A self-proclaimed "helicopter horse mom", Ashley DeWitt is always looking for the best way to care for her horses. From providing top-notch post-workout recovery to keeping a close eye on cuts and scrapes, she knows that it's crucial to use products you can trust anytime you're dealing with equine athletes. As a professional eventer based out of Michigan, Ashley has thoroughly vetted some of her favorite horse care products for fellow equestrians. Read on to hear her must-haves for keeping horses happy and healthy from head to hoof!
Our horses work hard for us. No matter what your discipline is – from long trail rides to running cross country – all of our horses are athletes. As an eventer, I make sure that I am constantly aware of what my horse’s legs look like, feel like, and making an aftercare program that works well for them. I am a big believer in preventative care, so I try to plan the time for most of my rides to practice what I preach. This means before every ride I run my hands over their legs while they are cool and check for bumps, lumps, scabs, and any heat. I repeat this process after the ride before I begin any type of aftercare. While that might make me sound like a helicopter horse mom, it means that I am hyper-aware of how their legs feel and any changes. This also means that if they have any cuts or scrapes I will notice them and can alter their aftercare program accordingly to not cause any additional problems, such as increasing the risk for cellulitis.
Quick & Easy – But Effective
I love liniment and poultice. I grew up saving all the paper bags my parents accumulated from the grocery store and cutting them up to have ample poultice paper. I am pretty picky about what liniment I use since some are too strong and can cause distress for the horse and others risk testing FEI positive. Recently I found some new favorites from the Back On Track Limber Up Liniment. It comes in a spray, gel, and a foam – which I love equally and really comes down to personal preference for application method. The Back On Track Limber Up liniment is certified drug-free (looking at you my fellow USEF/FEI competitors) and provides the relief of soothing and relaxing sore muscles that you expect from your liniment. It is made for sensitive skin and is trusted to work with other Back On Track products, so you don’t have to worry about it causing blisters or not being able to use it with their other products. This is my go-to routine for most harder rides because in less than five minutes I can check all four legs, apply the liniment and toss on my Back On Track Quick Wraps and feel good that I am helping my horse feel better after their work out.
Back on Track Limber Up Liniment comes in a spray, gel, and foam. Whichever you use depends on personal preference.
Easy On, Easy Off – Cooling Wraps
Let me start with I don’t have a freezer at my barn and I am a boarder – so that is the only reason these beauties are not a constant staple in my routine after hard rides. Icing is essential in my program after running cross country or any harder jump school. I even use them after dressage lessons if I am practicing on grass and the ground is harder than I would prefer. Icing – we all know it is great. That is why we ice ourselves, Olympic athletes advocate for icing, and of course we provide that muscle relief to our horses. The Horze Quick Cold Therapy Cooling Wraps/Ice Boots are great because they reduce the heat and swelling after your ride and provide all the benefits of icing without having to place your horse in big ice boots or keep a close eye on them to make sure they don’t step out. I can leave my horse briefly unattended in these while I put tack away, or I can graze them while they ice and know that the wraps will stay securely in place. It is the ideal way to get the benefits of icing without the hassle that can come with it. If I am traveling or it is particularly hot I will leave these in a cooler and I know the cooling cells will stay cold enough to get the job done and provide similar benefits of using ice boots.
At events, I prefer to break out the big guns, especially since going to buy ice is usually a short walk away from the barns. This is when I break out my Roma Heavy Duty Size Zip Full Ice Boots. They’re adjustable so they can fit a variety of horses, because they zip up they’re great for horses who are a bit wary of the traditional ice boots that can be a lot for young horses to handle. Secure, zip, and pour in your ice! There is a strap that can be secured across the withers to help prevent the boots from slouching and also provides some peace of mind while I watch my horse munch hay and move around a little in their stall. When you’re all done you walk them out, unzip, and watch the ice easily pour out. Super low hassle and awesome when you want more of the leg iced and are able to use the bagged ice you get at horse shows or from the gas station.
The Roma Heavy Duty Ice Boots zip up, so they are great for horses who can be wary. Plus, you can leave your non-horsey husband to supervise!
Favorite Products For Common Issues
They say if you want a bicycle that can make bad decisions then a horse is the perfect “pet” for you. Well, they’re definitely not wrong. I feel like every horse I’ve met is a walking accident. Over the years I have learned to keep an assortment of first aid and other supplies on hand so that for anything that doesn’t require a vet I am prepared to treat at a moment’s notice. Whether you’re just starting out or looking for some more products to add to your arsenal – these are my all-time favorites.
General First Aid
The saga of the never-ending scrapes and minor flesh wounds. You don’t want them to get infected but they’re not quite vet-worthy. Enter Vetericyn Plus Hydrogel Wound & Skin Care Spray. It can be used on open wounds or little scrapes, encourages moisture while creating a protective barrier, and kills 99.99999% of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and spores – even those that are antibiotic-resistant. Bonus: you can use it on all your other horses. For this reason, I also keep the Vetericyn Ophthalmic Gel around because my corgi gets eye funk and irritation all the time, so on the rare occasion that my horse needs it, I already have it on hand. Perfect for allergies, dirt, and debris that can all cause discomfort.
You know those cuts that need a little TLC, but aren't worth a call to the vet? Vetericyn Plus Hydrogel Spray is here to help.
Thrush & Other Hoof Issues
I am the weirdo here. I hate Thrush Buster. Don’t get me wrong, it works AWESOME. But I am an adult child basically, which means that the day after I use Thrush Buster I show up to my meetings with purple hands because no matter how hard I try I can’t get the purple off. So if you’re a real adult who can stay clean, enjoy – it’s great. But, if you’re looking for something that works just as good and can treat other hoof ailments, allow me to introduce you to your saving grace: Vetericyn Mobility Hoof Care Spray. Yes, you read that right – a spray. It is made for thrush, white line, and seedy toe. Other bonuses are that it promotes healthy growth in the frog, sole, and heel. The blue is super pretty, easy to see where applied, and far less likely to end up on your hands than some of the other stuff more commonly used.
Preventing the Blanket Funk
I live in Michigan, which means our horses are in blankets for sometimes nine months of the year. We get the blanket funk in a bad way. Dry, dandruff coat and winter rain rot are common occurrences and hard to tackle if you let them get too bad. To prevent all the funks, I prefer to spray the EQyss Avocado Mist after every ride or grooming session to help add some moisture back into their coat within the hair shaft. It is silicone-free and as a bonus, it adds a nice shine and can really help with detangling the mane or tail. You can use it whether they’re wet or dry and it can reduce static build-up, which your horse will definitely thank you for during blanket season!