I’m on a clinic attending spree, and attended another one this past weekend. Inspired by the fact I truly am the worst at grooming my horses, I decided to attend a clinic from the co-author of World Class Grooming, Cat Hill. The clinic was set up by my new riding club, Tri-State Riding Club, and while this was the first event I attended with them, I’m pretty excited about more!
Cat Hill provided an extraordinary amount of information for us, sprinkled with stories of famous horses she took care of. The clinic was all day, broken up into segments of horse care. Unfortunately, the clinic did run long, so I had to leave before it was over, and I missed the last segment on leg wrapping. I was disappointed that I had to leave, but the vast quantity of information I got prior to that was certainly worthwhile. Overall, the clinic was great, and I’m so glad I went. It was extremely valuable, and I think my horses will be looking way better now! I highly recommend it for anyone who wants their horses looking their best.
I’m going to provide a general overview of the clinic, as well as some tips I found super useful/interesting, but I can’t possible post all the notes I took. I would end up writing a book myself! Plus, Cat Hill was so great at presenting this information, I think someone really needs to attend her clinic in order to fully grasp everything.
Cat started by talking about general safety. Since I grew up going to 4-H, and reading all sorts of horse instruction manuals, I thought I had heard it all already, but it turns out, I have not. Cat brought up some really great points.
If you board, you know how you have those emergency contact cards by the door of your stall listing emergency contacts? Well, Cat mentioned that many times, the contact listed doesn’t actually know your horse, or know anything about horses, and wouldn’t be able to decide what to do in an emergency. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have an emergency contact card in your trailer, in case (heaven forbid!) something happens at an event, people will be able to figure out what to do with you and your horse.
She discussed lead chain safety, something I hadn’t really thought about before. While talking about blanket safety, she showed us how to fold your horse’s blanket – there is a true method, and she is a master of it. Her sample blanket was a thing of envy.
While she was explaining this, the adorable pony she was holding was amusing itself by wiggling its nose on her pants. She let him do this, explaining that horses have their personalities, and restricting their personalities just makes them upset. She advises letting them have their quirks, unless they are rude, and then they should be stopped. This makes me feel better about Berry’s insistence on touching everything in sight.
And on that note, someone asked about their horse that likes to touch everything in sight while being tacked up at the trailer. Cat told us a story about a stallion she groomed that liked to pull down everything in sight, until she figured him out – At the start of their grooming session, she gave him a brush to play with. He knew he could play with that one brush, so he did, and left everything else alone. She advised something similar for other horses: Give the horse a lickit, or something to play with, and either remove or spray everything else with distasteful spray to teach them they are allowed to play with that one thing.
I paid special attention to the conversation on sensitive horses, as Berry is very sensitive to touch and complains when I groom her. Some of the things recommended included jelly scrubbers, which I already have for bathing, and literally, just using your hands like a curry. Pay attention to the actual bristles of the brush as dense, natural hair, is the best for sensitive horses. However, when I tested these things, Berry still gave me the stink eye, but I think that’s because she’s in season and having a rough time with it. I’ll keep testing when she’s not so hormonal!
Cat recommended a line of brushes from Teddy’s Tack Trunk. They are well priced, natural bristle brushes. Maybe my Carebear will be more happy with these!
It was emphasized that the best time to groom the horse really is after the ride. You usually shower after the gym, not before, right? Made sense.
An important area to be groomed after rides is the brow band and ear area. I definitely did not think of that. It gets sweaty and gross, and fungus can grow. Cat recommended cleaning the area with a towel sprayed with witch hazel, a great natural anti-bacterial.
She recommended a range of products, some of which I immediately ran out to buy. A few I will have to order, but here’s my current haul, none of which is from a tack store.
- Microfiber Wash Mitt from the Automotive section of Wal-Mart. Comparative to a sheepskin mitt. It’s about $5, and it’s machine washable, which sheepskin mitts are not.
- Apple Cider Vinegar from Wal-Mart. Great fungal preventative, and can be applied daily. It does smell terrible though, as Pony Man confirmed for me. He was both fascinated, and disgusted. They can smell it, and it’s pretty gross.
- Witch Hazel from Wal-Mart. About $3 a bottle. As described above, it’s rubbed on sweaty bits after a ride as a mild, natural antiseptic.
- Spray bottles from Lowes. They’re pretty cheap here, about $1, and I was already in the area. Not a recommended product, but I prefer to apply my apple cider vinegar and witch hazel with a spray.
- Microfiber Multi-Purpose Towels from the automotive section of Wal-Mart. At 8 for $5, I think it’s a pretty good deal! These are for general purpose grooming.
- Tea Tree Oil from ethic hair care section of Target. Right around $2. It has anti-bacterial properties and can be applied directly to fungus spots.
Cat also highly recommended a line of products from EquiNature. They aren’t widely distributed yet, but dealers can be found at their website, or they can be ordered online. I’ll be buying some shortly. My super favorite, can’t wait to get my hands on product is No Shock, Anti Static. You know how when you pull off blankets, there is all that static? Chances are, those blankets are always full of static, you just only notice when you pull it off. So here’s a product to help. In addition, it’s a no-silicone moisturizer, so it doesn’t just make the hair slick, it truly moisturizes it.
Cat told us that wetness is truly the hoof’s enemy. It’s a wet hoof that is brittle and broken. She recommended coating hooves daily with a product to keep the moisture out. Even though the product will rub off, it will still last most of the day in wet conditions. Since I have the queen of abscesses, I was very interested in this. Her recommended pick is Absorbine Hooflex, which I will be picking up on my next trip to the tack store.
One of the attendees asked a pretty great question – For those of us without temperature controlled setups, do products go bad when they are left out in cold/heat? Cat said that it varies by product, but pay attention to the consistency/smell when you buy the product, and if it seems the same, it’s probably fine. However, any medicine that is injected into the horse should never, ever, be used unless it is kept in the recommended conditions.
This little nugget hit me so hard, I feel bad for my previous actions. Betadine is commonly used to clean wounds – HOWEVER, have you been using Betadine solution? I have… and I shouldn’t have been. Betadine solution is for cleaning industrial surfaces. Betadine Scrub is used for cleaning live tissue. Betadine solution should not be used on horses.
Rubbing alcohol should truly only be used in an emergency, when literally nothing else is available to clean the wound. Hydrogen peroxide should NEVER be used, because it kills live tissue. Additionally, Cat recommends not using Blue Kote, or Frioine, which causes cancer in humans. Yikes. Her recommendation is SSD, or Silver Sulfadizine. She gets hers from her vet, but may be over the counter in other states. *Spelling might be off, I’m not positive on these products.
Cat tracks her horse’s pulses all the time in different situations, and was able to tell the vet when something was wrong when the vet couldn’t detect it. That’s pretty amazing. I have never, ever taken my horse’s pulse, but I think this is something I need to start doing.
Cat recommended another EquiNature product for small abrasions.
Cat told us to be careful using vet wrap, as it’s very easy to pull it too tight. The correct tension should have wrinkles in it.
She showed us the best way to make a hoof poultice, which will be super useful for my abscess queen. She didn’t use the ton of materials I usually use either. It was an efficient use, and it was snug on there. Yet another skill the rest of us were super envious of.
Throughout the entire session, Cat emphasizes compassion for the horse. For example – make sure the horse is standing square before applying the poultice, because it’s hard for them to stand in an extended amount of time crooked. While she discussed blankets, she mentioned some horses run hot, some run cold. Don’t just throw on the heavy blanket and assume they are fine, sometimes they might still be cold, even though we may assume they are just fine. She told us about a horse she took care of that required 3 heavy weight blankets to be comfortable, while at the same time, another horse was hot with just one.
We got a bag of some samples and information to take home. I love it when I get a little gift bag.
This wasn’t even close to the amount of information Cat gave us, and it was just Session One of a five part day. Seriously worthwhile clinic!! (Come back tomorrow, I’ll just a little bit more to say!)