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Au naturel, hairy legs and all

Au naturel, hairy legs and all

I recently read that horse fetlock hair shouldn’t be trimmed. It seems the fetlock hair we think looks untidy actually serves the purpose of channeling rain water away from the horse’s hooves. Think of it as a tassel. I’m told those frilly tassels cowboys wore on coats back in the cowboy days served the same purpose.

I’m noticing a trend towards letting horses go au naturel; skipping all the aesthetic trimming to allow the natural features of our horses to serve the purpose intended by nature. Another example of this is whiskers. Our horses aren’t show horses so I didn’t know this was happening but “horse whisperer” and special events speaker for Purina, Sam Powell, said that some horse owners trim their horses’ whiskers for shows. The trouble is, Sam explains, whiskers serve the purpose of keeping horse faces out of trouble. When a horse gets its face too close to something, the whiskers alert the horse. Think of them as “curb feelers.” Of course, many animals have them, including cats and dogs. Some horse owners trim their ear hair but Mikki pointed out today that all that ear hair probably helps keep the flies out of their ears. In addition to serving as a fly swatter, I’m told horse tails also provide a wind break when it’s cold. Sam said that in cold wind, horses will often turn their backs to the wind and the tail keeps the cool air from blowing into their nether regions and belly.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t give your horse a trim. Unless someone gives us a good reason not to do it, we plan on trimming some of the beard Valentine is growing. He looks like Abe Lincoln! Well, a horse Abe Lincoln. We’re also planning on trimming the bridle path to make it easier to put on a bridle and more comfortable for the horses. The bridle laying across a clump of hair looks uncomfortable.

So if you see our horses with ear hair, untrimmed fetlocks, long eye lashes, whiskers and hairy legs and armpits, you’ll know why. They’re just going au naturel.

Spring horse showers

Spring horse showers

It’s been rather toasty in east Tennessee this past week. We hit almost 90 degrees Sunday. I notice our horses are shedding like a polar bear in Miami so we decided to give them a good brushing, followed by a cool shower.

Horse shower

Now we brush our horses in the winter but I have to admit, we haven’t showered them since the weather turned cold. We don’t have the luxury of a shower stall, I didn’t think the horses would stand still for a 30 degree soaking and we simply didn’t want to get wet ourselves when it was that cold outside. But yesterday was warm (hot?) so one at a time, we harnessed both horses and led them onto our grassy green lawn. Let me tell you, they were more than willing to come along. Poor things. They stare at our beautiful green lawn, full of yummy fescue and clover while standing in the dry dirt of our still-desolate pasture, eating old hay. Any chance to get to that yummy green grass is taken. Moonshine is patient with me as I put on her halter. I let her eat a couple of mouthfuls of grass before introducing the hose. What I do is use a nozzle with lots of holes in it so the water comes out in a gentle rain-like pattern, instead of a full-force, high pressure pattern. I turn the hose on slowly, let her get used to the sound, let her smell the nozzle and then gently introduce the water to her legs and then back. After a few minutes, she seems to forget about it and I’m free to soak her good. Months of dirt came running off. She sure looks purdy now. Mikki even combed her mane and tail. I then took her for a drying walk, brushed her again and let her back into the pasture where later she rolled in dirt to get rid of that yucky clean feeling. 🙂 Valentine was next. He also didn’t seem to mind and also later rolled in dirt. Oh well, at least they were clean for a few minutes!

By the way, some people call it a “horse bath” but to me “bath” refers to dunking in a tub. Our horses are too big for a tub.

What’s your horse shower/bath routine like?