Nov 292019

By Patty Wilber

Happy Day after Thanksgiving! 


I cracked and put blankets on Lucy and H this week.

At least it LOOKS cold enough for a blanket!

They were not cold, however.

I just need them to have some sort of hair coat that is acceptable in the show ring. Before next June.

It is sort of late to begin blanketing H.  He still thinks he is still in Canada and he put on a lot of hair, early. But the blanket will flatten his current coat and help him shed out earlier.

“what? were you talking about me?”, says H. Lucy is too busy eating to notice.

Lucy wore a fly sheet through early September and that kept her coat quite short and neat (which was why she was wearing it, not because of flies…although she did seem to like the protection from those pesky critters), so she was only just beginning to grow out.

I have this weird conflicting mindset about horse management!  I have some World level horses, and I like the challenge and competition of showing, but I don’t like to house them like standard show horses.

I like them to live in big pens and in groups, without blankets.  I feel sorry for them when they have to be alone and even sorrier when they are alone in 12 x 12 stalls.  I have seen big upticks in happiness in some (Judith’s Attitude comes to mind) when they “find their herd”. 

“we like to eat together! we don’t like just ANYONE, though!”

Groups, however can be dangerous.  We have nicks, scrapes and have had more serious conflicts. Horses here for the short term often do have to stay alone, but some owners also prefer the “group home” approach.

We only have one stall with a door and it is full of hay (the stall, not the door), so it is not even possible to maintain anyone “under lights” to develop a short show coat.

(“Under lights” refers to the practice of setting the barn lights to mimic summer hours to fool the horse’s physiology into keeping a shorter coat.)

So, about the only thing I can actually do to get a show coat is to blanket–and only on the body–no hoods–because I worry that the hoods would be too easy to be messed with by other members of the herd.

Big D All American Blanket and hood. Picture from a SmartPak ad.

An advantage of having a shorter coat from a training point of view is that the horses stay cooler when being worked and don’t get quite so sweaty.   (But there are  various clip patterns that can help with that…)

A disadvantage of the clip patterns is that they look odd in Ranch Horse classes…and body clipping (the practice of shaving off the winter coat prior to the show season)…..Well, I am not sure if that is legal for ranch horse classes.  Here is what I found in the Appaloosa rule book:

3. Trimming inside ears is discouraged.
4. Trimming bridle path, fetlocks or excessively long facial hair is allowed.

It says nothing about body clipping….so I texted a friend who is a judge and she said body clipping is not illegal for ranch horses, but it would look kind of out of place.

Right, because if these are “Ranch Horses”, shouldn’t they be hairy in the winter?

Ok, I get it, Ranch Horse classes are unfortunately (and fortunately –I really like these classes) horse show classes, so short and shiny coats are quite pleasing to look at while the long, shaggy, sweaty, dishevelled look could distract a judge from “seeing” a horse’s performance.

I do have to say, though, that I have been to the World Appaloosa show in October with three different horses that took home top honors in performance classes with very clean and shiny, but not super short hair coats.  

Anyway, after all that mental wandering around, I blanketed the two show ponies (but they are still out in a big pen together with two other horses) in hopes of having moderately short coats to start the 2020 show season!

  5 Responses to “Show Coat”

  1. Very much agree on the benefits of more natural living conditions for horses. In the stall for 20+ hours/day is not good for their brains or their bodies. Would like to be on the “they need a herd” side of the fence except that would mean I couldn’t have a horse here–not enough room for a herd unless I start cutting the wildlife management part of the place into more and larger paddocks. Also I’ve had horses that acted happy when alone as long as they were outside with plenty of room to move around. And one that was a bit of a bully, so best he just hung out and annoyed the bull in the next field by flirting with the cows over the fence.

    I think blanketing horses in work so they don’t get so hairy is reasonable, *esp* if you intend to show them before their summer coats come in. After all, getting all hot and sweaty while working, and then standing around with a wet coat in the after-work chill, isn’t health either. Tig’s not getting blanketed but that’s because–except when he was injured–he has utterly refused to be blanketed, and is active enough that he keeps himself pretty warm. I check him out but his body heat comes right into my hand when I lay a hand on his body. His winter coat is short but dense, velvety.

  2. We have had one horse that would have liked to be in a herd but he was so food aggressive that everyone else was better off if he was alone! Penny is not the best with just anyone, but behaves perfectly if she is with Cometa! Atti had to figure out how to behave with others but she loved having a herd. Her people manners also improved when she had some senior mares to keep her in line. Kind of miss Miss Bratty Atti!

  3. I don’t envy having to balance the winter blankets/hair coat situation. I’m only blanketing for the extreme weather right now (and feeling guilty about having a mid-weight on Takota at the moment, but at this temps and this wind, I don’t want to yank that protection even to swap it for less!).

  4. I used to blanket and hood my horses during the winter. Different blankets and layers for whatever being in their stalls, being out, fall, spring….ughhhh. I’m so glad my horses have hair and I don’t have to worry about them being too hot or cold. On the flip side….I can’t just peel the mud off with their nylon covering. Some days I go to ride and it’s just a hard “nope, there isn’t a curry in the world that will fix that today”. I don’t have to worry about show coats though, except on our minis and they get body clipped for that. So for right now they all look like Yhettis.

    • Minis can really grow a coat! Yes, Love that line “peeling off the mud with the nylon” and that does make getting ready to ride easier on some days, for sure!

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