Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What Do Wednesday

This episode of What Do comes a little late, but I was dealing with my fire breathing dragon. Apparently, in typical OTTB fashion I only get 3 good rides in a row and then he has to be an asshole.

Moving on from that, this weeks topic stems from the ever entertaining "OTTB Connect" group on FB. Truly excellent time waster if youre bored and want to converse with other OTTB enthusiasts about various topics surrounding all things Thoroughbred. Sometimes there's even some real Jerry Springer drama and it gets fun to watch!

Recently someone posted asking advice on how to get her horses' tail to grow; specifically wanting to know if anyone had success with slinky tail bags.

I jumped on the opportunity to write a novel, since most of us know I am exceptionally passionate & obsessed with tails. All it really did was lead to an absurd amount of FB notifications, but a few people asked me follow up questions and I felt like the tail queen for a few minutes.

This might be a lengthy post, because obsessed, so settle in or carry on.

I do believe the obsessive obsession it started when my first horse came to me with no tail and I was like, no, this isnt OK.

Dolly's tail eventually grew back, but it took literally 7 years. Her tail was the most gorgeous tail I've seen though and I loved it. Flaxen is absolutely the best. So happy I have another (semi) flaxen tail in my barn.

Tail obsession continued with a horse named Murphy. Literally the MOST perfect tail of any horse I've ever seen ever and it makes me sad he was only a project horse.

Flaxen and huge and long and wonderful

Spirit on the other hand had THE WORST tail. By worst I mean hardy anything at all. I stressed over his locks for years. Not only did I keep it up 100% of the time, he got treated with a double dose of my "special secret tail grow" program. It took years for his tail ever gain length and it never did get volume. But was always perfectly white!

Yankee, thankfully, was blessed with many hairs. His tail was full, shiny and grew like crazy. I drove myself mad trying to keep it perfect.

For most of his time with me, I kept it in a ball to prevent breakage and sunburns. There is NOTHING that looks more ratchet than a red tail that supposed to be black. IMO. I wont have it.

The tail ball
I used to shave all my horses tails at the top, but I decided that it took too much upkeep and if you ever screwed up doing it (like I did often) it looked REALLY bad. I doubt I will ever cut any of my horses tails like most eventers do these days. I prefer full, banged tails. Just my preference though, some horses look sexy AF with a trimmed tailbone.

To break it down, I have 5 major things I do for tails, aka "special secret tail grow":
1) Biotin supplement
2) excellent, high fat, high protein diet with plenty of forage
3) Cowboy magic & MTG
4) tail ball
5) regular trims

The tail ball only requires a human hair tie (less likely too pull out hairs) and old socks. I actually learned this technique from an Arabian trainer I worked for in Middle School and it WPRKED. All her horses tails dragged the ground. I HATE tail bags. They always come out and rarely work. I've tried literally every kind thats ever been made and never been able to find one I like.

 Tail ball=golden

Before you braid, you Cowboy Magic that bitch upppp. This provides a leave in conditioner and prevents hair breakage. You divide the tail into three even sections and braid LOOSELY. Then you double under a few times until you have a braid ball, pulling braid through itself. Then, pull a sock over the braided ball and duct tape where the knot balls up. Then you pull the remaining sock fabric over the duct tape and the ball and BAM, there ya go. I know that was super helpful and not at all confusing.

I would usually un-do, re brush and re-cowboy magic every 2-3 weeks or as needed. Takes a TON of practice to get perfect but once you nail it, you gucci. Once a month I will trim a little bit off the bottom to keep the edge clean and sharp. This also gets rid of straggles and overall makes a better picture.

Just checking on hairs, nothing to see here
Its important to note that I use a human hairbrush and un-tangle from the bottom up! Less hairs get pulled out!

In addition to that, I fed a biotin supp form Smartpak. I TRULY saw a difference when I began feeding  this. Originally it was suggested to help Yankee's terrible feet, but I noticed his hairs would grow like weeds. Now all my horses get it 12 months out of the year. Its miraculous.

Sometimes, I would MTG the tailbone. A lot of people, myself included, think it helps stimulate hair growth. The key is to not over saturate and ONLY get near the skin/pores. I hear this stuff reeks, so its up to you if you use it. Also have to shake really really well. Hassle, but I've seen it work not only on tail hair, but injured areas as well. Its a pretty magical substance.

When I first got B his tail was....wimpy

First ride, May 30th
This simply would not do. I banged it IMMEDIATELY, cutting off a solid 5 inches of hair from the bottom. For those that may not know what this is, it means to cut a very straight edge across the bottom. Some people high bang their horses tails (like I do with B and did with Spirit) because the tails will never really get volume. Others bang low, like I did with Yankee. This does wonder for a tail and if you're lazy and dont want to obsess over tails like I do, just bang the shit out of it!

I began a strict regime of MTG because I could NOT keep a tail ball in his tail. I firmly believe that it was too thin to hold one in, so for months I kept it VERY short and MTG'ed, Cowboy Magicked the ends and started him on Biotin.

7 months has made a difference, but I doubt it will ever be truly full like yanks is.

For now, his tail is being kept up in a braid and vetwrap combination because socks refuse to stay intact in his tail. Not ideal, but keeps it clean and up out of the way so it doesnt get snagged on stuff and things.

So dear readers....what do you do for tails? Do you obsess like I do? Give none? Do you wash once  a year and leave it the rest of the time? Brush once a week? Tailbag it? Do you just not care?

Feed me your secrets!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Baby Wins The Weekend

For part one of this adventure click HERE and catch up.

This was going to be a three-part story but due to a minor incident at feeding time on Friday, Bacardi was a tad lame/distracted on Saturday, so that day was a wash.

Sunday was brilliant though. My parental units and The Boy came out to oogle the property since I obviously bragged about it A LOT, and take pictures. Because pictures are everything. The Boy wins all the awards. Prepare yourselves for a deluge of Bacardi spam. Do not make fun of him for his uneven clip *crying laughing emoji*

Sunday taught me 3 things 1) My baby OTTB is a BAMF. 2) My eq is REALLY bad lately 3) Red plaid leggings are the ONLY thing I want to wear form now on, because of obvious reasons.

Bacardi blew me away this weekend. Trailering, being in a new place, pasture boarded alone, awkwardly high temperatures, being ridden more than usual...all pretty high stressful things.

He reacted like you would expect any mildly seasoned show horse; excited but not fractious. Settled into his job like he had been there done that.  I was expecting a fire breathing dragon that would only be controlled with nose chains and basically be unrideable, but he sure showed me.

Stretch like pro

Warm-up was great. We were in the indoor with TWO other horse and a barn tour was being given. Oh and I should mention the other two horses were ridden by teenagers, aka dont know how to share arenas, and were jumping. He literally did not give a fuck. I almost fell out of my saddle. The other part of my brain was like, OK, when is the explosion happening.

But it never came.

It was about a thousand degrees in the indoor, so we migrated outside and he handled the scenery change without  fuss. I was REALLY surprised he didnt have a conniption leaving his 'friends' in the indoor.

Yep. None given.
I wanted to keep the lesson simple, so we schooled 20m circles & 3 loop serpentines. Focusing on geometry, since I am still pretty terrible at it even after high school, and maintaining energy. I am making a point to ride him forward forward forward to avoid him breaking a the 3rd vertebrae, in an attempt to create lift in the shoulders, and drive from behind. Obviously, not 100%, but he's getting the idea.

Very up, many energies. 
I cant stop looking at the action he produces in that big chesnut body. Its so UP. MANY LOFTS. So energy.

Hocks. Knees. Back. SO ROUND. 
Warning: major brag moment. Please keep scrolling if you are sickened by such actions.

I think my caption on insta of this pic was "is this horse really five?" An OTTB at that, five years old, has moments like this one of self carriage, complete connected energy from back to front and is 98% working correctly. I wouldn't have believed you if you had told me when I first brought him home that 6 months later we would have this kind of progress. This guy shows up to WORK. Every damn time.

Love him.

OK, I'm over that now.

His canter work still needs some work but the transitions are coming along nicely and we mostly stay balanced through them all. I'm wondering if all OTTBs have basically flawless canters, because Yankee's was and continues to be his best. Same with B.

Looking like an adult

In these, he's doing well not falling forward and maintaining upward energy. Still needs some strength, but major improvements. I noticed the left lead is worse. Odd, considering thats usually the opposite for OTTBs.

Classic B. Broekn at the 3rd and a little on the forehand. When riding at first it feels amazing because his natural gait is so wonderful, but really, hes curling behind to avoid working properly. Naughty naughty.  As you can see in the photo, I raise my hands a little in coordination with inside hand half halts, deep seat, and inside leg for energy...

Schooling seat is bad. Eq horrible. Look away.
3 strides later, he's a little more active behind and uphill. RF still hits the ground before LH, but this will come with strength!  Doesnt make for pretty pictures since your seat/inside leg works overtime, but whatever, for learning purposes it works.

Overall the red nugget was an angel and more than reached my expectations- he blew them away with the force of mild hurricane.

Prolly the most active hind leg stretchy trot ever
He was also rather good getting in the trailer on the way home. *Only* took a half an hour, but we went molasses slow with it and did not push him at all. Its like he has to think about it for a while and then just accepts it and gets in without a fuss. Literally. He got in and out halfway maybe 27 times before he just looked at me, huffed, and walked in and started munching hay like it was no big deal.

Plus side on him refusing to get OFF once he's on is you can load by yourself and not worry about him backing off before you can get the rear door closed. Yay?

But yeah getting off is another battle royale on its own.

In time.