Monday, August 31, 2009

Just so you know...

I am working on a new post, but at this time there are a few computer issues to deal with.

As soon as everything has been resolved or I get to another computer, I will put up a new topic for discussion.

Thank you to everyone who has signed up to follow this blog, posted comments and to those who have only checked in to read. There have been visits from all over the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Finland and also South Africa!

I wish extend my welcome to everyone and hope to hear from you all, about things people are doing for the sake of showing in your area, but also things you may do to keep your horse healthy and produce an incredible looking, well groomed horse.

Friday, August 28, 2009

You be the judge

Over the past few years the use of tail extensions has become somewhat, one of the 'norms' when showing in particular recognized breed shows. Their use has also trickled down to schooling shows and 4H as well, while other breeds still prohibit their use altogether.

While I can understand their use on some horses, on others it just seems a step over the line in trying to do whatever it takes to get noticed or catch the judges eye.

The different companies and manufacturers who create these extensions, offer them in a couple of different styles- tapered or one length, different weights, different colors and a variety of ways to attach them as well.

The cost can vary greatly on a tail extension so shopping around is a good idea. Tails By Jill, so far has the lowest prices I have found and theirs start out at $45. Tail Source has pricing starting at $55, Custom Tails offers pricing starting at $80 and other websites such as Southend Tail Extensions where prices start at $190.

Then there is a website called The Show Pen. That offers an even wider variety of products. Tail extensions in 1 & 2 layers for the gaited horse folks and 'normal' looking tails in 4 different lengths and thicknesses in 9 different ways to attach them. Then they even offer these-

Anyone care to take a guess what they are and where they go?

They are forelock extensions, available in two lengths 10-13 inches for $10 and 16-18 for $12. Just band or braid them into the forelock to add volume and length.

Now I have not seen any of these in use yet, at least not that I am aware of, but it makes me wonder who does? The halter folks don't seem to look forward to this much hair covering or detracting from their horses head or face. Arabian halter people tuck long forelocks under the halter off to the side, if it is not braided up when showing in the sport horse division. Do the folks in the GV world attach them to enhance the amount of hair or even feathering a horse may have? Anything is possible anymore, and by now- very little surprises me either.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Maybe it's just me?

I tried finding a picture of a wad of hair in a hairbrush for this post. I learned one thing for sure- don't bother trying this online. Just take your own picture or use your imagination. So I'm going with door number two. You all get to use your imagination today...

In my many years of owning and working with horses, I have found that when it comes to manes and tails, some people can be absolute freaks about them. All of us have or will at some point deal with a horse with a long mane and those so not wonderful twisted knots they manage to work themselves into. Attractive? Not hardly.

Being the realist that I am, some of that hair has already worked its way loose from the horses neck and is just wadded up in the knot and stuck there. Some of what is still attached and holding everything else in place, is also going to pull loose from its roots and come with it, as you try to untangle the mess and save what you can. Your horse is going to loose some amount of hair no matter what.

Yet still I have been 'advised' how to rid horses of knots and sacrifice the least amount of hair possible- or my job was on the line. Well since the dead stuff has already fallen out and will be taking some friends with it, what do you do? Sometimes there is nothing you can do.

When faced with these knots, you have a few options. Roach the mane and just say forget it, calling it good and being done with it. Won't be worrying about knots any more for a while that way, now will ya? Get out the ol' scissors and start trimming- going for the short maned 'hunter' or stock horse look... Did everyone hear all of those gasps? Surely someone, somewhere, is just mortified I would even suggest that. Each gasp, just confirmed it.

The method most people choose is to wash the mane, shampoo and conditioner of choice- leave in, rinse out, super expensive, dollar store deals or whatever was on sale... and proceed to pick it out by hand, because a brush or comb at that point is just not your friend. Starting at the bottom, you begin to slowly unwind what you can.

There are probably at least two or three thick sections and several small twisted sections that have worked their ways around and through the big stuff. Take your time, you could be at it a while. Sometime during your untwisting, you may run a single hair or two across a sensitive part of your skin. Feel free to grumble with discontent, we all have before. You aren't the first, won't be the last.

When you finally get the knots removed and a substantial pile of hair lays at your feet, rest assured you just may have wasted a good amount of time and half a bottle of 'brand name knot remover' as the horse shakes their head and it all twists and wads back up. You have had that happen before too? If so you are shaking your head and laughing, because it does. So you whip out the rest of the bottle of knot remover and soak it all down. "Twists be gone!" is your war cry. Sometimes that works. Other times, the scissors are looking pretty darn shiny and appealing over there and ol' Blaze may be able to pull off looking like a hunter for a while.

So why do people freak out over a few lost hairs, whether they come from the mane or tail? You don't see them panicking at all of the hair coming off their entire body from using the curry comb. I mean our own hair falls out to some degree too. Ask JR and he'll tell you nearly everything at our place has at least one of my long red hairs attached to it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Would you like paper or plastic?

While we are on the subject of tails and caring for them- some people subscribe to tail wraps, pouches, bags and all sorts of other options to getting or keeping them long and beeyootifull.

Each of the following items and pictures are from and available through Schneider's. First we have the tail pouch, in a pack of 6 for $11.95. I recall they used to come with strings on the bottom as well for use against flies.

Then there are also the braid in tail bags for $8.99 each

and the plain old Lycra tail bag- pkg of 3 for $12.95.

For the pesky, hard to protect tails, there is also the Dura-Tech Padded Full Length Tail Wrap- for $9.95

Now I understand that some people absolutely love those ground dragging tails, some horses are capable of growing. They are pretty, but many times at that length, they are quite thin. Dragging the ground behind the horse just means all your work to keep it clean and grow it out, just went out the window as it picks up debris and dirt. I thought you would appreciate that...

For reiners, it is not as described by the self professed hair growing guru in the last post. Spinning and backing presents opportunities for the horse to step on and pull hair out of their tails. JR's mare was spinning one night and ripped out a huge chunk of hers. Her tail is really thick so it was nowhere near visible or noticeable, but it must have hurt a lot because her attitude and willingness to spin suddenly changed. There on the ground was a huge wad of her tail hair. We tied her tail up so spinning could be ended on a good note and meant no more pain for her.

Cutters too face the risk of being down in the dirt while working a cow and stepping on their tail. For some horses- that can mean a moment or more of lost concentration. Anything can happen and it may result in you losing a few points. Don't think that makes riders happy, because sometimes even just one point can mean the matter of being in the money or not.

Backing any horse also leaves the door wide open for those long tails to get stepped on, pulled and cause some degree of pain. Since pretty much every discipline requires backing at some point- it could and does happen. Why raise the potential to cause your horse pain for doing what is asked of them? Think they would be so willing to do it again, just because you ask it of them?

The other problem I have seen with tail bags, wraps and various treatments people use is the way they are applied. I have dealt with and seen the results of tail wraps and pouches applied too tightly around the dock of the tail. If left on this way long enough, you are cutting off circulation and the tail can certainly fall completely off below that point. Surely, those are Not the wondrous results you or your horse hoped for.

When people go the route of braid in or otherwise attached tail bags, sometimes they don't make any effort to look at the tail. You still have to take care of it. Out of sight, should not mean out of mind. Check for dryness in the hair itself. If it is getting too dry, take it out and wash it, use conditioner and maybe leave the bag off for a while. Wash the tail bag too. It can collect dirt or bedding inside of it leaving the tail in a constant state of gunk. Would you wrap your own hair up with dirt? I'm not thinking many people would...

Dry hairs can become brittle and then breakage happens easily. I have seen dry, ignored tails come completely off. Leaving behind only what was not in the bag. That's something any of us look forward to either.

I am not against wrapping, tail bags or otherwise containing tails, but if you choose to use any of these products, please just inform yourself and be aware of what is going on with your horses tail. Things can and do happen, that you may not expect. Tail bags and wraps can get caught on fencing, latches, plants and all sorts of things you might not expect. The results of that are missing pieces if not the whole tail and pulled hairs, equalling pain for the horse. They just want to rid themselves of flies, a painfully destroyed tail is not their intent.

CCC on the last post mentioned her horse rubbing her tail. I will get pictures of my red mares tail, as it is coming back (Finally!) and if she would like to send pictures of hers, I will gladly address that as the next topic. It's a good one as many of us either have or will, at some point be faced with the issue.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I just have to ask

I was recently on Dreamhorse... (Yeah, like I need another hole in my head!) and scrolling down to the bottom of the page I found

This ad.

I clicked on it and had a look at the website.

Now for those of you who love long, gorgeous, flowing manes and tails, does this sound legitimate to you?

Has anyone tried it?

Does it work?

I guess the last one is the main question. No pun intended. Honestly.

I may get a post up over the weekend, but if not, I hope everyone has a great time!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

So here's an idea...

The other night after riding my mare trying to get both of us ready for an upcoming show, I was thinking about the various blogs I frequent. How could the things I am posting and others too, make a difference? Not just a difference, but a positive difference in the equine world and have a lasting effect on the horses we all hold so dear.

I am obviously posting about grooming practices. What people are doing to their horses at home and at the shows, as a way to prep them for their classes. I don't expect anyone to agree with the things I am presenting- hell, some of them I don't agree with either! I am merely trying to explain what people are doing, how they are doing it, what they hope to achieve and what it does to the horses as a result.

My husband Johnie Rotten has tackled the training aspect of it with his blog Mr Rottens Neighborhood where he helps others solve their training issues and achieve their horsemanship goals. Then he has given everyone a place to vent about the injustices in the horseworld in general on his other blog The Gloves Are Off.

Trojan Mouse has also tackled the atrocities on her blog Shame in the Horse Show Ring, as far as equine competitions are concerned. She has highlighted crappy equitation, poor sportmanship, lack of showring ettiquette, controversial politics and the serious lack of ethics as displayed by judges, show officials, exhibitors, owners and many of the other things that piss everyone off where horses in competition are concerned.

I guess it boils down to this. Someone from the breed associations or other professional organizations (such as USEF, USAE and others) needs to openly address the issues we are all so thoroughly fed up with and disgusted by. The three of us, myself, Johnie Rotten and Trojan Mouse, are all on board with this and Openly WELCOME them to come to the blogs, read about what is happening, why we are all so upset about it and discuss what can be done to change things for the better, for the horses, the breeds and the competitions themselves.

If anyone would like to contact their breed association, their show committees, the professional organizations or anyone else they can think of and invite them to any or all three of the blogs, please do so. If you would like to post their address or contact information so that a group of us can all extend the invitation- go right ahead.

This should go without saying, but if we all wish to see positive changes, it's only going to happen if we can all behave like adults and keep the discussion rational and on track. Many of us are professionals on some level in our lives- I'm sure we can behave as such.

Monday, August 17, 2009

It just goes without saying

Anyone care to venture a guess as to what this jar contains? Anyone? Anyone?

If you guessed ginger salve, tail set gel or any of the many things it is commonly called- you got it. You get -20 points on the final. Just kidding. Stop asking yourself if there's going to be a final- there's not.

As someone recently posted on one of the blogs- "Who in the hell ever got the crazy idea to stick a glob of this crap on their finger and shove it up a horses ass in the hopes it would make them hold their tail up?"

While gingering is not allowed in the Arabian horse 'world', and hasn't been for as long as I can remember, it IS still happening. The stuff is still available through World Champion Horse Equipment for about $4 for the jar pictured above. Schneiders used to carry it. They eventually pulled it from their catalog, but it was still available online and now they have dropped it altogether as far as I know. I have not called to ask about it as I see no benefit of or good reason for its use.

In a way I wish they (Schneiders) hadn't 'pulled' it from their line of products. Before everyone hates me for saying that, here's why. If it is available already 'mixed', then it is pre-measured, consistent and you know what and how much ginger, it contains. Horse people, left to their own devices will come up with some other concoction of unknown concentrations and questionable ingredients to achieve the same results. Think about it. It happens a lot and more than most people wish to acknowledge or care to think about.

Now for the most part, gingering a horse is as described above. You get a glob of the goop on your finger and stick it in their anus. Not much glory involved with that, now is there? Over time, some horses seem to build up a tolerance to gingering. That's when it gets worse for the horse.

Toothbrushes come into play and a glop of ginger salve is put onto the handle of the toothbrush which is then inserted into their anus. When that no longer works the ginger salve is then applied to the bristles and inserted using a brushing motion. The bristles irritate the skin and the ginger then creates the slight burning action which gets the horse to lift their tail and carry it that way.

Yes the horses become increasingly reactive to the ginger being applied. They can and do kick when it gets to the toothbrush stage of application. If you are holding them when the ginger is applied, they can also rush forward, possibly knocking you down or pinning you against the front of the grooming stall in an attempt to flee the scene and avoid what's coming. Can you blame them?

Applying too much ginger salve gives you the opposite effect as far as results go. Horses will clamp their tail down and keep it there. The ginger stays put until the horse poops, which will for the most part, push it all out.

While I was grooming for some of the bigger barns, we primarily only gingered the halter horses. That was difficult at best with some of them and nearly impossible with others. We did not often ginger a performance horse and I can't imagine getting on a horse who is mainly concerned with why their ass is burning. You aren't likely to have their full attention or get a good ride, so good luck with that.

Taking the temperature of a horse that has been repeatedly gingered can be a real issue later on, as they begin to view anything going near their anus as painful and to be avoided at all costs.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Tale of Tails

A lot of people in the horse industry have probably at some point envisioned themselves mounted upon a great horse with a long flowing mane and tail. Some of us still aim and hope for that for our current horses. A few of us consider that long, thick, flowing tail a blessing, others might think of it as a curse instead.

For many of us, the tail just adds to the overall picture and makes the horse look 'complete' or otherwise astheticly 'balanced'. I know one of my own mares has a tail, that at the moment resembles something you may find on an elephant- stick like with fringe at the very end. It is not "appealing" nor does it "complete" or in any way compliment the overall picture she presents.

Manes and tails are to some degree a product of the horses genetics. I have seen and dealt with wispy tails on a number of horses from the same sire, dam or combination of the two. Their resulting foals don't seem to stand a chance in this category and they are forever resigned to a life with a thin, wispy mane and tail. Appaloosa's generally didn't have much to speak of in the way of manes and tails. Some of them were blessed and for the most part- the rest were not. I have also dealt with thick full manes and tails, which were passed on for generations in various breeds.

Within the Saddlebred and Tennesee Walking Horse circles, tail setting harnesses are quite common in the show barns. (The one pictured is $399 from World Champion Horse Equipment.) To many of their enthusiasts, a tail comes out of the horses haunches high and flows streamingly out behind them. I have seen tail setting harnesses on Hackney ponies and a few Shetlands as well. It seems they too are striving for that same look. Arabian horse folks seem to agree and like that look, but haven't yet gone as far as the tail sets and harnesses to attain it. At least not that I am aware of.

When you shift your focus to the draft breeds, you'll find some of the owners and breeders prefer to dock the tail. It keeps it from becoming entangled in the harness and causing problems while they are working in the field. Others choose to braid it up instead. Docking the tail leaves the horse without one of their natural defenses against flies.

On the market there are a number of items you can purchase in hopes of growing, protecting, enhancing or otherwise caring for your horses tail. Some of them work to a varying degree, others are a waste of time, money and hope. Shampoo's, conditioners, sprays, lotions, ointments, gels, leave in, rinse out- the list is long and the price may vary, but it can be shocking the amount people will spend to get a look for their horse to have what they have deemed a "pretty" tail.

**Don't worry, I will be addressing gingering, tail bags/wraps and fake tails in their own discussions. I feel they each deserve their own attention. **

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Grooming Essentials

What are your favorite grooming products and why? Simple enough question, right?

Pretty much every grooming tote, tray, bucket or kit, contains a rubber curry like this one.

They come in a variety of colors and are relatively inexspensive. These are available in pink, blue and purple for $1.35 through Hitching Post Tack. They are commonly available in two sizes to fit comfortably in your hand and you can find them also in black, red, blue or green.

Another favorite of mine is the rubber grooming mitt.

These are also relatively inexspensive at $2.65 through Hitching Post Tack, come in a variety of colors and one size does fit most.

Both the curry and mitt are rubber, so no sharp edges to deal with or avoid, they stimulate the skin and hair while removing dirt and debris. With regular use they will produce a nice shine on the horses coat, while giving your arms a healthy workout.

You may notice your horse making faces of delight as you use the curry or the mitt on them. Sure it feels good and they are letting you know it. The mitt is much easier to use in tight spots or sensitive areas. My mare likes to have her forehead rubbed vigorously with the mitt.

I also like a nice stiff bristled brush and a softer bristled brush to work with. The stiff bristles will also stimulate the skin and bring out the natural oils, while removing the dirt, mud and dead hair.

These come in a variety of styles, sizes and colors and range in price from $5-$15 depending on where you find them.

Where the mane and tail is concerned, some people prefer a comb-

plastic in a variety of colors or metal, which can be found for less than $1 and others are fine with a regular hairbrush. Some prefer bristled brushes others prefer the 'vented' brushes. If you go the hairbrush route, check the local dollar store. Nobody said this stuff has to be expensive.

This brush is available at for less than $5.

A few soft rags, a hoof pick, something to keep it all in and you're ready to go!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Kickoff!

So everyone wants to know the insider secrets on how to make your horse look their very best, or why they do that to the horses for the showring? Let's kick this off in style and share our tips and secrets of what we do to make our horses look like a million bucks. I promise, it won't cost you anywhere near that much!

So pull up a bucket or a bale of hay, kick back, relax and get ready to share. We have a lot of topics to cover and I'm pretty sure there will be things out there some of us have never heard of or considered trying and others that produced less than stellar results. This is the place to pass the info around and help others create that winning look.