Friday, March 23, 2012

Shedfest 2012

Spring is coming! We all know what that means!

ShedFest 2012!

I may be crazy but I love spending time to strip my hairy wonders of their excess fur and make them look like horses again. As much as I loved having clouds of hair blowing back in my face as I drive the horse along the path behind the barn once the hair starts flying I'm going to do everything in my power to help it along. My de-shedding routine is, admittedly, a little insane. The horse that I currently have the privilege of working, while his owner looks for a buyer, gets brushed longer and more often than any other pony on the place. It's a good thing he enjoys the grooming and that I do to. I find it very therapeutic and the larger the hair pile the greater my satisfaction.

This horse gets brushed daily. Now since this is a show barn all the horses are blanketed in matching hunter green blankets. Once the temperature starts climbing keeping the blanket can help expedite the shedding out. Light is also important. The prolonged hours of the day trigger shedding, it can be simulated artificially. The horses that attend winter and early spring shows get to stand under lights, but the ones that aren't showing don't, like the boy I'm driving now. When the weather is nice and the sun is shining make sure your stabled horses get some time outside to get some sunshine on their bodies. Paddock turnout is the best option, or on a Hot walker, if you are concerned with them pulling those expensive show shoes.

As far as my grooming process is concerned I start with my favorite grooming tool of all time.

The Zoom Groom-Best $7 ever spent.

Yes it is a dog brush, and yes there are soft rubber curry combs for horses. But I love this thing for a several reasons. First, it pulls out copious amounts of hair. Secondly, the highly ergonomic grip feels awesome in the hand. Thirdly, every horse I have used it on has been sent to a state of lip twitching nirvana when I use this thing on them. It's also makes short work of caked on mud and those manure/urine crusties that stabled horses tend to get. The rubber is also soft enough that it can be used on legs and faces. The long wide set fingers of the brush massage the skin encouraging circulation and helps to redistribute those natural oils that help keep the coat shiny and weather resistant, as well as knocking lose the dead hair. I like this thing for non-showing horses, dogs and cats too. Great for bathing, it's dishwasher safe, and can be purchased at most pet retailers.

I start by going in circles with the brush like you would for a regular curry comb. This is generally the horse's favorite part. Then with pressure you brush briskly with short quick strokes with the direction of the hair. This is where the fur really starts flying. Once I've gone over the horse two or three times I follow up with a more traditional grooming staple.

The shedding blade.

These are usually in the $5 range. And if you are lacking a good horse or pet supply shop in your area you can find shedding blades in the pet section of Wal-Mart. Use this on the large areas of your horse and pick up any remaining lose hairs the Zoom Groom left behind. Lastly I use a soft brush to finish.

This is my slightly obsessive compulsive process. Which while every one may not be as crazy about grooming as I am, if you do this you will end up with a shiny, if still fuzzy horse, in the middle of winter and a reasonably quick shed out in the spring. It'll still take several sessions, but at least I'm not breathing quite as much hair when I drive.

But the biggest reason that I like the spring shedding season is that it gives me a chance to slow down and get to have a few quiet, relaxing, no pressure moments with the horse. Any time spent with a horse is not wasted time whether that time is spent on or behind or beside with a brush in hand. Horses are a remnant of a slower, simpler time. They don't beep, buzz, ring, text, and play music. They lack internet access and a bright LCD display. They don't provide you with the whole of the world's knowledge at your finger tips. They have a pesky habit of draining patience and bank accounts, but a horse can teach you about yourself. In the wild whirlwind of life, a horse can get you to unplug from the world for a few precious moments. These are the moments I live for.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Horse Problem

Dear viewers, welcome. My name is Janell and I have been horseless for a year and ten months. The "horseless" status is not something I would have chosen. My first horse, my heart horse, passed away in May of 2010. Due to my financial circumstance, and my financial obligations to my educational institution it would be irresponsible for me to purchase another horse at this time. This knowledge however does not keep me from wishing, hoping, dreaming.

You see I'm a horse addict, a "Horsaii" as Mugs from Mugwump Chronicles would put it. I live for the time I get to spend with horses. I love to watch them, I love the smell of them. To be in their presence fills me with happiness. Horses give me joy and a sense of purpose and I don't want to think of a life without them. To this point I have been greatly blessed when it comes to my horse experience. I didn't start into horses until I was around 20, despite having always loved these animals. The first barn I fell into was an Arabian training facility, and from the get go I had the benefit of competent instructors and a very skilled trainer(although we don't always agree on everything). I had a natural aptitude, and for once in my mediocre life I felt like there was finally something I was really good at. My skills led to greater opportunities. I went to horse shows as a groom. I got a taste for competition and fine horses. I leased a little purebred Arab mare and learned to drive. I finally got my own horse, Fame. I showed Fame. I moved barns. Life got hard. Fame died.

I stayed away from barns and horses in general after Fame's loss, but something is missing. I went back to school and that was fine but I couldn't stop thinking about horses. I wanted to ride again. I wanted drive. I wanted to listen to a barn full of happy horses nicker when I walked in. I wanted to hear the sounds of their methodical chewing and bathe in their amazing aroma. I started watching horse movies, training videos on YouTube, added several more horse blogs to my blog roll. I quietly stalked the sales pages of my favorite barns just to see what was for sale, and despaired knowing that the time was still not right for a purchase. At that point I walked back through the doors of my first barn, my home-away-from-home, and I felt at ease. The manure fork felt good in my hands, and I could ride again.

I get to ride again and drive which helps to sooth my horse want. I still keep looking, keep waiting for the perfect time. I resolve to not repeat the mistakes of my past.

For now I am horseless. I'm likely to stay that way for a while.

This blog I'll be about my current horse experiences, my thoughts on the horse industry, mostly where it concerns Arabians('cause it's what I know), showing and grooming horses on a small budget, rider fitness and getting in shape, and I will also be occasionally featuring horses I find for sale that I think would make interesting projects for the independent amateur or decent show horses.

Thank you for riding along.