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Archive for the ‘horse equipment’ Category

One of the vivid memories from my childhood shore vacations is the little weather prediction cards sold at any shop within two miles of the beach. These cardboard cards were about the size of a 3 X 5 index card. The center held a flocked picture, usually of a ship with sails or a lighthouse. Through the miracles of science (a hydrometer?) the flocked area would change color to indicate fair, changing, and rainy weather. In our terms, sunning all day, get your sun in when you can, or don’t bother getting up.

I don’t see those cards anymore–– don’t look for them either. But I think of them about every fall when I’m contemplating whether to clip my horses.

Clipping the winter coat a universally referred to subject, but it only applies to horses living and working in cold climates. If you are working your horse in the winter, the animal invariably starts to sweat. Sweat is a real problem in the winter. Think of a time when you’ve run around with a parka on, got your undershirt wet and then sat out in the cold. Few things will chill you to the bone faster. That’s pretty much the situation with a horse sweating under his winter coat and then standing still in a stall.  The ying and yang of hair coats, they protect things from reaching the skin, but they prohibit the flow of dirt and moisture reaching the coat’s surface as well.

If you clip you have to replace the hair coat’s warmth mechanism with a blanket. Sometimes lots of blankets. In some climates or barns blanketing goes on even when the horses aren’t clipped.

So when I start thinking about clipping I start thinking of the little weather prediction cards from the shore. Deciding when, what and how many blankets to put on a horse on any given day is worth an entire coffee conversation, at least two false starts, and one possible trip to reverse the decision. It can take years off a caretaker’s life!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone invented a “climate strip” that could be sewn into every blanket? Blue would mean cool, heavy moisture, put this blanket on as the outer shell, it might sleet or snow tonight. Red might mean it’s going into the minus-teens, put it on with an outer layer covering. The descriptions could go on and on.

The complications are endless. After all, is this a thin-skinned Arab, a thick-skinned Percheron, a fully clipped horse, trace clipped, no clip? At some point the human mind has to engage and take responsibility. And what would mud or laundering do to the strip. Yes, the problems go on and on as well.

Still, it would be intriguing to have a changing climate strip sewn into the blanket that related to the weather conditions the blanket is good for. After all, when a blanket is purchased the little throw away brand-tags detail the degrees and weather conditions the blanket is good for.  I assume there is some standard they use for this.

For now, I’ve solved my problems by making my last clipping of the season in October and having it a really low trace clip. Just the sweat lines are clipped and the hair is full and wooly across the face, legs and top half or more of the body. Under my particular conditions it gives me an easy out. Less sweat and no need to blanket. But if someone would come up with an indicator strip, hmmm, I do miss dressing the boys in the latest style.

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T-man had a fabulous roll in the summer dust. He has perfected the roll to an art. He rolls his side, he snakes his neck, he grinds his face. His little hooves dangle awkwardly in the air as his body gyrates; to the city visitor it looks like my horse is having an epileptic fit. He spends a good minute on each side and is deliberate enough when he rolls to the side untouched to fully scratch the roots of his mane.

Watching this show brings an internal giggle, oh to be a kid in mud again, and a quick check under his face mask to see if he hurt his eye during this dramatic act.

This week he did. The eyelid did just what it is suppose to do and saved his eyeball, but it had a nice spot of nudity on it. Off with the fly mask for a couple of days ’till the hair grows back, no use tempting fate – I’d rather meet my vet at the deli for coffee than in my barn on a call.

I watched T-man go into the paddock to greet his fellow masked aliens. People stop by farms all the time to ask about why the horses are wearing these masks. Is it just for flies? I wonder.

I pondered this when I donned my own Rite-aid 2-for-the-price- of-one specials. I always feel cooler with my sunglasses on. Perhaps I’d be better to describe the feeling as “less hot.” I feel that way too when I put a brimmed hat on that shades my eyes. I don’t know if I actually am a bit less hot, but I feel that way when I’ve cut the sun’s intensity from my eyes.

I haven’t done any serious research on this, but I’m pretty sure I’ve come across literature indicating that the sun striking our retina does more than produce pictures. It stimulates chemicals in our brain. So much so that there’s a portion of the population that suffers depression with the seasonal shift of the sun and daylight hours.

If I feel “less hot” with sun glasses on, I wondered if my horse feels “less hot” with a fly mask on. I’ve wrapped it around my own face to check visibility and found a shade effect as well. I don’t know how you would even be able to check that. And there is always the question of reality in the brain. Do you THINK you feel less hot or are you REALLY less hot. And even if you think you feel less hot, can’t we control our body temperatures to some degree through meditative direction. Perhaps our eyes are telling the brain to cool down a bit. It isn’t a concept without merit.DSC02390_2

I wonder if there are any studies on this for humans or animals. But I haven’t the time to look into it now. It’s a prime fall day and the face mask is washed. Time to put on my own sunnies and reapply T-man’s so he can be the cool dude he thinks he is.

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