The Blog

Tragedy While Traveling, Accident At The Barn, A Conundrum At The Show! Are You Prepared With A First Aid Kit?

You never know when an accident will happen, most of us have some supplies at the barn, wraps, scissors, tape, someone is bound to have a roll of vetwrap.  What about when you are on the road, or at a show?  I can’t tell you how many people are surprised when I pull a first-aid kit out of my trailer.  Sure, you can buy a first aid kit from Smartpak, Dover, or anywhere else that sells them, but they can be expensive!  If you do want to purchase a prefab kit Equimedic has great kits, very well done.  Trust me when I say you can make your own for a cheaper price.  I am here to help.  Most of this stuff can be bought at a grocery store, pharmacy, or similar.  Links were included to give an idea of what is needed.**

So lets say you want a small kit for your trailer or tack locker at the barn, here is what I suggest:

To expand the kit even more add:

Equimedic sells refills for their kits, some of the items are reasonably priced, so if you are having trouble finding small sizes of things, that may be a good place to look.

A few other ideas to add if you want a large kit for the barn:

  • Poultice pads
  • Hoofpicks
  • bandage pins
  • spider bandages
  • knee/hock bandages
  • Ice boots
  • hoof soaking boots
  • A wrap for a tail bandage
  • Multiple sized gauze pads
  • Multiple sized adhesive tape
  • Hoofpick
  • hemostats
  • A First-Aid guide
  • Benadryl (for humans)
  • Bug Spray
  • Rasp
  • hoof nippers
  • shoe pullers

If you are adept at giving medications, keeping these at home is good but they are also useful on trips, include:

  • Bute
  • Banamine (flunixin megalumine)
  • Acepromazine
  • Needles
  • Syringes

Party idea!  If you buy in bulk most of this stuff gets cheaper, get some barn buddies together and have a “First Aid Kit Party” and put the kits together with some wine/beer/cocktails, then you can split the costs.

Some of the pictures above are from my personal barn kit, my trailer kit is in an “irregular” Equimedic bag (the elastic loops on the inside for storing bottles was twisted on one end, so completely usable and I got it for like $25).

US Rider offers a discount on numerous types of first aid kits from different companies, if you already have them.

*I am not a medical professional, I am not a horse trainer, I am not a veterinarian, I am a prepared individual that would like to share what is in my first aid kit.

**I do not work for a first aid kit company, I do however get a bit to support the site if you purchase something through Amazon.

Splint Boots, Cross Country Boots, Open Front Boots, Sports Boots, ALL THE BOOTS! Which Should I Buy?

There are soooo many types of horse boots out there, how do you choose?  “I just pick the ones that come in fun colors!”  Well that’s one way of doing it but much like purchasing a horse for its color, it can go well or very very badly.  I figured I would break down the different types for everyone and give you an idea of where they are most effective.  Before we start, one thing I would like to warn everyone, especially if you are new to boots, some disciplines allow you to show in boots, some don’t.  No boots or wraps are allowed at dressage shows, the same applies for some hunter classes, know the rules before you enter the ring.

Splint Boots – Brushing Boots – Different names but similar idea.  The main purpose of these boots is to protect the inside of the cannon bone from bangs, minor cuts, and as the name says splints.  It’s kind of like wearing knee pads when you were roller skating or roller blading back in the 1990s and early 2000s.  “Only you would bring up roller blading like it was cool.”  Whatever, you know you did it too.  “Yeah I did”.  These do not provide support, just padding.  These are a very universal boot, great for all sports including western sports and are used at many barns as a turn out boot.  They come in many different forms usually with some type of neoprene or sheepskin and extra padding on the part that covers the inside of the leg, made of either plastic, thick neoprene, foam, or sometimes even carbon fiber.  Suggested Uses: Jumpers, Hunters, Equitation, Dressage, Eventing, Cross Country, Western sports, turn-out, Essentially a good boot for any application.

Open Front Boots – You see these a lot in the jumper ring, the point of the open front is that the horse “feels” any rails they hit.  The rest of the boot protects much like a splint boot.  Some of them come with an “impact” guard on the back of the boot to provide extra protection to the tendons.  These guards can be anything from a metal plate (not very common), a gel “pocket”, a thick piece of rubber, hard plastic, or even carbon fiber.  Similar to a splint boot, they do not provide much support.  Some of these boots provide more support to the fetlock joint, it’s all in how the straps are done.  A point for thought, I have heard that sometimes the straps on these can actually pinch the nerve on the front of the leg preventing the horse from “feeling” a pole.  I am not sure how true this is but I would think it would be more likely with leather straps than elastic, but maybe both?  Suggested Uses: Jumpers, Hunters, Equitation, jump schooling with fences that fall down.

Ankle Boots – The hind leg counterpart to open front boots, some look like short open front boots, some look like short splint boots.  They operate similar to what the look like, the ones that have the open front allow the horse to feel a rail while protecting the inside of the fetlock joint, the ones that look like short splint boots protect the fetlock joint.  Suggested Uses: Jumpers, Hunters, Equitation, jump schooling with fences that fall down.

Cross Country Boots – To put it super simply, they took an open front boot and closed it in.  Depending on the boot type you may get a little support from these but mostly you are getting “bang” protection on all 4 sides of the leg.  These days many of these boots are vented or perforated to allow airflow to help cool the tendons as there are studies out now about “cooking” your horse’s tendons.  Not that it will work as well as no boot but anything is better than nothing, and nothing is usually not a great idea.  Suggested Uses: Cross Country, Jumping with a very sensitive horse

Sports Medicine Boots – These are extremely popular with the western riders.  They wrap the entire leg in neoprene similar to the splint boots but without the extra splint protection.  They provide the most support out of all the boots mentioned above.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing, some say it supports too much, some say hogwash.  I think it depends on the horse and the person.  You can also get these with attached bell boots for full leg protection.  I do know that these tend to get sand and dirt up under them in deep footing which annoyed my mare.  Suggested Uses: All Equestrian Sports

Flatwork wraps/boots – Dressage Boots – These were invented to mimic polos, they provide slight “bang” protection and depending on the configuration may provide some support.  Suggested Uses: Dressage, flat work, hacking

Polos – The much debated polo wrap.  First of all, they come in every color and pattern imaginable.  Back when I started riding, this was THE thing to use, especially in the hunter/jumper world.  “Buy 2 different colors and wrap diagonal legs it looks soooo coool!”  Some say the polo is worthless, some say they are great.  Again, I think it depends on the situation.  One thing that is true, they are terrible when they get wet, and if not wrapped correctly, they can do more harm than good.  In order for them to provide any support you have to wrap under the fetlock joint in a supportive fashion and create that nice upside down V, otherwise it’s just thin “bang” and “scuff” protection.  This support cannot be compared to an ACE bandage as they do not have elastic in them that provides support while aiding in restoring the joint to its original position like an ace bandage does.  Admittedly, I am not a fan of polos, I think they are a lot of work for little protection.  Suggested Uses: Dressage, flat work, hacking jump schooling with fences that fall down.  Avoid use in wet conditions.

Saratoga wraps – Your equine “ace bandage”.  They have stretch, they have silicone to prevent slipping, and they have colors!  So if you are looking for support in a light weight wrap, this is the way to go, make sure you get the good under the fetlock wrap like you would for a polo.  They don’t absorb water like polos either.  They are also considerably more expensive than polos but there is a bit more technology involved.  If you sprain your own ankle, you can borrow these to use in place of your ace wrap.  They also sell foam padding that you can put underneath for more protection.  Suggested Uses: Dressage, flat work, hacking jump schooling with fences that fall down, provide support to injury.

Bell Boots- let’s not forget this treasure.  The main purpose of these is to protect the coronet band and the heels.  There are horses that live their entire lives in these, some have old injuries, some are overreachers, some are just plain klutzes.  Many eventers use them because overreaching can happen in water and deep footing, western riders use them to keep a misplaced hoof from hitting another at high speeds with fast turns.  Everyone knows the old adage, “No hoof, no horse.”  Bell boots are a cheap way to protect those valuable feet.  There are so many different types, neoprene, ballistic nylon, vinyl, rubber, and even petal bell boots.  Petal bell boots  were all the rage when I started eventing, you would just listen for that flap-flap-flap sound as a horse galloped by, they were quite expensive, I couldn’t find any new for sale though.  The old tried and true rubber pull on boots seem to be the best if your horse “lives” in them, they are very hard to pull on, but conversely very hard to pull off and are the cheapest.  Ones with velcro, a well-placed hoof and the velcro gets ripped off with the boot, but the velcro is a life saver if you have a horse with an injury that needs protecting.  The neoprene ones hold water, so if you are planning on eventing or turning out in a wet pasture, those are not recommended.  And yes, the water is where you will find the most torn off boots on cross country courses.  One of the more recent “technologies” is the no turn bell boot, it has a little padded spot on the back of the bell boot that helps keep the velcro in front which can help prevent a tear off.  I have these for shipping long distances, they haven’t turned on me yet but I haven’t put them through water, but they do get heavy when wet.  Suggested Uses:  Any and all horse sports as well as Turn out.

Shipping Boots – Although this is not a boot you ride in, it is still a horse boot.  These protect the horse’s legs in shipping, they cover the heels all the way up to the knee/hock, and the good ones cover the knee/hock as well.  Those of you who are extremely old school or got stuck in years of Pony Club will know that a shipping wrap if done correctly covers the balls of the heels all the way up to the knee/hock.  I haven’t seen an actual shipping bandage since my years in Pony Club.  Shipping boots do not provide the support that a shipping wrap does, they only provide “bang” protection.  I will warn you, try these on your horse before you get to loading time, some horses freak out in them, the last thing you want is to attempt to put a pissed-off or scared horse into a trailer.  Also, consider the weather when shipping, these tend to hold in heat and get hot, mesh linings help but not much.  Suggested Uses: Shipping and Hauling

So what do the Engineering ponies use?  Well, Lily has Woof Brushing boots, and Emma uses cheap Roma open front boots.  Now that Lily is climbing the eventing levels, she may get a pair of XC boots but through novice I think she will be ok in her brushing boots.  Emma has come down from the 3’6″-3’9″ competition levels and settled nicely at the 3′-3’6″ heights and will stay there so no need for any major protection.  I will tell you, she does not like the hind boots that are like short splint boots, I had to get her the short open front hind boots because the others interfered too much.  To be completely honest, my guys only wear boots competitions and XC schooling and get bell boots for trailer travel over 4 hours.  When practicing at home and for lessons, they go bare legged.  It’s all about knowing your horse though, I have gone through every type of boot listed above and tried them all at one point or another, especially on Emma, to find what worked best.

There are other boots out there that are a lot more situation or sport specific including Boil Boots, Run-down Boots, Skid Boots, hock boots, ice boots, soaking boots, etc.  I may cover those in a future update but for now I have covered the main stream and english geared horse boots.

This is a picture of boots that I keep around as a reminder.  These were from my old mare Cheyenne the day she didn’t see a ditch while we were schooling XC, I looked down just in time to see her front legs go down into the ditch, I flipped off on the other side of the ditch and that good old girl sat on her rump so she wouldn’t run me over.  We did eventually get over that ditch but only after she jumped down into it and turned out the side a few times, it was at most a 3′ wide ditch and at least 2′ deep.  Because of this, I tend to opt for thicker neoprene in my boots, and yes, those are my fingers sticking through the tear, and those are deep rips on the other boot as well.

Note: I don’t work for a company that sells horse boots.  If you order from one of the Amazon links, I may get a little kickback to help support the site.

Babies, Riding, and Horse Shows? A Bit of Advice From A New Mom. It Can Be Done.

So I haven’t been a mom long, just over a year, and before I lose you to the, “oh god, not another ‘kids are work, quit now’ thoughts” hear me out.  This is more for the future moms out there.  No I am not talking about the 16 year olds, I am talking about the 25-35 crowd, the ones that want a family in the next few years but still want to ride or horse show.  First of all this is 100% possible.  You can do it!  And you can ride while you are pregnant.*  I thought I would share my journey on this since I just lived it, so here goes.

2 years ago, I was living the horse showing dream, I had 2 horses, Emma the jumper and Lily the up and coming eventer.  Those of you who regularly read my blog know that despite being in her teens Emma is a nut job, of epic proportions at times.  You will also know that Lily despite being now only 8 was a kick ride 2 months off the track, a TB with a QH brain.  Anyhow, I was competing 20-30 weekends a year, local shows, rated shows, dressage shows, H/J Show, eventing, fox hunting, you name it, I was involved.  I was even attempting to breed Pearl, my retired warmblood mare, that didn’t work out, a blessing in disguise, I do not need another horse right now.  To be completely honest, I loved it, and enjoyed every minute of it.

So how does a family fit into this?  Well, we kinda wanted a kid and by that I mean, my husband wanted one and I figured at some point I would probably want one too and since I was in my early 30s with the dreaded 35 approaching quickly, it was time to do the kid thing.  We sort of tried for a year, not super seriously though, and nothing happened.  Truthfully, I was ok with this, I wanted to adopt, I was not excited about the whole being pregnant thing, to the point of looking into surrogates, turns out those cost like $100k, which will buy a lot of horse shows.  So just as I was getting to the “lets skip this and adopt” phase when I got pregnant.  Yay, happy times right?  Not so much.

I got pregnancy depression.  “You mean postpartum depression.”  Nope, I mean I was depressed while I was pregnant and fine after Mini EE was born, literally within minutes.  None of this was helped when I went in for my first Doctor appointment and they told me I had to stop riding immediately.  MAJOR MELTDOWN!  Right there in the Doctor’s office.  Those that know me personally know that I do not “meltdown” like ever or even really cry.  Sooo, I did get professional help, and medication, I would like to say it fixed things, but it did not, it just made it survivable.  Think PMS every day to some degree for 9 months.  Feel free to contact me if you are having a hard time too, I am happy to help if I can.  Moving on from that, I rode until a week before mini engineer was born, and no, I didn’t tell my Doctor.  I jumped until about half way through, maybe a little later and did a dressage show 3 months before Mini EE was born.  To be honest, by the last month I was just walking, my stomach moved all funny at the trot.

So is this path for everyone?  No, definitely not.  I had a few things going for me that made this possible.  First of all, early on in my pregnancy Emma got hurt and couldn’t be ridden for over a month.  I knew the first ride or 2 after would be insane, so I stopped riding her, she got a nice 7 month vacation, and truthfully I think she needed it, luckily she got hurt about a week after we went cross-country schooling and jumped all the enormous Prelim boxes, one of which she tried to jump from a standstill, backwards…I was just trying to walk up to it for this picture, that is her standing to the side with the fluffy noseband.  So yes, I was pregnant at the time.  Also, I had Lily, the OTTB that I had been riding for about 18 months, she is very chill, and when she does get sassy she has little rocking horse bucks, 5 minutes on a lounge line and she is back to full on kick ride.  I also made my husband keep Truman, although he is a big boy, he is a saint, I never rode him while I was pregnant but he was there in case Lily turned out to be too much.  Lily was quite happy to just walk around the arena quietly.

The trick to riding when you are pregnant is to not fall off.  If you fall off on a regular basis, then I don’t recommend you ride.  I am the type that only falls off once a year and only when I am doing something stupid, like trying to ride Emma bareback in a halter while attempting to pony the barely halter broke donkey.  Don’t worry, I had this moment of genius prior to getting pregnant.  I did fall off once while I was pregnant, again doing something stupid.  We were schooling cross country, my last one, I “added” a training level fence between the 2 novice jumps I was supposed to be doing, Lily wasn’t ready, ever the trooper she jumped and I flipped off on the landing and landed on my feet.  Then thanks to being pregnant, my equilibrium crapped out on me and I fell over like a drunk person.  My trainer freaked, I was mad at myself, and it was a bad ending to something that could have been so fun.  That is Lily trying to eat the prelim box in the picture above, less likely to climb over the box.  Yes I was fine, no I didn’t go get checked, remember that depression thing, well it put me in a mindset that if I lost it then that’s how it was supposed to be, hormones can be really terrible.

That white glaring round thing in the picture above is my belly, this was taken my last ride, a week before Mini EE was born.

So I survived pregnancy, and a last minute c-section, I have a very pretty little baby that I adore, and 2 mares that need work.  So 4 weeks (sure I was told 6 weeks but who listens?) after Mini EE was born, I started to ride again.  It helps having the horses in the back yard, then daddy could just come outside if something went wrong.  I started with Lily, gave her a little lounge, then got on, I had no other plans than walking and if it went well, I would attempt to trot.  Well after walking, trotting and cantering her, I pulled Emma out and got on her and did some walking and trotting.  Here is another article about post baby riding .

My last dressage show, 3 months and 1 day before Mini EE was born.  I was pregnant in all the pictures included above.

By the time Mini EE was 2 months old I was headed to my first horse show.  I took Emma, I did a one day schooling show, I entered in a 2’3″ hunter division, yes my 3’+ jumper mare was in a tiny hunter division, and she went around like a 3’+ jumper mare, much to the show staff’s entertainment.  For me it was just to get back in the game, low stress and get away from being a mom for a few hours.  It was great, no I didn’t place, and I didn’t care.  I don’t show nearly as much as I did, I have put Emma on semi-retirement not that she is 16, she just does a random A show or schooling show, on the order of about 2 a season, she is quite happy doing this and even was champion in the TB jumpers at an A show this past spring.

I focus more on Lily now, she is doing well eventing, we just moved back up to novice, we had done 1 schooling novice before I had to stop jumping and since I didn’t have enough time to keep her in shape, she has stayed at beginner novice.  I can’t complain too much, it’s nice to go to a show and not have to worry if you will make it around or not.  The lack of complications in my life are very welcome.  What about leaving the baby?  Well I did 2 nights away when I went to a show a few hours from home when Mini EE was about 9 months old.  I missed my baby but the break was nice.

On top of all of that, our recent trip to Colorado was literally a “Showcation”.  Lily got hauled 18 hours to do 2 weeks of H/J Schooling shows in Estes Park Colorado.  Mini EE decided sleeping in Colorado was optional, the nights were rough, luckily grandma and grandpa came so mom and dad could get some sleep.  Lily was very good, I think she needs some more slow show miles but she placed in 6/8 rounds among some tough competition in large classes.  The best part is, when I showed up at the horse show every day, if we did any “prep” it was 5 minutes on the lounge to let her stretch out after being in the stall all day and night.  On a side note, Lily loves attention, including Mini EE fingers on her nose, there is nothing better than when Mini EE gets excited seeing Lily and being able to pet her.

So my suggestion, if you are thinking about having kids sometime soon, pass up on that fancy-hot-wild horse you want to purchase and look for something that will take care of you before, during, and after you have the baby.  For me, that was Lily.

Pregnancy accomplishments:

  • Qualified for dressage schooling show championships
  • Won a BN schooling event, was in first from my dressage test on and finished on my dressage score
  • Did my first novice Eventing Derby and schooling event
  • Got 6th in Novice for year end at the local level
  • Got 5th in Beginner Novice for year end at local level with 2 shows after Mini EE

No telling if Mini EE will be an Engineer, but yesterday she jumped on her stuffed pony and started bouncing up and down, then fussed while sitting on Buddy the donkey, until he started walking, then apparently it was fun.  On a fashion note, if you need super cute horsey baby clothes check out Mini Britches.  Waaaay adorbs

A few qualifications:

  • My horses live in my back yard, I care for all 4 of them including my mini donkey and was out feeding all but a week after I had the baby.  I had to have help lifting feed bags and hay bales at the end but the rest I did.
  • I work 40 hours a week still and only took 6 weeks off
  • Mini EE has just started sleeping through the night in the last month or so
  • My husband is VERY supportive and very good with our little girl, this is a big one!
  • I don’t have a nanny, Mini EE goes to daycare just like the rest of the Dual Income kids.

*You should only do what you feel comfortable doing and if you have any complications, for sure listen to your doctor.  I am not a doctor and this is just my personal story, so do what is right for your situation.

As a thank you for getting all the way to the end, Smartpak is having their summer clearance, time to stock up on fly masks, fly sheets, sun stopper shirts and whatever else for next year.  They are also doing deals of the day.  Tomorrow’s is $150 off of something…

What do Race Horses and Roller Coasters Have In Common? Check This Thing Out.

Welcome to another #FreshTechFriday!  If you missed the last one, check it out here.  As an engineer, I love cool new engineery things.  Well someone came up with a roller coaster to train race horses, yep you read that right, a roller coaster!

If you watch the video below, they came up with a car, at first I looked at that car and thought heck, why not just use a cart or buggy like back in the old days?  But then they show a foal “working” (Minute 2:48) with the car, so essentially there is no weight or load put on the horse.  I do hope for welfare sake they just did that to prove a point.  If I am completely honest, that little guy is super cute.  Check it out in the video below, yes it gets a bit long but let me do a quick break down: car first 0:55, then foal 2:48,  the “roller coaster” stuff starts at 3:21, horse movement starts at 3:50, running starts at 6:15, at 6:40 it shows the machine raking the track behind it.

Im not entirely sure how I feel about this, I am sure there are safety features but they dont at all disclose what they are.  What happens if a horse falls?  Will the ones behind it run him over?  Do they get raked?  What happens if you have to suddenly stop?  A number of interviews say that they have been “weeks” without incidence as far as lameness goes, so they have that going for them.  A few things I do like is that it exercises the horse without putting weight on its back, and there is no bit to cause a hard mouth.  I put this in the category of a super fancy euro-ciser or hot walker.  As with everything, there are pros and cons, the comments from Youtube are fairly harsh but in all fairness, it’s not abusive and isn’t attempting to push an animal further than it can handle, as a matter of fact, it actually helps monitor.  You do lose out on that “personal touch” where a good rider would feel that a horse is “off” or not feeling well, but conversely, a bad rider might not feel anything and push the horse which would cause more injury.

There is a sentimental side such as, this machine won’t pat the horse when he is good, but conversely, it also won’t hurt the horse in anger because machines don’t get angry.  The horse won’t learn to trust a human while working in this machine, but the horse won’t learn to distrust them either.  He may trust or distrust the machine but the machine is really designed to work the youngsters, before they head to the track to get ridden, so there is still time for the horse to get to know humans, but maybe this puts them at a disadvantage because the ones ridden from the start have had time to establish a longer working relationship with humans.  It’s hard to tell how this will affect future race horses.  But on a lighter side note, the seat up front looks like it would be a blast to ride around in, for the first 5 times, after that, I imagine it will get quite boring.  I could see this as a new way to condition event horses, hunters, and jumpers, similar to the eurocisers seen around.

Don’t whip out your checkbooks yet my friends, this gem will cost you about $26 million US.  There is one in the UK at Kingwood Stud and it was developed in Turkey, so if you want to ship your shiny new race horse to one of those locations to be trained, go right ahead.  Clearly this is not practical for your backyard horse trainer, but maybe your folks that are training for the Triple Crown races.  It will be interesting to see how this unfolds, although it has been around since at least 2009 and hasn’t taken the racing industry by storm yet.

Here is another article on this system showing the unit at Kingwood Stud in action, yes there is a video!

Check Your Balls! And Your Hitch! On Your Truck and Trailer…

It’s summer time, if you live above the Mason Dixon Line, you are headed out to horse shows and traveling to lovely locations, that are green, and beautiful.  If you live below the Mason Dixon Line, you are either headed for locations north of the Mason Dixon Line or just plain inside for some Air Conditioning.  We have already covered the difference between metal types for trailer construction, read more about that here, but what about your existing trailer?  We all know the old, check the floor, check the air in the tires, inspect the walls for rust and corrosion, but before you head out for your fun filled equine destinations this year, check your receiver and ball on your truck before you hook it to the trailer.

“I have pulled with this set up for years, its fine.”  When was the last time you greased your ball?  “Grease?  What do you mean grease?  Like feed it a greasy cheeseburger or that musical with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John?”  Did you know that you are supposed to grease your trailer ball, driving with it dry is bad for your hitch and ball.  Protip: put the grease on the inside of the trailer hitch, it eliminates a lot of grease on your pants when you walk past the ball and grease your pants for the 1000th time.  You can use automotive grease, the kind you use for bearings with a grease gun and all.  If you are less automotively inclined here are a few options that you can use:

WD40 has a spray on version.

You can buy a tub like this and use some rubber gloves to apply by hand or even better just flip the tub over and put it on top of the ball like a reverse dunk.

Or in a squeeze tube like this.

Also, do you know how heavy your trailer is?  How about when it’s fully loaded with horses, tack, hay, feed, etc.?  My aluminum 2 horse with tack room weighs 3200lbs empty, then lets add Emma and Lily, they are 1000lbs each, so now we are at 5200lbs, then lets add 2 bales of hay, and 2 bags, of feed, that’s another 220lbs, plus about 200lbs in tack, tack trunks, and stuff, we are now at 5620lbs.  Oh and that 25 gallon water tank, the water alone weighs 200lbs, so now we are up to about 6000lbs and if my girls were really big, it could be closer to 7000lbs.  Is your tow hitch rated for that?  How about your ball?  So my truck has a class V (5) receiver on it, my old truck had a class III(3), what’s the difference?  Well class 3 is only rated to 5000 lbs., where class 5 is rated to 16,000lbs.  Also, my trailer hitch says to use a ball rated to 12,500lbs so there isn’t much point in using a 5,000lbs receiver when your ball needs to be rated to 12,500lbs.  Thus, if your truck has a class 5 hitch receiver, don’t cram a converter in it and put the class 3 stuff on, odds are you probably need the class 5.

Another question to ask yourself, ‘Is your trailer level?’  When you hook up your horse trailer, it should be level, the back end shouldn’t be lower than the hitch nor the hitch closer to the ground than the back end.  “What does it matter if one end is lower or higher than the other?”  Well you know how when you get your horse collected and on his hind end how easy it is for them to turn and pivot?  Same with an unbalanced trailer, and if you aren’t careful, it can move your truck in a case where the trailer drives the truck, especially if your trailer weighs more than your truck.  I have felt this before with an overloaded trailer in my old half ton truck, I could feel the trailer push the truck around a bit.  If you are not careful, it becomes very easy to jackknife, similar to 18-wheelers, not a situation you want to put yourself or your horses in.  If you aren’t sure if you are level or not, go buy a level and put it in your trailer.

If you have a bumper pull, make sure you have the right amount of drop or rise on your ball mount.  “The right amount of what?  Drop, rise, what is this push up camp?”  No, the drop on your ball mount is made to help level your trailer, if you have a lift kit on your truck then you will need a bigger drop.  Maybe you drive a low rider truck, and your trailer is doing a nose dive, you can actually flip your receiver the other direction and “raise” the ball, this requires you to unscrew your ball and put it on “upside down”, my suggestion is 2 very large crescent wrenches.  Not sure what amount of drop (or rise) you need, position your truck like you are going to hook up, put the level on the trailer, you can even put it on the tongue (the “V” shaped part where your hitch is) and watch it as you lower/raise the trailer until it becomes level, then measure from the middle of your receiver (the square hole where you put your ball mount in).  Your vehicle will drop an inch or 2 when you add weight so subtract (add if your receiver is lower than your trailer hitch) 1-2 inches and find the nearest ball mount.  Don’t rip the tags off, go home and try it first, you can lower the trailer onto the receiver without the ball for a test, since the ball will add some height, if it’s a bit low, in the hitch end, add a ball and you are ready to haul!  If it’s not right, take it back and get the next size.  Or purchase an adjustable one and adjust it for a level fit.

“Well that’s nice and all but I have a gooseneck so I don’t care about ball mounts.”  Well, is your gooseneck coupler adjusted properly for a level ride?  “I don’t know, I picked it up from the dude down the road for a great price, it worked on his truck so it will work on mine.”  You might want to put a level on that, most gooseneck hitches can be height adjusted and most trailer shops and dealers can help you adjust it, or get a large can of WD-40 and DIY.

On a final note, you know how you have chains on your trailer, there are a lot of theories about them, I always cross mine because I have seen how this works in controlling a loose load swinging from a crane, thus it will work similarly in controlling your trailer should it break loose from the ball.  I have had this happen before, it will scare the crap out of you.  I was lucky that it was at low speeds each time.  Also, if you are like me and your chain hooks don’t fit over the loops on your hitch, you may be tempted to use these quick links, however they are rated to 5000lbs each, so doing math 5000lbs. x 2(for 2 links) = 10,000lbs.  I need a 12,500lbs ball, thus 10,000lbs isn’t going to cut it.  I of course went industrial grade and bought 2 shackles off Amazon similar to what I use offshore that are rated to 3.25tons each, so 3.25ton x 2 = 6.5 tons = 13,000lbs.

Have a safe summer and

*As always, if you purchase something off one of the Amazon links, I get a small cut to help maintain the page.


Back On Track, Does it Work or is it Snake Oil?

Since the dawn of time we have been using stable bandages for a plethora of reasons.  Back in the time of dinosaurs with cotton and cut flannel, to the advent of quilts, then pre-made bandages with velcro on the end, throw in the No-Bow bandages, and now we have “boots”.  Let’s be honest, we all have a roll of cotton in an emergency kit somewhere along with a roll of vetwrap, if you don’t, you should probably get some.  “Who has an emergency kit?” Oye ve, that’s a different discussion.  If you own a horse you should own a set of bandages, stuff happens, you need to be able to wrap them.  Get help if you don’t know what to buy, there are sizes so 14 hand Fluffy Pony needs a different size bandage than the 17 hand warmblood down the barn aisle.

So the question is about Back on Track products, do they work or not?  Well, it depends on what you are trying to do.  Usually when I wrap I am at a show and attempting to prevent stocking up.  “Stocking up on what?  Is there a sale, do I need to buy something?”  No, “stocking up” is that swelling that horses get in their legs when they stand in a stall all night.  It’s generally not life threatening but can be uncomfortable for your horse and that isn’t fair to your lovely show pony that carted you through that dressage test and jumper round earlier today.  I have done dry supportive stable wraps, I have wrapped with liniment of various flavors and types, and I have used the Back On Track (BoT) boots.  First thing, if you use BOT, you use it dry, without liniment or poultice.  I will tell you BoT worked as well as any wrap with liniment.  They are crazy expensive ($95 a pair compared to about $60 for bandages and no-bows for all 4 legs) but the boots literally take 2 minutes to put on, 2 minutes to take off, they are instantly ready to put back on as in no rolling of wraps, and if you don’t actually know how to wrap a horse, these are fairly fool proof.  I do recommend everyone learn how to wrap, if done incorrectly, you can actually cause more harm than good, and yes, I do know how to wrap all kinds of wraps thanks to lots of great Pony Club camps.  If you are a wrapping connoisseur , they sell the pillows/quilts/no-bow version for $70 a pair (so by the time you buy 2 pairs and the bandages you have spent about $160).

What about the rest of the BoT line?  Well I have a small blanket that I put on Emma’s back before I tack her up when I am at shows, she seems less cold backed, but maybe I would get the same reaction if I just strapped a saddle pad to her.  They have full blankets and turnout blankets as well which if you are pulling a horse from a stall and turning them out on a cold morning, could prevent a sore back, rump, or shoulder as they explode around the pasture like a wild banshee.  Some people swear by the entire product line, but some of it I feel is unnecessary.  I live in Texas, it doesn’t take much time for my saddle pad to get just plain hot, so having a saddle pad heat up just that much faster isn’t really necessary, in cooler climates though, it may be worth the money, especially if you have a cold backed horse.

As far at the tendon boots and brushing boots, if you are in a hot climate like I am, you may want to think twice about adding heat to heat, but up in colder areas, it could be beneficial.


Frugal Cheat!  Schneider’s Tack has a ceramic line as well, I have not tried it yet but it is significantly cheaper than BoT, about 25% cheaper.  I also like their tack bags, reasonably priced and heavy duty.

Another Frugal Cheat, Tack of the Day sometimes has BoT stuff on sale, but its harder to catch.  For more frugal tips see here and here.

Update 7/6/17: I got contacted by a company about Mr. Feel Warm products.  They are out of Europe, thus they may be cheaper for our European readers.  Most of the stuff is as or more expensive than BoT, BUT if you are looking at a BOT fleece sheet, that will run you about $200, where as Schneider’s is $180 but Mr. Feel Warm is about $140 with shipping (depending on the Euro exchange rate.  As always be aware of overseas fees with your personal credit card.)

“You mentioned liniment but what about DMSO, Poultice, magnets, ice boots, so many options, what about those.”  Great question, lets address each.

DMSO – First of all, this is a chemical and should be handled carefully.  I do not recommend using this without veterinary supervision, misuse can cause problems, and it’s not something you should be exposing yourself to on a regular basis.  Also, I have a deep loathing hate for the stuff, I can’t stand the smell, if a vet prescribes it, then I will use it, but I don’t even keep it around, I have only once had it prescribed and that was when my mare got West Nile, ages ago.

Poultice – So many people swear by poultice, I see nothing wrong with poultice, but… I have yet to see poultice be more effective than a supportive wrap with liniment gel, followed by cold hosing after removing the wrap.  I chose to avoid the mess.  The only time poultice prevails over liniment is on broken skin, abscesses, or wounds, using liniment in these situations is just plain mean.  But as for your general stocking up, liniment and a hose works just as well as all the clay, paper, and mess.

Magnets – I remember these being big before BOT, some people still use them but they seem to have fallen out of popularity.  I never did try them, some people love them but all of the magnet stuff I can find is crazy expensive.

Ice boots – Ice boots are great so is soaking in cold water or cold hosing but these would be things that you would do after your horse has stocked up, or after a work out to help prevent swelling and promote recovery after a workout.  These are not recommended for leaving overnight to aid in stocking up.  I do have Icevibe boots that I use after a round at the shows, when I remember to throw the packs in the cooler.

A note on Liniment – We all love the natural stuff, but some of it contains “illegal” ingredients that will test positive at shows, should your horse get drug tested.  Sore No-More is one of them, if you are going to a recognized show, be sure to use “Sore No-More Performance”

*If you purchase something from one of the Amazon links I may get a little kickback to help run the website.


The Dirty Truth About Draw Reins.

The ever controversial side reins.  I have read numerous articles on them, everything from the “I ride every horse I have in them” to the “They are downright abusive” camp.  Personally, anything is abusive in the wrong hands, but I don’t use them because I don’t remember or don’t want to remember to put them on.  I have used them before, as most of us have, I even own a pair, somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my tack room.

This article isn’t about whether they are good, bad or ugly, if you are looking for a debate, there are many out there that have beaten that “dead horse”.  “Oh god, you and your puns, we should beat you along with the dead horse.”  Well moving on, this article is about what draw reins actually do.  Lets put a little mechanics behind this device.  So first of all, back in the day, think way back, you learned about simple machines.  There are levers, pulleys, inclines, wedges, heck if we are getting to the fancy ones, lets include screws and wheel with axles.  Gotta love simple machines, anytime you walk up a ramp, BAM! Simple Machine!  Ever opened the pull tab on a soda or beer can?  BAM! Simple Machine!  Lowered your horse trailer onto your hitch with a hand crank?  You know the drill by now, say it with me… BAM! Simple Machine.

“Greeeeaaaat, so we have simple machines, and how does this relate to draw reins?  Are you next going to tell me that I have to walk my horse up a ramp while he is wearing wedge shoes in my trailer that has a wheel and axle?”  Wow, those are some great simple machines but no, as it turns out, draw reins work like a pulley (whether they have pulleys like pictured or not).  BAM! Simple Machine!  “Oh sweet mother of Mary, seriously, more of that?”  Yep more of that my friend!

Lets talk pulleys, some of you may have them to lift hay bales up to your hay loft.  “Oh yeah that little wheel thingy with the rope over it.”  Yes it is much easier to use that than to try and tie a rope and drag it up.  Why is that?  Because, when you use a simple machine, it makes your work easier, its a lot easier to go up a ramp with a dolly holding 10 bags of feed than it is to go up stairs with that dolly, or worse carry each of those 10 bags of feed yourself.  So, if you read my series on bits,  then you know that the force delivered depends on the head carriage of the horse.  A low headed horse will have more upward lift than a horse whose head has gone “full giraffe”.  So how do draw reins fit into this?  Well similar to how any shanked bit works, it adds leverage.  How much?  It works out that you apply 2 to 2.5 times the leverage pulling your horse’s nose into his chest!  So if you pull with 5 lbs then you are putting almost 13lbs of force on the bit.  Similar to the elevator, the higher the head the more downward force, although this downward force is rather small.

Oddly enough we used a similar technique offshore quite regularly, we would tie a bunch of ropes to a thing that weighs 10 tons and is swinging  (think rocking boat) from a crane 10′-15′ above your head.  If you ran the rope through a loop (similar to a giant D-ring bit ring) on the deck, 2-3 dudes could actually keep the load from swinging and moving.  Or another way of thinking of it, my 135lbs was able to hold with 270lbs of force.  So if you got Big Shawn and Big Foots out there to hold just 2 lines they could hold with about 1400lbs!  And yes, as their names imply, they are big dudes.

“Well what’s the difference between attaching between the legs or to the girth on the side?”  Good question, It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference as they are really not that far apart on the horse.  “Well its only 6 inches on Fluffy pony, but on Ginormica its like 18 inches, so I don’t believe you.”  Well this is about angles, so short ponies have short necks, enormous horses have long necks so it all works out fairly similar.  The higher it is attached though, the less uplift force and more “pulling the nose in force” occurs.

*Usual disclaimer: the numbers are an approximation used to give a gist and are not exact.


Steel Toe Boots and Horses, Yes or No, Friend or Foe?

I have always been told NO STEEL TOE BOOTS around horses.  This was a big no no when I was in Pony Club, and I don’t know many people that do wear them.  I have once or twice seen them recommended at a place but that’s not a lot in 25 years.  “Everyone knows when a horse stomps on your toes it will crush the metal and cut your toes off, and that will not look good in my flip flops.”  Well maybe it would save you money on a pedicure because you would only have half as many toes to paint?

I have spent some considerable time in steel toes in my time working offshore, I have yet to see or hear of a toe cutting off incident.  That is with 11 years in the industry!  I do know one thing about steel toes is that they are heavy, 3.4 lbs for my pair of steel toes compared to 1.8lbs for my pair of paddock boots.  Composite toes weren’t allowed back when I got my steel toes so I don’t have a lot of experience with them but I have been told they are much lighter.  I did had a guy sniff my boot once, see the bottom for that odd story.  I’m not going to lie though, despite how heavy my Doc Marten Steel Toes may be, I still love them, we have been together 10 years now, we have traveled the world, spent about 10 months offshore together, and have caused numerous conversations in the airport security line as to why someone my size would be wearing such boot.  That being said, they have never once been worn to the barn.  Ok maybe once to drop something off on my way home from work while I was wearing them, but not on purpose.


Mythbusters, anyone remember them and their show?  “Oh yeah, they were the guys that tried to kill themselves 2-4 different ways every week.”  Yep, they love blowing up and breaking things.  Anyhow, they did tests on this, the picture to the right shows a cut off steel toe with a hunk of clay in it.  They found that it would take 6000 “pounds of pressure”* to crush the boot enough to “cut off your toes”, this can be seen on the left, my toes hurt just looking at that!  Then they tested a regular boot and found that 1400 “pounds of pressure”* will flatten your foot, when I say flatten, I mean pancake as can be seen to the right, yes that paper looking thing is a piece of clay, are your toes curling yet?  “Ewww gross, but how does that relate to my horse stomping on my foot?”  Since the units are confusing and from the video I can’t read what the gauge says.  So let us apply some logic.  “Logic, who uses logic, I am a free spirit, you can’t tie me down with your logic!”  I am going to say I have been stomped on in a regular boot, numerous times, thank you Emma, no that was not a snake in the grass, it’s a stick, and no it’s not moving.  So Emma weighs 1000lbs is barefoot and has hooves about 4″ across.  However, unless you count that time she stomped on my pinkie toe and twisted, I have yet to break anything wearing regular boots, let alone fully pancake my foot.  Since steel toes can protect over 4 times what a regular boot can, it stands to reason, if you have a massive draft horse that weighs 2000lbs, that is only twice what Emma weighs so your toes would still be safe and sound in steel toe boots.

“Great for your barefoot horses but what about shoes?”  Well, everyone knows that its a lot more painful to be stepped on by a stiletto heel than a regular heel, why is that?  Well all the weight of the lady (or whomever, I don’t discriminate) is focused on that tiny area, much like a needle is easier to push through skin than a large nail.  “Eww, needles, I hate needles!”  Yeah me too.  Moving on, a horse with a shoe will have his weight mainly concentrated on the rim of the shoe, but I have had shoes stomp on me in regular boots too, they squish and pinch but haven’t broken, thus you will still be protected by the steel toes, not squished and severed!  Fun little fact, the largest horse ever was named Sampson, born in 1846 stood 21 hands 2.5 inches and weighed a whopping 3,360lbs!  You might think twice about that steel toe cutting your toes off, let’s be honest, either way if the steel is cutting your toes off or not, you are in a bad situation anyhow.

One interesting thing that Mythbusters tried was dropping a blade similar to a guillotine, on the boots.  “Off with their heads, err toes!”  They essentially simulated dropping a very thin steel plate (think large heavy knife) that weighs 400lbs from 6′ high.  It hit the toes and then slid just past the steel toe and chopped the foot in half.  “Woof Gross!  Thank god my horse doesn’t have steel plates for feet, Edward Bladefeet?”  Yes I doubt in your barn you will come across a 400lb steel plate dropping pointy edge down on your foot but, the interesting point here is that it slid on top of the foot, instead of off the foot.  So if Fluffy pony stomps on your toes, it would in theory slide off the steel toe and land on the top of your foot.  I too know that when a horse stomps on the top of your foot, it hurts but does not usually cause a break, at least not in my case, thanks again Emma!  You can get boots with metatarsal guards like the ones pictured but I bet they are stupid heavy and not super comfortable.

Also, no sandals, flip flops, open toes etc. around horses!  Most of us have seen that Facebook post with the peeled open foot.  If you haven’t I will leave you to hunt that down yourself.  I too have made this mistake, spent a summer and a few months after with a gross falling off purple toenail, and I was lucky that’s all it was.  We all know we have that horse that we can trust, that would be Truman at my house, but even a stomp at a fly can end in an ER visit and stitches.  Especially if they have shoes on.  “Frankenstein feet, Frankenfeet?”  If you don’t believe me spend some time with our friend Google today, I hope you have a strong stomach.

One final thing I do want to cover is the soles of the boots, as you can see, my steel toes have big chunky tread on them, which is great for keeping you from slipping on a wet deck of a boat or in a muddy barnyard, but not great in english stirrups.  These may get you trapped in a stirrup, we have already covered FreeJump Stirrups and since those are the only ones I know of (for adults) that can let your foot fall out either change into suitable riding boots, ride without stirrups, or even go bareback!

As promised, the boot sniffing incident story.  I was on the back deck of the boat, we were preparing for the next project, I stopped to talk to a group of guys about a few things and the one guy looks at my boots and comments on how small they are, “What size are those?”  “Men’s 6.”  You see back then, if you wanted a pull on boot, which I did because you have to change shoes when you go inside the boat, you had to get men’s boots. They didn’t make women pull on steel toe boots until about 3 years later, then they had pink on them, I just couldn’t.  Anyhow, he asked to see one, so I pulled my boot off and handed it to him, all of the guys commented on the fact that it might be the smallest boot they have ever seen, then the guy holding it, lifts it to his face and totally takes a sniff!  Duuuuude…  The group went nuts “What are you doing?”  “Ok weirdo!”  His response was priceless.  “Well she is a girl, I wanted to see if it smelled like a girl or like all the other nasty boots out here.”  One of his buddies said “What did you think it would smell like roses?”  “I dunno, I just wanted to see what it smelled like.”  Truthfully the only reason they didn’t stink like a regular boot is that they were still fairly new and had spent the last month in my closet.  From then on, the whole offshore trip, anytime that guy walked into the room the guys would sing “I’m in love with a sniffer” to the tune of I’m in Love With a Stripper.  Now you can have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

*These units are quoted directly from the show.

**I might get a little kickback from Amazon if you purchase something from a link above.

Bareback Pads Are for Sissies! Or Maybe Not

The other night I decided about 30 mins before sundown that I was going to head out and ride Lily, in shorts and clogs.  Ain’t nobody got time to change.  So clearly I wasn’t about to slap my saddle on and attempt to rip all the skin off my calves and knees.  This is when I turn to my trusty bareback pad.  “You wuss, bareback pads are for weenies.  If you knew how to ride you wouldn’t need one.”  I used to totally agree with this, then about 8 years ago, I took a ride on Emma bareback…

“So you think a pad is going to keep your horse from dumping you in the dirt when she freaks out at the imaginary boogieman?  You are about to get dirty, very dirty!”  I almost wish that was the case.  “What could be worse than hitting the dirt?”  Blisters, lots of blisters, in places where only toilet paper should go.  “Eww, gross”  Agreed, also quite painful.  After it happened twice… “Hold the phones, you let this happen twice?”  Well twice in a row, and then it has happened one or two more times over the years.  Anyhow, this began my foray into bareback pads.

To be honest, if all you are doing is walking around like cooling out after a ride, then a regular saddle pad thrown on the back works just fine.  It’s tricky keeping it in place while you get on but once you are on, it doesn’t really move.  If you are like me, you do whole rides bareback.

So first, why a bareback pad?  Well, obviously if you have a horse that is built like a fence board (Emma), you want it to protect your crack from chafing.  “Well Fluffy Pony is nice and fat so I will save my money.”  Well ask yourself this, do you have a bony butt?  “I don’t think so.”  Try this test, get your best barn buddy of the human variety to sit on the mounting block or a chair.  Sit on their leg, wiggle around a bit, if your friend at any point says “Ouch, you have a bony butt!” you might want to consider a bareback pad.  Most of us are less stable without a saddle and stirrups so you will wiggle around more and a saddle distributes your weight down the whole panel, your butt is smaller than your saddle.  Just consider it back protection.  Also, a bareback pad with stirrups is a complete cheat, so before anyone asks, no I have not tried them nor do I intend to*.

So I started cheap, you know the navajo print with the D-Ring cinch strap.  This is great for walking and maybe some light trotting, as soon as they go full “Emma” and start spinning, attempting to take off, bolting out from under you or bucking (Emma is a bolter not a bucker), they start slipping and going wonkey on you.  The cinch never really gets tight enough to do much.

Next I went to the thick fleece ones with the girth, I was given one of these when I was a kid, it works ok but if your horse has high withers (Emma), its going to slide back.  You can usually get them tight enough to keep them from going rogue on you in the heat of an Emma moment.

The next one I got was called a Best Friend Comfort Plus bareback pad, it was spendy but super nice, the underside was lined with that neoprene checkerboard stuff like you use to line shelves and drawers so it didnt slip much and it had d-rings to add a breastplate if needed to help keep it from sliding back.  The girth is also neoprene mesh and the buckles have elastic so they stretch and give like the elastic on your girth.  I would have kept it forever, but in an odd and rare stroke of luck I won a bareback pad.

“Whoa you actually won something?  Was it one of those navajo bareback pads, that would be your luck!”  No actually I won a ThinLine bareback pad.  “You mean like ThinLine boots and saddle pads?”  Yes, that ThinLine, the pad is very similar to the Best Friend one above but it has a layer of memory foam in the seat.  I’m not going to lie, it’s so nice its almost cheating.  When you have a back like Emma does as can be seen in the picture, you need all the help you can get.  “Do you ever feed that thing?”  Oddly enough I do, a surprisingly large amount, yet she still looks like this. I would say that its a Thoroughbred thing but Lily has a nice and soft round back and body, so thats just Emma for you.  I did find that when you trot and canter through belly deep water in the creek, the pad has a tendency to slip back, in these situations I suggest a breast plate or something to help hold it in place.  And yes, I did ride Emma in the creek bareback at the walk trot and canter and did not die.

Do yourself and your horse a favor, if you haven’t ridden bareback before, start by ensuring you can ride in a saddle without stirrups comfortably first, then move to cooling your horse out at the walk bareback.  Then add trotting, then cantering, eventually you will be able to do everything bareback.

*I have seen these used in therapy/handicapped situations  and they are great but for the rest of us, ditch the stirrups.

**I may get a bit of a kickback if you purchase something through an amazon link on this page.

No Outside Shavings Allowed! And Why I Agree.

$10 for a bag of shavings!  What a rip.  I can get the exact same shavings from tractor supply for $5 or even get shavings from the local saw mill for $3 a bag.  Why do they charge so much for shavings?  “Because you are at a show and if you can afford to show you can pay their prices.”  Man what a rip, I will bring my own from home and save $20-$30 or more!  “That will teach them.”  What is this, the entry says “No outside shavings”, that’s just their way to make sure you pay their prices right?  “This is High Treason, off with their heads!”  But is it?

Well the show grounds has fair reason to want to keep you from bringing in outside shavings.  “Suuuurre, so they can charge me astronomical prices.”  Well how about the health aspect.  Lets say you bring in a bag of shavings, and you get yours from some shady dealer, it has black walnut in it, your horse founders, you blame it on the show people, unhappiness for all, lawyers are involved etc etc.  They might also chose to use a low dust version which helps keep the facility from being overcome by dust particles.  “Emphysema barn E.”  Its one thing to have some dust when you have 5 horses, its a whole other thing when you have 2000 stabled in close quarters.  Plus the dust accumulation on the stalls and barns is actually a fire hazard, yep, every horse owner’s nightmare, fire.  The really terrifying part, is if it builds up in places, it can actually spontaneously combust, not super likely but still possible.

“So I can bring in low dust shavings myself and still save money.”  Yes you can, but in most of these large horse show facilities that are used weekend after weekend, the stalls must be stripped between shows, for health reasons.  So the facility has to pay someone to come strip the stalls at the end of the show.  “That’s what my stall fee is for, duh.”  The stall fee is for the use of the stall.  Those of us who have had to strip stalls before, if there is one bag of shavings in the stall, it takes like half a wheel barrow and you are done, its fast and easy, when there are 6 bags of shavings plus 2 days worth of poo and urine, thats 3 wheelbarrows or more.  This takes some time.  This is why I have rubber mats in my stalls at home, less shavings less time to strip.  Since I am a run the numbers girl lets say $5 for low dust shavings, that leaves $5 left, heck I would strip a stall for $30.  “Me too, show me the money!”  Lest we forget, the horse show has to ship it in and store it so when you arrive and decide you want 7 bags instead of 4, they have them on hand for you, that’s worth about $1, plus the time to pay the show manager to order more $0.25, plus the dude to deliver it to your stall with a fork lift $0.50.  Now we are down to $3.25 a bag extra, but dont forget that pitch forks and wheel barrows cost something $0.05, and someone has to haul this stuff to the dump $0.20.  So now you are stripping that stall for $18, not terrible, but not great either, and since they all have to be done rather quickly, that requires a crew of people to sometimes work Sunday evening and all day Monday to get it done.  They are also in charge of keeping the dust down in the barns, so its not just stall stripping.  Not looking so great now.

If you go to events/combined training shows, most of them hold a $25 stall deposit, returned to you if you clean your stall.  Since shows at these locations tend to be fewer and farther between, the stalls have time to rest and any bacteria from the previous horse has time to die out, thus shavings can be reused from one show to the next.  The bags of shavings are a bit cheaper like $8 a bag, and because barns are generally spread out, dust accumulation is not as big of an issue, so that cleaning time is saved as well.

Although I am big on saving money, I do not recommend you do it by bringing your own shavings, if this is going to break the bank for you at the show, maybe look into trailering in for the day, showing less days, or skip this one so you can save up for the next one.  Its also not good practice to skimp on shavings, you want your horse to be comfortable when they are performing for you.  Who knows, maybe some of my other frugal tips will help you save enough to help cover the cost.  If you buy a $200 show helmet instead of a $550 show helmet, that is $350, you can buy 35 bags of shavings for that!