SUBSCRIBE TODAY Smiley face  Get updates via email! 




We Are Flying Solo

Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label reviews. Show all posts

July 24, 2016

A New Favourite: Grooming Hands Gloves Are Hands-On...And Hands-Free!

Tell me if this sounds familiar:  currying off layers of sweat crust & dirt, I manage to drop my body brush at least twice.  I keep the gel curry on one hand to knock the dust off the soft bristles, but then I need to put something down so I can grab fly spray.  Even staging items at strategic equine corners has me juggling tools.  And my spectacular grace & coordination are somewhat legendary...

Maybe I'm just "special?"  <-- i="">obvious statement is obvious

Even included sweet handwritten note!
Even More Exciting Than Sliced Bread

Thanks to Melissa & Barb from GroomingHands.com, who asked if I'd like to try un-droppable grooming, I have discovered a miraculous world where I can groom my horses, pick up other things, AND not hit myself in the face with a brush AT THE SAME TIME.

I know, it seems impossible...but I had to find out!

Testing

Materials needed:  one sweaty horse, one clumsy human, two hands -- check.

Pre-test equine (Solo finds dinner more important...)
The Massage & Grooming gloves were described as a versatile tool which reduces static (not so testable in swamp air, but could be handy in winter) while allowing you to reach all your horse's itchy spots, work out dead hair, massage muscles, clean sensitive areas, & maintain manual dexterity.  A lot to promise, especially to a documented skeptic.

Hands ON!
Thankfully they come in multiple sizes, as my enormous lady hands require a large, but they fit comfortably, so I got to work.  I started at the base of Solo's ears & worked down his neck to his withers & shoulders, which always build up layers of dirt.

Results

Not only did they do "all of the above," I was honestly amazed at the amount of shed hair & gunk they lifted out of his coat.  You can see in the pre-test pic above, he's pretty "summer slick."  But when I got to his back & haunches...wow:

Where did all that come from??!
So yes, these are now part of my daily routine & I'm guessing from the sighs & drooping eyelids of relief that both horses are happy about it.

Even More To Love

On top of being great to use, Grooming Hands is our favourite kind of company:  a self-started small business, built by a lifetime rider & groom as a labour of love.  Founder Barb Schuster had an idea during a PA winter & threw her heart & savings after it (as a single mom, no less!).  You can read her story here.

Solo definitely agrees & gives them four hooves up.  Even sensitive Encore leaned into the massage & I really liked the immediate tactile feedback of grooming with a glove, so you can adjust pressure & use different textured areas as you go.

The website is full of videos, tips, & helpful resources to explore; other features include:
  • Machine washable or just put them in the sink with some dish soap
  • Extra massage tips on middle & ring fingers
  • Smooth spots on thumb & index finger for soft wipedowns
  • Latex free for allergic folks
  • Not just for horses -- dogs, cats...hmmm, maybe myself...
Thanks again to the super-friendly Grooming Hands team for letting me try & share!

www.groominghands.com

March 5, 2016

How To Get To Good: Be A Better Lab Rat


Encore & I always look like this. Ha.
You get on your horse, warm up & organize your various pieces & parts, & then you begin work.  Ask him to move forward, connect back to front, create suppleness & adjustability, aiming for the best you can create at both of your levels of ability.  Obvious, right?

We often even think of that process as "easy" in that we can say, "Sit up straight, apply leg, maintain steady, elastic rein connection, do that breathing thing."  And if we do all those things properly, our partner will reward us with a round, rhythmic canter, stepping up through his withers & pushing energy out through the bridle.

Stop me now if that works out for you every time.  Anyone?  Buhler?  Yeah, the devil's in the details.

Solo: Master of Subtle Opinions...
On Monday, your horse decides "leg" means "let me show you my best llama impression!"  Wednesday, his response is, "Eh?  Did you say something?"  Thursday, your left elbow is convinced "steady connection" is best achieved by "death grip against my horse's locked jaw."  You're sorted on Saturday, wow, that canter felt great -- so when you have a chance to get on a different horse, you apply the same process...only to enjoy the Trot At Terminal Velocity with as much bend as a 2 x 4.

Fortunately, we have helmets to deal with the subsequent *headdesk* repetitions!  But what gives?

I posted a teaser quote from a current reading project, so now I'm following up on my promise for more.  Mary captures the individual approach horses require from us, even from one ride to the next, with a great analogy:

"Imagine that each horse, in his evasive movement, resembles one entrance to a maze, which has at its center the good movement we are seeking. With every horse we go on a unique journey & initially, in particular, the feelings he gives us & the difficulties he poses may be strikingly different. The knowledge we glean from one journey may only serve to confuse us on the next – at times we may even have to do the exact opposite of something we previously experienced as being a surefire way of getting us to the center."

Y U play hard to get, cheez??
My suspicions are supported:  our horses really do use us as experimental laboratory mice!  I knew I could hear snickering as I blundered about in search of that cheese with perfect bascule...

What I like best about her imagery though, is that it shines the focus on each ride, each journey, as a puzzle (there could be a puzzle-lover bias here, heh) instead of an assumption.  To solve a puzzle, we have to think about the process, breaking it down into progressive steps towards our goal of a nice transition or a balanced circle.

Mentally, this automatically puts me in the moment, listening to my body & feedback from my horse, then trying something different if we aren't at "good" yet.  At the same time, it subconsciously gives me the critically important freedom to do "the exact opposite of something" that I tried before, creating the opportunity to discover, hey, if I let go, my horse really doesn't run away.

BAM.  (extra hunter Solo for Lauren, hee)
Which I have far better luck with than my approach from past years, of "I did all the things, this is still sucking!"  Trapping us in a dead-end, repeatedly walking into the same wall, blindly hoping it will just fall down & present a full cheese platter.

Now I have a cheese craving, dangit.

February 7, 2016

Allow Your Horse To Believe In You

The concept of "belief" can at first sound nebulous, but in our riding, it directly translates to the essentials of trust and confidence.  In ourselves, in our partners, and theirs in us.

I've been picking away at a captivating book -- that speaks my language:  "The Natural Rider:  A Right-Brain Approach To Riding," by dressage and biomechanics author, Mary Wanless.  There is a long list of insights to discuss already & I'm only halfway through!

But one that continues to jump (pun not intended!) out at me speaks to both the foundation & the everyday process of training & schooling.  This is what we must carry with us in order to succeed in defying gravity in all its forms:


Yes, Solo once had a (exceedingly strong-willed) mane!  There are many layers of warm fuzzies in this blast from the past...June 2007, our clinic with Ian Stark (collected reports here) which took us to a brave new world. 

October 26, 2015

Orange Is The New...Orange: Including My New Favourite Neck Strap!


Solo getting his glow on in last fall's gear
Autumn:  beautiful riding weather...and rifle season for deer!  This means it's time to play "decorate in reflective strips & blaze orange" to make sure there is no room for uncertainty -- I am indeed a dork on horseback, NOT an enormous doe.

Once again, the great folks at Horze.com can help you & your partner stay safe with more accessories (enabling sequence initiated)!  Even outside of hunting seasons, being seen is critical, particularly if you ride near roads or in low light.

Orange You Glad I Can Use This Pun?

This October, they sent us a pair of their blaze orange reflective splint boots along with a matching nylon harness/yoke.  Both are emblazoned with broad reflective tape & bright print to appropriately scream, "HEADS UP!"

Sexy turf horse safety (sorry the orange looks yellow in pic)
One of the things I've appreciated about their products is the feeling that someone was thinking about what really matters to the average rider:  affordability & simplicity without completely sacrificing practical durability.

The boots are neoprene lined with solid, even stitching; they slid right into place & stay put while jumping without having to use "velcro death grip."  Which for those sensitive-skinned TBs, means no rubs either.  You bet they are lined up for use as turnout boots too (free bonus: finding your horse in a dark pasture gets much easier).

Can you see the boots??  ;P
I loved the easy clip around the neck of the yoke, which was also adjustable there & at the "make your own girth loop" attachment.  Visibility + neck strap rolled into one!  Although I think mine has the buckle stitched on incorrectly for the girth loop -- no worries, though, with their 100% happiness guarantee & free shipping both ways.
Reflect upon the visibility power!!
And my favourite part of both?  Hose 'em off when you're done, hang to dry, all clean!

Remember:  Knowledge IS Power...And Safety!

No matter where you are, always be aware of your local laws & regulations.  NC has a new law this year, making it legal to hunt deer with rifles on Sunday on private land (previously only bow-hunters & falconers could hunt Sundays).

So check your area's natural resource agency webpage:  we must all be responsible when sharing land & do our best to help prevent accidents.

U.S.: Get started finding yours here (although missing, uh, ours, LOL)
Our state's law requires all hunters to wear blaze orange in season & our Hunting Safety Education officers have done a great job making it a universally recognized symbol statewide.  We can use that to our advantage even if we're not the one in the deer stand.

Thank you again to Horze for sharing; check out more of their great line of safety gear (oh, I covet the sheet!!) & be seen, be safe, no matter what!
www.horze.com
 

July 24, 2015

Halt That Headshaking!

Nature no touchy!
Summer brings not just sweat, but the War of the Flies (sorry, William Golding).

You're attempting to make centerline approximate an actual line or ramble scenic trails or enjoy a sunset handgraze...only the tormented buzzing & biting around your horse's eyes & ears has you worried he might sprain his neck during the incessant attempts to shake the beasts off.

Bid Those Flies - And Sweat - Goodbye

It felt like my lucky day when our friends at Horze.com sent us their -

1.  Extended nose flymask (UV protection for your pale-nosed friends!
2.  Fringed mesh fly veil

Fine, I'll nom-model  (1)
I hatez dinner pauses  (2)
What Makes Them Different?

You know those days when it's so hot & sticky that the mere thought of anything touching you makes you shudder in aversion?  Well, the horses agree.  And fly spray can only do so much (particularly in places where you can actually hear the deer flies snicker every time you squeeze the spray-bottle trigger).

So I really REALLY liked that both of these combined a physical barrier with fabrics which maximized airflow.  A horse's ears appear to be a very small body part, but, being thin-skinned & packed with blood vessels (i.e. gnat nirvana), those twin radar dishes play a huge role in heat exchange, just like your head & feet.


The mask was made of a quality-feeling structured screening, much like the SuperMasks I use to screen eyes in the trailer.  However, where I almost never use the latter in turnout as the heaviness of both the mesh & fleece seem to layer grit & sweat on Solo's face, the unique combination of the technical wicking material & much narrower jaw cut of the Horze mask means he's more comfortable.

What, Does He Nicker Twice For Yes?

Not quite, although I did learn this winter that he has an "I want my blanket" nicker, LOL.  But he freezes & sticks his head out when I approach with it now (Solo must have tasty eyeball juice, the flies seem to prefer it to Encore's?) & when removed at night, there's only a small patch of sweat on his crown.

Yes, he also is a member of the Pig Sweat club.

The veil struck a similar nice balance.  The retro-hippie-rasta vibe was just a bonus!

I use old-school browband veils while riding Solo every summer (alas, Encore gets mad at his own bangs touching him & violently shook OFF a cotton bonnet, although I may have to try this once...), but his ears are unprotected unless I add a conventional fly bonnet.  Bonnet fabric usually ends up soaked in sweat & the tight-fitting ears mean the deer & horse-flies bite through them anyway.

Adding the loose mesh to a veil was a novel idea.  Airspace between ears & mesh creates a little wider "DMZ" protection from bites.  The super-light mesh kept things cool, although I wouldn't try to add it to a turnout halter, I'd be worried it would tear off during vigorous tree scratching.

And we still had the strings functioning as the perfect forelock (vital for Solo The Follicularly Challenged), constantly moving to deter landings while not obstructing vision or trapping heat.  And um, hi, $7 is the kind of budget-friendly I'M talking about, thank you!

Who's got bangs now, dudez??
Be Prepared To Trim Or Size Down

Both items have a bit of an odd measurement.  Lengthwise, they were fine for Solo & would be spot-on for Encore (both are a normal 'horse' size, but Solo is short from ear to mouth; if I had money to burn, I'd buy cob cheekpieces for his bridles).  But the jowl straps were ENORMOUS.

They may be purposefully designed that way, it's simple enough to trim off the velcro ends.  There is certainly plenty if you do happen to have a horse with the cheeks of a Shire!

Or, if you are a just-in-case person, you can invent velcro patterns like I did:


You can check them out along with Horze's other Fly Weapons here.  Thanks once more to the great folks at Horze.com for diversifying our arsenal!!
www.horze.com

June 30, 2015

It’s An Organizer! It’s A Mounting Block! It’s…A Pretty Sweet Box!


For 175 lbs of feet or bum! Solo box incl. for scale.
Raise your hand if you are so over digging for the hoofpick in the abyss that is your grooming box.

Yeah.  OVER.  IT.

Lucky for you, I've always got one eye open for the perfect box.  Brush box.  Clipper box.  Blanket box.  Boot box.  Organize ALL THE THINGZ box.

Well, what if it has a treaded top & is weight-rated for use as a mounting block (or picking ticks like a monkey braiding manes) too?  Oh yes.

 The polypropelene Horze Smart Grooming Box has not only that, but also sports a lock loop on the front for security & arrives in your matchy colour of choice (maaaan, I should have gone for the powder blue, it's our accent colour...but hey, there is even something for you crazy pink lovers!).

Removable divider & "bits 'n pieces" tray in place
With a lift-out accessory tote & divider, it doesn't become the dreaded Bottomless Purse.

Neat trick: the basket will sit on the edge for mud slurry avoidance needs!
Its only shortcoming: it is a tad too short for the critical "spray bottle test."

Derp.  But it's ok, your WD-40 still fits!!
BUT. Domed lid still leaves room for sticky-uppies. (It's a word now, deal)
However, as a compact organizer with double-duty stool powers, I think it's a great option with lots of flexibility, especially for the trailer:  a travel grooming, clipper, wrap, braiding, or what-can-you-think-of box for the trail or showgrounds that hangs around to give you a leg up, so you don't have to do that "I totally meant to slide off my trailer fender to check out my horse's girth VERY closely" moment (oh, is that just me?).

Added size information:  boost height is 12", while your standing platform on top is approximately 14" long by 11" wide.
For all your favourite matchy thingz!  Ok, so I really like blue...a lot... What product placement?? ;P
Check it out along with other great grooming goodies here; all products come with a 30-day 'happiness guarantee' & orders over $75 ship both ways for free!

Thanks again to the great & always friendly folks at Horze for the opportunity to share a hands- (& feet) on experience with you!
www.horze.com

December 31, 2014

The Home Of Solaris Is Now Officially Solar!

Eventually...
Well, his part is, at any rate.

It's ALIIIVVVEEE!!!!!

And despite the rambling of my previous post, heinously simple & working like a charm.  It all comes prewired, so you just stick the velcro where you want your boxes, slip the ring connectors on your battery terminal, & stuff the panel wires in their labeled ports.

Srsly.  Even laziness-enabled so you don't actually have to mount the panel until you feel like it!

You already saw the photos, so I give you this wonderful gift:  system features in live action.  You might at first wonder, why the heck would I want to watch that?

Because, my dear readers, particularly those who have visited for a while, know that I often forget that camera microphones are not selective.  So the ridiculous commentary at the ends of my videos is my special present to you.

From the woman who has few qualms about online dorkiness (plus it is a pretty cool gadget!), I present for your viewing entertainment:



There is even a button to push!!!  A BUTTON!

December 18, 2014

Horze Enables My Inner Boot Addict & Safety Police All At Once?!

Um, not that kind of grail boot...WTF is that?
AND THERE WAS MATCHING!

I know, I had to take a few deep breaths too...

The Boots & The Blue

A few months ago, I shared my inadvertent discovery of the holy grail of bell boots:  no-turn boots that actually did not turn!  They continue their awesome, although they do live in the "special occasions" pile.  Ok, because I am not motivated enough to yank off the pull-ons Encore lives in...but also because they are so pretty.

Bee-yoo-tee-ful dark blue
In what I believe must be a covert agreement with the NSA, Horze discovered that in my initial "horse equipment acquisition" years, my weak spot of addiction lay smack in the middle of horse boots of every shape & size (geez, 2010 doesn't sound like that long ago, but pardon a moment of silence as I consider how much had not happened yet...).

Speaking of those boots of years past, I still have (& USE), in perfect condition, those Moxie ankle boots, the 5-strap Woofs from the trash can at Waredaca & both the Roma & N.E.W. front boots!

Click = embiggen
It turns out, though, that the beautiful matching shades of the No-Turn Boots & the Lyon Synthetic Gloves existed in a threesome.  I introduce to you the Horze Tendon Boot:  I challenge you to find a colour (there are NINETEEN) that doesn't match your ensemble!!

Naturally, there was only ONE appropriate choice for TFS & I confess I was taken aback a little by how much I liked them.  Both the plastic shell & the neoprene liner were just the right amount softer (mea culpa for that horrific grammar) than the Romas, lending the boot a nicer ability to mold to Encore's legs.  But they still felt sturdy, had strong velcro & stitching, and, erm, did I mention the matching...?

*places reverently in Pretty Boot Storage Basket with matchy bell boots*

Those are totes the trash-can Woofs...
And Safety Too?!

Be still my heart.  Because one pair wasn't enough.

Encore is a bit base-narrow behind, so he sometimes wears a set of Nunn Finer pastern wraps (always when studded, as at left).  However, the outer layer of these started falling off within one week of purchase.  I've continued to use them for several years, as the neoprene is fine.  The velcro is beginning to fail, so I do tape them with every use, so one could say it's becoming a bit of a pain.

Combine my casual lookout for their replacement & my insatiable desire for anything that says, "I AM NOT A DEER NOR CAN YOU CLAIM MY CORPSE RESEMBLED ONE" in our lovely NC Decembers and you get this:

Strappies
The Horze Reflective Leg Straps, which fit nicely on the big boy's pasterns & have a handy built-in "velcro failure backup system" in the nylon strap.  My only trouble was deciding what to do with the end of the strap once fastened.

Keepers are not included, so I'll likely just keep the tape handy.  Much easier to throw a thin strip around the end of the strap & still have insanely bright reflective power!

Alternatively, I may cut the end off entirely, although this does limit one's adjustability somewhat.  I don't have any plans to buy Clydesdales in the near future though...  The plastic buckle itself is a wee bit fiddly, but definitely clamps down tight & we had no rubs on a long, muddy ride through the woods.

Two hooves up!  Although if there is a passing car or a camera flash or a reflection off your sunglasses, you may see them so brightly that you'll walk into trees for the next five minutes.  That could just be me...

I swear upon Solo, pastern reflection from flash not enhanced!!

Not Everyone Is A Grinch

In the spirit of the season, the friendly folks at Horze added this festive helmet cover to the box.  Grinchy-me hesitated at first, but then realized a bright red helmet is yet another great way to stay very, very visible (particularly to folks who make their own seasons...or don't follow any at all)!

Solo's wonderful Minion Erica (thank you for being badass, Erica!) submitted the cover to a grueling ground test:  I think I can see it!


Thank you so much AGAIN to the super-friendly folks at Horze for giving me the opportunity to want even more of their stuff try out their products & share the skeptic's perspective with you!
 

November 23, 2014

Misleading Marketing Madness: Lesson 1 – Horses Are Not Earthworms

*Disclaimer: you can thank insomnia for this one...and hold it responsible for any level of insanity*
 
That’s right, horse owners & consumers, YOU, are being lied to.

By a myriad of companies who’ve hired scores of marketers with the primary goal, naturally, of maximizing profit, as a proper business should (one of many reasons I work in the still-flawed, but significantly different section of the public sector I do).

I know, fetch your smelling salts & contain your tears of shock:  an advertiser LIED to you?  Say it isn’t so…  *do we have a sarcastic font yet?*

Oooo, Oooo, Who's In Trouble?

So inconvenient...
No names.  And certainly not a blanket indictment of all.  Just basic science & physiological realities that, er, clash with some not-so-realistic ad copy.  Anecdotes, psychosomatic responses, & non-causative results all create bias in our conclusions every day, even if only subconsciously.  Science exists to investigate WITHOUT bias, preferably in a standardized & repeatable fashion, & then to inform & educate. 

GOOD science, though, stands out from its slimier cousin (in our business, the latter is named ‘The Biostitute):  it is unafraid to say, “I was wrong.  Let’s re-examine…”

Which is a perfect place to add:  if I do mis-speak (it could happen…in theory…or even *gasp* reality), I absolutely welcome further education!!

So many haystacks, where to begin?

Encore shows Wyvern Oaks' jenj where things go IN!
How About Hydration?

Here’s a concept whose basics are easily grasped by most sentient adults.  The simple requirement of a mammal (in the instance of our beloved money pits) to somehow replace water lost through sweat/evaporation & urination (& your occasional drooler).  What goes out, must come in.  Fail = die.

Seems a clearcut equation, made even easier by the fact that for most purposes, horses only have one “in” port (we’ll leave out IV fluids) known as the drinking hole, or mouth (no one likes that feeling when water goes down the air hole…).

Well, according to some manufacturers, we can kiss that limitation goodbye!  I can’t decide whether to be aghasted (thank you, COTH) by their clear ignorance or disregard of 8th grade science, or impressed by their sheer audacity in assuming their clientele is either incredibly gullible or incredibly uneducated.

Solo wears the decidedly NOT majykal
The Majykal Hydrating Fabric

One fabric, when sewn into the shape of a $9 ear bonnet, claims to “increase H2O hydration.”  (In this context, is there a type of hydration that DOESN’T involved H2O?  Yes, redundancy bothers me.  I hate repeating things.  See what I did there?  Yeah, I crack myself up)

Simultaneously, this mystical fabric is “breathable,” i.e. capable of releasing not only moisture, but “toxins,” as sweat evaporates.
  1. Commit, oh Majykal Bonnet – you cannot simultaneously inject moisture into Dobbin’s head AND let it out.  That’s like trying to hold water in a bucket made out of a basketball net.
  2. This may surprise you, but horses are not earthworms or amphibians.  They cannot absorb water or breathe through their skin.  Otherwise they’d drown every time it rained, which would result in a massive increase in turnout sheet prices!
  3. Mammalian bodies process “toxins” using three large & valuable organs, the liver & two kidneys.  There is no skin filtering, sorry, & even if there was, what do you even mean?  Are you claiming to suck things out of my horse's head?  Filter "horse brain pollutants" before they harm the ozone?  What purpose would this imaginary power serve?
Hydration’s Relationship With That Cardiovascular Stuff

Further product claims of this type assert that a more hydrated horse will have “increased oxygen levels & rate of circulation,” which we are generally programmed into equating with MOAR BETTER HEALING & PERFORMANCE.  Alas, while I do envy the marketers’ salary, I cannot let sleeping lies…lie?

No sweating here, mom, er...
Performing muscles do require that blood, infused with oxygen by the horse’s massive lungs, is pumped quickly through the body to deliver its precious energy food.  In addition, blood heated by a hard-working horse must circulate faster to small blood vessels close to the surface of the skin, so body core temperature does not reach dangerous levels.

At the same time, that blood loses some of its liquid component to sweat:  a minus because this will reduce the volume of blood & increase its viscosity (thickness, think cold molasses), but a plus in that evaporating sweat will help keep that core temperature out of the red zone during exercise.

Two important changes occur here: 
  1. The horse has had a subtraction from his overall fluid levels, thanks to this evaporation (the well-known road to dehydration).
  2. He also now has thicker blood, which is harder to push through vessels, further complicated by the spleen’s programmed red blood cell (RBC; mixed in stored plasma, just like the glycogen we talked about previously) dump in response to the body’s “HEY! We need some O2 over here!” demand.  
When your human spleen takes a dump (poop jokes never stop being funny), you get about a 10% RBC boost.  Dobbin’s spleen, just like his colon, is a mite bigger than yours, so he gets a 50% boost.  Which sounds great until you put it under your trusty microscope & discover that approximately 75% of that dump consists of old, stiff RBCs (it happens to the best of us).

You guessed it:  that bumps blood viscosity even higher.  That significant human/equine difference is what makes them more susceptible to rapid-onset dehydration complications.  Now you’re stuck in a negative feedback loop where the more blood volume muscles & organs demand, the faster that volume is decreased.

So…Is There ANY Connection Between Hydration & Oxygenation? 

Let’s go back to those claims about oxygen & circulation.  Even if he does snort some water up his nose, the horse still cannot increase oxygen levels in his blood through rehydration.  He can only do that by inhalation (ok for horses, not for US Heads of State, apparently).  His heart can only pump so much blood per minute around his lungs & then out to his body.  You can’t make his heart volume any larger with water either, nor will it make the organ beat any faster.

Therefore, unless someone’s invented an Equine Camelback so he can take a sip mid-gallop, it is impossible for a horse to regain fluids while he’s working.  Even if he could, this would have no impact on the oxygen levels in his blood.

Which bring us to what you already knew:  the critical importance of (a) giving your horse ample opportunities to drink and (b) conditioning him well before asking him to perform at a competition or other maximum level of exertion.

Iz fit.  Bring it.
Dehydration IS related to reductions in available blood plasma, which occurs in part due to fluid loss.  The bucket of clean water is the no-brainer.

Fitness Is More Than Muscle

This is why it is also vital that your training is more thoughtful than 3,000 20-metre circles.

Building your horse’s cardiovascular fitness tends to
  1. Increase the volume of blood his heart can pump with each beat, so fewer beats are required for performance, which means a lower heart rate at peak exertion. 
  2. He can also build more capillaries within muscles &...
  3. More mitochondria (read: energy makers in muscle cells), both of which enable more efficient use of received oxygen.  
As a result, you’ve built a horse who can send more oxygen-rich blood through his entire body, with less cardiac strain, & increased energy production efficiency.

Now THAT, my friends, is how it’s done.  For the total cost of…$0.  I even saved you the effort of Google-typing. 

Drinking filter fabric…puh-lease…

The truth doesn't hurt.  For long.