Monthly Archives: April 2014

Favorite Flicks: Ever wanted to ride a racehorse?

…so have we, but we’re not sure if we’re that brave. Fortunately, HRTV brings us the next-best thing here.

Take a spin aboard California Chrome, who is considered one of the prime contenders for this year’s Kentucky Derby.

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Congratulations to Ayrk!

We recently completed a tack giveaway for Behind the Bit, which is a fantastic source for dressage riders to find event coverage, product reviews, and horsey fun of all sorts.

We gave away a two-tone English bridle, which is made from 3/4-inch beta with a 1/2-inch overlay. Our range of colors allows customers to be as bold or as traditional as they want; our winners decided to do a black base with a purple overlay–a nice mix of the conventional and the colorful!

Meet Ayrk, the Norwegian Fjord

Meet Ayrk, the Norwegian Fjord

The winners of the giveaway are Gemma and Ayrk. Ayrk is an 18-year-old Norwegian Fjord. The Norwegian Fjord is closely related to the Przewalski’s horse, and as you can see it’s known for its distinctive coloring and “rocker boy” mane. The Norwegian Fjord is a descendant of Mongolian wild horses and is considered an endangered breed.

Ayrk and Gemma have been working together for four years. They came together through a friend of Gemma’s riding instructor, and are currently learning about dressage. They also jump from time to time, as well. Ayrk is a huge fan of fruit–strawberries and tangerines being a particular favorite. We’ve heard of horses eating bananas and of course apples, but tangerines are a new one for us.

Enjoy your bridle, Ayrk and Gemma!

We're loving Ayrk's rocker boy mane!

We’re loving Ayrk’s rocker boy mane!

Is Your Trailer Safe?

We thought some of the trailering tips in this release from the University of Guelph were worth taking a look at…especially now that it’s spring and time to hit the trails and show ring again.

As a horse owner, it’s likely that it will be necessary to trailer your horse at one time or another. Whether it’s a short distance to nearby trails or several hours’ drive to a competition, with a bit of care and attention, you can safely get your horse to where you’re going and minimize the possibility of any mishaps or undue stress.


While it’s just common sense to ensure that your horse has been trained to load and unload safely and in a calm manner well in advance, proper planning ahead for any trip can ensure that the entire transportation process goes smoothly and is safe for both horse and handler.

“No matter the distance, trip planning is the key to successful journeys, including knowing the weather conditions, road construction, etc.,” says Penny Lawlis, Humane Standards Officer with the Animal Health and Welfare Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) in Guelph, Ontario. Lawlis also currently sits on the National Farm Animal Care Council and teaches a graduate level course in practical animal welfare assessment for the University of Guelph.


When transporting a horse, it’s important to plan out the route ahead of time, avoiding peak times in busy areas to avoid sitting in traffic. One should also be aware of any possible inclement weather. If the weather could make driving difficult, reschedule the trip for another day.


horses trailerLawlis also stresses the importance of trailering only when the horse is healthy. “One of the issues we encounter frequently is animals [including horses] that are loaded and transported when they are not fit to be transported,” she says. “Unfit horses must not be loaded unless they are being shipped on the advice of a veterinarian to a vet hospital for treatment. Compromised horses should not be transported mixed in with fit horses in the same compartment.”


Learn to assess your horse for health and fitness before trailering. Check and record your horse’s vital signs, such as temperature, respiration and pulse, as well as how much it drinks ahead of time. This provides important personal information as to what is normal for your horse and will assist in spotting any problems on the day of travel and upon arrival. If in doubt, check with your veterinarian.  The new 2013 Equine Code of Practice also has a reference on Appendix H – The Transport Decision Tree.


Trailer Basics

The type of trailer used, whether it’s a straight load, slant load or stock trailer, is primarily based on owner preference. While some horses will load more easily into a stock trailer because of its openness, make sure it offers sufficient head room for the height of your horse.


“When it comes to stock trailers, smaller horses such as Quarter Horses can safely fit, but it’s considered to be unsafe for taller breeds such as Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods, Drafts, etc., as there is insufficient head room,” says Lawlis. “Too small of a space will hinder your horse’s ability to move and balance itself and could increase the likelihood of your horse injuring itself during transit, as well as developing loading problems.”


Horses are subject to the same laws and regulations as other animals during transport. Lawlis emphasizes that horse owners and others should be familiar with the regulations and policies administered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The regulations cover areas such as allowable time without feed, water and rest, and using equipment that won’t cause injury. The Regulations can be found at


Handling Travel Emergencies

Even with the best intentions, sometimes mechanical breakdowns or even accidents can occur. Knowing how to handle an emergency situation when on the road can be the difference between being helpful and helpless.


Horse owners should inspect the trailer before every trip to make sure it is safe to operate and safely hitched to the truck.  “Always check your trailer before starting out and recheck it after each stop, and always carry first aid kits for your horse, yourself, your vehicle and your trailer,” advises Michelle Staples, a Horse Safety Specialist located in the Niagara Region of Ontario. Author of Save Your Horse! A Horse Owner’s Guide to Large Animal Rescue, Staples also teaches CPR, CERT (disaster preparedness), Horse Awareness and Safety, Introduction to Large Animal Rescue for Horse Owners, and Emergency First Aid for Pets.


In an accident when emergency responders are called in for assistance, chances are their knowledge of horses will be limited, and they will be looking to the horse owner or handler for guidance. Staying calm and quiet allows you to think clearly in emergency situations.


“Safety is the number one issue in an accident,” says Staples. “If you are hysterical or interfere with a rescue in a way that makes the rescue more difficult or less safe, you will be set aside and disregarded.”


In the case of a trailer rollover, Staples advises to check out all people and pets travelling with you so you know what to report to the 9-1-1 dispatcher. “Take note of where you are and advise them that emergency assistance is required and you may possibly require transport for your horse, and that you need a large animal veterinarian dispatched immediately,” she says. “While waiting, your first inclination is to open up the trailer and go in to help your horse, but that’s an action that can get both you and your horse killed. An open door is an invitation for it to try and escape. Instead, find the smallest opening possible to peek in. Stay calm. Most horses survive rollovers if they’re in a well-maintained, sturdy trailer.”


However, every circumstance is different and should be viewed in a separate manner. Staples recalls a trailering incident with an unexpected flat tire on the Golden Gate Bridge in California several years ago when she was traveling with a friend. “She chose to pull off at the nearest flat spot and change the tire with the horse still inside,” she says. “However, I don’t think I’d do that now.”


Instead, she says she would have pulled over to a spot where she could safely offload the horse and call for roadside assistance such as USRider, a company that handles horses and trailers on a daily basis. Once assistance arrives, they would help her offload the horse and place it in some form of a contained area, such as pipe panels set up on the side of the trailer, or a roll of construction fencing with polls to keep it rigid or even something as simple as ropes strung around trees.


“The problem with leaving a horse in the trailer is that when you jack up the side to remove and replace the tire, the horse will scramble, upsetting the balance of the trailer which could create a negative outcome for horse and handler,” she adds.


When it comes to trailering, make every trip a positive experience by planning it out ahead of time to ensure that your horse arrives safe.  Have a contingency plan available to address unexpected difficulties. Learning to be proactive rather than reactive goes a long way toward minimizing stressful situations for both you and our horse.


For more information regarding equine transport, visit The Code of Practice for the Transportation of Livestock – Horses found,, and


Michelle Staple’s Large Animal Rescue website can be viewed

Sign up for our free e-newsletter at which will deliver monthly welfare tips throughout 2014 and announce tools to aid all horse owners in carrying out their ‘Full-Circle-Responsibility’ to our beloved horses.


Visit Equine Guelph’s Welfare Education page for more information


In partnership with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Equine Guelph is developing a ‘Full-Circle-Responsibility’ equine welfare educational initiative which stands to benefit the welfare of horses in both the racing and non-racing sectors.

Favorite Flicks: The Foal and His Teddy

If you need a dose of cute in your workday, check out this orphaned foal who likes to cuddle with an oversized teddy bear:


Incidentally, Breeze has gotten somewhat older since that video was taken–he’s now a yearling and in training at the Mare and Foal Sanctuary to prepare for a new home. Although he’s older, he still has kind of a baby look to him, doesn’t he? See more photos here.

Breeze, in all his grown-up glory!

Breeze, in all his grown-up glory!

What’s that? Explaining cruppers

You may have seen straps extending across a horse’s rump from time, especially horses in harness and wondered what’s going on there. Is it just to keep a horse’s tail raised in a showy manner?

Saddle-crupper Nope. Those are probably cruppers, and they have a real safety purpose. Cruppers (or croupers) consist of a loop that fits under the horse’s tailhead, and an adjustable strap which fastens onto a saddle or harness. The crupper’s primary function is to keep the saddle or harness from sliding forward, where they might fit more loosely. The portion that fits under the tail was once made of leather but these days is usually a smooth tube stuffed with linseed to keep it from becoming hard and irritating. Cruppers may be single or double forked across the croup.

Cruppers should be adjusted so that they’re snug but not so tight that they cause irritation to the skin under the tail. Like many other safety devices, they’re meant to engage only when needed, so the horse shouldn’t feel pressure on the tail unless the harness or pack saddle actually begins to move. They’re especially helpful for horses with low withers or narrow shoulders, whose conformation makes equipment more likely to slip.

You’ll most often see cruppers being used with harness, but when they are used with saddles you’ll find them in endurance riding, trail riding, or patrol work. br croup 1

We sell cruppers in a variety of colors and styles in both beta biothane and leather. They’re priced so affordably that it’s worth picking one up if you think it could help you and your equipment stay safe.

Favorite Flicks: They’re not horses, but…

…we can’t help smiling when we see this video of rescue cows enjoying turnout for the first time in months!

We knew cows could jump (remember the German girl who was show jumping her cow?) but we didn’t know the could buck like this. Sort of resembles a few other four-legged creatures we know in their first strides through the field.

Go bitless!

Sidepull bitlessOur April tack giveaway may give you a great opportunity to try something new this spring. We’ll be giving away a bitless sidepull bridle to one lucky winner. A bitless bridle can give you more freedom and more control, and can be a good solution for some horses over traditional bridles. Check out this post from the archives on the benefits of the two styles of bitless bridle.

This giveaway is for a single-color beta biothane bitless sidepull, which includes noseband and jaw strap to provide stability and keep cheek piece away from horse’s eye. Rein Rings are securely sewn into noseband  and triple stitched for added security.It is fully adjustable at the cheeks, noseband, and throat latch.

Everyone who enters this giveaway will receive a $10 off coupon to our store. Also for the month of April, the sidepull is on sale, just in case you don’t want to wait to see if you’ve won.

What are you waiting for? Enter today!

Simply Dazzling!

IMG_31851955075575Congratulations to Dazzle, the winner of our most recent tack giveaway!

Dazzle is an 11-year-old blue roan Quarter Horse mare. Her human is Michelle, who enjoys western riding with Dazzle, usually out on the trail. Dazzle is a relaxed girl, the kind you can hop on in the field with just a halter and lead rope. Dazzle has been in Michelle’s family her whole life–she was bred by Michelle’s mom–and although she usually enjoys working with youngsters, Michelle says that Dazzle is her “forever” horse. Last year, Dazzle gave birth to a filly named Devi.

Dazzle and Michelle will be enjoying a western split ear bridle with bling in the color combination of their choice. A sure way to add some glitz to your ride, the stones are hand-riveted into the beta biothane for maximum hold. Our split ear Western bridle lets your horse’s grace shine through. This style shows off the shape of his head with the added security of ear splits that help keep the bridle in place. This bridle is hand-stitched throughout for added flair.IMG_31872701016736

Look for an announcement about our next tack giveawayIMG_31842586789442 coming soon!

Spring Into Spring!

Milder temperatures are here (at least for the moment, it seems) and the grass is beginning to turn green again…spring must finally be here! Along with the warmer weather and moisture unfortunately, comes the awakening of bugs.

In addition to pulling out your curry comb and putting away your winter sheets, the first hints of warm weather should get you thinking about your vaccination program. Horses of different ages and jobs have different requirements when it comes to vaccines.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners has a great page to help you navigate the various types of vaccines to decide what your horse needs.

Your local veterinarian is also an excellent reference. While some vaccines are standard across the country, it’s important to know if your particular region has a higher risk for other types of easily-transmissible diseases. Some vets in our area recommend a vaccine for Potomac Horse Fever; even though it’s not generally an issue in central Kentucky, some farms in the area see a case now and again, so adding that shot to the spring boosters could be worthwhile.

Similarly to humans, horses build up immunity differently over time, so the vaccine schedule will be different for younger animals as compared to adults. Breeding animals might also have different requirements.

Your horse’s job will dictate some of your veterinarian’s recommendations. If you compete or go to clinics or trial rides frequently, your horse will need a higher level of protection.

Favorite Flicks: We Believe in Color

It’s no secret that we love options, especially when it comes to color. That’s one of many reasons we love this “brand film” from OPI nail polish. Four girls (modeling the nail polish of course) face off with a Thoroughbred named Lady in Black in a dance-off. We’re pretty sure the horse ends up winning, but of course we’re biased.

Check it out: