Going Down a Rabbit Hole

Last Sunday it was COLD at Shannon's paddocks, when I stuck my head out I thought I would not need my winter jacket, but I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

The wind, sometimes gusting, made the shaded “stable yard” cold. Cider did not look very happy to be there and Shannon and Nancy had draped the various BOT and Fenwick stuff over her back when it was not being groomed. The was everything is set up there guarantees no direct sunlight until much later in the day so the horses could not bask in the warm sunlight. What was wonderful in the heat of summertime is now a misery when it gets cold. At least I get to ride.

Shannon finished tacking Cider up, and I think Cider liked huddling under her BOT and Fenwick exercise sheets plus the BOT neck sheet and front exercise boots. This was not enough to make Cider happy with the ride but it make it a lot more bearable, old horses get creaky in the cold just like us old folks do.

Neither Cider nor I were happy in the cold wind! Luckily Cider's neck BOT neck cover also radiates heat out, so while my hands were sort of cold I felt no need to put my gloves on. Cider's front legs did not flinch at all but she was moving gingerly, not willing at first to extend her walk at all, and taking great care down-slope and areas with uneven footing. Finally a patch of sunlight appeared in the ring, but with the cold wind Cider did not want to stand still in it. Movement was necessary to keep warm, so I let her move, I was not happy with sitting still in the cold wind either. Soon after I ended our ride.

Lately I have gotten more into the Haas brushes. I got my first order in on Tuesday, the Schimmel coconut bristle stiff “dandy brush”, the stiff Fesselburste Pastern brush with synthetic bristles, the Lipizzaner medium stiff horsehair “dandy brush”, the Grundy's Finest soft horsehair bodybrush. Of course I took them to my riding lesson.

I felt the Schimmel brush on my skin and decided it was too harsh feeling for MJ's delicate skin, and Debbie agreed with me.

I had already started using the Fesselburste Pastern brush when Debbie took over grooming, she started using it on his lower legs, brightened up and started exclaiming that this brush was just the right size to groom the lower legs, that it fit really well into the back of the pastern, that it got all the grime off the horse's lower legs, and she went ahead and did all four legs. She loved this brush and said it would help prevent scratches from dirt and mud on the back of the pasterns. I lent it to the stable.

After currying MJ with the Retriever dog washing rubber mitt, Debbie used the Lipizzaner horsehair medium stiff “dandy brush” on him. By the time she got to his croup she really liked how this brush worked, and as she worked on his haunches she started noting that MJ's coat was already more shiny. Then came the Grundy's Finest soft horse hair body brush, and by the end of using that Debbie was a convert to using the Haas brushes because MJ got shinier than ever before after grooming. MJ relaxed in the cross ties, instead of his usual shifting, sidling, pouts, scowls and dirty looks he stood immobile, peacefully, and in general chilled out, a big difference from normal.

I suggested that she try the Lipizzaner “dandy brush” and the Grundy's Finest body brush on her problem child, the super sensitive skinned black/dark brown Arab gelding she rides, just to see if he likes these brushes over her usual brushes. She has mentioned me taking lessons on Tercel again and I'd rather ride him after a pleasant grooming. Seeing how much happier MJ was with being groomed Debbie agreed, maybe just maybe we can fix Tercel's problems with being groomed too.

My lesson went well. MJ did not particularly want to extend his stride at the walk but he trotted fine, including one S figure with two changes of diagonal. I got him out of his QH shuffle, trotted a while, then I slowed him down to do a sitting trot. That started off a little bit rough the first two strides, his back started “swinging” well the next two strides, then he smoothed out enough for me to really start sitting down in the saddle. We went back to the walk then.

All through the ride both Debbie and I noticed that MJ was not as defensive as usual. He did not act like he expected unpleasant surprises and his whole body felt a little bit looser. I think the fact that he actually enjoyed being groomed with the Haas brushes meant that he started our lesson in a much better mood than usual. An unpleasant grooming can ruin a whole ride, and it is nice that I finally found brushes that MJ enjoys enough so he can relax better during our ride.

I am now waiting for my other orders of Haas brushes, and I expect that I will be ordering more of them next year, after the Christmas rush and the shipping problems have improved. In the meanwhile I have been trying to find everything on the web about these brushes, how they work, how they work in sequence, and why Haas uses all the different materials for the bristles of their brushes. Yes, this is a deep rabbit hole, but from MJ's reaction to the two we used on him I suspect that for once I have found a rabbit hole that is well worth going down.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran

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