What’s In My Grooming Kit?

Over the years I’ve had my horse, Pea, I feel like I’ve refined the contents of my grooming kit to cope with all weathers and all events – am I missing anything?

Coat care

SleekEZ – An absolute necessity at this time of year – the best thing I’ve found for helping to shed a winter coat and we’ve tried plenty!

Metal curry comb – This will be out of my grooming kit for the summer months but right back in for winter as it is the best thing for dry mud on hairy ponies.

HAAS brushes – I have the white/grey/coloured pack from Eqclusive.  The Schimmel brush (the first in the pack) is particularly amazing and I also keep the second in my everyday grooming box though I reserve brushes 3 and 4 (the dreamy sheepskin Diva brush) for my competition kit.

Curry comb – Forget traditional rubber and plastic curry combs, this “New Generation” one (from Eqclusive) is so good for mud, hair and using with the HAAS brushes to clean them after each stroke.

Magic brush – These get rid of dried mud but are also really good for scrubbing during a bath.

Hair care

Pea’s thick, gravity defying mane is pretty hard to manage but I think I’ve got as many tools as anyone can think of to keep it under control!

Mane and tail brush – Basic, robust – also functions as an emergency hairbrush!

Mane and tail conditioner – Carr & Day & Martin Canter Mane & Tail is my conditioner of choice.

Rake – A useful tool – this thins the mane (or tail).  Mine is a Smart Grooming one and they have different grades depending on the type of hair you are trying to thin.

SoloComb – For those who are opposed to mane pulling the SoloComb is a good alternative.  It doesn’t thin the mane as much as pulling but it is definitely kinder.

Metal comb – I’m not generally a mane pulling fan but I have given it a go.  I usually use this to help me to trim Pea’s feathers – she is not a clipper fan so I have got pretty good at scissor trims in the last 6 years!

Hairdressing scissors – Perfect for trimming feathers and beards alike!

Equi-Shave – A Smart Grooming tool – some people use these on fine horse’s feathers or whiskers but I use mine for refining the trimming of Pea’s beard!

Dog trimmers – These don’t do a proper clip (and Pea doesn’t like clippers anyway) but they are useful for light jobs like beards and not-too-floofy feathers.  I am using mine to try to get Pea used to the sound and feel of clipping.  There are loads of different ones like these on Amazon and Ebay and they are cheap too.

Hoof care

Looking clean and pretty is all well and good but there is a important saying “no foot, no horse”.

Hoof pick – A staple in every grooming kit.

Hoof oil/dressing – I keep a homemade hoof dressing in my grooming kit which is made from lard, oil and tea tree.  I do have black hoof ointment too but I keep that in my competition box.

If you would like a more visual tour of my grooming kit favourites head over to my YouTube.

My “Push Present”

If you don’t know what a “push present” is, it is a present a mum might get when she has her baby..  I definitely haven’t had a baby, nor am I going to yet but bear with me on this one.

When I decided dressage was the discipline I wanted to strive towards (two and a bit years ago I would say) the urge for a dressage saddle started.  Maybe I wanted to be “all the gear and no idea” rather than “no gear and no idea”!  Maybe I thought it would help my position.  Either way I ended up with a trailer instead!

Although my hip replacement took away the pain I had had for so many years, my hip abduction and rotation (I think those are the right terms) was worse on the left side.  The early days of riding were really tough because I could barely open my legs wide enough to sit in the saddle.  I compromised on my saddle desires by getting long girth straps on my GP saddle which meant there was less bulk under my leg.  It may have been psychological but I felt like it made a difference  to how wide my legs needed to be!

Things have been improving over time but I know my hips are still wonky in the saddle because of it.  I’ve been using the old abductor weight machines at the gym (you know the ones that face the wall because you’d look inappropriate using them if they didn’t!) and periodically sitting on the sofa with my feet together and my knees as far apart as possible trying to just encouraging the stretch!

Anyway.. the “push present”.  I’ve been pushing myself, pushing my hip and I’ve decided my new hip deserves to be pushed even further by putting it in a dressage saddle with surface blocks!

I saw a Thorowgood T8 immaculate condition dressage saddle being sold on Facebook, I set my heart on it (my current saddle is a Thorowgood and I think they are really good for those of us with changeable fat ponies and very little money) and drove to Wales to get it.

Being second hand and being new to Pea it does need some flocking changes but I have tried it out and I think I love it!

I realise I might get some criticism here – I am well aware that a different saddle isn’t going to fix all my problems etcetera etcetera and that actually I might be signing myself up for some discomfort with my hip being forced to open up more but I think it is all for the greater good.

Tried and Tested: Derby House Medium Rug

I’m a big fan of letting horses be horses but I’m also very much a believer that if we expect our four legged friends to be athletes and perform for us then we have to treat them accordingly. As you will know from In Too Deep, I clipped Pea in preparation for the Area Qualifiers and when a layer of natural rug comes off, a layer needs replacing. Luckily, my favourite rug brand Derby House had very kindly lined us up with a medium weight rug to replace Pea’s lightweight when the time came.

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I chose the Pro Frenchie Print Medium Combo Turnout Rug – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you can’t have cute patterned rugs when you’ve got a cute little pony, when can you?  They even have accessories to match!  If you’re not a dog fan, they also have Christmas designs, unicorn print, plain colours as well as black and frequently add new prints to their collection (you might have seen last year’s cow print that Pea had!)

Derby House say this rug is “crafted from a tough 250gr diamond weave print that is durable, waterproof and breathable and 200 gram of warm polyfill you can be sure that your horse will be warm, protected and dry no matter what the weather has in store” and Pea would certainly agree.  She has been wearing hers for over a month now; we have had periods of torrential rain, a night of snow and a whole heap of mud and she has stayed warm, dry and clean throughout.

Leaning over wire fences and being a generally mischievous little scamp has challenged the ripstop outer of the rug.  It is scratched but the waterproofness hasn’t been compromised yet though it will need mending at the end of the season.  The classic Derby House design has robust neck buckles and chest clips.  In all the Derby House rugs I have had, I’ve never had an issue with the hardware and this rug is no different.

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If you are in the market for a cosy, well-designed rug for your four-legged friend this winter I highly recommend you give Derby House’s website a visit.

Tried and Tested: Derby House Lightweight Rug

Sadly the summer is over and the days of fly rugs seem a distant memory.  With the drop in temperature and the on/off torrential rain we have had recently, I decided it was time to get Pea in her waterproofs!  Luckily, back in the summer, Derby House (my favourite rug brand) very kindly gifted us one of their lightweights – perfect for this time of the year.

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It is a classic example of Derby House’s excellent rug design with a 0g weight and 600 Denier diamond weave fabric which is waterproof and breathable.  Pea can vouch for how waterproof this rug is because she’s been out night and day in all sorts of weather over the last few weeks. It has buckles on the neck (velcro would be useless in the winter) and adjustable clips on the chest (easy to secure or remove).  It is consistent with the fit of the other Derby House rugs I have had – I always know what I am going to get with them.  It doesn’t always completely cover Pea’s mane – she seems to shake it down but maybe that’s just the way she wears it!

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This particular rug is bright blue with a yellow trim.  Although this is from their summer collection and that is probably the reasoning behind the colours, I think it is great that when I drive past Pea early in the morning when the sun hasn’t yet come up, I can look for the blue and I’ll be able to spot her!  Check out the Derby House website to see their latest eye-catching rug designs (though if you’re looking for something more subtle they cater for that too).

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A little side note – Derby House are really passionate about improving their sustainability. They have 95% plastic free outbound packaging and have abolished plastic ‘windows’ from their rug bags.

Botanica Review

In January I was lucky enough to be sent some products to try out from Botanica skincare (thank you very much Botanica!).  I can hear your brain ticking here and saying ‘Poppy, since when were you interested in skincare products?  That is not what your blog is about!’  That’s what I thought when I was first contacted.. until I realised that they are skincare products for animals!

I have experimented with different products to try to keep on top of Pea’s mallanders (dry skin and scabbiness behind her knees) and when I asked Jenny from Botanica if their products would be suitable treatment for this I got a positive response.

The Brand

Botanica are an international brand selling a natural herbal range of skincare products.  Their products are suitable for an impressive range of issues from human acne and dry skin to itching and hairloss in animals. They claim that their products are all antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, antihistamine and have an insect repellent function. They have an incredible number of uses for horses as well as humans and other animals.

The Products

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Botanica Cleansing Wash

The Cleansing Wash is Botanica’s natural antiseptic wash which is meant to clean and soothe the skin to promote good skin health and healing.

It is available in 300ml (£10.95), 500ml (£14.95) or 5L (£55.95) and for most purposes it is diluted in water. It doesn’t need to be washed off which makes it so easy to use.

Botanica Natural Herbal Cream

Botanica say ‘the antiseptic properties of Tea Tree Oil along with soothing Aloe Vera, plus the additional beneficial value of Comfrey and Lavender provides an all purpose natural herbal cream to help support and maintain healthy skin.’

This cream comes 125ml (£12.95), 300ml (£19.95) or 500ml (£29.95) tubs. The sizeable 500ml tub has a pump which is so easy to use and hygienic too! It is a light cream rather than a barrier cream and is easily absorbed by the skin, keeping things clean but breathable.

Botanica 5-in-1 Spray

This is marketed as the ultimate all rounder, suitable for insect repellent, mane and tail conditioner, body sheen, treating dandruff, flaky skin and wounds.

It comes in a spray bottle (£12.99) with the option of having the nozzle as a spray or a squirt. This is a useful design element as for some purposes you want a wide spray while for more localised issues you want a squirt.

Uses

Bald patches

I used the spray and cream alternately on a bald patch on Pea’s side.  I don’t know how much this improved the rate at which the hair grew back but it certainly reduced the scurfy, dandruffy situation that bald/regrowing areas usually have!

Tail conditioner

I tried the spray as a tail conditioner.  It definitely helped me to brush through Pea’s tail but it won’t be replacing my beloved Carr & Day & Martin Canter Mane and Tail.

Body wash

I used the cleansing wash to wash off Pea after exercise.  It smelt nice and, because you don’t rinse it off, it was a really quick and easy way of giving her a body bath.

Mallanders

This was the main reason why I wanted to try these. According to the instructions provided (which are very helpful and comprehensive) you should use the wash and the cream twice a day. I found this quite a challenge to my time so once a day is a more accurate description of my method. The wash gently softened Pea’s scabby mallanders and rubbing the cream in helped to remove the dry scabby bits leaving the skin pink but not raw. After using these products Pea’s legs are much better and, if you stick to using them, these products definitely work. These pictures show the progress from scabs to pink to regrowth.

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Hand cream

There are many other human uses for the wash and cream that I haven’t tried yet but this one I discovered almost accidentally. You know when your hands have been wet and dry, you’ve mucked out and ridden and your hands are dry and sore? One pump of this cream and they will be all good!

Conclusion

I would recommend these products because..

They are multipurpose – not only does that reduce the amount of lotions and potions you have to buy and store but it is also more environmentally friendly.

They are herbal so no harsh chemicals here. My testing found that they are very gentle and since I’m so precious about my pony, that works for me!

They simply do what they say on the tin.

If you want to give these products a try please check out Botanica’s website.

A Guide To Shedding Tools!

It has come to the time of year when those of us who have unclipped horses are being punished for letting them grow their own rugs over winter.  Suddenly they are like bird nest machines, shedding hair everywhere and sometimes they need a little helping hand! Over the years I have used plenty of different gadgets to help Pea to shed her winter fluff so here’s a low down of our recommendations. All of these have been bought with my own money and my opinions are certainly my own and based on solid use.

The ‘Cheap and Cheerful All-Rounder’

These metal ‘shedding blades’ are pretty cheap (from £4) and effective at catching loose hairs and sweeping them away especially when you open them up like a scythe! I wouldn’t recommend using one of them on sensitive areas or legs but they do a decent enough job on the body and double up as an excellent tool to remove dry mud!

The ‘Sorry I’ve Found Better’

You know what it is like, you see a video on the internet of something looking amazing and you get sucked into buying it. That’s how my YO and I ended up ordering StripHairs from America a few years ago. When they arrived, although we were in slight shock that we’d spent so much money on what is essentially a rubber block, we thought they were great but they are hard work to use and have been far outclassed by more recent purchases! I know StripHair have changed the design of their blocks and I can’t comment on the new ones (they cost $39) but if I wanted a shedding specific tool I would certainly buy…

The ‘Best In Test’

I bought a SleekEZ two years ago with my Eqclusive brush pack (they cost £19.95 individually) and I haven’t looked back! It is so effective at taking out the hair that is ready to be shed and is so satisfying to use. The difference in all of our horses’ coats from the year before to the year we used these in the lead up to our riding school vet inspection was incredible. Because it is essentially a ridged metal blade coming from a wooden block, you have to be careful about pressure, particularly in more sensitive areas.

The ‘New Classic’

Although I use the SleekEZ on most of Pea’s body I turn to my Eqclusive curry comb (£7 each) particularly for her tummy and legs. It is the perfect reincarnation of a traditional rubber curry comb with a solid rubber structure but soft tips. In circular motions it teases all the ‘shed ready’ hair out of the coat, gets rid of any mud and provides a sort of massage for your horse.

Do you have any other shedding tools you could recommend?

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