As every horse girl has, I've tried an endless amount of products on my horses over the years. In the last few years, I've had the honor of speaking with the owners of many smaller companies about products they have developed, as well as developers of products used by larger companies. I like to think I can have a scientific approach to things thanks to my BS degree from college, but since then I've been shaped by a career in business so I have a soft spot for small businesses. Everything in this post is from my direct experience, and daily use of these products!
My Product Selection Process
To start, I'm going to go over my criteria for testing new products for my animals. Feel free to skip this section! I won't be offended 😉 I use to browse the aisles of tack/feed stores and catalogs, reading the descriptions on bottles and pages like I was going to be tested later. 🤓 Whenever I saw something that seemed like it wasn't from a "big" company, like Farnam, I would get extra excited to learn more. I have always had mixed feelings about the big business products - they must be trustworthy because they are so big, right? But how much care do they really put into their product development? Are they still using the same old things they came up with decades ago? Or do they research and update and improve their formulas all the time? How much "filler" are they using to increase profits?
Small brands have their own questions. 🧐 Can I trust them? Do they have enough funding to thoroughly research and test their formulas? How regulated are their facilities? When it comes to our family, these are the things we should be wondering about all products that we use. I am definitely guilty of not wondering at all about most products that I use on myself....but my horses, they are just so important! I'm sure you understand.
One thing that may or may not be practical, but is a requirement for me, is that I will not use any topical products on any animal if that product says it is not safe to use on myself. It is my opinion that if a product will hurt me if it touches my skin, I don't want it anywhere near my animal's skin either.
So today, when I need a solution to something, I go to the internet. I look at the big name products, and I seek out the small ones. I read the About Us sections, the reviews, the ingredients...but some of the best products that I have in my arsenal are from actually meeting the people from the companies in person at horse expos and such. Probably my biggest obsession is No Thrush, and I met one of the founders of this company at an expo. I didn't know much about the product though I had seen it once before. He taught me so much during our short conversation! I've used the product for almost a year now, and it is just so great I tell everyone about it now. I love supporting small businesses, especially when they are creating solutions that are far superior to bigger brands.
No Thrush and Dust On!
Let's start with No Thrush and Dust On! These are my absolute favorite products for treating thrush and white line disease, as well as wounds and skin issues. No Thrush is a dry powder solution to treating thrush, and pairs perfectly with the use of hoof boots (I'll get into those later on!). These products are made from a non-caustic powder that will not damage live tissue. Bonus: the powder will not stain your skin or clothes! Super easy to apply, since you simply puff the powder everywhere it needs to be. The company is very committed to informing us about the mostly unknown details of thrush, and you can read more about it on their website! The summarized version is that horses should not have heel cracks. The crack that is often seen in the heels of our horses indicates a moist environment where bacteria has been thriving...basically, your horse's heel is super infected. 😕 Not only is this why the more obvious, stinky thrush will keep returning, but it causes discomfort to your horse that can lead to lameness. Once you get thrush under control, simply dust their hooves with No Thrush once a week to prevent its evil return!
Their product for wounds is simply the best. I had a scary little cut under Tucker's eye get infected, and this was the only product I could apply since he would not allow me to touch it. I was able to cover his eye with one hand, and puff the powder into the cut. The powder immediately started pulling the infection out, and you could actually watch the fluid pool on the surface of the powder. See photos and read more on my blog post about both these products!
Hay Where's That Blue Stuff
Sticking with the wound care theme, another product that I came across several years ago was a lifesaver when I had to deal with scratches. They make a cream and a wash, and I've been in love with both after our first use! The wash, called Fungus Amungus, is my go-to wash for both my horses and dogs when they have any sort of skin issues. It is gentle and so effective at knocking out scratches or other rash-like things! It suds up beautifully making it really easy to apply with a sponge or loofah. 💦 I apply the cream after washing, in between washes, or instead of washing, and it is equally amazing! Sometimes it is a toss-up between using Dust On or Blue Stuff, but generally I choose Dust On for moist wounds and Blue Stuff for dry ones, since that means both products stick for longer!
The StripHair Gentle Groomer
When it comes to the healthy horse's daily grooming, I only use one product for their body needs! The StripHair Gentle Groomer can handle just about everything: "brushing", currying, de-shedding, bathing, squeegeeing, shining. I have a soft brush that I use for applying fly spray to the face, but other than that I only use the StripHair, a hoof pick, and a hair brush.
The edge of this tool is the magical secret to removing loose hair and dust. On the flat side, there are special diamonds that replace your brush and curry. On the other side, there are smaller diamonds for the nooks & crannies of legs and faces. They are super gentle, and can be used on the face and legs, even the bare skin of the inner thighs without concern or discomfort! The tool is also super durable, and the diamonds have enough texture to break up dried mud. Super thick, caked on mud, might be a different story though! 😂 Luckily I haven't dealt with mud of that nature in awhile so I haven't had any need for such experimenting, but I have used it with a lot of dried mud!
The horses love this as their grooming and massage tool, and I love that it fits in my pocket and is effortless to clean! The StripHair actually has origins as a massage tool - and when the edge is used like you would when de-shedding, it doubles as a wonderful massage for your pony. Long, smooth strokes on the bigger muscles are their fav - it also helps improve circulation, like any good massage, and adds great shine by spreading the natural skin oils! Our grooming sessions were great for bonding before, but we've really upgraded our time together with this tool.👌
Cavallo Hoof Boots
I always have my boots around for the boys! I use them for trail riding and for thrush treatments with No Thrush. Sometimes, we try a barefoot trimmer who takes a bit more off the sole and makes them tender on gravel, and it is handy to always have the boots around to make sure they are always comfortable. After a wet winter, if we go trail riding on hard ground the boots are crucial to their comfort as well! Cavallo Boots are my favorite brand of hoof boot because they are extremely durable, and SO easy to put on. They also don't have much of a breaking in period, which is really nice. You can read my full review about these boots here!
The Safe Tie by Coast Ranch Company is a super high quality tie ring. I'd never used something like this before, but it is genius for tons of tying situations! I mostly use it for trailering, since I tie up to wooden posts that don't have anything to clip something to. But for the trailer - oh my goodness is it easier! I actually just have two short trailer-only lead ropes, so I put them on the rings and I just leave them on. Whenever I trailer, I just load them, hook them to those lead ropes, and when I unload I just unclip the Safe Tie and clip them to the outside of the trailer. 👍This makes the unloading process just a little quicker and less stressful when the boys are excited to go on an adventure.
Nibbler Horse Treats
Of course, what kind of horse mom would I be if I didn't always have treats on hand? I feed Omega Field's Nibblers to my boys, and my dogs too actually! They all LOVE these treats, and I love knowing they are healthy for them too! On big treat-training days the horses can skip their daily ration of Horseshine, because these treats are packed with the same flax-goodness that is found in their supplement. Read more about why we love flax here >
These are my current most used items! I know, the list is actually pretty short. But that is only because these tools include multi-purpose tools! I didn't include the hoof pick or hair brush I use simply because I don't use anything special for either one 😉. I also don't have a fly spray that I love, and just use the standard Bronco one because it works and feels like one of the less harsh ones. I've tried fancy natural types, but they just don't work at all and I can't let Trubee go about with any bugs getting to him as he is super sensitive and breaks out in hives! I do really like the EcoVet Spray...however me and the boys cannot tolerate the smell 😔
Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any recommendations for us!🙌