Of Presidents and Horses

Tomorrow is President’s Day! Many of our past Presidents kept pets at the White House. Dogs like: Checkers Nixon, Bo Obama, and Feller Truman. Cats like: Socks Clinton, Nip, Tuck and Snowflake Coolidge.  Many of our countries illustrious  leaders were also phenomenal horsemen. Whether family pets, or trusted steeds who bravely carried them into  battle, our presidents cherished and cared for their horses with the highest standard! Here is a glimpse at a few:

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Painting of President George Washington and Blueskin by Rembrandt Peale.

George Washington, our first president, was an avid foxhunter who spent many hours a day in the saddle. Thomas Jefferson spoke of President Washington as being “the best horseman of his age, and the most graceful figure that could be seen on horseback.” Of the five stallions Washington owned, the most notable  were Nelson and Blueskin, whom he rode during the American Revolution. Nelson was a 16hh chestnut with lots of chrome. He was President Washington’s preferred mount during war since Nelson would bravely charge into battle as he was less spooky with gunfire and cannons. Can we say “bombproof”! Blueskin received his name from the deep blue grey hue of his coat. He was full of stamina and endurance thanks to his half-Arabian heritage. After the war, both Nelson and Blueskin retired to Mt. Vernon and were spoiled for years to come. Nelson lived to the age of 27.

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Painting of President Jackson and Sam Patch.

Andrew Jackson was passionate about horses from a very early age. He even worked as a saddle maker as a child. Years before he became the 7th U.S. president, President Jackson was a famous owner and breeder of Thoroughbreds in Tennessee. His most prized race horse, Thruxton, had his lineage traced back to the Godolphin Arabian… and even sparked a duel between President Jackson and Charles Dickinson (a famous American attorney at the time – not the 19th century British writer). When he was elected to office, President Jackson, took his horses with him and ran his racing stable out of the White House. His other horses included his favored Sam Patch (pictured above), Lady Nashville, Emilie and Busiris.

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President Ulysses S. Grant’s favorite horses- Egypt, Cincinnati and Jeff Davis.

Our 18th President, Ulysses S. Grant also became obsessed with horses at an early age. President Grant excelled in horsemanship while at West Point and was revered and admired as a talented rider throughout his life. He owned many horses over the course of the American Civil War- some gifted to him, most acquired. Cincinnati, a handsome 17hh Thoroughbred by a famous racing sire, Lexington, was one of President Grant’s favorites. Many of the paintings and statues of President Grant depict him riding Cincinnati.

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President John F. Kennedy with daughter Caroline Kennedy and son John F. Kennedy Jr and the family pony Macaroni.

Just about everyone has seen the sweet pictures of President John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline, and her roany pony, Macaroni. Given as a gift, Macaroni would frequently visit the White House. Although President Kennedy (and John Jr.) were severely allergic to animals, he still encouraged his wife and Caroline to ride. First lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, grew up riding and competing in horse shows on the East Coast. She continued riding and foxhunting well into her years.

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President Ronald Reagan astride El Alamein.

Playing young cowboy roles during his early Hollywood career, Ronald Reagan fell in love with horses. During his term as our 40th President, a special secret service agent was assigned to be President Reagan’s riding partner, it took a while to find someone who could keep up with him! His ranch in California, Rancho del Cielo, became known as the “West Coast White House.” He once told a columnist, “most of my thinking about speeches comes–doing ranch work, not sitting at a desk.” President Reagan had a several favorite horses- Little Man, who had a tragic accident out in pasture, and El Alamein, who was a gift in 1981 from the President of Mexico, José López Portillo.

New Year’s Resolutions…For Your Horse

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Pssst…. Attention all equines! Yes, this blog is for YOU!

The New Year is here and your human counterparts are going to be busy trying to reinvent themselves. Things may even get a little nutty. So, we’ve come up with some resolutions you can make for yourself and tips on how to stick with them!

 

GET IN SHAPE… I mean, don’t…

Many of your humans will resolve to lose weight or get in better shape after the New Year. This resolution, as popular as it is, usually fizzles out in a month. Poor, human.

How can you help? Gain weight so they look better by comparison!

A trick to this is to convince everyone you haven’t eaten and are on the brink of starvation. It’s all in the eyes. ANY person who walks by, give them a sorrowful look and reach out to their pockets. The treats within may end up in your feeder, instead of that other horse. You’ll pack on the pounds faster than you think!

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TAKE UP YOGA

If you do have to work on your physique, consider yoga. Good for the body, mind and soul. A basic move you can start with is Upward Hoof. Lay down on the ground and reach all four hooves up to the sky. It might take a couple attempts, but keep rolling over until you accomplish the move. This is especially invigorating after a bath.

Another move is Tree Salute. Firmly plant all feet and slowly lean forward and stretch your neck up toward a tree branch. Then stretch your lips out. Eat some leaves. Ignore anyone who yells at you- you are in “the zone.”

 

QUIT CRIBBING

Aside from being a nuisance to others, cribbing is an unhealthy habit that can cause many long-term issues. Cessation products like cribbing collars, stall toys that can give distraction and natural remedies can help be a part of your quitting support team.

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EAT OUT MORE OFTEN

Get to know your local flavors by partaking in roadside buffets. You’ve seen them while walking by on the trail, especially during the spring. Fresh, flowering herbs can bring such delight to an equine pallet. Take advantage of a loose rein and reach for a snack.

You can also check in with what your neighbor is dining on. Their grain has to be better than what you have.

 

TRAVEL MORE

Resolve your fear of travel and take the brave leap into that shiny, metal, moving box! It is not a monster trying to eat you… give it a good kick and see for yourself… see? Give it another kick, for good measure. Told you so. Trailering in comfortable gear can help ease travel stress. Consider splurging on a shipping halter and boots to aid in your relaxation… and protect yourself from any “trust kicks” along the journey.

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If you have any questions about products that can help make your New Year’s resolutions stick, have your human call the friendly staff at Mary’s Tack and Feed at (800)551-MARY. We have the knowledge and expertise to help you achieve your goals!

No-Stirrup November, Part II- Return of the Irons

stirrup_part2-1Yay! You did it! No-Stirrup November is just about over and we bet you can’t wait to get your beloved irons back!

We’re sure your body has rediscovered its appreciation for stirrups… but have you? We got to wondering about how and when stirrups came about. Who do we have to thank for this amazing invention? So, here’s what we found out…

The first stirrup was designed as more of a mounting stirrup- a single leather strap with a loop at the end- around 1000 BC. From this, a riding stirrup evolved, but was only designed to support the big toe of each foot. It wasn’t a popular design, given you had to be barefoot in a cold climate.

The Chinese are recognized for providing the first full-foot stirrup during the 4th century. The style spread throughout Asia and hit Europe by the 8th century.

The stirrup changed warfare forever. Mounted warriors had the freedom to use both hands for weapons while keeping their balance. The stirrup has been accredited as one of the biggest influences in civilization, after the invention of the wheel. And the ice cream cone…

Today’s stirrup technology has come a long way from the standard fillis iron. Riders now get to choose from many types of irons in lightweight metals, ergonomic designs and improved foot beds. Did you know there are stirrups designed to help keep your heels down, improve your leg position and reduce pain and pressure in your knees and hips? We’ve chosen a few favorites to share with you.

stirrup_part2-5Stubben’s Maxi Grip stirrup irons are lightweight with a sleek design. Pyramid-shaped points provide an extra grippy foot bed for added security and balance. They are also slightly angled to help keep your leg in an ideal position. A little traditional, a little modern.

stirrup_part2-6MDC S Classic Non-Flex Stirrup Iron’s top of the stirrup slot is turned like an S while the lower portion of the slot faces forward which keeps the iron at a 45 degree angle. The benefit of this design improves your leg position and alleviates stress on your joints (hips and knees)… all while keeping the appearance of a classic fillis iron. Look good… feel good…

stirrup_part2-7Herm Sprenger Bow Balance stirrup irons flex and move with your foot to when engaging your lower leg. The “bowed” arch allows the stirrup to rest at a 90 degree angle and can help relieve stress on your joints. The rubber foot bed acts as a shock absorber. The moveable grip helps your ankle to flex and heel to drop.

stirrup_part2-8Even trail riders can join the party with Tucker Trail Glide Stirrups! Trail Glide stirrups are lightweight and feature a unique “cone” for the saddle fender. The cone’s angle keeps you balanced in the saddle and reduces knee and ankle fatigue. Plus, they have a thick cushion on the foot bed for added comfort! You might want to clear your schedule after purchasing these stirrups- you’ll be spending a lot more time in the saddle!

 

Now that you have endured a whole month of No-Stirrup November, why not reward yourself with a pair of new, fancy irons from Mary’s Tack and Feed?

For one of the nation’s best selections of irons and leathers, visit our Mary’s website or call our friendly and knowledgeable staff at (800) 551-MARY. We are to here to answer all your questions!

Clipping Tips from Mary’s Tack and Feed

Photo by Amanda Greene

Photo by Amanda Greene

Shorter days, cooler weather and fuzzy ponies have arrived! Mary’s is here to help. Here are 4 clipping tips to get you started:

1) Pre-Clip Beauty Care

Before you clip, your horse’s coat needs to be clean! Give your horse a good scrub and lather with a quality horse shampoo. Dirt and grime will dull your clipper blades more quickly. EQyss shampoos or Vetrolin Bath are great at removing dirt and nourishing your horse’s skin.

Give a good spray over of Showsheen or Calm Coat Pre Clip spray. This can help the clippers glide through the horse’s hair easily, reducing wear on your blades and those unsightly ‘lines’ in the coat.

Have somewhere to be? Shapley’s Light Oil is the perfect product to use for entering the show ring after a fresh clip. Shapley’s Light Oil smooths the hair and reduces the appearance of blunt, cut edges and provides a beautiful shine!

 

2) Styles of clips

The type of clip you decide to give your horse can depend on a number of factors. Two important considerations are your climate and your horse’s activity level.

Trace clips are popular because the coat is trimmed along the neck, chest and belly of the horse. This is where the horse tends to sweat most during activity. The horse will stay cooler during exercise and the remaining hair dries quickly. This cut can help keep your horse comfortable during the changing of seasons.

The full Monty. Nothing can be more gratifying than clipping. It. All. Off. Usually preformed for the show horse as the seasons start to turn, the full body clip erases the slightest hint of the shaggy winter coat. What’s left is a gleaming encore of your summer horse. If you choose to commit to the task- BE PREPARED! Have your horse’s blankets and day sheets ready BEFORE you clip.

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3) Which clipper & blades do you need?

Do you plan to only tidy up whiskers and a bridle path? Clippers labeled as “Trimmers” are small, lightweight, quiet and very cost effective. Perhaps you’d also like to clip your horse’s legs, too. A single-speed clipper will have the added strength to much through the thicker hair.

Now let’s say your horse has some woolly mammoth DNA or you have more serious body clipping plans. A two-speed clipper can give you the lower RPMs for thicker/tougher cuts and a higher gear to help speed through body clips.

What’s with all those blade numbers?

The larger the number, the closer (shorter) the cut. For example, #T-84 & #10 blades are commonly used for body clipping and are usually included with the clipper you purchase. A #40 blade is surgical, down to the skin. Some people will use a #7 for body clipping and a #15 for fetlock and bridle paths. It’s all a matter of preference… but a #10 is a good start.

Most classic clipper blades are made from steel. Ceramic blades are made with a steel lower and a ceramic upper blade. Ceramic blades differ in function by staying 70% cooler that other blades. Ceramic blades also stay sharp 5 times longer than traditional blades. You care for and use ceramic blades the same way you would a classic steel blade.

4) Proper care and maintenance

Most clipper sets contain a small brush and a tube of clipper oil in the package when you purchase them. These items are just as important as the clipper itself. A large percentage of clipper repair shops can trace problems and damage back to the lack of proper lubrication. Use the clipper brush (or a toothbrush, if you’ve already lost yours) to remove hair and dirt. Add a few drops of clipper oil, such as Andis Clipper Oil, along the blade and sides. Let the clipper run to spread the oil around. Turn the clipper off and wipe off any excess oil.

Cool Care is a phenomenal product that kills 5 metaphorical birds with one stone! Cool Care acts as a Coolant (instantly cools the blade temperature), cleaner, rust inhibitor (Rust can begin in just 24 hours!), light lubricant (to be used in addition to clipper oil) and broad spectrum disinfectant.

Give your clipper blades a quick spray during your clipping session to the blades and a good spray when you have finished, to clean and protect your blades.

For more information and answers about which clippers will work for you, visit us in store or call (800)551-MARY and speak with our friendly staff! We’ll have the clipper supplies you need, and can answer just about any question you may have!

No-Stirrup November: 5 Reasons to Do It and How Mary’s Can Make it Better!

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“Drop your stirrups!” Ugh… one of the things we dread hearing from our trainer… but there are benefits to riding without stirrups, so take it like a champ and remember all these positive reasons why:

  1. Develop your seat. Finding a deep, secure and balanced seat will result in better communication with your horse.
  2. Improve your core strength. You’ll engage more of the muscles in your back, abdomen and legs. With these strengthened muscles, you will not rely so much on your stirrups… when you get them back.
  3. Improve your balance and posture. And your confidence! Practice does make perfect and the more you ride without your stirrups, the easier it will become.
  4. Because George Morris said so.
  5. It gives you a reason to pamper yourself! Hellooooooo, Spa Day!!! A massage will be music to your ears, especially after your first lesson. Awakening Body Lotion is a great everyday body lotion and perfect for an at home special massage treat!

How Mary’s can make it better!

Get a Grip!

Mary’s carries many helpful items that can get you through your initial sans stirrup riding sessions:

  • Full-seat breeches are a great option to help give you an extra grip in the saddle while you build up your skills.
  • You can also tackify what you already have!

We hope you’re as excited for No Stirrup November as we are! Give us a call if you’ve got any questions 800.551.MARY (6279), we’re always here to help.

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