Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mold and Mildew – A Saddle’s Worst Enemy

That same mold and mildew that plagues us in our showers and basements are the same organisms that can easily infect your tack and completely ruin it or cause a tremendous amount of work to eliminate if you don’t take immediate preventative measures.

Mold is one of your leather saddles worst enemies.  Did you know that mold spawns thousands of tiny offspring that can be carried from small spots on your saddle to your bridle and boots via a cleaning rag or a puff of wind?

Mold and mildew come from the same family, but are slightly different in their organic make-up.  Both, however, are a fungus that I am sure many of us have found in damp manure piles.  They are their own sub-category of a living organism.  The difference between them is that mold tends to be green while mildew is whitish gray.  Whatever the differences, you MUST attack both to prevent them from spreading.

For those of us living in the South, we may see this mold appear overnight.  Mold grows best in 65% humidity and above.  Mold only needs a single spore, needs no sunlight and spreads rapidly.  However, don’t think high humidity is the only cause, mold can also grow in cold and damp environments such as basements.  If you spot mildew, you can almost be certain that the environment is ripe for mildew’s bad cousin – MOLD! 

You ask yourself, “Why is leather so susceptible to mold damage?”  Before it was made into saddles or other leather goods, it was the skin of an animal and has three layers.

The smooth side or top layer is called the grain of the leather.  Compared to human skin, the top layer has pores, tiny holes in which dirt and mold spores can penetrate.  The second layer is the core or the protein fiber that forms leather’s strength.  Most reputable saddle makers use a vegetable tanning process to retain the organic structure of the leather.  Finally, the third layer is called the rough and the side closest to the horse.

Just one tiny spot of mold produces thousands of microscopic spores.  If the mold begins to grow on a piece of leather, it penetrates the pores in the grain and begins to eat away at the structural fibers causing stains and weakening.

Therefore, mold living in an enclosed tack room will spread wildly because the recirculating air carries it to other leather items.  Once mold is present in a tack room, it is very difficult to get rid of.  As you know, it can cause irreparable damage to your tack and even allergies in humans.

With the riding season upon us and as you begin to inventory your trailer and tack, take time to closely inspect your tack for mold.  Your first clue that you may have a mold problem will be the presence of a musty odor.  There are many procedures and products on the market so seek advice from your saddle maker or someone that is expert in leather care to attack “your saddle’s worst enemy” mold!  I personally store all of my leather gear when not in use in an environment free of humidity until the riding season begins.  When I am gearing up for the trail riding season, I inspect, clean and protect my equipment from the elements with the proper cleaning tools and products. 

So as the riding season gets closer, inventory, inspect, clean and make all those equipment repairs necessary to experience a safe and fun trail riding season!  Happy Trails. 



  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis

As the seasons change, we should be thinking about keeping our equine friends healthy and ready for the upcoming activities we ask them to perform rather it be trail riding, showing or performance events.  According to the “American Mosquito Control Association” we have roughly 150 species of mosquitos that live in the United States.  One of the most common diseases spread by mosquitos is West Nile Virus and EEE.  These two diseases are most active in late spring through early fall with West Nile and EEE being contagious to both people and animals.

Statistics tell us that 40% of horses that contract West Nile die from it.  The virus multiplies in the horse’s blood system and crosses into the brain causing inflammation and interferes with the central nervous system.  Signs of the disease include fever, stumbling, muscle weakness, partial paralysis, convulsions and eventually coma.

Much like West Nile, EEE is a mosquito-borne illness as well as affecting the brain and central nervous system as well as causing blindness, staggering and seizures.  Most infected horses die within several days and horses ages 6 months to 2 years old are the most vulnerable.

There are several things we can do to prevent the spread of these mosquito-borne viruses.  Equine vaccines exist for West Nile and horses should be vaccinated for EEE at least twice a year and according to the veterinary community a vaccination program should start at ages 6 months if the dam was vaccinated and 3 months old if she was not.  Contact your veterinarian to put in place a vaccination schedule.

We can also take additional precautionary measures by applying fly masks, fly sheets and fly leggings to horses when they are at pasture.  Of course, an oil based fly spray and fly spray system for your barn is of great benefit.  Many horse owners keep their horses inside at dawn and dusk which is prime mosquito feeding time.  Turning on fans inside the barn to create a breeze can also be helpful.  Keeping weeds down near and around your barn, replacing outdoor lights with yellow bug lights, and removing any sources of standing water on your property are a few simple precautionary measures to assist in keeping your equine friend healthy and happy.


Happy Trails and let E-Tackroom be your single source for all of your equine fly prevention products.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Tips for Trail Riders

With horse shows, eventing and trail riding just around the corner, we need to give some thought to keeping our horses safe during this fun time. The following lists are a few ideas we would like to share regarding the “must have” and “must know” tips to assist in our first aid and health care duties of our equine friends. First, let’s list all of the “Must Know” we all should have engrained in our minds when it comes to the first aid of our equine friend. If you suspect that “something just doesn’t seem right”, you will want to make the following assessment:
  1. Heart/Pulse Rate (28-40 bpm)
  2. Respiration Rate (9-16 bpm)
  3. Temperature (99.5 – 101.0 degrees F)
  4. Gum color and texture (pink and moist
  5. Gastrointestinal Sounds (always heard)
These vital signs are very helpful when you are trying to relay symptoms to your veterinarian. I keep these vital signs in my barn in a Health Care Log for quick and easy reference. Also posted clearly is an Emergency Call list with my veterinarian listed first and myself second in the event that someone should wander into my barn and detect a problem. Second, let’s list all of the “Must Have” items that I keep in my barn and trailer at all times for immediate access: />DRUGS AND MEDICATIONS
  • Bute
  • Banamine
  • Antibiotic Ointment
EQUIPMENT
  • Thermometer
  • Stethoscope
  • Scissors
  • Flashlight
  • Small Bucket
BANDAGE MATERIAL
  • 4 x 4 Gauze
  • Telfa or Similar Non Stick tape
  • Gauze Roll
  • Sheet Cotton
  • Duct Tape
  • Vet Wrap
WOUND CLEANING SUPPLIES
  • Betadine Scrub/Solution
  • Roll Cotton
I hope you never have to put these tips to practice, but as you all know horses seem to invite accidents and can be very delicate creatures when it comes to their well being. In future articles we will cover the “Must Have” and “Must Know” for trail riders. We here at e-tackroom.com wish you a happy and eventful riding season!! Happy Trails from Goldie and me!!

Carri Lite Corrals are perfect for when you are away from the barn

Carri-lite Corrals provide a safe resting area for horses that work, from trail riding to eventing. This portable stall also provides convenience in transporting as corral collapses down to 1/5th its size. This portable corral can fit in the mid-tack area, bed of truck, even back seat! Made of high impact engineering grade HDPE resin, ultrasonically welded and hydraulic pressed fitting, these portable panels are very durable and provide years of maintenance free service. This portable stall can stand alone or be secured to horse trailer with brackets that are included. Portable corral comes standard with Velcro ties for lighter handling. New Product Improvements include: User friendly rods for connecting panels. New leg adjustment for increased stablization. E-Tackroom is happy to provide complete customer satisfaction, Carri-lite Corrals come with a satisfaction guarantee and a 1 year manufacturer warranty.
  • Available in Horse, Pony, Miniature and Alpaca panels for your animal containment needs.
  • All panels capable of expanding to approximately 6 ft. length x 54 in. height.
  • Panels collapse to approximately 1/5th its size for convenient transportation and storage.
  • 8 panel unit "stand alone" size is 13'2" round pen or 12' x 12' square stall.
  • (Unit comes with brackets to attach corral to trailer making area larger by trailer length.)
  • Made of high impact engineering grade HDPE resin for years of service.
  • UV stabilized, won't crack and chip even under freezing conditions.
  • Portable corral will stand alone or attach to trailer with included brackets.
  • Provides a safe resting area for horses.
  • User friendly rods for connecting panels.
  • 30 day satisfaction guarantee and 1 year manufacturer warranty.
  • Corrals ship regular ground UPS/FedEX and will be delivered to your door.

A single fly can contaminate feed/food with enough bacteria to cause illness!

The fly is an enemy because it is one of the biggest disease carriers in existence. Moist, warm, decaying material protected by sunlight is favored for fly eggs to hatch and in only 8 short hours for fly larvae or maggots to grow. An uncovered garbage can is an ideal breeding place. Flies feed and reproduce on filth, decaying matter, and water.
Flies are transmitters of disease primarily because they feed on human and animal wastes. The dangerous bacteria present in the wastes stick to the mouth, footpads and hairs of flies and may then be deposited in feed intended for animal consumption. Fly feces, which contain disease-bearing organisms, can also contaminate human food. Flies defecate every four to five minutes. And since flies have no teeth and must take their nourishment in liquid form, they spit on solid food and let the food dissolve before consuming it. Fly spittle, or vomitus, is swarming with bacteria and contaminates feed and areas where feed is stored.Disease Ridden Barn Fly
  • A fly can infect feed/food by merely landing on it.
  • Flies can enter a building that has openings not much larger than the head of a pin.
  • Although they rarely travel very far from where they are hatched, flies may be lured to the sources of attractive odors. Flies may also be carried long distances by air current.
  • One female fly can produce thousands of offspring in a single breeding season. Flies have favorite resting places and are especially fond of places protected from the wind and on edges such as garbage can rims and electric wires.
  • Flies carry bacteria that can cause many diseases known and unknown to man.
  • Studies have shown that one fly can carry over 1 million bacteria on the inner and outer surfaces of it body.
  • Dead Fly ZoneOther studies have shown that there are over 120,000 different fly species.
  • The fly is one of the fastest flying insects and it's vision is sharp for only 24-36 inches.
  • One season can breed as much as
    25 GENERATIONS!!!
Help keep down fly population and disease ridden bacteria with the Dead Fly Zone System. Check them out! Dead Fly Zone System

Horse Keeping on a small place

Perhaps you are thinking of taking on the task of caring for your horse at your own facility and have wondered what might be involved. I speak from experience since I took that big plunge some 15 years ago knowing that I had just 3.5 acres of which my home already took up a half an acre of that space. I hope my experience gives you the courage to take on the care of your horse even if you have a small space to work with as there is no bigger reward than having your equine friend close by.

Before we begin the long list of ideas and lessons I have learned, let’s make certain you have already gained the permission from your home owners association, city or county governments to keep your horse on premises and build a barn. I had to do both so I prepared a lay-out drawing with great detail and made my presentation to both the subdivision in which I live and our city and county government officials. I found the more detail I was able to provide, the more each party believed I was serious about keeping it neat and tidy and would bring an asset to the community and our area. During that presentation phase, I invited the city and county officials to my facility before and after construction. Keeping governing officials involved is a big plus. Preparing my presentation was also a great tool in the preplanning process.

There is much to be said on this topic so we will bring this information to you in segments. In the first segment we will cover SITE SELECTION. The segments to follow will be BARN PLANS and lastly PASTURE MANAGEMENT. Follow our additions of HORSE KEEPING ON A SMALL SPACE on FaceBook, enewsletters and our web site.

Horse Keeping on a small place: Site Selection

Part 2 of "Horse Keeping on a small space"

Planning Your Horse BarnThis project deserves much needed preplanning. I wanted to build a barn that would provide adequate shelter from the elements and storage for all of my equipment such as saddles, tack, hay, grain, shavings, etc. If you are a spring trail riding enthusiast, a barn is advantageous in keeping your horse ready to ride without an enormous amount of work shedding that heavy coat in the spring. By keeping your horse out of inclement weather and blanketed you will be ready to hit the trail with much less work not to mention the added benefit of keeping your horse healthy and your life less complicated.

Also since you will be limited with pasture turn-out on a small acreage, you will find it becomes necessary to regulate the turn-out time of your horse to preserve the pasture. A barn, run pen and round pen will provide opportunity for turn-out and allow the pasture to rest.

The initial stage of planning is the correct time to select a contractor that can provide references and has knowledge of what is required to build an equine facility. A general contractor can work as well, just be ready to guide them with each detail as you progress.

Drainage & Utilities

As you study a site selection, keep in mind drainage. Your contractor will want to be able to slope the earth away from the barn to provide proper drainage. There may possibly be property line set-backs enforced by the city or county to consider as well. Bringing utilities such as electrical lines and water to the barn should also be taken into consideration. Will you need to access city water or do you want to provide well water? If well water is a consideration, contact a well digger to provide their suggestions on a location on the property. During this process give some consideration to various locations you might want access to running water. I wanted to be able to wash out my trailer so I planned access to a yard hydrant a distance from the barn with the proper drainage for that purpose. I also wanted to make water available near the fenced pasture so I could provide fresh water at all times while the horse is on pasture.

You may also want to provide a fenced run-pen type enclosure for your horse to roam in and out of the barn stall. If so, space on either side or end will be necessary. If a run pen is on your “must have” list, give some preliminary research during the site planning to the type of soil and drainage required. The worst situation is to provide run pen space for your horse only to find that with every rain your horse is walking in mud or standing water because the drainage was inadequate. I chose river sand as it drained well. Some may have objections to sand given the horse is always capable ingesting sand if they are the “busy” type. That was not my case.

Manure Disposal

Manure disposal should be considered during the site planning stage. Do you have the ability to create a compost pile given covenants or county/city rules? If so, consider where on your site you can create a disposal pile that is far enough from the barn so as not to draw flies nor aggravate neighbors. Keep in mind if you bed your stalls with shavings, straw or some other type of bedding, the amount of waste will increase beyond just manure disposal.

If you are unable to create a compost pile and spreading manure on a small acreage such as we are discussing is not possible, another option available is bagging and disposing in a dumpster. If a dumpster is utilized, plan a space for the container and adequate access by the removal company to come and haul it away. In my case, I provided an 8” blacktop road bed for a large disposal truck to come in and out.

One last structure to consider is a round pen. A round pen is extremely effective for training purposes and warming up. It can also provide another space for turn-out to eliminate boredom. An effective size is a minimum of 25’, four board high. Some trainers prefer sold walls, but I chose to fence a round structure, 25 feet, four board high. It proved to be an excellent exercise outlet when time was limited.

The final portion of your planning stage should include an access or roadway to your barn and an area to store your horse trailer. If you are going to utilize a waste removal company and you plan on keeping your horse trailer onsite, work with your contractor to provide an adequate road to the barn and a space for your horse trailer.

This concludes the second segment of our HORSE KEEPING ON A SMALL SPACE. Check back with us either on our web site, FaceBook or enewsletters for the BARN PLANS segment.

Horse Keeping on a small place: Barn Plans

Part 3 of “Horse Keeping on a small space”
It is now time to determine the size of the barn keeping in mind the amount of acreage you have to work with. I chose to do a 2 stall barn that would give me room to rotate my mare from stall to stall and also board a friend overnight if I so desired. I chose stall sizes of 12’ x 12’ with 5 feet solid walls with aluminum stall bars up another 5 feet.
Ventilation
I kept the stalls as open as possible in order to provide adequate ventilation throughout the barn. Ventilation is of the utmost importance since our equine friends can be susceptible to health issues in a dusty environment. I made accommodations in the ceiling height for ceiling fans that would rotate air flow up and down. I chose a stall accessory company that manufactures aluminum stall dividers for longevity and avoid the rusting and pitting you find with iron built dividers. The contractor built the 5 foot floor to the aluminum stall divider out of 2’ x 8” weather treated lumber. I was able to wash the walls down at any time and not worry about rust or rotting wood.
My mare was arthritic so I chose to leave the stalls dirt and provide a high quality mat for her to stand on. The accessory company also provided a hay door on the stall wall for hay and grain feeding. I also had double dutch doors constructed for the doors leading to the run pen. This allowed the opportunity to open up the upper section if my mare was confined inside for the day. I provided 4’ x 4’ barred windows in each stall again to provide light and ventilation. I had matching half dutch doors made to close the windows in colder weather.
Lighting
I chose florescent lighting for the barn. This type of lighting seemed to be the most desirable given the times. However, E-tackroom has lighting that will be more to today’s energy efficiency standards.
The floor in the barn was cement with strategically located drains. The stalls were left in dirt and lined with heavy duty rubber mats. E-tackroom has mats for your consideration. Matting helps conserve shavings and eliminates that “round” urine hole in your stalls.
Storage
As you take into consideration the remaining space required, let’s discuss storage. I provided a 10’ x 10’ wash rack with two steel pipes embedded in cement to allow me the opportunity to hang cross ties. The walls were 16’ tall and built with water proof 2” x 8’studs. The floor in the wash rack is cement with a water drain in the center. I provided matting in the wash rack to eliminate slipping. The hot and cold running water is plumbed on the side wall for convenience.
I also built a small bathroom with a utility sink. A utility sink versus a typical washroom sink was far more usable. If you have extra space, plumbing accommodations for a washer and dryer would be an added convenience.
I built a tack room that was 10’ x 10’ with ample lighting. This amount of space allowed room for two saddle racks, a wall devoted to head gear, refrigerator and tall storage cabinet. I utilized the outside walls to hang muck racks, brooms, shovels, etc. In this type of space it is of the utmost importance to remain organized so I found wall hanging accessories a good idea for hanging tools.
The far end of my barn was the space provided for hay, grain and shavings storage. This space was 12’ x 36’ which allowed me the space to keep 12 months’ square hay bales, 50-60 bags of shavings and 30 days of grain. I was able to cordon off this space in the event my mare should become an escape artist and wander into the feed. I installed an 8’ roll up door in this area so that I could back in with loads of hay, feed and shavings.
In the stall/wash rack area I provided two 10’ roll up doors in the front and back so that I could open them up in warm weather to provide ventilation. Keep in mind as you select doors that you will want to enter and exit with your horse tacked up which will require more head space than a normal people door.
We will discuss the run pen, round pen and paddock accommodations in Pasture Segment. As you develop your plans for your barn, let me remind you to keep ventilation, lighting and safety for your equine friend at the top of your list.












Horse Keeping on a small place: Pasture

Part 4 of “Horse Keeping on a small space”

Now that we have our barn site established and ideas for our barn, it is time to consider your pasture, paddock and run pen requirements. Evaluate the remaining space keeping mind that you will want to come and go from the barn and pasture with your horse.

Turn Out Paddock

As I mentioned in the Barn Segment, I chose to allow my horse to roam from the stall directly into a paddock. In a small acreage, you will want to manage the turn-out routine you establish. With only 1.5 – 2 acres remaining it will be necessary to time the turn-out and be ready to cross fence so that you can rest pasture areas allowing the grass to recuperate. A fairly large paddock gives your horse the freedom to exercise until turn-out. As I mentioned, my horse was arthritic and was not a “sand eater” so I dug down 8” and filled in with river sand for her comfort. Keep drainage in mind as you select a substrate for this area.

Fencing

One of the most important decisions you will make in the construction of the horse keeping project is fencing. There are many choices depending on a budget. I researched all possibilities taking into consideration cost and maintenance. I concluded that agricultural vinyl fencing would work best for me. I needed something that would have aesthetic appeal at all times given I was in a city subdivision and I did not have time nor effort to devote to painting and frequent repairs. I then began researching vinyl fencing and discovered that there are major differences in vinyl fencing. There is landscape fencing and there is agricultural fencing meant to hold up under livestock confinement. I then decided that I wanted to do a four board structure even though it added to the cost. Four boards eliminate the temptation of your horse trying to test the grass “on the other side of the fence” and in my mind was a safety factor to have four boards versus three. Four boards also adds height to the structure which was more appealing to me. Once again, take your time and research fencing as it is a costly investment and should be just that – an investment that will be on your property for a very long time.

Grass

My pastures are all fescue grass which gave me grass nearly all winter. If you plan on breeding a mare, you will want to discuss pasture with your vet. Mares will need to be pulled from fescue grass several months before they foal and in that case you may want to consider Bermuda grass. Again discuss this with your vet. I always planned to aerate and reseed once a year to keep my pasture in good grazing condition.

Equipment & Structures

I provided a water tub in both pastures so that my mare had access to water at all times. To make watering convenient I ran water lines to the pasture and to the paddock area. It was always convenient to keep fresh water available at all times. E-tackroom has automatic waterers you may want to consider for both the paddock and stalls.

The round pen was 30’ in diameter with river sand as a substrate and access from the pasture or barn. This structure is an excellent means of exercise and training. Keep in mind, you will be looking for ways to exercise your horse since you are on a small space with limited turn out.

The driveway to my barn was 4” asphalt to accommodate heavy loads of hay and shavings. I also placed a dumpster near my barn so I had a waste disposal truck entering my facility on a weekly basis so a substantial drive way was a must.

In closing, I hope I have encouraged you to take the step to have your horse on your own property even if you have a small space. Taking care of my horse was a big part of the enjoyment for me. So as you plan your facility, put yourself there in order to envision the space you think will work best for you. Consult with your contractor, vet and friends to gather any additional ideas. We hope as you plan your horse keeping space you will keep e-tackroom in mind for all of your horse keeping needs. If we can answer any questions about “Horse Keeping on a Small Space”, feel free to give us a call and I will be happy to discuss your project.

Happy Trails!!!!

Trail Riding 101: Selecting a Saddle

Choosing a Trail Riding Saddle Trail Riding SaddleLet’s begin with one of the most critical pieces of equipment…your saddle. This is not a time to make a saddle selection based on the latest fashion. Select a piece of equipment that is suitable for you and your horse. First consider what type of trail riding you expect to be doing. Will it be state parks, private trails, or back country? For the trail riding I knew I would be doing I chose a leather western saddle with a deep seat, a high cantle and a short saddle horn. My mare had a deep heart girth so I chose a saddle with quarter horse bars. For you English riders that chose a hunt or dressage type saddle, you may want to consider deep knee rolls to help with stability. Most importantly keep in mind that you will be in varying terrain and the most important thing is to select a saddle that you feel secure in the seat and will not make your horse sore. Making your horse sore is not a good experience and will defeat the purpose of trail riding in the first place.

Once you have selected the type of saddle you think will work for you, let’s give as much attention to the saddle and how it will fit your horse. If the saddle is not a good fit for your horse you can end up with saddle sores or galling their girth. You know you have made a good selection when you see an even sweat pattern on your horses’ back when you remove the saddle. There should not be a lot of space between the horses back and the bars. Bars that stand up on your horses back can cause your horse to go lame. Think about it…. Your horses’ back will become sore, they then begin to compensate in their gate and the next thing you know your horse will show up lame. You may think it is a leg or hoof problem when in fact it was caused by an improper fitting saddle and his back is sore instead. On the other hand, the saddle shouldn't set down on your horses’ back either. That can cause lameness.

Stirrups

Now let’s address the stirrups. Trail rides are not normally a short duration. Rides can last up to hours and you find yourself with knee and ankle pain. This can be alleviated by using swivel stirrups or flexible stirrups that take the pressure off of one position. A swivel device can be added but flexible stirrups are something you can do. When you are not riding and have your saddle on a saddle rack apply an oil of choice and inserting a broom handle under the saddle to flex the stirrups in the outward direction. This will “train” the leather to flex in the outward direction thus more comfortable for longer rides.

This concludes our section on Saddle Selection. I hope you have given trail riding some serious consideration. As we said in the beginning, there is nothing better than camping and trail riding your horse for fun and relaxation.

To Blanket or Not to Blanket

With winter's cold temps and northern winds upon us, some horse owners wonder if blanketing is something they need to be doing. I think that decision should be based on several factors. If your horses are not kept at home or boarded somewhere that someone can keep an eye on them, then it might be best to just make sure they have adequate shelter and skip blanketing. The most common concern is if the blanket slides out of position in such a way that it can be stepped on or the horse can get tangled up in it.

However, if your horses have adequate supervision, blanketing can be beneficial. Blanketing helps horses maintain their weight over the winter, keeps hair coats cleaner, and may lessen the cold on arthritic joints. Older less active horses may benefit from the warmth. Here’s a few basic guidelines to help get you started.

Select a blanket/sheet/turnout rug that is designed to fit your horse’s conformation. My personal preferences are blankets with the rear leg straps for keeping the blanket on straight, and gussets in the front to allow freedom of shoulder movement. Some blankets are cut back further on top to allow for prominent withers. The quality of the blanket usually determines how long it will hold together. There are many brands to choose from, I have always had good luck with BMB and Big D products, but there are several other quality manufacturers. Each winter, make sure the blanket/sheet/turnout rug still fits properly and is in good working condition, especially the leg and belly straps. Reinforce the stitching holding on straps and straighten or replace any bent buckles. If it is a new blanket, after your horse wears it a day or two, check to make sure the straps are not adjusted so tight that they are rubbing hair off, or that the blanket is not slipping sideways because the straps are adjusted too loosely. Make sure the front of the blanket is not rubbing hair on the shoulders or chest. Remove the blanket from your horse before the temperature is warm enough to make your horse sweat while wearing it. The dampness is likely to cause a skin fungus similar to rain rot, especially when longer thicker winter hair coats are unable to dry out quickly.

All-weather turnout rugs are waterproof, but usually do not breathe as well. I recommend you limit their use to rainy days. Wash horse blankets periodically to get rid of the buildup of hair, dirt, bacteria, stains, etc. Your nose will tell you when it’s time. Don’t take them to a public laundromat!

If your horse’s blanket is made of sturdy denier but still manages to acquire several rips and tears, it is possibly the work of a playful pasture buddy.

If you don’t feel confident about turning your horse out to pasture with a blanket on, you may prefer to blanket him/her only at night while in their stall, or when the temperatures get really low.

If you have comments or additional suggestions to add, please share! CJ Farmer CJ Farmer is the owner and operator of Grove River Ranch a North Georgia equestrian center. CJ has over thirty-five years experience with equine breeding, raising foals, training horses, showing several disciplines on a national level, boarding horses, and instructing riders of all levels of ability. She focuses on natural horsemanship and resistance-free training and riding methods and specializes in hunt seat, western pleasure

How to Measure for a Horse Blanket

Once the decision is made to use a blanket, many still have questions about how to measure and select the right size horse blanket to ensure you are getting the best fit for your horse. We have created a short video guide to help you take the necessary measurements:

How To Pick A Western Saddle

In one of her recent articles on trail riding basics, Margie wrote about how to select a trail riding saddle.  With all of the different options available it can be overwhelming to find the right tack that fits both you and your horse.
This video gives a quick overview of three types of western saddles and our best selling saddle from each category:

How to choose the correct horse blanket

This is a short video on how to choose the correct horse blanket. There are many variables out there when choosing a blanket, hopefully this will help you choose the right one based on your needs and the temperature of your location.