Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Arabian Breeder's Annual Open House Is Finally Over!! Part 2

Part 1

Out in the barns my daughter, Colleen was in charge. She and Rachel were the only ones working with the horses who knew who they were so Colleen had the task of assigning the teams of grooms and handlers to the appropriate horses and getting them up to the ring on time.

We present the horses in nice leather halters or schooling "halter" type halters on the halter horses. I have a couple of halters of each size and they rotate through the herd. To make it easy to determine the size, I have them color coded with the leads. The small halters with navy leads, the mediums with black leads.

Then I've gone down the sales list and marked each horse for which size halter it should wear. That way they can tell on the fly which halter to grab and we don't get horses coming up to the ring with a poor fitting halter.

Early that morning (5 am) I had gone through the barns and clipped all the muzzles and bridlepaths and checked for horses that might need to be rebathed or have markings cleaned up etc.

Once that was done, all the horses were gone back through and had their manes and tails brushed out. We have lots of long thick manes and tails here and getting out all of the deep tangles is an art. By doing them early, the groom teams only needed to do touch ups instead of intense detangling.

Colleen had some of Rachel's friends helping out on the groom squad. They had come the day before to help with bathing so they had an idea about the temperament of the horses and what kind of cues I have on them.

The girls were paired up in teams with each team having their own complete grooming tray with the usual brushes, make-up, fly spray, Show Sheen, clean rags etc. Each had a sales list marked with the horses they were assigned to get ready.

Before we began showing the horses, Colleen and Rachel did demonstrations on the first few horses on the list, showing the newcomers how I like my horses groomed for show.

Once the obvious body brushing and mane and tail brushing and cleaning of assorted green spots with Show Sheen is done, I put a thin layer of Vaseline over the bony hood of the eye and over the entire muzzle and up the sides of the face almost to the jowel. After the layer of Vaseline I apply the normal Ultra make-up everyone is used to over the top of the Vaseline.

I don't like my horses globbed up with gunk, but I do want them to appear "oiled." I find by using the Vaseline first, the Ultra can be applied to achieve the desired look and it won't all soak in and disappear before the horses ever hit the ring. The idea with the "oiled" look is for the dark black skin characteristic of the Arabian horse to show through.

After the Vaseline and the Ultra have been applied, I apply a thin layer of Shapley's light oil (baby oil can be used as a substitute) over the rest of the face, the forehead and jowels. I also apply the Shapley's oil to the bridlepath, inside the ears and underneath the tail and around the anus. All of that black exposed skin should look shiny instead of dull and dry.

Once the grooming lessons were finished and all questions were answered, the crews were sent off to the next horses on their list and the show was ready to begin. These lessons gave the grooms a chance to get a few horses ahead on the schedule because once we start showing it goes pretty fast and furious.

To complicate things some my place is strung out with three small barns. There are horses tucked in nooks and crannies everywhere. This doesn't make locating horses or communication all that easy (especially when the walkie talkies decide not to work). So Colleen posted a spotter, Julie, outside the first barn closest to the presentation ring.

All I had to do was signal Julie when we were ready to start. Then each time we were ready to catch up a horse, I checked with Julie to be sure the next horse was ready. This helped us to avoid lapses in the ring.

The trick is to keep things moving but at the same time not to keep showing a horse that is "done." Continuing to show a bored horse means loosing the excitement you've worked so hard to create. Since buying a horse is an emotional experience for most people, the excitement of the presentation is an important factor particularly in Arabian horses.

To be continued....................

Part 3

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  1. You're gonna drag this out forever aren't you... That's okay, I'll be here everyday waiting anxiously for the next installment.

    I like the little details you're giving. I've always wondered how they get those horses looking 'polished' without really polishing them...

  2. Wow!! Oh wow! So exciting!! Can't wait to read more! You're doing a great job recapping the day's events and giving details which by the way...I'm taking notes...LOL! ;)

  3. I'm back again too, each and everyday.
    And I did wonder why Arabs are shown with oiled muzzles. Thanks for clearing that up. Now I'll look closer at the "make-up" areas.