I own a horse. It was a very longstanding dream of mine when I was a child and I finally achieved that dream. He’s adorable. I’m not just saying that because he’s mine – most folks who meet him fall in love with him. He’s almost impossible not to love, the great lump.
He’s stabled at a yard not very far from my house, where he’s lived for the last five years. When I moved him there, he was hogged, shod and fully clipped as he’d been in working livery for the best part of three years. I allowed his mane, feathers and coat to do whatever they wanted and had his shoes removed within a few months. He lives in barn livery with up to 12 other geldings and lives out with them in the paddock over the summer and in a big open barn through the winter. He’s happy as a pig in the proverbial and so am I, not least because this livery arrangement means I don’t have to go down and muck out every day and because of his natural coat, I don’t have to worry about running down every day to put on rugs and change them.
Because I want him to be as “natural” as possible (however much that can be done in a livery environment) he doesn’t get bathed, fluffed up and pampered. He gets groomed but no washing with detergents or fancy shampoos which means his coat gets to do what it’s supposed to do, thickens properly in the winter to protect him from the cold and the natural oils and greases protects him during the summer. It works so well that I only have to clip the hair from his neck and chest when the weather is warm (he really is a sweaty old bugger) and that enables him to regular his temperature when he has to do some work (i.e., walk and trot around the area with me for a while or go out hacking with friends). I thin out his mane and tail and have to trim both of them when they get too long. Poor soul gets the equine equivalent of a pudding bowl haircut but – hey – at least he can see out from under the massive mop of a forelock that he grows!
Until this year.
This morning, I clipped his neck and chest as usual. It wasn’t too bad a job and I ended up in conversation with someone else at the yard and we all decided that it may be time to clip off a bit more as the weather is so humid at the moment and even with his neck bare, he’s still really warm. So I unpacked the clippers again and got to work.
I think this is probably one of the most stupid things I’ve done this year so far (I know the year isn’t over yet).
Apart from anything else, clipped horsehair is very fine. It. works. its. way. into. everything. I mean – everything.
Let me explain something else: after no bathing for five years, the coat is really quite …. thick and robust. In hindsight, it may have been better to give him a good old bath and scrub down before clipping but at 650+ kilos, that’s a lot of horse to wash down! Then I’d have to wait for it all to dry and by the time that was done, I know I’d have lost the will to live, never mid the will to clip it all off again.
So the clippers are gliding over the surface of the hair, taking off about .0000001 of a millimetre and spraying it. Everywhere. I think “Hmmm … maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe I’ll not bother”. Step back, take a look and realise you have, in fact, made an impact and he would look so dumb if you stopped at this point. So I carried on.
Two and a half hours, three changes of blades (to allow them to cool down) and two breaks (to allow the clippers to cool) and he is finally nearly clipped. Apart from his legs and a saddle-shaped patch on his back. Oh yeah, and the bits that I missed throughout his whole body and which I didn’t see until after everything was packed away and I’d ridden him around for a while.
And bless him he stood there as good as gold for the whole two and a half hours, despite the fact that he was desperate for a pee whilst the process was going on. He danced around a little until he couldn’t take it any more (and because mum just wasn’t getting the hint) and he pee’d right there in the stable, but other than that, he just stood around and waited for me to finish.
He’s a one in a million but he’s going to have to stay hairy next year – I’m not going through all that again. I don’t think there’s enough water in the world to shower away all those clippings …..