Most likely when you hear the word colic, it sends chills down your spine or makes you stop in your tracks and think of stories you’ve heard. If you have never had a horse colic, most likely you have known someone who has. Colic is the general term for abdominal pain, but it’s also a sign of something else.

Colic is a sign that something is not right in your horses’ digestive tract. This means there are a lot of different signs and outcomes.

Only someone who knows this horse could tell you if he’s in trouble or just rolling around in the dirt. If he is getting up a down a lot or super restless, it could be a sign of colic.



One, seemingly mild case of an upset stomach can turn deadly very quickly and a seemingly obvious case of colic could turn out to be minor. This is what makes colic so dangerous.


Two, you must involve your veterinarian immediately to determine the seriousness of the issue. Only administer medications after talking to your veterinarian. Pain medications can mask the signs and make and accurate diagnosis and treatment plan difficult.


WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF COLIC? Be aware that many of the signs of colic can look like totally normal horse behaviors.


Pawing the ground. Many horses do this out of habit, or when they want to be fed. Some paw before rolling on the ground, or when they want attention. If pawing is not something your horse usually does, this could be a sign that something else is going on.
Circling as if they are going to lay down. Sometimes they can’t get comfortable and will try to find the best spot and best side to lay on, but never actually lay down.


It is important that you know your horses baseline temperature, pulse and respiration. Have your vet do a thorough examination to get these baseline numbers. Then, if something is wrong, you can compare their current situation to what they were when they were normal.


Rolling. Again, this a common behavior in horses. Normally your horse rolls to scratch themselves. In colic, it can be a sign of distress and your horse trying to relieve pain.

Turning to look at their flanks repeatedly. Horses will do this when in pain as if to find out what is going on back there.

Belly kicking. Most horses will do this in the spring and summer trying to get rid of flies. If there are no flies around, you might want to keep an eye on this behavior as it can indicate a response to pain.

Not eating or drinking. This is always a tell-tale sign that something is up with your horse. You can check for hydration by feeling your horse’s gums to see if they are moist.

Changes in manure output. Checking the volume, texture, consistency and frequency will tell you a lot about your horses’ health. If they stop going, they could be impacted.

Changes in urine output. Many horses that are in pain will urinate frequently, but in small amounts to try to relieve pressure.

Flehmen response. Most of the time this is a normal reaction to a smell, but sometimes can indicate that your horse is in pain.

Abnormal gut sounds. Do you know what is normal for your horse? Sometimes with colic your horses gut sounds will be louder and more frequent, but sometimes gut sounds go away with colic.

Fast pulse. This falls into the category of knowing what your horses’ normal vital signs are. An elevated heart rate and sometimes elevated respiration and temperature are a sign of colic.

Excessive sweating, immobility, or restlessness.  If your horse doesn’t usually exhibit these behaviors and suddenly you notice any of these it could point to colic.

When in doubt with any of these symptoms and behaviors, it is best to call your vet and let them do a thorough examination so that you can be sure everything is ok.

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Sonja with her two equine partners

Sonja's 155-mile Tahoe Rim Trail Ride with Glue-on Horseshoes

HOOF-it and the Hoofstar glue on shoe teamed up with Sonja this summer on a 155-mile Tahoe Rim Trail ride and a 50-mile endurance ride and here is how the Hoofstar performed.

Start of the Tahoe Rim Trail - Horseback with 1 Pack Horse.   On the Trail
Hoofstar Horseshoes -Tahoe Rim Trail.   Hoofstar Glue on Horseshoes


This summer we met Sonja and her two trusty steeds Chip and Tongo and heard all about the adventures they had planned for the summer which included a 155-mile Tahoe Rim Trail rides in July and a 50-mile organized endurance ride near Bend Oregon in August. Sonja agreed to team up with us and take the Hoofstar glue on shoe with her on her adventures!

We spent some time with Sonja a week before her ride to deliver all the shoes and glue she would need for her trip, meet her two horses and help her fit the right shoes. The Tahoe Rim Trail ride would prove to be challenging to both her, her horses and our Hoofstar shoes.

Sonja was able to get a pretty good fit and great bond a few days prior to leaving for the Rim Trail ride. Her husband and other friends would check on her periodically to re-stock her with supplies any products she may need to keep her Hoofstars working for her along the way.

Grazing on the Tahoe Rim Trail 

She experienced all kinds of terrain on the Tahoe Rim from dusty dirt trails to trails over run with shale and rocks and the occasional stream to cross. She confirmed that the shoe had worn pretty well and, in terrain that wasn’t super rocky, the shoes would last 40 plus miles easily, mostly getting worn on the toe.

Packing on the Tahoe Rim Trail


She did however, lose a few pairs out there because the rocky terrain was very unforgiving and it really put these shoes to the test. The stress bending and twisting on the rocky trails would cause the side wall to separate from the shoe and the glue would separate from the hoof. Overall, she said she loved the shoes and would love to take them on her 50-mile endurance ride that she would be doing in August with Chip.

 The Mary & Ann Memorial Endurance Ride outside of Bend Oregon took them about 9 hours to complete and led them through mostly dry desert and some rocky areas. Their ride consisted of three loops. The first was 24 miles, the second 15 miles and the third and final loop was 11 miles. Sonja glued on her Hoofstars three days before her ride and she’s happy to report that the shoes stayed on for the entire ride and performed perfectly for her! She gave the Hoofstar glue on shoes a thumbs up!



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Essentials for your Equine First Aid Kit

Essentials for your Equine First Aid Kit

Every horse owner at some time in their life will be in a situation where they will need (or wish they had) an equine first aid kit.    

Having an equine first aid kit is a necessity when you own a horse.  If you don't have one, here are some ideas to put in yours so that you will be prepared in an emergency. Having one for the barn and another for our horse trailer is a great idea so that you always have one on hand.

Here is a list of must-have basics that should be in every first aid kit:

1. Thermometer – preferably a mercury one. The thermometer should have a piece of string tied tightly to the end of it so it does not get sucked in rectally.
2. Scissors – Try to get special blunt end bandage cutting scissors so there are no sharp ends to harm a jumpy horse
3. Tweezers – you will need these for pulling out ticks or small splinters
4. A Twitch – there are some things your horse is going to object to so a twitch will help keep them calm
5. Lubrication – for using a thermometer
6. A metal bucket – metal buckets are easily sterilized and extremely useful
7. A rubber ground bucket – for soaking abscesses
8. Epsom salts – for soaking abscesses or pulling out infection when applied on a wet hot gauze pad and wrapped
9. Ice leg wraps – or ordinary gel ice packs
10. Bandages of all kinds: Lots of vet wrap, polo bandages, standing bandages, gauze bandages
11. Roll Cotton
12. Non-stick gauze – in varying sizes
13. Leg wraps – these are often used to wrap over initial gauze bandages for a larger wound and then secured by a polo or standing bandage
14. Diapers – great to cover an already bandaged foot and then put a duct tape boot over it.  They can also be used as extra padding for a large wound to help stop the bleeding until a vet arrives.
15. Duct Tape – to secure bandages, or to make a protective boot
16. Animal Lintex – an amazing product that is applied slightly damp, left on under a bandage to draw out infection, can be used for abscess, and all kinds of other soreness.
17. Surgical Gloves
18. Rubbing alcohol – for cleaning utensils
19. Saline – for flushing wounds
20.  Gentle Iodine 
21. Hibitane – a gentle disinfectant that can be used straight out of a bottle or you can buy it in individual small scrubby packs.
22. Bute – A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, Phenylbutazone is like aspirin for horses. It can be bought in an oral paste, a powder, or a solution that can be injected. It is used to provide pain relief and reduce fevers.
23. Flunixin – A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, Flunixin is more aggressive at targeting inflamed tissue and is usually used in the treatment of colic pain, join disease, and to alleviate fevers. A side effect of administering flunixin is usually diarrhea, and as a result, can be used to help in cases of a suspected GI blockage.
24. Polysporin eye drops – this can be used for mild eye irritation. However, there are some serious eye conditions that must be seen by a vet as soon as possible, such as eye ulcers, uveitis, or corneal eye disease. 
25. Zinc cream – can have many uses, one is treating horses for sunburn.
26. 60 SPF Sunscreen – for horses with pink skin that is exposed to the sun.  Horses can get serious sunburns where they have pink skin (usually around the muzzle and eye area) make sure these areas are protected with sunscreen when they go outside.
27. Wound Powder – some wounds need to be left open to heal, blue wound powder is good to keep the flies out and helps dry up the wound.
28. Blue Kote Wound Spray – a bacterial spray that helps to heal
29. Hoof-it Hoofstar boots – These are an excellent temporary shoe if your horse loses a shoe.

It can be used without glue if you have a snug fit and some duck-tape.
Whether you are going out on the trail for a long ride or going into the show ring, you will want to make sure you have these essentials with you so that if anything does happen to your horse you are prepared to care for them.

Lost horseshoe?  The Hoof Wrap Bandage is a great product to keep your horses hoof protected until your farrier can get out to replace the horseshoe. 
Hoof Wrap Brand Bandage 

hoof boot

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Leasing a horse

5 Reasons to Lease a Horse vs. Buying

So, you’ve decided that you want a horse for either equine sport or just because you would like to get out and trail ride, but have
you thought about whether you want to buy or lease? This blog
will give you 5 reasons why you may want to lease your first



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Does your horse suffer from hoof infections or ailments?

Does your horse suffer from hoof infections or ailments?

Okay, so I have never been a big believer in topical hoof dressings. I have always felt like they are more for the human than the horse, a bit of a " horse owner feel-good" product. However, when I sampled "Hoof Doctor," I could smell the difference straight away. I knew I was not applying a typical hoof oil treatment, but I still was not sold.   Hoof Doctor

It was not until the following week that I would start to see the difference in my horse's sole and wall. My horse started with an average winter sole with signs of thrush in the crevices of the frog and a slightly soft sole from winter conditions. I applied Hoof Doctor to the soles and walls of his foot three times a week, and by week two, I could see, feel and smell the difference. His frog infection was totally cleared up. I am not sure how to describe the feeling of his soul, but I could clearly tell that the structure of his sole had changed. It had toughened up, and when I tapped on it with a hoof pick, I could actually hear and feel the difference. It was evident that the structure of his hoof had changed and became stronger.  


The price point was a bit higher than your average hoof dressing, but you did not have to apply daily, and it actually did something and showed substantial healing benefits. This oil is not for human daily feel-good use. This hoof dressing treatment is for horses that have or are prone to hoof infections, thrush, or seedy toe. It is also for horses that are transitioning to barefoot or horses with soft or sensitive soles or horses with white line disease. If you are dealing with hoof issues such as these, I highly recommend Hoof Doctor.




Hoof Doctor is made in Canada and is based on All-Natural Ingredients:

  • Birch Bark Extract
  • Organic Omega-3 Oil
  • Vitamin A & D
  • Other 100% Natural Active Ingredients

Non-caustic formulation & no harmful or petroleum-based products.




Side Note: How about that hoof stand? Just love the new HOOF-it Blacksmith Pro in its vibrant yellow. =)


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Equine Dental


Who should float your horse’s teeth? An equine dentist or your veterinarian? 

As demand for proper oral care in the horse world has grown dramatically in the last twenty years, it is common to find non-veterinary equine dental technicians practicing in most areas of the country, but as demand increases, their practice has put them at odds with licensed veterinarians who believe equine dentistry is veterinary in nature and in the best interest of the horse’s welfare, should only be performed by an actual veterinarian.

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HOOF-it Exhibits at the BETA International

HOOF-it Exhibits at the BETA International

BETA International

BETA International Birmingham England

HOOF-it® lunches the new Blacksmith Pro at the BETA International Show.

Farrier Hoof Stand at BETA

What a fantastic way to start the 2020 year. With the decline in US trade show fairs, my expectations are never too high anymore. In the past several years you can feel the drop in exhibitors as well as visitors. However, BETA (British Equestrian Trade Association) International did not disappoint. It was by far the most well run equine trade show I have ever attended. The staff was so lovely and supportive of all our vendor needs. I really can't say enough about my time spent at the BETA show and it was the perfect place to launch our new Blacksmith Pro. As Liz Benwell said, "BETA is for the trade by the trade." Not only did we meet new retail customers, but they also offered excellent trade talks, social media lectures, as well as equestrian fashion shows. 

The response for using this HOOF-it® Blacksmith Hoof Stand to Apply horseshoe studs was a big topic. No one wants to bend over for that long to apply studs and then jump in the saddle. The fact that this hoof stand allows the horse to rest comfortably while you remove plugs, clean threads and then apply the studs makes this unit a must. 

We have a container of hoof stands on its way to the United Kindom, so check with your local retailer mid-March because the HOOF-it Blacksmith Hoof Stands are on their way to the UK! 

Olivia is applying studs before her big event. As you can see, she can bring the foot back and rest it comfortably in the cradle while applying horseshoe studs.

A farrier finishing the foot using the post to bring the foot forward.  This makes the job easier and more comfortable for the horse and farrier. 

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5 exercises for a better seat

5 exercises for a better seat

A good and effective seat allows us to communicate with our horses when we ride. No matter what tack your horse wears, communication is a two-way street and improving your seat will aid in improving the communication between you and your horse.


In this blog we will share 5 exercises you can do to improve your position when you ride.


Stretching your legs and hip-flexors


You don’t want to just plop yourself on your horse and go. Stretching before you start is important to loosen your hips and legs and improve the direct contact with your horse.


With your feet out of the stirrups, bring one knee up and over the front of your saddle with your leg against your horses’ shoulder. Relax your leg into this position and let it sit here for a minute or two.


Then bring your leg back down to a relaxed position out of the stirrup and let it stretch downward towards the ground. This exercise targets your core and thigh muscles and will improve your position in the saddle. Repeat both stretches with the other leg.


Make sure you stay square in your shoulders when performing theses stretches and focus on letting your hip-flexors stretch when your legs are down to your horses’ sides.


At the trot: One-sided no stirrup work


Once you have warmed your horse up a bit take up a trot and practice removing one leg from the stirrup for a few strides, putting it back in the stirrup and then taking the other foot out of the stirrup. Keep alternating every few strides, being mindful of your position when executing this exercise. Are you falling to one side? Is one leg putting more pressure on the horse than the other? Are you gripping with your legs more tightly? Make sure that your horses balance doesn’t change, his shape doesn’t change and that you are both staying relaxed throughout the exercise. Focus on quality not quantity and make sure you end the exercise on a positive note for your horse.


At the Canter: Half seat to Full seat


This exercise allows you to focus on your position while making sure that the horse's balance and relaxation doesn't change as you alternate between your jumping position and your full seat position. This is a great exercise when preparing to jump your horse.


At the canter, practice going into your half-seat for 4 to 5 strides and then back to your full seat. Keeping the transitions smooth and your horse moving at the same pace. Be mindful when transition between the two seats that your horse is maintaining the same bend and relaxed canter.  Think about your feet and ankles being underneath you and in line with your hips. Keeping your upper body in line and not getting ahead of the horse. Focus on your balance being in your feet and not in your shoulders. Monitor your lower leg while performing this exercise. Is it staying in a position of support or flailing forward? Don’t lower yourself to the saddle to quickly or plop down into the saddle to hard.


Over Cavalettis: Circle of Truth


The circle of truth allows you to improve your consistency over fences and hone in on how your position influences the horse, while at the same time allowing you to focus on the balance of the canter between the cavaletti.


Create a large circle and set up 4 small jumps or rails. Pick a point in the middle of your arena and step 30 feet out towards the outside. Set up 4 small jumps or rails on the circle about 5-6 strides apart from each other. This is a great warm up exercise before jumping and allows you to work on improving the canter between the cavalettis. Really focus on how your seat, leg and reins work together to navigate the cavalettis. Make sure you are using your legs as well as your reins when working in this circle. To challenge yourself, put both reins in your outside hand and rest your inside hand on your thigh or hold it straight out in from of you. This will help you to ensure you are using your core strength. Work on using your leg ques to keep your horses bend around the circle.


Over fences: Gymnastics on a Curve


This exercise highlights the effectiveness of your seat, leg, and upper body in maintaining your horse's balance and straightness through a turn.


This involves four fences or rails set up on a bend of your circle. Make a 20m circle and set fences around it 18 to 20 ft apart. The size of your circle and distance between rails will depend on your horses stride of course, so adjust accordingly. If you have a really small horse or large horse the distances will be different.


Place the rails or cross-rails 6 to 7 steps apart making sure that each step is 3 ft. You can trot through this a few times to make sure of your distance and how much of your outside aid you will need to navigate the circle.


This exercise addresses the ability to keep a turn and not lose your horses shoulders. Use your seat and leg to keep the bend in the circle. Start with rails on the ground to warm up and keep your horse accountable to stay in the center of the fence. You can then try cross-rails or even verticles depending on your confidence level.  Don’t let your upper body get ahead and make sure your seat maintains its balance. Engage your core and use your upper body to balance. Take your time through the exercise. You should feel like you can touch your shoulder blades together through the exercise and keep your upper body back and away from the horses’ withers. You can use rails on two and cross rails on two. Once you have done it both directions evenly with rails on the ground, move to 4 cross rails. You can also use verticals when you feel confident that you and your horse have the exercise down. This is a great warm up exercise before jumping. Don’t over do these exercises doing them maybe 4 or 5 times through.





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Watering Horses


With the temperatures dropping in the evenings and waking up to the chill of those familiar fall mornings, it can only mean one thing. Winter will soon be upon us.

With the cold winter months ahead, it’s important to think about all the things your horse will need to stay healthy through those cold temperatures. The one thing that should come to mind is how much water your horse needs to drink to stay hydrated through the winter months.

You may be surprised to know that your horse requires the same amount of water per day in the winter as they do in the summer to maintain hydration.   

An 1100 lb horse needs about 10 gallons of water per day to ensure proper hydration and minimize digestion upsets.

Typically, horses have more digestive concerns during the winter months than during any other time of year. Probably because their bodies slow down due to the cold and is also because of a decrease in water intake. The decrease in water intake could be caused by a lack of supply, frozen water, cold water, or just not enough water being provided to them.

During the summer months, your horses’ water intake is greater for many reasons. The also get about 75% of their water intake from the grasses that they eat. During the winter, your horse still requires at least 10 gallons of water, but is now relying on you to supply it. Be aware that older horses and those with dental issues may not drink very cold water because of the discomfort it causes their teeth, again adding to the problem of insufficient water intake.

The question then becomes, how do we ensure our horses are drinking enough water to meet their needs during the winter? The use of an electrolyte to encourage horses to drink more may be an option. Other ideas include ensuring the horse has access to water at all times, use heaters in water troughs where freezing is an issue and check the water supply daily. Also, make yourself aware of the symptoms of a dehydrated horse and keep a close eye on them throughout the winter.

For more information about caring for your horse in the winter months, check out our past blogs:

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The height of a horse is properly measure in inches from the ground to the highest point of the withers. The withers being at the base of the main and top of the shoulder. That bony little bump that sits just under the front of your saddle horn or pommel (if you're riding English).

For the most accurate measurement, make sure your horse is on firm, level ground with their feet relatively even. Take a tape measure and stand on the end and bring it up to the highest point of the withers. Record the inches.

After you have found how many inches your horse is, you will need to convert the results from inches to "hands." Horse height is correctly referred to by a unit of measurement known as a "hand." One hand is equal to four inches. Take the number that you recorded and divide it by 4. For example, if your horse measured 58 inches and you divide that by 4, you get 14.5. The .5 means your horse was a half of a hand which translates to 2 inches. This means that your horse is 14.2 hands tall (14 hands plus 2 inches).
There are measuring devices on the market for horses that have hand and inches measurements marked on them.
Some devices are rigid poles with short crossbars toward the top that can be raised or lowered to rest on a horse's withers. These are very handy and give accurate measurements easily.
The origin of measuring a horse this way is very old, but easy to understand.
In the past, people did not have the common measuring devices like tape measures to measure a horse. They used their hands. This would mean holding your hand out with your thumb pointed up and the distance between the edge of your palm at the bottom to the tip of your thumb at the top was about 4 inches. This obviously would vary depending on your hand size so somewhere along the way, the measuring unit of a hand was standardized to mean four inches.

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