SUNSHINE AND SHEDDING season is here.
Can we celebrate budding blossoms and warm, sunny days without the exuviating hair of our furry friends?
Not a chance.
Just as it’s the time of year to tend to our yards, so it is time to groom away those tufts of loose hair.
Quite by accident, I discovered one of the best shedding tools I own: latex-coated gloves.
That’s right, I’ve found those relatively inexpensive blue polyester-base latex-coated gloves with the gray cotton backs to be one of the easiest and fastest way to remove loose, shedding hair.
Those soft-textured gloves also work for removing dried, caked-on mud from the horse’s legs and for giving them a nice, gentle and overall rubdown — a massage, really — that my horses thoroughly enjoy, which is how I realized its value as a shedding tool.
While I own all the usual shedding tools — the fine-toothed shedding blade, short stiff bristle brush, metal and rubber curry combs — I’m telling you these simple blue and gray work gloves easily get you into all the little nooks and crannies around the hoofs and legs and easily remove loose hair.
Available for purchase from most home and gardening stores, you can also throw them in your washing machine to clean and then hang them up to dry (I personally wouldn’t chance putting them in the dryer).
What could happen if we don’t brush away the dead fur?
The hair could become matted and clumped in spots, which keeps the skin under it too moist, which can open up sores or a host of other problems.
This is especially true if you throw a saddle and girth over the area, and/or the horse works up a sweat.
So let’s get out there and brush away all those loose hairs and make their coats shine.
Keep in mind, too, if not rushed, grooming can be an important time to connect and bond with your horse.
Back Country group
I think it’s important for the public at large to be aware of just how much the national parks rely on volunteer workers to maintain the trail systems.
So I wanted to share that when the Back Country Horsemen of America held its annual meeting last month, it learned about a new program by the Forest Service that will involve more use of volunteer groups, such as Back Country Horsemen, to catch up on $314 million of deferred trail maintenance.
That amounts to a whole lot of work that the national park system can’t do on its own because of budget cuts.
“Keeping trails open for everyone is what we do,” said Randy Rasmussen of Oregon, Back Country’s director of public lands and recreation.
The not-for-profit organization, formed in Montana in 1973, has since grown to 13,000 members in chapters across the country.
Its in-kind services related to trail work totaled $13.7 million in 2016, Rasmussen said.
I noted those facts and figures to help remind people how important horses and their people are in keeping trails open for all of us to enjoy.
BCH isn’t just about trail work, though; it’s also about having family fun with like-minded folks and their horses.
Just last month, the Mount Olympus Chapter held the Easter Egg Fun &Spring Tune Up at Dave and Becky Seibel’s Spirit Horse Ranch in Port Angeles.
Of the 20 participants, at least half were kids.
The day began in the outdoor arena, which had been set up with trail obstacles, bridges and cones.
The idea was to help folks start getting their horses and mules ready for the real trails, where they may encounter natural obstacles such as downed trees and low-hanging branches.
There was a trail ride guided by Dave, and participants could also go out on the Spirit Horse Ranch trails at their leisure.
After a lunch break, they held games, such as the egg toss.
This off-horse event is played by teams of two people who toss a raw egg between them.
If it drops, they are out.
The team with a whole egg left is the winner.
Sydney Hutton and Gwyneth Van Blair won the egg toss.
The participants also played “Ride the Buck,” which is a bareback riding event.
A $1 bill was placed under the knee. The riders must follow the instructions of the announcer.
The rider that still has the $1 in place wins the pot.
Rylie Baysinger won this event.
They also played “Egg ’N’ Spoon,” which is a riding event.
The rider must hold a spoon with a raw egg on it and follow the instructions of the announcer.
The last rider with an unbroken egg wins.
“Penny Doane won the contest on her smooth-gaited horse, Jet, and didn’t lose her egg even at the lope,” said Sherry Baysinger.
“Riders had the opportunity to work with their horses on a variety of obstacles, and we all had a lot of fun.”
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.
If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.