Monthly Archives: January 2014

It’s time for a caption contest!

Caption Contest!! Want to win $25 toward new tack? Here’s your chance! Darcy had a tough first day on the job and we need you to tell us what he’s thinking: we need a caption as hilarious as the photo.

Many of you may recognize Darcy, who is one of the tack models featured on our website. For one of our shoots, we took Darcy to a nearby creek for a swim to show how waterproof beta biothane tack is. It was Darcy’s first time swimming and as you can see, he was a little shocked by the experience! He was perfectly ok and took to it just fine after that, but we ended up with some hilarious outtakes.

The winner of our contest will receive a $25 gift certificate; the second place finisher will receive a $15 gift certificate, and the third place finisher will receive a $10 gift certificate. Everyone who enters gets a $5 gift card, so what are you waiting for? Get your thinking cap on and submit your entries here.

That’s not snow…

You may have noticed some fine white stuff the last time you changed your horse’s blankets. Nope, that’s not snow…it’s dandruff. And it’s probably in the mane, the tail, and if you’re very unlucky, all over your horse’s body, as well.

We’re seeing it this winter on horses who normally aren’t afflicted, perhaps because of the colder/drier conditions so far this year. This itchy skin condition can also be caused by insects, parasites, or a dietary deficiency, so identifying the cause can be the key to a cure.

If you horse is dealing with an insect or a parasite, or if the dandruff is accompanied by a skin disease like rainrot or scratches, an anti-fungal spray is your best bet to getting that healthy shine back. images

The diet can also be the cause–if your horse isn’t getting enough fatty acids, it’s hard for him to produce enough oil to keep his skin moisturized on his own. A few pumps of rice bran oil or the addition of flax seeds to the diet can help with this; plant oils can also help your horse hold weight during the cold.

No matter what the cause, a good, thorough grooming is the key to getting rid of those flakes. The curry comb is your friend here, and be sure to rub the coat out afterward with a soft brush or rag. Spray-on moisturizers or coat conditioners can be good in the cold weather–they may not bring back a healthy glow by themselves, but they can help prevent it from becoming worse. Once it’s warm enough (or if you’re lucky enough to have heat lamps in your barn) a bath with an antifungal shampoo or chlorhexidine solution can help address dandruff. We’re big fans of chlorhexidine, since it works well on several different skin issues and won’t sting on cuts or scrapes.

Your turn: What are your favorite wintertime grooming routines?

Dig out your chef’s hat!

During this delightful cold snap we’re experiencing, we can’t help but feel a little sorry for our horses standing around in the single-digit temperatures and snow. Although we know they don’t get cold as easily as we do, it does seem a little unfair that we’re curled up with chicken soup while they’re chomping on some frozen hay.

bran mashWe can’t give horses chicken soup of course, but one thing we’ve found they love is a good bran mash. Most tack shops sell a dry bran mash which needs to be mixed per the package instructions with hot water, and occasionally a dose of salt/electrolyte. Mashes should cling together after the water is added but not be soupy.

Although veterinarians warn that bran mashes shouldn’t be fed in place of a well-balanced diet or in too great a quantity to horses who aren’t used to it, they are great occasional treats for a horse who enjoys them.

The most fun part of mixing up a good, hot mash is flavoring it. Many people add apples and carrots, but we’ve come up with a few more creative flavoring sources, as well:

  • Applesauce: keeps better and mixes in well texture-wise with a mash as compared to a chopped apple.
  • Carrot or apple juice: for flavor that packs a punch
  • Apple cider: liquid or dried forms both work well in our experience
  • Beer: beer by itself is a favorite of many horses, most famously Zenyatta, but it works well in a mash too. Guinness or other dark beers with a strong flavor seem to appeal to most. Apple-flavored beers like Reds provides the best of both worlds. Straight beer is the old wives’ remedy for anhydrosis. We can’t say for sure if it works, but the horses sure enjoy it.
  • Molasses: Can be quite sticky, so a dried form sometimes works best (and it won’t freeze)
  • Peppermint: Either the candies or the essential oil (from a health food store)
  • Coffee (in small amounts): A coffee pots have long been the sources for hot liquid to make bran mashes
  • Ginger snaps: These have a long shelf life and bring some extra flavoring to the mash
  • Licorice: Either the candy or the essential oil
  • Orange-flavored Metamucil: It provides extra fiber and the flavor is appealing to some horses

Recent studies have suggested that horses also enjoy less traditional flavors. Among them–banana, cherry, and fenugreek (a spice you can find at the supermarket).

Your turn: What flavors do you like to add to your horse’s mash?

More winter weather management tips!

Thanks to the University of Kentucky for this awesome press release about winter horse care. Learn more at their website


Bitter cold temperatures have been a theme this winter, and are now here again. Experts at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment offer tips for managing horses during extremely cold weather.

While the ideal time for cold weather preparation is in the fall, there are management tips recommended by experts to help keep your horses healthy now. According to Bob Coleman, extension horse specialist withinUK’s Department of Animal and Food Sciences, horse owners should also think about preparing for acute versus chronic cold. Acute cold is found in the cold snaps that last for a short period of time. Chronic cold is the cold that takes hold and stays with a region for a much longer duration. Sometimes an acute situation can prove to be more dangerous to animals, he said, because they aren’t as used to the cold and owners might not be as well prepared as those in locations where intense cold is more typical and long-lasting.

Regardless of the type of cold present, horse owners should make sure animals have adequate shelter, water, dry bedding and feed, he said.

According to Coleman, digestion is one way horses help generate heat when it is cold. The average horse, with a lower activity level, should eat between 1.5 and 2 percent of its body weight in feed per day to maintain weight.

Feed requirements go up as temperatures drop, and horses use more calories to keep warm. Mature horses can, when adapted, handle a temperature of 5 degrees F, which is called the lower critical temperature, he said. When the temperature falls below this, the horse needs to increase heat production or reduce heat loss to maintain core body temperature. One way to do this is for the horse to eat more. A drop in temperature to minus 5 degrees will require an additional 15 percent more forage to provide the needed calories, meaning the horse needs to eat 2-3 more pounds of hay each day.

“As a horse owner, making sure there is some extra hay available will help your horses get through the short-term cold snaps. Long or more chronic exposure to cold will need some other management changes to meet the horse’s calorie needs,” Coleman said. “On the short-term, add more forage. But if forage supplies are limited, adding a concentrate feed to the diet may be needed.”

For mature horses at maintenance, good quality legume-grass mixed hay should be adequate, while young growing horses or broodmares in late gestation require a concentrate in their diets to meet the increased calorie needs. If an owner is adding concentrate for the first time, those additions should be made gradually to prevent digestive upsets.

Coleman said it’s also critically important that horses to have access to clean, unfrozen water to ensure that they eat adequate amounts of feed. Intake of water each day helps to reduce the risk of colic due to impaction. While this can be one of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of winter horse management, its importance can’t be over-emphasized.

In addition, horses will need shelter to provide protection from the wind and any precipitation that may fall.

For horse owners who choose to use blankets, Coleman urged them to make sure those blankets are both wind and waterproof. A wet blanket equals a wet horse, and that wetness disrupts the coat’s ability to insulate the animal and can quickly lead to cold stress.

All horse owners should take extra time observing horses during cold snaps to make sure they are handling the temperatures well. This means checking on horses daily. Ones who are feeling the effects of the cold will need extra attention.

Coleman strongly recommended keeping horses out of pastures or paddocks with ponds or other open water sources. There are cases each winter of horses falling through ice and into a pond.

We’re thankful for great help!

We're thankful for great help!

Sometimes getting great photos of our products means dealing with not-so-great weather conditions–a big thank you to the riders who help us out, especially with our snow scenes! It was a chilly one out there last week.

This is our medieval bridle, which adds dramatic flair to any horse’s ensemble but looks especially fantastic on our dressage model. Learn more about our medieval bridle here.

Tie on? Tie off? Tie what? Explaining Western tie downs

Ever heard a Western rider refer to a “tie down”? It’s one of those accessory pieces that might be a little hard to identify for those of us who ride English.

Here we see a tiedown in action on a roping horse

Here we see a tiedown in action on a roping horse

Tie downs consist of a noseband and cheekpieces which fit around the ears. Clipped to the noseband is a piece of leather (or beta biothane) which connects to the girth. Tie downs limit how far back a horse can move his head, which is useful for those who might be prone to rearing or simply reaching his head back, putting the rider at risk for a broken nose.

The tie down is similar to the martingale in English riding, except that it attaches directly to the noseband without the support of a neckstrap. When adjusted appropriately, the tiedown won’t put any pressure on the horse until he raises his head above the disred level.

Ropers and barrel racers are especially fond of tie downs, since those speed events usually require the horse to stop or turn suddenly, which is more likely to result in the horse’s front end shifting up and back. Some riders also say that they feel it gives the horse something to brace against for balance.Western tie down

At our shop, we sell a tie down strap with or without the noseband cavesson. The strap has a clip for easy on and off and is available in any of our standard 12 colors, with options to include an overlay color or rhinestones. As with all beta tack, the tie down strap is waterproof and crack-proof and just needs a trip through the washer to come clean–a real plus with this piece, which is likely to encounter a lot of dirt.

Tuesday Tip: We don’t sell saddles, but…

we do think they should fit! Check out this awesomely helpful video from The Horse magazine on making sure your saddle fits your horse.

It’s easy enough to tell if your saddle fits you, but it’s just as important to make sure it isn’t pinching your horse’s back or putting uneven stress on his spine. Both these problems can lead to injury or chiropractic problems, which you may only notice by an uneven stride or sudden sour behavior under tack.

(In general, we love The Horse for both beginners and experienced horsey folks.)

G’day, pony!

Does your horse fancy a trip down under? Well, we can’t arrange that but we can help you win an Australian bridle!

Australian bridleOur latest tack giveaway is for a beta biothane Aussie Barcoo Outrider bridle, which has rugged durability but lets your horse’s elegance shine through.

The bridle is fully adjustable at the cheekpieces and throatlatch to ensure a comfortable fit for your horse. Like all our bridles, it’s hand-stitched throughout for added detail with stainless steel, no-rust hardware and comes in a wide variety of colors.

All you have to do to enter our giveaway is to fill out the form here. Even if you don’t win, you’ll still get a $5 coupon to our shop.

We have a winner!

Congratulations to the winner of our latest tack giveaway! Vivian Beard and her mare Thunder Rose will be enjoying their very own western bridle with snap-on browband.

Thunder Rose and Vivian

Thunder Rose and Vivian

Thunder Rose (known around the barn as T. Rose) is an 18-year-old Crabbet Arabian mare. Crabbet Arabians are descended from a specific line of the breed cultivated at Crabbet Stud beginning in the late 1800s. The breed is now renowned for a larger size and sturdier conformation than the typical Arabian.

T. Rose has been a broodmare for the last several years, and Vivian has two of her foals–a 4 month old and a 4-year-old. T. Rose was trained in classical dressage, and Vivian hopes to have her back under saddle again soon. Happy riding, T. Rose and Vivian!

As always, all participants in our tack giveaway got a free $5 coupon, so keep an eye on your inbox for that email.

We have a new tack giveaway that launched today, for one of our Australian bridles. Check it out here.

Roll film!

We’re very pleased to present our first promotional video! We wanted to give folks who may not have visited our online tack shop an idea of what we’re all about.

Take a look and let us know what you think!