Snip, snip, snip. Less than two weeks away from our first centerline of the year and it is time to get Ike some spring maintenance. Be afraid, be very afraid…. Hide your horse if you see me with scissors in hand. These hands are capable of mass destruction of a mane/tail/forelock with a single snip.
Anyone who knows me knows that grooming is not my forte – you need only look at my hair to know that hair styling is not in my genes. I admittedly have ridden my horse with just enough of his coat cleaned (read: mud clumps removed) to make room for the saddle, girth, and bridle.
Sometimes I just don’t see the point in spending over an hour grooming and then only have enough time to ride for 20 minutes. Why not do less brushing and get more saddle time? Who is going to see me? The other horses? The birds? If it bothers you, then just view us from afar. Think of it like viewing an impressionist painting. Up close, it is just a bunch of messy brush strokes. You have to stand back to truly appreciate the full effect and beauty. Move over Monet.
While spring is in full force here, the horses who were not shaved for the winter are still shedding their winter coats…everywhere. I did spend almost an hour the other day currying and brushing. When I was done, I could still see more winter coat hairs mocking me. “Ha, ha, you missed me and 1000 of my best friends. Whatcha going to do now?” Ride, you little hairy fool, I am going to ride. Can’t improve my half halt timing or Ike’s rhythm while standing in a stall covered in dirt and hair.
Yes, most days I chose to ride, but with a licensed dressage show looming on the horizon, I really do need to address Ike’s winter length hippie mane. I have not done squat with it since show season ended last year. It is at least 6 inches long and his cowlick is quite prominent. Even that length is too much for my “cheater braids,” so we must thin and shorten those locks to make them manageable.
I honestly do try to use a proper metal, mane comb to thin and shorten the mane, but I quickly tire of the task, and just like with my braids, I look for time-saving short cuts to get me to the endpoint faster. There aren’t any shortcuts in training if you do things correctly, but grooming is one place that I do try to save some time. Enter my scissors, plastic thinning comb and dollar store thinning shears. Ta-da! A shorter mane without the fear of over-thinning in one place and not enough in another. I typically leave the forelock alone or risk the crooked bangs look that I use to sport as a child.
After 40 minutes, my arms tired and Ike got bored with me, so the mane will have to be finished on another day. I look at it this way, in a way we are a Monet painting to the judge for most of the ride. We are at least 20-25 feet away from the judge and on the move, so they really don’t have much of a chance to study our mane length or braid quality. Better that we focus on our movement, rhythm, and transitions since last I checked, there is not a score for quality of grooming…. thank goodness!!
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