Wait. Don't answer that.
Well, Christmas came. Christmas left. Did you get what you hoped for? If you're anything like me, your Christmas wish list probably had at least several equine related items. My list was small this year; very small. There was only one thing on it: the Haas Diva Horsehair and Lambswool Grooming Brush.
Since I am holding it in my hand, it's clear that Santa (aka as my husband) came through for me. It's as lovely as I knew it would be. I have two other Haas brushes, so I knew what kind of quality to expect.
While these brushes are a little more expensive than your no-name brand brushes, the Diva more than the others, the quality is worth it. They're well constructed and actually do what they say.
Having used the Fellglanzburste in both summer and winter, I can now say that these are brushes you can actually use year round. In the past, I've had my summer brushes and a separate set for winter. Now, my grooming tools are getting fewer and fewer. I use a human brush for manes and tails, a hoof pick, and my Tiger's Tongue for faces. I still have my grooming gloves for shedding season and my jelly scrubber for scraping off the mud, but after that, the Parcour or Fellglanzburste do the rest.
In hindsight, which only comes with experience, the Parcour (dark bristles) and the Fellglanzburste (white bristles) are essentially the same brush. They both have short, medium-stiff bristles. They're the same size, shape, and have the same handle. The only differences really are the color of the the bristles and the body. Even so, I like them both equally.
The Diva is very different from the other two brushes. I wanted it specifically for shows when Speedy's coat is at its thinnest. In the summer, when he's show clean, his coat is particularly fine and silky. The Diva will just help smooth and polish his already fine coat.
I've brushed the dog's face and my face, but it hasn't yet touched Speedy. He's a polar bear right now, so brushing him with this would only serve to get the brush dirty with Speedy looking exactly the same. No, I am saving it for this summer when he's shed out and looking glamorous.
Next up on my list is the Haas Schimmel Body Brush. Neither of my boys are fans of stiff brushes, so this would strictly be a dead of winter brush. Right now, both horses have super thick coats that are difficult to brush out when they're damp, particularly after riding.
I am also considering the Haas Fellburste Noir Grooming Brush to replace my very old finishing brush. It's at least 20 years old. The Fellburste has 2" long horsehair bristles which is nearly exactly like my old one. I am hoping this one might work a little better. That one should complete my set. Because really, how many brushes does a girl need?
Wait. Don't answer that.
As I saw someone else write on Friday, "Someone please take away my phone and my laptop and my iPad. I can't afford them!"
In all fairness, some of it was stuff I was going to buy anyway like Flaxseed oil and vitamins. I simply took advantage of Riding Warehouse's 20% off sale (which runs through today by the way) to buy my monthly supply.
The rest of the stuff was on my will need soon list. So what did I order? Well first, my justification for ordering ...
My tall boots, which I really like by the way, have started to show some wear. It's wear that I can live with and still use, but I know the day is coming when the holes will be too big to be seen with in public.
I've purchased two pairs of TuffRider boots, and while they haven't lasted forever, they've done what I expected for boots south of $200. The first pair, the TuffRider Baroques, lasted just over two years. I loved them. They were comfortable from the first day I wore them. I replaced them with the TuffRider Belmont Dress Boots which I loved even more. I've been wearing them for nearly two years.
While browsing through Riding Warehouse's current inventory of tall boots, I saw both the Baroques and Belmonts on clearance for $131 and change. They weren't eligible for the extra 20% off, but how could I complain when I was buying a pair of boots that I know and love for $131? I bought the Belmonts.
Since my other pair is still going strong, I put the new boots in storage until the old pair suffers a fatal injury. But of course, more came in that Riding Warehouse box. It was a big box.
I tried to tell myself it was for the "free shipping," but we all know that's a lie since the boots alone were enough for Riding Warehouse to waive the shipping. So why did I need another Haas brush? I don't know, quit judging. We all have a thing, and right now I am kind of obsessed with these brushes. I already bought the Fellglanzsburste, which I love, so it seemed reasonable to expand my collection. This time I bought the Parcour which is a bit stiffer. Next on the list is the Diva. Hey, Santa? You hear that?
We've had some unusually wet and very cold weather this past week which forced me to pull out my collection of winter blankets. Whether it's due to the Cushing's or just age, Speedy didn't handle the first round of cold very well. I showed up and he was a gigantic ball of shivering jello. I quickly bundled him up in a winter blanket and crossed my fingers.
Since then, he's been happily blanketed on all of the rainy nights. Unfortunately, my nicest and heaviest blanket literally fell apart the first night I tried to use it. I wish I had taken photos. The ranch owner saw it at feeding time and was horrified to see it actually disintegrating in front of her eyes. She carefully picked up the pieces that had fallen off and judicially chose to wrap Speedy up in his lighter, but safer blanket. I threw the old one away.
Four or five years ago I bought a new blanket for my last horse, but he never needed it. I threw it on Izzy for a couple of our most recent coldest and wettest nights, but he proceeded to ventilate it on both sides. Speedy gets a new one. He doesn't. As it just so happens, Horze was having a fabulous Black Friday sale on ... you guessed it, blankets!
While Speedy's medium weight blanket is still going strong, he really needs a warmer one. After deducting a coupon code from the sale price, I paid $71.55 for a 1200 denier, waterproof, windproof, and breathable blanket. Shipping was free of course. How could I turn that down, especially since Speedy's actually fell apart?
On Small Business Saturday, I dropped another hundred bucks at my local feed store, Fred C. Gilbert's. Today's Cyber Monday, but I have jury duty so hopefully I won't have time to do any browsing.
I am not sure what the cold and mud had to do with reckless spending on Black Friday, but that's the story I am going with. Did you score any great deals?
Big Brown Horse is once again turning brown. By late summer he was looking suspiciously like a buckskin. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but he just didn't look like his normal, dark brown self.
Izzy looks pretty good as a buckskin, although he loses all of his shine. Even so, I've never bought or sold a horse because of his color. Well that's not exactly true. When I bought Speedy I was looking for a gray, but you don't have to search very hard to find a gray Arabian.
Like it does each September, Izzy's nearly black coat popped out almost overnight.
I think it's fascinating how quickly he loses his faded coat color. It literally changes every single day during the end of September through the beginning of October.
By the next day, he was an even darker shade of brown, almost black in fact.
By early November he'll be seal brown with dapples. But of course by mid-winter, he'll be back to his lighter coat color. Just for comparison, here's that August photo again.
I've never had a horse whose coat changed that dramatically from season to season. There should be a prize for this. Can we at least get a ribbon?
I'll admit that I fall somewhere down the middle when it comes to grooming. I don't use products and every brush in my arsenal every day. I also don't just swipe their backs and saddle up. My grooming routine could probably be classified as clinical. My daily grooming is really to check for hidden cuts or scrapes and to monitor my horses' general health.
Every once in a while though, my hidden beauty queen rears her head and insists that my boys are looking a little unkempt and scruffy. And then it's on.
After repeatedly wrestling Speedy's bridle through the jungle of mane that seemed to spurt up overnight, I finally pulled out my clippers and took a little off the top. I just couldn't stand it a moment longer. And when I was done, all of 5 minutes later, I felt so much better. Why is it that something so satisfying takes me so much mental energy to accomplish?
And of course, since I had the clippers out, a task that takes two minutes, Izzy's bit of a five o-clock shadow got cleaned up too.
For some reason though, trimming Izzy's bridle path isn't nearly as satisfying as doing Speedy's. It must have something to do with that Arabian neck and head.
Work has been really stressful this past month. Cleaning something up, even if it's just a bridle path, gives me at least a sense of being in control. Bring it on, October. My ducks are in a row.
Sometimes, it's the little things.
After I gave the Haas brush a glowing review, someone asked if I had tried Epona's Tiger's Tongue Horse Groomer. Why no, no I had not. But at $7.80 with free shipping with my Amazon Prime account, one was on its way to me immediately after I read her comment and the reviews on Amazon.
If you haven't seen one of these scrubbers, they come shrink wrapped at about a tenth of their thickness. As soon as I cut away the plastic, it poofed up nicely. Once again, I used Yellow Dog to see if I liked the way it felt in my hand. She was less than impressed, but Tobias, our black lab, gave it a big smile. When I saw how much dirt came off of him, I rinsed it off with the hose and was surprised to see the scrubber grow even more in thickness.
The day after it arrived ended up being too hot to ride; it was over a hundred degrees, so I decided to make it a grooming day instead. I love getting new stuff, so I was happy for the excuse to try out the Tiger's Tongue on Speedy and Izzy. I adore Izzy, really I do, but that horse isn't picky about much, so Speedy's response to new stuff is my real litmus test.
To manage the dust, the ranch owner runs sprinklers in all of the horses' dry pastures twice each day. The horses just stand there enjoying the respite from the heat, but it makes them rather crusty by the time I get there. Speedy was really gross that afternoon, but rather than being annoyed, I rubbed my hands in delight. The Tiger's Tongue was going to get a real work out.
Except it didn't. To whomever recommended this thing to me, THANK YOU! Within jut a few swipes of the groomer, Speedy's coat was clean and soft and free of rough patches. I've owned horses for nearly 40 years. How have I not come across this particular tool before? It is truly amazing. And cheap. And my horses loved it.
I didn't even bother to use a halter. I just scrubbed Speedy's coat for a few minutes with the Tiger's Tongue - nothing else, and then stepped back to have a look. He coat was gleaming and looked as though I had just spent an hour scrubbing him. It was equally as effective on the big "buckskin" horse.
Izzy's barrel is so yellow that it's hard to see how shiny he was after using the Tiger's Tongue. After scrubbing the dried salt from his rump, I worked at the encrusted dirt along his back and sides. By the time I was finished, he was soft and smooth, too.
Since the groomer is basically a really porous sponge, it worked really well on both legs and faces. In fact, Izzy really leaned into it when I rubbed his eyes and forehead, Even Speedy appreciated his face being scratched with it.
I don't know how well the Tiger's Tongue will work on heavy winter coats, but for summertime use, I am hooked. I found mine at Amazon, but I am betting they are available wherever grooming products are sold. I am obviously in a buying mood, so if anyone else has the scoop on some other brilliant grooming product, let me know!
I wanted to be unimpressed. I wanted to be disappointed. I was neither. Holy smokes, people, the Haas magic is real. It's a thing, and I am now under the spell.
I needed to spend just a few dollars more on a recent Riding Warehouse purchase in order to get free shipping, so I searched through their collection of Haas brushes until I found one that seemed like it would suit my needs without breaking the bank. I ended up choosing the Haas Fellglanzburste Grooming Body Brush. The list price is $16.95, but with a 15% discount code, I only paid $14.41. I've spent more on lesser brushes for sure.
Out of the box, there were no sparks or love at first site. It wasn't as soft as I was expecting, and the handle felt sturdy but not magical. Haas prides themselves on the quality of their bristles, so I was a bit disappointed to notice that one of the holes on the edge was missing its bristles. It didn't seem worth sending it back though, so I tried it out on Yellow Dog who thought it was the best brush she'd ever felt. I was reserving judgement.
My favorite grooming tool of all time is a jelly scrubber, those plasticky things that run around $4.00. I have several that are now old enough to be super flexible. Both of my horses like them, and they work equally well in winter or summer. They are the first tool I grab, and sometimes the only tool I use.
Since Speedy was particularly crusty on Saturday morning, I dug into his coat with the jelly scrubber. I can scrub pretty vigorously along his neck, shoulders, belly, and hind quarters, but I have to use a much lighter touch across his back. Here's what the jelly scrubber lifted out of his hind end.
After a solid going over with the jelly scrubber, I took out the Haas Fellglanzburste. I am not going to lie. Within about three strokes I was hooked. I cannot explain it, but the brush felt ... alive in my hand. I could feel the bristles working their way through Speedy's coat, almost like my own fingers. But best of all was that he let me use firm pressure all over his whole body, including his back!
It was almost addictive. I brushed and brushed and brushed and brushed removing layer after layer of deep dirt. Speedy never fussed or grew tired of the grooming session, and he's not the biggest fan of being groomed. The brush worked equally well on the larger areas as it did on his legs and even his face (I was quite gentle there).
I found that shorter strokes helped lift the dirt from his skin, and then a gentle flick sent it off his coat without settling back down. After grooming his whole body, his coat felt clean and soft, almost as a good as after a shampoo.
I also used the brush on Izzy who responded in the same way. He is slightly less picky than Speedy, but he does let me know if I am too firm with the jelly scrubber. He never flinched with the Fellglanzburste brush.
This brush is of a medium stiffness, but it worked great on both of my horses' fine summer coats. I don't know how it will do on heavy winter coats, but now that I've tried one of the Haas brushes, I will definitely be adding more. And fortunately for me, there is a huge selection from which to choose.
Which ones are you using?
I'm a teacher, so books and stories are frequently on my mind, especially Laura Numeroff's series about the mouse who gets a cookie and then wants a glass of milk to go with it. When children's literature or even adult literature comes up as a topic on Jeopardy, my husband just looks to me for the answers. Books are kind of my jam. Anyway, in the story, giving the mouse his glass of milk leads to another request and another and another. You get the idea.
Summer has arrived here, so I can't spend quite so much time in the saddle. I guess it's less can't and more don't want to. I still like being at the ranch though, so even though it was a bazillion degrees a week or so ago, I decided to clean some tack. After I did that, I hosed out a bucket. And then it was on!
With cool water to splash on my face and a tank top to get a little sun on my shoulders, I started looking for other things to clean. The next thing I knew, I had drug out a bleach bottle and every grooming tool in my arsenal. Everything went into the bucket. Several times actually.
The more things I scrubbed, the more things I found to scrub. I scrubbed things that have never been cleaned before and others that should have been cleaned long ago. Before long, I had quite a pile of wet and drippy things drying in the million degree heat.
And then I washed three pairs of gloves and a couple of extra buckets. While I was searching for even more things to hose off, I realized that the feed room/tack room was now a mess. Somehow, stuff that should have been shelved neatly had found a new home on the floor.
Most of the junk on the floor was a result of consolidating my grooming tools into one portable bucket. That was a great idea, but I am not 6 years old. Things can't live on the floor. There is no before photo because I am lame, but here's what happened after my hurricane of a cleaning frenzy whipped through the room.
I know it looks as though it needs to be organized, but trust me, there is a system to the madness.
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?