Archive for the ‘North Brook Farms’ Category

Solid Rubber Mat vs. Foam Mattress…Which is ideal for your stalls?

August 29, 2012

When choosing a surface for your stalls, how do you decide which material will provide the most comfort?  Comparing two popular mats, solid rubber and foam, can help with the decision.

Solid Rubber Mats:

Benefits:

  • Long life; added ability to withstand continued use
  • Can help keep dust production down
  • Can help to reduce slippage
  • May assist in preserving your floor’s natural surface

Drawbacks:

  • May require additional bedding materials for comfort
  • Could retain odor and moisture
  • Heavy (can weigh up to 150 pounds); making it difficult to remove and level/clean out stalls

Foam Mattresses:

Benefits:

  • Memory foam material helps cushion tired/strained ligaments and joints
  • May be sized for wall-to-wall coverage in a variety of stalls
  • Remains level
  • May resist bacteria growth

Drawbacks:

  • Initial expense; however, many come with a warranty

When it comes to choosing a stall surface for your horse, for the best return on investment and overall comfort it pays to choose SuperStall®, by IGK Equestrian.  In addition to all the benefits listed above, SuperStall® features a waterproof, woven top cover that helps to reduce labor and disposal efforts and cost, along with a 5-year warranty.

What mats are you using in your stalls now?

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Dust Control in your Arena

July 26, 2012

 

Have you noticed your arena is dustier than usual? You’re not alone. Arena dust is more apparent in the summertime, especially with the hot, dry weather we’ve been experiencing lately. Riding just exacerbates the problem because the more you ride, the more your footing breaks down, eventually becoming airborne and creating dust.

Constant inhalation of dust can cause serious respiratory problems for horses and riders. Here are some ways to reduce and sensibly manage dust in your arena for everyone’s safety.

1. Water: The most common method of controlling dust is through watering. The key is to water heavy and seldom, rather than frequent and light for the best results. Watering is cost-effective, readily available and highly effective if done properly. However, in large arenas you could be using up to 3,500 gallons of water a day just to keep dust under control.

2. Salt: Another common dust suppressant is the addition of salts to your footing.  Salt additives work best in high humidity because they draw moisture from the surrounding area, which helps to effectively suppress excess dust. The downside of this tactic is that eventually the salt will wash away making reapplication a constant nuisance.

3. Wood: An additional buffer that helps to control dust in the arena is wood shavings or pieces.  Wood helps to slow the breakdown of sand while also helping your arena retain moisture. After some time, just like salt, the wood pieces will break down, but with regular watering you should be able to minimize dust for an extended period of time.

4. Footing: The best way to combat dust in your arena is to eliminate it altogether.  This can be easily achieved by using a dust-free footing, such as TruStride® or LiteStride®, manufactured by IGK Equestrian.  These arena footings eliminate the need for watering, reduce maintenance requirements and provide adequate support for both horse and rider.  Did I mention both TruStride® and LiteStride® are dust-free and reasonably priced? Now that’s a long-term investment sure to minimize dust and maximize riding potential in your arena.

How do you effectively manage dust in your arena?

Tips for Cooling Down as Temperatures Heat Up…

July 10, 2012

When the thermometer soars in summer it’s important to make sure your horse remains comfortable. Taking a few simple precautions will help you both keep your cool.

  • Ventilation – Keep the air moving as much as possible in the barn. Try to keep windows open and use fans to circulate air (and keep flies away). Misters are also a good idea for an instant cool-down solution.
  • Shade – When outside in the elements, try to allow your horse the opportunity to lay and rest in shady spots. It is a good idea to keep horses inside during the hottest part of the day in order to avoid exhaustion.
  • Workouts – There is no need to abandon riding altogether in high temperatures, but try to keep workout times to a minimum. After you’re finished, give your horse a cool bath to lower body temperature.
  •  Electrolytes – Providing your horse with added electrolytes, such as a mineral or salt block, can help to replace nutrients lost from excessive sweating.
  • Water – Be sure to provide your horse with plenty of fresh, cold water to drink throughout the day.

In high temperatures, it is likely your horse will be spending a lot more time in the stall to escape the heat and harsh UV rays. Therefore, the maintenance of the stall environment is essential to keeping your horse healthy in the heat.

Bacteria growth accelerates in warm, wet and humid weather, making your horse’s stall an active breeding ground for potentially harmful diseases. Using a stall mattress, rather than only organic bedding materials, helps to combat the excess growth of bacteria and maintain hygienic living conditions.

The SuperStall® mattress, made by IGK Equestrian, helps horse owners use less bedding materials, limits bacteria growth in scorching temperatures, allows for less mucking, reduces the risk of disease for your horse and the cost of bedding for you. SuperStall® will help to keep your horse cooler in high temperatures and allow you the opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the summer.

What are some things you do to help your horse stay cool in the summer?

Respiratory Issues In The Ring

June 4, 2012

I recently came across this article in The Horse on clinical signs of common respiratory issues in performance horses. Most of us are already vaccinating against influenza, herpes virus and other equine respiratory diseases, but plenty of other conditions can interfere with breathing and cause under performance in the ring. According to the author, Dr. Jean-Yin Tan, up to half of performance horses have been affected by Inflammatory Airway Disease or IAD, a condition that causes coughing, nasal discharge and exercise intolerance. Dr. Tan cites dust as a leading risk factor for IAD.

That’s a real problem in sand arenas, where dust is an ever-present, environmental nuisance. Owners of these facilities go to a great deal of trouble and expense to keep sand from erupting into a dangerous respiratory threat to both horses and riders. The usual remedy is water, and lots of it — up to 3,500 gallons a day — just to keep dust under control.

Of course, the easiest way to rid your arena of dust is to install dust-free footing. Both TruStride® and LiteStride® arena footing by IGK Equestrian eliminate the need for watering while providing a supportive and responsive riding surface. And that makes everyone breathe easier.

What kind respiratory issues have you experienced in your arena?

Stall Rest Recovery

May 22, 2012

Having a horse on stall rest is something every horse owner will eventually encounter. Whether the recovery period is due to lameness, show fatigue, suspensory problems, or after an operation, you’ll both have adverse reactions to the confinement.  Here are some helpful tips and tricks to help make your horse’s recovery period manageable.

Remember, your horse is used to being active. It will be helpful for your horse to convalesce in a stall with a window so he/she can see activity happening around them and get some fresh air. Your horse may need some extra attention after being cooped up alone for the majority of the day. Be sure to practice regular grooming habits to help keep him/her relaxed and comfortable. Another animal in the barn provides companionship and a mirror in the stall, or a radio at low volume provides welcome background noise. Adjust your feeding routine by limiting intake to counter excess amounts of energy your horse will have from constantly being in the stall.

The reason for necessary stall rest could also play a role in determining proper care techniques.

  • If your horse has a suspensory ligament, it is important to prevent access to open pastures or arenas in order to limit the amount of physical strain that is placed on the legs. Instead, you could handwalk your horse on short jaunts, but only if you think he/she will be up to it.
  • After shows, your horse may experience symptoms of fatigue, including a slowed pace, loss of motivation, hindered coordination and increased breathing.  If your horse experiences these symptoms, it is important to allow him/her the chance to get plenty of rest.  Be sure to provide your horse with a soft surface in the stall to cushion joints and hooves after extended periods of exercise.

Stall mattresses provide a more comfortable surface, which creates a more well-rested horse that will be ready to perform for the next show. SuperStall mattresses are an ideal choice for increased horse comfort and feature an easy-to-clean waterproof top cover for owner convenience and a more hygienic environment.

What techniques do you use to provide your horse with a speedy recovery?

Top 4 Signs Your Arena Footing May Need an Amendment

May 7, 2012

The ideal arena footing would be cushioned enough for horse comfort with the right amount of traction while causing minimal dust and hoof abrasion. However, ideal conditions are not attainable without proper maintenance.  Achieving appropriate conditions in your arena may require adding an amendment to improve the riding surface for your horse. Here are some signs to watch for:

4. Too Hard: Arena footing materials can compact over time.  Adding an amendment can provide cushioning necessary for good leg and tendon support.

3. Too Shifty: Footing that suddenly shifts underfoot can rattle even the most seasoned horse and rider.  An amendment can add valuable stability.

2. Poor Recovery Surface: Footing that leaves deep tracks or fails to bounce back after use could probably benefit from an amendment.

1. Horse Refusal: Any or all of the above issues can result in a balky horse.  If your horse is reluctant to enter the ring, it may be time to consider an amendment.

Common arena footing amendments materials include rubber, wood chips, or fiber materials. SoftShoe® is an ideal composition of recycled fibers and rubber that provides superior cushioning and stability which resists packing over time.  It can be easily installed with existing footing or in new arenas.  It is an optimum amendment to help keep your arena footing fresh and your horse happy.

What are some additional signs that your arena may require an amendment?

How to Create a Safe Foaling Stall

April 26, 2012

With foaling season upon us, you may have already started preparing your mares’ stalls for the upcoming birth. Here are some important tips to consider when it comes to creating a proper foaling environment.

  1. Choose the Stall:  You will need to choose a large enough stall that can comfortably house your mare and foal, ideally 12 ft. by 12 ft.  Pick a stall secluded from neighboring horses, but with adequate ventilation and light.
  1. Prep the Stall: Thoroughly inspect the stall for any potential hazards, including large splinters, protruding nails and hooks, abrasive rough spots on walls or floors, or hoof-sized traps in the floor or corners.  Finally, remove any strings, cords, or dangling ropes that could entangle wobbly newborns.
  1. Clean the Stall: Take everything out of the stall and thoroughly clean and disinfect the walls and floors. This includes sweeping and scrubbing the walls with a detergent followed by an approved disinfectant diluted in water. Don’t forget feeding equipment, as those items may harbor bacteria harmful to a newborn foal.  Be sure to rinse well and let the stall air dry completely.
  1. Bed your Stall: After making sure the floor is level, now it is time to properly bed the stall for comfort and safety of both the mare and foal.  A foam mattress like SuperStall provides a safe, cushioned and hygienic surface ideal for the foaling environment. SuperStall comes with a waterproof top cover that allows all waste and bacteria to be remain on the surface and be removed with bedding for easier cleaning.  You should also provide a layer of foal-safe bedding materials, such as straw, wood pellets, or shredded paper, on top of the SuperStall to provide additional comfort and security for the foal.
  1. Maintain your Stall: Finally, be sure to frequently clean and muck out your stall after the birth. Maintain a safe living environment free of sharp edges and hazards and provide adequate light in the stall throughout the night in order to keep a watchful eye over mare and foal.

Have you already started preparing your stall for foaling season?  What other tips would you recommend?

Cutting Back On Bedding

April 11, 2012

Cutting Back On BeddingStraw, sawdust, wood shavings, shredded paper and rubber mats are just some of the bedding materials horse owners and stable managers use to help horses stay dry and comfortable. Comfort without dryness can breed disease and odor, while dryness without comfort results in an unhappy horse.

The problem with bedding for both dryness and comfort is dealing with excess amounts of bedding, specifically removing and disposing of it,  as well as hauling out the mats, cleaning and re-leveling the stall base, and re-installing the mats.

Using a mat system with a waterproof top cover helps reduce the amount of bedding and odor, while also reducing disposal costs. A wall-to-wall top cover creates a “moisture tray” that allows for waste to be trapped on the stall surface and easily removed with the bedding.  Overall, a waterproof cover can help to reduce the amount of additional bedding materials, labor to muck out the stalls, and disposal costs.

Recycled memory foam mats like SuperStall®, and rubber-filled mattresses like Equisoft® by IGK Equestrian, include a waterproof top cover constructed of tough, woven fabric that can custom sized to fit everything from a standard 12’ x 12’ box stall to a 12’ x 24’ foaling stall. They really help to keep “stall stench” down to a minimum.

One caveat: a customer has brought to my attention that she is reluctant to install SuperStall® because it would ruin her “social life!”  She and her friends make it a point to periodically get together and work on re-leveling their stalls. The women have even designated this time as their ladies “wine night” and actually look forward to completing this task with one another. However, with the addition of SuperStall® there is no re-leveling, and mucking is much less than with other bedding techniques.

What strategies do you use for reducing the amount of bedding in your stalls?

The Top 5 Complaints About Arena Footing

March 15, 2012

Bad arena footingOver the years, Peter and I have heard dozens of reasons why people want to upgrade their arena footing. Here are the top five, each one guaranteed to make your horse look for the fastest way out of the ring.

  • Complaint #5: Too hard. Nothing makes a horse ring-sour faster than training on a highly compacted, unyielding surface that fails to absorb the shock of concussive hoof force. Except, perhaps, a riding surface that’s…
  • Complaint #4: Too deep. How deep is too deep? Generally, anything deeper than three inches has the potential to strain tendons and ligaments or pull a shoe. Exceptions can be made for reining or cutting, where a deeper layer of footing material is desirable.
  • Complaint #3: Too cuppy. A dry, loose surface that breaks away under your horse’s hooves can make him bow a tendon, strain a suspensory or slip a stifle. At the very least, it will make him resent his job. And maybe you.
  • Complaint #2: Too much maintenance. The last thing you want is an arena that requires an hour of maintenance for every hour of riding. We hear this complaint most often with loose materials like sand and stonedust that require frequent dragging and daily watering to keep dust under control. Which naturally leads us to the #1 complaint about arena footing…
  • Comp1aint #1: Too dusty.  Airborne dust can cause eye, nose and respiratory problems (including asthma attacks) in both riders and horses, reduce the amount of available oxygen at the time the horse needs it most, impact visibility, alarm your neighbors and require up to thousands of gallons of water a day just to keep it under control. Dust is far and away the biggest headache for owners of sand and stonedust arenas.

Fortunately, a dust-free footing like TruStride®, composed of recycled rubber, fiber, sand and wax, provides a riding surface that’s 1) properly cushioned, 2) stable yet resilient, 3) supportive,  4) rarely needs raking and never needs watering because it’s 5) truly dust-free.

Peter and I have installed TruStride® (and its economical cousin, LiteStride®) in more than 250 indoor and outdoor arenas throughout North America. Now folks in these facilities are spending more time training – and less time complaining.

What’s your biggest beef with arena footing?

Fuming over stall odor?

February 23, 2012

Stinky StallThe average horse generates more than two gallons of urine and 30 pounds of manure a day. All that waste has to go somewhere, and in a stall environment, that “somewhere” is usually into a pile of pine shavings on top of a rubber floor mat. Now, no one expects a boarding stable to smell like a lilac grove, but it shouldn’t bring tears to your eyes, either. When drainage is poor, or stalls aren’t mucked out regularly, the resulting ammonia fumes and bacteria build-up can be irritating at best and harmful at worst – for horses and humans.

Bedding material is obviously important, and you’ll want the most absorbent you can afford – sawdust or pine shavings are ideal. And while you certainly don’t want to skimp on all that waste-absorbing bedding, it’s worth noting that the thicker the floor mat, the less bedding you’ll need.

One major cause of stall odor is urine pooling under the mat. Foam and rubber mats provide dual benefits of cushioning tired joints and reducing the amount of bedding needed, so don’t get rid of them. But if pooling is a problem, the mats will need to be lifted, cleaned and allowed to dry completely. This will help reduce odor and disease-causing bacteria in waste trapped under the mats, but it’s also time and labor-intensive.

To give your horses all the cushioning benefits of a mat without the potential pooling problems, consider a waterproof top cover. This is a single piece of tough, woven fabric made to fit wall-to-wall on top of a foam or rubber mat within the stall. The top cover creates a “moisture tray” that allows urine and feces to be captured on top and easily removed with the bedding. In addition to getting rid of all that odor and bacteria-producing waste before it has a chance to run under the mat, you’ll also reduce the amount of shavings needed for bedding, labor to muck out the stalls, and disposal costs.

Foam mats like SuperStall®, and rubber mats like EquiSoft® by IGK Equestrian, come with top covers that can be custom-sized for any surface, from a standard 16’ x16’ box stall to a 12’x24’ foaling stall. They do a great job of keeping “stall stench” to a minimum.

How do you manage stall odor?

Carolyn


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