Five Winter Boredom Busters

17 Feb

Do you have the winter blues? Are you bored from being housebound? So is your horse! Well, maybe not housebound, but bored from not being stimulated and exercised.

Follow along below for five boredom busters that are guaranteed to build your relationship with your horse!

1. Carrot Stretches: Horses are similar to humans. In the winter, their muscles can grow tight and lose their flexibility from lack of movement. The same is true for humans! You can help your horse by practicing carrot stretches.

Carrot stretches are a wonderful tool to help your horse become more flexible and even better; you will feel a difference under saddle, once the outdoor thaws out. When practicing carrot stretches, it’s important to remember that your horse’s ability to stretch may be limited. Over time, as you practice more carrot stretches, your horse’s flexibility will improve.

Think in human terms: could you stretch past your toes on the first try? Most people would say no! Over time, as you continue to practice and lengthen those muscles, your flexibility will improve. The same is true for your horse.

Happy Stretching!

2. Groundwork: Groundwork is essential for daily handling of horses. In the winter, some horses can become unusually pushy due to Mother Nature preventing equine related activities. While being led, there a few basic steps that your horse should be able to follow:

  • Halt: While your feet are moving, your horse should follow along beside you. When your feet stop moving, your horse should immediately halt. If he does not halt immediately, ask him to back a few steps to enforce what you are asking him.

Walk forward about five steps. Stop walking. Did your horse stop? If so, congratulations! You successfully taught your horse an important groundwork maneuver. If he did not stop, that’s ok. Immediately ask him to back at least three steps. Try walking off again.

For some horses, teaching him to stop moving his feet can sometimes require a large dose of patience. Remember: becoming frustrated will not help either your horse or yourself. Continue to patiently ask. Consistent repetition is essential!

  • Turn on the forehand: Teaching your horse to turn on the forehand is not only helpful, it can build your communication! To start, face your horse. Calmly walk to either his left or right side. Gently use your fingers to rub along his barrel. Generally, you will want to rub where your leg would rest along his barrel if you were riding him.

Continue to rub, but begin to apply pressure. Gently increase the pressure until your horse swings his hindquarters away from you. Sensitive horses will respond immediately, where less responsive horses may require more pressure and take longer to react.

During your first attempt, immediately reward your horse for taking one step. The reward means you stop applying pressure and promptly feed your horse a treat or reward with praise.

After rewarding your horse, try asking again. Remember the steps:

1. Rub,

2. Apply pressure

3. Gradually increase pressure is your horse doesn’t respond right away

4. Once your horse moves a step, release the pressure

5. Reward!

As you continue to practice, your horse should respond and understand more quickly with each step. Also as you practice, continue to ask for more and more steps. Eventually, you should be able to complete an entire turn on the forehand.

Don’t forget: your horse has two sides!

  • Turn on the haunches: Begin by standing on one side of your horse. Gently begin tapping on your horses jaw and gently apply pressure to his shoulder. He might become flustered at first, simply because he doesn’t understand what you are asking. Remember that dose of patience? It still applies!

The moment your horse moves his front legs, reward him. Release the pressure and praise him with your voice or horse treats. Once praised, ask him to move his front legs again. Similar to the turn on the forehand, consistent repetition is vital.

Initially, only ask for one or two steps. As you continue to practice, continue to ask for more steps. Eventually, your horse should be able to complete and entire circle.

Remember: your horse has two sides!

3. Toys: Is your horse playful? He might enjoy a toy in his paddock or stall. A wonderful tool to use with your horse is a large, equine approved ball. With the ball, you can teach your horse to follow the ball. Eventually, some horses enjoy the ball so much, they play “soccer!”

4. Obstacle Course: An excellent way to continue practicing groundwork is to set up an obstacle course. Do you have a tarp lying around? What about a few ground poles? When setting up an obstacle course, you can be as creative as you want!

5. Barn Time: It may sound silly, but just spending time grooming your horse is a great way to bond. As you groom, you help stimulate blood flow throughout your horse’s body. Think of it as a mini massage for your horse.

Also, as you’re grooming, you learn what your horse looks like. I know, this sounds silly too, but knowing your horse is important if he was injured. While grooming, you can find any new bumps or scrapes that may have appeared.

Any time spent at the barn, is quality time to spend with your horse. If Mother Nature allows it, bundle up and enjoy a few peaceful hours at the barn!

About Bit Blanket, Inc.

Jamie Sturgess, Inventor and President of Bit Blanket, Inc. has been an avid horse lover since she was a little girl growing up in New Hampshire. She has always loved everything about horses; the way they look, the way they smell, the whinny when they hear you coming, and the way they know and understand your personal touch. One thing she never liked, however, was feeling bad every time she had to put a cold bit in her horse’s mouth on those blustery winter days in New Hampshire.  Over the years, after trying all the various approaches and techniques to offer her horse some relief from that cruel practice, she came up with the concept of an easy and effective way to warm a cold bit.   Bit Blanket is an electric bit warmer that you simply plug in and it begins warming your cold bit immediately.  Jamie is proud to offer riders and horses a safe, effective, easy-to-use option for warming cold bits.   To purchase or learn more visit www.bitblanket.com or contact Jamie Sturgess at 603.329.3044 or at sturgessj@bitblanket.com.

Got water?

25 Nov

As winter rapidly approaches, so do the tasks of maintaining horse care through freezing temperatures. Maintaining unfrozen water tanks is one of the most difficult tasks during the winter months. Horses drink about 8 to 12 gallons of water per day and prefer a water temperature of about 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit. During winter months, preventing water from freezing can be extremely difficult, if not seemingly impossible.

Read below for tips to prevent your water tanks from freezing:

  • Prevent frozen pipes by utilizing insulation. Insulation can be picked up at local hardware stores. If you use a hose to fill water tanks, ensure that the hose can drain. If a hose doesn’t drain, it can freeze, and possibly cause the hose to break.
  • Check your horse’s manure. Yes, you read that right! If your horse’s manure becomes too dry, this could be a sign that he or she is not receiving enough water. If your horse continues without consuming enough water, this could eventually result in impaction colic.
  • A water tank heater is a wonderful addition to your winter tools. A tank heater will maintain a more pleasant temperature for your horse’s water and prevent freezing. Ensure that your outlet is out of reach from your horse. A curious nose could lead to a dangerous situation.

On a side note: if your horse stops drinking from the water tank, check to make sure the heater has not shorted out. A short could case your horse to be shocked if he tries to get a drink.

  • If a tank heater is not an option, try breaking up the ice. Break up the ice each time you feed. This will save you time. If you’re already outside feeding, why not break up water tanks? Depending on what your winter temperatures are, you may need to add in a third time.
  • The belief that horses can receive their water intake from snow is false. Some horses require more water than snow provides, some snow contains a higher water content than others and precious calories are used to melt the snow.

Horse care in the winter can certainly be an endless chore. Maintaining water tanks is just one task on the list, but results in a happy and healthy horse (and owner!).

Stay warm!

References

Alayne. (2010). “Set Up a Winter Water Supply”. Smart Horse Keeping. Retrieved from http://cs.thehorse.com/blogs/smart-horse-keeping/archive/2010/11/15/set-up-a-winter-water-supply.aspx.

Alayne. (2013). “Chore-Efficient Winter Water Supply Ideas”. Smart Horse Keeping. Retrieved from http://cs.thehorse.com/blogs/smart-horse-keeping/archive/2013/11/06/chore-efficient-winter-water-supply-ideas.aspx.

Hathaway, Marcia and Martinson, Krishona. “Equine winter care”. University of Minnesta Extension. Retrieved from http://www1.extension.umn.edu/agriculture/horse/care/equine-winter-care/#water-requirements.

Winter Horse Care Tips – Overlooked Items

13 Dec

With temperatures dropping into the teens throughout most of the country, now is the time be aware of some common issues that many horse owners overlook during the winter.  From routine health care to mouth care there are things that must be addressed during the harsh days of winter.

Routine Health Care

Routine health care must be maintained through the winter.  One common misconception during cold temperatures is that deworming is not required.  Winter is actually an excellent time to deworm.  The conditions may prevent the hatching of some eggs but there are still some internal parasite eggs that can survive cold temperatures.  For this reason horses need to be dewormed throughout the winter.  By deworming now, your horse will remain worm-free longer.   

It’s also important to maintain a regular vaccination and health care schedule with your veterinarian. 

No Hoof, No Horse

Cracked horse hoofHoof care is often overlooked during the winter as many horses are ridden less frequently.  Horse’s hooves should be inspected daily for foreign objects and picked clean, especially during rainy periods when mud and manure can become packed in the hoof.  It’s a common practice to remove shoes from horses during the winter, however regular farrier care is still required every six to eight weeks to keep your horse’s hooves in good condition.  Some horses may require shoeing year round due to lameness or conformation issues, even if they are not ridden during this period.

It is also recommended to put your horses on a hoof supplement during the winter.  The harsh conditions of winter can create cracks in the hooves so a good hoof supplement that consists of biotin, amino acids, zinc and copper will help keep the integrity of your horse’s hooves throughout winter. 

Mouth Care Often Ignored

Cold temperatures can lead to mouth related problems for horses, especially older horses.  Additional grain supplementation may be needed during the winter however horses will not be able to efficiently use the extra feed without sound teeth.  Horses with poor teeth may be able to maintain good body condition in the summer but this becomes much more challenging in the winter.  Horses should be examined every few days in the winter to be sure that they are maintaining adequate body condition. 

Another issue during the winter is related to your tack and bit accessories.  Riding during the winter is important but using a cold, frozen bit can cause mouth damage.  A cold equine bit not only causes pain but it can create numbness, physical discomfort, lip and tongue injury and a head-shy horse.  Consider using a bit warmer as it will bring the bit to a safe and comfortable temperature for your horse.

Bit warmer“Expecting your horse to accept a freezing cold bit on a winter day can cause pain, discomfort, and result in a head-shy horse that’s resistant to being bridled”, said Bit Blanket Owner Jamie Sturgess.  “Our product (seen right) also preserves your horse’s mouth as a numb mouth caused by a cold bit will result in less sensitivity to bit pressure. Bit Blanket is a simple, convenient, and easy-to-use electric bit warmer designed to warm the temperature of a cold bit so it’s compatible with a horse’s normal body temperature.”  To learn more about Bit Blanket visit www.bitblanket.com.   

Also, don’t overlook dental care as it’s essential that your horse’s teeth are maintained so that horses are able to utilize feed optimally.  

About Bit Blanket, Inc.

Jamie Sturgess, Inventor and President of Bit Blanket, Inc. has been an avid horse lover since she was a little girl growing up in New Hampshire. She has always loved everything about horses; the way they look, the way they smell, the whinny when they hear you coming, and the way they know and understand your personal touch. One thing she never liked, however, was feeling bad every time she had to put a cold bit in her horse’s mouth on those blustery winter days in New Hampshire.  Over the years, after trying all the various approaches and other bit warmers, she came up with the concept of an easy and effective way to warm a cold bit.   Bit Blanket is a horse bit warmer that you simply plug in and it begins warming your cold bit immediately.  Jamie is proud to offer riders and horses a safe, effective, easy-to-use option for warming cold bits.   To purchase or learn more visit www.bitblanket.com or contact Jamie Sturgess at 603.329.3044 or at sturgessj@bitblanket.com.

Top 10 Reasons to Order a Bit Blanket

23 Nov

#10  Your cold hands just don’t do the job  (and dipping the bit in hot water is messy!)

#9  They make wonderful gifts for your trainer, barn mates, and friends – and fit especially well in Christmas stockings.

Bit warmer#8  Cold bits can cause numbing of the mouth, interfering with communication.

#7  Using a hair-dryer is a hassle, is noisy, and uses at least 1250 watts of energy!  Bit Blankets use only 4 watts!

#6  You don’t want to create a head-shy horse who’s resistant to being bridled.

#5  Your horse may accept a cold bit but it doesn’t mean he likes it.

#4  Cold bits are uncomfortable, painful, and can cause lip/tongue/gum injuries.

#3  Bit Blankets are fast, effective, and convenient.

#2  You’d never lick a frozen flagpole (hopefully!) and you shouldn’t ask your horse to!

And the #1 reason to order a Bit Blanket:

Your armpits really aren’t that effective AND they make the bit taste funny.

2010 Equine Affaire Massachusetts – 46 Presenters, 418 Booths

5 Nov

The lineup for this year’s Equine Affaire in W. Springfield, Massachusetts (November 11-14, 2010) is impressive.  Forty-six presenters and four hundred and eighteen booths!  The presenters range from veterinarians to equestrian performers to authors.  The booths offer tack, riding apparel, grooming supplies, winter horse care products, supplements and gifts, just to name a few. 

Featured Presenters Include Chris Cox and Monty Roberts

Chris Cox presenting at Equine AffaireOne of the attractions of any successful equine event are the presenters and clinicians at the show.  The 2010 Equine Affaire in Massachusetts offers some of the best from the equine world including Chris Cox and Monty Roberts.   

Here is a complete list of the featured presenters at the 2010 Equine Affaire in Massachusetts.   

Along with these great presenters there are a long list of seminars and demonstrations throughout the four days of the event.  Things kick off with a bang on Thursday, November 11th as Julie Goodnight and Marlene McRae are two of the first presenters of the event.  There are other great seminars and demonstrations throughout the day including Caring for Wounds by Patricia Provost, VMD.

Here is the complete schedule and times for the clinics, seminars and demonstrations.

From Supplements to Electric Bit Warmers, Trade Show Has It All

For some horse owners, they may know exactly what they are looking for at this year’s Equine Affaire.  For others, they are window shopping looking for the right gift for themselves or for their equine companion.  Either way, visitors will have 418 booths to select from at this year’s event.

“As an exhibitor at this year’s Equine Affaire, having a over 400 booths is extremely exciting”, said Bit Blanket owner Jamie Sturgess.  ” We have learned from experience when there are more exhibitors there is more excitement, buzz and shopping which is great for the industry.”    

Bit Blanket, a cutting edge electric bit warmer, is one of many companies who spend several months preparing for this show.  The resources (time, money and people) it takes to run a successful show is plenty but it can be very rewarding.  

“We spend a lot of time and energy focused  on this show as we know it attracts thousands of horse owners from all over the country”, said Sturgess who is setup at booth #841.  “We personally believe this is one of the top two or three equine events of the year so we are excited and happy to be part of this tradeshow.”

On average, 75% of trade show attendees plan booth visits before the start of the show.  If you have yet to set your plans for this year’s event here is a complete list of the exhibitors at the 2010 Equine Affaire in Massachusetts.   A recent survey also showed that 79% of trade show attendees believe that the show will help them decide what to buy either today or in the near future.  83% of those surveyed said that trade shows bring them up to date on the latest trends and products in the industry.

The 2010 Equine Affaire in W. Springfield, MA promises to be a great event.  With Christmas less than seven weeks away, it’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping and with over 400 booths, this event is a great place to start!

Equine Affaire 2010 News – Win Free Stuff!

26 Oct

Equine Affaire MassachusettsThe 2010 Equine Affaire in W. Springfield, Massachusetts (November 11-14) is one of the nation’s finest equine shows.  This year’s event features some of the best equine practitioners in the world including Chris Cox, Monty Roberts and Marlene McRae.  Another great aspect of this year’s event is the raffle where some outstanding equine gifts are being given away for free!    

Who Doesn’t Like Free Stuff

The free Equine Affaire raffle at this year’s show in W. Springfield includes some great prizes.  From a Bronco Poley Saddle Package to a Horse and Rider Travel Package to electric bit warmers from Bit Blanket, there is something for everyone. 

“We wanted to provide those present at the Equine Affaire a great gift to show our appreciation for attending”, said Bit Blanket owner Jamie Sturgess.  ” As a horse owner myself, I know how much we all love and value our horses.  We feel like we have a product that horse owners will find extremely helpful so we are proud to be part of the raffle.”    

Here is a complete list of the items being given away at the 2010 Equine Affaire

Why Do People Enter Raffles?

Entering a sweepstakes or raffle contest isn’t just about winning.  It’s about fun even if your odds at times seem slim.  Here are five reasons why people will be entering the free Equine Affaire raffle!

1. For the Thrill of Winning

Whether the prize is big or small, it’s exciting to wait and see if you won!  Seeing your name flashed or hearing your name called can brighten up your day, week or even year!

2. Be Part of the ‘Community’

There is a certain community of people that enter sweepstakes, raffles and contests.  They enter every contest and grab every free item.  By joining the sweepstakes community, you make new friends around the country who share your same hobby and interests.

3. Prizes Offer New Experiences

The beauty of winning something free is that you are getting an item you didn’t think you needed or would love – only to find out you absolutely love it!  A new saddle, bit accessory or horse supplement can quickly become a hit for you and your horse.  If it weren’t for the raffle, you and your horse would have missed out on this great new experience.

4. Share With Your Friends

When you win something you want to tell your friends, show your friends, share it with your friends.  This is great for those products that are being given away as they instantly become the talk amongst those close to and around the winner.

5. The Chase, The Dream

People enter contests to win!  It may not be a million dollars or a new car but it doesn’t matter, you won!  The possibility, that potential for something amazing to be just around the corner is one of the best parts of entering contests.

About Bit Blanket, Inc.

Jamie Sturgess, Inventor and President of Bit Blanket, Inc. has been an avid horse lover since she was a little girl growing up in New Hampshire. She has always loved everything about horses; the way they look, the way they smell, the whinny when they hear you coming, and the way they know and understand your personal touch. One thing she never liked, however, was feeling bad every time she had to put a cold bit in her horse’s mouth on those blustery winter days in New Hampshire.  Over the years, after trying all the various approaches and techniques to offer her horse some relief from that cruel practice, she came up with the concept of an easy and effective way to warm a cold bit.   Bit Blanket is an electric bit warmer that you simply plug in and it begins warming your cold bit immediately.  Jamie is proud to offer riders and horses a safe, effective, easy-to-use option for warming cold bits.   To purchase or learn more visit www.bitblanket.com or contact Jamie Sturgess at 603.329.3044 or at sturgessj@bitblanket.com.

Part III – Winter Horse Care Tips

4 Oct

In the final part of this three part series we discuss how to keep your horse dry and warm during the winter months.  This is a critical factor in keeping your horse healthy and happy during the cold winter days.

Stay Dry, Stay Warm

As noted earlier, wind and rain are two winter conditions that will challenge your horses ability to stay warm.  During these times it is essential to provide them protection from the elements.  This can be achieved by providing appropriate horse clothing and a well built shelter.  A commonly overlooked problem is the effects of a tightly closed up barn during the cold months.  A sealed up barn can create high humidity and dust which can result in an increase in allergies or infectious respiratory disease.    

Another indication that the weather may be a bit too cold for your horse is regular freezing of your horses water.  It is imperative that you check the water supply daily.  If you get hard freezes then a water heater is a good idea.  Remember, it is vital that your horse has plenty of water available to them throughout winter.

Bottom Line

Usually cold temperatures alone is not enough to chill a healthy, strong horse.  It is the combination of wet, cold and wind that can create an environment that is too cold for your horse.  It is not the coldest days that will put your horse on ice but those rainy and windy days that will challenge even the hardiest of horses.

In these conditions, provide shelter from the wind and rain, adequate feed and water and you will have a comfortable and healthy horse.

About Bit Blanket, Inc.

Jamie Sturgess, Inventor and President of Bit Blanket, Inc. has been an avid horse lover since she was a little girl growing up in New Hampshire. She has always loved everything about horses; the way they look, the way they smell, the whinny when they hear you coming, and the way they know and understand your personal touch. One thing she never liked, however, was feeling bad every time she had to put a cold bit in her horse’s mouth on those blustery winter days in New Hampshire.  Over the years, after trying all the various approaches and techniques to offer her horse some relief from that cruel practice, she came up with the concept of an easy and effective way to warm a cold bit.   Bit Blanket is an electric bit warmer that you simply plug in and it begins warming your cold bit immediately.  Jamie is proud to offer riders and horses a safe, effective, easy-to-use option for warming cold bits.   To purchase or learn more visit www.bitblanket.com or contact Jamie Sturgess at 603.329.3044 or at sturgessj@bitblanket.com.

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