Thursday, May 15, 2008

Relax, you're not going to the Olympics!

I got home late last night thanks to a work meeting that ran two hours late and simultaneously exhausted and bored me to death. I bet a lot of you guys have been in that meeting, LOL!

I did my chores and no one was around the barn so I didn't ride. I have progressed to riding all alone in the arena, but I still try not to do it when absolutely no one is around. Instead, I got the urge to groom. Not just your usual cursory brushing, but really groom - pick out the tails hair by hair, shorten the manes, do bridle paths, etc. The funny part is, did I do it on my VLC? No, he was outside and happy there. I did it on a couple of my Very Old Mares.

One of them was a show horse in her distant past - she's a halter point earner in AQHA. That's her below. I swear this horse loves to be fussed over. She was so happy I was spending all that time with her. She loves Show Sheen - she'll stand there like you're spraying her with perfume. (The 30+ year old Appaloooser thinks I am spraying her with acid rain). I polished all three mares up like they were going to a horseshow today, fed carrots and finally trudged back into the house at ten.

It was a great night with my horses.

Do you ever take a day or a night like that to just fuss over your horse? No riding. No work. No expectations. Nothing more strenuous than maybe hand-grazing them if they're in a situation where they don't normally get grass.

Sometimes, it's not such a bad idea. Let yourself off the hook. Unless you are being paid to do so, you do not have to ride every night. You're not going to the Olympics. The only person who needs to be happy with your progress is you. And you know how you feel all organized and in control when you get your house really clean? It's kind of the same with your horse. Get those snarls out of the mane, scrub the white parts white, and you might just feel more in control in general! (Not to mention your horse won't look like it belongs on my other blog, hehehe...)


KD said...

"The only person who needs to be happy with your progress is you."


bigredhorse said...

Hi All! New reader to your blog and I LOVE it! I agree that sometimes it's just nice to groom my horse. It's very relaxing for me and I know he enjoys it. Although I sometimes get abused (jokingly) by my barn friends that he's "too pretty and smells too good", I feel like he appreciates not having to work everytime I get him from the pasture.

hope4more said...

Oh yes I do that whenever I feel off. Like if I am just cranky enough that I feel I will get irritated to quickly if I ride, I will groom and shine em'up. I just get relaxed spending time with my boys, they are so sweet and it is good bonding.

Mikey said...

I think that's a wonderful thing to do and more people should just spend time grooming. I personally like a horse cleaned up, legs clipped, bridle path, whiskers gone. Even if they're the "old kids" they still deserve it and get it here. I make it a point to keep clippers plugged in, and every time I do feet, I clip too. Then if I forget who had feet done when, I can look out and say "Oh, you've got a mohawk, time to touch up your feet"
I also go thru all 13 horses when I clean pens (morning and night) and touch everyone, rub a belly here and there, take a shedding blade around. Pick up a random foot... everyone gets something, twice a day. No use having them if you don't enjoy them!
And it's good thinking time.

Josie said...

Good point, bigredhorse, about changing their expectations about what "being brought inside" means.

I think I would have horses if I couldn't ride but I wouldn't have them if I didn't enjoy just being in their presence. I love having a "day of beauty" for each of my mares. Which reminds me -- LOTS of mohawks here, must bring out the clippers soon!

spotteddrafter said...

We moved to our new barn (I board) in March of 2007. It has 2 indoor arenas, 2 outdoor arenas and about 4 miles in trails. With all the riding opportunities, I haven't taken just time to spend with her. Until March of this year. It was our one-year anniversary to the day of moving. I groomed and groomed, planning to ride. I decided to just let her graze. IT was awesome! Since then, I've done a lot of those just grooming sessions.

Karen V said...

Oh yeah! LOVE doing that. I stuff them with cookies, trim legs, spiff them up and fuss over them. Normally when it's raining and warmish and I'm bored out of my mind from being in the house.

I STILL don't know how to properly trim and thin a mane. Any website suggestions?

deanna may said...

At the old barn, I used to groom my gelding all pretty and then go sit on the grassy hill with him while he grazed. He was happy and shiny, and it was so relaxing for me!

I'm just waiting for some more grass to come up so that I can go chill out with him and let him graze!

deanna may said...

karen v -

Try this.

deanna may said...

Also, if you pull your horse's mane after exercise, the hair will pull out easier.

I'm all talk, though. I literally cannot pull my horse's mane without some serious tranq. He has wonderful ground manners; mane-pulling aversion is his only "vice." And he is WAY too big to deal with that.

Also, he's half-draft, and has the thickest mane ever. And it's all wavy, too!

Latigo Liz said...

Nothing like a "spa day" with the horses. My younger mare will walk up and present her butt for scratches in difficult to reach places, although I have seen her reach them all by herself at times! And I know they enjoy it, despite going and immediately rolling after getting all gussied up.

ChiliChihuahua said...

I do self-care, so I am at the barn every night for a couple of hours (husband does the morning feeding). I'm definitely not going to the Olympics (sniff...sniff), but I do take pride in what my horse looks like. He gets groomed every night from head to hoof, along with getting clipped whenever he starts looking shaggy. I love taking care of's my 'unwind' time.

Heidi the Hick said...

I love that. My horses don't get groomed nearly enough, and I love to do it. Because I don't spend much time with them, (I don't live with them) I can't allow myself get into that habit of grabbing them, wrestling a saddle onto them, work, then leave.

I made that mistake with my previous horse, until he made it very clear that he wasn't happy. He decided he'd be unavailable when I came at him with a halter. I gave up on riding that day, once I finally caught him. I just tied him and spent an hour grooming. He was shining and clean when I was done. I slipped the halter off his head and he looked at me like, "What, that's it? No work?"

I kid you not, he followed me around for pats when I got out the fork to pick out the corral. He wanted more. I learned so much from that horse.

They ain't machines. They need a little affection too.

Karen V said...

RE Butt scratches... One of my mares will pin you against the fence if you're not careful. She LOVES it. We've stopped using our hands to scratch, because it puts us/her too close. Instead, I use a rake...longer reach! When I clean her pen, I have to tie her up or turn her into the arena because she is such a pest about it.

Lynsey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lynsey said...

I've done that with the horse I'm currently leasing. He was very sore after a trim for a whole week (that's until the shoer came) since the farrier trimmed him too short. Anyhow, during that time even though I couldn't ride him, I still owed him affection and lovin'. Marco loves to have this one part of his neck scratched on and I also discovered that if I use a brush on his mane near that section of his neck, he will start sleeping while standing tied. I should probably give him another bath, some fly spray and a round of cowboy magic on his mane and tail this weekend since temps will be in the 90's here in the sunny Bay Area. He'll show his appreciation for me by rolling in the pasture after I put him back in there once he's dry from his bath :o)

Shadow Rider said...

Time spend grooming a horse is never wasted. My horse Shadow loves those days, and if I get the clippers out, will come up and beg to be clipped. I don't think she misses showing, but I do know she loved the attention. (and the vibration of the clippers, LOL!)
She also will come up and beg for a bath.
But I also use impromptu grooming sessions to train. If they stand where I tell them, and not move, I brush them. If they move over when I signal, I brush that side. My 3 yr old morgan rescue mare picked that up in one session. She now comes when called, stands, backs, and moves over. All without a halter. It helps that she is a total princess - attention hog. Still working on that with my yearling colt. He is having trouble with the 'eyes front, no nipping' part (yeah, waiting on the other jewel to drop before brain surgery). He's getting there. Both had minimal/abusive handling before I got them.

I get to the barn sometimes, and enjoy the sunset as I groom, or just watch them. It's my Zen.

EquineSpirit said...

"Do you ever take a day or a night like that to just fuss over your horse?"

YES!! We try to have a "spa day" once a week...he loves it and do I...even though it's a LOT of work! It's a great way to recharge our batteries, spend time just "being", and enjoying each others company. :)

Hecate said...

"The only person who needs to be happy with your progress is you."

Another 250% agreement here.

And not just "gratuitous grooming," even though all my guys including the unrideables have fabulous-fake jumper manes and banged tails three seasons out of the year (I let 'em grow out over the winter).

Sometimes we just play together. A good round of "101 Things To Do With An Empty Cardboard Box" will fix any bad mood.

sarcastabitch said...

Spooky LOVES being fussed over. After her cursory look around to check for TACK, once she realises there is no work, her big ol'head drops and her ears flop. We built up most of our relationship around grooming (because we were both terrified to start riding) so it is nice to take the break.

she stands SO quietly while I untangle her poor little bob tail (grown out...looks funny), and I can sit in front of her dinner plate hooves to untangle and scrub those white, feathered stockings. When she wants to move a foot, she moves VERY slowly to indicate that I should get out of the way, then she moves when I let her. She adores being brushed, and the only thing she won't abide is a spray bottle near her head.

The geldings on the other hand...the Arab would rather be a filthy mess and try to get me to play, and fuglypinto puts up with grooming in a well-mannered, if exasperated way. He gets this expression like "I'm a freakin' RANCH horse, quit PRETTYING ME UP! A cowboy would NEVER do this to me!"

Kyani said...

I once gave Oddie a bath and scrubbed him till his white patches dazzled before brushing out every hair in his mane tail and feathers. Then I plaited him - running plait in the mane (not a very good one but ho hum), a fishtail in back - and groomed once he'd dried off in the sunshine (I think he was asleep for most of this). Then I tacked up, wandered aimlessly around the woods for an hour on my very posh ploddy cob where NO ONE saw me.
Then I got back, undid all the plaits and turned him roll.
The other girl at the yard looked at me like I was INSANE.

Hey, it made me happy.

loneplainsman said...

Yup... I love those days! Cloud is admittedly less-than-thrilled (he'd rather be eating) but I really love getting to spend time like that. I clipped off his winter coat for the first time ever and really love not having a hairy monster living in the barn. Probably should get some better clippers, though... I did the whole thing with a $20 pair of cheep-o clippers and gave them a mini clipper heart attack. :-D

Do any of you have suggestions for muddy tails??? He's ankle deep in mud right now with all this rain and his tail is long enough that the bottom foot of it gets absolutely encrusted in mud. I've got one of those sleezy tail wraps that you braid into the tail and then tie up.. it keeps it clean, but it makes his tail into a cauliflour coloured afro! :-D Not fun.

Any good suggestions for tails??

Magna Cum Mule Trainer said...

Jasmine loves to have her tail brushed and braided. I have no idea why- most horses/mules clamp it between their legs and do the buttwalk away from you.

Only in the past two years or so would I see her start to respond to grooming, and now she lets me know when she likes something so I'll do it more.

Char said...

Funny you should bring this topic up today - that's exactly what I did with my gelding this weekend. Trimmed him all up, Showsheen brush-down, took extra time and care with the shedding blade that he thinks God created just to scratch his itchy spots....

Oh was good. Of course we have no goals right now other than keeping him from breaking his leg and getting him sound again anyway.....

mulelisa said...

Oh, yeah. Love the grooming only days, spiffing them up, clipping bridle paths....hmmm, Rajah's due. He's got a mohawk thing going right now. Roadie absolutely loves butt scratchings. It was the first thing he discovered that was good & handy about people after being mostly unhandled his first two years. When he starts to get a little uptight about something we're doing, I can start scratching him next to his tail, he'll relax and then I can stand directly behind him and scratch with both hands. When he's really into it, he'll spraddle his back legs and start swaying back & forth.

SolitaireMare said...

There's something so satisfying when you get that horse all spit-shined and pretty, even if he's just taking you for a trail ride and then coming home to graze on the lead line.

I used to board at a show barn and compete at least 2 weekends a month. I felt like I was neglecting my horse if his mane was longer than 4 inches, he had whisker stubble and didn't smell faintly of ShowSheen.

Now his fetlocks get shaggy, his whiskers grow in and sometimes the mane has been 8 inches or longer. And that's okay. We aren't in training to compete, just to keep fit. But I can never leave it go for too long. The old habits nag at me and I will take a day to just pamper the poop out of him.

After the bath, the trim and the mane pulling, I feel like I have done right by him. That's how my horse SHOULD look, even if all he does is chill in his paddock and eat hay.

sarcastabitch said...

For muddy tail, I put a loose three strand braid in, starting about 1-2" below the bone. I braid all the way to the bottom after brushing out, and stick a few rubber bands in.

Mine won't keep the sleazys on (new toy!) and the braiding keeps it mostly clean and free of dreadlocks. My gelding's tail is long enough for him to step on, so the braid keeps it out of the way,

As long as the braid isn't tight near the top, it won't impact circulation, and shouldn't make them itchy enough to rub it out.

Joy said...

You're so right. It can be so relaxing to "chillax" with the ponies instead of always always working. I think they love it. My old OTTB mare used to think she was in heaven when we'd do "it's all about the princess day". Miss that!

Lali said...

VLC/Fugs/Whatever -
Let us know how your bareback ride goes. Like I said in the other post, I feel like the bareback ride I did the other day helped me SO MUCH!

Anyways, the lady I ride with was late yesterday, so I took a brush and comb and groomed the yearlings and broodmares. They usually only get spruced up for kuering (sp?) and pictures, so I think they all enjoyed it!

heater said...

Man I love this blog.

When I bought my boy he was only 2. So for a year all I did was groom him with some light groundwork and "trail walks" thrown in. He's 5 now, and whenever he starts getting grumpy about work work work all the time, I make sure to take a day just to fuss over him. It gives both of us a break and some well needed bonding time. It's hard to butt heads when all you're doing is grooming and grazing! He's always much happier to see me the next time too. :)

dressage16 said...

That would be my problem. I spend to much time fussing and not enough time riding. My horse is always well groomed and looks like he could walk into a show ring on a moments notice. The problem is he is not trained because I will just groom him and not ride. I've always been a better groom then rider and that I believe is why I don't just get on him. It's an illness I'm trying my best to come to terms with. I wish I could afford to send him to a training stable and just groom him, but that is not going to happen.

bigpainthorse said...

I LOVE playing "spa day" with my horse, but it's not really the BPH's cup of tea, unless she's caked with dried mud or has a boo-boo. In those cases, she'll let me climb all over her with the shedding blade or stand with her foot in a bucket of hot water for an hour as long as you tell her a story and scratch all the itchy places (she points them out one by one).

But if it's a normal day and she's feeling good, she doesn't really give a rip about grooming and if I take too long she'll actually get impatient and nip her teeth in the air (not toward me or anyone else, just in the air as if to say, "C'mon, you already brushed me there, hurry up, this is boring."

(Actually, she's much more patient with it now than when I first got her, and you can tell she's figured out it's got its uses!)

The Gloss Menagerie said...

That was the one thing that boggled my mind about my old trainer. She'd think I was odd for wanting to come down to the barn and not ride my horse. I'd drive over and just turn him out and watch him tear around the arena bucking, farting, and generally acting like he thought he was tough shit, then we'd have a nice grooming session or a bath in nice weather. It was nice just hanging out with him. :)

CutNJump said...

I wil groom when they need it.

Girly Spa Day- hoof goo, hair cut, mane seen to, tail as well scratch all the itchy feel good spots, hand graze and drool over the 'new look'. Not only do they feel better, it's quiet time for us and time for bonding.

Can't forget the cookies and treats either.

Jackie said...

I started doing that on the off days when I didn't ride...and now I try to do that after I ride, too...just take her for a walk, give treats. Sometimes just go out and brush and hang...but I do think it's more for me than her!

I let "the Diva's" (that is a good nickname for her) mane grow..she loves me to French braid it when it's hot..also a good job for my sometimes-can feel the arthritis starting-stiff fingers!

mugwump said...

I haven't had a day like that in too many years.....pity party at 9:00

Shana said...

I try to have one "play day" a week with my horse. Yes this means I sacrifice one of my four weekly visits to the barn on nothing "productive" but I find it really helps us relax and bond.

Jade doesn't have grass turnout daily, so if its nice out, I'll go stand with her in the small pasture while she grazes. I might bring a brush or two along to groom her.

Other days I'll turn her out in the arena and see if I can get her to follow me around. I've started making a little maze of trot poles and asking her to follow me, no lead line attached, through it - which she does, which is just amazing to me. (Its the TTEAM labyrinth if you are familiar with Linda Tellington-Jones equine work.)

Other days I'll take her for a walk in the back 40, let her graze, and try to acclimate her to that area where I hope to one day ride without her freaking out and bucking me off.

I'd give her a bath if she wouldn't do the "I'm An Arabian OMG I'm Getting Wet I'm a Desert Horse Don't You Know I'm Not Supposed to Get Wet" dance. We are working on it, lol.

barrel nut said...

I LOVE grooming!!! I find many times it 'erases' my busy day and is a type of therapy for me just as much as riding is. There are days I don't feel like riding or am too tired and I'll primp all 3 of my horses like they were going to a show. I did the same when I had my aged gelding...I couldn't ride him like I used to so he was lavished over in other ways such as treats, grooming and just spending time hanging out with him. Grooming is overlooked by so many people and I lay my hands on my horses daily...wether it's quickly dusting them off and putting fly spray on them to riding or just spending the night making them all beautiful. LOVE both blogs you have. Long time reader....first time poster (or is it second time?).

verylargecolt said...

Shana, LOL, we always used to laugh about that when an Arab was being silly about a bath..."OMG I'm from the desert! We don't HAVE water!"

P.S. I truly do have the best VLC in the Universe. I rode him bareback in the round pen tonight. Not only did he let me climb on off the panels without anybody holding him but he had NO, repeat NO, reaction to all of the horses in the adjacent pastures deciding to take off running and bucking.

No reaction AT ALL.

I've decided if Stacy Westfall's stallion can do tackless reining, mine is gonna do tackless working hunter. That's our new goal. I mean, that and winning something at the World anyway... ;-)

3catcrazy said...

Tackless working hunter- why not? Then people will pay you tons of money to tell them how you did that and you won't have to go to boring meetings anymore ;)

I like just standing around while my horse is grazing, leaning against his warm side and taking big whiffs of that wonderful horse smell. Doesn't get any better than that. I always felt sorry for those riders who came, tacked up, took a lesson and left.

My horse spent too many years in a show barn and thinks grooming is for sissys. But he doesn't mind a scratch in those itchy, shedding parts.

HeatherAQHA said...

I am wayyyyYYY behind but:

What's is VLC's registered name and/or breeding?

His dam (in another post) is gorgeous! If she wasn't in foal I'd take her home in the blink of an eye ;)

He's stunning, and I'm really interested in how he's bred. I'll check back here if someone who is paying better attention than me wouldn't mind posting... :)

Truthseeker said...

Seems like nothing earns a horse's love and devotion like a good, deep grooming. Something else I've taken up that is fun, is marker (aka clicker) training. My best friend has a good time making fun of me teaching horses to target a cone and so on. "What possible use does that have?"

She's just kidding, she knows there's a method to the madness. However, it is FUN for me and for the horses. Makes me giggle.

fssunnysd said...

dressage16 said...

"That would be my problem. I spend to much time fussing and not enough time riding."

Me, too! Even when it's not spring and throughly muddy outside, I enjoy the fussing. And I always feel guilty NOT doing something with the mares. I love watching their eyes go all hazy and their lips wiggling when I find just that spot. It's a great stress reliever knowing I can make someone feel good! "Spa day" - I like it... of course, if I broke out the nail polish and the hairspray, they'd probably head for the hills! LOL

June Evers said...

I had to respond to this particular article. Growing up, I worked as a groom (show/race/breeding/school horses) after school and weekends from age 13 - 25. I LOVE grooming. In fact, our biggest joke is, it takes me 1 hour to get my horse ready to ride, 15 minutes to ride and then 1 hour to get him unready.

And, when I travel to a trail to ride, the best part is all alone in the parking lot getting him ready to go. I love currying him and paying attention to itchy spots.

My friends laugh at me because my horse is so clean that the saddle pad comes off clean after riding. Have fun everyone!

June Evers said...

Deanna May and Karen V:

If you don't want to pull your horse's mane, check out this book: The Squeamish Person's Guide to Pulling Your Horse's Mane. It's all about cutting their manes (yes scissors!) to make them look pulled.

I too have a draft and I really, really HATE pulling so I cut and this systems works well.

lusitano epiphany said...

Ha, that's what I did last night, too. The woman whose horses I am working with just got a 16.1h chestnut OT TB gelding for $750, who she intends to condition, train and sell to someone looking for a nice hunter. He is insanely sweet, low-key, relaxed and gentle...very un-TB like kind of horse.

He follows you around like a dog and is smart as a whip, and has a wonderfully springy trot. Anyway, he was way too cute to NOT play with so he got a beauty treatment yesterday. He LOVED it, especially the ear massage I gave him. :) I can't wait til the vet and chiro come out to OK his back (has a slight roach, but only at the back towards his croup...old injury maybe?) to see how he is under saddle. :)

Sagebrusheq said...

It probably comes as no surprise that the only (?) man here isn't much on beauty secrets. I'm a stickler on clean for practical reasons and as a matter of respect but don't clip, braid, paint etc. I think all the hairy parts have a functional purpose for outdoor horses. My one concession to spiffiness is to neatly part the mane with a hoof pick a ways back from the poll. Of course with this attitude I'll never go far in the formal show ring. To me it's one of the main deterrents to doing more that way.

But I do groom thoroughly and agree that it's a vital part of getting to know each other. Riders who aren't involved in this aspect of their horses upkeep are missing one of the rewards of being with them. Not that that's possible for everyone but it is a loss. Kids though should always do all the 'chores' for their critters. When they grow up and their lives become too busy or they graduate to a level that such things are best left to experts that's another matter. One of my teachers told me that one of the things she disliked about riding professionally was not being involved more with that part of her horses' lives- That, and the Sisyphean task of schooling other people's horses so they could undo it all every other weekend.

The one thing that I think horses truly appreciate, that hasn't been mentioned yet, is when you remove the sleep from their eyes. They can't do it for themselves and all mine seem to like it, even ones that have tended to be fussy about their face in other ways.

As for grooming in general I don't think that anything that comes in a bottle compares favorably to the bloom of a fit horse's coat that comes from a couple weeks of vigorous grooming- no soaps, which strip the oils. This is especially effective if one applies the majority of one's efforts AFTER riding.


Sagebrusheq said...

Ben Johnson said it best:

Simplex Munditiis

STILL to be neat, still to be drest,
As you were going to a feast;
Still to be powder'd, still perfumed:
Lady, it is to be presumed,
Though art's hid causes are not found, 5
All is not sweet, all is not sound.

Give me a look, give me a face
That makes simplicity a grace;
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free:
Such sweet neglect more taketh me 10
Than all th' adulteries of art;
They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.

Sagebrusheq said...


I know, I'm clueless. My ex once told me, "Men have no idea how much work goes into achieving 'sweet neglect'."


mugwump said...


I'm a notorious non-show groomer. I am finally training my mares mane to one side.She's six. We show natural manes and tails. I don't clip legs,in my mind they need the protection, and the fetlock hair is covered in boots, I don't clip ears, they need the hair to keep the dirt out.If you ever have a clod of dirt go down your horse's ear on a fence turn you'll understand.
I clip off the goat hairs, and trim the long hair on the outer rim of their ears.
I do deep groom before every ride, and keep them clean.
As far as whiskers go, I figure if you move fast enough the judges won't see them....:>

deanna may said...

june evers --

I find cutting the horse's mane just makes it thicker. And it's not the actual hair-pulling-out that my gelding hates. He stands for that. He HATES the back-combing and the brushing out. It's weird.

FindlayDropout said...

Deanna May,

I have one of those, he is isn't bad about having his mane pulled, but there is just so much of it... so I roached it all off! I was terrified that he would look horrible but, I liked it enough I am doing it again this summer!

FindlayDropout said...

here he is!

Sagebrusheq said...


Your approach sounds pretty workmanlike to me. I've nothing against dressing one's horse to the nines, if it doesn't detract from his natural beauty, it's just too much fussing for this rider. And it necessitates taking measures to protect him from flies etc. I have squeezed their ears and zipped off the excess as a nod to fashion. And I've also removed hairs from their chin when they interfere with a nose band. Like you, I leave the legs alone. On the Morgans, for instance, I like the feathers. Not only are they protective but they are a sign of part of their heritage from the draft breeds. And their full manes and tails I wouldn't consider messing with, other than keeping the latter just short enough that they won't be stepped on when backing, or by others. People shouldn't be following that close; but it happens, especially on hills.


fuglyhorseoftheday said...

>>What's is VLC's registered name and/or breeding?<<

Here is his pedigree

>>His dam (in another post) is gorgeous! If she wasn't in foal I'd take her home in the blink of an eye ;)<<

I am sure you can buy her without this year's foal...feel free e-mail the seller. If you'd like some riding put on her for you, we can definitely talk. I would have no qualms about starting her - she's 100% sound and clean legged and sensible minded.

LoveWithoutLove said...

You know, I tried doing this yesterday and I swear my mare was acting like she must have done something wrong. xD

mulerider said...

How funny. I did the exact same thing last night. I just puttered around, brushing, combing tails, letting the 3 yr old practice loading himself into the trailer to retrieve the horse cookies I tossed inside, and taking endless photos with the digital camera in a quest for one perfect shot which I did, eventually, manage to get.

One of my neighbors and I were talking the other day about stress relief and we both agreed that the best thing you can do is spend time in the company of horses munching on their evening hay.

hjv said...

It is nice to do different things with your horse. It is also a handly training tool. They will be easier to catch and more willing if they aren't sure if they are having spa day or the workout from hell!

I laughed at your comment, "You aren't going to the Olympics." The other day I was talking to my Dad and he was bummed out because he only rode once last week. I told him not to worry; once a week is good enough. He questioned my logic and I said it must be good enough because that's all you had time for, right?

We need to spend less time lamenting what we don't do and look forward to what we can do in the future.

HeatherAQHA said...

Thanks for the pedigree info, Fugs! I thought he might be from the Yellow Horses people- big, stocky, dilute, sane.

I'm not sure I'm looking for a very green broodmare-mare, as opposed to a fairly broke riding project-mare (actually, I probably shouldn't be looking for ANY kind of horse at this point!) but I sure do like her and she sounds lovely. I'll keep an eye on their site though; you know how logic and common sense sometimes evades us horse people and makes up jump into things!

The_Blue_Barrel said...

If you are just now thinking that this sort of relaxing time with your horse is a "revolutionary" idea.. that boat has already sailed and you are standing on the pier watching it go out to sea. The natural horse people call it "undemanding time" and horses are very good at it with each other, but some are not used to getting undemanding time with their humans. It doesn't matter what it's called really, when monkeys do it.. it's called nit-picking. When birds do it it's called mutual preening. It's being a good horse to your horse.

oneidea said...

My mare is layed up this month, temporarily suspending most of her training, so I have spent many, many hours grooming her... I must have a frustrated beauty-school drop out inside of me because I have spent a small fortune in equine hair products this month (the Equss stuff smells so good!! I'm not sure what it all does, but we use it ALL!! LOL) Trimming, braiding, pulling manes... all of it is good therapy for me and good training for her. Standing patiently in cross ties and accepting grooming and husbandry is valuable training too. Hopefully, she recovers quickly and we are back in the saddle next month. If not, there is still plenty to learn. I've recently started teaching her to stick out her tongue on cue. Not a useful behavior, but it makes me laugh and keeps both of our minds engaged while we wait for her to heal.

Miss A said...

Does anyone out there have a horse that just doesn't like to be groomed? Doesn't matter if we are in cross ties, standing in the aisle or wherever, my little gelding tosses his head around and acts generally annoyed the whole time. He stands there with the most irritable look on his face, and even when I find a "good" spot to scratch he's right back to tossing his head around and such the second I stop. He's not a very affectionate horse to begin with. He's never been abused or anything but he's just doesn't have a lovey dovey physical contact sort of personality. Any advice on how I can help him enjoy grooming more?

cowpie_a_la_mode said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
verylargecolt said...

Miss A - First thing I would do is get him a professional massage. I bet you anything there's some undiagnosed soreness there which is causing the pissy behavior about grooming. It's solved the problem for me so many times!

Miss A said...

Good idea, thanks!

a beautiful disaster said...

i love "spa days", though buddy unfortunately feels otherwise. he had gotten to be pretty tolerant if ground-tied towards the end of the winter, but between the open doors, more grain, and general spring happies he has been ujnbeliveably fidgety :( i also think that he got whacked on the nose by someone during my week off (i found out from the other girl who leases him that she had the trainer ride instead of her that week and his groom is a bitch) because he has been super twitchy about me brushing his face, which he normally loves. oh well

anyways, since he thinks grooming is TORTURE, we unwind by playing in the indoor on his days off. and i really do mean playing - he gets to buck around and jump the jumps to blow off steam and then we play tag and just generally relax

a beautiful disaster said...

oh, and i wanted to add that though i love a shined up horse, i personally don't like to clip noses/ears/legs unless they're going to show or do something really special (they're tbs so its not like they have massive feathers or anything haha). i'll do their noses every once in a while but they both tend to get gunk in their ears anyways, i don't see a reason to get them all upset for such a silly reason.

quietann said...

I've done this with Feronia a few times. However, what I've discovered is that whether I plan to ride her or not, I must slow down when grooming her. Make those curry circles big and slow. Stop to rub her face, give her a little massage on her back where she carries all her considerable tension. Go over every square inch with the soft brush, slowly. Put the conditioner in her mane and tail and work through them hair by hair. Ask for her feet by saying "foot" and waiting, because she's a good girl and she will pick them up on voice command. Spend a little time working on braiding her mane, just a little bit at a time. (My trainer, who's a very traditional Pony Club trained eventer, is arguing with me over whether it needs to be pulled, and I am saying, "but she's a Morgan!" which means IMHO she needs to keep it, but also means that I must learn various ways to braid a long, full mane.)

quietann said...

Miss A --

One of the other horses at Feronia's barn doesn't like to be "fussed over" in any way. She wants all grooming, tacking up etc. over with *now* and will get very cranky if one isn't quick with her. (And of course she's a grey, so it's difficult to get her clean quickly.) She wants no scritches and certainly no treats, and prefers that one NOT talk to her while grooming her. She'll pin her ears and pick up a hind foot as if to kick if one doesn't just keep going.

Her personality changes completely once she has a rider in the saddle. She's a former dressage competitor, up to 3rd or 4th level, and is happy to be worked for as long as it takes, and pays close attention to whatever her rider is doing or saying (she likes a rider who talks to her.) Untacking is the same as tacking up -- get it over with now, she has other things to do than stand around and be fussed over by the Stupid Human.

Her owner tried for years to get her to enjoy grooming, but now just accommodates her quirks. She's a cranky old lady, but she's actually a lot better than she used to be; she used to be on Regumate year round just to make her tolerable, but now she's only on it in the spring and summer. So maybe some horses are "just like that."

ellen said...

I've had a few who appeared to hate grooming -- one of them I could eventually groom using a small terry towel, the other I groomed using only my hands (which you CAN do -- actually pretty well). They were both very sensitive and didn't respond well to grooming tools, but finally relaxed and accepted being groomed with the towel and/or hand.