As I’ve mentioned before, the lockdown meant that Galahad did not get his second clip this winter. That didn’t really matter all that much – especially as I didn’t ride him for so long. It is just a bit annoying that he is still moulting!
More irritating for me though was the fact that his bridle path was growing out. He has so much mane that the bridle path is very useful to have – plus it looks pretty silly when it is growing out and sticking straight up in the air!
I decided though that this at least was something I could deal with and attacked it with the scissors. It may not be quite as neat as it would have been with clippers but it did the job and he looks much smarter again. Perhaps this year I’ll remember to trim it throughout the summer too!
In a normal world I get Galahad a full clip around February time. Exmoors don’t tend to get clipped but he is so slow to lose his winter coat that if I don’t he still has the dregs of it in June and he gets far too hot when I ride him.
This year, however, his full clip got delayed until mid March and we all know what happened then! He is therefore left with just his original clip (done in November I think) and I have not one but two moulting ponies to contend with. Every time I brush them I get absolutely covered in hair.
On the bright side, I am at home all the time so it’s not like I’m short of time to groom them. Constantly grooming can get a little wearing though so I’m trying to spend just some time every day working at getting rid of the loose hair. Luckily the exercise they’re getting has dropped too so they’re not overheating!
Galahad has again had a busy few days. First of all, he had his final clip of the winter – which means pretty much all of his hair has gone. I love seeing all of the multicoloured hair on the floor when my instructor has finished!
Obviously, not all of this belongs to Galahad!
He does look rather smart now.
Then Galahad had his six-monthly back check and for only the second time ever he had no problems and needed no treatment. We have had so many issues with his back that this is still a surprise and such a wonderful feeling. I could not be happier!
The day after Galahad had his back check he and I went out for a hack. It was the first time in a while that we had hacked out from anywhere other than home and to start with he was a bit reluctant to leave. Once we did get going though he was very keen to go indeed! So much so that I decided to go a bit further than I had planned just to work off some of his excess energy.
He was very jolly though and I’m not really sure that it made much difference. However, we had a good time even if we were going faster than I would have liked. Unsurprisingly I have no pictures from the hack though – I did not think it would be safe!
That afternoon was haircut time for Galahad. Cookster is definitely moulting now and since Galahad won’t for months yet he needed doing – he had enough hair to fill an entire wheelbarrow!
He is now a two rug pony. It seems odd for an Exmoor but he has been wearing a rug for the last month anyway to help his sore muscles and we needed to replace the warmth of his coat with something.
Apparently he was still full of energy even then but behaved pretty well. He certainly looks very smart now.
I am finding that there are several benefits to having a clipped pony. Beyond the obvious one that he gets a lot less hot and bothered without his coat.
Firstly, I don’t have this to deal with.
Not that he lost his coat all at once anyway but he would gradually moult over several months and it is nice not to have all that hair floating around. Of course, when I ride my sister’s pony I still get covered in hair but at least his moulting is over relatively quickly. She is getting so much off him when she brushes him that she filled a bird feeder in the hope that it would be taken for nest building.
I tried to take the picture myself but something – who knows what – startled Galahad and we disappeared round the corner of the house. It seemed prudent to hand over the camera!
Secondly, I get to use my lovely body brush which I only use on Galahad’s summer coat – so it only normally gets used for a couple of months in the year.
Lastly, it means that Galahad’s brands are very visible and not surrounded by long hair which means it is much easier to put aloe vera gel on them.
The aloe vera has definitely improved them. They will probably never be perfect but anything I can do to make them a bit better for him has got to be a good thing.
I am definitely enjoying Galahad’s new shorn status!
Galahad’s haircut obviously necessitated an addition to his wardrobe. It is a bit too cold for him to be without a rug now!
Unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph of it when it was brand new and clean and it didn’t take long for Galahad to make it look rather used. It isn’t just the mud – he has caught it on brambles several times and has even managed to tear the lining a bit.
He has been very good about wearing it though. He still sometimes rolls his eyes a bit when I approach him with it but he stands still to let me put it on. He even lets me do it when he is loose which is very useful!
Look how smart he is!
I have also finally been able to use his fleece blanket in earnest. We went out with the riding club last weekend and as it was rather cold and drizzly I kept the blanket on whilst I was riding around outside the ring. I was sure he would not like that at all but he barely seemed to notice. Which was great as it meant I could use the front of the blanket to keep my own legs dry when it started raining properly!
When I got on my half clipped pony for our lesson on Friday I was ready for anything. He had never been clipped before and my sister has vivid memories of a freshly clipped pony throwing her off. In the event I needn’t have worried. Galahad had a bit more energy (a good thing) but that was all. I could feel myself tensing ready for an explosion though which is definitely something I need to try to avoid. The lesson went really well. Galahad is perhaps a little stiffer than he was in the summer but that is only to be expected – we haven’t been able to school in months. He is also still using his right shoulder as an escape route so I haven’t improved much there. Hopefully as the ground dries out I will get the hang of stopping him.
We also jumped for the first time since before Christmas and I was thrilled with the way he went. He had a good look at the water tray before he jumped it but he didn’t stop. In fact,the only stop we had was at the scary fillers in the second part of the double. Galahad was not at all keen on those but once we got over them once we had no trouble at all.
It was a really good session and clearly demonstrated that the clip was worthwhile. Galahad had been working hard for an hour and wasn’t sweating at all.
The next day I again took advantage of the limited time we had access to the school. Galahad was fully clipped by then but still behaving impeccably. No jumping this time but still a good session and I think we were showing some improvement, even if it was erratic. My sister was schooling her pony at the same time so we would switch between working in a fairly nice outline to working very hard at escaping through the shoulder towards them. In general though it was very encouraging work.
It has got to the point where Galahad needs clipping. I am able to ride every day now and it is warm enough to make him uncomfortable in his fur coat, even if we just go out for a short hack. I have never clipped anything myself so the ponies went away to my riding instructor’s this week. I spent the few days before they went trying to get Galahad used to the sound of the clippers. Since we don’t own any I used a drill instead. Without the actual drill in it of course!
I arrived for a lesson after work on the day the ponies went to find Galahad half clipped. He had so much hair that it had taken an hour and three quarters just to get this far.
It wasn’t until the next day that he was finished. He wore out three sets of blades in the process but as my instructor pointed out he has ten years worth of hair which has never really shed properly. Next year it should be much easier!
He has completely changed colour but is looking rather smart and his dapples are showing up rather well! The training with the drill apparently paid off as although he was obviously rather scared about the clippers he stood very still. He also seems to be coping pretty well with his lack of hair. I didn’t know how he would react to being ridden but he behaved very well. Now we should hopefully be able to get some proper schooling done without him getting too tired.