Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mud and shedding... what a lovely combo.

Well, spring is coming, no matter how far away it seems... this means we have the wonderful thing known as mud that's going to be covering every inch of our wonderfully furry friends. This is, in particular, most frustrating for us draft lovers. Mud stuck in feather is a PITA to deal with.

So, there's the issue of keeping your horses clean and happy as you put them (and yourselves!) back into training.

However, on top of this problem which is bad enough, say, in the middle of summer... us in the north also have to deal with horses shedding their winter coats.

So, this is a discussion! Share your mud and shedding solutions.

A few years ago I was introduced to a wonderful thing called a shedding stone. If your horses' winter hair is coming out in patches or if you have an early-mid spring show coming up and need your horse looking sharp, you can pick up a shedding stone at your local horse supply store. It also works for getting out stubborn patches of mud.

It's actually just a big pumice stone. It's smooth and gentle and feels like a massage.

If that's not available, I love the good old rubber curry comb. That, a body brush, and a damp cloth with thoroughly clean a coat just as well.

For feather, you can bring a bucket of warm water, plastic curry comb, mane comb, rag, and some elastic bands... soak the feather and wash it all out with the water and rag, brush it thoroughly and shampoo, whatever you need to do, comb it out and if you can manage it, blow dry it.

Separate the feather, band it, and braid it, fold it up like a plait and band it, and a workout later your draft won't have huge mud balls stuck to its feet.

You can keep it braided in the field, even. I'm not so sure about keeping it folded but again it saves the problems of your drafts coming in with mud balls stuck to their legs that makes you want to shear all that stuff off. I've only ever done it with show drafts... the others I just clip the feather right off in the spring, it's not worth it.

Of course nothing works better than a thorough bath. And dish soap.


  1. I love Spring. And I hate Spring. :) :) Even with many areas to rotate horses they still seem to congregate in one area which gets churned up into mud and well, that's that. We wrap tails in the Spring and the horses wear turnout sheets to try to keep the body mud down a little. I keep telling myself, 'this too shall pass' and before you know it the ground is thawed and starts to dry out. :)

    I love the grooming stone. I buy something that's called 'Slik Block'...don't quote me on the name and it's cheap too! Just a couple of bucks apiece and if you have some time it can really get the hair out nicely. Seems like the more you use it the more hair keeps coming out! When it gets a bit "clogged" I rub the side on some concrete and it's like new again. It's probably not quite the same as a pumice stone, but the premise is the same. It's a nice massage for the horse and it pulls out tons of shedding hair.

    I don't have any drafties but I can imagine what dealing with long feathers must be like in the Spring mud!

  2. First:) heehee.
    Towels, towels, and more towels. Oh, and a washing machine. And more towels.
    A rubber curry, and a shedding blade, and more curry, and more blade.. Body brush, if you're lucky and more towels.
    Did I mention towels? Oh, and a dust mask for yourself. Nothing like half a pound of dirt between your teeth. Yum.
    Your elbows are screaming, I can hear them:)
    Nothing like a real good grooming, with lots of towels for rubbing wet filthy coats drier and cleaner.
    But ya need towels:)
    And grease up them thar elbows..

  3. haha yeah, I use rags and a bucket, keeps it damp and sweeps the dust off as it comes up.

    Back when I worked at the dude ranch we had to deal with shedding PONIES. And a couple of old girls... that didn't get blanketed over the winter. The barn floor was COVERED with fur after grooming.

    We just swept it all outside and the next day it would be either gone in the wind or birds would have carried it off to nests.

    One old girl I would sit down with and groom for a couple of hours. She LOVED it and I enjoyed the quiet work. And she really appreciated not having all that extra hair when it really heated up... I kept her clipped and roached, just because she was so darn old and such a sweetheart and she overheated so easily.

    She was 26 and old and fat and happy when I left and died the next year in a good retirement pasture. What a great pony.

  4. Dammit, SWA!!
    I WAS first.
    You type too quick!

    You greased up your fingers!
    No FaiR:(
    Ponies are incredibly furry creatures, for their size, eh?

  5. I love how furry ponies are. I love their thick fluffy manes, especially on minis. Mocha was a dappled grey pony with a very white mane and gosh was there a lot of it. I used to fluff it up with a blow drier when we were using her for a birthday party.

    She was also a very special pony (though very moody) because she was the first pony I ever trained... the first horse I ever trained with permission.

    I'll not get into the gory details of my first training project...

    At any rate, thick tails are NASTY to get mud out of... holy jeeze, really.

  6. AMM this is going to sound wierd but here goes .Often the mudd is mixed with, well, poop. Regular shaving cream (the foamy stuff) does an amazing job of disolving it and the it just brushes out! great for spot cleaning.

  7. For serious? I'm going to have to try that when the snow melts.

  8. Fern:

    No kidding, I have never heard of that trick. Will give it a try. I have 3 with light colored tails plus 3 that have white legs.

    When I am grooming the woolly mammoths, I scrub with a rubber curry, then I use a body brush that I spray Vetrolin shine on. It helps to pull the hairs off of their coats, helps to smooth the coat and gives them some shine without being like show sheen.

  9. The stones work great but Redi manages to step on every single one I have bought. Cruussshhhh!!!!!! Then you have little pebbles.
    Somewhere in the deep dark recesses the shaving cream is awakening.... Yep!!! My girls used it for a quick clean up on show day for manure stains on white/light horses. Worked, too!!!

  10. My horses love this weird round soft rubber curry that I found in a feed store. It has long fat round rubber fingers on it. It really loosens the hair, then a regular rubber curry slicks off the loosened hair.
    For really matted manes or tails full of cockleburrs there's nothing like WD 40, just don't get it on their skin.