Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mr. Clean

This past December we had an unseasonably warm day with temperatures in the high 40's, pushing 50. I declared to my trainer, "I'm going to give Kaswyn a bath!" She gave me a look and said "Um, I really wouldn't do that. It's too cold." I thought "Pfft! I can't see my breath in the barn! It's plenty warm! I have coolers! And he's FILTHY" But I didn't argue. I just packed away my bucket and shampoo and waited for spring.

When I was grooming for Arabian horse shows in California, it didn't matter how cold it was in the morning (and sometimes it was in the 40's). The halter horses got baths. Period. Most of the time we didn't have hot water, so we'd drag the poor ponies out and hose them with cold water. They'd usually be shivering by the time we were done soaping and rinsing, so we'd pile two or three wool coolers on them and walk them around, swapping wet coolers for dry ones, until the horses were warm and dry. This happened at damn near every Arabian show barn 20 plus years ago, and I'm sure it happens today.

When I started riding dressage, I noticed a different mentality about showing. The horses didn't need to get baths every day of the show - in fact, many horses didn't even get a bath before the show at home. This shocked me. The first time I went to a show without giving my horse a bath I felt dirty myself. It's like heresy, entering the show ring on anything but a spotlessly clean, freshly bathed horse. I can understand if you are showing in the winter and it's 35 degrees outside, but once it gets over 50 I'm good with giving a bath to my horse. Especially if you have hot water in the wash rack! I'm sure everyone thinks I'm weird to try and bathe my horse before every show. Not to mention the other weird looks I got from dressage people when I'd clip the insides of Kaswyn's ears, put oil on his nose, or wipe under his tail with a baby wipe before my class. You'd be surprised how much nicer your horse looks with a nice clean butthole.

With my Arabian show groom background, and coming from California where we can almost bathe horses year-round, I get really itchy to give my horse a bath in the winter regardless of shows. Since winters in Cleveland are a good 6 months long, it can be a long time before my horse gets clean. You'd think that if you groom your horse every day he won't be dirty, but oh, are you wrong. Kaswyn still loves to roll in the arena whenever he gets the chance, whether that's when he's turned out or when I'm walking him. All that dirt gets driven deep into his coat, and no amount of brushing will get that out. Also, winter horses get this grey dandruff/crud that comes off of them and sticks like nasty glue to your saddle, bridle, boots...whatever happens to rub up against their coat. You have to literally scrape that crud off of your tack.

In desperation this winter I tried one of those waterless shampoos in a spray bottle. Just spray it on, rub with a clean cloth, and your horse is clean! Well, not really. The hair on top is clean, but all the gunk underneath is still there. It's so nasty. Oh, and did I mention the smell your scurfy horse emits in the winter if he happens to get sweaty while you're riding him? Think funky sweaty gym sock stuck in someone's mouth with a few rotten teeth overnight. It's the worst.

However, today was the day. It was 68 degrees and sunny, and Kaswyn got a bath, complete with full body conditioning rinse and mane and tail wash. We walked down the driveway in the sun afterwards to dry him off, and he acted like he hadn't been outside in years. He got all puffed up and pranced next to me. He even stomped on my foot once just to make things interesting. What a fruit. Unfortunately I didn't plan ahead for the warm weather and get his sheet washed, so I had to put a dirty sheet on my clean horse. I almost couldn't do it, but it's going to get a little chilly tonight so I made the sacrifice and put the smelly sheet on. It's still bugging me thinking of it. I did bring his medium blanket home for a wash tonight because I know he'll be wearing it tomorrow.

Amazingly, I think I was the only one in the barn to wash their horse today. Come on, I've seen those horses and they are dirrrty! Get those critters clean, for god's sake!


Rising Rainbow said...

I am laughing...........and laughing enough it deserves the real work instead of that LOL crap. We are cut from the same cloth. Bathe those puppies anytime it's 40 or above. Forget about hot water, I have none. But pile on the coolers and rotate out the wet ones. And most definitely the horse must be bathed and for that matter clipped before it goes to the show. So go girl! give those slackers what for.........

dressagemom said...

My trainer let me know that other horses got bathed that day. When I used the wash rack it looked dry to me so I just assumed that I was the first one to use it. I guess the warm weather dried it out.

Of course two days later it's snowing. Gotta love Cleveland.

Rising Rainbow said...

I'm really laughing about this now, I have a horse to take to a clinic on Saturday. It's in the high 30s here and he's a filthy mess. I think tomorrow's going to be a cold wet day for me. I'm pretty sure it'll bother me more than the horse.

dressagemom said...

He'll be fine I'm sure. We did it all the time and never had a sick or tied up horse from it. But you're right, you'll be colder and more miserable than he will be!

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