Category Archives: Environment

Toxins on the Tack Store’s Shelves – Part 1


Copper Sulfate,



White Spirit/Stoddard Solvent

These were some of the most prevalent ingredients I read on the labels of various antifungal, antibacterial and hoof conditioning products at the local tack stores.  Many of these things have been used for years to treat skin and hoof conditions, but has anyone recently taken a closer look at these remedies?  If you do an Internet search for the chemical properties of these ingredients you’ll find descriptions like solvent, paint thinner, carcinogen, mutanogenic, pesticide, and environmentally toxic.

I am actually quite dismayed that we commonly use these toxins on our horses.  I went looking for an antifungal treatment for thrush which had recently shown up on my mare’s hoof.  After going to 4 different stores, I still really didn’t find any decent treatment options.  What was even worse, many brands were actually “greenwashing”.  One locally made line of products claims to be natural and green, but when you read the label it is loaded with parabens as preservatives!  Not so natural after all.

The regulations for cosmetics and health products for people in North America are loosely regulated.  Basically, companies that manufacture these products are allowed to self-regulate, and the Canadian government has not tightened regulations to keep companies accountable for their products and manufacturing processes.  If human grade products are so poorly regulated, how do you think products for use on our animals are regulated?  I have found the regulations for pet food and agricultural products for use on animals used for human consumption – those were scary enough.  We’ve all heard of the pet food scares that have surfaced in recent years with cats and dogs dying from ingesting foods made with toxic ingredients.  If the pet food industry is so loosely regulated, do you think that pet care products are regulated?  The answer seems to be that they aren’t.  I haven’t been able to find any guidelines, let alone laws, that protect the well-being of both our pets and ourselves when it comes to purchasing and using pet health care products (shampoos, skin remedies, coat conditioners, detanglers, etc.).  I am still looking for some sort of direction on this matter, but for now it is truly buyer beware.  Read the labels, demand the information from the companies that make the products, and be aware of your ingredients.  You’re not just putting it on your beloved pet, you are exposing yourself to these products as well.

Over the next few posts, I’m going to review some of these products that we commonly use on our horses and try to shed light on some of the toxic ingredients that we have been paying money for.  We need to demand more of the companies responsible for manufacturing the products.  At the very least, full disclosure of the ingredients so that we can make informed choices.


Going green at home has never been easier!  there are a ton of products out there that are eco-friendly, natural and green – right?!  Well, maybe.  Greenwashing can be described as misleading marketing claims, product names and packaging that suggest to the consumer that their products or services have environmental benefits. This is really a grey area in marketing in my opinion.  Many of the big multinational companies have jumped on the eco-friendly bandwagon, but are their “green” products any better for the environment?  Some of the products have changed one or two ingredients from their regular line and then re-packaged it as “green” or “natural” when in reality the ingredient list is pretty much the same.  It kind of ruins the “natural” qualities of a product when all of those lovely botanical extracts are preserved with parabens.  So, what’s a shopper to do?  Unfortunately there don’t seem to be any regulations in Canada with respect to greenwashing or labeling of products.  Consumers really must do their homework and educate themselves on what is eco-friendly and what is toxic.

As a concerned (and somewhat annoyed) consumer and eco-friendly advocate, I decided to call out one of the Canadian home retailers that has recently been promoting a new “Eco” line of products for building and home care.  After visiting the local store, and examining the line of home cleaning products I decided to ask some questions.  I first approached the store staff to inquire if they has product ingredient lists for the cleaners.  My answer was “no”, and no one seemed to know much else about their product line.  “OK – I’ll talk to the customer service at head office”.  So, off I went.  I promptly sat down to write an email inquiry at home as I wanted to know what was in the product line.  I was already doubting that the products truly were eco-friendly (I know, skeptical at heart), my reasoning being that if they were, they would have all of the product ingredients proudly displayed.  I did receive a prompt email reply with some information for one of the products in their line (which was pretty green, so great!).  However, one product does not make the entire “Eco” collection a “better choice”.  The company would not give me any further ingredient listings, somewhat confirming my suspicion that their “Eco” line is not really that great.

Thankfully, there are places to help!  Check the following links for some valuable information:

The morale of the story?  Do your homework.  Know your ingredients.  Ask questions.

Understanding Nanoparticles

Over the past year, there has been a lot of discussion about the use of nanoparticles in skin care and cosmetics. Nanoparticles are particles that have a dimension that is 100 nanometers or less in size.

While they are very widely used through the Health and Beauty industry, much of the controversy surrounding them is due to the lack of knowledge regarding long term effects on a consumer’s body. The nano-sized particles have the ability to absorb into skin  and blood stream much faster compared to regular ingredients.

“Nanoparticles are unbelievably tiny, man-made chemicals. They are so incredibly small that tens of thousands of them can fit on the point of a needle. Remember how we were taught that the atom is the smallest component of matter? Well, nanoparticles of various substances are made to be so small that they can be inserted into atoms. Once there, they may undergo a change in the way they normally function, and sometimes their toxicity can be enhanced with a potential for more severe action than normal chemicals.” (

Many lobbyist groups are now fighting to ensure that companies that use nano technology in their manufacturing will be forced to disclose that information on the labels of their products. Right now there is no distinguishing between products which contain an ingredient in a nano-size versus a full particle size.

Reposted from OnlyGreen EcoBits Newsletter – February 2011 Issue.

I Am NOT A Hippie

What does it mean to be “Green”?  I asked my 5 year old son.  His answer?  “Well…it means to wear a green shirt”.  Then we talked a little bit about what it meant to me.  “Oh, so being green is good for the Earth!” he excitedly proclaimed.  If a five year old can understand the concept, why don’t many North Americans?

My realization that I wanted to do better for my family and our planet didn’t come overnight, but now that I have chosen this path I want to share my knowledge and teach others what I have discovered.  Sometimes I think that many of my friends, particularly those that have known me a long time, are unsure of what to make of this relatively new outlook on life and what I want for my family – I used to work in the petroleum industry, for a big oil company, so I can’t really have jumped on this environmentally friendly bandwagon right?  Maybe moving to BC has addled her brain a bit – it is the “left coast” after all.

So, have I become a Vegan, granola-loving, Birkenstock-wearing, non-leg-shaving, organic, recycling, Greenpeace touting, bra-optional, hippie Earth-Mother?  Not exactly.  I still shave (I’m actually a bit OCD about that one!) and haven’t owned a pair of Birkenstocks since university.  I don’t eat much granola, and I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination.  Greenpeace does some good work, but often times they seem to wreck their own credibility because their members are out on the fringe of acceptable public behaviour and tend to disrupt the peace.  So, how would I describe myself?  I think that I am an Earth and health conscious stay-at-home mom who wants to do what’s best for her family and our planet.  What more motivation does one need to adopt a green lifestyle than looking at that little gummy smile that my youngest son gives me every morning when he wakes up in his crib?  Why wouldn’t I want to make sure I did the best I could for them, and the world that they, and their children will grow up in?

Why should I adopt an “Eco-Friendly” lifestyle?

The answer to this question will be different for every person.  It will be dependent on your own beliefs, world-view, economic situation, and even your comfort level with your current lifestyle.  Sometimes being environmentally friendly is more expensive, less convenient, and just harder to practice in everyday life.  Is this something that is right for you?

This is a decision that I came to gradually over several years, quite a lot of research and definitely some soul searching.  Certainly, I have always been concerned about pollution, the importance of recycling and using less energy and resources whenever possible.  Those were “no-brainer” concerns that I think most people in Western society identify with and visualize in their daily lives.  My outlook further changed after my first son was born.  For me, having children completely changed the way I saw the world around me.  Not only was I, along with my husband, responsible for other lives, but I wanted to do whatever I could to nourish and care for them as completely as possible, protect them from harm and give them a safe place to grow, learn and thrive.  I was quite astonished at how strongly those parental feelings began to drive my decisions.  All those memories of my own parents’ worries and concerns for me while growing up finally made sense!  Of course, my parents’ generation didn’t worry about things like protecting our environment.  The post–war era was a time of innovation in the chemical industry and industrial expansion worldwide.  Everyone was so caught up in the new technologies, no one really stopped to worry about what effects they might have on our health and environment.  It really was a “Golden Age” of innovation and products and technologies designed to make everyone’s lives easier.  Today we know that many of the products created in the post-war era are harmful to health and the environment.  As cliché as it is, hindsight is 20/20.

I was also worried about the amount of allergies, cancers, reproductive and autoimmune disorders that seemed to be on the rise both in the Canadian population and in my own circle of friends and family.  There just seemed to be too many 30-Something friends and colleagues that were developing serious conditions, and far too many allergies in young children.  What was going on here?

Though some chemicals have certainly been linked to health and environmental concerns, I don’t think that we have had enough time to fully research the longer-term outcomes of common, everyday additives to our environment.  Especially those used in foods and food containers.  Our society is so concerned with time that we’ve developed products to make it less time consuming to do everyday tasks.  Society wants convenient, microwaveable, pre-packaged, disposable, non-stick, fat-free, sugar-free items.  Has anyone ever considered that the items with these properties are largely filled with chemical additives or coatings to make them easy to use, convenient and even purported to be healthier?  What might those chemicals do to our bodies when ingested?  What about genetically modified foods (GMO’s)?  It seems like a great idea to have drought and pest resistant crops, but do we really know what changing the genetic make up of foods does to their nutritional value or biochemical profile?  In fact, there have been studies that have proven these GMO foods to have less nutritional value than their original

It’s easy to say “Well, the government has allowed this product on the market, so it must be safe for us to use”.  However, there have been numerous examples of products in the past that have now been identified as toxins and are no longer on the market (lead in paints, Thalidomide, DDT).  I decided that my family would try to reduce the amount of processed and GMO foods that we consumed so that we could have as natural a diet as possible.  Of course this means higher prices for groceries, more meal planning and longer preparation times. Yet, just by living on the Earth, my family will still get exposed to the numerous chemicals that exist in our environment (I’ll leave the discussion of “Body Burden” for another post).  So, for me, any amount that I can reduce the chemical additives in my family’s daily life, the better!

What about my pets?

In my household, like many of you, I consider my pets as important members of my family.  In bringing these animals into our lives, we are agreeing to take care of them, to provide for them and keep them healthy and out of harm’s way.  That is why I have put a lot of effort into researching animal feed ingredients and feed regulations in Canada.  Have you ever read the ingredient list on a bag of dog or cat food?  Do you know how your domesticated pet evolved and what its digestive system was designed to eat?  These are really important responsibilities for any animal owner.  When I switched my animals’ diets to include good quality, natural products I was dismayed that I couldn’t find a reliable source of high quality ingredients to make up a grain ration for my horses.  Moreover, government regulations in Canada don’t require an ingredient listing on agricultural feed labels.  In fact, after reading the Canadian Feeds Act (, I realized that there are a ton of non-food additives that are allowed in agricultural animal feeds, and many of these additives are things that would be considered toxic in human food.  I’m not referring to natural food sources that only animals would ingest either.  I’m referring to chemical and non-organic additives that really shouldn’t be in any food – human or animal.  So, if the regulations for horse feeds allow for chemical additives, and ingredient lists are not commonly on feed bags, how would I know what I was feeding my horses when I give them a cup of pelleted, non-identifiable feed?  There is always a “Guaranteed Analysis” on the feed label, but not any ingredients telling the consumer what their guaranteed protein and fat source comes from.  That just wasn’t good enough for me.  I want to know what goes into my horses’ diet as much as for any other member of my family.  It is important to keep them as healthy as possible, and as the old adage goes “you are what you eat”.  I couldn’t agree more!

Whatever you decide for yourself and your family is up to you.  I hope that by following this blog and our website that you will become better educated about your consumer choices.  Learn to question what goes into your foods, grooming and health products, and learn about your air and ground water quality.  Do your research and question what you can do for the health of your family and your Earth!

What does it mean to be Eco-Friendly?

“Ecologically-Friendly”, “Eco-Friendly” or “Green” in basic terms refers to activities, products or methodologies that help to protect the environment.  Many people choose to adopt an Eco-Friendly lifestyle because they are concerned about the environment and want to do their part to keep the Earth a sustainable, clean and safe place to live.

Sounds great right?  Who wouldn’t want to protect their environment?

There is a ton of media attention to environmental issues such as climate change, pollution, extinction of species and the destruction of natural habitats to name a few.  Though it is widely accepted that we are negatively affecting our global environment, before jumping of the band wagon of any cause, one needs to take the time to research the available information and educate oneself on the facts behind any issue.  I have always believed that whether one decides to champion a cause publicly or just make a lifestyle change, make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons and that you are well informed about the facts.  When you speak about your decisions from an educated platform, your message comes across loudly and intelligently and you will definitely add credibility to your passion.


Welcome to the Paddocks Equestrian Blog!  A place to read about eco-friendly and natural horse-keeping and horsemanship.

This is where I will strive to update you on news, views and natural products and methods especially for horse-keeping and living a green equestrian lifestyle.  I’m excited to share my thoughts and will welcome feedback as the blog evolves.

Thanks for stopping by!