Stall potato to show-fit

If you are at a barn without an indoor or even suffered the subzero temperatures that were so prevalent throughout the U.S. this winter, you probably didn’t get a lot of riding time in this year (not all of us are lucky enough to go to WEF or Ocala for the winter). As a result we, and our horses, probably got a lot of (unwanted) riding time off. Unfortunately, we cannot just jump right back into what we were doing back in the fall before the temperatures became unbearable. Guest writer Christa Myers gives some tips on how to recondition our horses for more consistent riding now that warm temperature are here to stay.
Since many of us don’t have the luxury of wintering in Florida, when spring time comes around our horses aren’t in show season shape. We have to turn our potato of a horse into a fit horse within a few weeks. My fitness goal for my horse is: to finish the last class of the day with as much energy and enthusiasm as the first class. There is nothing more frustrating like starting the day on a high but the last class of the day, you’re pushing your horse around the course and knocking rails left and right. Besides the benefit to your show season, a horse who is fit is less likely to injure themselves than a horse is in “pasture pony” shape. If keeping my horse in shape means less vet bills.. I’m all for it.
No one likes to get on the treadmill every day and do cardio for a hour or two, so why make your horse do the same? One thing to keep in mind while peaking your horses fitness is to mix it up. I have the book Equine Fitness: A Program of Exercises and Routines for Your Horse, which helps me change up exercises throughout the week. There are little removable inserts in the back to keep at the barn! They come in handy when our tired minds fail us. I’ve had this book for about five years and every spring, once temperatures rise, I take it out and create a fitness program for my mare, Ashira. After a little while, you’ll figure out which exercises will benefit your horse best.

I have a few types of exercises to help bring one’s horse (and hopefully the rider feels the burn too) back into show season fit. While normal people are worrying about being “beach fit,” we riders worry about how muscular our horses are. Here are two ways to make your equine team mate “show fit”:

Interval Training: This one is super helpful when it comes to stamina. As an eventer I love this because it helps Ashira gradually work up to longer periods of canter work. (Hint: Add interval training into your own workout to burn more calories and get your heart rate up for longer).

So, what is interval training? It is designed to gradually strengthen both the horse’s respiratory system and muscles.

Examples of Interval Sets:

  • In the beginning it is best to start slow and short: 2 minutes trot, followed by a minute walk. Complete 4 sets.
  • As you develop you could do something like: Canter 5 minutes, trot 2, walk 1.
  • You can also do: 2 minutes working canter, 1 minute collected.

Interval Training doesn’t just restrict you to different gaits. You can also experiment with speed/impulsion within those gaits. To read a helpful article on interval training, click here.

Hill Work: Utilizing those hills (if available) in the back of your barn’s property will benefit your horse immensely. Walk, trot, canter (if your horse is capable) up them, and you’ll notice a huge difference in your horse’s stamina and muscle tone relatively quickly. This also mixes up your horses mentality as they can do this outside. Remember to allow your horse to use their head and to remove your weight off their back while going uphill. Cantering uphill will also help your horse collect at the canter!

Always remember warming up & cooling down: Remember while doing these exercises to warm up and cool down effectively. It’s just like you exercising. Before and after you exercise you can and should stretch, even if it is just for a few minutes (though some horses may require longer depending on age, fitness level, any health issues, etc.) When working your way up to a long period of canter, keep in the back of your mind, trotting is more effort for a horse than cantering. Walking will also put a lot of muscle on your horse, so go for a nice long hack once a week to mix it up and relax. Hopefully these exercises will get you in shape too. If you engage your abdominal muscles, you’ll feel a change in your horse as well. There have been posts on stretching you and your horse, which is super important to do before and after training. Incorporating stretching into your training routine is extremely beneficial.

Building your spring arsenal

Spring is finally here! With temperatures (finally) consistently in the 60s (and 70s), it’s time to prepare our horses for warmer weather and get rid of all the crud winter has left behind. Guest writer Christa Myers has given us some tips to put in our spring arsenal to make sure we are prepared for spring’s arrival.

Snow is melting; the ground is thawing; temperatures are rising.. sure these things mean spring is upon us. But they also mean: MUD! Gone are the days of frozen limbs and having to cool your horse out forever! Though many of us prefer this to the morbidly low temperatures and frozen buckets, it still presents a challenge.

Horses begin to shed their coats, and we suddenly realize we didn’t need to buy that new heavy blanket because wow that’s a lot of hair! By the time we leave the barn, we have horse hair everywhere (Note: Do not wear any lip products to the barn until at least June). I bet you didn’t think the dirt under your nails could accumulate anymore.. well, you’re wrong. Get ready to paint those babies black for the rest of spring.

However, despite all this, I’m going to build your arsenal to better equip yourself for the spring (and fall, but let’s not think that far ahead). Adding these items to your grooming kit will help you beat that spring fever. And, many of these products will even make you smell good when leaving the barn.

Waterproof Gloves

These will keep your hands from getting wet and muddy. That water bucket you’ve been dipping your muddy hands in.. there’s no need for that anymore. (Admit it, you’ve done it). A pair of these are great to have around the barn. Outside of grooming, you can use them when watering because the temperatures aren’t quite warm enough to want to have wet hands. These are a huge life saver when your horse has decided stepping in every mud infested area is their new favorite activity.

Bonus: you maybe able to leave the barn without half the pasture under your nails.

Microfiber Towels

These pieces are a gift from above (or China..) You’ve been brushing your horse for a solid hour, and you still can’t get those tiny specks of dust off your horse. Take a microfiber towel and rub it across the dust infested area. It’ll take care of that problem in no time! They are also super absorbant, so if your horses feet are wet, microfiber it. The best part of these towels is that they can be bought from a local dollar store for super cheap! You don’t have to worry about ruining them at the barn.

Shedding Blade

Many of you will already have one of these in your grooming kit, and if you don’t, you should. A shedding blade will not only help you take off the billionth layer of your horse’s winter coat, but when mud is coated on, and you only have thirty minutes to get ready for your lesson.. it will become your best friend. Plus the other side doubles as a sweat scraper for many models.

Slick ‘N Easy Horse Grooming Block

These small rectangular blocks make shedding go by quicker. They normally sell for only a few dollars at your local tack shop. Just rub it like a brush and watch the hair come off super easy! They also last a while. I had one block last two shedding seasons. For the stubborn spots on your horse, this helps out even out coats which will come in handy for those early season shows. No one wants to bring a mammoth into the show ring. (Well… someone has to, now it doesn’t have to be you)

Mrs. Conn’s Sponges

I just recently found out about these sponges. For $10 + the cost of shipping you can have a sponge (with natural ingredients) with shampoo already in it. Just add water, start rubbing and magic happens.. well you have to put a little elbow grease into the equation but by the end of it, you can fix a few problems. 1. Your horse will smell GREAT. 2. They offer different sponges for every day problems. This summer my pain-in-my-behind mare developed a bacterial skin problem. She basically looks like she has mangles. As I head home in a month and ditch the textbooks for breeches, I’ll have to invest in some different products to get my mangy looking mare show ready in a very short period of time. Ashira likes to cause panic before show season, which you’ll read about shortly. However with these sponges and other products, she’ll be loaded on the trailer and heading to shows before she knows it. Minor cuts, scrapes and irritation? Solved! Go to the Mrs. Conn’s website to find out more information. Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite equestrian? These are a great investment!

Effervescent Brush Cleaner

Cleaning your brushes regularly will also help prevent the spread of disease and other skin issues, especially if you use your brushes on multiple horses.

What’s the best way to have a clean horse? Cleaning them with clean brushes! The product I found is Effervecent Brush Cleaner (Hint: Order through SmartPak [linked above] and get these on AutoShip so they come on the exact right time and remind you to routinely clean your brushes). However, if you don’t want to spend your money on the brush cleaner, simply washing with soap and water will do the trick. While spring cleaning make sure to include your brushes. When I was little, I told my mother I needed new brushes because mine were dirty, I almost got away with it until another mother mentioned brushes can be cleaned. Save yourself some money, and clean your brushes. You’ll have a shiny pony on your hands!

Ecolicious Equestrian Products

You’re going to want one of everything they offer. Not only are these products natural, they smell amazing, and the results are divine. We all love our horses, so I like knowing what I’m putting on my horse. To top it off, EcoLicious products are environmentally friendly. No more fretting over soap going onto the grass or down drains. While I could list off every product on their site, I have picked four that I believe will help you get from spring to summer, and every single one keeps your horse shiny and clean!

De-Stress Intensive Restructuring and Detangling Treatment (Full The Legal Equestrian review coming soon)

After a long winter, I use this on my mare to resurrect mane and tail. It goes from dry and rough to shiny and soft. The product will also help with growth which comes in handy for those pesky horses that like to rub off their gorgeous manes and tails.

Moisture Maniac Mane and Tail Infusion (Full The Legal Equestrian review coming soon)

This product is great to maintain that shine and health produced by the De-Stress Intensive Restructuring and Detangling Treatment. Use it the same way as any other spray-in conditioner and voila! Shiny healthy mane and tail. It also smells great!

Squeaky Green & Clean ShampooSilky Rinse Out Moisturizing Conditioner

These two products are like Blair and Chuck (if you haven’t watched Gossip Girl or have zero idea who Blair and Chuck are, finish this post and then Netflix Gossip Girl immediately), the perfect match. (Just more happy ending, less heartbreak). When the temperature is nice enough for a bath, these will be the products I’ll be using. A little goes a long way, and the results are magnificent (think super soft and super shine)

EcoLicious Equestrian has a full line of horse (and human) care products that can be found here.

(Editor’s Note: In full disclosure, The Legal Equestrian head writer is a brand ambassador for EcoLicious Equestrian and part of their #teamchic. However, she has been reviewing their products for much longer than being part of their ambassador team).

Deworming a difficult horse

Deworming is something we all have to go through as horse owners, and even if we don’t, our barn managers do. If we have a difficult to deworm horse, we can do our part by desensitizing them to the dewormer. That way our job, or our barn manager’s job, is much easier when the time comes. There are many ways to desensitize your horse to this unpleasant experience. Guest writer Kate Stone, who has her own difficult to deworm horse, speaks from experience and gives some awesome tips on help a difficult to deworm horse become more used to that dreaded tube.

Spring is upon us! The snow has melted; shedding has become a hassle, and for some horse owners (depending on your horse’s deworming schedule) it’s time to pull out all the sneaky tricks to get that tube of wormer in your horse’s mouth. Not just that, but it must be swallowed! Bless the horses that are easy to worm, because many horses are difficult and even dangerous to do. Thankfully, there are ways to make things run more smoothly.

The first thing you can do to prepare is to use your hands and gently massage the sides of the horse’s mouth so your horse gets used to the feeling. Once your horse is comfortable with that, put your fingers into the corners of its mouth (you can put applesauce on your hand to help facilitate this). This sometimes can fix any mouthy, bad behavior, but if your horse is very apprehensive around the tubes, try the following steps.

After they become comfortable with this step but are still apprehensive, wash an old empty tube, or buy one and fill it with applesauce. Put the horse in cross-ties and start by just showing the tube and pet the horse with the tube in your hand, using an encouraging voice, tell them good boy/girl and give a few treats. (Editor’s Note: If your horse tens to rear during de-worming, which my pony does, cross-ties may not be a good idea, and you may have to enlist the help of an experienced barn person for this step).

This is a good way to build up your horse’s trust with the tube and with you. Continue this daily until the horse is comfortable with the tube being near it. Then follow the same procedure with putting the horse in cross-ties (or being held by an experienced horse person if rearing or jumping up is an issue). Fill the tube with applesauce, and push some out on the palm of your hand and let the tube lay across your hand. The horse may be apprehensive with taking the applesauce since they have to lick near the tube to get the applesauce, so just take it easy, slow, and continue to encourage them. After they are comfortable with this, you can try to gently but quickly put the tube in your horse’s mouth as you would with a full tube of dewormer. Your horse may pull away at first not knowing it is the applesauce, but don’t give up because your horse will taste the applesauce and should settle. Because this is not difficult or time consuming, I recommend continuing the last step to keep your horse comfortable with the feel of the tube in its mouth. It is essential (underline, bold, & highlight essential) to keep all of these experiences as positive as possible. If things get a little tricky, stop and take a step back. Getting a horse that is bad with deworming is not going to happen overnight. You and your horse will have to work at this. Patience is key.

 

Kate suggests even using the stud chain across the horse’s gums if he or she is extremely difficult about deworming. This, if done properly, will give extra control and keep you and the horse’s handler safe.

If you don’t have time to prepare, here are a few things I do to help with deworming my horse, that is very, very, very difficult. The first thing I do is ask someone, preferably an adult or someone who has experience with horses to help. I prepare the tube of applesauce and a tube of dewormer so it is all ready and hide it away in a pocket or discrete location. (Tip: wash your hands after preparing the tube just to ensure there is nothing on your hands that your horse will smell.) Put a halter and lead rope (with shank) on your horse. Since my horse is extremely bad with worming, I put the shank over his nose and up the side, and once I get him in a safe location I shift the shank over his top gums and hand him to a friend. I then stand beside him and slip the tube of applesauce up his mouth and push. I then grab the other tube of dewormer and do the same. Be prepared for your horse to throw their head or pull back so stand at a safe distance (Editor’s Note: or jump up, like my pony does). Then praise with your horse’s favorite treat or another tube of applesauce.

Deworming or giving medication orally is something every horse owner has to go through so it is very important to make sure it can be done safely. If you have to deworm a difficult horse, always make sure there is someone else around to help or to step in if help is needed. Horses don’t understand how much power they have and can be very dangerous, even hurting you or a partner without meaning to. If there is ever a tricky situation, do not hesitate to ask a professional for help. Keep the desensitizing sessions short, sweet, and stress-free to ensure they are a positive experience for both you and your horse.

Do you have a difficult to deworm horse? What have you found works for you? Leave a comment below!

 

 

Packing for success: What you need in your horse show backpack

Guest writer Grace Salmon gives some tips on how to make sure you’re 100% prepared and have everything you might need when going to a horse show. Check out her tips below!

Showing can come with a lot of stress; having a fully stocked backpack will leave you prepared and with one less thing to worry about. In this post you will find a list of 5 items that are essential to your everyday horse show needs. These easily obtainable items can either be found at your local tack shop or drugstore. Whether you’re showing on the A circuit, or going to your first schooling show, you will find that these items are a must have.

No Knot Hair Nets are extremely popular and work great for those with super long hair!

Hair nets: Hair nets are essential to showing. Having plenty of hairnets is always a must; whether yours rip, become too stretched out, a barn mate needs one, or necessary just for every horse-show-day use, keeping a few hairnets in your backpack where you know you will be able to find them will help you tremendously!

An ink fountain is probably a bit old school and involved for a horse show but you get the picture…

Horse Show Journal: You can learn a lot at horse shows, and what better way to remember what you’ve learned than writing it down! Keeping a notebook or a journal in your backpack gives you the ability to quickly jot down some notes after a good ride or go into depth about your show weekend. It gives you the chance to reflect on what worked, what didn’t work, what habit you need to break, etc.

A must have for any time in the sun!

Sunscreen: Now, this is pretty much a given, but when you are running around summer horse shows it’s easy to forget to reapply sunscreen. If you have ever shown in the summer you know its basically guaranteed that you’ll get sunburnt. Keeping extra sunscreen in your backpack at shows makes it a little easier to not turn in to a lobster.

Tide To Go Pen: Horses a very messy. If you’ve been around one for at least a minute you are probably aware of this fact. They are notorious for thanking you for the carrot you just gave them by smearing it all over your brand new essex show shirt. This is why a Tide To Go Stain Pen or something similar is a must have to get any stains out of your show clothes.

A go-to horse AND human snack.

Horse & Human Snack: Making sure both you and your horse are happy is probably the most important part of showing. Running around a show all day without any food isn’t fun. That’s why keeping an energy bar in your backpack is super important. Sometimes you don’t have time to grab something from the food stand or maybe what they sell doesn’t sound so good. Whatever the reason, it is important to make sure you stay fueled when running around a horse show. Same goes for your horse. While a peppermint or two won’t restore his energy, it will keep him happy while you’re waiting for the jog or taking him for a graze.

Product Review: GhoDho Breeches

#ROOTD: GhoDho breeches, EIS sun shirt, Deux Cheveaux “RIDE” belt.

#ROOTD: GhoDho breeches, EIS sun shirt, Deux Cheveaux “RIDE” belt.

#ROOTD: GhoDho breeches, EIS sun shirt, Deux Cheveaux “RIDE” belt.

Since the weather is getting warmer, I can finally try out all these new breeches I’ve bought as part of my “I can’t ride” shopping therapy that I did quite often this winter. I’d been hearing a lot about GhoDho breeches, so I decided to cave a buy a pair to see what all the hype was about. If you don’t feel like reading the whole review, here are the positives:

  • Super flattering;
  • Form-fitting, for those who like riding tights;
  • Grippy;
  • Cute accents that set them apart from other riding pants;
  • Worn by up & coming riders like Gia Rinaldi;
  • Part of the new trend – being able to wear riding clothes as everyday clothes
  • Come in a variety of different colors to suit different tastes

I wore my GhoDho breeches during a lesson for the first time yesterday, and they did not disappoint. They were super comfortable, and I of course got a lot of compliments. I’ve worn the breeches in a barn setting prior to riding with them on, and I got compliments then as well including that people loved the accents and that the breeches made me look like a “skinny mini.”

I have had many people ask me what they should do in terms of sizing. The GhoDho website recommends sizing up a size from your regular breeches. So, if you are a size 24 in Tailored Sportsman, you could buy a size 26 in GhoDho. I checked the GhoDho measurement chart and found that the size 26 measurements would’ve been entirely too large on me, so I took a risk and bought the same size. The size 24s fit me quite well, though they are still a bit big and long on me. I am only 5′ tall and don’t even weigh 100 lbs, so that must be taken into consideration. I would highly suggest consulting the size chart, found here, before ordering, to be sure you are getting the correct size.

I purchased the Luna breeches and adore the color. They are a rich, navy blue with a lovely crocodile colored knee patch. They are beautiful and again, I’ve gotten tons of compliments on them. They are super comfortable to wear whether you are doing barn work or riding. They have a zipper at the bottom of each leg so you can make the leg super tight or loose depending on how you like your breeches. I would say they run more as “tights” than as breeches meaning they are more form-fitting and tighter. While normally I don’t like riding tights, these have more fabric and thickness too them, so I don’t mind them at all.

The only negative thing I have to say about the GhoDhos is that they do run big – on me at least. I probably could benefit from a size smaller, but the smallest size they manufacture is a size 24, which is fine. I have noticed they bunch a little bit at the knee, and I do have to pull them up a bit so I don’t look so short. Other than that, I have nothing negative to say about these breeches.

Another positive is that it is easy to layer with the GhoDhos. I did wear these a few times on very cold winter days, and it was extremely easy to wear my UnderArmour ColdGear Leggings underneath. Oftentimes, I find myself trying to pull my breeches on over another layer, but the GhoDhos slid right on, which I loved.

Obviously with all of the decorative accents on the breeches, these are not show appropriate; however, I have been hearing rumors that GhoDho will be coming out with a show line which I am super excited to see.

GhoDho comes in several different colors including navy, pewter, military, shroom, and beige. I have been considering buying another pair, and I am stuck between the pewter and the beige. Like I said, they are durable, form-fitting, flattering, and super soft. I adore them, and I know that any rider who tries them will as well. I may also hold off to see their show line before I purchase another pair.

GhoDho is available on the GhoDho website and can be found at other tack stores. The breeches sell for $125 which is slightly more affordable than some other breeches on the market currently.

If you have been on the fence about ordering a pair of GhoDhos, I highly recommend you go to the website and hit “add to cart.” That, or go to your local tack store (if they carry the brand) and try on a pair for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!

Gia Rinaldi modeling GhoDho Breeches. Photo Credit to GhoDho.com.