Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mud and Hair

The muddy season has begun.

The weather has gotten colder, it rains every now and then, but the sun (when it comes out) is not hot enough during the day to dry out the muddy pastures. Both Kaswyn and Albert like to roll quite a bit, so they are both usually plastered in mud when I arrive at the barn in the afternoons. However it's too cold for baths for the horses, so both the guys have been wearing sheets during the day. The sheets keep their bodies from being caked in mud, but their necks are unprotected. This means filthy manes and large crusty mud spots on their necks and faces.

I don't mind grooming horses but mud just gets to me. First of all, the mud in these particular pastures stink. It doesn't just smell like earth - it smells bad. I think there were cows or goats or something in those pastures long ago, so the mud is rank. When I curry the mud off of their coats it always makes a dust in the air that settles on me which makes me smell. Add to that the sweat from riding and by the time I get home I'm really ripe. My husband doesn't know what's worse - summer fly spray stink or winter mud stench.

To combat the muddies I've starting using Miracle Groom. Miracle Groom is a liquid coat cleaner that you spray on the horse's hair and then rub with a cloth. The cloth then lifts the dirt out of the coat leaving it shiny, clean, and slick. I didn't used to think that shampoo-less grooming products like this work, but let me tell you I've been nothing but happy with the results. I'm sure similar grooming products work as well but since I've never used anything else I can't really say. I use the Miracle Groom on the muddy necks as well as their bodies. It really makes the hair shiny and gets all the dust and dander out of the coat. It says it's good for stains too, but I've never needed to use it for that.

I've also found another benefit to using Miracle Groom. I used to work the horses first, then use the Miracle Groom on them. Since their winter coats had grown in, they would get very sweaty during the workouts, and the Miracle Groom would remove the sweat and the dirt at the same time. But then I would have to put coolers on the horses and wait until they were dry before I could put their sheets back on for the night. This took way too long.

One night it occurred to me that I could Miracle Groom before the ride. Sure, the coat would get wet, but as the horse worked and the body temperature went up, the Miracle Groom would evaporate and dry, cooling the horse off so there was less sweat produced. By the time I was finished riding the horse would be dry, cool, and clean too! Yay for efficiency!

Unfortunately even the Miracle Groom treatment before the ride wasn't enough to keep Albert from getting sweaty, as he had grown a lot of coat. So today I clipped him. I decided to do a trace clip on him because he spends a lot of time outside in the winter and I didn't want to rob him of all of his hair. I know a trace clip usually includes clipping the whole belly, but I decided to leave the belly hair and just clip a "racing stripe" along his body.

Here is Albert before -

And here he is after -

This is my first attempt at a trace clip, and I'm showing you the "good" side. The other side I kind of messed up a little bit. The line down his body is not as straight, but we're not going to a show anytime soon so I think we'll be fine. I know the belly hair looks kind of funky, but I just didn't have the heart to clip his belly since he spends so much time outside. And he LOVES to go outside. And then roll in the mud.

Luckily for me Kaswyn didn't grow as much coat and therefore doesn't get as sweaty when he works, so I won't have to clip him. Less coat doesn't make him roll in the mud any less.

Today after I was finished with my clipping and grooming it was time for turnout. Susan and I watched as both Albert and Kaswyn found muddy patches in the pasture and rolled, covering both sides of their bodies in muck.

Silly horses. I'll have a lot of grooming to do tomorrow before I ride. I can't wait for spring!


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craig said...

THIS is what you do when you go to the barn? Weird!

BaxtersMum said...

Keep the main braided - it will help. And consider neck covers attached to a light weight sheet. SSTack has some great deals usually.

It is probably worth the investment in your time and your disgust. Just make sure you get an extra so you can rotate one home to wash in the laundry periodically.

Sabine said...

That trace clip looks great! We've done it to horses in the barn just like that, leaving the belly hair. We do clip the underside of the neck since that area get's pretty sweaty too. And yeah, maybe it's not show- pretty, but very functional!
Glad to see that you are writing your blog again :-)

Leslie said...

Great blog! Please share this story at

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr