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Mother ‘Mare’ I? Gifts for the Horse Lover in your Life

horse shoe with hearts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day is coming up quick (May 14 for all you forgetful folks out there), and sometimes it can be really hard to think outside the box for a gift. Flowers are great, and adding another necklace to her collection isn’t a bad idea, per se, but what about something she could use all the time, something that goes hand-in-hand with one of her favorite things: her horse. Even women who don’t have human children of their own deserve recognition for being a horse’s caregiver, because it’s no easy feat! Here are a few of our favorite gift ideas for the mare mom in your life.

  • The Gift of Beauty. Horses are such incredibly beautiful and majestic animals, which makes their grooming important – not just aesthetically, but for their overall wellbeing. Consider getting Mom a new brush for her horse or maybe it’s time for a new hoof pick.
  • The Gift of Warmth. Most horses need blankets in the wintertime and, while we recognize Mother’s Day is not a winter holiday, it’s certainly a gift that will keep on giving. Plus, she’ll have a new one ready and waiting as soon as the weather starts to turn.
  • The Gift of a Clean Barn. Perfect for the tidy caregiver, our hay bag and soft hay bale are perfect for travel or just cleaning up the horse’s stall; a considerate and useful gift without being an over-the-top gesture.
  • The Gift of Style. Especially if Mom is a trendsetter (or simply likes nice things), buying her a new leather lead or halter will surely make her smile. Not only is it more durable, but there’s just something about leather that looks so polished and professional.

Did we miss anything? What are some gifts you’ve been considering for Mom? Share with us on Facebook!

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A Clean Barn: Not Just For You, Horses Love it, Too

horses out side of a barn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Believe us, when  it comes caring for large animals, we know how many supplies go into it. We also know how quickly those necessities can become disheveled and, if you spend a lot of your day in disarray, it can honestly have an effect on your mood and mental clarity. With nonstop days of feeding, cleaning, and tending to the animals, it’s easy to put organizing off until later but it’s not just you who benefits from an organized barn – think of your horses. Not only will you be at the top of your game by having a clean, orderly space with all of your tools at your fingertips, but don’t your horses deserve a clear pathway to their stalls and a tidy environment to thrive in? It’s been said that when your space is de-cluttered, so is your mind – so if you’re someone who spends a considerable amount of time in the barn, here are a couple of quick tips to help organize that messy barn and take optimal care of your animals:

  • Get it Off the Ground. Hanging things up not only maintains the life of your materials but it makes your barn safer by eliminating trip hazards. Not to mention that by hanging certain things up, you give them a designated space for everyone to return them to. Don’t discount the ceiling if you don’t have much wall space, as it’s great for draping ropes and hoses.
  • Group similar items together. A basic organizing tip is to group similar items together based on their function – like keeping all the feeding tools or outdoor necessities together.
  • Know What You Have. Knowing what tools you have makes your life easier and ensures you don’t waste money by purchasing something you have but can’t find. If possible, give each of your tools a hook and a label, as you can quickly see what you have and if something’s missing.
  • Purge! If you come across something that you can’t remember the last time you’ve used or thought of using, get it out of the barn. You can repurpose it, recycle it, sell, donate, or toss it, but it’s always best to get rid of things you don’t use – it’s just unnecessary clutter.

And, of course, make sure to keep your horse’s stall swept and bedding dry and clean to avoid rodents and other unpleasantries that could affect your horse’s health and happiness.

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Fighting Fleas and Tackling Ticks: A Few Home Remedies

dog scratching fleas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the weather starts warming up, the more alert we need to be to pesky fleas and ticks and keeping them off our pets. Of course there are shampoos, like our premium dog shampoo, and other manufactured ways to keep the buggers at bay (which never hurt to keep on hand), but we wanted to dole out a few natural ways to repel these pests in the hopes you don’t have to deal with them dining on your pet.

  • Beneficial nematodes. Oh yes, you heard that correctly. These are small worm-like creatures that can be ordered online and will put a huge dent in your yard’s flea population by eating them.
  • Natural repellents. Plants like lemon balm, sage, catnip, rosemary, basil, mint, or lemongrass emit oils that repel fleas – perfect for placing near doggy doors or any other place they may be able to enter your home, on your pet or otherwise.
  • Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic powder made of organisms called diatoms that dry up and break apart flea eggs before they can develop; it can be purchased at most holistic pet stores and should be food grade, industrial grade is too strong for your pet to inhale. (Pro-Tip: Wear a mask while distributing diatomaceous earth, as the dust can irritate lungs but isn’t harmful.)
  • Garlic is another natural deterrent and can be used inside and out: garlic water, made by steeping 8 heads of chopped garlic with 1 gallon of near-boiling water for 12 hours, which can be sprayed on your garden.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar is another way your dog can repel fleas from the inside out; try feeding your dog ½ teaspoon per 25 lbs of weight daily. You can also make a solution mixing 4 oz of warm water, 6 oz of unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar, and ¼ teaspoon sea salt and spraying your dog’s coat weekly, being sure to avoid eyes and open sores.

Do you have an at-home repellent routine you swear by? Share with us on Facebook!

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Leashes, Harnesses, and Muzzles, Oh My! Which Lead is Best?

man walking many dogs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 22 is Walking the Dog Day, and, if you can’t already tell, we are all about this cause. There are so many benefits to walking your dog – not only are you both getting some fresh air and exercise, but you’re enriching your bond by spending quality time with each other doing something a little different. But there’s a big part of this equation that a lot of pet owners struggle with, and that’s how their pet behaves on a leash. 

Of course your pet’s manners, strength, and excitability play a large role in how they behave on walks, but using the right leash can actually make quite a difference. While there’s no one-size-fits all answer to which lead is right for you and your pet, we think this little breakdown may help.

The Everyday Leash – A simple nylon leash is all you need if your dog doesn’t pull often or isn’t very strong when  he does pull, but not ideal if your pet sometimes chews on their lead (if that sounds like your dog, consider a leather or metal option.) Retractable leashes are intended for small dogs and allow for you to control how far your pet can go, which is nice if your little guy tends to take off after bigger dogs you don’t know.

The Hold ‘Em Harnesses  – Many pet owners prefer a harness simply because it doesn’t put any pressure on the pet’s neck in the event they pull. Generally speaking, though, harnesses are used for larger pets who don’t pull too much but may sometimes get excited and need a little extra control. Whether you opt for a full coverage mesh harness or simple step-in, these hold dogs by their chest, giving you more control.

The Trainer – For major pullers who need to learn the ropes, there are also leads that gently wrap around your dog’s snout for ultimate control. These are generally effective and intended for large, strong dogs who aren’t aggressive when on-leash but pull excessively.

The Preventative Muzzle – Muzzles catch a bad rap but, for some dogs, they’re the only way that everyone can get outside with the peace of mind nothing will happen (which is a win/win in our eyes.) If your pet is sometimes aggressive on leash, – consider a soft nylon muzzle, it still allows for panting and drinking but avoids bites .

If you plan on walking your dog on February 22 (or any day!) be sure your pet’s tags are up-to-date, don’t forget poop bags, and try to be patient.  And who says it has to be your dog? Walk your cat! Your horse! Even your chicken!  We just want to get you outside with your animal!

Have pictures of you and your pet on a walk? Sh  are them to our Facebook page!

 

 

 

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A Groomed Horse is a Happy Horse

young girl brushing her horse

Anyone who owns a horse knows that maintaining their hooves, skin, and coat is a main priority in keeping them looking and feeling their best – and it’s certainly no easy feat. But, despite how demanding, grooming is an essential part of horse ownership – and not just for the animal’s comfort but as an opportunity for you to monitor for abnormalities. Lastly, it’s a wonderful way to build the relationship you have with your horse; it can truly become a soothing and enjoyable pastime for you both. If you’re in need of a quick beauty refresher course, here’s a quick rundown on how to regularly groom your big, beautiful buddy.

  • Use a hoof pick to clean out their hooves and assess any issues like a loose or missing shoe. Be sure to face their back end and feel for any bumps or abrasions as you lift their leg.
  • Next, use a curry comb to loosen any hair or dirt, distribute their natural oils, and massage their muscles. Brush against the grain of the hair, being sure to avoid any bony, sensitive, or wounded areas. Use as much pressure as your horse will allow.
  • Brush them with a stiff bristled to effectively remove all the hair you loosened while currying. Brush as hard as your horse will let you and use a quick, flicking motion, pushing in the direction of the hair.
  • Move on to a soft or medium bristled brush using the same flicking motion but brushing in the direction hair is growing to smooth hair out and remove a little more dirt.
  • Use wide tooth mane comb to separate the hairs of their mane and tail without breaking them.
  • Of course baths are necessary but for this regular at-home routine we recommend taking a damp washcloth to their face to remove any buildup they may have around their eyes and snout, if your horse will allow. Between baths, you may want to consider a waterless shampoo that can act as a spot cleaner for things like manure or grass stains.

Remember that keeping a horse’s hair clean and well groomed isn’t just about how they look, it truly contributes to their longevity and avoids chafing, matting, and other unnecessary skin discomforts. If you have a go-to grooming trick for horses, we’d love to hear! Post it, and a picture of your beauty, on our Facebook page!

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Does My Dog Need Booties?

puppy wearing bootiesWith the vast humanization of pets, it’s easy to see different trends and chalk them up to people babying their animal – and dog booties are no exception. Many people (ourselves included) laugh out loud at the thought of a dog wearing shoes, but the truth is that some paws simply need protection and we want your pets to stay safe and warm this winter. Let’s start with a quick bootie breakdown: there are those meant for summer, designed with ample ventilation to protect paws from hot pavement, sand and asphalt; insulating, water-resistant boots meant for winter wear; and even ones specialized for hiking to protect paw pads from burrs, rocks, cacti, and foxtails.

So, does your dog need booties? The truth of the matter is that your dog relies immensely on their paws, and an injury to their paw pad (especially if on a hike or camping) can be a painful inconvenience for everyone. Unless they need added traction on the floors in your home, if your dog really isn’t hitting the beach or trail with any regularity, it may be an unnecessary expense. For those who frequently bring their dogs on outdoor adventures, though, it may be a wise investment to protect their paws.

If you’ve decided that booties may be an option for your pet, here are a few things to look for and consider when buying:

  • Ankle support. You want to look for booties that hug the ankle joint tightly without cutting off blood flow or rubbing incessantly.
  • Proper sizing. Make sure the boot fits fairly snugly but allows for some wiggle room to allow for their nails as they move, and make sure the boot does not slip off with ease. Also be sure the materials are appropriate for the terrain you’re buying for.
  • Like most things, you get what you pay for – and dog booties are no different. While we understanding not wanting to drop top dollar on your dog’s shoes, be considerate of the materials and composition of the booties – you don’t want to defeat the purpose by putting them uncomfortable or dysfunctional shoes!

 

Expect a few laughs the first time you put the shoes on and be sure to use lots of treats as you get your dog accustomed to the booties. Eventually, they’ll start associating them with the good times they know are about to ensue and you can hit the trail knowing your pet’s paw pads are protected. After all, it’s just another way to keep Buddy active and in these winter months! Is your pet a pro at sporting shoes? Show us!

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Get Ready to Train…

well trained dog with owner

Because January is National Train Your Dog Month! Dubbed by the Association of Pet Dog

Trainers, this is the perfect opportunity to form a fun and beneficial new habit for you and your dog in the New Year. Training isn’t just about having a dog who listens to your commands, it helps your pet to be a confident and capable companion for their entire life – but having a pet who listens isn’t so bad, either. Whether you want to work on barking, recall, everyday commands, or special tricks, the basics of training remain the same: you want to start small, and keep sessions short (around 15 minutes, working up to 30) and fun. We suggest trying to make training part of your every day (even if it’s just for the month of January) because it will help establish the routine, as well as blocking out some quality time to bond with your pet. While your community may be holding events to honor the occasion, here are a few of our favorite ways to get involved in Train Your Dog Month.

  • Training Classes. Training classes are great for two reasons: they teach you how to train and inevitably give your pet a crash course in socialization. You can talk to your veterinarian or even an associate at your local pet retailer to see where you can enroll.
  • Hire a Trainer. If you’d rather avoid the hubbub of a group training course, you can always hire a trainer to come over and work on the specific things you’d like to be addressed. This is a great opportunity for you to really absorb what your dog responds to and how you can continue the training once the professional leaves.
  • How-To Videos. For those with a basic understanding of positive reinforcement training, there are plenty of how-to videos online to give the extra boost and save a little cash.
  • Host Your Own Group. Have a few friends over and revisit the basics together; again, this is great for socialization and you may all have different tactics for different things so it’s a great opportunity to share what’s worked for you.

 

So get out the quick lead or show lead leashes, Pro-Treat Original Training Treats, and clickers because 2017 is going to be the year your dog stops nuisance barking, comes when called, and stops begging. If you have any tricks or tips that worked for you and your dog, share with our friends on Facebook!

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Winterizing the Barn: Tips to Keep Livestock Safe

winter horse barnWith whipping winds, snowstorms, and freezing temperatures, winter can be hard on your barn and the livestock inside it. Winterizing should really be done in the calmer months leading up to winter but, if the weather in your area’s given you a little more time, here are a few things you should check, fix, and clear to help your animals have a safe, warm winter.

  • Low-Hanging Branches. Trim any branches that could blow into your barn and break a window or wear down the wood.
  • Replace any broken windows, fence posts, and broken or expired products.
  • Do an Electrical Check. Faulty wiring is the leading cause of barn fires, so do your due diligence in checking that the wires, fuse box, and electrical cords are up to snuff and ready to withstand the winter. *Pro-Tip: Don’t forget to clean the furnace filters, too!
  • Sweep Away Debris. Which can be a fire risk. Get rid of cobwebs and make sure straw and hay have adequate containers to avoid it getting everywhere. Furthermore, make sure to store flammable products away from the barn and consider installing fire alarms if you don’t already have them.
  • Stockpile Sand and Salt. Keep a good amount of sand and/or salt near the entrance of the barn to break down ice and give animals traction if they’re taken out.
  • Insulation. You can have the barn insulated professionally or DIY but it makes a big difference. Furthermore, consider putting some plastic over the windows loose enough to let fresh air in but tight enough to eliminate cold drafts. And don’t forget to check the roof for any inadequacies as well.
  • Check Water Supply. Check that pressure is good to go and delivery is sufficient. You may have to use warm water, so be sure the heating unit is in good condition and the supply is adequate.

Of course don’t forget to stock up on hay, grains, and any medicines your animals may need if the weather gets really bad. Be sure blankets are accessible and livestock is as comfortable as possible outside.

How do you winterize your barn? Any tips or tricks you swear by? Share with us on Facebook!

 

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Staying Safe During Hunting Season

dog with bright orange collarFor some of us, winter is when we hunker down and stay inside, but for others it’s time to grab some gear, guns, and maybe even a tent because it’s hunting season. While responsible hunters are well versed in safety, it’s also important for non-hunters in the area to be cautious and aware, too – especially on behalf of their pets. If you live near or frequent an area where hunting happens, here are a few quick safety tips for your animal that could possibly save their life.

  • Bright Clothing. For you and Fido. Make sure your dog has a bright, reflective collar or vest that helps them stay safe and seen; you should avoid earth tones and consider a bright vest as well.
  • Make Noise. You can whistle, clap occasionally, strap bells to your ankles – whatever you want – just make a little noise so hunters in the area know. If you hear them shout, be sure to respond so they really know you’re there.
  • Keep Pets On Leash. To avoid them chasing after deer or other animals that could be being peeped through the scope of a gun. Unless you really trust your animal and their recall, it’s definitely safest to keep them on a leash during hunting season. If that’s simply not an option, and your pet has to get out off leash, do your research and don’t go out during peak times.
  • Proper I.D. Make sure your pet’s tags are secured and up-to-date, you never know if the sound of gunfire could cause them to panic and run away. If you already know this about your pet, avoid going out during this time (they’re not having fun anyway.)
  • Avoid the Trail. Consider re-routing your hikes to a more popular trail if possible. If it’s not an option, just be as safe and aware as you possibly can – there’s no such thing as  too bright or too loud!

 

If you have specific questions about the hunting season in your area and how to stay safe, go to your local sporting good or outdoor gear retailer and pick the employee’s brains – if they don’t know, they’ll be able to put you in touch with someone who does.

 

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Tips for Winter Weather Horse Care

Winter horse with blanket

Seeing as cold weather isn’t exactly conducive to long, relaxing rides, it’s no secret that winter isn’t the ideal season for horse ownership; but caring for them certainly doesn’t come to a halt. Here are a few dos and don’ts when caring for your horse this snow season.

DO:

  • Keep their water fresh. Be diligent in making sure their water doesn’t freeze, as they need to stay hydrated no matter how cloudy or cold it is.
  • Continue an exercise regimen. Whether you continue riding or safely do some longeing, you must keep your horse active so they’re strong for riding in the warmer months. If weather simply won’t allow for activity, be sure to turn them out to pasture daily.
  • Maintain regular grooming and hoof care. Whether you’re riding them or not, regular grooming contributes to their health and allows you to survey them head to hoof for any potential issues. Proper farrier care is also recommended every 6 to 8 weeks regardless of the season because a horse’s hooves are essentially their lifeline, making their care incredibly important.
  • Increase rations. Horses burn more calories to stay warm in winter months, which may mean significant weight loss for some horses. Unless your horse is on a calorie-restricted diet talk with your vet about ideal feeding portions for your horse during the winter.

DON’T:

  • Over blanket. We totally understand the urge to run outside and throw another blanket on your horse when you see them standing in the cold from the comfort of your warm home, but the truth is over-blanketing can cause dehydration which can yield a slew of other health issues. For horses with a haircut, sure, a blanket may be necessary; but a horse with a natural winter coat who’s in good health will be fine with adequate shelter.
  • Close the barn door. This is another one that goes against our cold-weather instincts, but proper airflow in the barn maintains good air quality for your horses. Note: even in the winter, horses should be left outside most of the day and brought in at night – just as long as they have a three-sided shelter to escape the elements if needed.
  • Override an out of shape horse. This is more of a post-winter tip, but if you and your horse took the winter months off from exercise, it’s imperative to ease back into activity to avoid a musculoskeletal injury.

 

If you have any questions or concerns about your horse’s comfort in the winter, talk with your veterinarian for advice tailored to your animal and lifestyle.

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