Spring is coming! We all know what that means!
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.
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.
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.