The Trakehner

October 20th, 2014

dressage horse

The Trakehner, one of the most popular sport horse breeds today, originated almost 1,000 years ago. This warmblood breed makes an excellent dressage and jumper today. Have you ever ridden a Trakehner?


The Trakehner’s origin begins with the horses owned by Lithuanians and Old Prussians during the Middle Ages. These horses were used to breed military horses during the 1300s, and in the 1500s and 1600s the offspring were used to breed horses for cavalry and stud uses.

The descendants of these horses were used to establish the Trakehner breed. In 1732 King Frederick William I of Prussia created the Trakehnen Stud in East Prussia, which later became state property. Over the next century, Arabian, Thoroughbred, and Turkish blood was added to the breed. One stallion, the Thoroughbred stallion Perfectionist, sired the Trakehner stallion Tempelhuter. Most Trakehners today can be traced back to Perfectionist and Tempelhuter.

Breeding to the stud horses was encouraged, and the breeding of local mares resulted in sure-footed, athletic horses that were sought after as cavalry mounts. In the early 1900s the breeding focus turned to producing horses that could perform farm work, resulting in a movement towards Trakehners that featured a more solid build.

In addition to being useful for farm work, the Trakehner proved a competitive sport horse mount. In 1936, Trakehners won six Gold medals in the Olympics. Breeding and demand for the Trakehner further increased and became refined, resulting in the powerful and impressive horse that we know today.

Breed Characteristics

The Trakehner typically stands between 16 and 17 hands. It is a refined breed with a natural elegance, but it also sports good bone structure and a strong overall build. It is known for its springy and light trot. The Trakehner features strong hindquarters that make it a powerful jumper, and it is known for its excellent temperament, heart, and intelligence. The Trakehner is regarded as being willing, trainable, and eager to please.

The Breed Today

Much of the modern Trakehner breeding takes place in Germany. Rigorous stallion inspections are held in Germany each October and critique the stallion’s temperament, movement, jumping ability, and cross country abilities. To be approved for breeding, a stallion must be the best of the best.

Today the Trakehner is widely popular as a dressage horse. It also excels in show jumping and eventing. Famous Trakehners include the show jumper Abdullah, the eventer Windfall *PG* 2, and the show jumper Heuriger.

If you would like to learn more about the Trakehner, visit the American Trakehner Association’s website.

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Tips to Make Your Horse’s Long Trailer Ride Go Smoothly

October 17th, 2014


Shipping your horse over long distances can be stressful on you both. You want to ensure that the trip is minimally stressful for your horse, and you’ll also want to be sure that he stays safe and healthy. Here are some ways you can help to make sure that your horse’s trailer ride goes smoothly.

Choose a Shipper Carefully

If you opt to use a professional shipper, then choose the shipper carefully. Be sure to consider how comfortable the rig will be for your horse – for long-distance rides, air ride trailers are far more forgiving than traditional trailers are. Check out our blog post on choosing a cross-country shipper.

Invest in Quality Equipment

Shipping boots and a shipping halter are standard equipment to keep your horse safe on long rides. Be sure to invest in quality equipment to help protect your horse. Sheepskin halter tubes can help to prevent rubs and can cushion your horse’s face. A head bumper may also be a wise investment.

Sign Up for a Roadside Assistance Program

Whenever you’re transporting your horse, enrolling in a horse trailer roadside assistance program can give you additional peace of mind. Passenger vehicle roadside assistance programs typically don’t have the resources to service horse trailers, so if you run into a problem with your rig, you could be stuck. If you’re planning a long trip with your horse, consider looking into programs designed for horse trailers, like USRider.

Give Your Horse Plenty of Rest

Trailering is stressful on your horse’s body, so it’s important to make sure that he has plenty of time to rest during his trip. Schedule your trip so that your horse has regular time out of the trailer, and try to limit the time he spends in the trailer to no more than 10 hours per day. Look into horse stables and barns that offer overnight stalling along your route. The chance to lie down in a well-bedded stall will help to keep your horse rested and ready for the next day of travel.

Monitor Your Horse’s Temperature

Horse trailers can heat up quickly when in motion, so even if you’re traveling during the winter, stop frequently to check on your horse. Make sure that your horse is comfortable underneath any blanket that you have put on him, and offer him water on a regular basis.

If you plan ahead of time, you can help make your long trip with your horse safe and comfortable.

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Original Source: Tips to Make Your Horse’s Long Trailer Ride Go Smoothly

Amenities You Will Want to Include in a Boarding Barn

October 16th, 2014

When horse owners look for a potential boarding barn, there are certain amenities that they tend to seek out. Including these features in your barn can help to increase its demand as a boarding facility. Are you planning a barn that you intend to use for boarding? Then you’ll want to give serious thought to including these features.

Horse_Stalls_Barn_Classic_Equine_Equipment_Amenities You Will Want to Include in a Boarding Barn

Generously Sized Stalls with Windows

Any horse owner wants their horse to have the best, and you can establish that in your facility by installing generously sized stalls with individual windows. Most horse owners will want a stall that measures at least 12’ x 12’, especially if their horses will be spending a large amount of time in their stalls. Stall windows can pay off in a number of waysbarn windows help to break up equine boredom, reducing cribbing and wood chewing. Stall windows also increase ventilation and allow for more natural light to enter your barn.

Indoor Arena

Depending on the climate in which you live, an indoor arena may be a much sought after asset. In areas plagued by inclement weather and cold winter climates, indoor arenas can lengthen the amount of the year that boarders can ride and train. If you will be offering boarding to riders who plan to regularly show their horses, having an indoor arena is recommended.

Indoor Wash Stall

An indoor wash stall is also an excellent feature to offer your boarders. Consider heating the wash stall, and also make sure that hot water is accessible. Having access to a wash stall during all seasons can make caring for horses and treating medical issues far easier than hauling buckets of water can be.

Tack Storage Space

Make your tack room a safe, pleasant, and well-organized area. Offer plenty of space for riders to store their tack, and consider using one of the many tack organization systems offered by Classic Equine Equipment. Remember that riders will have lots of equipment in addition to their tack, so maximize the use of your available space to allow boarders excellent storage capabilities.

Safe Aisle Footing

Give careful thought to the footing of your horse stable, since it can be a major safety issue if you choose poorly. Concrete aisles can be hard on joints and slippery, while dirt aisles require regular maintenance and can stir up dust. Consider using rubber aisle pavers for superior shock absorption and protection with easy installation and little maintenance around the horse. Rubber aisle pavers also provide your barn with a stylish, classic finish similar to brick but without the maintenance and safety issues of brick.

If you want to establish your boarding barn as an in-demand facility and drive business, consider adding some or all of these features to your barn.

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When Horse Emergencies Arise (And You’re Not There)

October 15th, 2014

With horses as injury-prone as they are, medical emergencies are almost certain to arise. And while you would hope that the barn manager would be able to reach you if your horse were to ever have a medical emergency, unfortunately that’s not always the case. What would happen if your horse needed treatment and you weren’t available?

When Horse Emergencies Arise (And You're Not There)

Identify Your Preferred Vet and Farrier

It’s a good idea to post the contact information of your horse’s vet and farrier on his stall door for use in emergencies. In the event that your vet and farrier aren’t available, though, it’s also advisable to provide your barn manager with contact information for a second choice vet and farrier.

Provide Permission to Treat

If your horse needs immediate treatment but you are unavailable, your barn manager needs to be able to approve veterinary or hospital treatment. Many barn managers incorporate permission to treat in their boarding contracts. If you haven’t yet granted your barn manager with permission to treat your horse in an emergency when you can’t be reached, consider doing so.

Specify a Treatment Limit

In addition to granting permission to treat, you should also specify a treatment limit so that your horse’s treatment doesn’t go further than you intended. Treatment limits can be financial cutoff points at which treatment ceases, but they can also be specific treatments that are to either be given or avoided. For instance, opting to provide or decline colic surgery is a common issue that horse owners face when colic emergencies arise. You may also want to consider putting limits on whether, or for how long, your horse is to be hospitalized in an emergency.

Insure Your Horse

Specifying treatment limits is difficult to do, but it can be made easier by insuring your horse. Major medical insurance can mean that you will have greater financial freedom to treat your horse in medical emergencies. If you opt for insurance, be sure that you fully understand the policy and what is and is not covered.

Leave a Credit Card on File

If you grant your barn manager permission to treat your horse, it can be a good idea to leave a credit card on file with your veterinarian’s office. Having a card on file can take stress off of your barn manager in an emergency, and can help to ensure that your horse can receive timely treatment. When putting a credit card on file with your vet’s office, you can specify a limit and can note that it is to be used for emergency use.

When medical emergencies in horses arise, fast treatment can often lead to an improved prognosis. Be sure that you have measures in place so that your horse can be treated, even if you can’t be reached.

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Beautiful Jim Key’s Owner, William Key, Passes Away – October 18, 1909

October 13th, 2014

Beautiful Jim Key's Owner, William Key, Passes Away - October 18, 1909When a scraggly bay colt was born in 1889, he was sick and crippled and not expected to live. But thanks to the treatment and care from his owner, Dr. William Key of Shelbyville, Tennessee, the colt not only survived, but flourished. Dr. William Key was a former slave and was self-taught in veterinary treatments, and he used some of his own treatments to successfully help the foal recover.

The foal’s dam died soon after his birth, and the foal, attached to Dr. William Key, would not allow Dr. William Key to leave him. Dr. Key named the foal Jim Key and soon began bringing Jim Key into his house. Dr. William Key worked as a traveling veterinarian and sold Keystone Liniment, often traveling for long periods at a time. Dr. William Key soon brought Jim Key on the road with him, and Jim Key performed in William Key’s medicine shows.

Dr. William Key trained Jim Key with kindness, and he stressed the power of kindness in all of his presentations and shows. William Key taught Jim Key to recognize all 26 letters of the alphabet. Jim Key learned to spell, to read, and to do math, among other stunts. Through the entire training process, kindness and rewards were the only incentive that William Key used.

As Jim Key’s training progressed and the horse was able to perform more and more incredible feats, word of his talents spread quickly. In 1897, Jim Key and Dr. William Key performed for President William McKinley, and Jim Key was presented as an educated horse. In addition to reading and writing, Jim Key could also sort mail, use a telephone, and even tell time. The pair garnered great attention from the press, and the press quickly altered Jim Key’s name to the more memorable Beautiful Jim Key.

Jim Key performed with Dr. William Key from 1897 to 1906. The pair performed for millions of audience members, and Jim Key became an American household name. Promotional materials, like postcards, buttons, and photos, were produced in bulk. During every performance, Dr. William Key promoted kindness to animals and spoke out against animal cruelty. Audience members were encouraged to support humane animal groups, and children pledged to be kind to animals.

With Jim Key’s success, Dr. William Key became famous. After his death on October 18, 1909 at the age of 76, he was mourned by many. Jim Key later died in 1912.

Want to learn more about Beautiful Jim Key and Dr. William Key? You can visit, and you might also want to pick up the book Beautiful Jim Key: The Lost History of the World’s Smartest Horse by Mim E. Rivas. Additionally, Morgan Freeman is scheduled to star as Dr. William Key in a movie dramatizing the life of Dr. William Key and Beautiful Jim Key. Titled “Beautiful Jim Key,” the film will be directed by Robert Rodat.

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Original Source: Beautiful Jim Key’s Owner, William Key, Passes Away – October 18, 1909

How to Design Your Barn to Make Winter Chores Easier

October 9th, 2014

The air is already cooler, and winter will be upon us quickly this year. No one enjoys doing barn chores in the winter, but when you design your barn there are ways that you can make those chores easier. If you live in a climate that has a cold winter, you might want to put some of these practices into effect when you’re planning your horse barn.


Include Plenty of Outlets

Access to electricity by every stall can make a big difference in the winter. When temperatures regularly dip below freezing, using heated water buckets will mean that your horse has continuous access to water throughout the night. Additionally, you won’t have to deal with breaking open frozen buckets each morning or throughout the day. Be sure that there are plenty of outlets available in your barn.

Incorporate Heated Rooms

A heated tack room is a must to make barn chores bearable in the winter. Having at least one heated room will mean that you can find respite from the cold. A heated room is also an excellent space to store items that can freeze, like wound ointments, liniments, and liquid feed supplements.

Include Heaters in Wash Stalls

Wash bay heaters can help to keep both you and your horse comfortable during winter grooming and bathing sessions. The wash bay heaters offered by Classic Equine Equipment use infared technology to convert 92% of the consumed energy into controllable and directional heat, making these heaters highly effective and friendly for your electric bill. Consider putting these heaters into a grooming stall to create an excellent location for winter farrier and vet visits.

Design Barn Doors Carefully

The effectiveness of your barn end doors will determine how warm your barn stays in the winter. Barn end doors must fit securely and completely cover the exit’s frame in order to prevent drafts. If your barn doors aren’t large enough or properly fitted to your barn, you may open the door to find snow drifts inside your barn after a storm. Taking the time to purchase quality and durable barn doors is well worth it when the winter arrives.

You should also make sure that your indoor riding arena, if you have one, can be easily closed off with large doors. This practice will help to keep your barn warmer.

Winter barn chores can be difficult if your barn isn’t set up for them. When planning your barn, be sure to include any amenities that can help to make your winter days easier.

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Tips for Riding in a Halloween Costume Class

October 8th, 2014

Do you have a Halloween horse show coming up? Are you planning to ride in a costume class? Costume classes are great opportunities to show off both yourself and your horse in a whole new light, but when you introduce costumes to horses, things can get interesting. Follow these tips to ensure that you and your horse stays safe and relaxed during your costume class.

Tips for Riding in a Halloween Costume Class 4724521075_0f1d736737_z

Hold a Trial Run

As you finish up your horse’s costume, it’s a great idea to hold a trial run to make sure that it fits and that your horse is comfortable and relaxed wearing it. You should consider whether you want to dress him in his horse stall, horse stable, or outside the barn doors all together. Giving your horse time to adjust to the strange sensation of a costume without the added distractions of a show day can mean that your horse is better able to handle the costume class. If other riders and horses at your barn will be participating in the class, ask them if they’d like to get together to do a trial run so that your horses have time to see other costumes, too.

Put the Costume on Slowly

When you do put your costume on your horse, do so slowly and gradually. Remember to keep general horse safety procedures in mind – even though you may trust your horse to be well behaved, remember that the foreign presence of a costume can cause a horse to react unexpectedly. Leave yourself enough time before the costume class to take your time and put the costume on the horse slowly enough so that you are both comfortable and relaxed.

Give Your Horse Time to Look Around

Once you have your horse’s costume on, walk him around a bit and let him look at his surroundings. Your horse may react to the costumes being worn by other horses, so try to expose him to them from a distance before he has to encounter them in the riding arena. Walking your costumed horse will also help to familiarize him with the sensation of the costume as he moves.

Enlist the Help of a Leader

Having a leader is never a bad idea when competing in a costume class. A leader can provide additional reassurance to you in case your horse spooks. At the same time, a leader’s presence on the ground can help to reassure your horse. If you know that you will be having someone lead your horse during the costume class, then you can even plan ahead and costume the leader, too.

Don’t forget, a well-designed costume can help to keep your horse comfortable during a costume class. Be sure to check out our blog with tips on designing a costume for your horse.

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Original Source: Tips for Riding in a Halloween Costume Class

Hit a Wall in Your Riding? How to Get Around It

October 7th, 2014

dressage horses

When you train at something long enough, sooner or later you’re bound to hit a wall. The same is true of riding – despite schooling and lessons, at some point you may find yourself unable to advance past a certain skill or aspect of riding. So, what do you do if this happens?

Don’t Panic

Remember that every rider, no matter how talented, has struggled at some point. There’s not a single person to whom everything comes easily. The difference between some of the top riders and those who are less successful is that top riders have learned how to get around these obstacles. You can, too. It’s all a matter of finding the right solution.

Try a Different Approach

If you’re struggling with a particular skill or aspect of riding, the first thing you will want to do is to try a different approach. Evaluate yourself to make sure that you are riding properly and effectively, and then look for a solution to your problem. Can’t keep your leg secure over a fence? Try working in two-point at the trot and canter on the flat. Sometimes the simplest solutions are all that we need to get past seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Work with a Different Horse

Riding is complicated by the presence of two living beings – both the rider and the horse. Sometimes if you’re struggling or hitting a wall in your riding, working with a different horse for a period of time can help you to reevaluate your situation. A different horse will have a different way of going, and can help you to relax or focus more intently on your riding and the issue at hand. You may be better equipped to progress with your regular horse after schooling a different horse in the paddock a few times.

Break Down the Issue

We can run into walls when we try to advance too quickly. Jumping too high or schooling a higher level movement is almost bound to be trouble if you don’t yet have the foundation to ride well at these higher levels. Take a step back and look at your skills at the lower level – are they as strong as they should (and could) be before advancing to more difficult movements?

Work with a Different Trainer

Sometimes the walls we hit are more significant than a simple movement, and we might feel like we’re not progressing in our riding at all. If you find that you’re struggling in your riding, taking a lesson or two with a different trainer, or even switching trainers entirely, can often solve the problem. Each trainer has his or her own unique approach, and the way that they present riding to you and evaluate your riding will differ.

While you will likely hit a wall in your riding at some point, there are ways to get around it. How have you overcome difficulties in your own riding?

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Building the Barn That’s the Right Size for Your Needs

October 2nd, 2014

Planning the layout of your horse barn is hugely important, and you’ll want to be sure that the barn is the right size for your intended needs and uses. Deciding just how much barn you need can be a challenge, though, especially when you want that barn to last you for decades. If you’re beginning to plan out your barn, these tips will help you decide how much barn is the right size for you.

Building the Barn That's the Right Size for Your Needs Classic_Equine_Equipment-Custom_Barn_cb-pic-14

Look at the Future

A well-built barn, when properly maintained, should last for decades, but your situation will likely change over time, too. Think about where you are today versus where you see yourself in 10 or 20 years. You might have two horses now, but has it always been your dream to own 4 or 5? If you foresee that dream coming true 5 or 10 years down the road, then it’s in your best interest to build a larger barn now. Expanding an existing barn can be costly, so if you have the funds to build a right-sized barn initially, you will be saving yourself money in the long run.

Decide How Much Barn You Can Manage

While it might be tempting to create a large barn to be gradually filled with horses over the years, don’t underestimate the amount of work that goes into maintaining a horse barn. A barn too large for you will either sit with unfilled stalls, or you will find yourself overwhelmed with the amount of work that goes into caring for the horses that it can house.

Determine the Size According to Function

A barn’s size will partially depend on its intended function. If you are building a barn to house show horses, your stall design and barn components will be different from those of a breeding barn. A barn used for training or rehabilitation will almost certainly require a round pen, and an indoor arena might also be a necessity depending on the climate. In some situations, a custom barn might be the perfect solution to your individual plans for your barn and property.

Leave Room for Expansion

When designing your barn, remember that the unexpected might happen and, in a few years, you might be in a position to expand your barn. In a case like this, initially designing your barn’s layout and location on the property so that future expansion would be easy can really pay off.

Do you have an idea of how big a barn you’ll be needing? The next step is to make sure that all of the stalls and inner components are also the right size for their use. Check out our blog on the dimensions of the right-sized barn.

Original Source: Building the Barn That’s the Right Size for Your Needs

A Tribute to the Riding Instructors

October 1st, 2014

We’ve all had one – that riding instructor or trainer who made a huge difference in our lives and forever altered the way we see our equine friends. October 5th is World Teachers Day, and in honor of that we’ve decided to take a moment to appreciate all that our riding instructors do.

young woman training horse outside in summer

Deal with Us During Our Formative Years

Do you remember what you were like as a teenager? Your riding instructor probably does. Riding instructors don’t just teach riding – they help instill lessons about patience, disappointment, and hard work when we’re children and teenagers. These valuable lessons go on to shape who we become as adults, and riding instructors play an integral role in that development.

Keep Us Safe

When working with thousand-pound animals, things can go bad in a hurry. Riding instructors keep us safe when we don’t yet know how to do that ourselves. They are always looking ten steps ahead, and some of them must develop eyes in the back of their heads when teaching groups of beginner riders. Chances are you owe your safety to the careful attention of your riding instructors.

Change Their Lessons on the Fly

When was the last time anything ever went as expected with horses? Good riding instructors are masters of finding teachable moments. Fell off a horse? An instructor can show you what went wrong and can help prepare you to stay on better next time. Placed poorly at a show? Your instructor can evaluate your ride to look at what you could have done differently.

Cope with Bitter Winters and Hot Summers

While you have the physical exercise of riding to warm you up during the winter, and the breeze created in the summer to help keep you cool, your instructor braves the weather from the ground. Come frigid winters or sizzling summers, many riding instructors are out there in any weather.

Sacrifice Weekends to Horse Shows

Show seasons become particularly busy for riding instructors. How many Sundays has your instructor sacrificed to help you compete? Horse shows are big undertakings for instructors, who have to keep an eye on the well-being and the safety of both their equine and human charges. Since your instructor likely teaches on Saturdays, horse shows usually mean the sacrifice of their entire weekend.

So, let’s have a hand for the riding instructors who have shaped not only our love of horses, but also our lives.

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Original Source: A Tribute to the Riding Instructors