I can admit to being a bit obsessive about my horse’s leg care. While Ax doesn’t often have very strenuous workouts, I’d rather play it safe than show up to a warm or puffy leg the next day. In my book, jumping, lessons, horse shows, and hunter paces are all activities that require wrapping and sometimes poulticing afterwards, but with Ax’s current rehab routine based off of the Mystery Lameness of 2017, my urge to wrap has increased significantly. Continue reading “Ax’s Leg Care Routine”
This seems to be the winter that Ax is truly embracing his Buffalo-ness. We are only two months into the season and I have had to clip him three times so far—we still have three months to go! Because of Ax’s persistent hairiness (and because a friend told me that these blades actually exist in wide and I had no idea) I chose to clip with the T-10 blades in hopes of getting a longer lasting clip. At 1.5mm I knew that it would be shorter than my usual 2.4mm T-84s, but HOLY MOLY HE IS NAKED. Wonderfully, beautifully, smoothly naked. Continue reading “Confessions of a Clip-A-Holic: He’s a Ten”
From simple shapes to extravagant patterns, one of the most fun parts about clipping your horse for the winter is getting to clip some fun designs. While I’ve never gone extreme and turned my horse into a unicorn with wings (because buffalos don’t have wings), I have clipped a few hearts on some pony bums and its easier to clip your own basic “popped-out” design than you think!
Pick your shape and location
The first thing you want to do is to choose what you want to clip onto your horse and where you want it to be—both of these depend on what type of clip you are doing. A body or hunter clip allows for a design to be placed almost anywhere, a trace or Irish clip limits the location to the neck or shoulder, and a bib clip leaves you little room for anything (unless you choose to clip the design into the hair).
Draw or print out a stencil
If you’re feeling bold, by all means go ahead and free-hand it. But being the perfectionist that I am, I choose to print and cut out a stencil of the design I will be clipping. If you’re unsure of how big or small you want your design to be, create a few stencils of different sizes.
Clip the body
No matter what type of body clip you’re doing, get rid of the hair where you know the design won’t be and leave a large section unclipped where the design will be placed. Make sure the patch is big enough by holding your stencil up to if.
Example: If I am doing a hunter clip, I will clip off all of the body hair for that style of clip except for a large patch where I want the design to be.
Stick on your stencil
If you made a stencil, now is the time to stick it on. Duct tape works best, but masking tape or even Scotch tape will stay on just fine (if it falls off, just stick it back on). Make sure that it is exactly where you want it to be and at the correct angle.
Clip the general shape of your design
Follow your stencil and clip around the design, but leave an extra 1/2″ to 1″ of hair around the edge. This will be clipped off later, but it gives you a little wiggle room should your hand slip or you lines come out wobbly. If you are feeling pretty confident, skip this step.
Go ahead and carefully clip away the remaining hair you left outside of the stencil. Be aware of the direction the hair is going and the length of the hair—both of these will affect how you should clip the design.
Example: You’re clipping a heart on the horse’s left hip area. While facing the hind end, the hair flows from left to right. The hair on the left side of the heart will need to be clipped slightly more to the left than the stencil actually shows to ensure that the hair lines up with where the heart is. If you clip directly along the stencil line, the heart will start slightly to the right at whatever the length of the hair was. The same goes for the right side of the heart—the hair will need to clipped slightly more to the left than the stencil allows to accommodate for the hair direction and length.
Add the details
Clean up the edges and you are good to go!
If you hate it, it’s just hair and it’ll grow back or you can clip it off and try again next time. If you love it, take a bunch of photos as proof that you are a master artist with magical clipper-wielding hands.
Everyone loves a thick tail—until they are the one that has to comb through it.
I get a lot of questions regarding how I take care of Ax’s tail and keep it so thick. Aside from the fact that hair care is in my blood (thanks mom), I don’t really do anything special. But people are asking and I will give the people what they want.
This is my biggest piece of advice. That means no picking out shavings and no combing or detangling of any kind—no anything. Carefully pulling out a stick or a long piece of hay if there is one stuck in there is fine, but other than that just leave it alone.
If the idea of having a shavings-filled tail is giving you anxiety, a firm grip on the tail bone (not just the hairs) followed by a light shake back and forth usually helps loosen most of debris. Also, if someone gives you grief about the shavings in your horse’s tail, and it will happen, tell them to go ruin their horse’s tail with a wire brush. (Just kidding, maybe you shouldn’t do that.)
My one exception to this rule is when you’re at a horse show or clinic—no one wants to walk into the show ring with a dreadlocked tail full of shavings.
Lather. Rinse. Don’t Repeat.
A good thorough washing is all the tail needs every month or two. By thorough I mean taking the time to get all of the crud off of your horse’s tailbone and the roots of the tail hairs. If you overdo it by washing too often, you lose a lot of the natural oils horse’s produce and you want to retain as much moisture as you can.
Personally, I like to use tea tree shampoo because I am a shampoo snob (again, thanks mom) and it helps with dandruff. I separate the tail into thin, horizontal sections and use the pads of my fingers to really scrub the roots.
Equally as important is making sure that all the shampoo is completely rinsed out, especially at the tailbone. Leftover suds are itchy and the last thing you want is your horse rubbing his bum (and leaving behind half of his tail) on the fence.
I comb through Ax’s tail once every month or two and preferably only when it is freshly washed and dried (except in the winter). The best tools for this are your fingers or a wide-toothed comb. Brushes, especially wire ones or those with the plastic nubs on the bristles, tend to cause breakage and can easily rip out the hair.
As you would with your own hair, always start from the bottom and work your way toward the root, gently untangling any knots. Because his is so thick, I like the separate Ax’s tail into small sections and comb through those, tying them into a loose slip-knot as I go.
I typically don’t use a detangler as the majority of them are silicone-based and I prefer to keep his tail gunk-free, but if it is extra knotted or borderline dreaded, I’ll use a dollop of The Herbal Horse USA Healthy Hair (silicone-free, are you seeing a trend?).
P.S. – Combing through a wet tail requires extra caution as hair is more elastic when wet, meaning it can easily stretch and then snap off. If you don’t have time to wait for it to dry, a human “wet brush” will do the trick with the least amount of damage.
Long tails are great. Too long tails get stepped on and ripped out. How short you bang the tail is entirely up to you, just make sure it is off the ground and as straight across as you can make it. If you decide to leave it long, a tail bag will keep it off the ground and out of hooves way.