Five Things Your Mother Told You to Keep Your Horse Healthy

Habits for keeping yourself healthy can apply to keeping your horse happy and healthy as well. And what your mother told you when you were a kid – brush your teeth, no candy, eat your vegetables, well… uh… it’s true!


Most people acknowledge as fact that if we eat nutritious food, supplement our diets with essential vitamins and minerals, drink plenty of water, and exercise regularly that we can live a healthier and more active life into our golden years. But what about our horses? Surprisingly, it’s pretty much true for them too!

We don’t question that brushing our teeth daily will pay off in the long run for our health. Your horse benefits from some dental checkups as well. Even slight irregularities in how his molars meet to chew food can affect his nutrition. So keep up on his checkups to see if he has a sharp edge that needs floating. Keep an eye on his teeth even more vigilantly as he ages to avoid loss of weight and condition.

Eating junk food has never made much sense. Feeding your horse poor quality hay or grain doesn’t make sense either. Efforts to obtain quality feed for your horse will result in his long term health and happiness. The horseman’s rule to “feed little and often” applies to humans too.

Sitting in front of the TV or computer, in essence – not moving – is not healthy for humans. The older, spry, active seniors in this country are those who have kept walking, jogging, golfing, riding horses, mucking stalls… you get the picture. It is also essential for your horse to get regular exercise and turnout. Every day. If you don’t ride, or even if you do ride – turn him out. The bones, tendons, ligaments, as well as the digestive and circulatory systems of the horse need to keep in motion.

Be sure both you and your horse have access to plenty of fresh, clean water to drink to stay hydrated. Horses that stop drinking can colic, especially in hot weather.

Most people find they need to supplement with some vitamins and minerals they may not be getting in their diet. Both horses and humans require sodium for maintaining good health. Salt is the main source of sodium that is essential for nerve and muscle function, regulation of fluids in the body, and more.


Yeah… your mother was right. Follow these common sense health habits so you and your horse can grow old and gray as you travel the trail together.

What is Mud Fever?

I have read some articles about horses and mud fever, and the emphasis of the articles often refers to mud fever on the back of the horse’s pasterns, just above the heels. In my horsey life, this pastern dermatitis is called scratches, greasy heels or cracked heels. However, when I was studying to become a British Horse Society Instructor in England, we referred to mud fever as a general irritation or bacterial infection of the skin most often found on the legs and belly. And as the name suggests, it is caused by continual moisture and mud, that can break down the natural protective layer the skins provides. Constant moisture softens the skin and the continual abrasive soil, sand or grit can permeate the skin’s protective barrier allowing bacteria to grow and become a problem.

Photo credit: Pinterest

To prevent mud from penetrating the skin, causing mud fever’s bacterial infection, you can do a couple of things. Follow this first and foremost rule of grooming: Do not brush wet mud. Especially after riding your horse through the mud, and the horse is still warm and skin pores are open. It is tempting to use a stiff brush to get the mud off. However, you must let it dry thoroughly before brushing it off. You could hose it off, but often in the winter and early spring when there’s mud, it’s too cold, and the horse will be wet, cold and take a long time to dry.

If you have a barn stall or covered shelter, put your muddy horse inside your clean, dry enclosure and let him dry off, even if it takes until the next day. Then you can brush the dry mud gently off his belly, legs, and don’t forget the back of the pasterns. Keeping your horse’s coat and skin clean and dry is the best preventative measure against mud fever.

Mystery Lameness? EponaShoes Might Be the Answer

Hudson wearing his two front EponaShoes

Hudson, my handsome Thoroughbred cross gelding, had been very slightly lame, but only intermittently. These lameness issues can be a long involved saga, so I’ll keep it short.

It appeared the soreness was in the right front. The vet nerve blocked the right front foot to help diagnose where the pain was coming from and he appeared to go better. We did x-rays and ultra sound with no conclusive results. No swelling, no lumps, no bumps. He had many sound days. But it kept reoccurring. Hudson is not comfortable barefoot, and with riding and just moving around his corral, his feet wear down. He needs horseshoes to protect his hooves from wearing down too short.

At the advice of my horseshoer I tried steel shoes with pads, aluminum shoes, and egg bar shoes with and without pads, but no improvement.  The egg bars actually made him more uncomfortable. Then we tried EponaShoes.

EponaShoes are not made of steel. They are made of polyurethane material and so the shoe can flex with the hoof, more like a barefoot horse. It also has a softer pad on the sole side to avoid any pressure points on the frog or sole. Eponas also absorb the shock from the ground better than a metal shoe, and so is easier on the horse’s joints. I especially appreciate this benefit when Hudson and I go for long trail rides, and some of the ground is a bit rocky.

After putting EponaShoes on the first time, I took Hudson out and lunged him in an arena and he looked sound and forward. He also looked good on the hard driveway. When I rode him, he felt stronger and had more spring to his trot. I began to remember why I thought this horse could have a dressage career.

I still do not know conclusively what the source of his mild lameness is or was. I do know he is going sound, looks happy, has energy and willingness with lots of go, and I am so thankful. I only wish I had tried EponaShoes sooner.

Winter Fun Time With Your Horse


Take advantage of winter’s relaxing barn time – grooming and just being with your horse.

Take advantage of some down time with your horse during the coldest winter months. Enjoy the relaxing, therapeutic visits with your horse on days when riding is not possible. Without the expectation of riding, there is ample time for an extra-good grooming. Grooming is valuable for bonding, checking for lumps and scrapes, and assessing your horse’s muscle tone and weight. I find blanketed horses especially love a good currying to itch those places they can’t get to with the blanket on.

If your horse is stabled, you might take him for a walk in-hand around the barn, or lunge him for a short time without getting him too sweaty. It’s better to keep exercise short and more frequent when there is the possibility of your horse sweating too much in his winter coat. It takes a while to dry out that thick coat, and walking him around with a cooler is helpful to dry the coat and keep him from chilling while still wet. If weather permits, but it’s still cold, ride with a rump rug to warm up muscles and keep them warm while exercising. Plan for a bit more time at the end of the ride for walking to be sure he arrives back at the barn nice and dry.

Free access to water is very important as always, but especially when it’s cold as horses tend to drink less in colder weather. Check for ice and broken pipes several times per day. When I take boiling water out to the barn to warm my horse’s water, my horse comes over for a nice long drink. He has started to look forward to it, so I make sure I warm up his water at least twice a day. Extra carrots are a good way to supply succulents when fresh grass is not accessible.

There is truth to the old horseman’s rule to feed your horse “little and often.” It is advised that to help keep your horse warm feed sufficient quality hay. What type of hay depends on your horse, but foraging on hay throughout the day will help keep his body warm by turning hay into warming energy. A haynet is especially handy in the winter, as it can save your hay from being stomped into the mud, and also extends the time it takes your horse to eat it. In very cold weather, depending on your horse, you might slightly increase the amount of hay you feed him as he burns energy just staying warm.

Your horse’s winter coat will keep him warm, if he can stay dry and have shelter from harsh winds. If it rains hard and blows hard, his coat can become completely saturated. Generally speaking, once it falls below 40 degrees and starts heading to freezing temperatures, it’s appropriate to take extra measures to keep him warm and dry. There are waterproof horse blankets that are designed to keep your horse comfortable. Re-adjust the blankets in the morning and again at night to be sure they stay in place and are not rubbing.

Excess moisture in the field, or standing around in a wet stall can play havoc with horse’s hooves. Pick out his feet often to remove mud, manure, ice and snow. Apply some kind of thrush treatment as a preventive measure against thrush and abscesses.

When was the last time you braided your horse’s mane and tail just for fun? Play around, make him beautiful, give him a special hairdo, add a red ribbon and take a selfy of the two of you. It can be your Christmas card next year!







December Action Rider of the Month – Mari Secrist

 Mari jumping Remy at Novice Level - stadium jumping in his EasyCare Glue-ons.
Mari jumping Remy at Novice Level stadium jumping in his EasyCare Easyboot Glue-ons.

Mari Secrist is a seasoned eventer who had ridden successfully at the Advanced Level. In the world of eventing, the Advanced Level is the highest level and the jumps on the cross country course are 3’11”and in the stadium jumping phase can be 4’1.” Solid fences at almost four feet on a cross country course takes a well-schooled, talented horse and a gutsy rider.

Mari explained, “The photo is of my adorable off the track thoroughbred, Don’t Cross Granny, alias Remy.  Remy’s sire, Valley Crossing, was a stakes winner of $1.6 million! Remy raced till he was 6, and won $26,000, oh well…

“Remy and I are eventing at the Novice Level in that photo, and getting ready for the move to Training Level. He had pretty crummy feet before I bought him. I was having a tough time keeping shoes on his formerly split, cracking and shelly feet. All my horses are barefoot, so the first thing I did upon purchasing him was to pull his shoes.

“His feet look lovely now – no more cracks and splits. But he doesn’t have the thickest sole, due to wearing shoes from an early age until the age of seven, so I usually ride him in EasyCare Epics for the first few days after a trim. I always compete him in EasyCare Glue-ons. Boots that come above the coronet are still not allowed in the dressage phase of eventing.

“It amazes me that no one even notices he’s wearing them! Anyway, he moves quite confidently across gravel or whatever the footing might be, and almost always comes away with a ribbon. How could he not? He’s so CUTE!

“Remy is a delightful character, always happy to see me, and a pleasure to work with at all times. I feel pretty lucky to have him.”

Mari is still eventing at age 65. What an inspiration!

More Feeder Options – The Porta Grazer

A couple of days ago I was interested to read on the EasyCare blog about porta-grazerfeeders designed to slow down the feeding of horses.

This is so important because the latest research shows that horses with empty stomachs are more prone to ulcers. At Action Rider Tack, we found and carry the Porta-Grazer.

I like this product for many reasons…

  • It is portable as the name suggests so a person can carry it around from stall to stall or take it while traveling.
  • It also has a drain plug. I soak a lot of hay to remove the excess sugar. The drain plug makes this so easy and less messy than any other method.
  • The tubs seem indestructible. I have two and have used them everyday since summer. They are dirty but not worn at all.

BTW – One of my mares likes to tip things over. The Porta-Grazer will tip over, and most horses do try this, but they also learn to tip them back upright and keep right on eating.

When the Porta-Grazer is first introduced, it is best to put some hay in the bottom and some hay on top of the restrictor pan. I found my smarter horse figured out how to eat from it in about 24 hours. It took my sweet but less than clever horse a couple of days.

The Porta-Grazer is also available with a lid which can be used as a water bucket.

This thing works so well at an endurance ride, where my horse would usually have her precious water bucket tipped over during the night. I started using the Porta Grazer for her water, not only has she not tipped over the water at a ride, but it holds plenty of water for her!

Water in the Winter for Your Horse

Winter poses new problems when it comes to keeping your horse hydrated. winter_horseMany horse owners find it easy to be vigilant about hydration when the temperatures are high, but it’s just as important to watch your horse’s intake during the winter months. In fact, the combination of colder temperatures, frigid winds and fresh blankets of snow may cause the reduction of fresh water supplies available for your horse.

With the increasing demands that the decreasing temperatures have on their system, horses will increase their food consumption in order to maintain their body temperatures and weight. However, at the same time, horses also tend to decrease their water intake during the winter.

One of the greatest concerns of this decrease in water intake along with the increase in consumption leads to a greater occurrence of impaction and colic. So the question remains, how do you ensure that your horse is getting enough water?

In a research project conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, ponies were offered warm water and near-freezing water. When the ponies were offered the warm water, they drank a significant forty percent more water. They also found that the statistic remained the same whether the ponies were offered water that was kept warm constantly, or if their drinking buckets were simply filled with warm water twice daily. The ponies drank the most water within three hours of feeding or after their water containers were refilled.

Water should be maintained between 45 and 65°F and any ice crystals should be removed. Water should be checked twice daily and provided at all times, as horses will drink 8 to 12 gallons a day.

Snow is not a good substitute for fresh clean water. 6-10 more snow must be consumed for an equal amount of water and calories are used by the horse to melt the snow.

Placing a stock tank or barrel in the barn on top of straw or shavings while surrounding the sides with bales of straw can help to insulate the container and provide a reservoir of water to be replenished regularly.

Moving, filtered water stays fresher and warmer as well. Action Rider Tack offers a product called Farm Essentials Clean Flow Stock Tank Filter which can be used in conjunction with your stock tank.

Please offer any information or tips that you may have about keeping your horses hydrated during the winter for the readers of this blog.


Why Put a Blanket on a Horse Anyway?

Depending on who you talk to, there can be some strong opinions on whether981 a horse should wear a blanket or not.

With the fall season approaching, we thought we would ask our local expert, the Wisdom Pony, to share why she thinks that blanketing a horse is beneficial to your horse (and your pocket).

Here’s the Wisdom Pony with more information:

1.  By providing extra insulation, you will help to keep weight on your horse during cold months. A cold horse uses energy to keep warm, so blanket up and feed less! (See, there’s that pocket savings I was referring to…)

2.  A blanket means that you will spend less time cleaning and grooming to keep your horse clean. In fact, you can add a blanket with a neck design for maximum coverage.

3. A good quality turnout blanket will provide extra protection if your horse should get kicked, bitten or have an argument with a tree or a fence post! (As a human, I’m sure it’s unimaginable to you what those trees and fence posts can possibly say to get us so upset, but trust me, it’s NEVER our fault!)

Thank you, Winged Pony of Wisdom!


At Action Rider Tack, we get asked a lot of questions. Sometimes the questions get asked on the phone, other times, it’s when we’re at shows or simply in our everyday lives. We would like to share the questions and answers here on our blog. (Be assured, as needed, we’ll always confer with our Winged Ponies for their particular areas of expertise.) Please let us know if you have any questions that you would like to see answered here.

Simply email:


Checking Your Horse Blankets

I know, for most of you, it’s still hot out there. So, why are we talking about 993blankets?

Because, as you know, fall will be here before you know it and ensuring that your horse blankets are in good condition before you need them will give you peace of mind.

Horse Winter Blanket Review:

  1. Hardware – Buckles could be rusted, broken, or missing.
  2. Straps – Could be tangled, weakened, broken.
  3. Blanket – Sometimes, after getting your blanket out of storage, you may find that you have pests that you weren’t aware of…check for holes, tears or general loss of thickness.

If your horses are outside a lot it may be helpful to have two horse blankets. We often have freezing rain and wet snow that seems to saturate most blankets after a time. An extra horse blanket means we can switch and allow one to dry.

If your blanket is loosing its waterproof abilities try a spray on water-proofer.

The best way to keep a horse warm during cold weather is not to necessarily buy the best blanket, but to buy the best quality hay. Some horses may benefit from the addition of a concentrate feed, but the process of digesting hay gives off a lot of heat–keeping your horse warm.

Click here to see Action Rider Tack’s selection of horse blankets.

Action Rider Tack – The Beginning

Candy Kahn, Founder and President of Action Rider Tack, recounts how Action Rider Tack began…

Here are some of the highlights from the video:

  • In 2002, Candy had been competing in Endurance rides and her horse, Rogue, began to interfere. Her trimmer placed her horse off-balance so she wouldn’t interfere. Candy decided it was not right and she wasn’t going to do that to her horses. She had the shoes removed from all of her horses.
  • Later that year (2002), Candy took a class on barefoot trimming. At the time, very few people around the United States were barefoot proponents or experts.
  • In 2003, she took a course with Martha Olivo and became a Certified Barefoot Trimmer.
  • Candy wanted give her horses more protection, but the Easyboot did not fit her Arabian’s small hooves.
  • In 2004, at the AERC Convention, Garrett Ford was demonstrating the Boa Boot which ended up fitting Rogue.
  • EasyCare opened distribution to Certified Barefoot Trimmers which allowed Candy to become a reseller.
  • was Candy’s first website and she talked with people across the world about Boa Boots and barefoot trimming.
  • Candy purchased a Torsion saddle (Treeless saddle) and she really enjoyed the saddle. She searched for a Treeless saddle to resell and share with other endurance riders. She found Barefoot Saddles, tested it and decided to sell those as well. The website was no longer a fit for what she was doing.
  • In 2005, another endurance rider helped Candy to come up with the name Action Rider Tack. Candy started the new website and merged into