If cleanliness is next to godliness, then Kate Samuels is a saint–at least when it comes to her horse. Today she outlines her neurotic tendencies.
Top photo: My poor horse, groomed to death
I will freely admit it: I have a problem with obsessive grooming habits. I don’t know what it is, but the older I get, the more meticulous I become about the cleanliness and presentation of my horses. My house has mud tracks through it, my sink is usually half full of dishes, but my barn is always swept clean and my horses are groomed within an inch of their lives. I don’t know how to stop, but more importantly, I have no desire to quit these habits.
My number one concern is tails. There is nothing worse in the world than a scraggly, bleached, mess of a tail. Does your horse look like a wild raccoon is stuck to his bum? If so, you’re doing it wrong. All tails must be banged, and trimmed up at least monthly. No excuses. If you are considering leaving your stall at a competition with shavings and sticks in your horse’s tail, I’m not sure I can be around you without whipping out my tail brush. I am so obsessive about this, I Show Sheen and comb through my tails before they even go out in the pasture in the mornings from their nightly nap. If you so choose to pull your horse’s tail in the manner of most Eventers, for goodness sake follow these words, “Less is more”. You can always pull/clip more, but if you go too far….it’s all over. Please, fellow riders, care for your tails!
Second in line is clipping jobs. This obsession only comes into play part of the year, but it is extremely intense. I know clipping takes practice, but with some diligence, a sharp pair of clippers, and a good light source, anything is possible. I obsess about tufts of hair in random places, and just about lose my mind over squiggly lines. I spend probably twice as long as necessary clipping my horses, and continue to touch up bits and pieces over the following week. I have about five extra blades on hand at any given point, just in case.
I almost went bankrupt on Quik Silver having this filly for 2 years
My third neurotic tendency is general presentation on a daily basis. I could never, ever, have a huge string of horses without having a correlating huge string of grooms. Even in the winter, when the horses are blanketed at relatively clean, all of them have to get a full grooming before being ridden. If that involves washing legs and poopy tails, so be it. I curry, brush, comb and trim for an excessive 20 minutes before I even touch tack. I clean their feet twice a day, just in case they found a rock to imbed in their hoof. I trim manes with rubber gloves, so that they stay perfect. I clip bridle paths and whiskers, and apply hoof oil for off-property adventures. I pick at leg scud, I scour elbows, jawlines and every single leg for anything suspicious. God forbid I ever own a white horse, because I would never handle the financial burden of purchasing that much purple shampoo.
This is not to say I can’t understand other people who don’t obsess like me. Yes, I will judge you if you walk around at a show with a muddy horse with sticks in his tail, but if you’ve got some dust lurking under your winter coat, I will be sympathetic, and probably offer the wet rag I’ve got on me for just such situations. I’m an obsessive compulsive groomer, totally satisfied with it, and if you ever need a tail brushed, I’m your girl.