It’s not hard to guess if and where my sweet-itchy horse is itching.
As soon as he sees me he will either plonk that part of himself directly in front of me or point to it with his nose. Though he’s an acrobatic individual who can scratch the top of his own tail with his teeth, he’s used to me doing the scratching with a plastic brush or applying one or other of his lotions and potions (there have been more than a few as you probably know) as I try my best to keep his mane, tail and coat intact.
Commenting on my “Zebra” post, Sara Annon kindly suggested a new line of inquiry, threadworms in the nuchal ligament as a possible cause of itching. And as Pom continues to be itchy even through winter I’m checking it out. Aha, something new to worry about, but also a possible explanation for the everlasting itch!
In the meantime, Pom’s seemed no better recently, so I reckoned he might have a build up of product and, as the weather is very mild, could do with a New Year freshen up.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have one of those ritzy stables that have proper, drained, horse shower areas with warm water? And the infra red dryers. Well yes. If money grew on trees. But we are happy enough with our simple loose boxes in an old stone barn with a dirt floor. The farrier likes to visit; he maintains it’s warmer in winter and cooler in summer than more modern installations. (Maybe he’s being tactful?!)
In summer there’s the cold hosepipe outside for showers and in winter, in the barn, we get by just fine with buckets of warm water and sponges etc. Pom is no fan of water, but he appreciates the feeling of being clean and less itchy. (The Pie, however, feels underdressed without an outer layer of mud, which, though he loves a shower, he’ll re-apply as soon as he can find a patch of dirt to roll in!)
So, Pom had a thorough shampoo of mane and tail, rinse and towel-dry, enjoying the massage, but, as I didn’t want to turn him out still damp underneath his daytime cover, I thought I’d introduce him to the hairdryer. Ever so gently.
We targeted, clicked and rewarded, demonstrated it working, on low, on me and little by little gave his mane and neck a gentle blow dry. I didn’t insist, as it wouldn’t make sense to mix electrics with a frightened horse, but it touches me to see how much he will trust me now in most situations.
As I say, he’s no fan of water, showers are tolerated, and, out on rides, puddles are never crossed without a good deal of persuasion. I watch in awe as cross-country eventers flip through those water jumps with ease, but I don’t think my life, or his, will be long enough for me and Pom to do anything of the sort!
However we regularly face some quite impressive cross country features…
The Paris-Toulouse train line passes through a tunnel about a mile from us and we have to pass high over the tunnel mouth, alongside a deep cutting which has recently been revealed in all its scariness since a tree-cutting gang left it fully exposed. Should we deviate from the track, there is one mighty steep drop down to the railway line.
Recently, we’ve had enough rain to keep the puddles topped up so we faced a devil-or-the-deep-blue-sea choice.
Walking in water didn’t seem so difficult after all!
Wishing you all a happy, healthy 2014…