Harbingers of Spring

Everyone has his or her own signs that truly mean spring is coming. Here in upstate New York, that might be the first crocus that boldly, or foolishly, pokes its head up through a snowdrift. Another positive sign is the “eau de skunk” that wafts across the morning or evening air.

Crispy with her pal, Cinnamon. I have to remind myself that this is what they’ll look like this coming summer!

At our farm, the first true sign of spring is when Crispy starts to shed. Crispy is our elderly Quarter Horse. She is a beautiful red dun. When all shed out, her coat is very thick, tight and shiny. She sort of glows in the sun light.

Crispy’s winter coat is also thick. She is fuzzy and fluffy. Her dorsal stripe tends to disappear in all the extra hair. Snow sits on Crispy’s back as she is so well insulated it doesn’t melt.

Crispy starting to shed.

As the daylight increases (quite frankly simply seeing any sun at all this year is a change!), horses are stimulated to shed. We tend to think of shedding as coming with warm weather, but it is the increased daylight.

About three days ago, Crispy’s coat started looking a bit dull and loose. Now we have a dun hair free for all. One swipe of the shedding blade, and there is a pile of soft hair on the stall floor. Too bad I haven’t thought of something clever to do with all the hair!

This is what came off of Crispy with one swipe of my shedding blade.

With three old horses and a mini horse there will be plenty of hair before we are done. I do sometimes take hair outside to leave for the birds. It can be fun to look for nests in the fall and see that this horse’s or that dog’s hair was incorporated by a skilled avian weaver.

Some horsemen swear by certain supplements to help a horse get through shedding quickly and grow in a super and shiny coat. While supplements can help if your horse’s diet is borderline deficient in some area, a balanced diet with plenty of high-quality forage really doesn’t need the extras. Good grass is probably the best coat care supplement you can find, but I know not all horses get to enjoy plenty of grazing. So, the economy can use the stimulus and if it makes you feel better, go for it. Feed companies everywhere will thank you!

Dealing with the extra horsehair reminds me to think about doing a thorough brush cleaning. I like to soak the brushes (up to the top of the bristles, trying to leave the wood dry if they have wooden handles) in dish soap. Then rinse thoroughly. Plastic curry combs can be scrubbed.

Close-up of Crispy’s hair.

For now, though, I am left dealing with hair, hair, glorious hair! (See our story on shedding tools.) Crispy is the only one so far, but I know the others will be close behind. Of course, Crispy may be optimistic about spring herself as we are due to get a major storm with a foot of snow in two days!

For those who followed the intelligence thread, Crispy has now mastered the single snap stall door lock and moved up to a double snap system. I hope she and Cinnamon have reached the limits of their cleverness and lip dexterity. Not sure how to add more snaps!

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