Lady Bits and Riding Special Section


In the coming weeks, we’ll be featuring articles and reviews dedicated specifically to our lady bits and riding.

We’ll talk about comfort and discomfort in the saddle. We’ll highlight concerns, strategies, and solutions. No topic is out of the question if it’s a concern to you:

  • incontinence
  • sexuality
  • jock itch (yes, gals get jock itch, too)
  • pelvic floor and core strength

We have support (physically and promotionally) from the wonderful women at Title Nine. They’ve sent us some fabulous sports bras from Patagonia, Lole, Brooks, and others. Stay tuned for bra reviews with the horse rider specifically in mind.

We’ll talk with doctors and link to about issues affecting women riders.

Let us hear from you! Tell us what you want and need to know about. Comment here or send us a message.

Not on facebook? Send us an email at Got a sensitive comment or question? No worries! Your name will be kept confidential.

Horse-related Spring To-Do’s

Regular deliveries of fly predators will help fly control immensely

In some parts of our horsey world, spring has sprung. Trail riding season is coming and it pays to formulate a spring To Do list and tackle it before the season is upon us. Here are some preliminary suggestions:

  • Consider flies before they show up.

I’ve been using Spalding Labs’ predator flies for the past several years. Their strategy is simple: introduce tiny flies that prey on what us horses and humans consider pesky and irritating flies. It has been incredibly effective; I bought just one bottle of fly repellant last year and didn’t even use all of it.

But here’s the thing: you’ve got to plan ahead. Order now and you will receive your first shipment in May (or earlier, depending on where you live). The proof is in the flies. These little guys will make your summer days exponentially more enjoyable.

Before you load up your equine partner for a fun outing, make sure the carrier of your precious cargo is safe. Ignoring routine maintenance has been known to end tragically. Don’t think that you can just pull it out, hook it up, and take off on your merry way. Read more here.

For years, Bobby Fantarella, owner of Elm City Trailers, has provided us with not just trailers but excellent trailer safety tips. Check them out here.

  • Check and reboot your first aid kit.

Many first aid kit ingredients can go bad over time, especially if they have been frozen or subjected to a wide range of ambient temperatures. You can make up your own or order them.

Here is our check list for what to have for your horses.

Check out Adventure Medical for some excellent human and Me and My Dog kits.

  • Consider Wellness Plans

Invest now, benefit throughout the year. Third Coast Equine has Wellness Plans that can help with planning and optimizing your wallet and your horses’ health.

Valentine’s Day gift ideas for us horse lovers

vdayValentine’s Day is around the corner and we’ve got some great ideas for the horse-inclined. Feel free to share this post with your loved ones with the subject line: “Hint, Hint!”


  • Beautiful and meaningful jewelry and fobs made with your own horses’ hair. Brittany Fantarella has a diverse array of items she can create with mane and/or tail hair you send to her. Check it out here.


  • New jeans! Denim Express has Wranglers, Cruel Girl, Carhartt, and even its own Made in America brand. Free shipping on orders over $70. Read more here.

v day ideas

  • Books and Music: Current favorite CD’s are Wylie Gustafson’s Hang-n-Rattle and Paul Zarzyski’s double CD of poetry and music, Steering with my Knees. Feeling more contemplative? When you order A Rider’s Reader: Exploring Horse Sense, Science & Sentiment, we’ll include goodies like bumperstickers and lip balms. Holiday special, just $15. Order here.



  • Why not shoot for the moon? Western Sky Saddlery has the best prices on the best saddles around. Elaine and Terry Welland are wonderfully helpful and knowledgeable. Check out your options here.


Vets as welcome resources

colonelFrom birth to death, veterinarians are Go-To sources for our horses’ medical decisions. They answer a broad spectrum of questions from disease to forage, hoof to tail, optic to colic. Inevitably, we say, “While you’re here, Doc…” because there is always something more they can answer.

At NickerNews and BestHorsePractices, we’re pleased to have several, accomplished vets as partners and sponsors:

We welcome back Dr. Janelle Tirrell, owner of Third Coast Equine Services in Palermo, Maine! Tirrell wants to remind clients to sign up before March 1 for Third Coast Wellness Plans.

janelle welnessWellness Plans can help manage the risk and cost of horse care. You pay a lump sum to receive Spring and Fall farm calls with a variety of services covered. Third Coast offers three tiers of Wellness Plans, with varying services and prices.

An added bonus? In the event of an emergency, Third Coast will come for a follow-up Farm Call, no charge.

We welcome South Shore Equine Clinic and Diagnostic Center of Plympton, Massachusetts!

South Shore Equine, headed by Dr. Mark Reilly, has four vets on staff and an impressive, 7,000 foot facility with exercise areas, grass paddocks, and surgical rooms.

sse usePerhaps more helpful is SSE’s extensive educational library. There are articles on Cushings, hives, sheath cleaning, laminitis and much more.

For those living near Plympton, check out their Horse Owner Education Series, running through March.

Read about Dr. Reilly’s innovative Lyme testing protocol here.

Stay Warm Tips for horse owners

  • IMG_2844Car rides with the windows down
  • Tall, ice-filled drinks
  • Ocean swims with your horse

The pleasures of summer seem far, far away.

At my place, pasture walks are slow, laborious efforts of postholing, walking in snow that goes to my thighs and fills my boots. I’d like to say “I Love Winter,” but, truth be told, I’m not a huge fan. It does have merit, though:

Animals tracks tell stories we’d otherwise never read.

Hot pie and cocoa taste better.

IMG_2653It makes me really appreciate the other three seasons.

This year, Father Winter seems to have moved on from last year’s hobby of tormenting New England. (Read more here) Since November, he’s been schooling the Rockies with major snow dumpage. Ski slopes around here have had over 200 inches of snow (two hundred!). Parking lots consistently have two-inch layers of ice. Coyotes, deer and even bunnies are gravitating towards plowed roads and shoveled paths instead of suffering the aforementioned postholing.

For many of us, staying warm is the make-or-break element that determines whether these months are ones of enjoyment or drudgery.

Here are some toasty tips:

Layer up: long underwear tops and bottoms, hats and hoods, thermal insoles in your boots. Wool is a great layer and thanks to Ramblers Way can be worn right next to skin.

Turn on the heat: hand warmers, heated insoles and gloves, even hot beverages help out when and where layers

A Colorado mural says it all

A Colorado mural says it all


Eat well: substitute a protein bar for that donut and skim the sugar and syrup in your coffee. Your body will thank you.

Stay active: embrace shoveling as an aerobic activity and avoid the temptation to hibernate. Higher metabolism = more blood pumping (and that’s a good thing!)

Bath time: You’ll find a good soak will stay with you for hours, heating core to toes. It’s leverage that for a warmer morning or bedtime.

Little cheats: heat clothes in dryer or near a space heater, splurge on an electric blanket to take the chill of your bed before turning in, pick To Go mugs that aren’t so insulated. They can’t double as handwarmers.

At lastly…

Hug a horse. When the wind is howling and the temperature is heading downward like a kid on a playground slide, this method may be the most satisfying one for taking off the chill. Watch our happy video.


Off Pasture? The Slow Feeder Advantages

New-Gallery_02 In this guest blog post, Monique Warren weighs in on some common issues with feeding and how slow-feeders like Hay Pillow can help. Warren writes:

Some horses paw or are aggressive at feeding time, This is more than likely due to frustration and pain than actual behavior issues. They are anxious to “self-medicate” and they are not comfortable due to the build-up of acid or ulcers. They know as soon as they start chewing and eating it will start feeling better.

The equine stomach produces acid 24 hours a day in preparation for constant uptake and can empty in as little as 15-20 minutes. Chewing activates saliva production (saliva is an alkaline substance) which buffers gastric acid.

2015-04-Digestive-tractUnder natural conditions with free-choice forage, the horse will produce about five gallons of saliva every day and eventually “recycle” much of the water content via re-absorption prior to excretion.

They may also experience stress (which can cause ulcers) due to isolation; not experiencing physical interaction with other horses. Read more about Nature is Best notions here.

Feeding with slow feeders in multiple locations enables your entire herd to eat and live together full time. Equines are herd animals; they benefit physically and psychologically from direct physical interaction. Dominant members will keep the others moving as they claim various locations. The less dominant individuals nonetheless will have alternate sources to eat from; this encourages movement and can decrease cortisol levels associated New-Gallery_08with stress from being physically separated from herd members.

Check out Warren’s Hay Pillow site.

We found awesome barn snacks

Here’s the thing with being outside and active: you get hungry.

And the more you tune into your body, the pickier you become about what goes down the gullet. If you listen, your body will tell you what works and what doesn’t.

pickybarsAnd, if research shows that being sedentary and eating fast food can become a destructive, self-fulfilling cycle (It does. Click here.), I’d like to suggest the opposite is also true: eating well and getting outside beget more eating well and getting outside.

So, I was happy to check out the food offerings at the OR. Here are two standouts:

Picky Bars might be the first bar I won’t get sick of. The Bend, Oregon company uses simple ingredients like dates, blueberries, almonds, rice cereal, and apricots. They’re flavorful without being too sweet. They have a balance of complex carbohydrates and protein that tastes good going down and doesn’t wig you out with a rush & crash or the sluggishness that comes from eating too much protein. We tried Blueberry Boomdizzle, Need for Seed (with sunflower butter), and Smooth Caffeinator (with hazelnuts and mocha. Yum.

I love oats. My horses love oats. My genes love oats (I’m fairly fit and trim, yet I still have high cholesterol. Doctors recommend Untitled-1oats.) So, I downright gravitated to the Munk Pack booth which featured single serving packs full of flavored oatmeal. I tried them on rides and hikes; they gave me instant and delayed satisfaction.

The instant element comes from yummy flavors (I tried raspberry coconut and blueberry acai flax.). The delayed satisfaction comes as you feel the nutrients begin to course their way through your system. No rush. No crash. All good.

Skeptics might balk at the packaging and texture. Munk Packs, based in Connecticut, could be mistaken for apple sauce pouches for toddlers. But get over it! It’s what inside that matters. And you can tell kids it’s strictly an adult taste.

Pick either when you’re between meals and still have an hour’s worth of chores or three miles to go until you reach home. Your body will say, “Thanks!”

Read more about what we discovered at the Outdoor Retailer.

Grazing Tips from Dr. Joyce Harman

This guest blog post comes from holistic vet, Dr. Joyce Harman, who offers tips to keep your horse healthy during summer grazing. Read more about her here.

Me-at-work-1retSummer brings changing responsibilities for us horse owners. You might change out troughs more often to keep your horse’s water cool and fresh, or you might cold hose him on those brutal August afternoons to bring a bit of relief. What you might not do, though, is think about the hidden dangers of summer grass.

Most horse owners believe their horses are only at risk for grazing-associated laminitis during the spring and early summer when grass growth is most intense. But the truth is, we need to remain vigilant all summer long, as sugar content in the grass changes with the weather.

All horses, but particularly those with metabolic issues, are susceptible to fructans, a type of sugar, in the grass. If these sugars pass into the hind gut before they’re digested, they can kick off a process that will cause laminae to fail, leading to a laminitic attack. Metabolic horses also have a difficult time using glucose, or sugar, as fuel and store excess sugar as fat.

Horses_grazing_east_of_Holly,_CO_IMG_5804The horses who have metabolic, laminitic, or obesity issues will get progressively worse over the course of the summer.

To keep your horse safe and healthy on summer grass, follow these suggestions:

  •  Don’t overgraze. Most horse owners don’t realize that the greatest concentration of sugar in grass lies in the three inches closest to the ground. If you allow your horse to overgraze, he’s getting way more than his fair share of sugar.
  • Tall, course grass is less rich, so your horse can safely eat more. However, with the tall grass, they can get much more in each mouthful, so allowing free access can still give them too much to eat.
  •  Grab a muzzle. Muzzles allow a horse to behave normally in the pasture in terms of exercise and socialization without running the risk of over-grazing.

Harmany Equine’s state-of-the art muzzle that is totally customizable, from molding it to a horse’s head shape to determining how much, or how little, grass is available to a horse. The muzzle is made of a medical grade plastic with Kevlar® fibers, making it much lighter than other available muzzles without sacrificing durability. Learn more here.

  • Watch the weather. Though most bouts of laminitis happen in spring and early summer when grass growth is most intense, the weather plays a large role in the sugar content of the grass.

slide1Keep these things in mind:

–        Typically, your horse is safest with the standard hot, dry weather that’s common in the mid-late summer months.

–        Grass that’s stressed (either overgrazed or in a drought) will be high in sugar.

–        Rain leads to rapid plant growth (and increased sugar content), particularly after a drought.

–        Unseasonably cool temperatures (either a dip in the evening or several days of much below-average temperatures) will increase sugar content in grass.

  • Strategize turnout. On a typical summer day, fructan levels in the grass peak around during the sunniest part of the day, slowly declining throughout the evening, and hitting the lowest point in the late evening/early morning hours. If you want to maximize your horse’s healthy grazing, let him out to graze just before you head to bed, then bring him back in early in the morning.
  • Assess your horse. If you see your horse multiple times daily, you’re much less likely to notice unhealthy changes in his body until it’s too late. Consider using a weight tape every 10 to 14 days to ensure he remains at a healthy weight. If he’s gaining, adjust your grazing plan accordingly.
  • It’s also a good idea to feel his fat pads (neck crest, croup, ribs, tail head, etc.) weekly. If the texture of the fat changes from soft and pliable to hard and lumpy, he needs to lose weight.


A Feel Good, Feel Better Workshop

When you around Nina Fuller, you can’t help but smile, laugh, think, and share. The renowned photographer from Hollis, Maine, is warm, welcoming, and just a bit wacky. Her home, Lily Brook Farm, in Hollis, Maine, is an extension of Fuller, full of flowers, ninanimals, and good will.

That’s where Fuller and two fellow therapists will host “Horses & Healing,” August 1-2. It’s a retreat-style workshop that will incorporate photography, horses, and therapeutic work. Read more about it here.

Fuller has traveled the world, photographed four U.S. presidents, and written and taken photos for numerous publications, including NickerNews. But she says some of her most rewarding work is working with people and horses.

The workshop would be perfect for any number of participants, she told me.

“It’d be great for therapists interested in working with experiential work and interested in horses. Or, for someone feeling stuck in their life. Or, for someone who’s been in therapy before without ninnfinding success. Or, for someone interested in how therapy works with horses,” said Fuller.

Since receiving her Masters in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Equine-Assisted Mental Health and Photography Therapy from Prescott College, Fuller has witnessed positive shifts in her clients while working with horses as well as photography. Sometimes, what they discover wasn’t at all what they expected. There are breakthroughs and changes of heart. It’s been incredible, she noted, to facilitate these sessions.

“I don’t think there’s anyone out there who doesn’t need something,” Fuller said.

Check out details for the event and register soon!

Welcome Dr. Joyce Harman & Harmany Equine

Me-at-work-1retThis week, Emily Thomas Luciano, NickerNews & BestHorsePractices marketing director, writes about our a new connection:

Our family of partners is getting bigger by the week.

This week, we’re happy to welcome Dr. Joyce Harman and Harmany Equine to the mix. If you aren’t already familiar, Dr. Joyce Harman is arguably the most well-known holistic and integrative equine vet in the country. Because a large part of her veterinary practice is devoted to insulin resistance and laminitis, Dr. Harman recently developed her own grazing muzzle, the Harmany Muzzle.

Though there are dozens of muzzles on the market, the Harmany Muzzle is cool because it is 50% more breathable than traditional muzzles and it is totally customizable to your horse’s head shape. Dr. Harman’s hope is that these muzzles will allow those horses with insulin resistance or laminitic photoissues to continue to live as natural of a life as possible in the pasture grazing with their buddies.

Dr. Harman is also an accomplished saddle fitter and has penned two books about English and Western saddle fitting.

Stay tuned for more from Dr. Harman— she’ll be on our new “Ask the Expert” panel answering your questions about saddle fit, nutrition and horse management.


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