able to afford more expensive board: While I am not advising breaking the bank just because you can, if you can comfortably upgrade your boarding services and not be stressed every month about making board, then you should definitely consider moving to a more expensive barn, especially if you would like more amenities or services that include daily grooming, routine clipping/trimming, or others that are often offered at show-quality barns. Again, this is all personal preference, but it is something to consider if you find yourself yearning for that show barn treatment and know that you can afford to pay show barn prices.

10. Commute time: I know people that keep their horses an hour away from their home, and I know people that only have to drive 5 minutes to get to their barn. Because our lives can and do change, we may find ourselves with less time to make a 45 minute drive, so moving to a barn that is closer or on a less congested traffic route may be something to consider – if you can find a place you like with care you trust. This is low on the list because I think the aforementioned issues may be more pressing than commute time. Proximity to my home is important to me, so I’ve appreciated being at barns that have been no more than a 40 minute drive from my house. However, this may be less important to others.

Again, these are all things that come from personal experience. We all have different qualities we want in a boarding facility, and some may rank certain things higher than others. The best advice I can give is go with your gut. If something does not feel right, or if you or your horse(s) are extremely unhappy, maybe it’s time to part ways with your facility and find one that has what you and your horse(s) need!

Have you ever had something happen that solidified your decision to move barns, or do you have something to add to the list? Let me know in the comments below!

Product Review: Farnam Weight Builder

For those of you that follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me tweet about how my barn manager put my lease horse, L, on a weight gain supplement. L is half TB and half Trakehner, and he has the hard keeper characteristics of a TB. He is not super underweight, but he could stand to have a little more fat in his rib and hind area. My trainer and I noticed that he lost a little bit of weight after moving up to work 5-6 days a week, so we spoke to my barn manager about his feed regimen. My barn manager decided to up L’s food by a little bit and put him on a weight gain supplement. While these were not the choices I, or my trainer, would’ve made, we decided to try it out since my barn manager had already purchased the supplement for L.

My barn manager originally wanted to give L Cool Calories because I said that I did not want him on anything that would make him hot. The feed store was out of Cool Calories, so my barn manager purchased this saying it was most comparable to Cool Calories. I researched Weight Builder online, and while it differs a bit from Cool Calories, it seemed like the safest option in terms of making sure L was not being given “hot energy.”

For comparison, Cool Calories is 99% fat. It has no other ingredients. Farnam Weight Builder is only 40% fat and has 14% protein. The reviews for the product were mixed, with some people saying it worked and others saying it didn’t. A handful of individuals said it made their horse hot. I wasn’t happy about the Weight Builder, but like I said, I was willing to try it.

Within a few days of being on the supplement, I noticed L was spookier than usual. He was spooky in his stall, which was incredibly out of character. I only rode him two times in the week he started the supplement because the weather was extremely hot and humid, and he spooked during both rides, which is also very odd for him. My trainer and I decided to give him another week or so to see if he leveled out or if he seemed to be getting worse.

The spookiness was on and off for the next week. He still seemed a bit antsy and not himself. He was not acting dangerously, but he definitely was a bit more “up” than usual. L is pretty level-headed, and he doesn’t really spook at anything unjustified, so I was taking note of all the behavior changes I was seeing.

Then, after about two weeks of him being on the supplement, I had a terrible lesson on him. I felt like I was riding a spring. Again, he was not being dangerous, but the horse underneath me was not the same horse I had been riding for the past 6 months. He was doing the fire breathing dragon act at the canter, barely listening to my leg, and spooking at nothing in the same corner. I had my trainer get on after my lesson so she could feel what I was dealing with, and she agreed that he was NOT himself.

Normally when there is a change in a horse’s behavior, you want to take note of what you may have changed in his routine because that can often contribute to behavior change. Luckily, only one thing had been changed in the past few weeks, and it was the weight gain supplement, so I had a pretty good idea of what was making him act differently. For the record, I didn’t see much of a change in weight gain either, even though it wasn’t given a full month to work.

I’ve removed the supplement from L’s feeding regimen, and he has gone back to normal. He is no longer spooky or hot. He doesn’t seem to have a bunch of pent up energy, and he definitely does not seem as agitated as he was when he was on the supplement. While every horse is different, I wouldn’t recommend this supplement to anyone. However, like I wrote above, the reviews on this product were mixed. Some people swear by it, and others would never recommend it for a horse. I obviously fall in the latter category.

I personally feel that a weight gain supplement should be the last resort. A horse needs forage, first and foremost, and then appropriate grain for his work level. You should also make sure that your horse is on a regular deworming schedule and rule out any other potential issues that could be causing weight loss before assuming that your horse just needs to be on a supplement that will help him pack on the pounds.

Have you tried this supplement and had success or the same results? Let me know in the comments below!

Product Review: EcoLicious Equestrian Smeg-U-Later

This will be the only photo I provide for this blog post for obvious reasons.

Sheath cleaning is certainly not one of the more enticing aspects of owning or caring for a horse, but it certainly is something that needs to be done! I clean my horses’ sheaths personally about once a year (my horses’ dentist will do a cleaning when he comes, and that is once a year, making it twice a year in total for my boys), but I have also seen recommendations for an every 6 months cleaning. I’ve also heard of people who never clean their horse’s sheath, so to each their own. I think once a year is the bare minimum it should be done. This advice also counts for mares’ udders.

I actually don’t mind sheath cleaning. When I was still at the barn that my best friend’s mom manages, she would always make me do the sheath cleaning while she held the horse so he could graze. I’m an awesome friend, aren’t I? But for some reason, it really doesn’t bother me. I saw that EcoLicious Equestrian had an all-natural sheath cleaner, and I had to try it. We are cleaning a sensitive area so the less chemicals and irritants, the better!

Smeg-U-Later is made with coconut-derived cleaners and honeysuckle extract. It also has lavender oil which can be calming to those horses that may not enjoy being cleaned in their private area.

I used this product for the first time on my lease horse, L, and it coincidentally was also my first time cleaning his sheath since I’ve only had him for about 6 months. I put a little bit of the product in my hands and got to work cleaning. It quickly dissolved the dirt and gunk that was stuck up there, and it was very easy to see that the product was doing its job. It lathered really well, and I didn’t have to worry about it slip sliding off my hands like Excalibur does when I use it. The Smeg-U-Later bottle says there is no need for rinsing, but I rinsed with a hose anyway after I was done.

L was pretty cooperative during the whole process, so I wasn’t sure if the lavender calmed him at all. However, I noticed that after I had put him back in his stall, I was brushing him and accidentally grazed his sheath, and he swished his tail as if to say “hey lady, get your paws off my junk!” So, he did seem a bit annoyed about me going near the area. Again, since it was my first time cleaning his sheath, and he was so good, I have nothing to really compare against. I will have to try Smeg-U-Later on my baby horse who has not yet been acclimated to all the ways of the domesticated horse, unlike L who spent the majority of his years as a show horse.

Overall, I really like this product. It will last a long time because you don’t need much to get the job done, and you shouldn’t use a lot because it is concentrated. It smells great, and the dirt and gunk come right off and out of the sheath. The fact that it is an all-natural product is what makes it so great. The less chemicals the better, especially when cleaning sensitive areas! Smeg-U-Later can also be used around your horse’s nostrils and around his eyes.

Remember to clean your horse’s sheath or udder at least once a year! It’s important to make sure that everything down there is in good working order. Certain breeds and colors – like pink skinned horses – can get melanoma, and there are other things to watch out for like sores that can indicate a worm infestation or other issue. If you can’t clean your horse’s sheath or udder yourself, you can always enlist the help of your vet or a more experienced horse person. It only needs to be done once a year, and you shouldn’t skimp on your horse’s health – no matter how icky the process may be!

Happy sheath/udder cleaning!