Blog Archives

Countdown to summer vacation!

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Our tack makers here at Two Horse Tack are taking their first vacation in five years! While that’s great news for them, it means that you need to get your order in ASAP for quick delivery.

Order by July 18 to assure delivery before the shop closes July 20. We’ll be back and hand-stitching away on August 4!

Don’t forget to enter our monthly tack giveaway for a $5 off coupon code for your July order!

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The trouble with stirrup leathers

We love riding with stirrups. Don’t get us wrong–we’re pretty sure there isn’t a rider on the planet who’s happy to hear their instructor tell them to drop their stirrups and begin trotting at the start of a lesson. But after riding in a lot of different saddles over the years, we’d identified a few problems with a lot of them.

First of all, stirrup leathers tend to stretch over time. As the length of the material expands, the level of the buckle also moves down–especially if you ride with your stirrups at the same length for a long period of time, which most of us do. Even though the stretching might just make the difference of a few fractions of an inch, keep in mind that most English stirrup leathers are set with holes just an inch apart, and yet you can feel a big change if someone else has adjusted them.

And what about that–why do all leathers have to be set at one inch, anyway? It’s not a bad measurement, but for those of us who are Goldilocks riders, there isn’t a great solution without dragging out the old leather hole punch.

Thirdly, if you’re adjusting your stirrups a lot, or changing out stirrups or saddles, those straps can be incredibly stiff and difficult to weave underneath stirrup bars.

Lastly, despite your best efforts, they can often crack; cracked or brittle leathers are more likely to snap, and that’s not something you want to take a risk on.

blk stirr 3You can customize lengths and compensate for stretching by punching your own set of holes, and you can diligently oil and re-oil the leathers…or you can pick up a set of beta leathers. (We know it’s a confusing name, but we haven’t come up with a suitable alternative yet). Beta biothane is a durable, pliable material that’s tested to be stronger than nylon and doesn’t require oiling. None. In fact, all you have to do is rinse it off to clean. Want more exacting stirrup lengths? You can use your hole punch, or, when you buy stirrup leathers from our shop, you can request holes twice as close as the conventional sizing, allowing you to get them not too long, not too short, but just right. We’ve also got four different lengths of leather, so you aren’t stuck with a lot of extra material you don’t need.

We think the choice is pretty simple. Don’t you?

Is screen time interfering with your horse time?

As the world becomes more tech-oriented, lots of folks are struggling to put down their phones at dinner, during meetings, behind the wheel–and even in the saddle.

In a recent article published by HorseTalk New Zealand, experts explain that multi-tasking while at the reins can be both a safety hazard (reducing your ability to react on if the horse spooks) and may even have an emotional impact on your horse. The relationship between horse and human is all about communication, and it may be foolhardy to think that the horse doesn’t know when you’ve mentally checked out.

It’s also not necessarily the best practice to leave the phone in the car (although we’ve been known to do so, just to get away from the screen for a bit)–having a connection can be crucial if you or your horse becomes hurt during your ride, or if you’re doing trail riding, especially alone.

“Horses have a fight-or-flight instinct in them and they’re either going to do one or the other,” clinician Dan Grunewald told HorseTalk. “If you’re not fully in tune and on the same page with that horse, he is going to tell you.”

Read the full article here.

Meet our breeds: Urzela W and Sjouckje Van De Elsenerhof the Friesians

We continue our Meet our Breeds series with two equine models who look like they belong in shampoo ads. Meet Urzela W and Sjouckje Van De Elsenerhof, the Friesians!

Urzela W

Urzela W

The Friesian breed is known for its black color, light draft build, silky mane, tail, and feathers, Spanish style conformation, and its nimble movements. The average Friesian stands between 14.2 and 17 hands tall.

It was originally dubbed “Frisian” but the ‘e’ was added to distinguish the horses from the Holstein Friesian cattle. The breed was developed in Friesland, Netherlands and was a favorite for use in war in the Middle Ages throughout Europe since their size enabled them to carry a knight in full armor while still moving quickly. Friesians were being imported into the United States as soon as 1625 with the Dutch and later gave rise to the Morgan breed here.

The breed’s studbook was founded in the 1879 and since the breed has nearly become extinct several times, although it is coming back into popularity for driving and dressage. It has also been a favorite for circus work.

Sjouckje Van De Elsenerhof

Sjouckje Van De Elsenerhof

Their flashy appearance has made Friesians extremely popular in film. They have been featured in Ladyhawke, The Mask of Zorro, Eragon, Alexander, The Chronicles of Narnia, Clash of the Titans, and Conan the Barbarian.

Read more about the history of the Friesians here.

Both of our models posed for us courtesy of Leandra Friesians,

Sjouckje with filly

Sjouckje with one of her fillies

where they are broodmares. Urzela W joined the Leandra band in 2011 and has eight total foals on the ground. Sjouckje Van De Elsenerhof was imported from the Netherlands in 2009 and is known for her excellent movement and affectionate nature.

Meet Our Breeds: Solitaire and Commanche the Appaloosas

This week in our Meet Our Breeds series, we introduce you to Solitaire and Commanche, our Appaloosa models.

The Appaloosa is a breed based on a coat pattern. The breed was originally developed by the Nez Perce people of the Pacific Northwest. The tribe lost most of its horses in war, threatening the breed’s future until it was revived in the 1930s.

Commanche

Commanche

Today, the Appaloosa is the state horse of Idaho. The breed’s body type is influenced by Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, and Arabian blood. Solid horses may be included in the registry if they can be blood typed to verify Appaloosa parentage.

In addition to their unique coat colors, most Appaloosas have striped hooves, mottled skin, or white sclera around their eyes. More than 700,000 Appaloosas have been registered with the Appaloosa Horse Club since its foundation in 1938.

Solitaire

Solitaire

We are lucky enough to have two Appaloosa models on our website. Solitaire is one of the many fantastic equine teachers in the Asbury University’s equine program. Asbury offers undergraduate degrees in equine science, and also has its own riding program.

Commanche hails from Easy Riders Ranch in Georgetown, Ky. He is one of nine horses who provide riding lessons, riding by the hour, and rides at birthday parties.

Keep your head screwed on!

No matter what type of riding you do, safety is paramount. That’s why we found this recent article from Horse Talk New Zealand detailing changes in one organization’s guidelines for post-fall concussions.

Officials with British Eventing recently announced that all riders competing in its sanctioned events will be suspended for 21 days after suffering a concussion. The reason is that our understanding of concussions is changing–rather than seeing it as an injury with immediate symptoms, we’re now learning that concussion symptoms can show up hours or even days after the fall. Symptoms of more mild concussions may also take more time to dissipate than originally thought.

Bottom line–take care after a fall, especially if you hit your head. Be alert to potential symptoms, even after you wipe the grass stains off your breeches.

Congratulations to Ruby!

ruby headshotCongratulations to Ruby (aka Winteruby) and her owner Cerella, winners of our February tack giveaway!

Ruby and Cerella have been working together for three years, two of which they’ve spent eventing in the beginner novice level, a great accomplishment since Ruby was very green when they started.

Ruby also does hunter/jumpers and dressage (training level). She loves giving rides to kids.

Cerella tells us that Ruby’s ninth birthday is coming up in March, so their prize will be a sort of early present. Ruby will be getting our beta biothane English bridle, which is a perfect fit for her and ruby body shotCerella. Ruby is working to conquer her fear of water, and a beta bridle is just the thing. Beta is waterproof, so Ruby can splash all she likes without her bridle drying or cracking.

Learn more about our English bridle here.

Are You Ready?

There are just a few days left until Thanksgiving, which means (just as importantly) there are only a few days until Black Friday and the official start of the holiday shopping season.

Have you made your lists?

Scouted those store flyers?

Clipped those coupons?

Set the alarm?

slide5There’s one more thing you need to remember this weekend–stop by our shop!

We’re sure to be on your horse’s Christmas list, and we want to be sure you get something in your stocking, too.

For each of the first 25 orders of $25 or more on Black Friday, we’ll throw in this adorable ornament for free. And, because we’re a web-based store, we’ll also be running this deal on Cyber Monday, so make sure Santa’s elves know our web address.

Why we love driving (horses)

In addition to being riders, we also like to hop in the cart for a drive or two with our horses. And frankly, we’re surprised more horsey people don’t give it a try.

Here are just a few reasons why we love driving in addition to riding:

  • High Schoolers Greta & Beca try a mini obstacle course with our marathon harness

    High Schoolers Greta & Beca try a mini obstacle course with our marathon harness

    It’s a great way to introduce new friends to horses. When someone’s riding in a cart with you, they can feel what it’s like to walk, trot, and canter a horse right away, while it would take them months of riding lessons to get a taste of the power behind a horse’s trot or canter. It’s also pretty easy to teach a newbie how to drive, compared to the complexity of learning to ride (heels down, shoulders back, eyes up, hands even!).

  • It’s a great bonding activity. We’ve all been there–trying to explain to a friend or significant other the joys of owning horses. Driving is something a non-riding boyfriend or girlfriend , friend or family member can do and enjoy with you. Depending on the horse and cart, you can even let them take the reins and show them firsthand how you experience your horse.
    It’s also a great time to catch up with friends–the act of driving and the sites you see provide natural conversation starters, and you’re not as likely to be as distracted as you are when riding and trying to listen to your horse and fellow riders. I have had some of the best conversations seated behind my horse.

It’s a way for elderly people or those with medical limitations to enjoy the outdoors. For people who have an old injury or illness that makes a long hike through a park impossible, hitching up the cart for a drive is a great alternative.

  • Terry and her 2 daughters are newcomers to the horse world. They were all able to make driving their first horsey activity!

    Terry and her 2 daughters are newcomers to the horse world. They were all able to make driving their first horsey activity!

    It’s easier on the horse. Horses can hit the trail for longer in front of a cart than they can under the saddle–it’s physically easier for them to pull than drive. It’s also not as tiring for the driver as riding can be, so you can enjoy it for longer, too.

  • It’s great fun for smaller children. It takes some time for kids to establish the balance, motor skill, and body control needed to go on a trail ride on their own horse, and riding astride poses some safety concerns. Little kids can ride in a cart next to a driver however, or learn to drive themselves under appropriate supervision.
  • 7 year old Isobel Hampton takes the reins for the first time!

    7 year old Isobel Hampton takes the reins for the first time!

    It’s a great way to exercise an older/younger horse. A horse can pull three times its body weight but can only carry about 20 percent of its body weight. Because it’s pretty low-impact exercise, it’s great for horses who may be too arthritic or injured to do much under saddle work but may still need some exercise. It is also great early training and conditioning for younger horses you may not be fully developed yet for riding.

  • It’s a new way to experience your horse. Behind the cart you will learn the true meaning of “horse power” Perhaps counter-intuitively, the faster a horse and cart go, the smoother the ride is–it feels like you are gliding!. Can’t afford a Cadillac? No problem. Just get a cart.

As you might have guessed, Two Horse Tack offers both a marathon and a pleasure driving harness in our shop–both of which are made of beta biothane (the marathon harness is modeled in these photos). The materials look and feel like traditional leather while remaining light on the horse’s back, and very easy to clean–just douse the harness with the hose–and it doesn’t require oiling. If you’ve had to take apart and clean and oil a bridle, just imagine how tough a harness is to get properly clean! Not only that, we design our harnesses to be good starter pieces for people who’d like to learn to drive or do so in their spare time, so both our harnesses are affordable and come shipped to you in just two pieces, making it much easier to get started!

With all the straps and lines, learning to put on and use a harness for the first time is pretty intimidating, especially if you don’t have an instructor locally to help you get started. I’ve been driving my horses for years and love introducing people to the discipline. Feel free to comment, email (twohorsetack@gmail.com) or call (859-338-4265) if you have questions. ~Natasha

Here are pics of just a few of the folks who have discovered the joys of driving!

Recently off the track Standardbred Allie swaps her racing harness for our Pleasure Driving Harness and treats 2 newcomers to a peaceful drive at a local natural horsemanship clinic

Recently off the track Standardbred Allie swaps her racing harness for our Pleasure Driving Harness and treats 2 newcomers to a peaceful drive at a local natural horsemanship clinic

Belle & her Mom's first drive. This was a Mother's Day treat for her out of town. The perfect way to experience our beautiful state!

Belle & her Mom’s first drive. This was a Mother’s Day treat for her out of town. The perfect way to experience our beautiful state!

80 years old Rhea is over the moon about her first drive.

80 years old Rhea is over the moon about her first drive.

Jeanine and QH Darcy pair together for the first time and create their own version of the Ben Hur Chariot race. A long time hunter jumper enthusiast Jeanine gets to feel the power of the same collected lope she uses in the ring behind the horse instead.

Jeanine and QH Darcy pair together for the first time and create their own version of the Ben Hur Chariot race. A long time hunter jumper enthusiast Jeanine gets to feel the power of the same collected lope she uses in the ring behind the horse instead

Greta & Becca after their first water obstacle. These girls did great! One quick lesson beforehand and they were able to tackle a mini obstacle all on their own.

Greta & Becca after their first water obstacle. These girls did great! One quick lesson beforehand and they were able to tackle a mini obstacle all on their own.

7 years old and already a devoted horse lover, Isobel Hampton triumphant smile after being handed the reins for the first time. The girl is a natural!

7 years old and already a devoted horse lover, Isobel Hampton triumphant smile after being handed the reins for the first time. The girl is a natural!

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Wintertime Safety Tips–Trailer Safety

Studies show that the leading factor in roadside breakdowns is tires. As temperatures cool across the country, tire pressures will decrease. Given these facts, USRider reminds equestrians and others who travel with horses to perform periodic air pressure checks on both their vehicle and trailer tires.

 

“As the weather patterns transition to cooler temperatures, now is a very important time to check tire pressure on all vehicles,” said Bill Riss, General Manager for USRider, the national provider of roadside emergency assistance for equestrians.

 

“A general rule of thumb is that for every 10-degree change in temperature, tire pressure changes by 1 pound per square inch (PSI). Pressure goes up when temperatures are higher and down when temperatures are lower,” Riss said.tires

 

USRider recommends that motorists check the air pressure at least once a month. Additionally, since tire issues are the number one reason for disablements with a horse trailer, it is recommended that horse owners check the tire pressure on both their tow vehicle and horse trailer prior to each trip.

 

To determine the correct tire pressure for a car or truck, look for this information on a placard located on the interior doorjamb of the vehicle. This information can also be found in the owner’s manual. The air pressure for trailers can be found stamped on the tire sidewall. Tire pressure recommendations are listed as “Maximum Cold Air Pressure.” Unlike vehicle tires, trailer tires should be inflated to the maximum pressure indicated on the tire.

 

Always check tire pressure prior to traveling while the tires are cold. Tire pressure readings should also be checked while tires are not in direct sunlight, which will increase pressure readings.

 

“We recommend that horse owners own a high-quality air pressure gauge, know how to use it and know their pressure readings,” said Riss. In addition to preventing blowouts and reducing rolling resistance, tires that are properly inflated will last longer, handle more safely and get better gas mileage.

 

You might consider investing in a tire pressure monitoring system. This will help alert you to any sudden drops in air pressure, allowing you to take preventive action to avoid a blowout.

 

For additional safety tips, visit the Equine Travel Safety Area on the USRider website at http://www.usrider.org.

Thanks to US Rider for this press release!