What is Living in that Rat’s Nest?

It is always amazing to me how a horse who has his own paddock with secure board fencing, a roomy stall where he prefers to spend 80% of his time, and a relatively simple lifestyle can turn his tail into the horribly knotted ball of hair in a 24 hour period.  How is this possible??  Why does he engage in such madness?  A primitive form of owner torture?  So I spent my barn time on Tuesday trying to work the rat’s nest out of Ike’s tail.  I used an ungodly amount of Cowboy Magic Detangler trying to preserve as much of the tail as possible.  I cringed as long strands drifted to the ground.  Ike casually observed my efforts with a bored look on his face.  His tail is fairly thick with coarse strands of hair, so just as I would finish working on one spot, I’d spy another.  I think I was successful, but work kept me away from the barn on Wednesday, so all I could do was cross my fingers and hope that there was enough Cowboy Magic to prohibit any re-formation in my absence…

Success! I am happy to report that Ike’s tail was tangle-free today.  Of course since I could now turn my attention to other parts of Ike’s body, I noticed that his whiskers have gone way beyond five-o’clock shadow and are approaching unkempt status.  Bad, bad horsey mom.  Should I feel shame?  [I don’t]  We aren’t going anywhere any time soon, so is it really a crime to let Ike go au naturale?  Dare I tell you that his mane is also getting rather long and desperately needs thinning?

Once the thought of mane and whisker maintenance passed and bare minimum grooming was completed, I tacked up for a ride.  As soon as we emerged from the barn, the buzzing terrorists mounted their attack.  What fresh hell is this?  I’m betting that the only pesticide that was effective against these evil creatures is now banned by the EPA for the toxic effects on an endangered species.  We made a mad dash for the mounting block and trotted off hoping to outrun the horse flies long enough to break a sweat.

Ike was a bit braced to start – he usually is after a few days off.  So this meant many walk-halt and walk-trot transitions, some half halts to get is attention, and when they failed, I resorted to knuckling down while squeezing and releasing repeatedly until I felt Ike soften in my hands.  Not something I’d do in the show ring, but decided that it was what I needed to do in that moment.  Moved on to our trot work and tried the Training Level Test 3 shallow loop.  We need to work on the bend to start and end the loop.  It is a bit abrupt at this point and I can see a judge hitting us hard for the lack of flow.  Also continued to school leg yield.  I have to be very careful that I don’t get too aggressive at this point in Ike’s work; he is narrow behind and can interfere when he gets off balance.  I am trying my best to give the correct aids and keep the correct bend so that he doesn’t lose confidence in his lateral work.

After 30 minutes, the flies starting landing on Ike and the sweat in my eyes started burning, so we opted to be weenies and be done.  Got Ike hosed down and left him munching hay in the comfort of his stall.  Got a good look at my hair in the rear view mirror as I got in the car…talk about a rat’s nest!  Where is that detangler?


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