Spring is here. The days are getting longer, and the shows are just around the corner. But out in the pasture lurks something resembling the Abominable Snowman. His coat is thick, shaggy and starting to come loose. Running your hand down his neck only serves to raise a cloud of dust and loose hair.
So how are you going to transform this hairy beast into a sleek and shiny animal you can be proud of?
One way to make the transformation is to take the high-tech approach. There are now a number of electric groomers on the market, including floor models with two motors and large debris boxes with removable filters, or the lightweight ones with shoulder strap and six-foot flexible hoses.
These machines are available through catalogs or larger tack and equipment stores. Depending on which model you choose, they come with different attachments which make grooming and removing loose hair a breeze. Most horses get used to the noise and the sensation very quickly.
Electric groomers aren't cheap though. Even the smaller models designed to be slung over the shoulder are about $150. The larger floor models are in the $500 range. This is going to be an item more practical for the manager of a training or showing barn, rather than the individual horse owner.
The Low-Tech Approach
I've always been somewhat of a traditionalist. And so, for me, spring brings with it the ritual of trying to part Annapolis from his winter coat by means of vigorous scrubbing with a rubber curry, stirring up clouds of loose, dead hair which invariably goes right up my nose. Once I've loosened a good portion of the coat, I then go over Annapolis with a body brush in one hand and curry in the other, using the curry after every few strokes to remove dead hair from the brush.
I've done it this way for years. It usually takes a number of weeks for Annapolis to shed out in the spring, with my assistance generally concentrated into several weekends.
But I was introduced to something, which I am probably the last person in the equestrian world to try. When the owner of the barn I board at saw me standing in a cloud of flying hair, she suggested I try a grooming block. At first I demurred, but she insisted that I let her show me how effective it was.
To say I was amazed would be an understatement. The grooming block is made of fiberglass and not only did it remove the hair that was already loose, it also appeared to remove the hair that would normally have not come out for several days or weeks. I worked at Annapolis' coat for about an hour and by the end he was sleek and shiny. The block probably saved me several weekends worth of scrubbing with a rubber curry.
Grooming blocks only cost a few dollars and, according to the wrapper, one bar will do 10 to 12 horses.