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?
In my experience, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Even so, I am occasionally tempted and even fall prey to the shiny or amazing. Right now, the StripHair grooming product is calling my name.
Have you seen it? It's all over Facebook and has even generated a thread or two on Coth. I am not a COTH member myself, too much drama, but it is a good resource for getting reviews. Invariably, someone on the site has tried whatever it is you're searching for.
On the other hand, almot none of the naysayers has even seen the StripHair in person. COTH is filled with readers/commenters who appear to thrive on negativity and a distain for life that borders on maniacle. I don't put a lot of stock in what comes from that page.
The reason I am so hesitant to indulge my curiosity is that the product, essentially two hunks of rubber, goes for $48. That's an awful exenpensive grooming product that may or may not deliver as touted. The only reason that I am even considering spending that much money is because I have some Christmas cash itching to be spent.
I've never used a cactus cloth, but maybe it works about the same for a tenth of the price. Maybe I should get one of those first. I would love to hear what you all think. Is the StripHair worth it? Am I better off with a cactus cloth? Or, if I have to ask do I already know the answer?
I am okay with my jelly scrubber and soft brush. They're paid for and work pretty well. But there's still the matter of that hundred dollar bill ...
While we're on the subject of grooming ...
I "accidentally" gave Speedy the best hair cut of his life. I mean, I meant to bang his tail; that wasn't an accident. But given that my grooming skills are not the best, I was a bit shocked at how smart his tail looked over the weekend.
It inspired me to use that thinning comb I bought from Germany to thin Izzy's mane and trim the bushy hairs from both boys' tail heads. We are looking good enough to go somewhere!
Last week, I shared a video with a braiding technique for long manes. To my surprise, it worked pretty well. Let's be honest; nothing is ever going to look as nice as braids sewn in by someone with some skill. I hate to sew, and I am sorely lacking in the "skillz" department. Girlfriend ain't got none. I may be short on skills (and patience and actually caring), but what I do have is a very patient pony who has perfectly long mane.
If you want to try this at home, you should probably watch the video and actually follow the advice given. Even though I didn't, it still turned out pretty well, which tells me it's a pretty idiot proof braid.
1. I did not wet the mane. I simply combed it free of tangles.
2. I made no effort to be neat or tidy.
3. I combined the tail of each looped braid with one of the three sections needed for the next braid rather than using it alone for a section.
4. I played around with how far down to braid.
5. I played around with how big of a chunk to braid.
6. My last braid was a disaster. A new ending strategy must be employed before using these braids for show.
What I discovered was that this braiding technique is better the longer the mane is. I also think it would look better with a thick mane. Speedy's mane is fairly long, but of only medium thickness. Even so, it worked quite well.
With thinner manes, braid less than the finger length shown on the video. If the braided part is too long, the rubber band shows when you loop the braid though. You will have to adjust the length of the braided part depending on the thickness of the braid. Thick, fat braids will need to be longer while thin, small braids will need to be shorter.
Everything about this braid was very straightforward to do, except that very last part. I was surprised at how easy it was to twist the unbraided part and slide it through the base of the loop. It didn't seem to matter if I got it through the center or not. I also discovered that you can make the braid taller and poofier by not pulling the braided end through as far. Conversely, pulling the braid through tightly will make smaller, tighter braids.
The true test for me was how long it would actually stay braided without the regular droop I get with the French braid. To put it to the test, I braided Speedy's mane and then groomed Izzy. I saddled Izzy and then took both horses to the arena. I rode Izzy for 40 minutes while Speedy stood tied at the fence. I untacked the big brown horses, put him away, and then saddled Speedy. I schooled him for the better part of 30 minutes and then checked the braid.
Considering that I made no effort to get it neat or tight, it looked pretty good after nearly two hours. The French braid never lasts that long. I need a bit more practice and some fine tuning, but this is going to be my new braid for shows.
Did anyone else try it?