Upgrade Your Barn This Year

2018 catalog coverHave you been thinking about renovating your barn, but put the process off due to financials, planning, and the headache of the renovation itself? Then make a resolution to let Classic Equine Equipment help you plan your barn’s renovation. Working with a barn which you’ve outgrown or which just doesn’t fulfill your needs can make barn chores and horse care unpleasant. We can help you renovate your barn so that it suits your needs and looks great.

Contact Classic Equine Equipment to talk about the many stall and accessory choices that we offer. We’re sure to have an option which works for your barn. Classic Equine Equipment stalls are customizable so that you get the right fit, look, and atmosphere for your barn.  We have accessories to fit every barn and budget.

Renovate Your Barn Components 

Are your barn’s stalls in need of an upgrade? Using old, weakened, or deteriorating stalls can actually put your horse’s safety at risk. You don’t want to trust that a low-quality stall will keep your horse safely contained, so now is the perfect time to resolve to upgrade your barn’s stall components.

Finally Build That Indoor Arena

Having an indoor arena can truly transform your property. There are countess advantages of an indoor arena that you can’t ignore, such as increased income from lessons that can continue year-round and the ability to charge a higher board rate when you have an indoor arena available. Classic Equine Equipment offers pens and arenas in different sizes and designs; resolve to call us in the New Year to get a quote on your new indoor arena.

Install Automatic Waterers

You can’t beat the convenience of having automatic horse waterers installed on your property.  Automatic waterers feeders can help keep your horse hydrated by providing on demand water whenever a horse wants it.  Your horse will never run out of water or have to contend with dirty water. Add a heating component and never have to worry about frozen water troughs or buckets again. 

Whatever you decide for your New Year’s Resolution, Classic Equine Equipment can help you make your plans become a reality.

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HOW I GOT  HELP WITH MY NEW YEAR RIDING GOALS

That Winning Feeling bookAs the New Year starts, you may start thinking about your horse-related goals for 2013.  Maybe you want to move up a level in showing.  Or maybe you’ve got a great idea for a horse product, but you’re not sure about how to get started developing it.  Or maybe you are planning on setting the same goals for 2013 that you set for 2012. You want to move forward, but you feel “stuck.”  You don’t have to go it alone.  Consider enlisting the services of a personal coach.

One way to have the benefit of a personal coach without much of an expense is to use a book.  There are several professional books out there that give lots of help with goal setting and moving up the ladder.  These can certainly be applied to horse people as well.  But, luckily, there are several excellent coaches who already understand the horse business and can offer sound advice.

I remember several years ago when I was competing along with my friends at our barn.  I wanted to be part of the group, but I HATED competing.  I was always so nervous, usually ending up snapping at my husband who had only come because I asked him to for “support.”  I was miserable before, during and after each show, vowing to never go through it again.

But I decided to try one more time and set my goal to ride dressage Training Level 4 for the first time at the dressage show at the end of the season.  I had just finished a lesson with my trainer and remember sitting in my horse’s stall crying and feeling totally inadequate.  The start of the same stressful pre-show cycle I always had.

But I had recently purchased a book called, “That Winning Feeling” by Jane Savoie, herself a noted dressage rider.  I thought there may be something in there that could help me better train for my upcoming show.  Imagine my surprise when I found that the book had nothing to do with training my horse and EVERYTHING to do with training my mind!  For years I had told myself I would have a bad ride – and then I did.  At each show, I worried that my horse wouldn’t pick up the correct lead at the canter – and he didn’t.  All these “conversations” I was having with myself turned out to be self-fulfilling prophecies.  But with Jane’s book, I learned techniques to not only stop the negative thoughts, but to use visualization to turn them into positive thoughts.

For the next week, I worked as hard (if not harder) on these positive techniques as I did getting my horse ready for the show.  And I’ll be the first to admit that these techniques aren’t always easy.  I spent so many years with my negative thoughts that it was hard to turn them around.  Jane offers a technique where you visualize your dressage ride (or hunter round or any event) and you do everything perfectly.  It appears in your mind a bit like a movie – and you’re the star!  Whenever you get to a point in your imaginary performance where you have doubts and the doubts turn into errors, you simply hit “rewind”  in your mental movie and go back and imagine it again, this time feel confident and doing it perfectly.  I must have rewound my left lead canter depart a million times.  Since it was always such an issue, I couldn’t imagine me EVER getting the correct lead so I couldn’t properly imagine it in my movie.  So I enlisted the aid of my trainer who took my horse movement (perfectly, of course) through my “bogey” several times so I could etch it correctly in my mind.  Eventually, at least in my imagination, I was riding a flawless dressage test.

On the day of the show, I found myself relaxed and in a positive frame of mind.  No yelling at my husband.  No outbursts of tears during my warm-up.  I was calm and confident.  I started the test and suddenly I had a strange feeling – I was having FUN during my test!  Everything went smoothly – even the left lead canter depart!  I remember going down the centerline towards X and wishing I could do it all over again!  

Did I win first place?  No, but I won a personal victory in that I rode every movement correctly and enjoyed the whole show experience.

If books aren’t your thing, consider working with a live personal coach to help you develop on the inside.  Personal coaching is done on a one-on-one basis.  While listening and strategizing are part of the personal coaching experience, the most important part of the process is developing an action plan.  Even if it is only one small step, your personal coach will challenge you to take some action to help you meet your goal.  And your coach will hold you accountable for the action you agree to take. Remember that the goal of the personal coach is to support you and help you succeed.  As Tom Landry, the legendary football coach said, “A coach is someone who makes you do what you don’t want to do so you can be who you want to be.”

Coaching sessions usually lasts 45-60 minutes and most personal coaches follow-up and are available if you have a question, problem or just want to celebrate a victory!  Personal coaching is often done by telephone.  It can also be done in person or even via email.  The cost for coaching varies, but typically costs no more than a private riding lesson.  Many offer a complimentary “get-to-know-you” session.

Whether you use books or people, a good coach is always there for you to help you get where you want to go.

By Kelly O'Neill, equestrian and barn owner/manager.

 

How To Prevent and Treat Hoof Thrush

thrush hoofThe signs of thrush are unmistakable and likely to hit your nose first.   Thrush has a very strong odor that comes from dead, rotting tissue. You will usually also see a dark-colored slimy substance along the edge of the frog.  A case of thrush is not life-threatening, but left untreated the infection can spread to under the sole and penetrate the soft tissue of the hoof, including the laminae.  Even certain types of footing like shredded wood can cause problems – as the wood breaks down, its acidity mixes with the pH of the soil and that can encourage bacteria to grow.  Add water and you have a recipe for thrush.

Thrush loves to live in the most airless clefts of a horse’s frog and other tissue.  Winter is one of thrush’s favorite times of year because it thrives in wet, dirty bedding and areas where mud, mixed with manure, is found.  So obviously the best way to prevent thrush is to try to keep your horse on dry, clean ground as much as possible. One way is to use Classic Equine Equipment’s stall mats under your bedding to help keep the stall dry.  Stall mats can also be used in paddocks or in entry areas to the barn or stall. Instead of walking in the mud, your horse can step on the clean and dry stall mat.

Creating mud free turnouts is also important.  Despite the weather, horses seem to be happiest when outside so will spend time in their paddocks even in the rain and snow.  This leads to mud and manure becoming mixed – a perfect breeding ground for thrush. Consider using Classic Equine Equipment’s Stable-ity Grid, an interlocking grid like flooring system.  Adding your gravel or other material on top of the Stable-ity Grid keeps it from mixing with the dirt below and ultimately becoming a wet dirt-gravel (and sometimes manure) mess.

Many people who have a horse with thrush are embarrassed about the condition as they may feel they aren’t taking proper care of their horse.  But thrush is also associated with chronic lameness, hoof imbalance due to poor conformation, a complication of an illness or an after-effect of a hoof abscess.

It doesn’t take long for a case of thrush to go from benign to severe so attack it as soon as it’s discovered.  You treat thrush by removing as much dead tissue as possible, kill the organisms that are causing the infection, and reduce the horse’s contact with wet bedding or ground.  Your farrier or veterinarian is best equipped to pare away the dead and dying tissue. They can also help you determine how severe the thrush is and this can help you make a decision as to what thrush treatment product to use.  Many of the products have the same ingredients, but one brand may be better at treating your horse’s particular organism that another. Use the solution liberally, but carefully as it can stain your hands and clothing.

Your veterinarian may also suggest that you soak the hoof daily in a mixture of warm water and Epsom salts to open and drain deeper pockets of infection.  Keeping the hoof clean between soakings is important so applying a protective boot or by wrapping it. Your veterinarian may also prescribe antibiotics and possibly a tetanus booster.

Prevention is the key to avoiding thrush this season, but quick treatment can get your horse “back on his feet” as soon as possible.

 

The Night(Mare) Before Christmas

  • Chaos christmas at the barn
  • ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the barn
  • All the horses were resting, well-fed and warm.
  • Their stockings were hung this time of year
  • In hopes that apples and carrots soon would appear.

 

  • The barn Christmas tree lights were all turned out,
  • But horse cookie decorations still twinkled about.
  • The barn work for the night was all done,
  • It was time to get ready for tomorrow’s sun.

 

  • I in my yoga pants and my dog at my feet
  • Had just closed my eyes to try to get some sleep.
  • When out in the barn there started such a racket
  • That I jumped into my boots and pulled on my jacket.

 

  • We ran to the barn as fast as we could
  • Because the sound sounded a lot like breaking wood.
  • The barn light out front made things as bright as day,
  • But when I looked down the aisle I was filled with dismay.

 

  • Well, what to my sleepy eyes should I see?
  • But a big chestnut mare who tipped over the barn Christmas tree.
  • Her eyes, they flashed and her nostrils, they flared
  • And her huge white teeth were already bared

 

  • She grabbed all the carrots and gobbled half the cookies
  • Kicked in the grain room door and ate all those goodies
  • She got into the hay barn and pulled open several bales
  • Opened all the stall doors and galloped toward the trails.

 

  • The horses were loose!  I knew I’d get the blame,
  • So I whistled and shouted and called them by name.
  • “Come Blazer, here Indy, stop Wizard, come Guy,
  • Whoa Stormy, stay DJ,” I yelled to the sky.
  • Slowly the horses broke away from the mare’s spell
  • And returned to their stalls and again all was well.
  • The mare stomped her foot and asked “why did you appear?”
  • “If it wasn’t for you, I could have blamed it all on Santa’s reindeer!”

 

  • She neighed to the horses to wish them good cheer
  • Then galloped across the pastures as fleet as any deer.
  • When she reached a hill, she turned back as if to say,
  • “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good day!”

 

  • I sighed as I went back inside,
  • I knew I’d survived a big scare.
  • “I’d rather have coal for Christmas
  • Than ever have a chestnut mare.”
Written by Kelly O'Neill, based on "A Visit From St. Nicholas" by Clement Clark Moore

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Your Horse

  1. girl hugging horse RegentInsuranceGroupA Fashion partner
  • Loves new trends in colors and products as much as you do;
  • Loves when his leg wraps and saddle pads match;
  • (Mostly) enjoys the creative ways you braid his mane.
  1. A Therapist
  • Never tells you it’s your fault;
  • Can always improve your mood by doing something cute or silly;
  • It’s free!
  1. A Fitness buddy
  • Appreciates all the weightlifting you do to make his stall clean and comfy;
  • Knows that even though you’re riding him, you are still doing a lot of the work;
  • Doesn’t let you get away with just visiting him in his stall and not actually doing any riding.
  1. A Teammate
  • Knows what your riding goals are and is ready to help you;
  • Makes things just difficult enough so that you appreciate any improvement;
  • Loves to win as much as you do.
  1. A Friend
  • Listens to your stories;
  • Never talks about you behind your back;
  • Won’t post ugly photos or stories about you on social media;
  • Keeps your secrets forever;
  • Is thankful for you, too!

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Ghosts and Ghouls and Goblins, Oh My!

halloween horse shoeIt’s Halloween and there are a lot of scary Spirits around.  So how can you protect yourself from things that go “bump in the night”?  With a magic horse shoe, of course!

Horseshoes have traditionally been made from iron which is one of the strongest metals. Iron was believed to be magical because it was taken from the earth and could withstand fire and cold and was highly prized.  Plus, horseshoes were attached to the horse using seven iron nails – seven being a lucky number.  The shod horses symbolized power and strength and when walking on cobblestones the metal of the horseshoe often threw off sparks adding to their aura of magic.  

There is a very big connection between horseshoes and evil Spirits. These Spirits were blamed for all sorts of things going wrong – from the milk spoiling to accidents. Since horseshoes were made of iron, the tale goes that evil Spirits were repelled by anything made of iron so people started hanging iron horseshoes on their front doors for protection.  It was also believed that horse shoes were shaped somewhat like the moon and extra protection was given from the moon goddess.

There has been some debate over the correct way to hang a horseshoe:  one is that the horseshoe should be hung points upwards to stop the luck or protection from falling out and the other is that the points should be downwards so that the luck or protection pours out over those people walking through the doorway. 

So the next time your horse throws a shoe, don’t despair.  Just tack if up over his stall door for luck and protection.

Photo credit:  CardCow Vintage Postcards

 

Get Ready For Darker Days Ahead

barn lightingNext weekend we turn the clocks back an hour.  While it’s great that we get to sleep in an extra hour, it means that days are going to start getting darker sooner.  Shadows and poorly lit areas can make stall cleaning cumbersome and inhibit observation and care of your horse.  In order to get all the riding, horse care and barn work in that you want, it’s a good idea to look at ways to add more light to your barn. 

A combination of individual stall and general aisle way lighting is preferred. Place fixtures where they won’t create shadows for the horse when he enters his stall.  For natural lighting, provide a minimum of 4 square feet of window space in each stall. Glass windows should be either out of reach (generally above 7 feet) or protected by sturdy bars or mesh. Lexan is a good option for window glazing.  Position fixtures at least 8-feet high to minimize contact with the horse.  Avoid motion sensor lights inside the barn as they are often tripped by barn cat or other animals.

Big barn exteriors require big lights – standard residential type lights are typically too small and do not provide enough light. Dusk to Dawn Halogens are often installed over entryways for general lighting purposes and for safety. Select fixtures as to where they will be used as barns are dusty and in some areas (wash bays) very moist. Vapor tight fixtures are required in wet areas for safety and durability.  When selecting lighting bulbs, there are several options.  

In addition, using lights in strategic places can also help with barn security. Install security lights at farm entrance and around barn doors. Either leave them on from dusk to dawn or install motion detection lights to alert you to intruders. Remember, however, that motion sensors can also be tripped by your barn cat or other animals.

In order for the lights (and other equipment) to work in the barn, you need electricity. All electrical wiring in the barn should be housed in metal or hard plastic conduit since rodents may chew unprotected wires, creating a fire hazard. Metal conduit can be used, but has the tendency to rust. Plan enough circuits, outlets and fixtures so switches are within easy reach.  Locate switches so lights can  be turned on and off at two convenience locations, usually at either end of the barn. Install outlets every 15 feet or so on both sides of the aisle.  Light switches should be four feet up from the floor and outlets should be 13-15 inches off the floor (or as required by code). 

Consider lighting in other areas of your barn as well. Common places are the wash/grooming areas, feed room and tack room. For wash bay lighting ideas from Classic Equine Equipment, click HERE

Classic Equine Equipment has a variety of lights for both indoor and outdoor use.  For a full listing of what is offered, check out Classic Equine Equipment’s catalog – click HERE.  

Photo credit:  Classic Equine Equipment

Protect Your Pasture This Winter – Create A Sacrifice Area

sacrifice area FairfaxCountygovKeeping horses off rain-soaked or frozen pasture is critical if you want to maintain healthy grass plants.  During the winter, plants stop growing and horses will continue to graze pastures down until little grass is left.  Soon you’ll be left with bare spots that will turn to mud as soon as it starts to rain.  Another reason to keep horses off pastures during the winter is to keep the soil from becoming compacted.  When horses step on wet or soggy pastures, the soil is pressed down, squeezing out the space between soil particles and eliminating the pockets of air that allow roots to grow and water to penetrate. Finally, horse’s hooves, with or without shoes, can trample existing plants and dig up divots of dirt.  And weeds usually are quick to move into these areas.

Instead of giving your horse access to the entire pasture during the winter and early spring, create a winter paddock or sacrifice area.  A sacrifice area is a small enclosure such as a paddock, corral or pen that gives your horse a chance to get outside during the winter without damaging your pastures.  It is called a sacrifice area because you are giving up the use of that small portion of land as a grassy area to benefit the rest of your pastures. 

Choose a site that is slightly elevated with dry, well drained soil.  Use gravel, hog fuel or stall mats to help keep the area mud free.  Keep the area close to your barn to make moving the horses in and out easier.  Sacrifice area should be at least 20 feet wide by 20 feet long.  If you want to give your horse enough room to trot, you can extend the length to about 100 feet.   Use safe fencing for your sacrifice area.  Finally, make sure they have access to fresh water.

By limiting your horse to a sacrifice area during the winter months, you’ll have plenty of lush pasture for them to enjoy in the spring and summer.

Photo credit:  Fairfax County Government

 

No Sport Is Safe From Harassment

horse show hunter class EquestrianSportProductionsEquestrian sports has a long and positive history of building character, responsibility, sportsmanship and teamwork in riders, both old and young.  But as more and more horrifying stories of bullying and sexual misconduct in a wide variety of sports come out, from gymnastics to female sports reporters, United States Equestrian (USEF) has recently taken steps to help prevent this from becoming a part of the equestrian world.

Called Safe Sport, the USEF has joined with the U.S. Center for SafeSport, an independent nonprofit committed to ending all forms of abuse in sport. This includes bullying, harassment, hazing, physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual misconduct and abuse.  Among its adopted policies, US Equestrian members and participants have a mandatory duty to report suspected sexual misconduct to the U.S. Center for SafeSport.  Effective January 1, 2019, all USEF adult members with a Competing Membership must complete USEF’s Safe Sport Training in order to be eligible to participate in USEF activities. Members can immediately access the free Safe Sport Training directly through your member dashboard. 

The site also includes a parent’s guide to misconduct in sport and is designed for the parents of athletes of all ages. This course explains the issues of misconduct in sport and helps parents ensure their children have a positive and safe sport experience.  The USEF has also posted a listing of members who have been sanctioned or who have sanctions pending on their website.

October is also Anti-Bullying month. And while sexual misconduct is the most serious of the offenses covered by Safe Sport, it is also looking into allegations of emotional misconduct, physical misconduct, bullying, harassment and hazing.   To check out what these terms mean as well as who may be responsible under the new rules, check out the Safe Sport Policy from the USEF.  Feel free to take it to your barn manager or trainer or Pony Club/4H leader and have an open discussion on Safe Sport.  The USEF has developed ways to report any issues as well as keep any information provided private  – and retaliation will not be tolerated.

Remember, you are NEVER wrong to report any of the incidents mentioned that are directed against you or someone you know.  

Photo credit: Equestrian Sports Productions

Buying an Off-Track Thoroughbred – A Good Bet!

win shot

If you are ready for a new horse – whether it’s your first or your 10th – you might want to consider the Off-Track Thoroughbred (OTTB).  In the recent Thoroughbred Makeover series, Thoroughbreds have proven that they are all-discipline horses, from dressage to driving to jumping to working cattle.  This article will tell you what I’ve learned from my experience buying Lotta Promise  (a/k/a Stormy), a 2007 Oregon-bred grey gelding.  If you know the horse’s racing name (or lip tattoo number), you can find out a lot of information about a potential OTTB purchase on Equibase, Thoroughbred racing’s best database.  This includes a free five-generation pedigree and their complete racing history.  The good news about Stormy was that he is a grandson of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.  The bad news was that in 15 starts, he wasn’t very successful – one win and no place or show earnings.

Breeding and training a Thoroughbred for the race track is a huge gamble.  As Stormy’s record indicates, just because he had great breeding doesn’t mean he was a great race horse. Horse racing is very expensive and most owners/breeders/trainers are in it for the love of the sport, not the money.  Still, that means each year they have to evaluate their stock and decide who to keep and who to let go.  Your best bet to get one of these OTTB at a great price is to talk to one of the owners/breeders/trainers at the track.  They can be found on what’s called the “backside” where all the stables are. The best time is at the end of the race “meet” (the months the track offers Thoroughbred racing).

Why is an OTTB a good deal?

They are typically still young. Thoroughbreds start racing as two-year-olds and don’t race much past five unless they are super-awesome.  They are thoroughly familiar with the noise and commotion that goes on at a race stable.  Blaring announcements, people, music – all are a daily part of a race horse’s life and they soon become bored by it.  That’s not to say they can’t get spooky once they are getting ready to race.  But they are used to standing for the shoer, vet exams and baths. Because they travel a lot, as well as have a lot of experience being squeezed into those starting gates, most OTTB’s are OK with trailer loading.  And, let’s face it – these horses are typically inexpensive, even free.

What to think about before buying an OTTB

Be absolutely truthful about what your level of riding experience is.  While OTTB’s are used to being ridden, they are ridden totally different than our conventional riding aides.  First of all, OTTB’s expect to run each time they are saddled up.  And don’t even think you’ll control their speed by pulling back on the reins.  To race horses, pressure on the mouth means GO FASTER! 

Most OTTB’s don’t know about weight aides, leg pressure, being on the bit or bending.  OTTB’s will need to be taught how to jump or do lead changes or become cow savvy.  So before buying an OTTB, I would strongly suggest you partner up with a trainer who has OTTB training experience.  Retraining an OTTB is different than training a young horse – in fact, there’s probably more untraining being done than training.  So find a trainer who knows how to communicate with these horses.

Finally, no matter what the cost of the OTTB, remember there’s no such thing as a “free horse.”  Absolutely get a vet pre-purchase exam, including x-rays.  Over a Thoroughbred’s race career, he could have been on legal therapeutic drugs such as Lasix or (hopefully not) an illegal drug that could impact his future health.

OTTB’s legs are always questionable, which is why x-rays are important.  Talk to your vet about what you can live with based on the type of riding you will do.  If you’re just doing trail riding, a chipped knee may not be a problem.  If you’re hoping to go eventing, it could be.  OTTB’s feet are another issue to consider.  Thoroughbreds typically have low slung heels which can lead to navicular problems.  And because of frequent shoeing, an OTTB can have “shelly feet” and difficulty keeping shoes on.

What about Stormy?

stormy at camp june 2014 cropped

I bought Stormy from a trainer at a race track whom I knew and trusted.  He was seven at the time (11 ow). Initially, I took him to a barn with an excellent trainer who understood OTTBs and gave him high-quality feed and lots of turnout time and slow, gentle reeducation for both Stormy and me!  After I brought him home, I removed his shoes and he has been barefoot and that has really improved the shape and quality of his hooves.  We are just enjoying riding in our pasture or around our property and he’s accepted my “boss mare,” the two dogs and assorted barn cats.  For me, Stormy was the deal of a lifetime.

photo credit: Portland Meadows Racetrack, Stormy's mom