Monday, March 1, 2010

A winter bath

It all started because I left Panama's blanket on too long. I didn't go to the barn right away this morning because the forecast had called for snow today. By the time I figured out they were wrong — AGAIN — it was in the high 30s. Panama wasn't sweating or anything, but he was warm enough that his first order of business was this:

That was actually the second time he rolled. He was pretty clean when I first took off the blanket. By the time he was done rolling, he was caked with arena sand soup.

My dirty horse after rolling in the mud

The startlingly white spots, such as behind his elbow, in the curve behind his withers, and here next to his tail, amuse me!

My dirty horse after rolling in the mud

I was planning to ride, but obviously I couldn't put a saddle on over all that sand, and toweling it off wasn't working. So rather than waiting for it to dry so I could curry it off, I had the bright idea of rinsing him off in the indoor wash rack.

It is much warmer inside on cold days, so it was probably 50 degrees inside. I rinsed his legs first, then his butt. I squeegeed his butt off and laid a towel over it to keep him from getting chilled while I rinsed his back, belly, and shoulders. I avoided getting his chest and neck wet — his chest because it wasn't dirty, and his neck because I thought it would make him too cold.

The bath part was really nice. I made the water warm, and Panama seemed happy enough. It was quiet in the barn, so it felt like a private moment for just the two of us. Then I toweled him off and put his cooler on him.

Although Panama never started shivering, I was really concerned about him getting chilled. We walked around inside for a while, until the boarder (who helps out around the barn) came back to groom the arena. Panama still was pretty wet, and I was afraid he would get chilled outside in just his cooler, so I took him to the cross ties and threw his winter blanket on while I hunted down a hair dryer.

Now, Panama has never seen a hair dryer before, so once I found one I knew I needed to introduce it slowly. I let Panama sniff it, then plugged it in and held it in front of him so that he could check it out while it was making noise. He was only mildly concerned (he snorted at it once). I then started waving it around a bit so that he could feel the air coming from it.

No biggie. I was shocked. I even waved it at his face so that it blew his forelock straight up in the air, and he just looked at me. Of course, I was having lots of fun and laughing at him the whole time, so he probably thought it was just another occasion of Mommy Acting Crazy.

He did seem to really like it when I put the nozzle of the hair dryer under the shoulder of his cooler and filled it with hot air. He actually dropped his head and let his eyelids droop, as if he were sunbathing.

What he didn't like was the hair dryer further back down his back and sides, especially his loins, where he happens to be very ticklish. Unfortunately, I didn't locate an extension cord, so he quickly figured out he could step out of the hair dryer's reach when I tried blow drying the ticklish parts. He wasn't terribly anxious, just letting me know he didn't like that very much.

When he was almost dry, I gave up on trying to blow dry his back end, and decided to ride him lightly indoors until he dried the rest of the way. I saddled him and took him into the arena. At first he was jumping at every little thing, I guess because he had had such a big day, but he settled down after a little bit. We mainly walked, but it was a decent ride, and I think having a job helped him to calm down and process everything.

By the end of our ride, Panama was dry. Even though I didn't use any shampoo, he looked pretty clean — he is whiter than he's been in months! It turns out a winter bath is really a hassle, though, and not something I will repeat unless I have a hair dryer and a LOT of time to get him dry afterward!

Clean horse after a winter bath



At March 1, 2010 at 9:57 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

My best winter bath tip. I have to do weddings sometimes in the winter. Luckily Indigo has teflon fur and everything comes right off literally as soon as it dries, despite her being white. Get those shamwow's and a cheapo little shop vac. The little 5 gallon ones that are 45$ or so. They don't make too much noise and are wonderful in the winter for dirt and sand.

At March 1, 2010 at 11:08 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Sydney, I'd heard of the vacuum trick before, but I always assumed Panama would be terrified of it. Not that we couldn't get past it, but that it would be a real challenge to. However, as well as he took the hair dryer today, maybe he'd be okay with a vacuum too! I think someone at the barn might have one -- maybe I can borrow it and see.


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