A Bit Off the Front Madam?

Yesterday we had one of those experiences. The really good kind. The kind of experience where, having believed that something would be very difficult and traumatic for all concerned, it turned out to be a walk in the park. Yesterday we had had Breeze and Florence clipped. Not a hunter, not clipped out completely, not even a trace or blanket clip, just a bit taken off the front. Nothingcomplicated, just enough to make them feel a bit cooler in the little bits of work they do. I however, feel like I have won a massive prize. It all went so smoothly.

To be honest I didn’t anticipate that we would have any problems with Breeze. It was Florence I was worried about. She is a sensitive soul, and I did not know sif he had been clipped before. I asked her previous owner, Clare, if she had ever clipped Florence, or if she knew whether she had been clipped previously or not. Her reply was that she had tried once, but it had not been a good or successful experience. This wasn’t going to be easy.

Why did I want to put us all through this? To be honest I was beginning to ask myself the same question. . Well, Florence and Vreeze , and Leomie too for that matter, all what is known as traditional cobs. This means that they are heavyset, deep girthed, short legged, and very very hairy. Picture a lovely sleek thoroughbred racehorse, then picture it’s exact opposite, there is your traditional cob.all horses change their coat according to the season, growing a warm, thick,dense coat for winter, then shedding it in spring, to reveal a shorter, finer Summer coat. . This is a biological response that is triggered by the amount of daylight hours, as much as it is by temperature and weather conditions. A horses breed, age, and general state of health wil influence heavy a winter coat and individual horse will grow. So if nature designed the horse to grow a heavy winter coat, why clip it off? Because nature never intended horses to do any heavy work. In nature, horses live on planes and savannas, in large family groups or herds, grazing, playing, having babies, and trying to avoid being eaten by the local predators. Being ridden or driven by humans was never part of the plan. Like humans, when horses exert themselves they get hot. Also like humans, horses cool down by sweating. Sweat forms a layer of moisture on skin, which evaporates, thus cooling the skin. The trouble is that when you have a particularly thick, debts, covering of fur, sweat, or for that matter any other form of wetness, gets trapped in the fur, and cannot evaporate. This means that the coat gets wet, and the horse becomes cold and chilled. This not only makes the horse uncomfortable, but can lead to skin infections, and even things like Lemonia. In Florence’s case, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that she has A condition calledPPID, also known as Cushing Syndrome. Two of the symptoms of this condition are excessive sweating, and extreme hair growth. Bless her, as the weather has been so mild and damp over the last few weeks, she has found it virtually impossible to dry out. I really had no choice but to try and clip her.

Having booked the ever patient Amy to come and do the deed, i set out to try and reduce the risk to horse and handler. I got some oral sedative paste from the vets. Then I set about trying to desensitise Florence and Breeze to the sound and feel of the clippers. Not easy when you don’t actually have any.what I needed was something that vibrates and buzzes loudly. Enter a battery operated back massager, that I got is a a Dove gift set several years ago. Starting by running it briefly while standing outside the stable door I gradually increased the length of time I ran it for, and slowly got closer and closer, until I was able to run the back of it over the 10 days. Or at least that’s how it worked with Florence. It took abarea I wanted clipping. whole process took about 10 minutes with Breeze. As soon as I turned the massager on outside the stable she was leaning over the door demanding a go.

Whether it was my efforts with the back massager, or Amy’s calm controlled attitude, I don’t know, but things could not have gone better. Both horses behaved impeccably, and we did not actually hath to use the sedative at. I could not be more delighted. The cherry on the cake being that when I went down to do the horses this morning Florence was lovely and dry to the touch..

Gotcha!

Today, believe it or not, is the second anniversary of Florence joining us.

Two years!

How time flies. We’ve achieved so much in those Twenty-Four short months. This reliable, trustworthy, sensitive lady has bought a lot of joy into our lives. I never truly believed I’d ever have another horse that I trusted, and who filled me with self belief like Magnum did. I was wrong. Florence has more than stepped up to the plate. I think she’s had a profound effect on Hal as well. As he said goodnight to her last night, and slipped her one last mint, I distinctly heard him say “There you go Maggers”!

Florence herself has celebrated this momentous occasion by taking a mud bath. She’s filthy! She’s supposed to be being clipped on Friday, I better start grooming her now!

Straight lines, Who Needs ‘em?

This time last year I was seriously pulling my hair out as a result of the inconsiderate actions of certain people and their attitude towards fireworks and animals. This year, apart from one night, which was actually the Friday before Halloween, when some individual who has no consideration for anybody else decided to have a fireworks party without forewarning anyone, we seem to have come through the silly season extremely quietly.

Last week I achieved a dream. I had a lesson on Florence. Hopefully the first of many.my own horse, in my own school! Honestly, who’d have thought it? Melissa came over and did the honours, and I think things went pretty well. However, one thing, which to be honest was no huge surprise, has been made abundantly clear. I am completely incapable of riding in a straight line! Granted, some of the problem could be down to Florence not being straight, but really only a very small part. It’s mostly down to crooked, stiff old me. Absolutely no sense of direction, think I’m sitting straight when I’m twisting or leaning, no idea when I’ve drifted of track. Let’s face it, I can’t actually walk in a straight line.flo is just doing what she’s being asked to do. I’m just not making the right request.

There is much work to do.