- soft brush
- super soft brush
- jelly scrubber
- Mane 'n Tail Detangler
- Knotty Horse Apricot Oil treatment and Detangler
- mane/tail brush
- hoof pick
- coconut oil
- Fly spray
What's in your bucket, bag, tote ... ?
Over the years, my preference in grooming totes changes based on what I am using at the time. As a teenager, I was desperate for a monogrammed trunk and a wooden brush caddy. I am sure I saw one in a horse magazine and thought it epitomized what a true equestrienne used as she groomed her glossy steed. Today, I think about how heavy and awkward those things are.
Growing up in the 1980s and then again as a young adult in the '90s, I used a plastic-styled caddy. I am pretty sure I found the first one at the hardware store as they're pretty multi-functional. I know for a fact that later ones were found at Target. Totally off topic here, but I hate having to write the "19" in front of the 80. That's what happens when you get old; your childhood experiences happened in another century.
After the plastic caddy, I moved on to the soft bucket grooming totes. I had several different versions, and up until recently, one of these lived in my horse trailer.
When those got to be too small for all of my bottles of this and that, I moved on to a similar but larger soft bag. It was almost like the switch from the hard-sided Samsonite suitcases of my youth (only you old folks will remember the gorilla slamming around that orange American Tourister) to the expandable, soft-sided luggage that became much more fashionable. It's funny that hard-sided luggage is back in vogue. Maybe it never left.
I know the jumbo, soft-sided grooming totes are still readily available. I have the bag below in burgundy. And up until a few weeks ago, it served me well for toting around Speedy's many brushes and hoof picks.
A year or more ago I started schlepping Izzy's stuff in a small, 8-quart bucket. I groom him in his dirt pasture, so I needed something to haul his hoof pick and jelly scrubber in. Before I knew it, there was also a soft brush, some fly spray, and some coconut oil to daub on his boo-boos. Speedy's bag got a lot lighter. A few weeks ago, I pulled out Speedy's necessities and put them in a similar bucket.
All of a sudden, I found the floor space int the feed room/tack room occupied by a lot of buckets. The ranch owner has her daily buckets, and I have a boatload of my own. There is one for Speedy's morning senior feed that I leaved filled every afternoon. There are two more for both boys' lunch. Izzy's grooming bucket sits next to my shelf o'things alongside a bucket that holds clean towels and sponges. There's also one for my shampoo stuff. Suddenly there was another bucket for Speedy's grooming supplies.
I rolled my eyes in total exasperation. Enough was enough. I dumped all of my grooming supplies from both buckets on the floor and decided to consolidate everything that I use daily into one bucket.
It's a bit of a squeeze, but everything fits. I have all my essentials in one place:
What's in your bucket, bag, tote ... ?
Well, not like Tevis technical, but it was the most challenging trail that Izzy has seen. On Saturday, Izzy and I met up yet again with my longtime endurance partner Marci and her Arabian gelding Gem. And this time, I was able to get some photos!
Since last riding with Marci, she has started developing Gem's trot. An endurance trot and a dressage trot are two very different things. To be able to trot for 10 or more hours, an endurance horse learns to carry himself in a much longer frame with free use of his head and neck. It takes a different kind of balance to be steady on your feet while carrying a quarter of your body weight over uneven and ever-changing terrain.
It also takes a long time to build up the kind of muscle that can handle that workload. Endurance horses need bone and soft tissue that are like iron. Their legs and feet need to be conditioned enough to withstand the constant torque put on their joints and tendons. It's not just about cardio fitness. The longer you spend slowly building up your horse's systems - cardio, bone, and soft tissue, the better prepared he'll be to withstand injury and fatigue.
Gem is in the early stages of his training. Endurance riders call it long, slow distance. It starts with a lot of walking over varied terrain for longer and longer rides. Little by little the rider starts asking for more speed by introducing trotting and later cantering. Marci plans to spend 6 months legging Gem up for his first endurance ride which will be later this fall. By then, his cardio fitness will be well developed as well.
Luckily for me, Izzy is well conditioned and able to keep pace with Gem during the early phase of his endurance training. Eventually, Gem will need to do far more trotting than Izzy will need. But for now, they're a good match. Both horses are learning where to put their feet when the trail is more technical and how to deal with scary obstacles.
I couldn't have been more pleased with Izzy over the two and a quarter hours we were on the trail. He started the ride a little above the bit, but within 15 minutes he was walking with a low slung neck and droopy ears. The last few times he's been out, he has insisted on leading. For this ride, he was quite happy to look at Gem's butt. It was almost as though he's realized that the lead horse has to do all the work.
With Gem finally sporting steel shoes, we were able to tackle some new parts of the trail. As before, we rode up the bluff trail, but instead of doubling back, we continued along the top of the bluffs and dropped back down to the river bottom via a narrow gorge with fetlock-twisting rocks and ruts carved by this winter's heavy rains. Izzy tried to just rest on Gem's "laurels," but when I asked for a small half halt, he realized I needed his attention to be on his feet and where he was putting them. From then on, he kept a respectful distance and never took a misstep.
With Izzy being so relaxed on the trail and Gem needing to start toughening his own legs, we took the opportunity to do some trotting where the footing was flat and level. Izzy picked up the most lovely trot, carrying his own head and neck without balancing on my hands. Every once in a while I asked for a bit of lateral flexion to remind him to rebalance himself, but for the most part, he did the work all on his own.
We plodded through spots with deeper sand, stepped over fallen logs, squeezed though overgrown brush, and again crossed the bicycle bridges. Izzy took some urging when he was in the lead, but for a later crossing of a different bridge, he followed Gem without missing a beat.
Late in the ride, we crossed over the weir, one of the many low dams built across the Kern River to regulate and redirect its flow into irrigation canals. We crossed it only for the experience. When we reached the other side, we rode up to the dirt road and then turned around to recross it. The noise of the rushing water is what is so scary for most horses. You'll notice that Izzy hardly bat an eye. Here's a quick video.
I've never doubted that trail riding is good for our horses, but the first summer I tackled it with Izzy, it was just too stressful for him. Even with trail riding twice a week one summer, he found no relaxation or joy in being out of the arena. This summer, he is showing a much greater sense of relaxation and enjoyment. And it's finally paying off in our dressage work. Izzy is much more willing to carry himself without leaning on my hands, and he is much less reactive to the "make-believe" stuff.
I only hope Gem doesn't develop his endurance legs too quickly. I need him to be a bit of a slow poke for the rest of the summer. Happy trails!
We have had freakishly weird weather this spring. First of all, we rarely have a "spring." We get a bit of autumn if you like 92 degree days instead of 102. Then winter crashes into us haphazardly at best before summer plows into us like a train wreck that just keeps on going. This year, we actually had spring, and it even RAINED. In fact, it rained nearly an inch at my house during the first two days of June. Like I said, weird.
I am assuming the unusually wet and cold conditions are responsible for Speedy not shedding out like he normally does. It's either that or the Pergolide isn't working. I am going with weird weather as he seems to have finally shed out. On top of that, I am seeing fly bites in places that I normally don't have to worry about.
Over the past few days, Izzy's ... ahem ... junk, has been covered with pin pricks of blood caused by some teeny tiny pain-in-the-ass flies. That has got to be seriously uncomfortable. Both Izzy and Speedy also have holes nearly eaten through their bellies by the same little monsters.
Last year I purchased my very first tub of Swat; I can't even remember what for. Flies have just never been much of an issue for my horses. A little Pyranha usually does the job of keeping the worst of the flies at bay. Not this year. I am glad I had that little jar sitting around because I've been using it like crazy for the past couple of weeks.
A few weeks ago, Speedy's belly erupted into a nasty lump of gooey tissue that was equal parts crust and goo. A daily dose of Swat cleared it up in a week or two. Just as I was starting to think he was over the worst of it, I noticed blood on Izzy's nether regions and the matching lump of ouch on his belly. The jar of Swat now rotates between the boys' grooming buckets.
I am starting to wonder if I might actually be missing our typical searingly hot summer afternoons. These wet days seem to be harboring all sorts of weird and wicked insects. I haven't quite decided which is worse - scorching hot or painful bites.
Ask me again in a week or two.
I am sure that California is the butt of everyone's jokes this week. While the rest of the country has been languishing in the winter of 2019, Californians have been donning tank tops and sunscreen. Turns out, the joke's on us. Winter must have heard us smugly snarking about our 90 degree weather and flipped a u-turn. She then slammed into us broadside and dumped rain and snow all over the state. Not once, not twice, but for more than a week. And she's not done.
This month, Bakersfield has already had 1.4 inches of rain, excluding what's predicted for today. And while that number might look puny to you all, we only get a bit over 6 inches for the entire year! An inch in May is far, far out of the normal range.
I looked back at data spanning 24 years, and I could only find one year, ONE YEAR, that showed more than a trace of rain in Bakersfield for the entire month of May (2005 with .75" of precipitation). It simply does not rain in California during the summer months. In fact, it rarely rains until November or December. And even then it's only a few days out of the month. It has already rained 6 times this month in Bakersfield, and we still have 10 days to go!
Big deal, right? It's just rain. It happens. Normally I would agree, but our first show is on Sunday in Bear Valley where it's supposed to rain every single day this week, including both weekend days. I sent a pitiful email to the show manager and asked whether the show was still on. It's a yes for now, but it will all depend on how well the footing holds up.
I am trying to be hopeful, but I will be so disappointed if Speedy and I don't get to give Third Level a try on Sunday. My plan is/was to show at this CDS show before going to a USDF show two weeks later. I'd really like a practice run before we go "live." You know what I mean?
Ah, well ... it will be what it will be. But still. Quit raining, dammit!
Scooping poop can put me in a Zen-like state like nothing else can. It has to be horse poop though; dog poop is disgusting. When I have had a stressful day, cleaning a stall will clear away the mental trash with each forkful of manure that lands in the cart. Skimming the pool has almost the same effect.
It was really hot last week, and none of us are used to working in it yet. Even our low temperatures were close to breaking record high lows - confusing, I know. It's normally not that warm in the morning at this time of year. By mid-July, 97 with a low of 67 will be a very good day. In late April, it was enough to send me home instead of to the barn.
Not one to just sit around though. I grabbed the skimmer and went to work slowly and methodically ridding my brain of the mental trash that had piled up. Skimming Yellow Dog's hair can take all day long, especially since she adds more hair after every lap I make around the pool.
When I felt free of all my mental debris, I took a few minutes to admire the view and fill my soul with happiness. Scooping poop or skimming dog hair were just what the doctor ordered.
And okay, I was also trying to fix that equestrian tan I've got going on.
Californians "enjoy" a long summer. It starts about now and ends right before Thanksgiving. We've already had a few 90 degree days which always seems to shock most of us. That should strike the rest of the world as hysterically funny since we're a population well acquainted with triple-digit days. Here are the daily highs and lows from last June, July, and August.
Not to be a whiner or anything, but I count 49 out of 92 days that were over 100 degrees. We had our first 100 degree day in May and the last in September. Check out that run of triple-digit days in July. How did I live through that? How did any of us live through that?
Last summer's heat hit both of my boys pretty hard. Speedy dealt with a skin irritation on his heel, and Izzy rubbed out nearly all of his mane and the top of his tail. I never bothered to blog about it, but I know he was uncomfortable.
This summer, I am getting a head start. For the past month I've been stockpiling creams and lotions and sprays so that I'll be ready for whatever skin ailment my boys might develop. I also decided to be more proactive about protecting Izzy's skin. Since early March, I've been top dressing his beet pulp with flaxseed oil.
You might remember that I used Platinum Performance's Healthy Weight, their particular flaxseed oil, to keep weight on Speedy over the past year and a half. When the ranch got its newest load of alfalfa, Speedy decided he liked it a lot better, and I was able to phase out the oil.
Since flaxseed oil has been shown to improve skin and coat health, I researched a few cheaper flaxseed oil options and decided on Horse Guard's Flaxen Flow, a cold-pressed flaxseed oil. With regular discount codes from Riding Warehouse floating around, I can get it for around 25 cents a day as compared to the 78 cents that Healthy Weight costs.
While I can't say it's working miracles or anything - his coat is nice and shiny, but that's how it always looks in the spring, he eats every drop of it without any waste. When this pouch runs out at the end of May, I'll definitely replace it, especially as our heat will be cranked up to the max. By the end of August, I'll know if it has had any effect on his skin and coat.
Besides the flaxseed oil, I've also stocked up some tried and true skin and coat therapies: Equiderma Skin Lotion, Knotty Horse Detangler, and Mane 'n Tail Detangler. I used this trio last year with a good degree of success.
While the Equiderma doesn't cure everything, it did work wonders on the leg crud that Speedy gets. After I got more of this winter's coat off, I saw that his hind legs had some patches of crud that were just too painful to scrub off. The Equiderma got called into action earlier than I expected.
For daily conditioning of manes and tails, I really like Mane 'n Tail. It's cheap, so I don't mind using it every day, but for a really good conditioning, I love, love, love the Knotty Horse products. Besides leaving the mane and tail hair feeling super silky, it smells divine. Last year I stuck with the spray version. This summer, I wanted a more concentrated version with less waste on windy days, so I opted for the oil, and is it ever AMAZING.
A new addition to my summertime routine is Fresh Rider Odor Deodorizing Mist from Nunn Finer. It's such a girly thing to use, but I love mists. I have several that I use after showering, so when I saw this, I decided I needed to try it for my boots, helmet, and even my gloves. Just because it's a bazillion degrees outside, it doesn't mean my stuff has to stink. Besides, lavender scent helps with my headaches.
The final element in my summer preparedness kit is fly protection. I know it is way, way cheaper to buy my fly spray by the gallon, but it's just too painful to fork over 60 bucks AT ONE TIME for fly spray. You know?
But yeah. The gallon jug is up next. For now, I am starting the summer off with last year's left-over bottle followed by a brand new quart I have waiting in the wings. Speedy also got a new fly mask (not pictured). Rocky, his neighbor, has already tugged it off once, so I am hoping that game has reached its conclusion. I am not sure that Izzy will be getting a fly mask this summer. It has taken him all of about 2 days to completely destroy every fly mask I've ever purchased for him.
The fly masks above are my replacements for the ten-year old masks that live in my horse trailer. Since I use shavings, I keep a fly mask on each horse to protect their eyes from flying debris. When I used them the other day, I was horrified at how stiff and scratchy they've become.
Izzy will get one of the old ones as his "daily driver." If he can keep it looking like a fly mask rather than shredded mesh, he will get his very own brand new one to wear. That's a big IF though.
So for now, I am ready for summer's heat and misery to begin. If you live north of hell, you're probably still enjoying your spring. That's okay; you can laugh. We had our fun this winter while you were buried in snow.
With things trying to quiet down around here, I am finally able to get to a few smaller things that have been going on around the ranch. A month or so ago, a crew of tree trimmers arrived to do some serious pruning of the ranch's massive forest of sycamores and cottonwoods.
The crew was here at a good time. The weather was less than ideal for riding, and Speedy was on the disabled list anyway. In fact, I had to take him to the vet to get his sutures out on one of their work days. If you can't ride, it's always best for it to happen in the dead of winter while the trees are getting cleaned up.
While it was more than annoying to have them working - their equipment rattled my teeth, there turned out to be a most unexpected bonus. After they thinned out the wayward branches, they dumped it all into a wood chipper rather than haul it off. As the mountains of wood chips began to pile up, I quickly asked the ranch owners if I could use some of it for dust control.
Not only was I given a resounding YES, but I was encouraged to take some home with me. And once I really stopped to look around, I realized there were dozens and dozens of wood chip mountains for me to use. The first thing I asked was if Reggie (the handyman) could lay down a layer of the wood chips around the tack room and the small trailer where I tack up.
When I saw how well that worked, I got bold and asked if we could pour some tractor loads of it into Speedy's paddock. With all of the whirling and pacing that he does, he stirs up a fine powder that fouls up his water trough and hangs in our summer time heat. That request was also met with a positive response.
Even though Reggie has been slowly using up the piles as mulch in the expansive yard at the ranch, there are still plenty of piles for me to use in Speedy's paddock keep the dust down. And as my boys grind the wood chips down, I'll even be able to replenish what we've already poured around the tack room.
So far, no one has shown an inclination to eat the stuff, so I feel quite confident about using it to control our dust. I am already eyeballing a few more places where a dust-free zone would be appreciated.
I love free stuff, especially when it does double duty!
More than one person has asked me how Speedy hurt himself in the first place. The short answer is that I only know how he hurt front leg number 2; I saw hunks of hair and flesh at the bottom of the gate as he was whirling back and forth in a fit of stupidity. So yeah, mark that particular mystery as solved.
The other two? Well, I am guessing that he also hurt leg number 1 in the same way. Even though we looked very carefully, we couldn't find blood or hair anywhere, so really, we're just guessing. As for the hind leg, who knows? Cutting the front of a hind leg is kind of hard to do. He would almost have had to back into something, kick through it, and then rake his leg as he pulled it back through. Horses, they're more talented than we give them credit for.
Speedy's a great horse. For me. He's not perfect though. As much as I adore his can and will do attitude at shows, managing him at home is not always so easy. Maybe we ought to just go on the road full time. It would certainly solve a few problems.
Horses need companions. They need to have a herd, even if it's just a herd of horse and chicken, horse and goat, or horse and blue barrel. As long as there is someone else, most horses are pretty happy. I've tried to always keep my horses where they had some type of companionship
Speedy is a bit of an enigma though. Depriving him of a friend is about the only way to keep him happy (and healthy). When we first moved to the ranch a few years ago, he and Willy lived together. When Speedy was out, Willy was in. In the mornings, Speedy came in while Willy went out. Things worked mostly well. Even though they always had a fence between them, Speedy was constantly sporting chew marks or gashes earned from playing with Willy. They were confirmed frenemies. Willy moved out a month or so ago.
Without the need to share the turnout anymore, Speedy got upgraded to full time turn out. His gate was left open, and he had full access to the dry pasture. That meant he also had full access to the hottie who lives next door. She's a lovely chestnut mare who uses her feminine wiles to keep everyone in her vicinity on their toes. You should see her haughty little hair flip, and when she really wants to drive the boys wild, she'll nap buck naked in the middle of her field without caring who sees her. Hussy.
Unfortunately, Speedy loves her just a little too much. When Willy lived with him, Speedy had to share Red Mare. Now that Willy's out of the picture, Speedy has her all to himself. Unfortunately, she became too much of a good thing and became all Speedy could think about. He took up residence at the gate so that he could be nearer to her while she went about her business. Stalker.
While being a stalker in real life is gross and creepy, it wouldn't have meant much in the equine world except that Speedy became a bit obsessed about being near Red Mare. And if he couldn't be near her, no one else was going to be permitted to either. Enter new equine ranch member. I haven't yet taken his picture, but Rocky is a nice enough fellow. He just had the misfortune of being placed next to Red Mare.
Speedy's response to that was an emphatic hell no! While the whirling and pacing had been irritating before, this newer, angrier pacing was self-destructive. I had hoped that Speedy would get over the fact that someone new could now visit with Red Mare, but it was not to be.
Speedy's infatuation with Red Mare quickly turned to obsession. He spent so much time frantically pacing that fence fence line that he carved out a trench over a foot deep. Reggie filled it in and packed it back down, but Speedy wasn't deterred. As soon as Reggie was finished, Speedy was back at it.
The gate, along with all of the perimeter fencing, is covered in no-climb wire to keep dogs, raccoons, and other wildlife out. The wire on Speedy's gate used to touch the ground, but with all of his frantic pacing, he has carved out a small section just big enough for me to slide my boot under. This is where he tore open his leg.
I do not know how he managed to get his leg under it enough to cut it how he did, but I do know that's how he cut at least the second leg. For now, Speedy is confined to his paddock. At 24 x 20, It's not small, but he could be living on a much larger piece of dirt.
Once Speedy's legs have both completely healed, we'll go back to our original formula. He'll be turned out only at night. That seemed to work the best. There's less movement by the other horses, and the ranch is quiet. Reggie also covered the rough edges at the bottom of the gate with a garden hose. It might look odd close up, but it was a clever fix. The hose was sliced lengthwise and then "sewn" to the bottom of the gate with the bailing twine. Speedy's not a pawer or chewer, so it should hold up well.
Speedy's become more and more relaxed back in his paddock - it was Willy's but we chose that one so he is closer to the rest of the horses. Over the past week, his face has lost its pinched, cranky look, and his eye is much softer.
I think he's relieved at not having to be The Boss. The truth is that Speedy is much more of a lover than a fighter, so this arrangement is suiting him just fine. Let's hope this more relaxed version of Speedy sticks around.
Hay nets are ubiquitous. We use them in our trailers, show stalls, and regular stall. Anywhere there's a horse, a hay net of some type is bound to be nearby. I used Freedom Feeder hay nets for quite a while, for both horses. When I moved to the ranch, I tossed the nets I had left - they were pretty worn out anyway, and went with the feeding containers at the ranch.
I am thinking of going back to a Freedom Feeder for Izzy, if it's okay with the ranch owner since she's the one who feeds. Izzy eats primarily grass hay which would be easy to load. My hope would be that less would get shoved out of his feeder onto the ground. He scatters the grass hay as he looks for the tiny bit of alfalfa that he gets. He's also bit of a pig so he poops practically in his feeder which means the whole area gets a bit nasty.
I've had a hay net tied to the little trailer where I tack up, and both boys really enjoy grazing from it while they wait. I load the hay net with a flake of alfalfa for Izzy and grass hay for Speedy. Both horses have learned how to push the net around until the "flavor" they like is in front of them. This net is a little big though so it stretches nearly to the ground. The hay also gets wedge in so tightly that it makes eating a slower process than is ideal.
In an effort to make eating a bit easier, I untied the hay net and tossed it on the ground. Both horses took to it immediately. Speedy seems to appreciate munching while spending time with me - sometimes that much adoration can get annoying, but whatever. I've also found that Izzy is WAY more relaxed eating this way than when the net is hanging. I am sure it has something to do with the whole head down equals relaxation thing. And no worries about entanglement; I'm puttering close by so neither horse is actually unattended. I also hang the net back up when I am done.
And of course, nothing gets done without first getting Speedy's approval. Given his recent attitude - more on that in another post, he may be getting a Freedom Feeder, too. They keep us thinking all the time, don't they?
A day or so ago, I got this text from the ranch owner ...
Speedy can be a gigantic pain in the butt. He's a total diva, constantly demanding that each and every individual quirk become the world's priority. But then I get a message like this one, and my heart melts. For all of his bravado, Speedy is quite the tender heart.
I got to the ranch too late to ride yesterday afternoon; I had a doctor's appointment. Totally off topic, but after more than a year, the neurologist has just about eliminated my migraines. (If you're a new or casual visitor, I rode through last summer's show season with migraines so severe that I couldn't tell one lead from the other.) I recently started taking a monthly injection in an attempt to prevent ANY headaches from occurring. So far, I am down to just a few a month. This is a huge improvement over having a migraine nearly every day of the week.
Since I didn't have quite enough time to ride, I puttered around the barn instead. The first thing I did was grab Speedy and turn him loose out in the yard. He was thrilled to hang out with his girl as he grazed on all the new winter grass. She happily tagged along with him as he nibbled the grass along her fence line.
While Speedy visited with his lady friend, I swept out the feed room, unloaded my monthly supply of LMF Senior, and prepped both boys' evening buckets. I love to putter; it clears out the mental cobwebs. You all know what I mean. It's like cleaning stalls, each fork-full eliminates one more pile of mental garbage. The broom does the same thing.
Since Speedy has taken up residence at his gate, and I mean literally at the gate, his field has had a good soaking from the rain. The intermittent storms have been followed with bright sunshine that has encouraged some lovely new grass to sprout. Since Speedy hasn't left the gate in the past month, he had no idea what deliciousness was just steps away.
After feeding both boys, I walked out into Speedy's field knowing that he would follow me. In no time at all he noticed the grass and helped himself to a few mouthfuls. I don't know that he'll feel comfortable wandering down there on his own, but at least he knows the walk will be worth it.
We'll both be glad when the Red Mare moves back in. I think the ranch owner was right; Speedy seems a bit lonely. This is a three-day weekend for me, so I plan to spend as much time as I can letting him visit with his lady friend. Riding will help him feel better too.
Thank goodness for Fridays.