Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Horse Care Tips

The long, hot days of summer are ideal for long rides and adventures. Unfortunately, hot weather can be very dangerous for your horse if you don’t take the proper precautions. If you’ll be riding, working or competing with a horse in hot weather, it’s essential that you follow some basic summertime care tips to keep your horse healthy and happy.

Hydration is essential.

There are few things more important than a plentiful supply of fresh, clean water in the summertime. Most horses drink more than 10 gallons of water per day and many average-sized workhorses consume more than 25 gallons per day during 70+ degree weather.

If you are concerned about dehydration, you can perform a “pinch test” on your horse. Simply pinch the skin and let go. If the skin remains pinched, the horse is dehydrated.

Supplement with salt.

A horse loses salt through sweating, but this vital nutrient can be replenished by ensuring that your horse has access to a salt lick or by adding electrolyte supplements to water or feed.

Prevent sunburns.

Red, peeling skin is uncomfortable and painful for horses. Sunburn-related sores can become infected and require professional treatment. Although all horses can burn, those with white markings are especially at risk.

Prevent painful burns by using a shampoo that contains sunscreen, such as Vetrolin Bath or by using a spray-on sunscreen like Sunflower Sunscreen.

Stay Cool.

If your horse is kept inside during the day, ensure that there is adequate ventilation in her stall. Installing a fan will help keep her cool and reduce the number of flies and mosquitoes in the area, helping your horse be even more comfortable.

Remember that riding in hot weather can be very dangerous because horses can become overheated. If possible, choose to ride in the early morning or late evening to avoid the dangerous heat of midday.

Prevent Insects

Pesky flies, mosquitoes and insects can annoy and endanger your horse. These bugs thrive in the summer by breeding in pools of stagnant water. Ensure that all buckets, troughs and other sources of water are regularly cleaned to avoid breeding. You may also want to use fly control products to further protect your horse. Don’t forget that mosquitos carry a number of dangerous diseases, so keeping them away means keeping your horse healthy.

What are your top tips for caring for your horse during the warmer months? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Summer Riding Essentials

Our favorite time of the year to go horseback riding is finally here. Summer’s long days, gorgeous weather and extra free time make it the perfect season to go for a ride with a trusted horse. If you’re planning to hit the trails with your horse this summer, make sure you have these essential clothing items, safety equipment and horse care products to keep you and your horse happy, healthy and comfortable all season long.

  1. Fly spray — If you’ve had a horse long, you know what a pain flies can be, especially during the summer when the flies get more active. Be sure to stock up on you preferred fly spray early in the season. One of our favorite fly sprays right now is UltraShield EX, which is weatherproof, sweat-resistant and lasts for 17 days, making it perfect for summer.
  2. Horse ice boots — There’s nothing like summer to tempt us into longer and longer rides, and let’s be honest: Multi-hour rides leave a rider sore. However, think about how sore your horse must be as well. A good pair of horse ice boots can help your horse recover faster from those long rides by easing his sore legs. Regular icing can help prevent overuse injuries that horses are prone to during the summer months.
  3. Boots and socks — Obviously, boots are necessary year-round, but summer is a good time to check to see if your boots are in good condition and if they still provide a comfortable fit. Additionally, make sure you have a good pair of boot socks to protect your boots from sweat. You’re bound to sweat during the summer, and the last thing you want is to ruin a pair of boots because your socks didn’t do their job.
  4. Riding helmet — If summer has you out riding on trails and seeing how fast your horse can go, riding helmets are absolutely essential. Don’t let vanity keep you from using your helmet. Troxel makes some really stylish riding helmets these days. Fashion is not more important than protecting your brain, so make sure you have a helmet and wear it every time.
  5. Comfortable jeans — Long hours of riding require comfortable clothes. If your riding jeans aren’t comfortable enough for riding on your horse for an hour or more, it’s time to consider buying a new pair or two. Look for jeans that fit nicely and offer a boot cut flare for the best riding experience.
  6. Appropriate shirts — Think about where and how you ride during the summer. Are you riding mostly through open fields? Wooded trails? Where you ride makes a difference for what type of shirts you should be wearing. If you’re riding through wooded areas, it’s more important to wear long-sleeve shirts, but that may not be as necessary if you’re riding through open fields. Either way, ensure that the shirts you wear are made of a breathable materials to make your rides more comfortable.
  7. Sunglasses — Protect your eyes while you’re out with a fashionable pair of sunglasses. You’ll want to ride a lot longer and further if you don’t have to squint all day.
  8. Sunscreen — If you’re prone to burning, don’t forget the sunscreen! Protect your skin while you’re outdoors and prevent premature aging by adding a layer of sunscreen before you go outside.

Did we forget one of your favorite summer riding essentials? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Springtime Barn Organization

With all of the tools and tack that you have probably have tucked away in your barn, not to mention the animals, it can be hard to stay organized and keep track of everything you need. Luckily, it’s that time of the year for spring cleaning – the perfect reason for you to gather up all of that grooming supplies, clean out your feed containers and implement storage ideas that will keep all of your barn necessities neat and easily accessible.

Below, you will find several helpful tips and storage inspirations to help you get your barn organized and keep it that way!

Organize your grooming supplies

Animals need a lot of different grooming equipment and shampoos, so it’s easy for wash stalls to get disorganized, especially if your supplies have nowhere else to go but in the corner on the floor. Fortunately, there are a variety of different storage containers and hanging organizers that will keep everything you need stashed, secure and out of the way!

Over-the-door shoe racks can literally be hung anywhere and are perfect for keeping brushes stowed away and dry.

For storing a variety of items together, most hanging organizers feature several different sized compartments that are ideal for keeping things like combs, wash stall clips and shampoo bottles. Any hanging organizer should work, but this Classic Hanging Groom Case is one of our favorites! Made from nylon and mesh, dirt can easily escape while items are kept secure within an arm’s reach.

Some of your grooming materials can even double as storage! This grooming stool from South Texas Tack opens up to a large storage container, complete with a removable tray to house combs, brushes and other accessories you find yourself using on a regular basis.

Clean out feed buckets

Feed buckets should be maintained regularly so your animals’ food doesn’t spoil or get infested by pests. Take this as an opportunity to wash out these containers, and if they’re old and worn, toss them out and replace with brand new ones. Be sure that you are storing all of your feed in air tight containers.

Organize tools and tack

It’s easy to leave bridles and leads strewn about the barn if they don’t have a designated storage area. Make sure your riding materials don’t get trampled and are kept in pristine condition by hanging them on wall-mounted tack racks, like this one here. You can also choose to wall mount a hook for bulkier items like saddles or pick up this Standing Saddle Rack that you can fold away for easy storage when not in use.

Many people swear by peg boards as a huge space saver and organizer in their garage space, so there’s no reason why this idea can’t translate into a great addition for your barn space. Peg boards are highly customizable to fit any size space, and you can place metal hooks as you see fit to store tools, tack, riding helmets and more.

Use horseshoes as hooks for everything else

If you’ve got more horseshoes than you know what to do with, put them to good use as hooks to easily hang leads or bridles immediately after a ride. These can be easily nailed into the wall and hung throughout the barn in areas where you need a little extra hanging space. Using horseshoes as hooks is not only useful, but also adds a nice decorative aesthetic.

How do you like to keep things in order inside your barn? Share your own tips in the comments below and be sure to check out the rest of our barn organization products at South Texas Tack!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Best Horseback Riding Trails in Missouri

If you’ve been following the South Texas Tack blog for very long, you know we love getting to know another state by seeing where we could go for a good horseback ride. This month, we’re taking a closer look at the best trails Missouri has to offer.

Wild Rose Equine Center — Located just outside of Kansas City near Platte City, the Wild Rose Equine Center offers a variety of services, including riding lessons, trail rides and more. Whether you’re looking for a weekend away or a fun afternoon, this property has what you’re looking for! The trails go through open fields, woods and creeks and are great for riders of all experience levels.

Turkey Creek Ranch — This 700-acre property near the Missouri-Arkansas border offers visitors so many different activities. In addition to horseback riding, visitors to Turkey Creek Ranch can enjoy water skiing, tennis, shuffleboard, canoeing and more. Make a weekend of it and stay at one of the ranch’s cabins for a relaxing time with family or friends.

Meramec River Cabins — Perfect for newer riders, Meramec Farm Cabins and Trail Rides in Bourbon, Missouri, southwest of St. Louis, offers group trail rides and hourly rentals. Their gorgeous horses are sure to make the visit especially enjoyable. In addition to hourly rentals, more experienced riders can bring their own horse and explore the trails unguided for the day.

Golden Hills Trail Rides — Found in the stunning Ozark Mountains in Southern Missouri, Golden Hills Trail Rides is perfect for riders of all skill levels. Riders of the property’s 200 miles of trails are rewarded with sightings of deer and other local wildlife. In addition to unguided rides, the complex offers organized rides throughout the year, giving visitors two different and fun experiences to take advantage of.

Plain & Fancy Trails — This bed and breakfast and stable property 80 miles from St. Louis is the perfect way to spend a day. Riders have the opportunity to stay at the Plain & Fancy B&B or visit for the day just to ride. Visitors can experience fun creek views and woods scenery.

4-J Big Piney Horse Camp — This camp in Waynesville, Missouri, has been combining country hospitality along with gorgeous views. Fun for the whole family, 4-J Big Piney Horse Camp is a great place to vacation with the whole family and instill a love of horseback riding in younger children.

Know of a great trail in Missouri we left off our list? Let us know in the comments below!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Top Picks for Spring Rodeos in Texas

Spring is a great time for rodeos in Texas — the weather is a little warmer, the days last a little longer and there’s no better way to celebrate than watching athletes show off their rodeo skills in a competition. Fortunately, there are plenty of fantastic rodeos to take advantage of over the next few months.

When you’re searching for rodeos to visit, there’s no better state than Texas. We’ve come up with some of the best picks for rodeos in Texas to help you get started planning:

Houston Livestock Show & RodeoMarch 3-22 – The Houston, Texas Rodeo is a massive, three-week affair that’s been held every year since 1931. With attendance in the millions, the Houston, Texas Rodeo hosts the world’s largest livestock show and competitions such as bronco busting, bull riding and team roping. Guests can even take part in more events and activities such as the Downtown Rodeo Parade, Trail Rides and Ladies’ Night Out.

The 2015 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo features a concert lineup with huge pop, country and Tejano stars like Dierks Bentley, Pitbull and La Maquinaria NoreƱa. If you’re only going to visit one rodeo in 2015, be sure not to miss the Houston Rodeo. This is one of our favorite rodeos of the year, and we love that it’s just an hour down the road from our store in Brenham.

Austin RodeoMarch 14-28 – The Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo in Austin, Texas aims to make education a large part of their overall mission. The 2015 Austin Rodeo will be more “green” than ever, and since 1981 the Austin Rodeo organization has provided over $5 million to students in the form of scholarships. In addition to typical rodeo events, the Austin Rodeo also features pig races, a BBQ cook-off and a youth art show.

Galveston County Fair and RodeoApril 10-18 – The Galveston County Fair & Rodeo prides itself on serving Galveston county youth since 1938. Complete with fairgrounds, youth and animal projects and even special community days (such as Kids’ Day and Senior Citizens’ Day), the Galveston County Fair & Rodeo is a non-profit organization that provides scholarships in addition to family-friendly rodeo entertainment.

Mesquite ProRodeoEvery Friday and Saturday, May 30-Aug 23Mesquite ProRodeo is Texas’ premier western family attraction. Spread over several months from late spring to mid-summer, the Mesquite rodeo audience is highly dominated by families, and the Mesquite ProRodeo organization works hard to provide a safe environment where both adults and children can experience the magic of a rodeo. Every weekend for a few months this year, you can enjoy an exciting new laser show in addition to standard rodeo events, like steer wrestling and barrel racing.

No matter which rodeo you choose to attend, you’re just about guaranteed an extraordinary time. After all, there’s nothing else like the rodeos in Texas! Tell us about your favorite Texas rodeo experiences in the comments below.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Top 10 Spring Horse Care Tips

spring horse care tips
Helping your horse make the transition from cold weather into the warmer, more active months requires some special attention, and it’s not always easy. We’ve pulled together a few of our favorite tips to help you and your horse make this transition as smooth as possible.

1. Begin your riding schedule slowly — If you and your horse haven’t been very active this winter, it’s important to start your riding schedule with slow, light rides to prevent you and your equine friend from getting too sore early in the season.

2. Groom your horse — As you probably noticed over the winter, your horse grew a long winter coat. While that coat was ideal for colder weather, in the spring it can cause him to overheat or take a long time to dry from rain. Grooming your horse regularly will help hasten shedding and prevent overheating from a long coat. A shedding blade can help speed this process along.

3. Monitor grazing — If your horse has been eating hay all winter, try to prevent them from eating too much grass right away, as an abundance of grass on a stomach that isn’t used to it can cause colic. Consider turning your horse out to a less grassy area to build up his tolerance before going to lush pastures.

4. Set up vaccinations — Spring is the time of the year to make an appointment with the vet for your horse’s annual wellness exam and vaccinations. Line this up before the mosquitoes begin to get active, as many of the worst horse diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes.

5. Blanket at night — Depending on your climate, it may be important to continue blanketing your horse during the evening when temperatures dip and removing the blanket during the day. Keep in mind that your horse is currently used to being kept warm by a blanket all day and night, and he may not be used to cooler temperatures yet.

6. Give him a bath — Now that the weather’s warming up a little, it’s the perfect time to give your horse a bath and check for small cuts that need to be tended to. Look all over to find abrasions and nicks so you can tend to them as soon as you notice them.

7. Prevent parasites — If you live in a cool enough climate that you discontinued use of wormers over the winter, now’s the time to resume your parasite-prevention schedule. Check with your vet to determine the best schedule for your horse.

8. Fly control — Flies start to get more active as the weather warms up, so start your fly prevention and control now to keep your horse from experiencing irritation as the spring goes on.

9. Check and pick hooves daily — If your area is experiencing a wet spring, hoof care should be one of your top concerns. Hooves that are wet or muddy most of the day are vulnerable to thrush, a bacterial infection that causes a strong odor and weaken the hoof. Use a hoof pick to keep your horse’s hooves free of mud and resulting bacteria.

10. Check your fences — This part of spring horse care is often overlooked, but is an important part of ensuring your horses don’t wander off of your property or out of their pastures. Take a walk around your fence-line and determine if any parts of your fence need to be repaired.

What spring horse activities are you most looking forward to this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Best Trails in Illinois

At South Texas Tack, we love learning about a state by seeing the best horseback riding trails it offers. From trails that lead to the most scenic landmarks to trails that take riders through the state’s history, horseback riding trails are a great way to get to know a state a little better. This month, we’re looking at the horseback riding trails Illinois has to offer and showcasing some of our favorites in the Land of Lincoln.

Rend Lake Trail

For gorgeous lake views, there are few better trails than the Rend Lake Trail. This trail goes nearly half way around the second-largest man-made lake in Illinois. Riders are rewarded with views of wildlife and the tree-lined lake on this 20.6 mile trail in Franklin and Jefferson counties. The trail includes a large visitors’ center and campground and day use areas.

Hennepin Canal Parkway

In addition to being a state park, the Hennepin Canal Parkway is one of the more fascinating trails in Illinois. The trail follows an old towpath next to a canal that was built to link the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Visitors have a variety of options in addition to following the trail: picnicking, hiking, boating, canoeing, fishing, camping, winter sports and more. During winter, the canal often freezes, making it perfect for ice skating.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Making a loop around the 2,492-acre preserve, the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve trail system offers some of the most stunning geological views in Illinois. Riders will travel through prairies, savannas and oak-maple woodlands to see a variety of wildlife and native plant species. This multi-use trail system is great for horseback riding, biking and hiking, and some trails are even used for cross country skiing in the winter. Keep in mind, though, that the trail is not for beginners or anyone shaky with horseback riding.

Des Plaines River Trail and Greenway

Traveling along the Des Plaines River in Lake and Cook counties, the Des Plains River Trail and Greenway is a 56-mile trail connecting a variety of communities, parks and more, from the Illinois-Wisconsin border all the way to the Chicago suburbs. The trail is mostly flat with some gently rolling hills, however, don’t expect this trail to be well developed. Frequent flooding from the river prevents additional trail bed development.

Busse Woods Trail

Located within the Ned Brown Forest preserve, the Busse Woods Trail is full of paved trails for horseback riding, walking and biking. Trail riders will circle lakes, meadows and more while seeing a variety of plants and wildlife. Make a day out of exploring the trail with the various activities offered in Busse Woods, including picnicking, fishing, boating and more.

Wauponsee Glacial Trail

For the horseback riders who also love bird watching, the Wauponsee Glacial Trail in Will County near Joliet is not to be missed. The streams and prairie lands in the area attract a diverse group of birds to guarantee hours of great bird watching. The portion of the trail ideal for horseback riding is 19.5 miles long, and is also used for biking, hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

Did we miss your favorite trail in Illinois? Let us know in the comments below!