FAVORITE THINGS... here just a few of my favorite products, tools and anything that I love using on horses....
Electro-Groom horse vacuum . . .
This is my ultimate favorite grooming tool~!
I always start with a vacuum first, before using any curry combs or brushes or wipes.
Using a vacuum greatly reduces your grooming tools from getting dirty. The vacuum immediately pulls dirt and debris out of the coat and brings up the horse's natural oils, creating a mirror-like shine.
It also helps the horse relax once they have gotten used to it and gives them a massage-like feel.
Soft, flexible curry comb with low grading . . .
I prefer using a soft, flexible curry comb, but only the ones that feel like "butter" to where I can bend and squeeze them in my hand which feels better to the horse than hard ones.
I also make sure to pick the ones with the low grading, meaning the rings of "spikes" are low and soft as well and are not sharp on the coat.
TIP>>> Never bang the dirt out on a wall or around the barn, it will make a nasty dirt mark. Instead, scoop out any excess dirt from between the grooves with your finger, sponge or cloth and/or knock out the excess against the side of your other hand.
Haas Diva Horsehair & Lambswool brush . . .
I LOVE this brush for so many reasons. The main reason is because of how plush it is and the positive response I see on horses with coat sensitivities or for the horses that show grumpiness during grooming. They no longer flinch, move, stomp, swish their tails or try to bite or kick out when using this brush. I love showing owners their horse's before & after response between their current brushes vs. the Haas Diva brush.
TIP>>> I personally prefer to cut down the outer ring of bristles so they are lower than the lambswool. This helps the horse feel the plushness of the lambswool first. Especially because over time, the lambswool tends to sink back lower to the base of the brush. NOTE: after cleaning this brush several times, it may come unglued from the base, but it can easily be glued back on.
Evolve Dual Sided Paddle Brush . . .
I believe in preserving every single last hair on a horse's forelock, mane and tail. I have a daily routine just for those areas, especially tail care.
I never use metal or hard plastic grooming tools, especially on their tails where they can get knots and spindrals quickly. When I do need to use a brush on their hair, this double sided brush gently and effectively sifts through the hair with minimal hair loss vs. other hair brushes.
NOTE: one of the things I notice that snags tails when brushing is because the artificial bristles have ball shapes on the ends, which I feel snag the hair. This brush does not, they have straight bristles to the ends, which helps it to be more gentle.
TIP>>> You can find this brush online or at Walmart and sometimes local drug stores and beauty supply stores
Small, soft round tack sponges . . .
I always have a pack on hand! They are in my groom bag, the tack room, the wash rack, etc., and I give these to with anyone who doesn't already have some to try them out.
Other than for cleaning tack, I primarily use them on a daily bases...one each to wipe out the eyes, over the mouth/muzzle and insides of the ears and nostrils. I keep a separate few for wiping out the undercarriage in the teats or sheath area and under tails. They are super soft when dampened and wrung out.
TIP>>> Try these sponges at home when washing your face! I use these sponges for my facial skin care routine because they feel so soft and comfortable : )
Equi-Clean Grooming Wipes . . .
I adore Equi-Clean Grooming Wipes! I can't say enough great things about them. They are so convenient and they do their job. I love them during horse shows when I am heading to the arena for last minute polishing and don't feel like hauling a full groom bag around. I just take a few of the wipes with me instead. It's such a relief to have them around with their multiple uses. I love using the wipes intermittently during my horse massage sessions, especially after working my hands deep into the horse's coat where sometimes debris is brought up.
There are so many other situations working with horses where these wipes are super handy and effective, but the most important thing is that they WORK. They clean off the coat and offer a nice sleek feel. One thing I have noticed when I use these wipes, the horses get an instant expression as if they were thinking 'aaahhhh'. I love anything that improves the lives of horses and highly recommend everyone to try Equi-Clean Grooming Wipes!
TIP>>> you can also use them to wipe down your boots and tack. . .
THIS PAGE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION
RIDERS, TRAINERS and HORSE OWNERS>>>
PLEASE take the few minutes that it lasts to watch this amazing video by Jochen Schleese regarding your saddles and how to properly place them on your horses’ backs as it pertains to better function, balance and comfortability for your horse and for yourself...
I myself as a youth rider learning to tack up way back in the day (mid to late 70’s lol) learned 2 things at the time: 1) put the saddle high up on the withers (they said when you get on the horse, the saddle will slide back in to place, and 2) tighten the girth right behind the elbow.
It wasn’t until I saw this video (in 2014!) when I first started learning and practicing Equine Massage that I realized both of these positions cause issues with the horse (such things as the horse refusing to move, not performing their best, showing signs of being uncomfortable, refusal to perform certain maneuvers, not to mention the saddle was not level or balanced,etc)...
Understandably, not everyone has seen this video or others like it, hence, I am sharing this video to help spread awareness to all riders, trainers and horse owners even if you don’t ride.
Please watch this video as it explains so much without me having to, then consider applying what you have learned to the next time you tack up your horse. I truly believe you will feel the difference
I have noticed on a daily basis, both in person and in photos for the past few years that so many riders (of ALL levels and experience) that their saddles are placed and tightened way up onto the shoulders, the girth is tucked tight into the elbow area, and most of the saddles are pitching upwards high on/over the shoulders. It doesn’t matter what discipline you ride, and even the highest of jumpers whose riders prefer to put the saddle higher up on the Withers (because the saddles tend to slide back when they jump), this still is important to watch to address that. FYI-There are several other ways to keep a saddle in place once it is in the correct place on the horses back, but jacking it up onto the withers is not the answer.
I assure you once you watch this video not only will you become more aware of how much more comfortable your horse will be and how much more freedom your horse will experience, you will also notice that there is SO much more horse in front of you with more willingness and ability to perform better. And mostly likely from that point on, you will start noticing how many saddles are jacked up too far forward on horses...kindly offer to those riders to send them this video as well:
Here is a "must watch" video
by Jochen Schlesse . . .one of my favorite videos explaining proper saddle fit and placement
Please share with your horse friends . . .
Proper Saddle Fitting & Placement
by Jochen Schlesse
Soreness in the horse's body, lameness issues, poor performance
and some undesirable behaviors can directly be caused by
poorly fitting and improper placement of the saddle.
TIP of the day > > > (when at Horse Shows!!) Back Soreness and Dehydration...
Many times, I receive calls for massage therapy on horses experiencing back problems after they have returned from a horse show. As part of my service, I also assess their level of dehydration. Being a horse show competitor myself since a youth rider, if I am not showing myself, I go to horse shows to either support my students and friends who are showing and/or to promote my services . . . or just to watch and observe (I love horse shows!).
This tip of the day is meant to be a friendly helpful reminder on behalf of our hard working horses...
It's a long hard day showing, so much preparing to do and physical activity for both horse and rider. Here in Florida it is unbelievably hot almost the whole year. Imagine the work load and effort our horses go through for us, including carrying tack and a rider as they do the majority of athletic activities for many hours during the day of the horse show, especially with having to do warm up exercises, taking a lesson before classes and then showing in back to back classes. Our horses work very hard under the rider and handler's full control, meaning they can't just go drink water or cool down on their own, they rely on (us) to think of these things for them and offer them accordingly.
Many times I observe horses that are not offered water or a cool place to stand at all throughout the day even when they have been ridden for many hours, have become extremely hot, overheated, have waited for very long periods of time in between classes, etc. Dehydration happens quickly with horses, sometimes leading to horses eventually becoming non-sweaters. Horses with ulceric conditions not only need plenty of water, they also need stomach acids buffered throughout the day via eating hay, grass, or small meals, consistently chewing, so if your horse has ulcers or you suspect it to have ulcers, a small serving of hand grazing or hay between long stretches of going in classes is necessary in those cases.
Horses should have access to fresh, clean and cool water at home in their stalls, turnout areas and in your riding area/arena, etc. I always have a small, lightweight bucket dedicated just for water handy at all times that I place in the grooming area. You might be very surprised how much water the horses enjoy (and feel the need) drinking water out of the bucket. I do this especially after exercise, right before riding, after the riding cool down and at other times. I make sure that any horse I am attending to at the home barn and especially when at horse shows has access to water.
(( see below #1 ))
Let's also keep in mind about back support. Horses have legs to support their front end, and legs to support their rear ends. There are no legs supporting under the belly in the middle of the horse where we put on tack and sit a rider on. Consider the horse's back similar to a "bridge" with the spine being the steps creating a path between the front and rear ends. In the case of a horse, it is an unsupported path meaning there is no foundation (leg) under that part of the body. Add the weight of the tack and the weight and influence of a rider, and include the bouncing and weight distribution over that bridge. With that in mind, if you stay sitting on their backs between classes for long periods of time, this puts strain on your horse's back. You will notice your horse trying to relax in between classes when it lowers it's head, relaxes one of it's rear legs and its ears will relax and maybe they will get sleepy eyes. This is the time to be off of your horse's back since the muscles are now stretching with your added weight, and possibly putting pressure on nerves and sensitive areas. Your horse has worked hard and is trying to take a break. Your weight on it's back is not helping.
(( see below #2 ))
Make sure you are checking that you horse has access to water when you are participating in shows and clinics/seminars, lessons, etc. NEVER let anyone tell you that your horse does not need water or let anyone stop you from finding a source of water when you know it has gone without water for a long period of time or has been working very hard, is heavily breathing and/or sweating as well as being too hot from the outdoor temperature and direct sun.
In summary, I highly recommend the following when at horse shows:
1) Offer your horse water throughout the show day after ground exercise, before going into your classes and especially after a class and whenever you see your horse sweating or breathing heavily. If a horse is heavily breathing and/or sweating, offer smaller and more frequent sips of water (approximately 8 gulps) over a period of cooling down time so they do not gorge the water down all at one time. Plan ahead to know where the show grounds keep the water troughs in case you need to have a helper keep a water bucket handy if the troughs are too far away from where you need to stay to ride or be in a class. Your horse may not necessarily drink any water offered at the time, but at least you have made a conscious effort to offer it. Some horses will not drink out of unfamiliar water troughs or drink water they are not used or don't like the smell, etc. If your horse refuses to drink water after a long period time, then consider it is because of those reasons, as some horses are very picky. Many people will say "they will drink any kind of water if they get desperate enough", however, this may lead to the horse's body already getting to a state where it may be too late, or lead to problems such as dehydration at any level and possibly leading to non sweating issues. Offer a bit of electrolytes or salt in their grain and/or water source ahead of time if you know your horse is not good with drinking water at shows. Also offer your horse small frequent bits of hand grazing, a serving of hay or have a small portion of soaked hay available (soaked hay is great to help with preventing dehydration), especially doing this for horses with ulcers or the suspect of ulcers.
2) When you are done showing in a class and do not have to return right away to go back in, it is best to dismount and loosen the girth a whole or two until you are ready to enter your next class. This will genuinely help relieve your horse's back for the time being. Any chance you get to hop off of your horse's back to give it a break at long day of showing is a good practice to help your horse not have back pain that it might have normally had before.
3) Have your trainer/coach, friend or family help you with reminders of the above mentioned suggestions during the show day because time can get away with us as competitors and helping to coordinate breaks for your horse will only benefit the situation. All of the members of your show team could help each other to check each others horses and question when each horse has been offered water, shade, cool down breaks in the shade and having riders not sit and wait on their backs for long periods of time.
I hope this information helps
ADDED to this post through a comment on FB by Bianca K.: "I also would recommend Offering a couple scoops of powdered Gatorade or a handful of sweet feed to the water bucket:) It will get your horse to drink no matter what the water tastes like but I would suggest offering it at home a few times during or after riding to get them used to it when their not in a stressful or different environment. I also keep a full bucket of water in my jump ring so the horses get a drink while lessoning. A lot of times at shows horses restrain from drinking while showing but if their used to drinking while lessoning they will be more opt to drink during showing:) I’ve also been told to try to take the bit out as much as possible because drinking with the bit in their mouth is comparable to drinking through a straw with a hole in it"
TIP of the Day>>> The Better Bucket!
OK… So this bucket isn’t going to be for everyone, maybe because of the way you have to carry it out to dump it by holding the angled front with the back, maybe because it is not the typical bucket to have in most barns LOL. But I am going to offer my personal experience with this type of bucket which leads me to want to recommend it to all horse owners out there Or at least to encourage you all to give it a try.
When I bought one of my former horses and brought him home to his new barn, he was very shy near his water bucket, and since he was a rehab, it was extremely important that he drink a lot of water. While I was putting a very large tub into his stall immediately just as a quick solution I could think of at the time, I noticed him trying to drink water out of the regular flat back bucket and his eyes we’re too close to the handle So he would hesitate. So I stopped for a few minutes just to watch him further, he would flinch every time he had to put his nose into the water out of being afraid he would bump his eyes on the handle, so I immediately searched the Internet for a solution and found this angled front bucket called the better bucket. I thought I would give it a try.
I cannot tell you what this means to have such a change in a matter of moments by switching out the bucket, it was like he knew he would have more room and immediately drank his water from then on. He even got over his fear of getting near a water bucket These buckets are not only great for water, but if you use buckets to feed grain and supplements in as well.
Again, the only drawback is how you have to take it off the hook, it is awkward and there have been a few times yes I have spilled some water in my boots LOL. If you are boarding your horse, you may want to ask if it’s OK to use this type of bucket since they may not like how it handles went dumping.
I will never go back to regular flat back water buckets that’s for sure… Maybe buy one sometime and try it out and see if you like it for your horses.... I hope this information helps at least one horse, thanks for reading!
P.S. >>> as a precaution, always wrap the bracket attachments on water/feed buckets with black electrical tape to prevent tails and nostrils from getting snagged in the gaps
TIP of the Day >>> Help with Top Line Development...
Many clients ask me how to improve their horse's top line and I especially get these requests for the more difficult cases when the owners/trainers have said they've tried just about everything. Looking into each case, I first check for good nutrition, a proper warm up prior to ground work and riding, a good exercise and training program that includes specific exercises for assisting with lifting the rib cage, rounding the frame and engaging the rear as well as properly fitting and supportive tack (among several other things), and of course the daily neck and limb stretches plus the belly lift and hip rotation exercises before exercise and riding. Many times, I conclude that the current exercises do not seem "challenging enough" for that particular horse specifically for building the top line past the initial conditioning phase.
Of course the owners and trainers want to work slowly to build up the muscles over the top line safely as with what is wise for any athlete to do properly, but there will come a time depending on each horse where after so long the top line either does not respond any longer or has "plateaued" and is no longer developing as with the other areas of the horse's body. This is when attention to the "challenging" of the top line comes into consideration for the next phase of development. When new and higher level challenges are introduced to the exercise and training program, a difference will start to be noticeable. Some of these challenges include adding new and different obstacles, patterns and terrains. This ranges anywhere from adding cavaletti's and new/additional ground pole pattern exercises to working up and down slopes/hills and riding on various terrains and in new locations to ride to help motivate and encourage roundness and engagement. Asking your horse to take daily backing up steps (graduating a few steps at a time to more each week) is a great way to help the horse balance more on its rear, lift/round its top line and develop strength in the rear. Changing up your jumps and jump patterns, distances and heights is also helpful. Upwards and downwards transitions, counter cantering in figure 8's and serpentines, bending and suppling exercises, shoulder-in's, haunches-in exercises, etc. Taking your horse to a riding seminar or training clinic for top line development is also a good idea to help keep an open mind to other techniques out there that could possibly benefit your horse.
I am a firm believer in allowing horses ground exercise prior to riding (even if on occasion) such as a free romp in a turn out or a lunge as a warm up also helps the horse to be given the opportunity to loosen up on its own, to balance naturally (and maybe even let out some much needed bucks!) before the influence of tack and a rider are introduced. Allowing the horse to briefly (and safely) hand gallop on occasion is also a great source of helping the top line develop for many reasons (another discussion for another time lol). Some horses I find benefit from temporary bit changes.
A certain level of fat coverage is helpful for top lines, since fat helps to protect the spine, nerves and muscles. Food sources and supplements that contain such ingredients as beet pulp, (stabilized) rice bran, Omega 3 & 6 oils and flax seeds I have found to be great sources of help for developing top lines as are a few other ingredients. I do also like the trial addition of alfalfa and extra grass intake, however, the addition of alfalfa if added should be added in small, slow amounts and closely monitored so that the horse is still expending the same amount of energy it intakes through the addition of alfalfa. There are supplements out there specifically meant to help develop top lines as well.
As usual, I could go on and on and you may also have your own additional input but I hope some of this information is helpful to some of you~! Thanks for reading
TIP of the Day.... Massage (( before )) Chiropractic?
95% of new clients that I meet have had a chiropractor come out to adjust their horse BEFORE a massage and some clients have only had chiropractors work on their horse and never massage. I then like to share my point of view as a way to help clients understand the benefit of first having a massage done on their horses prior to a chiropractic visit. "Prior to" meaning the ideal time would be the same day before the chiropractor shows up.
Why? If you think about moving, adjusting and sometimes completely resetting bones...would you rather see your Chiropractor working with warm, relaxed loose muscles and a very relaxed (and happy~!) horse OR on cold, tight and sometimes hard and resistant muscles (and sometimes in that case a very reluctant horse)? I feel the scenario which would make the most ideal choice is obvious. This is because your horse will be relaxed with its muscles warmed up and limbs will have been gently stretched. More of the horse's true range of motion will be apparent and any soreness in the horses body will be either eliminated or relieved enough for more work to be done. It will help with any discoveries towards the source of any pain or discomfort and tell a lot about the horse itself as far as behaviors and other information revealed through the consultation before the massage. Any knots, mobility issues or areas of concern can also be shared with the chiropractor.
ALL of this information is helpful to the chiropractor and (should be) appreciated by one as help towards providing him/her with a better understanding and situation in which to work on/with the horse. When questioning about the chiropractic appointment, only twice have I gotten the reply "yes, my chiropractor asked me to have my horse massaged before he/she comes out". To my dismay, that means all of my other clients were not offered the recommendation of having their horses massaged before a chiropractic visit from what I gathered. Most clients just do not realize this was something important to do first, hence why I decided to send out this helpful Post. SO...to any equine chiropractors out there>>> if you already offer this advice to your clients before you work on their horses then major Kudos to you and Thank You~! If not, this suggestion will only benefit you in the long run to help make your visit a more successful result for the horse and as well will support a better return of business.
With respect to budget, I do completely understand the possible dilemma this may cause...Which service should I choose since I am on a budget and can only afford one? Yes, I understand it does come down to that sometimes. I can only offer my point of view from a massage therapist perspective and how I have seen so much resolved through massage alone, the decision is ultimately up to each owner. I could not/would not recommend "one or the other". This post is to recommend massage before chiropractic to help the horse achieve the best results from the chiropractic appointment.
With that said, I highly recommend that you schedule both services for your horse for the same day, if not one day apart with massage before chiropractic. I hope this information helps.
Please private message me if you have any questions about your own horse as it pertains to healthy muscle and performance, I will be happy to help~!
A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO MASSAGE THERAPY>>>
A special thank you to the miracle of Equine Massage Therapy...since I started practicing in 2014, it has been an unbelievable benefit to so many horses in the most incredible ways! I wish I had started doing it earlier than 2014, but I had always left it up to paying Massage Therapists before then. Now that I have been doing hands-on massage and evaluations since then, I have been saying to myself "WOW...WHY didn't I start doing this years and years ago!!??")
So now I just want to share my passion for it and encourage all of you, whenever you can, at some point to maybe save up the $ to have a professional (hands-on) Equine Massage Therapist work on your horse. I'm talking about someone who is really going to get in there with their hands and work into all of those muscles, find areas that need the most work, work on a better range of motion in its body and limbs...then ride your horse later on that day or the next and feel the difference.
I am 100% supportive of the many other methods of treatments (magnetic, micro current, hot/cold therapy and so many other effective and helpful therapies) as well. It is the human hands-to-horse type of massage that I would suggest you have initially as a suggestion and then to follow up with the other types if you wish and ALWAYS have your horse thoroughly massaged first before a Chiropractic visit.
Back to that budget thing LOL...I know we all have horsey budgets and it seems normal to think of Equine Massage Therapy as a "luxury" service haha, but I have come to see that it is actually a necessary service, at least at some point, no matter if you have a high performance horse or a retired horse or a horse in rehab, and age of the horse does not matter either. Maybe try to think of it as part of your horse's overall well-being, a chance to tune their bodies up and check on what is going on with its muscles, its range of motion and mental status.
Wouldn't you love for your horse to move better? To just act like it is feeling better with a better attitude? To relax and stretch more? To be able to perform maneuvers with scope and ease without the resistance you have been feeling? To feel like it has more confidence and willingness? Wouldn't you love to have your horse not buck, bite, kick out, run off or evade, not be grumpy or be resistant, sore, pin its ears, hallow its back, fling its head, jerk on the reins, refuse jumps, etc.? Those are just a few behaviors that horses often show when they are stiff, sore or in pain all of which can be helped through a full hands-on massage session. Yes, believe it or not. Of course, those behaviors could also be coming from frustration, miscommunication and other reasons due to other factors such as its tack, training, environment, handling, etc, (that list is long too) but also as it pertains to massage therapy and how it can help. You might be shocked to hear the different cases I could share for example horses not moving forward for years, not picking up their hooves for years, not being able to turn their necks for years, not being able to jump or transition or slow down or bend or the horses with severe behavioral issues, or the horses who have lost or gained too much weight, or the horses that have been sold several times over....the list is so long.
Massage therapy can also point out if your horse may need additional diagnostics, leading to the resolution of other underlying issues or things that could not have been pinpointed before then. Massage therapy can enlighten you to ways you can massage your own horse and do daily exercises for maintenance and techniques you can practice before exercising or riding your horse that can greatly improve its performance every day.
Again, I want to thank the power of equine massage for providing not only immediate help to horses, but providing a much better understanding of how they each function and feel. My favorite part is witnessing how much they genuinely appreciate and enjoy the feeling and relief through massage.
GROOMING suggestion of the day...
Many horses are extremely sensitive on their coats and may express various undesirable behaviors during grooming as a result of using certain grooming items that are uncomfortable (to them). Remember, horses want to be comfortable and happy just like we do, so if they are showing any signs of grumpiness, aggressiveness, anxiety, etc. during grooming, it is very possible a grooming tool they don't like may be one of the factors and you may want to consider making an adjustment to see if it helps...
I am sharing with one way you could possibly help your sensitive coat horse by trying one of my favorite brushes~! I have helped many horses turn very sour grooming behaviors into relaxation and enjoyment after using this amazing brush called the "Haas Diva Exclusive Soft Brush". It has a lambswool center. I keep 2 of these on me at all times. One of them I use scissors to cut down the outer rim of bristles so that they are lower than the lambswool center. That one in particular I use for the ultra sensitive coats. Within moments, these horses completely RELAX and do not show irritability....
You can order this brush through either SmartPak or other retailers. Yes, they are more expensive but worth every penny~! I love the Pink one!!