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.

An interview with Carly Nasznic: An up and coming young, talented equine photographer

Photo Credit to Carly Nasznic. Do not use without permission.

Photo Credit to Carly Nasznic. Do not use without permission.

If you are keyed at all into the equestrian world, especially on social media, there is no way you haven’t seen photographs by the talented Carly Nasznic. Her photos capture amazing moments in equestrian riding, and I adore them. In fact, I would love to be photographed by her one day (when my eq is perfect and when I am in showing in major classes – not the beginner hunters for the first time). Carly is super talented, and I have to say she is one of my favorite equine photographers thus far. I check her Instagram account often, and I am pretty sure I’ve liked every photo she has ever posted.

I always ask everyone I interview for a fun fact about themselves, but Carly’s fact is also a bit of a shocker.

“Everyone thinks that I’m older than what I really am only because I take “such clear and focused photos”, but actually I am only 16,” she said.

Yup. Carly is only 16 and taking these amazing photos. Imagine her photography skills years from now.

Carly has been riding for about seven years and trains with Ashley McDonald out of Dapper Dan Farm in Rhode Island. She rides between 4 and 6 days a week, and she shows at least twice a month. Her love of horses began in 5th grade.

“My best friend had boxes of ribbons and trophies and at the time I was very jealous therefore my parents started by putting me into riding lessons. As of now, it’s not about the ribbons and trophies and more about the relationship with my horse, trainer and other riders around me,” Carly said.

Many individuals think that buying a fancy camera makes them a photographer. And, photography has actually been quite popular since I was in high school (a long time ago –hides face-) So what got Carly into photography?

“About three years ago I started to compete and as of last year I really started to get serious. After seeing everyone posting on social media the photos that they bought from the shows they went to, I got the feeling that those photos would keep the memories that will last a lifetime,” she said. “I have always taken photos of horses and anything relating to horses. I haven’t really gone outside of that.”

Carly’s photo skills are self-taught, which is super impressive given the quality of her photographs and the moments she captures. Carly has actually never even taken a photography class before – though she hopes to change that.

“This upcoming summer, I hope to take a class or two on what I need to improve with my photography,” she said.

Carly began posting her photographs on Instagram and taking what she terms “ok” photos of people she knew and giving them the photos for free. However, she soon found that everytime someone would regram her photo and tag her, more and more people would become interested in her photographing services.

Photo Credit to Carly Nasznic. Do not use without permission.

Photo Credit to Carly Nasznic. Do not use without permission.

Although this was happening, it took about a year before Carly really became noticed as an equine photography.

“I am now at the point where people will see me walking around at a horse show taking photos and will come up to me and say ‘hey are you Carly Nasznic? I think I follow you on Instagram!’ I’ll then laugh and say yes I am,” Carly explained. “I always love when I meet new people who interested in my photography, it makes me feel like I have a purpose.”

Carly Is 100 percent self-employed; however, she hopes to have her own photography business someday. She also does have a website – which she said is always under construction – that helps get her name out there. Carly, right now, is not selling any photos.

Carly photographed quite often at WEF this past year.

“I was in Wellington at the Winter Equestrian Festival for weeks 3, 6, and 7. I missed as little school as possible as this is my junior year in high school and is very important academically. I ended up missing about five days total because weeks 6 & 7 were my February vacation weeks!” She said. “Before I left, I went to every one of my teachers who for the most part were understanding and would give me the homework assignments that would be due when I got back.”

For those of you wanting to use Carly’s photography services, she specializes in all types of equine photos. Carly uses a Canon 70d with Canon lenses, including a:

  • 70 – 200mm;
  • 55 – 250mm;
  • 70 – 300mm

To edit her photos, Carly uses Afterlight or Lightroom.

Although Carly does engage in editing photos, she prefers to keep them as natural as possible.

“I tend to leave the photos I take more natural and not edit them so much,” she said. “When I first started I would always use a lot of contrast, which I see most on social media, but I believe it lessens the value of your picture and its quality.”

Breaking into equine photography is hard, especially because anyone can buy a camera and start taking photos. Carly had the following advice for those who are serious about it.

“For anyone wanting to get into equine photography, I recommend that they just have fun with it. It shouldn’t be stressful or cause you issues. I’ve always had the motto ‘It is what it is,’ referring to if people like my work then I’m happy and if they don’t that’s okay I’ll keep trying to improve on what needs improvement.”

According to Carly, the top three qualities an equine photographer should have are:

  • Patience;
  • Respect;
  • Responsibility it takes to deal with people, horses, and the time needed to put into one’s work

Though she is super talented, Carly said she never expected to become this well-known for her photos. She didn’t think so many people would be this interested in her photography, and she is “so grateful” that people have taken the interest they have because it says she is right for the job.

Although photography is one of Carly’s passions, Carly does intend on going to college for something other than photo. She has thought about majoring in business marketing. However, when she graduates, she wants to pursue a career in the equestrian industry.

Carly has taken tons of photos, so we asked her what her favorite photo she has taken has been.

“I’d say my favorite photo ever would be of rider Hannah Patten. It was a photo I wasn’t expecting to take and wasn’t ready for but as soon as I saw the moment of her hugging her horse while on her way out of the ring, I knew I just had to get it,” she said.

 

Hannah Patten hugging her horse. Photo Credit to Carly Nasznic. Do not use without permission.

Hannah Patten hugging her horse. Photo Credit to Carly Nasznic. Do not use without permission.

Carly has also made some super awesome connections through her photography. She has met riders Tori Colvin and Jessica Springsteen – both of whom have been extremely complimentary about her photography.

Carly does have other hobbies besides riding and taking photos. She also loves surfing, competing in triathlons, and dancing. She also said she doesn’t really have an artistic background and can’t “draw, paint, build, or really anything relating to” art excdpt for taking photos. Her photo skill is something she developed on her own.

She believes that anyone who sets their mind to it can become a good photographer.

“You need to have the will, and in my opinion, a certain eye for it,” she said.

Dedication is also hugely important considering Carly spends about 2 – 4 hours a day on photos. During the week, Carly is constantly on Instagram and answering emails. She said that she does find the photograph requests to be overwhelming at times, but the outcomes makes it all worth it. During the weekend, she edits photos for hours.

Currently, Carly interns for The Plaid Horse Magazine. Her internship requires taking photos for the magazines social media accounts and posting them. She also spreads the name of the magazine.

Carly said the most difficult thing about photography is striving for perfection.

“Sometimes its more about the moment rather then are the horses ears forward? Are his knees even? Does the rider have good eq?” She said. “I will sometimes be picky and get mad at myself for not getting the perfect photo but then I will stare at it really closely for as long as it takes to realize it doesn’t need to be perfect since it has its own special meaning.”

When Carly first started, she dreamed of taking photos of Tori Colvin and having Tori enjoy her photos.

“That dream came true when this time at WEF I was able to actually meet and talk to her,” Carly said. “She was so sweet and said numerous compliments to me about my photos. She has also used them on social media and was kind enough to take a photo with me. I wish that more equestrians were more humble and appreciative like her.”

Photo Credit to Carly Nasznic. Do not use without permission.

Photo Credit to Carly Nasznic. Do not use without permission.

Carly also took the time to address the controversial topic of stealing professional photos.

I use to be one of those people who would post the show proofs on social media and then comment ‘don’t worry I’m buying this,’ but in the end its still stealing,” Carly said. “I think it’s not right, and you should just wait until you actually buy the photo or get permission to post.”

Carly went on: “I have seen people blur out the watermarks on the show proofs and try and make it look okay. Over time people might think this will hurt the industry but there are the people who will still purchase because that is the right thing to do. To help this issue maybe a stronger watermark or even a way that on their website you can’t save it to your camera roll.”

Carly is certainly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to taking superb, artsy, amazing equine photos that capture “real” equestrian moments – not just what is pretty. To keep up with Carly on social media, she can be found on Instagram, Facebook, and at her website. She is also available for photoshoots in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Vermont. She stated she will travel “anywhere in the New England area.”

Photo Credit to Carly Nasznic. Do not use without permission.

Photo Credit to Carly Nasznic. Do not use without permission.

All photos provided by Carly Nasznic. Do not use without permission.