Monday, June 26, 2017

Flex Tree Frequent Questions

1. Can flexible trees warp or cave in?
We don’t know where this myth came from, but quite frankly, it’s preposterous. Flex trees are relatively new to the equine industry (in comparison with the age old wooden tree), and we suppose that if someone only heard the term “flexible tree” without knowing what it is, this myth would be easily spawned.

Many people hear the term and assume that a flex tree is bendable like a piece of plastic or rubber. In reality, flex trees only “flex” about a centimeter in either direction, and only under pounds of pressure. You would probably find it hard to even see a flex tree “flexing.”

This centimeter of movement, however, is what makes the flex tree more comfortable for the horse and allows the saddle to conform better to his movement. We’re not going to recommend flex trees for roping or ranch work, but we’re willing to say that under trail and pleasure conditions, there’s no way a flex tree is going to warp or cave in.

2. Do the neoprene bars cause the saddle to flatten out on the horse?
No. Flexible bars made out of neoprene are made out of very heavy neoprene; think about the rubber sole of a work boot. The bars will not flatten out on your horse because they are connected to a ground seat, which forces the saddle to hold its shape.

3. Will the flexible bars help the saddle to fit better?
Yes and no. It depends on how good of a fit you have, to begin with. If you have a bad fit, to begin with, the flexible bars may make the fit tolerable, but by no means comfortable for the horse. If you have a good fit, to begin with, the flexibility will allow the horse to work with the saddle, giving him more freedom of movement in the shoulders.

4. The flex trees above are made differently. Is one better than the other?
If you want the highest quality, go with the flex trees that incorporate a wooden cantle and swell with neoprene bars. You get the benefits of strength and durability of a traditional wood tree with the new flexible technology. We don't see these saddles wearing out very easily.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Caring for my Mare & Foal

It is very important to put your mare on a good diet with all the essential nutrients she needs to stay healthy, I feed a high protein feed. Lots of hay and water are also necessary, after all she is eating/drinking for two! A few weeks prior to foaling I like to transition the mare to new pasture/pen as it has a large stall for her to foal in. Changing pastures a few weeks before pregnancy helps keep stress levels down and get the mare comfortable with her new area.

When my mare starts showing signs that she may be ready to foal soon, I wrap her tail so it is out of the way. I also change her bedding from sawdust to a thick heavy bedding of straw, as it is safer for the mare and foal during labor. After the foal is a few hours old I begin to start bonding with foal. Keeping down a number of people in the stall help keep your mare and foal calm, too many people will make her nervous.

To keep Mare and Foal comfortable and safe I keep all animals away from mare and foal and let them have a stall pasture all to themselves. Now that the foal is born and healthy it is time to come up with a name! I like to watch behavior and pay attention to physical characteristics to help me come up with a name.

- Rachael

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

HOW TO GET THE CORRECT STIRRUP LENGTH

Finding the correct stirrup length is crucial to riding safely, having proper control over your horse and keeping a good, balanced form. When you are riding, your ear, shoulder, hip and heel should all be in alignment. If your stirrups are too long or too short, your heels will be too far forward or back.

However, this is not a simple mathematical process. The length can also depend on your body conformation, your horse’s barrel, the type of saddle your’e using, what discipling you’re performing and your own preference. Many beginning riders need the extra security of shorter stirrups.

With the in mind, pay attention to the way your legs hang when you are on the horse. Are you consistently getting pinched? Are your knees knocking against the knee roll? Are you dropping your heel to get your knee in the right spot? Your stirrups are too short. Are you pointing your toe to stay in the stirrup? Is your foot consistently falling out? You stirrups are too long.

The following methods are what many trainers use to judge stirrup length. Try them out to determine your correct stirrup length.

METHOD ONE: STIRRUP TO ARMPIT

  • Stirrup Measuring Method One: Stirrup to Armpit
  • Stand next to the fender of your saddle
  • Using your forearm, place your hand to the stirrup bar
  • The end of the stirrup should end at your armpit
  • This method might need some adjustment once you mount

METHOD ONE: STIRRUP TO ANKLE

  • Stirrup Measuring Method One: Stirrup to Ankle
  • Have someone eyeball this one for you
  • Once you are on your horse, put your leg straight down
  • The bottom of the stirrup should be even with your ankle bone


Two common phrases we hear are: “But I’m extremely tall!” or “I’m the shortest person I know”

If your legs do not fit normal stirrups, you may need to order a pair that are shorter or have more length. Many of our manufacturers offer sets of fenders in different sizes specifically for this purpose. Get your saddle’s make and model handy and give us a call at 866-880-2121 for some problem resolving options.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Abscesses: The common cold for horses

The common cold for humans is the horse equivalent of an abscess. Some horses are more prone to them than others. I have a grulla paint mare that I have owned for just over a year, and in that course of a year, she has had a few abscesses. I have gotten pretty good in treating these things so I am going to share a little about an abscess and what some symptoms and treatment options are.

To start off if you don’t know what an abscess is, it occurs when bacteria invades the horse's hoof and is most noticeable when it infects the sensitive parts of the foot. They can cause serious damage if left untreated. What are some symptoms of an abscess you may ask? Well, the most common and noticed symptom is lameness and limping. This is in result to the invasion of the bacteria into the sensitive spots in the hoof.

However, there are a few more things that you can pick up on that are preliminary to an abscess. These include but are not limited to: fever, swelling of the leg and hoof area, sensitivity to hoof picks, and touch. If you notice your horse displaying any of these behaviors they probably have an abscess.

Fear not! These can be treated fairly easy. The easiest and fastest relief for your horse from an abscess is to have your vet or farrier come out and find the location of the infection of it has not broken through and trim a hole/path for the infection to drain out. However, some abscesses erupt and break through on their own, not needing to have a hole/path cut to drain them.

Once it is broke through and draining it is important to keep this area clean. Some people soak the foot in Epsom salts this is known the draw the infection out of the foot. This can be easily done by purchasing a soaking boot from your local tack store. These make the soaking process so much easier! Have you ever tried to get your horse to put its foot into a bucket to soak? Well, good luck, that’s a job in itself! Trust me the soak boots are a simple solution to a bigger potential headache.

What causes abscess and how can they be prevented? Well, the most common cause is an irritation to the sole of the foot most commonly from a stone or something of that nature getting stuck in the foot. It can even be as simple as a bruise from a stone/rock from trail riding. Aside from that, another common cause is moisture whether there be too much or too little moisture. Finally, dirty stalls are horrible for horse’s feet and can bring about abscesses.

If you pay attention and do your best to maintain healthy hoof care you should be fine. However, if your horse does get an abscess, just be sure to treat it accordingly and get it taken care of quickly.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Summer Horse Care

Fresh Water: During the hot summer months, it is very important to keep your horse hydrated. Always provide access to clean and cool drinking water and keep your water tank somewhere that it doesn’t get direct sunlight. Putting out salt blocks can encourage your horse to drink; if your horse gets dehydrated, electrolytes are a good item to keep around the barn during the summer.

Shade: On the hottest days of summer your horse should be provided an adequate amount of shade with a lean-to or tree. In some cases that shade cannot be provided. During turnout, you can stall your horse during the hottest times of the day with fans for airflow and switch turnout times to early morning, late evening or even overnight. Horses with white (usually white faces or nose) are at higher risk for sunburn sunscreen, UV Protecting sheets are a necessity.

Protection from Bugs:
  • Fly Sheet
  • Fly Mask
  • Fly Spray
  • SWAT Fly Ointment
  • Fly Leg Wraps (optional)


Exercise: Avoid exercising your horse during the highest heat of the day, early morning exercises and evening exercises are recommended. If you ride during the heat of day be sure to try and ride in wooded or shaded areas. Properly cool down your horse and even hose off. While hosing off, it is recommended to get your horse adjusted to the water, starting at the legs and slowly working your way up to the body. Hosing off also helps get off the sweat that attracts flies.

Using a fly sheet helps protect your horse not only from bugs but also from the sun’s UV Rays that cause your horse’s coat to fade out and become dull. A fly mask will keep your horse comfortable as flies and bugs cannot get into their eyes causing irritation and watery eyes. I prefer to use fly masks with ears as they protect from bites that scab up and cause discomfort. To protect my horse to the fullest I used my Power Fly Spray (By Pyranha) to repel flies, mosquitoes, ticks and more!

As an extra precaution, I like to keep SWAT Fly ointment in my first aid kit to protect wounds, cuts and irritated spots from dirt and disease carrying and to help repel bugs as well. Fly leg wraps aren’t a necessity except for some horses (mostly donkeys) that are sensitive to fly bites on their legs and become irritated, the fly leg wraps keep them comfortable and protected.

Rachael

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How to Turn Your Stirrups

After a long trail ride and the resulting achy back or creaky knees, we all realize the importance of ergonomics. One of the most frustrating things about a saddle, especially for those riders with weak knees or ankles, can be unturned stirrups. How many times have you sat in your saddle, flailing your foot, searching for the stirrup? The problem is easy to solve if you know what to do.

Many saddle manufacturers offer pre-turned stirrups, eliminating this problem right off the bat. Billy Cook and Crates saddles come with turned stirrups. Other companies, like Circle Y and Reinsman, have saddles built with such soft leather that is quite pliable, reducing the effort and time of turning the stirrups. But most manufacturers allow you to figure it out yourself. Some ask you to pay extra for the service. But with minimal time and effort, you can do it yourself. Try one of these easy ideas:



OPTION ONE

There are a few products that you can easily attach to the fender to keep the stirrup permanently in the correct position. Stirrup Straight is attached between the fender and the stirrup with a stainless steel swivel in between. The stirrup will hang off-center, putting the fender and stirrup forward so that you can easily locate it and slide your foot into it.

No more ankle and knee stress. No more groping around with your feet. However, a product like Stirrup Straight will add a couple inches to your fender length. Do add extra length.



OPTION TWO

Most riders use the broom handle trick. To do this, follow these steps:

Place your saddle on a saddle stand. Twist the stirrup to the desired position. Run a broom handle or s 2 x 4 through the stirrup under the saddle to the other stirrup. The pair should be resting the direction you want them to be while riding.

Allow the saddle to rest in this position. It may take quite a while for the stirrups to end up staying this way. Many riders replace the broom handle after each riding session, and this keeps the stirrups trained. Additionally, you can add weight to the broomstick or 2x4 with bricks, blocks, or weights keeping the stirrups straight and trained at the same time.

For a more permanent effect, some riders choose to wet the stirrup leathers, then let the broomstick rest in the stirrups until the leather dries. This nearly always permanently turns the leathers, eliminating the need to keep retraining the stirrups. To try this, remember to remove the stirrup leathers, use completely clean water, and apply leather conditioner during and after the process.

However, remember that water is not good for leather, as it dries it out and allows the natural fats and conditioners to leave the leather. The more the leather gets wet, the more it loses its natural softness and flexibility. Some leather may also discolor if it gets wet.



OPTION THREE

Try a twisting method that many saddle makers use. The following are directions for a permanent stirrup twist. You'll need an extra leather saddle string and an extra set of hands.



DIRECTIONS

1. Have your helper fold the stirrup leather in half with the backsides touching.

2. Then take one end and put a single twist in it so that the front side of the end with the twist touches the back side of the end without the twist.

3. Have your helper hold this firmly while you take the twisted end and wrap the leather saddle string around it so that the wrapped part takes the shape of a cylinder. Rewrap over the first tail end, then tuck the second end in securely when finished.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How to Care for Your Saddle

Your saddle purchased from us is made from hand selected saddle skirting leather, chosen for its durability and extreme strength. However, any leather must receive regular care to preserve this strength and long life. At least four times each year your saddle should be completely cleaned with a good soap or detergent, and then well oiled with a good neatsfoot oil.

In wetter climates, this should be followed more often, as continued moisture is very harmful to leather. With a program of reasonable care, your saddle should last for many years. The products we use to clean and oil our saddles are listed below.

THE 7 SECRETS OF SADDLE CARE BY CIRCLE Y

  • Do not store saddle in plastic or other non-porous covers.

  • Allow a wet or damp saddle to air-dry naturally away from any other source of heat. Apply a little Bick 4 leather conditioner when the saddle is nearly dry to restore flexibility. Condition thoroughly with Bick 4 when the saddle is completely dried.

  • To prevent mildew, protect the saddle from excessive humidity. In a dry environment, regularly condition the leather to prevent the saddle from drying out and cracking.

  • Do not use waxes, silicone or other leather preparations that impair the ability of the leather to "breathe".

  • Dubbins and greases are bad as they seal the pores and are greasy, thus picking up additional dirt and dust and slows drying time.

  • Never use caustic household chemicals to clean leather. Avoid leather preparations that contain alcohol, turpentine, or mineral spirits. We recommend Bick 1 as it is pH balanced to be compatible with leather.

  • Do not use mink oil or other animal fats. They will darken leather. Animal fat can also turn rancid, causing the stitching and leather to rot.