I’ll admit, I am very picky when it comes to my personal horse, Dually. While I am fully aware that horses are tough and adaptable animals that do not need stalls, bedding and blankies for their survival, I like my horse to be in tip-top shape, slick and shiny and comfy—for no other reason than it makes me happy. He works very hard for me and he tries hard to please me; in return, I try to do the best I can in caring for him. Between Rich and I, we own about half a dozen horses; while they all get excellent care, our two personal horses, Diggs and Dually, do get a little extra pampering.
Yes, they are in bedded stalls at night with heated water buckets in the winter and they get out every day to run and play in a large grassy field. They get exercised and groomed daily, even when I am not at home. They receive the best supplements on the market—Cosequin ASU for joint health, Proviable EQ (a probiotic) for gut health (something Dually really needs and is highly beneficial for him), Welactin (fish oil) for cardiovascular health and a gleaming hair coat and Calxequin, a hoof and vitamin supplement. Do they need all of this for their survival? No. But are they healthier and stronger for it? Yes. After all, I take this stuff everyday too (the human versions) and I believe strongly that if it is good for me, it is good for my horse.
Diggs and Dually also have a full wardrobe of apparel—blankets for every season and boots for every activity. Again, these things are not necessary for the horse’s survival but they are important to me. I want my horse to look good all year long—not sunburned, shaggy, scraped-up or bug-bitten. I want to make sure that when I load him in the trailer or ask him to perform a high-speed maneuver in the arena that he is protected from injury as much as possible as he does my bidding.
Last year I was fortunate to discover a new line of horse blankets, Bucas, a well-established European company, using high-tech materials and superior design features, which keep the horses comfortable and cozy in all four seasons. The shape and cut of the blankets are far more comfortable than other brands I have used, fitting really well at the shoulders and withers, with a remarkable attention to detail. The durability of Bucas blankets is exceptional—after a full year of use, Dually’s heavy blanket looked brand new after its annual washing (and he is notoriously hard on blankets). And because of the high-tech materials, the winter blankets are comfortable in a wide range of temperatures, as we get here in the high Colorado mountains, so one blanket replaces the need to be switching between a heavy and medium weight blanket. Since our horses get turned out in wooded fields with other horses with their blankets on, they can be pretty tough on them. Over the years I have found that it is cheaper in the long run to pay more for a high quality blanket that you can get many year’s use of, rather than buy a cheap, ill-fitting blanket that falls apart in the middle of the winter.
Our horses wear blankets or sheets all year long. In the summer, they wear Bucas fly/sun sheets during the day to protect from insects and to keep their dark, richly-colored coats from burning in the harsh high-altitude sun. Last week, as the night time temperatures began hovering around thirty degrees, we started using a blanket at night too, in an effort to keep their winter coats from coming in too soon. This is not just for aesthetic reasons but has practical implications since we ride indoors all winter and a long, wet hair coat is difficult to deal with in below freezing temps. The Bucas blankets have a special inside liner that has so much wicking ability that you can put it on a wet horse and he will dry quickly.
While I am fully aware that horses do not need all of this pampering and protection, it makes me feel good to do it. I love looking at our beautiful horses with slick and shiny coats, vibrant dapples and rippling muscles. I love seeing them run and frolic in the fields or sleeping peacefully in their deeply bedded stalls at night. It is personally fulfilling for me to provide the absolute best care for my horses. How about you? What luxuries or pampering do your horses get? What is most important to you in terms of your horse’s care and well-being?
Until next time,