Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Spring has Sprung!

Hey Bloglings - here are some tips from Foxie and I on handling exciting spring weather!

1. Keep Calm, and Keep Covered.
Especially this year, Minnesota and many areas around the horse-riding world experience wet springs. As the owners of thoroughbreds, clipped horses or generally "thin coated" horses know, our ponies get soaked to the skin pretty quickly. Especially for riders already struggling to maintain weight on their horses, having a few waterproof sheets on hand is a great way to not only keep your horse from shivering, you also help head off rain rot and keep mud at bay. That way, you aren't battling skin ailments and bald spots into the show season and you aren't spending an hour de-mudding before you ride!

Foxie likes her mud baths. 

2. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
Since spring is the time of moisture, I suggest clipping down the legs (especially the feathers and fetlocks) to minimize the mud that sticks to your horse's legs. This can help head off scratches and rain rot on the legs, both of which are painful, persistent fungal infections that are very hard to totally eradicate. Also make sure to pick out feet regularly and keep an eye out for excessive softness and funny smells, which can be indicators of thrush or other problems. I also make sure to do a thorough grooming and keep an eye out for any problems in the coat (can you tell I hate rain rot?!) and, if conditions are muddy enough, mud knot the tail to cut down on grooming. To mud knot, you can either look up the fancy braided-in way traditionalists do it, or cheat, like me! 

My mud knots are inspired by my early days of riding Arabians, who have their tails tied up to help them grow and stay beautiful and long for the show ring. I start with a clean tail, and usually take this opportunity to put some conditioner in. Don't braid and put up a wet tail, as the hairs are more prone to breaking, and shrink as they dry. I braid from the base of the tail bone, not pulling the tail too tight to prevent discomfort on that bone. then, taking the braid, I fold it back on it's self and wrap with vetwrap, running a section of the wrap through the top of my braid to keep the tube of vetwrap from sliding off. You end up with something like this:

3. Tack Swap season!
At least where I come from, spring and fall are tack swap seasons. I love to go to spring ones and not only stock up on deals for the show season, but take advantage of the blankets for the next year. Some tips for tack swaps are:
1. Make a list of what you "need"
2. Do your research - how much does it cost new? How much are you willing to pay for used? How used are you willing to buy something?
3. If you're impulsive like me, bring a friend/parent to be your common sense - do you really need that pink zebra saddle pad? Common sense friend is there to remind you that you don't actually like pink. It's just the Black Friday of horse shopping rearing it's ugly head.
4. Consider volunteering. For our local swap, you can volunteer and as a result you get to shop for an hour before the swap opens and snag all the good deals. That's smart shopping!

4. Get Creative!
Is your horse as sick of the indoor as mine is? Think outside the box. We still have snow in our outdoor (well, it melted, then it snowed again...) but the gravel roads are snow and ice free, dry, and relatively non-rocky. Take advantage of nice spring days to trail ride, do some gallop sets (they aren't just for eventers!) or just go exploring. I can proudly say that Foxie has gotten over her fear of garbage cans, mail boxes and running water in ditches after our ride yesterday. If riding alone makes you nervous, please bring a friend. And if you do go alone, don't go far, wear a helmet, tell someone where you are going and when you should be back and think about carrying your cell phone. I like to use the "Track My Hack" app from WOOF and am considering the upgrade so my mom can track me from her phone. If you do carry a phone, don't put it on your saddle or in a saddle bag - put it on your body, and somewhere where it's least likely to be damaged should you fall. Also, if your horse is shod, be careful on paved roads and ALWAYS be cautious and courteous to and around traffic.

5. Spring Cleaning
Spring is a time of hair, hair and... more hair. Once the de-shedding process is beginning to wane, or any time you suspect a skin ailment (or when your brushes are so gross they make your horse dirtier...) take some time to take care of your brushes. I like the effervescent brush cleaner you can buy, or a simple mild bleach solution and warm water. Use a bucket, or a feed pan for wood backed brushes and let them have a good soak, rinse and time to dry in a well ventilated area. You'll be amazed how much cleaner you can get your horse - and it's a comfort knowing you are not spreading skin gunk or reinfecting your horse.Take some time and wash everything - saddle pads, blankets... your horse will thank you!

Have an awesome spring idea you want to share? Leave it in the comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment