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?

April Dressage

Finally Pea and I got out competing again today (for the first time since January). I had a bit of a dilemma about whether to go to the show because there were other things going on today but I’ll address time management and prioritisation in another post coming soon!

The day started at 6 o’clock when I was rudely awoken by my alarm. I went to the wonderful wedding of one of my friends last night and danced the night away, only getting home at 1.30 so as you can imagine, I wasn’t keen to get up! Nevertheless I managed to get Pea looking semi presentable (it was too cold for a body wash but I did her legs, mane and tail!) and off we went.

It was my second time at Lower Haddon Livery so I was feeling pretty chilled about the whole experience. My parents had come to watch too which was amazing as my dad has never seen me ride properly before.

Pea warmed up really well. Even my mum, who isn’t horsey, commented that she was going better than she had ever seen her before I had my hip replacement.

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It was feeling promising.. until we went into the dark indoor school with the noisy door and the glass judging window.

You may be familiar with Prelim 1, which was what we were meant to be doing today however this is the test we did..

Overshoot the centre  line at A in wobbly trot, proceed down the centre line and at C stop dead, stare at the floor and seriously think about backing up.

Turn right but don’t go anywhere near the scary door corner.

At A, trot a figure of 8 and stop after X to pretend you are going to do a poo just before avoiding the scary door corner.

Pull it together and change the rein KXM.

Stay away from the scary door corner, seriously consider cantering a circle at C but opt for a flashy trot instead.

Change the rein FXH and decide not to really bother cantering another circle at C.

After B, give up on even trying to canter.

Just before A, collapse into walk (early!)

Change the rein in sluggish walk on a long rein (K to B and B to H).

Trot from C to B and motorbike around the corner to X.

Halt somewhere along the centre line, look a bit shell shocked for a moment, just about remember how to salute, pat Pea, laugh at the whole sorry experience and say an apologetic ‘thank you’ to the judge!

So there we go, not our finest hour! Pea still got lots of cuddles, carrots and polos because we all love her regardless.

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I got 3s on my canters, 57.8% overall and 4th out of 4! More importantly, my comment said ‘very well done, nice pony with lots of potential, just a shame you couldn’t get the canter today’. I’ll take that! Canter has been our nemesis and will continue to be for a while. We have been working on it and I know we need to continue to so no nasty surprises there.

I’m very grateful for the lovely smiley ladies from WORC who made me feel so welcome today. I would certainly go to more of their competitions if I can. I am also thinking of going to an outdoor venue for our next competition to see what excitement we can find there!

Trailer Tales

I’ve had my trailer (an Ifor Williams 505) for just over a year now which has had me thinking about the many many uses it has..

Freedom

Being able to chose where and when I want to go for a lesson, only having to rely on my partner to come with me is fantastic. Pea and I are lucky to have found a good instructor who we travel to regularly.

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Competing

Before I had the trailer I had only competed at home or (once) when paying for transport.  Having the trailer has made the ordeal of going out to compete so much more realistic – yes I’ve only managed it once so far but watch this space!  I know in the modern world you can compete from the comfort of your own yard over the internet but I just don’t feel like that has the same achievement factor for me.

Obviously these reasons are the whole purpose of a trailer, but then we have the more bizarre uses..

Moving

A year ago we moved all my belongings (and my precious pony) across counties and two weeks ago we moved house again! We had no need to hire a van or removal people, the trailer had things sussed. We did get a few funny looks and remarks from our new neighbours though, particularly when it was sat, unhitched in front of our drive!

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Shopping

As well as moving the belongings we already had, since we moved house this time, the trailer has been with us to B & Q to buy building supplies for the new wall under our stairs!  We watched a few people strapping plaster board to the top of their cars and felt quite smug we just had to slide it into the trailer.

Changing Room

More often than not I use my trailer as a changing room when I get to the yard after work.  When the yard is busy with kids, clients and the boss’s husband, an enclosed space with limited windows is perfect for a quick change!

Housing

My guinea pigs have temporarily moved into a trailer (in their hutch) before when I stayed at the yard for pony camp (they wouldn’t have been safe if they were exposed to the yard pets!) and our goats have a beat up old trailer as their field shelter so trailers can come in use as temporary housing too.

Camping

Following on from the idea of using a trailer to house animals, I’m adamant that it would make a good alternative to a tent if more plush accommodation wasn’t available.. my other half isn’t so keen!

I would love to hear if you have any other good uses for a horse trailer!

Tack Tales

Today I am taking up the challenge from Haynet and Equestrian Co to write about my tack because a.  I love talking about anything and everything to do with Pea (if you haven’t read her story please do) and b.  I would really love to win a tack trolley to help my post hip replacement body not have to carry so much!  For me, each piece of Pea’s tack is special.  It represents her new (or now not so new) life as a single human owner.  It represents me and us and the sheer joy of PopPea (our totally cringe couple name).

The Bridle

Long before I bought Pea (while I was leasing her), I bought her a Kincade flash bridle from Countrywide (RIP).  It was no different to the bridle she had already, aside from the fact that it was my first proper purchase for her (numnahs dont count!)  It is now hung on the wall in my spare room/study with our rosettes.

The Browband(s)

I learnt how to make patterned browbands out of ribbon when I first started leasing Pea in April 2014 which was the start of a series of girly browbands for Pea.  I have always run with the theory that if I’m going to have a pretty little mare, I can get away with pink, sparkles, patterns and all things girly.  Once Pea had gone through blue and white ribbons, pink ribbons and all sorts of other bright and beautifuls, I treated her to her first diamonds (ha!)  In November 2015, Rachel (my top hacking buddy) and I celebrated our birthdays with a trip to Your Horse Live.  It was amazing, we loved it and I came away with the most tasteful sparkly browband I could find!

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The Saddle

This was the biggy.  Once I had bought Pea (in 2016), I needed and wanted to get her a saddle of her own.  The saddle Pea has before I bought her used to belong to a different pony.  It fitted fine but it wasn’t altered to fit her and it certainly didn’t fit my bum very well!  I opted for a Thorowgood T8 Cob GP saddle.  I wanted to buy new but my budget was pretty limited having just, for the first time in my life, bought a pony!  We had a few Thorowgoods at the yard and I liked the flexibility of the changeable gullets.  The Thorowgoods we had were T4s and I had seen far too often how long it takes for a suede seat to dry out after a rainy hack so I knew I didn’t want one of those.  The day the saddler came to fit my saddle was the day I truly felt the difference a saddle could make.  At that point I could barely pick up canter but with my new saddle, I was cantering all round the school!  My saddle genuinely went home to bed with me in the early days.  I loved it then and I always will however much some people frown upon it for only being part leather!

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The Girth

At the same time I bought the saddle I bought Pea her own girth.  It is non slip and elasticated on both ends from Dever.  My saddler recommended it to me due to the rather round belly of Pea.  I have never had any saddle slip issues so it must do its job – it is a regular reminder of how well Pea’s diet plan is going!

The Stirrups

In the summer of 2016 I bought my own stirrups – chunky Compositi Reflex stirrups with a wide tread.  These are more a representation of my failings rather than the joy of some of the rest of our tack.  I did and still have found it hard to keep my feet where they should be, particularly my left (formerly known as my ‘bad side’!)  I figured the width and non slippy nature of these stirrups would help me.  I hope that with my new ‘new side’ and improved bionic body (post hip replacement) I will be able to graduate to Compositi Profiles instead – we will have to see!

The Bit

Until I started writing this, the significance of some of my tack was forgotton – Pea’s bit for example.  In August 2017 Pea and I embarked on our adventure to a new home and, after using the same bit from our original yard up until this point, there we started a bit (ha!) of bit experimentation.  I tried a hanging cheek snaffle after an exciting trip out cubbing but went back to a loose ring snaffle with a lozenge like we had before – simple and familiar.  I’d love to go to a bit clinic and see what bit would really suit Pea – has anyone been to one?

The (Other) Bridle

On our return home to our original yard in Gloucestershire a few months ago, I bought Pea a Micklem bridle (with a sparkly browband of course).  I had considered it for a long time and lots of my friends have or had them for their horses.  I am yet to discover whether the ‘kind and sympathetic’ design has any positive effect on Pea as I barely had a chance to ride her in it before I had to stop for my operation but it doesn’t appear to have done any harm!

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The Future

I dream of having a dressage saddle.  Now that I have found the discipline I want to pursue it has become the top of my fantasy shopping list and I am rather enjoying the research for it.  A dressage saddle would represent the next stage in the journey for me and Pea and you never know, we might be lucky enough to have a tack trolley to put it on!

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