- 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 ... ?
With out first show of 2019 just days away, I gave Speedy a final haircut. My pre-show grooming routine isn't particularly fancy, but I do like Speedy to be neat and tidy.
Out of sheer laziness I've jumped on the bumper of the German "fuzzy muzzle" bandwagon. I quit shaving muzzles a few years ago. Since both boys live outside, it's justified. I miss a clean shaven chin though. While I leave the muzzle hairs in place, I do clean up his jaw and beard. A shaggy head is rather unattractive. And besides, it's easier to keep the jaw cleaner when it's clipped. Flies can make a mess in between the jaw bones.
I've never been a fan of shaving the inside of the ears though; ear hair keeps flies out, although I do gently clip anything that's protruding. Speedy might be approaching old many status, but there's no reason to advertise. I also like a freshly clipped bridle path, even keeping it trimmed throughout the winter.
A few weeks back I tackled Speedy's fetlock feathers, cutting off most of the hair in a rough cut. His feathers get really, really long. Like pony tail long. Izzy hardly grows any fetlock hair. Go figure. Since it's a pretty big job, I saved the "finer" cutting for this past Saturday. You can still see the clipper strokes, but by Sunday, it will have evened out. The judge can't see it anyway.
As I trimmed up the hair from his front feet, I scrubbed at the crusty skin left over from his winter of woe. You might remember the many times he tried to maim himself, including tearing off both front feet. I am happy to report that the hair has grown back over the wounds of both front legs, hiding any scar tissue. Unless you rub your hands over the bumpy skin, you can't even tell he had sutures.
I rubbed a squirt of Knotty Horse oil treatment through his mane and tail, and once his tail was tangle free, I banged the ends. I don't think I've mentioned it, but I bought the 1.5 oz size of Knotty Horse for myself. I use it several times a week and am thrilled with how soft and silky my hair is getting. That stuff is amazing.
I also used my tail thinning comb to thin out the bushiness. That tool was an awesome find. I checked on my link to the comb and discovered that it doesn't work anymore, but a quick search on Amazon revealed that it is still available here.
Of course on show day, Speedy will get a bath, and I'll braid his mane. He enjoys showing, so even if his girl doesn't go all out on grooming, he brings enough sparkle to make up for it.
Run and do it right now! You won't be sorry.
I am not much into fads, and so far I've resisted all of the specialty grooming brushes currently out there. Oh, but if anyone wants to buy me a Haas brush, I'll take this one. Since I don't (yet) have a Haas brush, I stick to my jelly scrubbers and a soft brush for each horse. They aren't fancy, but they get the job done.
With Speedy shedding more slowly than usual though, I started looking for a shedding tool/blade/brush that might get the job done more effectively.
Enter the HandsOn Revolutionary Grooming & Bathing Glove. Each pair comes in three colors - black, lime green, and purple. They sell for $24.99 (pair), but with coupon code RWEJ, Riding Warehouse will knock 20% off the purchase price.
Both of my dogs absolutely loved these grooming gloves. They kept shoving their way in trying to get just one more scratch down their backs and faces. I figured that if the horses didn't like them, I knew I could leave them at home to use on the dogs.
I needn't have worried. Both of my horses enjoyed the grooming, relaxing as soon as I started. The glove pulled off Speedy's winter coat hair in literal handfuls.
The two things that I liked best about the gloves were 1) they worked really well on legs, and 2) my hands didn't get nearly so tired. Not gripping a brush or arching my hand underneath a strap gave me more energy to use on swiping the brush. It was also very convenient to have a "brush" in each hand.
While the gloves worked great on Speedy's still shaggy coat, I wondered how they'd do on a nearly slicked out coat. While Izzy was slick and clean already, he thoroughly enjoyed getting his back scrubbed. And surprisingly, a fair amount of dust came up even though he looked clean.
If you have still have a horse that is in the midst of shedding, you need these gloves. If your horse is nearly slick but enjoys his back scratched, you need these gloves. They can be used wet or dry and you determine how much pressure you apply. For once I am on board for a grooming fad.
These gloves are my new favorite grooming tool. Anyone else?
This past February, I wrote about my ancient clippers and how poorly I care for them. Let me rephrase that, your Honor - I don't do any clipper maintenance unless you count blowing the loose hair off of them. Either here or on Facebook, someone chastised me about my lack of a maintenance program. "I hate your face right now" (as one of my colleagues is fond of saying) because you finally guilted me into opening the 20-year old manual for the second time ever.
The first time I opened the manual was a few weeks ago when Maureen politely asked me if I'd make a copy of it and mail it to her. I almost just mailed her the original as I clearly was never going to use it. Joke's on me, I guess. With my OCD tendencies, I couldn't unsee the invisible look of reproof from Oster regarding my own clippers and their obvious need for some TLC.
I apologize to whomever's face I just claimed to hate. It's really the fault of my 5th grade English/Language Arts curriculum. For the last few weeks, I've been teaching the differences between scientific and technical texts. Since the whole clipper thing was fresh in my mind, I stupidly told my kiddos that I had been leafing through my clipper's manual which would be a technical text as it tells the reader how to make or do something. And since I DO NOT TELL LIES, I felt compelled to actually look through it.
Again, I couldn't unsee the fact that my clippers REALLY NEEDED SOME MAINTENANCE. So, I sat down over the weekend and flipped through the booklet, mentally ticking off the things I was willing to do - clean the area beneath the blades, check; remove the cover from the bottom cap, check; remove the cover of the gear mechanisms and lube it all, um ... are you kidding me? Big fat NO. But remember, OCD.
In the end, I started with the easy stuff, see those filter caps above, and figured I'd just clean the parts that seemed easy to reassemble, and go from there.
Funny moment: as I was peering into the cavity of the gear box thing, I realized I couldn't see diddly squat. I suddenly remembered that I keep a headlamp in my barn bag, so I tossed that on for a hands-free light. My husband walked in about that time, and I know he had to try very hard not to laugh at me because this kind of crap is NOT MY JAM. It helped though, and as a bonus, it made me feel all kinds of empowerment. I actually took out all of those innards.
Once I got going, it was - dare I say it? fun. Gross, sticky, and black, but I felt like I was doing the community a service. Go, me. But of course, just about the time that I was feeling quite successful and well, mechanical, a random washer dropped onto the table from the towel that I had been using to clean the parts. Well, hell's bells. Where did that come from? I had clearly said that part out loud as my husband snickered from the living room.
In the end, I sort of just guessed where it went. When I told my husband that I was hoping everything would still work when I plugged it in, he asked how much clippers could cost anyway. When I replied that several hundred bucks would cover it, he urged me to FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS.
To my relief, they whirred to life just as they always do. They've even already been put back to work, and before I put them away, I blew on the blades to clear out the loose hair.
See? I have a maintenance program. Don't judge.
This is definitely not a topic I've ever covered here before. Why would I; who wants to talk about clippers? When I first had that thought, I realized the answer was just about every other equestrian in the normal world. Clipper land is just not some place I visit very often which makes me the abnormal one. Weird, but true.
While I could body clip, or at least do a trace clip, to make winter grooming easier, I prefer not to. I don't blanket because our winter weather is just way too mild. We rarely get temperatures that are both wet and cold. On top of that, it only rains about 10 times a year. If I were to blanket, they would have to be removed every morning and replaced every afternoon. The ranch owner doesn't really want to do that, and neither do I. So, my boys grow winter coats and shed them when they're ready.
Over the weekend, I finally got tired of wrestling my bridles over the jungle of hair that was growing behind both of my boys' ears. Bridle paths, jaw hair, fetlocks, and protruding ear hairs are all that I actually clip. During show season, I keep their bridle paths, and all other above mentioned areas, neatly trimmed. A messy bridle path is more than a little obvious against a sleek, summer coat. During the middle of winter though, it almost disappears, or is at least unobtrusive, when viewed through Speedy's polar bear coat. The same goes for fetlocks and jaw hair.
A month or so ago, I finally bought a new pair of clipper blades, but I hadn't yet used them. See above. With a three-day weekend, I had enough "extra" time to pull out my clippers and replace the old blades. As I was cracking the blades out of their hard plastic casing, I stopped to wonder at how old my clippers were. Pretty old I realized.
I did some quick googling and found that yes, Oster does still make these clippers and they even come with the same accessories that came with mine nearly 20 years ago. I count the age of something based on where we lived when I bought the thing. We've lived here just over 2 years. We lived at our last house for 11 years, the one before that for 2, and the one before that for 6. Add it all up and take away a year or 2 because I don't remember exactly when I bought them at that first house. That means that I bought these clippers somewhere around '99 or 2000.
I am a little embarrassed to admit this, but I take terrible care of my clippers. I never clean them, unless you count blowing on the blades to remove stray hairs. I know there is a filter under the bottom cap that I have dusted off, but it's been years. I never oil anything, spray anything (except some cooling spray that is as old as the clippers), or get the blades sharpened. In fact, I use the blades until they literally cannot cut through a single hair. Gross, I know.
The only good thing I do for my clippers is to keep them in a storage bag. I also refrain from winding the cord around the clippers themselves. At this point, I am afraid to do anything other than replace the blades. I am pretty sure whatever dirt and hair are caked to the motor are what is holding everything together.
My clippers get stored at the bottom of my braiding box. Hey, that counts as another good thing I do to protect my clippers. As I dug through the pile of loose braiding bands and discarded candy wrappers (Speedy's not mine), I found an old pair of cordless clippers that never worked right. I realized that my braiding box was a jumbled up mess. I was inspired to do a thorough cleaning.
After attaching new blades and dumping everything out of my box and reorganizing it, I finally got to Speedy's bridle path; Izzy's too. And you know what? New, sharp blades actually cut straight through the hair! In one pass! Who knew?
Both boys started shedding in January. I can't decide if I want them to hurry up and shed the rest, or do I want them to slow down because February is turning out to be much colder and wetter than normal. Either way, I am now armed and ready to tackle this summer's bridle paths. And jaw hairs, old man ear hairs, and Speedy's fetlocks.
Anyone else out there living with old clippers and shaggy horses? We need to form a club.
I've always had just one grooming tote that I used for both horses. I also keep a second grooming bag in my horse trailer. I don't share my grooming stuff with other horses, but I am okay with using the same brushes on my two boys.
Recently however, I realized that I now have a grooming bag/bucket for each horse. It has nothing to do with communicable diseases though. I know how it started, it was for convenience, but it has turned into a permanent situation.
In an effort to help Izzy relax and feel more confident, I started grooming him in his dry lot pasture. After a while, I found that I enjoyed grooming him there as I often do bodywork with him. In his pasture, I have all the room I need to stretch him or do some quick groundwork.
At first, I just carried a hoof pick and a jelly scrubber. I found that I was running back to the tack room for the fly spray or something else. To minimize the number of trips, I dug out a spare bucket and started dropping things into it that I might need. The next thing I knew, Izzy had his own grooming bag.
For every day use, I pick out his feet, scrub the gunk from his coat, and then brush him smooth. I also cover him with fly spray and brush on some Knotty Horse Conditioner. If I need to do more, I tie him at the trailer where I tack up.
For Speedy, I use my full grooming bag. It has tons of brushes, a variety of hoof picks, shedding tools, scissors, and a few other things. Since I groom him at the trailer in front of the tack room, I don't mind schlepping the heavier bag from the tack room to my grooming spot.
While Speedy's bag is jam-packed, I only use a few things in it. Like Izzy, I pick out Speedy's feet, scrub the gunk off his coat with a jelly scrubber, and then wipe him down with a soft brush. He also gets a minimal amount of fly spray - the flies don't really mess with Speedy, and I doctor his skin ailments with Equiderma.
While I own at least 59 different bottles and tubes of conditioners and wound treatments, my daily routine is pretty simple. Is your routine similar or more complicated?
I've written about Izzy's hair color a few times, but I can't find the posts I wanted to share about how much his coat fades in the summer. Suffice it to say that since we left our last barn a year and a half ago, his chocolatey coat filled with dapples is long gone.
I have lots of photos like the one above. And the shine is just good health as I am not much of a groomer. At our old barn, Izzy had a large, two-sided covered space in which to hang out. His water and feed were positioned there, so he spent a lot of time inside.
Izzy now lives in a huge dry "pasture" that has trees for shelter, but no actual roof. He loves it and doesn't seem to mind standing outside during the occasional rainy day.
While I love being able to let my boys be real horses, our 350 days of sunshine are hard on hair. Last summer, Izzy turned into a buckskin.
He won't wear a flysheet for longer than eight minutes, and he refuses to stand in the shade even though I've begged. So this year, I am trying something different.
In the past, I've stuck with Pyranha Fly Spray as it was the most effective on our fly population. Since it's oil-based though, I think it contributed to the burned hair that Izzy gets. So for this year's fly season (all nine months of it), I've switched to Equiderma Neem and Aloe Fly Spray. I can't say yet whether it works as well as Pyranha, but it does smell good and since it's water based, I am hoping it will be kinder to his hair. I ordered two new bottles over the weekend to take advantage of Riding Warehouse's gift card promotion.
Another product I am trying is Knotty Horse Apricot Reconstructing Conditioner. I've been using it for nearly a month. First of all, it smells really, really good. At $28.95 though, it has to do more than just smell good. So far, I am spraying it pretty liberally all over Izzy's body each time I groom or ride.
According to the directions, you can even use it under the saddle which is great because that's the part of Izzy's coat that suffers the most from sweat and sun. Even though I hose him off, the salt in his sweat is still pretty harsh. The product claims that it repairs damaged ends and softens the hair.
It's too early to tell how effective my new protocol will be. I like the Knotty Horse Conditioner though. It leaves Izzy's coat looking pretty shiny and feeling smooth. It's too soon to say how long the effect lasts though. Just in case it is working, I ordered a second bottle to have as soon as the first one runs out.
I'll keep you posted.
It happens every year, but I am always surprised by it anyway. Izzy's winter coat started to appear this weekend. It is quite easy to identify his winter and summer coats. No matter what I do, he turns into a pseudo-buckskin over the summer. He just doesn't mind our searing summer sun.
Once his winter hair starts growing in though, it's a beautiful velvety chocolate.
I just saw a hint of that lovely dark hair showing up this past weekend.
It doesn't stay that lovely color, but it sure is pretty while it lasts!
Over the past week, a few friends have asked me about Speedy's braid from Sunday's show. I thought I'd give you an update.
I just don't have the heart to pull Speedy's mane. He's a bit like Samson without a Delilah; cutting his hair would just take some of the wind out of his sails. So I leave it long.
Until this past winter, I was just doing a French braid that looked really nice for about 15 minutes. After that, it slowly loosened up until it was just a mess. In December, I stumbled on this braiding video.
I've used the braid with mixed success. Sometimes it holds really well, and other times, not so much. At a show in May, a braid near the top popped out during my warm up. Fortunately, the judge just laughed about it. I mashed it into a lump and rubber banded it for the second test, but it was a hot mess.
For this show, I re-watched the video and took extra time braiding. I wet Speedy's mane for each braid, and I did them tightly. I also did them in smaller chunks. Unless you have a horse with a really thick mane, like thicker than Speedy's, the tail end that you stick through the braid won't be enough to be a third on it's own.
I found that I had to add extra hair to that piece and then choose two more sections of equal weight. I also discovered that as the mane gets thinner near the base, it's important to keep the braids smaller. You can see that the rosettes in the middle are larger than those at the bottom.
If the rosettes are too widely spaced, the tail end that you poked through the rosette wants to pull out. I am also going to buy white rubber bands; no one can see the bands, but I can see them from the saddle.
Even taking my time, the braid took no more than 30 minutes. Now that I have figured out how to make the braid stay in (damp mane, tight braid, thinner pieces), I think I can get it cleaner and neater. If your horse has a long mane, this is definitely an easy way to braid for shows.
I don't know why it surprises me year after year, but my horses have already started shedding. Why do they always seem to pick the weirdest times to start their annual hair loss? Of course I know why they start to shed, but it's always so startling to see hairs all over my coat before the ground hog has even made his ruling.
My boys began losing their first winter hairs a week or two ago. Speedy went first, but Izzy was right behind him. It always worries me a little since it could could still get cold and wet, especially with the winter we've had this year. On the other hand, I rode in a t-shirt the other day, so I don't want them roasting inside their unremovable coats either.
After good rides over the weekend, I gave both boys Monday off and turned it into a grooming day. I dragged out my clippers, some hair products, my thinning comb, and a pair of scissors. I figured if they're going to start looking better, I should probably help out.
While I don't do manes and tails every time I ride, I do keep them relatively free of knots and tangles. I am not a total slouch. It was actually quite relaxing to just focus on detangling and thinning.
I don't thin or trim Speedy's mane of course, but his tail needed a little off the top and bottom. Those bushy hairs at his tail head don't need to be there this time of year. I was happy to see them go.
Izzy's like a pubescent teenaged boy - he has hair sprouting everywhere! And it grows faster than I can keep up with it. I raked off his tail head hairs, banged his tail, and then spent quite a bit of time thinning his unruly mane. I've given up trying to get it to lay to one side. It now officially hangs to the right on the top and to the left at the bottom. Sue me.
Both boys are bow a bit smoother around the edges and look less like ranch horses out on the range. Anyone else going through shedding season yet?