Sorry honey, it’s good for you

With the sensitive skin of her breed (Andalusian), Star can tend to suffer from skin irritations and fungal infections very easily.

It is important that we keep her and her tack clean and be vigilant about quickly treating anything that gets started.

We’re in the midst of some heat related late summer facial fungal thing that requires constant careful face washing and treatment.

Oh joy.

Star is not enthusiastic about face washing:

“Oh, the indignity! I thought you loved me, mom. Apparently not. This is HORRID. You will have to make this up to me with carrots. Lots of carrots. ICK!!! It’s cold and wet.”


After washing daily with a clean washcloth and water, I apply a product with tea tree oil to fight the fungus. This isn’t the exact product, but it is similar:

It’s a constant battle and the best cure is prevention: watching to be sure all tack, halters, and blankets are clean and fit properly so that there are no rubs. I’ve learned from experience that fine hair on Andalusians rubs very easily and then you have an entry point for the fungus to start.

Here’s to a beautiful coat and no more fungus!!!

Star just in from turnout with a dusty face and looking like she has mule ears (she doesn’t) …but still so cute!

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Back in the saddle at last


It has been almost six months since I’ve ridden Star. 

Back in late March, Star decided she did not like her neighbor. Kicking the pipe corral fence separating them seemed like a good plan (to her).

Result: Bad news for us. A significant hematoma (bruise), swelling that would not resolve for many months, a small (fortunately insignificant) lower suspensory branch tear.

Many, many months of icing, walking, wrapping, lasering, ultrasounding the leg to check healing, etc.

The good news is that the prognosis was always excellent (full recovery). The bad news is that it took forever for that swelling to resolve. Horse legs don’t have very good circulation and she really whacked the leg hard (foolish mare). Healing took a long time.

Everything was complicated by us being in the middle of moving from Northern California to San Diego, CA. Star stayed at the rehab center longer than I would have liked, simply because I didn’t want to move her twice and I knew she was safe there.

Two weeks ago, she arrived safe and sound in San Diego. Oh joy! And I rode her two days later. My, she felt much wider than I remembered.


My daughter visited a few days later and took pictures. Star and I are both out of shape, but we’re getting our groove back on and it feels so good to be back together again.


The miraculously relaxing blanket

Back on Track products have been a favorite of mine for a couple of years, ever since a trainer recommended the back brace after I hurt my back. My husband and I both use the back brace whenever we have some back pain and it works like a champ to sooth, ease pain, and provide mild support.

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Starlight trying on her new Back on Track mesh sheet before being tacked up. “Hmm,” she says. “Seems to fit well. Nice and snuggly.”

I put the blanket on her to try it for size, and WOW, instant transformation from suspicious – “what are you dressing me in now?” to “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that’s kinda nice…”

Back on Track products are woven with ceramic particles which reflect the body’s own heat, providing soothing and therapeutic benefits of long wave infrared radiation.

IMG_0403.jpgHere are the results of a study done:

The products are machine washable (line dry) and the therapeutic properties do not wash or wear out. This product is not only relaxing, but it will actually help her back, shoulder, and hind quarter muscles have better blood flow and thus recover more quickly from exercise

But back to Starlight. Within seconds of putting on the blanket, her eyes half closed, her neck dropped, and she got a far away look…it was the same look I get as I sink into the perfect temperature bubble bath with a pile of favorite magazines at my elbow to flip through desultorily. BLISS.


“You may leave me now, while I commune with my blanket. I think I’ll just catch 40 winks.”





A better mousetrap…

Mice. Bane of the barn. A chewed saddle pad corner here, plastic baggies chewed to bits, tack damaged (!), mice feces everywhere. Ick! At least I have all the feed in mouse proof containers.

SHRIEK! One just ran across my foot in the tack room. This has got to stop. No cats at this barn, unfortunately, so we have an endless supply of mice. No way to mouse proof my tack room. The solution?

The Raticator electronic mouse trap. 


  • Mouse dies instantly
  • No mess – simply pick up the trap and empty it into a nearby trash can. Don’t even look.
  • Bait with pellets or a piece of carrot – works like a charm!
  • Batteries last six months or 50 kills
  • No poison to worry about. Poison is environmentally hazardous.
  • Never touch a mouse – no worries about disease
  • Never worry about wounding a mouse or having it suffer. Kills instantly!
  • Expensive, but SO worth it. So clean and easy.

The mice come and go but the zapper stays there, waiting for them…Some weeks I don’t catch any; other weeks, I might catch a couple. Other people in my barn have got these now, too. One woman caught five mice the first day she ran the trap. That has to be a record.

Note that this is much more effective for mice than rats. Rats might be a little too smart to fall for this over and over again like the mice. I do regret killing them, but there is no way to keep them out of the tack room. This keeps the population under control and limits the damage. At least it’s quick and – I hope – painless.

Raticator mouse/rat trap. Available at Amazon and other places for approx. $50. Requires batteries.

Raticator mouse/rat trap. Available at and elsewhere for approx. $50. Requires batteries.

All I want for Christmas (besides love, joy, and peace, of course)

Sing with me!

On the First day of Christmas, my true love gave to me One Blingy Bridle... (

Look at it glow!

Look at it glow!


On the Second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Two Fancy Boots…(

No break in! Lots of calf widths/heights, too.

No break in! Lots of calf widths/heights, too.


On the Third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Three Favorite Saddles

Lemke dressage saddle

Lemke dressage saddle

Voltaire jump saddle

Voltaire jump saddl



On the Fourth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Four Black Patent Leather Horse Boots

People on Horses boots

People on Horses boots


On the Fifth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me

Five Perfect Ponies!

Embed from Getty Images


Finn - Perfect Pony

Finn – Perfect Pony

Ellie - Perfect Pony

Ellie – Perfect Pony

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Six Saddle Pads (super pads available in almost any color/trim combo, wash beautifully and hold up well), Mattes eurofit pads would look so nice on my ponies (but are expensive), BucasMax pads are always a favorite

Bucas pads come in four colors

Bucas pads come in four colors


On the Seventh Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Seven Back on Track products…

A blanket to soothe my horse's sore muscles and promote recovery.

A blanket to soothe my horse’s sore muscles and promote recovery.

Gloves to keep my hands warm on cold days!

Gloves to keep my hands warm on cold days!

a back brace for when my back hurts

a back brace for when my back hurts



On the Eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Eight Kastel shirts (in eight different colors!)…

Find at your local tack store or

Kastel shirt - SPF 30 and so comfy and cool.

Kastel shirt – SPF 30 and so comfy and cool.


On the Ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Nine Mikmar Comfort girths (for those five perfect ponies)…

Mikmar Comfort Girth - stretchy, grippy, revolutionary comfort for your horse. Comes in jump sizes, too!

Mikmar Comfort Girth – stretchy, grippy, revolutionary comfort for your horse. Comes in jump sizes, too!


On the Tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Ten cans of Effax Lederbalsam (to keep all that tack conditioned).

Effax - available just about everywhere and the best product I've found.

Effax – available just about everywhere and the best product I’ve found.


On the Eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me Eleven bottles of Equifuse Gleam (for all those pony tails)….

Smells great and works wonderfully. Even Finn's scrawny tail looks good with this stuff, and Ellie's thick Haflinger tail combs out easily.

Smells great and works wonderfully. Even Finn’s scrawny tail looks good with this stuff, and Ellie’s thick Haflinger tail combs out easily.


On the Twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me twelve Massage Gift Certificates…because after riding those Five Perfect Ponies, I think I will need it!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Blessed are the meek...

Blessed are the meek…

May your season be filled with peace, joy, and love, and Ponies of all sizes and shapes!

Hair down to there

My haflinger’s tail draws sighs of admiration wherever she goes. How do you keep it so clean? How did you get it so long? So thick? Do you braid it to get those waves? It’s so silky and luxurious and gorgeous. Sigh.

Ellie's tail, with just a little Gleam on it. Hasn't been washed in a couple of weeks, either.

Ellie’s tail, with just a little Gleam on it. Hasn’t been washed in a couple of weeks, either.

As you can see from the picture, it is just like the tail Barbie’s horse would have.

Every girl, young and old, wants to play with it.

Ellie has good Haflinger genes and grows hair at an amazing rate. This is a good thing, because sometimes she rubs her tail and I only have to wait a few weeks and it looks great again. The bad thing is that her mane grows just as fast, necessitating continual pulling if I want to keep it at braiding length.  How we suffer for our art.

When you have this much hair to maintain, there are a couple of products that are de rigueur:

1) the right shampoo. For white hair, I recommend Quiksilver shampoo (widely available, for example:®-quic-silver-whitening-shampoo/p/X1-22105/). There are other good products, but this does a nice job of cleaning without over drying, and it whitens and brightens, too. Now I sound like a Tide commercial (“little Ellie’s tail got all splashed with arena mud, but Quiksilver whitened it right up!”) I can also use it to clean my black horse’s tail, so I don’t have to keep two kinds of shampoo. Yep, Quiksilver is not just for white horses.

2) the right detangler. There are many out there and I’ve tried a number of them, and in my experience, NONE works as well as GLEAM. Put about a dime size amount on your palm, rub palms together, and comb through forelock and tail. Maybe a little more if the hair is really tangled. That’s it. Your hands will not be slippery, they will simply smell lovely (rather like Laura Ashley stores used to smell – remember that perfume they had? It smells just like that and takes me right back to London in the 70’s and 80’s). The hair will easily brush through and will continue to brush out easily for about a week. It will have a nice shine and your horse will smell delicious and look fabulous. Available at my local tackstore, online at some retailers, and here at the website:

3) Finally, remember to use your fingers to detangle, and only go to the brush after you’ve added the Gleam and things are pretty well detangled. We do not want to pull a lot of hair out with that brush! Hold the tail and brush gently below where you are holding it, so that hair is not pulled out. Preserve the tail! And the forelock. Voila: Hair down to there.

Clipping – so many choices, so little time, so much hair, oh boy!

finn_02There may be people who enjoy clipping, but I am not numbered among them. C’mon – it is nitpicking, your arms get tired, within the first minute you are sweaty and covered with itchy hair that goes down your shirt and sticks to your sweat, and it’s so hard to get it right. This is fun? Sounds like dressage. No wait, we were talking about clipping.

There is a certain satisfaction to transforming your formerly hairy, shaggy beast into something relatively sleek. I say relatively because I usually end up with some track marks and a few little missed spots. Yes, the perfectionists among us are shuddering, but when I want a perfect job, I hire someone to do because I just can’t. For basic clipping when I’m not going to a big championship show, I save myself lots of money and do the dirty deed myself.

Choices! We have choices in clipping. Whole horse, of course, which looks gorgeous and sleek but requires blanketing and takes a long time to do. Head, legs, the whole thing.  At our barn, we pay extra for blanketing, so I don’t body clip until the winter show season starts. Meanwhile, though, if I don’t take some hair off my ponies they are drenched with sweat 10 minutes into their exercise and take forever to dry. Not going to work! Here’s where the Trace Clip is a good choice. You remove the hair from the lower half of the horse, leaving the top half covered. Most horses, in a reasonably mild climate, do not require additional blanketing even if it rains or gets chilly, since their top hair keeps them warm. Of course, those of you in really chilly climates may beg to disagree and I’m sure if you clip a horse and it’s 0 degrees, yeah, it needs some kind of blanket. Here in California a Trace Clipped horse can go all winter with no blanket, although I usually put a sheet on if it’s 45 degrees or lower.

Great article on body clipping, “how to”:

Illustrations of types of clips:

Finn after the somewhat disastrous Trace Clip

Finn after the somewhat disastrous Trace Clip

One last caution: be sure your clippers are up to the job – heavy duty, well maintained, blades sharp, and all the things you need ready such as Blade Lube, etc., etc. It’s an excellent idea to have a backup pair ready as well. Yesterday I got two thirds of the way through Trace Clipping my horse and the clippers just…stopped. Nothing. I have no idea why (yet). Fortunately a kind soul came by and offered me an old set of hers to finish the job. I finished sloppily (her clippers were not working quite right either, although they sort of functioned) and God knows what I’ll find when I take off his sheet today and look at it in the cold light of day, but at least the basic job is done. I can clean it up later. Lesson learned: have back up clippers ready at hand for any job bigger than small trimming.