Odds & Ends: Spurs, Browbands, and Antlers

watchfulThe fields and the small arena dried out enough to ride by Wednesday, so ride I did, and Eli, true to regained form, physically felt pretty much as he usually does. I am hoping to be able to accomplish a lot more this evening, as far as with flat work and pole work.

feetI’ve been flatting him in roller ball spurs, which seem huge to me, but I like Eli’s responsiveness to them–responsive, but not reactive. There is definitely a difference between the roller balls and the PoW spurs I had been using. I guess the PoWs are pokier, and Eli seems generally more easily irritated by them than the roller balls. Either pair, I wear quite low, so I have to actively raise my heel if I want the spurs to reinforce a leg aid that Eli is not paying enough attention to. It rarely happens, but having that secondary aid as back up is pretty important as far as keeping any horse responsive. The longer I ride, the more I profoundly realize the beneficial truth of George Morris insisting on a rider always wearing spurs. But of course, I usually take the roller balls off for jumping–I’m not THAT confident in my leg position. Ah, well, I can hang onto that as a tangible goal for later.

brightblueEli scored a little more sparkle. If he’s going to wear the fly mask, I guess the sparkle isn’t as visible. But I KNOW it’s there. This alone is satisfying enough. Eli’s browbands and bonnets will continue to twinkle. He will also be scoring some white BoT polos …

graybrowbandPolling the internet is always fun, yes? So I’ve been seeking a healthier and more environmentally-friendly alternative to Conrad’s Nylabones. He’s a voracious chewer, so he’s got to have something. But he goes through the Dura Chew Nylabones in a matter of days before they are so chewed up I have to toss them, and they are not recyclable (I asked the company). And it bothers me that he can bite off tiny pieces that for the most part I watch him spit out, but what if he did swallow them? I’m not happy about that possibility. So I scoured the internet and found a lot of positive things about antlers. I had given him a small whole deer antler once, after trying antlers the first time around, but the shape of it was hard for him to hang on to for him to chew. So then I read that split antlers might be better for smaller dogs. And EVERYTHING I could find said that antlers themselves would not splinter. So I picked up a few splits and gave Conrad one last night. And of course he managed to splinter off a small chunk of antler within an hour. No, not the marrow–I’m fine with him drooling on that and eating small pieces of marrow, as it is spongy and digestible. I eat cooked marrow occasionally myself and it’s so funky and velvety and amazing. No, this was actual antler, splintered off. This meant sharp edges that resulted in me distracting Conrad with bacon so I could toss the antler, plus I think he may have cut his gum because some of the marrow looked a little pink. My next idea is to give him a whole elk antler in the hopes that he will not be able to splinter that. I also do give him ball and rope toys, but those are not as satisfying for him to chew on and he loses interest quickly. I have thought of soaking cotton rope in beef broth or something like that, but it would have to be homemade beef broth or the sodium would be way too high, and I don’t exactly have occasion to cook stuff that leaves me beef broth. He has a few Kong toys, but again, he’s not that into them. (Except this one squeaky piggy Kong thing that I had to take away from him because he got completely weird and stressed out while trying to chew it–normally the chewing relaxes him.)

antlerSo dog people, what do you think of antlers? Or raw marrow bones from the butcher? What do you suggest for a smallish dachshund with the jaws and chomping alacrity of a bull breed? I am also slightly worried he might crack a tooth, but the benefits of chewing outweigh that worry right now. He does have a sensitive digestive system, so I can’t give him “greenies” or rawhide, and I’m worried hoof or horn would be too much like rawhide. And I won’t give him anything that isn’t made in or from the US or Canada (another reason to like antlers–the good ones are hand-harvested after being naturally shed).

37 thoughts on “Odds & Ends: Spurs, Browbands, and Antlers

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  1. Yeti Himalayan Dog Chews. My dog won’t play with toys, and is entirely food motivated. These last her an incredibly long time and are reasonably priced, in my opinion. Nothing bad in them, and don’t cause a mess!

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  2. I’m a HUGE fan of the roller spurs for the same reason you are: wanting a response, not necessarily a reaction. They do feel bigger/longer than most spurs, but I think they’re much less pokey than other spurs and don’t leave spur marks on your horse.

    Sorry I can’t offer any advice on the chew toy thing though, good luck!

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  3. Antlers are a godsend for aggressive chewers. Our boxer cross has one and it’s held up for months. They don’t tend to chip either, just kind of gradually grind away.

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      1. I buy my boxer/pit mix hocks or femurs — mostly cow but I think you can find some pig out there. I’m sure a cow hock would present Conrad with a formidable challenge and last quite a while! I’ve bought Ellie a variety of types of bone and she has never managed to splinter one, just gnaws them until they are totally clean. Some are more meaty than others to start with, but Ellie usually gets plenty of enjoyment even after the meat is gone. I usually just pick one up at the same feed store I get Murray’s grain at!

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  4. Beware butcher bones. In my case one of my dogs cracked a tooth, had to have extracted. Very said the long bones like we normally see aren’t great for their teeth. He suggested more plate like ones, such as patella bones. Just fyi. Ymmv.

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      1. I got what you meant! Very good info, though. Tbh I hadn’t really thought of bones from the butcher until rooting around on the internet and finding a CotH thread on them.


  5. Bully Sticks/Beef Pizzle are really good for chewers! Only down side is that they dont smell all that great. Beef Tracheas are also good, but don’t last as long for my dog. I also get those Red Barn hollow filled bones and after the filling is gone, stuff them with cottage cheese or pumpkin puree (low cal!) and freeze them – that keeps mine busy for a while!

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  6. I’m a bad vet student, but I like marrow bones/butcher bones. You just have to match bone size to the dog; we used to give them to our Setter all the time, and never had a problem.

    Roller ball spurs are AMAZING. Seriously, the best spurs on the planet.

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  7. I used roller ball spurs on Cosmo, but recently (as in yesterday) switched to waterford spurs(they look like a spur with a marble at the end almost). It’s a bit longer, but I think overall a bit softer and less likely to rub him. He get spur rubs pretty easily, but also really does require spurs (big dummy).
    Thule is totally in to bully sticks right now. They don’t last more than a couple hours though. And they smell. I thought about getting her a split antler. We do sell a fair amount of antlers and water buffalo horns at the store, but I don’t have any personal experience. We had the yehit dog chews for a while, and I heard good things about them. I should go see if we have any left for Thule….

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    1. I’ve seen those Waterford spurs and almost went with those instead of the roller balls.

      I have heard the bully sticks do smell–that might nix them for me if the smell is bad enough to bug me, i.e., trigger a migraine :/ Conrad just chews so impossibly hard!


  8. i picked up a pair of roller ball spurs thinking they would be great for my sensitive mare who needs help getting in front of my leg, but not necessarily to go *faster*. i’ve never used them tho… they really do seem HUGE. so i’ve been using tiny little tom thumb spurs, which get the job done. one of these days i’ll give them a try tho!

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