March 2, 2016

Time For a Hair Cut

Gem is a yak and still piles on the amount of fur needed to survive winter in WI. It has been 3 winters now here in the South and I doubt she will ever grow in a thinner winter coat.

In general I am fine with that since she lives outside and I have zero interest in playing the blanket game. What worried me was traveling down to Florida in April for a ride. If she didn't start shedding her coat out soon, she might be too warm down there. The thought of clipping her briefly flitted through my mind, but I don't own any clippers and have zero interest investing that much into something I would probably use once or twice ever.

After seeing how incredibly hot Gem got during the Sunday ride, when the temperatures didn't even reach peak for the day, I knew something had to be done. I couldn't possibly ask her to go 20 miles at any decent pace when the weather looked to only warm up over the next week.  So, I formulated a plan to talk to the BO about using her clippers or having her clip Gem at some point soon.

Sometimes the Universe really does listen because as I led Gem into the barn to brush her out, there was the BO clipping her gelding in the wash rack. I asked her if there was any way she would be willing to clip Gem for me. I informed her that Gem had never been clipped in the 6 years I have owned her and that, knowing her prior situation, I doubted she had been clipped the 2 years preceding those. Her reaction to the clippers was completely up in the air, although in general, if it isn't bare wood staring her down, she is reasonable about things.

This was a great time to do it since a) she was tired from the ride and b) she was just about as clean as she was going to get.

The BO somewhat hesitantly agreed and we discussed what type of clip. The temperatures are still dropping into the 40s at night, so I didn't want her too bald. BO recommended an Irish clip, but after looking at what that all entailed I was concerned about stripping her girth area. Gem isn't the most sensitive horse out there, but she can rub if I don't lube her up and I would hate to cause a girth gall due to clipping her. In the end we just sort of made up our own plan to remove the hair from her jugular and chest, but then come up and include the shoulders as well for extra heat dissipation.

Dusty was at his clinic picking up supplies to pull for her Coggins, so I called and asked him to grab some Ace just in case. We were standing around waiting, when a student came for her lesson. I'm not sure what changed the BOs mind about waiting on the Ace, but she suggested we go ahead and try it out.

She ran the clippers on low and I gave Gem crack molasses cookies and rubbed her. She was a bit nervous at first, but soon relaxed into the rubs and allowed the BO to start on her shoulder. Once the clippers were on her, she really relaxed and we quickly upped the speed and got to work.

The more hair that fell off, the more Gem relaxed and by the time she was finished Gem was looking like she really enjoyed the process. I was so proud of her that I forgot my annoyance at her riding behavior and gave her a million pats, rubs and kisses.

She looks a little odd with the clip job, but I know she will be way more comfortable riding. Some hair will grow back before the ride, but it shouldn't be enough to create a problem. I was also super pleased with how shiny she was under all that winter dust. She really is coming back into her own on this new feed. I can't wait until her summer coat is in!!!

She was nearly falling asleep when she was being clipped. 

The right side. A little unusual clip job, but it removes the hair from the areas she retains heat and still gives her protection from all her tack. 

Look how shiny she is!!!! 

I knew how shitty the nutrition at the old barn was, but I couldn't do anything about it. Seeing the change in her on the TC Senior makes me want to go back in time and move her sooner but what can you do? Live and learn. 


  1. Hurrah for a clip! Don't know how she's managed to survive that long with that much excess hair in SC! Nicole gave me advice a few years back on clipping (and continues to be a great sounding board to help me confirm or deny my thinking) and boy did it help Q! I didn't realize just HOW sluggish being hot from excess hair could make a horse in training. Not to mention, they probably feel bad in other ways. (Which was silly of me, I mean, I strip down to the bare minimum skiing on the warm days despite being surrounded by snow! Being hot suckssss.) I've actually splurged and now own my own clippers that are a great aid about this time of year. (They've been a fantastic investment.) My two will be getting clipped next week with the weather trending as it is!

    I bet Gem is a lot spunkier on her next rides now that she can cool off more efficiently. I can't believe how shiny she is in that clipped area - just wow! You two are having a great spring of conditioning, I'm sure the Florida ride will go well. =)

    1. Horses run hot and they find it easier be cold than hot. I clipped Ashke a couple of weeks ago - went from a trace clip to a full body clip and he seems to love it. We were struggling a year ago with him just not wanting to eat or drink due to heat exhaustion at the end of rides, that I wasn't going to play this year. And we have unseasonably warm temps, so it just made sense.

      Gem's reaction as the coat came off makes me think she's going to be much happier going forward.

    2. The hard part, if you want to even consider it hard, in SC winter is that the temps still get into the 20s and 30s at night, but then in the day will get up to the 50s (or more) and sunny. Working full time and being at a barn where the BO wont blanket meant I had to keep her completely furry or risk her overheating in a heavy blanket when it was warm and sunny or being cold in a light weight blanket. Now that I am in a place where the BO will change it out for me, I can clip her and not be concerned.

      I am keeping a close eye on her shedding and the temps in FL. If she isn't significantly less yak like in the next two weeks, she is getting shaved everywhere except under the saddle and girth area.

    3. I had honestly wondered if overheating wasn't the entire issue with Gem the day she was lethargic and you thought it was due to the TC Senior. Lily will start to overheat in a full winter coat in 45+ degree weather if working at or over a 6mph average. She won't be bathed in sweat bc she'll slow down before she reaches that point. She'll just be dull and won't eat or drink. She received the same clip as Gem this weekend (it was warm enough to bathe her prior: a clean coat will extend the life of the clippers), so it's not that weird. ;) And with that kind of clip, you shouldn't need to blanket even if it dropped into the 20's. I'm still horrified that I was putting a sheet on Lily in 60 degree weather back in FL!

      FYI clippers are not that bad price-wise! I have a pair of Wahl's that I use for smaller clips that cost less than $100 on a Black Friday sale from RW, and my "big" clippers are a pair of Oster A5. I paid $160 for those brand new on eBay and they've lasted 5 years so far without needing a tune-up. Lily gets clipped 2-3 times/winter and I've clipped other people's horses for them. If you eventually decided you really wanted clippers, Dusty might be able to get them at wholesale prices due to being a veterinarian. :)

    4. I've decided to go ahead and kill off the rest of her coat. We did hill sets last night and she was better due to the clip but still a hot mess that took about 30 minutes to dry afterward. Temps were in the 50 with a strong cool wind. Looking at the temps in FL where the ride is, it is already getting to 89!!! She will die if I take her like she is now and I doubt she will lose much more coat in three weeks. So she will be bald except for the saddle and girth area to prevent galls.

  2. She looks great! I do think you both will be so much happier now and in fla with a clipped pony 😁

    1. I'm not sure why I was so worried about it, but she definitely let me know she enjoyed it.

  3. Oh pretty girl with her new hair cut, it's really good that you noticed the results immediately :) I haven't ever clipped Quest yet, she cools off super quick (e.g.; from lathered to dry in 10 minutes) so it hasn't been a pressing need.

    Btw Gem's mane <3 Quest has a nice tail (conclsively agreed at the barn that she wins the "Best Tail" award) but her mane is forever a short raggedy-looking brushy thing. Le sigh.