5 Essential Travel Gear for Your Horse

I was recently asked by a friend what essential horse gear they need to transport their horse overseas. Therefore, I decided to write up a simple post, comprising of the necessary protection for travel:

1. Travel/Transport Boots

Whether you are taking your horse on a trailer, or an airplane, travel boots are the number 1 essential. A lot of people use bandages instead of travel boots for short travels, however, if bandaged tightly or too loose, it could be hazardous. Moreover, travel boots are much more padded with more surface area protection.

Before loading your horse, make sure they are used to having them on in order to avoid stress. There are many styles of boots in the market today. Make sure to look for one that fits your horse without slipping.

I personally use the HorZe Signature Travel Boots which come in a set of four from DubaiPetFood.

  IMG_0134

Note: If your horse is going on an airplane, they usually prefer you to remove all shoes prior to loading, for safety reasons. You can contact the transport company you are using for further information.


2. Head Collar/Halter

Padded head collard with safety quick snaps are ideal for traveling. Padding prevents halter from rubbing your horses face. If your halter is not padded, you can purchase padding separately which can be attached, e.g:

13157   or61532_Coloured_Sheepskin_Fuzzy_Halter

I like using the Kingsland Equestrian Sport Halter, which I reviewed a while back HERE. It is already padded on the nose, sides, and poll area with fleece.

IMG_5255    


3. Poll Guard

Head guards are always a good idea for extra protection against bumps and scratches, especially for a tall horse. As with any other travel gear, make sure your horse gets used to wearing one before putting them in a trailer. I find the Cashel Horse Helmet easy to use as it clips onto the head collar easily without having to take it apart. I got mine from Equestrian Collections.

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4. Tail Guard

Since trailers and travel boxes don’t give too much room, horses tend to rest their hinds on the side/back. In order to prevent your horses tail from rubbing or developing sores, you can apply a well fitted and padded tail guard. As mentioned above with travel boots, your horses may not be used to having tail guard applied and taken off. Therefore, it is necessary to acclimatise your horse before travelling and make sure that they are comfortable and the equipment is fitted correctly.

        Tail Guard                                                                        Full Tail bag

53013-blk_8   0286_v01


5. Rug/Sheet

Depending on the weather and condition of your horse (clipped/not clipped), they may or may not need a rug for travel. Generally, when horses travel close together, they create a lot of heat. Make sure the trailer/lorry is well ventilated and has good air flow.

If it is in the cooler months, then a lightweight, breathable sheet can keep your horse’s body temperatures at a good average. You can always pack a rug with you to place on your horse once arrived at destination as the temperature, especially if their sweating, will be cooler than inside the trailer/truck.

On the left= lightweight sheet (Equi Theme Mesh/Terry Cooler Rug)
On the right = rug used on arrival (Equi Theme Cotton Sheet):

  

Remember, with all gear, make sure to get the right fit for your horse safety and comfort.

Hope this helps 🙂 !

Schockemoehle Sporty Design Bell/Overreach Boots [REVIEW]

I was looking for everyday use bell boots/overreach boots that would last me a while as most seem to get destroyed very quickly. You can read on the Importance of Overreach/Bell Boots in an older post I wrote, which also includes a list of those available here in the UAE.

I stumbled upon the Schockemoehle Sporty Design Bell Boots from Equestrian Solutions back in December 2014 and decided to give them a go.
They come in 3 different colours with sizes ranging from S, M, L, XL, XXL:

     Black                                               Brown                                          White

These BELL BOOTS consist of a durable outer material, combined with softly padded neoprene lining and therefore guarantee perfect fit, protection and stability. The logo at the velcro underlines the sportive character of this product.

Specs:

  • Made of soft neoprene covered with durable PU material
  • Protects hoof perfectly against injuries
  • Good fitting through strong Velcro
  • Extra soft edge prevents irritations

These Schockemoehle boots have a very simple design with a shiny coat. I love the way they look when clean, however they do get dirty as soon as you step into the arena. That being said, they are easy to wash and dry fast. They fit Tofino very well (size M), covering the heel at all times, without rising up.

IMG_2865  IMG_3160


The top is padded and super soft, preventing any rubs. The neoprene shell of the boot is not rigid, therefore, I would not recommend these for intense riding, e.g, Eventing, Endurance, as they are not protective enough, in my opinion, for such occasions. They are great for everyday, with durable double velcro closures, and not to mention how super light they are!

IMG_3162  IMG_3163


I am still looking for overreach boots that are tough, lightweight, durable for more protection in certain situations such as intense hacking. These have not failed us and Tofino does not get bruised anymore as they offer good protection for everyday use. And unlike the eQuest boots, they do not get spiky plant stuck on the inside whilst hacking, which cut the legs which is a great plus.

Moreover, since they are the regular overreach boots with no nub to prevent them from twisting, they can turn but still cover the heel completely at all times.


Pros: Cons:
   Great fit

•   Padded (no rubbing)

•   Strong velcro closure

•   Great for everyday use

•   Durable

•   Lightweight

•   Attracts dirt quickly

•   Not as protective for intense riding

 

Verdict: Even though they may not be super protective, I would recommend these boots for everyday use as they are durable and lightweight with great, no rub fit. I do hope that Schockemoehle does come up with a tougher design as their quality is great.

An alternative, cheaper option to these boots would be the HorZe ProBell All Purpose boots (haven’t tried), or, for more protection, the HorZe Neoprene ProBell boots, which in my experience do not last too long before getting torn, but would recommend them for intense work.

11 Common Horse Feeding Mistakes

This post is one of the longest posts I wrote as a lot of research and time went into it. These notes are crucial and may prove to be very useful for those around horses. As the title says, here are the 10 common horse feeding mistakes:

  1. Wrong Diet
  2. Poor Forage Quality + Quantity
  3. Over/Under Feeding
  4. Not Feeding by Weight
  5. Overloading on Nutrients/Supplements
  6. Lack of Salt in Diet
  7. Lack of Fresh Water 24/7
  8. Not Feeding Little & Often
  9. Lack of Feeding Routine
  10. Overloading on Treats
  11. Not introducing / Not Changing Feed Gradually

..Continue for more details:

1. Wrong Diet 

Every horse should have a diet catered to them specifically, due to the difference in breed, age, workload etc. The type of feed in the diet should vary according to your horses needs. Choosing the right brand for your horse’s feed is crucial too.

A horses diet should always be adjusted according to these factors:

  • Workload
  • Health (ulcers, teeth, digestion, insulin resistance etc.)
  • Weight (measure your horse)
  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Weather

It took me a few tries to get the appropriate diet for Tofino. I am personally loving Reverdy feed which we started in February. You can contact the very friendly team at Cavalos Equine Care & Supplies for more information on Reverdy. They are very kind and easy to work with, thus, you always feel welcomed which, I love. Tofino is currently on the Adult Specific Energy which has the complete nutritional values he currently needs given the above factors.

cavalos reverdy 2


2. Poor Forage Quality + Quantity

Hay is a large sum of a horses diet. It is important to note that their diet consists of at least 70% of hay/forage. Therefore, giving your horse the ultimate hay quality is crucial. Poor quality hay has less nutrients and less digestible fiber, which means that a horse has to eat much more to derive the same amount of nutritional value.

The quality of hay depends on the following:

  • Smell(Hay should smell fresh and a bit sweet. If smell is pungent, acrid or musty, the hay is probably molded or has other quality deficiencies).
  • Texture (Good hay feels soft and pliable, bad hay is coarse and will stab your skin).
  • Weight(Good hay bales are lightweight and springy; if you drop one, it should bounce).
  • Consistency(no sticks, wire or dead insects/animals or animal droppings within or around).
  • Leafiness (the more seed-heads, the better a90% of plant’s protein in seed-heads). Orchard-Timothy-Fescue-500x374
  • Color (light to medium green for grass hays and darker green for alfalfa. Some yellowing is natural if the hay was sun-bleached, but too much yellow likely indicates that the grass was overmature when cut and contains less digestible fiber).

3. Over/Under Feeding

A horse should eat 1.5-3% of their body weight. The majority of that diet should consist of forage. Total % of Body Weight feed for horses vary with different conditions. For example, a horse that’s obese would be in the lower % whereas a horse underweight, or lactating mares, would be on the higher % (not exceeding 3%).

Expected Feed Consumption in Body Weight Percent:

Maintenance: Forage (1.5-2.0%) + Concentrate (0-0.5%) = 1.5-2.0% total

Light work: Forage (1.0-2.0%) + Concentrate (0.5-1.0%) = 1.5-2.5% total
Medium work: Forage (1.0-2.0%) + Concentrate (0.75–1.5%) = 1.75–2.5% total
Intense work: Forage (0.75–1.5%) + Concentrate (1.0–2.0%) = 2.0-3.0% total

Yearling foal (12 mo.): Forage (1.0–1.5%) + Concentrate (1.0–2.0%) = 2.0-3.0% total
Long yearling (18 mo.): Forage (1.0–1.5%) + Concentrate (1.0–1.5%) = 2.0–2.5% total
Young 2yr-old (24 mo.): Forage (1.0–1.5%) + Concentrate (1.0–1.5%) = 1.75–2.5% total

Source: NRC 1989. 

To measure a horse’s weight without a scale, you can use the following formula:
In Centimeters & Kilograms: [Girth (cm) × Girth (cm) × Length (cm)] / 11,900 = Weight(kg)
OR
In Inches & Pounds: [Girth (in) x Girth (in) x Length (in)] / 330 = Weight (lb)

happy-horse-healthy-planet_weight-calculation-2

Note: Even if your horse is obese, you should NEVER go below 1.5% of body weight per day. You can control their feeding by using slow feeders hay-nets/muzzles. ALWAYS feed little and often.


4. Not Feeding by Weight

Giving your horse feed according to the weight rather than volume is a safer, more accurate way of feeding. This is for both hay and cereal grains. Hay bale and flakes weights vary depending on brand, type, water etc. and the same goes for cereal grains. Therefore, taking the time to place a scale (hanging scale) in your hay storage unit would be handy to not only know how much to give your horse, but also know how much you’re paying for.

Product name:Handle scale Product specitication:25kg 50kg 100kg 150kg 200kg Size of outer carton:60*41*21.5cm Package quantity:20pcs Packing weight:23kg    WS60330K

As for feed, I started using a manual kitchen scale that can read up to 5kg. You can get them for very cheap prices at the supermarket. They range from about 20AED-300AED depending on the level of technology. I use a manual scale (50AED) as it can read more accurately the lightest of things, whereas digital scales read a minimum of 1g.

item_XL_7074945_5040158    41DEukROunL._SX300_


5. Overloading on Nutrients/Supplements 

Over supplementing can cause mineral or vitamin imbalances for horses. There are vitamins and minerals that are toxic if consumed in large quantities. Only use them if necessary and in a short period of time. Make sure you calculate the nutrients your horse is getting from his basic feed ration before adding a vitamin or mineral supplement.

vitamins table
Source: BASF. 2000. Vitamins – One of the Most Important Discoveries of the Century. BASF Documentation DC 0002. Animal Nutrition 6th Edition.


6. Lack of  Salt in Diet

Salt consists of Sodium and chloride. These are the only essential nutrients not naturally found in grass. Horses, like humans, lose both elements in sweat, therefore, they must be replaced from the diet. Horses have a natural appetite for salt and consume what they need if given the opportunity.

Horses will lick the salt block when they feel the need to, which is when they are lacking in salt. If they do not use the salt block at all, then place electrolytes in their feed.

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You can place a salt block in the paddock if that’s where your horses stay most of the time, or in the stable. Even better if you place two in both areas. I personally use both electrolytes (only a little) and place Himalayan salt blocks just in case. I have previous written about the Importance of Salt in Your Horse’s Diet HERE


7. Lack of Fresh Water 24/7

Fresh water should be provided to horses continuously, whether they are out in the field, in the stable, in a sand paddock, etc. They can drink up to 5-10gallons a day depending on the weather. In the winter months, if the water gets cold, horses will stray away from it and avoid drinking. Therefore, it is recommended to use water heating methods.

IMG_4621  Horse9086

There is myth that you should not offer horses water after exercise, however, current studies have indicated that in fact, ensuring that horses have access to fresh, clean water, is one of the best ways to reduce the risks of impaction colic.


8. Not Feeding Little & Often

Horses are grazing animals, used to eating little and often in the wild. Whether your horse is only on a forage diet  or a mixed diet, they should have access to food at least every 4 hours. Horses can develop bad habits if not fed continuously (wind sucking, crib biting etc.), and can also develop digestive problems. For grains/cereals, horses are only able to digest a maximum of 2kg per meal, therefore, it is better to fraction their feed off throughout the day.

For example, Tofino is currently on the following schedule

  • 04:30am = 1/2 kg of feed
  • 06:00am = grass paddock
  • 07:30am = 1/2 kg of feed
  • 10:30am = 1.5 kg of hay
  • 02:00pm = 1.5 kg of hay
  • 05:30pm = grass paddock
  • 08:30pm = 1/2 kg of feed
  • 10:30pm = 3kg hay (in small hole hay-net to keep through the night)

Total = 1.5 kg of feed + 6 kg of hay + grass paddock


9. Lack of Feeding Routine

A horses internal clock is what they thrive on. They are very accurate and should be kept on consistency especially with feeding schedules. Horses are more content with a regular schedule and are less likely to develop bad stall habits, e.g, kicking, pawing, chewing etc. Having a routine will also allow the horse to be more efficient with their feed.

It would be useful to place a big white board in the feed room where you can write all the horses name and the feed they get at a united time. If your barn doesn’t wish to invest in one, then perhaps get a mini sign and stick or hang it on your horses stall with the schedule (e.g, as shown in #8). This makes it easier when grooms rotate and you can also add any medication specified or supplements, etc.

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10. Overloading on Treats

Treats should only be given as rewards to your horse and not given in large sums. Always in moderation. Feed your horse treats sparingly, as they are only special when they are not available all the time, if they were available all the time, it defeats the purpose and allows your horse to “work” for it.

There are many commercial horse treat brands that are full of sugars! I would suggest looking into natural sugar free treats, or even DIY recipes that you can follow in order to make sure your horse at least gets healthy treats.

520315-sugar

Fruits can also be given as rewards, but be cautious of knowing what to give and what not to give. I have written a previous post on safe vs hazardous fruits and veggies which could be helpful in knowing what to feed.


11. Not Introducing / Not Changing Feed Gradually

With the very delicate digestive system horses have, quick or sudden changes in diet may cause major disturbances in the gut. This could lead to a number of different issues, from diarrhea, to colic, to toxin buildup, and so on. I do have a post already on safely Transitioning / Switching Your Horse’s Feed, which has the necessary information.

IMG_7722


Hope this helps! If you have any questions or clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact me 🙂

Equine Couture Stars & Stripes Breeches [REVIEW] + Old VS New Model

The Stars & Stripes breeches from Equine Couture are one of my favorite riding pants. They come in Black, Charcoal, Military Olive, Safari, and White, with sizes range from 24US to 34US. The pair I purchased are the Military Olive from Equestrian Collections:

  

Specs:

  • Front zip knee patch breeches
  • Silicon paneling knee patches
  • Coolmax® fabric
  • Contrast stitching on belt loops
  • Star embroidery along front and back pocket
  • Two front and two back pockets
  • CS2 bottoms for perfect fit in boots

Material:  80% Polyester, 12% Coolmax®, 8% Lycra.

These breathable breeches contain Coolmax® which helps to move perspiration away from the body, and through the fabric, where it can evaporate quickly, allowing the wearer to feel cooler and more comfortable.  In addition, these fashionable breeches will help you stand out in a crowd and fit comfortably while riding. Contrast stitching on the belt loops, star embroidery along the front and back pocket, along with other unique patches throughout make these breeches a stylish addition to your showing attire. Additional features include two front and two back pockets and the Comfort sock System(CS2), which creates leg bottoms that are made to fit any length and make a  perfect fit in your boots.

Note: These Stars & stripes are the first edition (2014) model. There is a new 2015 model which I am not too fond of (explained at the end).


I love the overall look and details of these breeches. They fit tight yet stretchy, leaving freedom to move around. The front pockets are deep enough to fit your phone it while riding comfortably. The contrast of the colours is a plus, and the silicone knee patches are a good grip. That being said, if you zoom into the knee patch image below, you will find that there needed to be some re-stitching, as they do come undone after months of use.

IMG_2011  IMG_2012


Pocket lining is red and white, whereas the picture advertised is just white. The button has a shiny crystal and there is an Equine Couture logo tab hanging off the belt loop. These are low waist, wide band breeches that can hold a 1.5″ (3.81cm) belt maximum. The waist band also has some stretch, making it more comfortable for sitting and riding. The back of the breeches consist of a euro seat lining with two pockets which do open and can fit a phone/treats.

IMG_2013  IMG_2016


The cut and fit of the stars & stripes is rather flattering and neat. The material is great through the year and feels light, yet sturdy; however, it is not suitable for the hot and humid summers here in Dubai. That being said, what breeches are? Except for the very thin ones. They do come in a CS2 bottom which fit super well! I am glad as sometimes other CS2 bottoms are too loose and obviously cannot be adjusted. These fit perfectly. They are originally white, but did get coloured in the wash which isn’t an issue for me really as socks/boots always cover them up.

IMG_2014  IMG_2015


Pros:
Cons:
   Good fit

•   Low rise

•   Wide waist

•   Stretchy

•   Colour + Size options

•   CS2 bottoms (that fit!)

•   Silicone knee patch

•   4 usable pockets

•   Light feel

•   Great value for money!

•   Stitching loosens after a number of months

•   Coolmax not cool enough for Dubai weather

•   CS2 bottoms stain

 •   Front pockets not as advertised in picture (stripes red, not white)

Verdict: The first edition model of the Stars & Stripes breeches are on my top favorite list of breeches to ride in. The positives really outweigh the negatives for me and I would definitely recommend them if you can get your hands on them!

I have not been able to find this model (2014 edition) in any store now which is very disappointing as they are a much nicer fit, material, and cut that the newer ones 😦 . If you do know where to get the older models please let me know as I wish to purchase the other colours ❤ .


Old VS New Stars & Stripes:

The New Stars & Stripes has a different cut and material than the older one. On the plus side, the knee patch is integrated and double stitched from the inside to reassure they do not come off as the first edition does after hard use. The CS2 bottoms are black on the new model , avoiding staining. Nonetheless, the overall material used on the new breeches, especially the waistband, did not have enough give/stretch in my opinion. This made it very uncomfortable to move in for me so I ended up selling them.

Old                                              New

           110511_charcoal_front__56362.1430774743.1280.1280


As you can see from the back side, the old model has bigger pockets, and a smaller euro seat, making it more flattering. I tried the New model, and was not fond of the way it fit me. Moreover, the pockets are shorter, thinner, and smaller, which does not allow you to fit your phone.

Old                                                                      New

110511_charcoal_back__74126.1430774722.1280.1280

Again, if you do know where I can purchase more of the old model please let me know in the comment section below, or email me at TofinoTack@gmail.com