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Equi-Spa All-Natural Horse Grooming Products

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  • 515-770-3517
  • Sherie Vermeer
  • August 10, 2018 04:39:30 PM

A Little About Us

Equi-Spa is a pioneer of spa quality, premium horse-care products formulated from natural ingredients and aromatic plant essences. The Equi-Spa grooming range combines the healing power of nature, and the principles of aromatherapy to benefit horse, rider, and the environment.

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    New Normal for Horse Industry as Covid-19 Pandemic Bites

    When jockey Manuel Franco edged closer to the elusive finish line on 20th June 2020, it became apparent that his horse, Tiz the Law would win the 152nd Belmont Stakes. The three-year-old colt was cheered on by a small group of trainers, grooms and press members to mark a unique fanless event that took place […] The post New Normal for Horse Industry as Covid-19 Pandemic Bites appeared first on...

    When jockey Manuel Franco edged closer to the elusive finish line on 20th June 2020, it became apparent that his horse, Tiz the Law would win the 152nd Belmont Stakes.

    The three-year-old colt was cheered on by a small group of trainers, grooms and press members to mark a unique fanless event that took place in the midst of a global pandemic. Not even horse owners were allowed to the event to watch their horses perform. In addition to having no spectators for the race, the total prize winnings for the Belmont Stakes had been slashed to $1 million, down from $1.5 million the previous year.

    New Reality for Horses in Covid Era

    It all started thousands of miles away at a little known province in China called Hubei. By December 2019, a cluster of people in the province had suffered pneumonia. Further investigation led to the identification of a novel or new coronavirus that was named COVID-19. This highly infectious virus prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare it a global pandemic on 11th March, 2020. The virus has proven a hard nut to crack and from early 2020, many countries started to lockdown and shut down sectors of their economies in a bid to reduce the spread; to bend the virus curve. People were advised to observe social distance, observe personal hygiene and even stay at home. Learning institutions and other non essential sectors were closed and preventive measures were implemented by governments.

    horse laying down in field

    The horse industry has not been spared by this pandemic. Multiple horse shows, tournaments, exhibitions and training were cancelled in line with government directives. Even the Summer Olympic Games were also pushed to 2021. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) in a bid to follow recommendations against COVID-19 canceled and postponed many equine events. These events included camps, training, clinics and selection trials. Even local horse shows by non affiliated horse event organisers have been affected. The Belmont Stakes were actually postponed and held on 20th June, instead of 6th June, 2020. Organised by the New York Racing Association (NYRA), the Belmont Stakes not only had to be pushed; but the racing distance had to be shortened as well.

    Major Changes in Event Schedules and Handling

    The Belmont is part of the American Triple Crown which normally begins with the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of May. It is then followed by the Preakness Stakes two weeks later. The Belmont Stakes then crowns the event in early June. These major racing tournaments are preceded by prep races up to six week before the Triple Crown. In the wake of the pandemic, a new normal has been registered. The Belmont for example was held first; which warranted for a shortening of the race from 2.4 km to 1.8 km. The 2020 Kentucky Derby is scheduled for the first Saturday in September; this is according to Churchill Downs officials. Information from Pimlico has also indicated that the 2020 Preakness Stakes are scheduled for the first Saturday in October.  

    On the ground, things could not be worse. Many equine rescue organizations in the United States have had to close down operations or scale down. Quality horse care and welfare has simply become an illusion for many. Would-be donors and volunteers are also shying away from committing monies when their financial future could be in jeopardy. With cancelled events and training, incomes have dwindled; in fact, many equine care organizations now have no income whatsoever.

    In Canada, Equestrian Canada (EC) together with the provincial and territorial sport organizations (PTSOs) recommended the closure of all facilities that host equestrian activities. These facilities included lesson barns, boarding stables; among others. The restrictions in movement have affected horse groomers and caregivers. With no camps, clinics or conferences, incomes have suffered as COVID-19 ushers in a new world order. Major jumping tournaments such as the Masters among others were cancelled by Spruce Meadows in Calgary. Top races like The Queen’s Plate were also postponed. For the first time in 100 years, the Calgary Stampede was cancelled.

    The ripple effect has been massive layoffs in the horse industry. Athletes or riders have been rendered jobless with businesses maintaining essential staff members only who they can afford. Seasonal staff have also suffered with the dimming opportunities for work in this sector. Another problem that has arisen has to do with insurance. A rider who injures themselves and needs medical attention during the pandemic may not automatically qualify for cover. This is because many government directives have advised people to reduce risky activity during the pandemic. Risk assessment by insurance companies is therefore another source of worry for people in the horse industry. Coverage and claims could be affected for barns that defy government recommendations and stay open.

    How some equine businesses are staying afloat

    Looking after horses while maintaining high standards of care is not cheap. Horses need to eat with feeding expenses like hay and grain. Other expenses are farrier work, sawdust, feeding work, water stable care and blanketing. A barn hosting 55 horses for example may average up to $25,000 every month for basic expenses. These high overheads have led some barn owners to look into alternative incomes to stay afloat. One such method is a program where you can adopt a horse through packaged contributions online. Horse lovers can get all the updates on their adopted ponies or horses. Other income earners are virtual riding lessons; among others.

    Veterinarian examining horse.
    Veterinarian examining horse.

    Many fundraising initiatives have been launched to help the horse industry withstand the COVID-19 shocks. Governments have also explored creating special funds to cushion equine businesses that are vulnerable. Equine professionals such as vets and farriers have also developed special protocols to observe safety while caring for the animals. Equine suppliers such as tack stores have enabled more digital business to avoid in-person interactions. Horse trainers are also producing video content for online consumption. In addition, some horse sales have gone online as well. However, with all the online enthusiasm, stakeholders are concerned about the longevity of the pandemic. If the situation does not open up for business, the impact could be catastrophic and ultimately, horses will suffer.  

    What is the way forward for the horse industry?

    No one really knows the actual impact of COVID-19 over the next few months or years. However, experts in different industries are rising to the occasion to give a raft or recommendations that might hopefully help in the long run. The equine industry has received interesting recommendations from many sources. In a Hartpury University study, equine experts engaged the horse sector in  bid to understand the problems. The experts drafted some mitigating measures that might help governments or administrations manage better in the wake of the pandemic.

    Professors, equine consultants, veterinary surgeons and equine nutrition specialists under Hartpury University carried out this study and uncovered interesting points. The study found that one-third of horse owners were worried about the financial impact facilitated by the pandemic. This economic strain will affect not just horse welfare and management, but the mental status of the horse owners. Keep in mind that having a horse creates the same bond as having a pet dog or cat. In addition, horses are therapeutic animals that contribute greatly to the mental welfare of their owners.

    Helping the Equestrian Industry Bounce Back

    The study and the recommendations therein are tailored to help the equine industry understand the impact brought by COVID-19 and how best to adapt to the new normal. The study report contains practical advice to all the stakeholders including horse owners, yard managers, horse professionals and bodies like farriers, vets and welfare officers. This study was in the form of a survey containing 16 questions in multiple choice answers with two questions left for free-form answers. The survey brought together 6,000 eye-opening responses.

    Among the recommendations include more guidance by governments regarding the access to financial support where businesses have been affected negatively. The study also advises support for equine charities to create the right capacity that will eventually translate to better horse welfare by owners. To mitigate mental wellness by owners or people who have been affected by the access restriction to horses, the study advises on creation of support systems or networks to foster positive coping mechanisms moving forward.

    Veterinarian examining horse leg tendons

    Horses Coping with Covid

    This survey will be repeated later in the year to assess the progression of the crisis on the ground. Hartpury is a leading equine educational institution in the world. The research findings are incorporated into teaching while affecting industry trends and curriculum for best practices.

    The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation that could head any direction. Uncertainty on when things will fully open up is a source of great heartache for many players in the horse sector. Many governments are working on strategies, guidelines and protocols of how to start reopening various sectors of economies. With many grey areas, what is clear is that the pandemic has changed how we do things for good. Medical and economics experts have stated that it is impossible for things to go back to how they were before. Embracing new norms could therefore be the best way forward to cope with the pandemic. Even with the equine sector affected gravely, all people are reminded that safety has to come first. Evading the deadly virus and protecting others is the sure way to get a good fighting chance to salvage other components of our lives.

    The post New Normal for Horse Industry as Covid-19 Pandemic Bites appeared first on Equi-Spa.


    Do Horseshoes Hurt My Horse And Other Questions About Horseshoes You’ve Always Wanted To Ask

    Shoeing or shodding horses is a pretty common practice among horse owners. Horses have been wearing shoes for thousands of years. Some historians believe that we’ve been shoeing horses since the ancient Roman times. Even with such a long history, many modern horse owners still don’t know that much about horseshoes. So today, we’re going […] The post Do Horseshoes Hurt My Horse And Other Questions About Horseshoes You’ve Always Wanted To Ask appeared first on...

    Shoeing or shodding horses is a pretty common practice among horse owners. Horses have been wearing shoes for thousands of years. Some historians believe that we’ve been shoeing horses since the ancient Roman times.

    Even with such a long history, many modern horse owners still don’t know that much about horseshoes. So today, we’re going to answer all the questions you’ve always wanted to ask about horseshoes but have never had the chance to. And remember, it never hurts to familiarize yourself with your ferrier.

    Do Horseshoes Hurt My Horse?

    The answer to this question isn’t straightforward, but it depends. Horse hooves are made with keratin, the same material that makes our nails and hair. Like human nails, horse hooves themselves do not contain any pain receptors, so nailing a shoe into a hoof does not hurt.

    However, what can hurt is an improperly mounted horse shoe. When a horseshoe is mounted incorrectly, it can rub the soft tissue of the sole and the frog, causing pain and leaving your horse lame. To ensure that horseshoes don’t hurt your horse, make sure that you only work with a professional ferrier.

    ferrier working on a horse shoe
    fFrrier at work

    Are Horseshoes Necessary For My Horse’s Health?

    The simple answer is that horseshoes are not necessary for a horse’s health. However, they can help protect your horse’s hooves and feet. If your horse walks on rough surfaces like stone or concrete, shoeing your horse can prevent wear and tear.

    Furthermore, the wear and tear from rough materials is not always even, and when their hooves are uneven, it can affect their gait and stress their joints. Whether or not shoeing your horse protects their health depends on your horse’s lifestyle.

    Why Do We Use Horseshoes?

    Horseshoes have many uses. The most common is to avoid the stress and wear and tear from running on rough surfaces. However, horseshoes can be used for corrective shoeing. Corrective shoes are custom-made to your horse and help horses with bone or muscular problems.

    Horseshoes can also be used for traction, and they can improve grip on the ground. Some horse owners use horseshoes for gait support. These are typically used on show horses and breeds that are known for high steps. In addition, they can be used for performance on race horses to help them have more grip, add support, and make them run faster and smoother.

    woman tends to a horses rear leg
    Hoof care in general is very important

    Are There Different Kinds Of Horseshoes?

    YeDo Horseshoes Hurt My Horse And Other Questions About Horseshoes You’ve Always Wanted To Ask

    Fullered Front Horseshoe: This is the most common type of horseshoe and is generally used on recreational horses. Fullered shoes get their name from the central crease. This crease fills with soil and helps your horse have a strong grip.
    Straight Bar Horseshoe: Straight bar horseshoes have a bar on the back of the shoe that runs along the heel. They protect the heel from bruising and can protect the bulbs behind the heel. These shoes are generally used for horses that experience laminitis.
    Egg Bar Horseshoe: Egg bar horseshoes are like straight bar horseshoes. They extend further to the back behind the heel and protect the rear portion of the hoof. They are typically used on horses with sheared heels and navicular syndrome for protection.
    Sliders: Sliders or sliding plates are wider than normal shoes and have a rocker toe. These shoes allow for exaggerated slides and are generally used on reined horses.
    Sliderette: A sliderette or a baby slider is similar to a slider but not as wide. They are generally used on rope horses that need some slide but also a little more control. They are also used on young reined horses.
    Rim Horseshoe: A rim horseshoe has a groove or a rim along the outside edge. This rim wraps around the outside edge. This shoe is designed for horses that run fast and stop a lot, such as barrel horses and horses in sports like polo.

    These are just some of the more common styles of horseshoes. There are also patent bar horseshoes, aluminum race plates, rock and roll shoes, and many others. To pick the right shoe for your horse, talk to your ferrier.

    woman uses special brush on horse hoof

    Are There Modifications To Horseshoes?

    There are a lot of modifications available for horseshoes that can help with performance. You can have a toe grab, which is a bar that wraps onto the toe of the horseshoe. This helps with grip at high speeds. There are toe extensions that can help horses that have severe injuries and can restrict the expansion of a cracked hoof. These prevent the horse from knuckling over from a lack of support.

    There are also horseshoe studs that can give your horse added grip, especially on softer surfaces like grass and mud. Studs help reduce the risk of your horse slipping and falling.

    How Do I Clean A Shoed Horse’s Hoof?

    Cleaning a shoed horse’s hoof is relatively similar to grooming a barefoot horse’s hoof. You start by picking out the hoof area to remove any rocks, dirt, and manure. Work from the front of the foot to the back, taking extra care to clean the crease line between the horseshoe and the hoof.

    Next, you’ll want to remove the excess debris with a stiff bristled brush. Make sure to clean around the top of the horseshoe on the outside. Then, apply Kiss A Frog Foot Wash along the soft tissue areas of the sole and the frog. Let it dry for 2-3 minutes.

    Afterward, finish the job by spraying Jojoba Hoof Moisturizing Mist along the periople and let the product drip down. With a small cotton ball, spread the solution onto the hoof, allowing it to absorb. When you are cleaning, make sure to inspect the horseshoe for any issues like peeling, rust, or damage. If you notice anything unusual, contact your ferrier to fix the issue.

    We hope this article has answered all of your most urgent questions about horseshoes. Let us know in the comments if you have any other inquiries about horseshoes, barefoot horses, and caring for your shoed horses with Equi-Spa products. We’ll happily answer them.

    The post Do Horseshoes Hurt My Horse And Other Questions About Horseshoes You’ve Always Wanted To Ask appeared first on Equi-Spa.


    Exploring Equine Intelligence: They Really Are As Smart As We Think!

    Anyone who’s ever owned a horse will tell you they are the smartest animals in the world. However, skeptics will argue that prey animals like horses do not share the same level of intelligence as predatory animals like dogs, dolphins, and corvids. So is it our personal bias and love of horses that have us […] The post Exploring Equine Intelligence: They Really Are As Smart As We Think! appeared first on...

    Anyone who’s ever owned a horse will tell you they are the smartest animals in the world. However, skeptics will argue that prey animals like horses do not share the same level of intelligence as predatory animals like dogs, dolphins, and corvids.

    So is it our personal bias and love of horses that have us overestimating horse intelligence? Are they really as smart as we think they are? Researchers have found the answer, and we’re right: horses are incredibly intelligent animals.

    How Do We Rate Intelligence In Animals?

    There are many definitions of intelligence, but scientists generally agree on specific parameters to help measure an animal’s intelligence. These include things like learning and problem-solving, the ability to communicate, and self-awareness. The most popular method scientists use to measure intelligence is called the mirror self-recognition test (MSR). The mirror test has been used since the 1970s to help determine animal intelligence.\

    How Does The MSR Work?

    horses actually have strong intellect

    Basically, the test is conducted by placing an animal in front of a mirror. If the animal recognizes its reflection, it’s considered to have passed the test. There are some variations to the test, such as placing a mark on the animal to see if they will use the mirror to remove it, but overall, it is the standard intelligence test for animals. The most intelligent animals on the planet like chimpanzees, killer whales, and elephants have all successfully passed the mirror test.

    Did Horses Pass The Mirror Recognition Test?

    We can look to a pilot study conducted in 2017 for the answers to this question. Although the quantitative study is still ongoing, the researchers have had some interesting findings about horse intelligence. The study was conducted on four horses, and by the standard definitions of the MSR, the group as a whole did not pass. However, what researchers discovered was surprising and indicated a highly intelligent animal.

    What The Researchers Learned About Horse Intelligence

    Though the horses didn’t pass the MSR, every single one of the horses tested interacted with the mirror. They all spent a large amount of time investigating the mirror to understand it as well as the image reflected in the mirror. Some did a series of mouth movements in the mirror, while one of the horses did pass according to standard definitions.

    Lukas the Horse is incredibly smart

    This shows that although horses are quite intelligent, their personalities vary so greatly that we can’t simply use one metric to measure their intelligence. Researchers will continue to modify and conduct this test to really get the answer.

    What About The Other Forms Of Measuring Intelligence?

    The MSR is enlightening, but it’s not the only thing scientists have used to learn more about horse intelligence. There is an abundance of research that proves what horse owners already know: horses are incredibly smart. Here are some of the other things scientists know about horse intelligence:

    • Horses Are Great CommunicatorsA research study conducted in Japan with eight domesticated horses found that horses will communicate problems to their humans. In the study, a research assistant placed a tasty carrot in a bucket in front of the horse and then placed the bucket where only the research assistant could access it. The horse then used a combination of visual and tactile communication methods to tell the research assistant they would like them to get the carrot for them.
    spending time with your equine friend helps your relationship
    • Horses Have Excellent MemoryAnother study conducted in Japan tested both memory and communication in horses. Researchers presented horses with 42” touch screen televisions. Researchers taught the horses a variety of shapes and their meanings. They incentivized some shapes by showing horses they would get a tasty treat when presented with the shape. Then, they tested the horses to see if they could recognize the shapes, communicate their needs, and remember which shapes allow them to have treats. The horses were quick learners and easily distinguished between the shapes and use the touch screens to get treats.
    • Horses Can Plan Ahead For Their NeedsIn a research study in 2016, famously called the “Blanket/No Blanket Study,” researchers in Norway taught 23 horses a variety of symbols so they could communicate whether they wanted a blanket or did not want a blanket. Researchers found that not only could the horses communicate their blanket needs but they also opted for blankets on cooler days and opted not to have blankets on warmer days.

    These are just some of the ways that researchers have explored the depths of horse intelligence. There is currently a lot more research being done as we begin to learn just how smart horses are.

    What About Emotional Intelligence?

    Beyond just cognitive skills and the ability to plan, communicate, and remember things, there’s another level of horse intelligence any horse owner has experienced, and that is emotional intelligence. We all know that when we have a bad day, our horses can tell and often offer us comfort and support. Researchers found that horses have a high level of emotional intelligence and can even read our emotions.

    A study out of the University of Sussex found that horses can read emotion cues from our facial expressions. Not only do they recognize our emotions, but they also deeply emphasize and absorb those feelings.

    As horse owners, we already know from experience that our horses are incredibly intelligent. However, it’s nice to know that science supports the truth behind what we believe. We are excited to see what researchers learn next about the way horses think and interact with the world because we can use that information to better communicate with them. The more we communicate with them, the more we learn about how to care for them and how the natural ingredients in Equi-Spa products can help them. Do you have a great story about a time your horse’s intelligence blew you away? Share it with us in the comments for all of our readers to enjoy!

    The post Exploring Equine Intelligence: They Really Are As Smart As We Think! appeared first on Equi-Spa.


    A Deep Dive Into Horse Hoof And Foot Anatomy

    Horses are remarkable creatures as proven by their luxurious manes, shiny pelts, and majestic hooves. Every part of a horse’s anatomy is inspiring and beautiful. There is one area that is of particular interest to horse owners, and that is the feet and hooves. A horse’s feet and hooves are critical to its survival. As […] The post A Deep Dive Into Horse Hoof And Foot Anatomy appeared first on...

    Horses are remarkable creatures as proven by their luxurious manes, shiny pelts, and majestic hooves. Every part of a horse’s anatomy is inspiring and beautiful. There is one area that is of particular interest to horse owners, and that is the feet and hooves.

    A horse’s feet and hooves are critical to its survival. As they say, “no hoof, no horse.” Their hooves and feet provide support, help them stay active, and protect them from illness and disease. Thus, hoof and foot care is important for the health of your horse, and understanding all the parts of a horse’s hooves and feet can help you care for them.

    The Anatomy Of A Horse’s Foot

    When we talk about hooves, we picture the entire anatomy of a horse’s foot. However, the hoof is only one part of the larger anatomy. There are many parts of a horse’s foot anatomy, including:

    • Periople: The periople covers the coronary band at the top of the hoof structure where the hoof meets the coat. The periople is where the hoof grows, and it gives the keratin time to harden before it reaches the surface of the ground.
    • Frog: The frog is the V-shaped soft tissue located on the underside of the foot. The frog provides shock absorption and grip when a horse is trotting or running.
    • Central Sulcus: The central sulcus in the indent found in the very center of the frog. It helps with shock absorption.
    • Collateral Grove: The collateral grove consists of the two grooves that run perpendicularly along the sides of the central sulcus. It also helps with shock absorption and grip.
    • Bar: The bar is one of the ridges found along the sides of the collateral groves. The bars strengthen the heel area.
    • Heel: The heel is found at the back of the frog. It helps with balance.
    • Bulb: The bulbs are the soft tissue bulbs along the back of the heel. They help with balance and weight distribution.
    • Sole: The sole is the fleshy part of the horse’s foot, and it is located in front of the frog. The sole helps distribute the weight of the horse.
    • The Water Line: The water line is the inner hoof wall that has no pigmentation. It helps support the function of the hoof.
    • The White Line: The white line, also known as the laminae, is the white-colored line on the inner hoof. It connects the walls to the bone to help provide support and protect the sole.
    • Toe: The toe is the front of the horse’s foot, and it’s covered by the hoof. Used for balance and movement, it supports the whole weight of the horse.
    • Hoof/Nail: The hoof is the semi-hard nail of the horse. Made from keratin, it protects the toe from damage from impact with the ground.
    • Quarter: The quarter is the central area of the foot between the toe and the heel. The quarter is important for support.

    You can learn more about horse hoof anatomy by looking at your own horse’s foot. Take a moment to identify each part of the foot’s anatomy the next time you are picking your horse’s hooves.

    Disorders That Can Affect Your Horse’s Hooves

    Though sturdy and functional, horse hooves are very delicate. They’re susceptible to damage and disease if not properly cared for, especially in stabled horses. Some of the most common ailments that affect a horse hoof include laminitis, navicular disease, thrush, white line disease, and quittor. All of these illnesses are painful for your horse, but with a healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and good grooming practices, you can prevent these issues from afflicting your steed.

    Caring For The Whole Horse Hoof Anatomy

    By understanding the full anatomy of a horse’s foot and hoof, you can learn how to care for them to prevent any issues. Here are some tips for keeping the entire horse hoof anatomy in check. You will need:

    • A professional pick
    • A stifle bristle brush
    • Water from a hose or in a bucket

    You’ll also need to know how to safely pick up a horse’s hoof. Make sure your horse is tied safely and securely. Then, position yourself near the side of the horse to avoid getting kicked. Gently touch your horse’s ankle and guide it slowly upward. The goal is to let your horse lift their foot on their own. After training, they will soon lift their foot without guidance. Firmly hold your horse’s foot in your less dominant hand and monitor them to make sure the position you are working in is comfortable for them. Once you have their foot lifted, here is how to care for each area:

    Transitioning barefoot hoof, from below. Details: (1) periople, (2) bulb, (3) frog, (4) central sulcus, (5) collateral groove, (6) heel, (7) bar, (8) seat of corn, (9) pigmented wall (external layer), (10) water line (inner unpigmented layer), (11) white line, (12) apex of frog, (13) sole, (14) toe, (15) how to measure width (fulcrum), (16) quarter, (17) how to measure length
    Source: wikipedia.org/wiki/Horse_hoof

    Caring For The Sole, Frog, And Soft Tissue

    You’ll want to start by picking the feet. Picking is how you remove all the dirt, plant matter, and manure that can build up on the underside of the foot. Start with a professional hoof pick and use your dominant hand. You’ll work from the heel and move forward, cleaning the grove between the frog and the sole.

    Continue dislodging dirt, stones, and debris until you reach the nail. Then, brush the foot with a stiff bristle brush to remove smaller pieces of dirt. Spray the area around the frog and sole with Kiss a Frog Foot Wash and allow it to dry for 2-3 minutes.

    Caring For The Hoof/Nail

    Caring for the hoof/nail is usually best under the guidance of your ferrier, so follow their recommendations when it comes to trimming and shodding. As part of your regular grooming, wash the area around the hoof with soap, water, and a stiff bristle brush to remove any dirt. Then, spray Jojoba Hoof Moisturizing Mist around the periople and let it run down. Use a clean cotton ball to spread the moisturizer into the nail. Let it fully absorb and do not wash it off before turnout.

    Learning about all the parts of a horse’s hoof anatomy is important for the overall care of your horse. If you want more information on horse hoof anatomy, we recommend talking to your ferrier or veterinarian or checking out classes at your local extension office. If you’d like to learn more about how to care for your horse’s hooves with Equi-Spa products you can visit our Effective Horse Hoof Conditioning Tips blog or give us a call at 1-515-770-3517. We’ll happily answer any questions you have about horse hoof care.

    The post A Deep Dive Into Horse Hoof And Foot Anatomy appeared first on Equi-Spa.


    The Stoics Pt 3: Dressage Riding and Your Ego

    There is no question that dressage horse riding is a challenge. And you certainly can’t spell Dressage without ego. Oh, yes you can. As a matter of fact, ego has no place in Dressage, literally. Ryan Holiday, a modern writer on Stoicism, observes in his book, Ego Is the Enemy…. “We must be humble in […] The post The Stoics Pt 3: Dressage Riding and Your Ego appeared first on...

    There is no question that dressage horse riding is a challenge. And you certainly can’t spell Dressage without ego. Oh, yes you can. As a matter of fact, ego has no place in Dressage, literally. Ryan Holiday, a modern writer on Stoicism, observes in his book, Ego Is the Enemy….

    “We must be humble in our aspirations, gracious in our success and resilient in our failure.”

    Ryan Holliday

    Sara called me several years ago looking for some help. We found an appropriate horse for her, and she began showing, participating in clinics, etc. Always an eager student, she made it known that her true desire was to show. Like me, she had shown Arabians in the “round ring”, and, like me, she loved to show. She was somewhat new to Dressage, but she had shown before, so, hey, why not? How much different could Dressage be than what she used to do? How hard could it be?

    We hadn’t owned her new horse more than two weeks before showing. I remember Sara was so excited and her new horse, the famous Kiki (see, “That Horse”) also loved showing. Luckily. At her first show, I watched as Sara forgot what direction she was going on a circle. She also had the bad luck of showing to one of the crankiest, nastiest judges I have ever experienced. Kind, constructive criticism was not his thing. Many an exhibitor exited at A with a new butthole. Sara didn’t care, she was SHOWING.

    Dressage requires discipline

    At the time, she was not humble in her aspirations. For one, she did not have a grasp the core of Dressage: the partnership, the journey with your horse. It is learning a new language. I love to show, but I keep in mind that the judge’s opinion is a guide to tell me where my horse and I are in our training on that particular day at that particular venue. I compete only against my own personal best. When higher honors happen, great. When they don’t, great. Sara didn’t get that. She wanted to show and do the test perfectly and win. An arduous student, she couldn’t quite connect the dots that Dressage horse riding is not merely a series of tasks to perform correctly.

    woman practicing dressage riding
    woman practicing dressage riding

    Well, the gods of Dressage had a few things planned. Sara wanted to move up the levels. When Kiki got older and became a little too stiff to get the good scores, we found Sara a new horse. Although young, he was cute as a button with good gaits, and he seemed suited to Dressage. He didn’t have a lot of ambition, but sometimes that is exactly what you need for an amateur mount. Unfortunately, what he didn’t have was a lot of patience for the kind of repetitive rehearsal that amateur riders often need.

    Your Horse is an Equal Partner

    We did well with him, Multiple Regional Champion, USEF Regional Horse of the Year, etc. Then Sara had an unfortunate show. He started to get pissy and realized he didn’t need to work for her, that “No” is an option. In Sara’s defense, she didn’t cause this, her clever little Arab figured it out all on his own. After this show, he tested the waters by gradually refusing to do more and more tasks. Very quickly he made both of us humble in our aspirations.

    Sara, to her undeniable credit, rolled with the punches. We tried everything: changes in tack, bits, veterinary tests, chiropractors and massages, until we came to the mutual conclusion that her horse does not like Dressage and the work it entails. Last week in a lesson she mentioned that she thought of her old attitude: just wanting to show, and how her attitude had changed to, “I just want to ride well.” I could have cried. She spoke the most important words a rider could utter.

    Stick with it through thick and thin

    Why, because despite all of her success, and she and her horses had been very successful, she was humble and gracious enough to realize that all we have is every day that we ride. All we have is each day’s work, each day’s attempt to ride well. That is worth every penny that any of us spend on this sport. All you have is the attempt to ride well every day. To keep your temper, expectations and ambition in check; to push yourself, and your horse appropriately out of your comfort zones. In Dressage, there is no destination. You are always on the journey.

    BECAUSE Sara realized this, she can be resilient. I mentioned that Sara had been very successful. Because of the distance she must travel, she doesn’t get to ride as often as she’d like. One of our first clinicians told Sara that she would never reach her goals because she couldn’t ride often enough. Did Sara quit? No. She persisted! She was resilient. When Kiki couldn’t get the scores as she got older, did Sara give up? No. When the new, cute as a button wonder horse turned on her, did she stop? No. We came up with a plan. She kept riding and trying hard. She kept trying hard to ride well.

    amateur female rider works with her horse
    amateur female rider works with her horse

    Top Three Characteristics for Dressage Riding

    These three characteristics: humility, graciousness, and resilience are necessary to this sport. Humility because you are constantly opening yourself up to criticism, sometimes from your instructor, sometimes from a judge, sometimes from people who think you need their opinion, and sometimes from cruel voices in your own head telling you that you are not good enough, that you can’t learn, that you can’t ride well. Humility also because you have a partner in Dressage. Your horse. One must be humble and listen to the horse’s input.

    Practice these virtues

    When Sara’s new horse expressed a distaste for the discipline of Dressage horse riding, we had to move on. We had to listen. Your horse gives you feedback all the time. Sometimes it is difficult to discern what the horse wants or needs, but you must be humble and attempt to find out. During a training session, the horse resists. Is the resistance disobedience? Is it lack comprehension? Are you asking something that is too complex or difficult for the horse to perform? Put your ego aside and evaluate what is going on.

    Sometimes we think the horse “should” be able to perform in a certain way, so we get harsh or demanding, when indeed, he just could not perform the task. In this I am thinking of collection, self-carriage, impulsion, but it can also refer to canter walk transitions, half pass, flying changes. We must approach each of these tasks with a certain amount of humility and empathy if we expect to be successful. Anything produced by force cannot be beautiful.

    Must Be Gracious in Dressage

    Gracious because we need to be indebted and grateful for every part of the machine that contributes to our education. The horse who teaches us the value of a partnership with an animal; the horse who must put up with our shit. The mentors who have guided us along the path, whether they are trainers, judges or fellow amateurs. Support from our families. From the economic freedom to pursue a passion like Dressage horse riding. Also, from the people who clean our horse’s stall, deliver the feed, bale the hay, groom the arena, keep them comfortable on their feet. That 45 minutes we spend riding our horses, trying to form a partnership is supported by a whole group of people behind the scenes. We need to be grateful and gracious.

    Like the verse in the New Testament. “Cast your bread upon the water…” What you give, you will receive back. For instance, sometimes you are the star of the show or clinic. Sometimes your horse is performing better than expectations. Sometimes your fellow rider, whether in your own barn or the person stalling next to you at the show, is having a rough time of it. Also, sometimes her horse just isn’t working right, sometimes he just doesn’t connect with the clinician, sometimes she is the whipping boy of a particular judge. In these times, be gracious because, my friend, and I guarantee this, next time it will be you who needs lifting.

    Resilience is important in Dressage

    Resilient because, as I’ve mentioned, Dressage horse riding is hard. Sometimes life does not cooperate. You are making progress, then you are shot down by the flu. Your horse gets an abscess. Your family requires some extra attention that disrupts your schedule. As a barn owner and trainer, life is always throwing me a curve ball. The stall help doesn’t show up, or quits, sometimes during a clinic or as I am preparing for a show. Sometimes I must stop my training because I need to stand with the vet or farrier. Sometimes, I’m just tired of meeting everyone else’s needs. What do you do? Do you give up? That’s up to you. Do you let your inner voice criticize you so much that you stop wanting to try? Do you take your frustrations out on your horse?

    The answer is complex, because, yes, sometimes you do. You fall apart with the pressure that life exerts on you. Then you have a choice. Like coal under pressure becomes a diamond, do you choose to become better? Do you get back up again after you fall off? Start your exercise program again? Do you go ride on your own? Do you keep showing up? Yes, you do, because that is resilience. The choice to continue in the face of obstacles. The obstacle in the way becomes the way.

    Humility, graciousness, and resilience. Once again, the characteristics that you must have to become a good rider are also the characteristics that you want to cultivate in your own life.

    The post The Stoics Pt 3: Dressage Riding and Your Ego appeared first on Equi-Spa.


    Equine Aromatherapy: For Dressage Horses and Equine Athletes

    Equine aromatherapy is becoming accepted as a viable complimentary means of care, along with massage, chiropractic, acupressure, homeopathy, magnetic therapy, and therapeutic touch for horses. In fact, there has been positive research correlating the use of essential oils to evoke specific responses in horses as evidenced by this research report published in the Journal of […] The post Equine Aromatherapy: For Dressage Horses and Equine Athletes appeared first on...

    Equine aromatherapy is becoming accepted as a viable complimentary means of care, along with massage, chiropractic, acupressure, homeopathy, magnetic therapy, and therapeutic touch for horses.

    In fact, there has been positive research correlating the use of essential oils to evoke specific responses in horses as evidenced by this research report published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. So it reasons that equine aromatherapy can be encouraged in some situations. Most of my experience has been with dressage horses. This article outlines how aromatherapy can be used for the dressage horse.

    Dressage involves close cooperation between horse and rider; Equine aromatherapy creates balance and clarity

    Dressage is a complex sport that is not only physically demanding, it also relies on the mental conditioning of the horse and rider team. It takes years of training for a horse and rider team to reach their peak, in performance and competition, compared to other equine athletes. Aromatherapy can assist the dressage athlete. Aromatherapy is a perfect resource for helping keep these horses in balance, as Essential Oils work on many levels helping the body balance physically, mentally and emotionally.

    Aromatherapy utilizes Essential Oils, which are made up of compounds that are the reason plants have historically, been used for healing purposes. Equine Aromatherapy is also becoming more common as a means of managing the well being of many high level equine athletes. I personally have had the pleasure of working with several of these wonderful horses and have witnessed positive results.

    Essential oils and their use with and for horses

    When I go to work on a horse, I take 2 blends with me. I offer the horse a chance to choose one of the 2 blends. It is very easy to determine the horse’s preference by their response. One of the blends, Shoe-Thyme, has oils which are blended to balance a horse that is emotionally stressed. The other, CMW, is to balance a horse that is physically stressed and holds tension in the muscles. I may offer a single oil to gain more insight on the horse’s present state.

    For instance, if the horse chooses Show-Thyme, I may offer ylang ylang which helps geldings with confidence, and mares needing hormonal balance. Or sweet orange which is a calming antidepressant for a horse that may be missing his pasture mates. If the horse chooses the CMW blend I may offer black pepper which has a slight analgesic effect and relaxes muscles. Another option is peppermint that is energizing and also helps with respiratory strength.

    girl with pretty white horse
    horses can get real benefit from aromatherapy

    Horse aromatherapy

    I proceed to use the chosen blend, allowing them to inhale, which is immediately absorbed into the system via the olfactory center in the brain and the circulatory system via the lungs.

    Equine aromatherapy requires consideration of many factors just like it would for human beings.

    Sherie Vermeer

    The horse responds by lowering his head or chewing or even closing his eyes. I use a combination of the essential oils and acupressure, moving from the head, poll, crest, back, front legs and back legs on both sides.

    I usually work with them for about 30 to 40 minutes which includes soft massage, unblocking energy meridians and stretching exercises, specifically designed for dressage horses. I stretch out the tail to open and stretch the lower spine. I stretch out the shoulders and haunches. The essential oils are helpful as I work to keep the horse calm and to directly affect the muscle group and pressure points I am working on at the time.

    Essential oils for your horse grooming kit

    Stallions are prominent in Dressage. This presents special challenges due to the number of mares and stallions there who need to be focused on their job and not mother nature.  Some people have used a mentholated salve in the noses of stallions and mares to prevent them from smelling each other.

    This product is toxic if ingested and irritating to sensitive areas like noses. It melts and has an unpleasant taste if the horse licks it.  There is a product available that works, is non toxic, and tastes sweet. It is made with Anais essential oils and beeswax. It gently blocks the smell center and also has a calming effect on the horse. As the beeswax melts it is pleasantly sweet to the horse.

    Equine Aromatherapy: in conclusion

    Often I am asked for aromatherapy for the rider if they are experiencing tension as that could be transferred to the horse. I also try and teach the person responsible for grooming or riding the horse how to use the essential oil blends, and stretching exercises to use at home as it is very beneficial for schooling as well as the show ring.

    The results of equine aromatherapy are horses that are calmer, more focused and systemically balanced.  Riders confirm this by relating stories of bigger more fluid movement and a more relaxed horse, and a positive experience for the rider. You can see related information I have formulated on my work caring for foals.

    The post Equine Aromatherapy: For Dressage Horses and Equine Athletes appeared first on Equi-Spa.


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