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How To Safely Decorate The Barn For The Holidays!

It’s always nice to share a little holiday spirit, and since we spend so much time at the barn, why not decorate that, too? A few things to be aware of, and then go nuts with the decorations!

Use lights in a smart manner. The newer, and more expensive, LED lights don’t heat up. There’s really no point in stringing regular holiday lights, as the dust, hay, and wood in the barn will just act as kindling. 

Be aware of extension cords, as well. These can heat up, cause a trip for horse or human, and also become an excellent treat for pests and rodents to munch on and cause damage, or worse, a fire. Overloaded circuits are a recipe for disaster.

Know that mistletoe and holly, while festive and lovely, are toxic to horses, dogs, and cats! If you crave that look, go for artificial versions of these holiday favorites. Poinsettia are mildly toxic as well.

Tinsel and garlands are lovely as well, but make sure your barn cats aren’t tempted to “hunt” these, then run down the aisle being followed by a long string of holiday spirit. When eaten by a curious horse, it might lead to a blockage.

It’s also a great idea to keep all decorations away from the reach of horses – which is quite longer than you might imagine if a horse is really determined to chew on a wreath. If your barn uses dutch doors or stall guards, keep decorations far away, or just supervise when your horse can look around.

Some excellent options for decorating barns include wreaths on the barn doors, outside lights, and even sleigh bells. Most barn dwellers like horses, the cats, and the barn dogs won’t fancy a bell as a snack.

Stick to the artificial plants, so you can avoid poisoning your pets and you have the benefit of re-using them! Additionally, any artificial pine will be better as it won’t drip sap everywhere!

Place your holiday decorations smartly so that no horse ends up with a new and festive toy.

Enjoy decorating the barn, and happy holidays from all of us at HandsOn Gloves!

Horse Grooming Hacks to Use All Year Long!

The key to successful stain removal on your horse is to curry it out first. This removes a large portion of the stain, and what remains can be wiped away with a damp towel and maybe a spritz of stain remover or dry shampoo.

When you are giving your horse a bath, put a dollop of shampoo directly onto your grooming glove. Sponges soak up product – which costs you money! The glove delivers shampoo directly to your horse.

After your horse is sudsy and bubbly, remove most of the shampoo with a sweat scraper. This saves water by not needing so much to rinse all of the bubbles away!

If you have lost your sweat scraper, you can use a piece of bailing twine pulled tightly between your hands to do the same job.

Use your grooming gloves to remove any dried clay poultice from your horse’s legs. No need to make a trip to the wash rack!

Make it a point to groom your horse after a ride, also! Loose hair and sweat marks disappear, and your horse gets a nice post exercise massage.

Before you hit the grocery store after the barn, use your grooming gloves to knock shavings and dust from your pants. Stray hairs from all of the grooming also disappear!

When the weather turns cold, wear your grooming gloves to turn sticky and cold faucets on and off. Extra grip without needing to touch anything cold. Also great to wear when filling buckets in the cold!

Take The Gloves Off HandsOn

Grooming gloves for horses (dogs and cats, too!) are a great way to bond with your horse AND get some feedback about how they feel! But sometimes you need to take the gloves OFF and use your fingertips and eyes. You might want to do these suggestions before you start grooming. If you find something suspicious, you might want to skip grooming that area.

Run your fingertips up and down your horse’s legs. This allows you to check for heat and or minor swelling. This indicated pain and injury, so skip grooming there. 

You will also be able to locate small scabs or ticks that are hidden by hair. This will allow you to investigate further and remove bugs if needed.

You can also check your horse’s digital pulse with your fingertips. This is the best way to see if there’s any stress in your horse’s hooves. You can learn more about that here: http://www.proequinegrooms.com/tips/grooming/find-your-horse-s-digital-pulse/

Using your fingertips to explore the tender skin inside your horse’s ear also lets you discover scabs and bugs. You will also need to use your fingertips around the folded skin of the elbow, another great place for scabs and bugs to hang out.

Then you can pop on your grooming gloves and curry away! With a gloved hand, you will be able to find muscle soreness, extra itchy places, and even patches of skin that might be starting to have a dermatitis type issue going on. Your horse’s own body language can clue you in. 

A sore horse might flinch or scoot over when being groomed. Sometimes, he might be telling you about a saddle that doesn’t fit, too many hills the day before, or some sort of injury from playing, among other things.

Extra itchy places can be remnants of an insect, an allergy, dry skin, lots of reasons.

You might find a patch of skin that’s dandruffy, has extra amounts of hair loss, or is already starting to be bald. All of your findings during the grooming process, with and without gloves, is good information to share with the Veterinarian. Grooming is one way to start a very helpful dialog with your horse, and they will thank you for it!

How To Remove Stains From Your Horse

There are few things more fun for your horse to do than roll. He’s likely going to end up with manure or grass stains, which are there no matter his coat color. You’re just more likely to see it on a white, gray, palomino, or other light colored horse. You will want to remove as much of the stain as possible, as it can become permanent if re-stained again and again. Manure and urine stains are also food for flies, so a stain free horse makes them less likely to be bothered by pests.

Your first plan of attack it to remember that your horse’s natural oils provide a stain barrier. Constant stripping of these oils with too frequent shampoo or a poor diet give stains a better chance of lasting. Daily and vigorous grooming is your best defense against stains.

First attack any stains with your grooming gloves. This gets any surface dirt up, and can sometimes remove a lot of the stain, too!

Try warm water first. One of the best stain fighters is a simple wash cloth that’s barely damp with warm or hot water. Wipe the stain away. You might want to lightly rub the stain. You might find that the more water you add, the more the stain starts to smear around instead of disappear.

Then move onto a spot remover or dry shampoo. Many of these also include odor neutralizers, which is good for your nose and hides the stain from flies. Same technique here – use a tiny amount. You might want to let it sit for a minute or two. Then wipe away with a dry or barely damp cloth.

There’s a good chance this will remove all of the stain! Keep up with the daily grooming to stimulate and spread around those natural oil that your horse makes himself. Treat the stains as necessary as soon as possible, and enjoy the grooming process with your horse!

What is the itchy horse telling you?

This might seem like an easy question to answer – but it goes a little bit further than the obvious sometimes. Of course the itchy horse is telling you that he’s itchy there! But when we take a moment to investigate why he is itchy, we might discover something more.

Some horses just like being scratched. It’s their spot, it feels extra good there, it takes them to their happy place. Simple.

But when a horse has a new itchy spot – it might be due to something else. It’s always a good idea to involve your Veterinarian if you find something new.

Bugs. Insects like flies, mosquitos, and various other biting critters think your horse is delicious, and in exchange for a blood meal they leave your horse itchy. You might find a raised bump, you might not. You can indulge your horse with some scratches and perhaps a topical anti-itch medicine to help.

Ticks. Ticks often leave giant itchy welts after they release, and in weird places like between the folds of skin around the elbows. While it’s true that some tick bites leave rings around the wound, you can’t see this on a horse with a hair coat and dark skin. Besides being carriers of dangerous diseases, ticks can cause significant discomfort.

General dermatitis, AKA a skin infection. Just like humans, a horse’s first line of defense is his skin. But sweat, dirt, and bacteria in the environment can sometimes cause skin infections. However – not all types of skin infections cause itchiness – which means your hands and eyes need to discover these possibilities.

A healing sore or wound. Scabs can be itchy! Even the smallest of scrapes can cause an itchy scab. The best course of action is to carefully avoid scratching off any scab, they will fall off in due time.

A sore muscle. Sometimes, a horse may decide that he needs a massage, and will be happy to lean into you to get some added pressure on a spot. You might also notice that your horse likes to move and adjust himself so you are working on the spots that need some massage.

Allergies. A horse with allergies can sometimes display itchy skin – which is your signal to investigate further. Many times an allergy is tricky to track down, but your Veterinarian can give you a plan to determine if allergies are the cause and which allergens are to blame.

Too much product! It’s in a horse’s nature to want to be dirty – which is fine! But when we start to shine them up, we sometimes use the wrong product or leave a product residue which might be irritating. Diligently rinsing and scraping off shampoos is key, as is using topical products in moderation.

It’s always a learning experience when you groom your horse – and the more you start to listen to his body, the more you can investigate and learn more about him. It makes for a great partnership and a healthy horse!

How to groom your fuzzy horse in the winter!

If you’re a horse, winter is the time to get fuzzy. Really, really fuzzy. A horse’s winter coat is signaled to start growing as the days become shorter. First he will decide to shed his summer coat, so you’ll have a lot of hair. Luckily, the hair is short so it seems like less than the spring shed. Then, his winter coat will start to come in. Some horses are clipped for a variety of reasons, but the fuzzy horse has some winter grooming challenges.

In the winter, skip the gym and head to the barn. A furry winter coat has extra challenges, so you will need to spend more time with your grooming gloves. Your horse’s long winter coat will trap dirt, shavings, sand, dust, stains, and sweat easier than in the summer. You also have a lot more hair that needs some protection from your horse’s natural oils.

There’s not much that can replace a heavy duty grooming session, but may opt to use any of these techniques to help your horse be comfortable and tidy in the winter.

Add a horse vacuum into the grooming routine! Most horses can learn to like the vacuum, and it helps remove every last bit of grit from your horse’s skin.

Use hot steamy towels to remove stains. Thoroughly groom the stained area, then thoroughly wring out a washcloth that’s been soaking in hot water. The steam can lift away a stain. You can also use a tiny amount of dry shampoo or spot remover.

Consider clipping the areas of your horse that get sweaty. Many skin issues arrive in winter as sweat gets trapped against the skin. You might have to supplement with blankets.

Use sheets to protect your horse’s hair from mud! It’s very difficult to remove all traces of dried mud from your horse – which can lead to discomfort under a saddle. Sheets provide a barrier.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the tail and mane – detanglers can help keep them knot free and help to resist stains.

However you choose to groom your fuzzy horse this winter – be sure to pay extra attention to all of his favorite itchy spots as you use your grooming gloves!

Winter Horse Grooming Tools

For colder weather, you may consider changing the horse grooming tools in your routine to better deal with fuzzy winter coats! As you change out grooming tools, give your stored tools a thorough cleaning so they stay fresh until spring.

Keep the grooming gloves! They are not just for shedding and bathing – their nodules can get through the fuzziest of fuzzy horses, bringing dust and dirt to the surface. They are also super for removing clumps of mud.

Add in a stiffer brush. Stiff brushes, if tolerated by your horse, can be great for removing all of the dirt that your grooming gloves bring up. Their extra durability and stiffness can also get through more of a winter coat.

Add in some washcloths! A steamy hot washcloth is perfect for removing stains. Use a warm washcloth for noses and sensitive parts.

If you don’t have hot water at the barn, you can use an insta hot kettle. Perfect when you need to warm up a bit or remove a stain with a warm cloth.

Find a good grooming oil. This adds luster to a winter coat, repels stains, and can be used in hooves to help keep snowballs from forming. A little bit goes a long way!

Fleece or wool coolers. Super for helping sweat marks dry, and can be used by you to get warm at the barn! And, they come in a ridiculous number of colors and patterns.

A hoof pick with a brush if you don’t already have one! The brush is great for getting mud out of the nitty gritty areas of your horse’s hooves.

How else do you mix up your winter grooming routine?

Shiny Horse

What creates a shiny horse?

A shiny horse is always nice to look at – and sunlight seems to just dance off their coats. Some of us with more “mud loving” horses know the challenge – but a few simple habits to get into will create shine on your horse.

It starts with proper nutrition! High quality hay and feeds are best. Your Veterinarian can help you determine if your horse’s nutrition plan matches his lifestyle, exercise levels, and medial needs.

It also includes proper parasite control. Intestinal parasites harm your horse’s digestive system and create a dull and lifeless hair coat.

Groom until your arms fall off! Part of grooming is bringing the natural oils on your horse’s skin to the individual hairs. The oil, called sebum, is the skin’s first layer of protection and this is the shine!

Avoid too much shampooing. While it’s so tempting to keep your horse covered in suds, frequent bathing with shampoos can lead to a dried out coat. Using a mild shampoo is also best.

Deal with mud. Lots of grooming, and use a sheet for turnout when you know a roll is in the works. You can always rinse away any residue with plain water if the weather is nice.

Remove dried sweat from your horse! Sweat is dull and dusty when it dries, so a quick few minutes on sweat marks with your grooming gloves solves this situation.

Supplement your grooming routine with shine creating sprays. These products should complement the shine, not create it. Use sparingly, especially under the saddle area, and enjoy the stain repelling help.

Remember to groom daily, and grab your sunglasses to admire the shine you create!

Shedding Tips

Help your horse shed with these tips!

The fall will bring about a big change in your horse – the winter coat! You might think that the only big shed happens in the spring, but your horse will also shed his summer coat in the fall to prepare for winter. All of this is triggered by the diminishing daylight – as sun rises later and sets earlier, your horse knows to start letting go of the summer coat and grow a winter coat. Here are some tips to help your horse shed evenly and smoothly!

  • Get your elbow grease going. Use your grooming gloves before and after riding/turnout. Not only does this help the hair shed, it really spreads out your horse’s own natural oils so that his new winter coat comes in as healthy as possible.
  • Let your horse roll as much as possible! A nice patch of sand in a paddock or round pen is an excellent idea. Rolling is great for your horse’s back anyway, and the sand helps the shedding hairs come loose. Then just brush out the sand (and more hair).
  • Use a grooming oil or sheen spray on a cloth to wipe your horse. The oil will act like a magnet and remove any stray hairs. Bonus – your horse gets some more shine!
  • Use a horse vacuum! These are great for gathering all of the hairs that are loosened from your diligent use of grooming gloves. The vacuum also comes in handy after a sandy roll to help your horse be sleek again.
  • Keep exercising your horse! This promotes overall health, stimulates circulation, and helps create a healthy shiny coat. Even if it’s chilly outside, exercise will loosen up some of the shedding hairs and make grooming that much more effective.
  • Avoid metal blades. Not only can these rust, they can damage the hair coming in. And, you want to be able to groom your horse’s legs and face – which doesn’t works so well with a metal blade.

These tips will help your horse have the best transition between summer and winter coats! Happy grooming!

Grooming With Kids

Many kids want to learn how to groom horses – but we need to balance the fun of grooming with some simple safety tips so no toes get squashed in the process. Start with a happy and quiet horse, add in a safe space with safe tools, and do a little hands on supervision to help your child be safe around horses.

Make sure the horse is happy!

  • His belly should be full.
  • The horse should be able to see his buddies and not feel isolated.
  • Grooming after your horse exercises is also a good idea, just in case he has some energy to burn off.

Add in a safe space.

  • Use cross ties so that his movement is limited, but he can still see what’s happening around him.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of space between the horse and the walls or edges of the grooming space.
  • Use mounting block to help your child reach the high spots, but only if there’s ample room for the block.
  • Use kid friendly tools that are smaller for a child’s hand. Tools that stay put, like gloves, are also less likely to end up under your horse.

Hands on supervision.

  • Stand on the same side of the horse as your child. If you are on one side, and your child is on the other, a spook will knock one of you down. If you are on the same side, you can keep a hand on your horse to push away if need be.
  • Demonstrate safe techniques. Walk around the front, keep a hand on your horse, brush with the direction of the hair.
  • Use frequent praise for your horse, this sets a good example for your child to respect horses.

Have fun grooming with kids!

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