The Appaloosa

My poor sweet barn owner, the vet’s wife, is really one of the kindest people I’ve come across in the horse world. She always wants to help, and just wants us/our horses to be happy. However, I’m pretty sure that she’s relatively horrified by how “feral” looking my horses can sometimes look, compared to how she’s used to show horses looking.

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I like how both of the 2yo’s are wearing hay hair accessories, it must be the latest trend. Let’s ignore the fact that Presto looks like the biggest horse in this picture.

I don’t clip whiskers of any kind, eyes or noses, and I don’t clip ears. Henry gets body clipped as needed, and I trimmed those long goat hairs off the bottom of Presto’s head last winter, but if you’re used to slick hairless show horses, mine are not it. They routinely have bite marks and their manes are thick because I don’t pull them (I do keep them trimmed short with scissors, but I don’t pull). I do chop off any fetlock hair that dares try to grow, because I can’t stand it, but otherwise… they are certainly not the sleekest looking animals. I like them a little more natural. They’re happy. They’re at an appropriate weight for their jobs and well-muscled and fit and sound… that’s what I care about most. I’m pretty sure it made her REALLY happy when I dyed Henry’s tail before Coconino, even though I refused to clip his nose or ears. At least I’m not a total street rat, right?

The barn owner grew up in breed show land, and now shows minis. And if you know those folks, they REALLY go all out on the turnout. No whiskers, clipped ears, coat clipped almost bald around the eyes, slather on some baby oil, the whole 9 yards. What you definitely won’t ever see is a horse showing up covered in bite marks.

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Mine don’t look like this

But, um… have y’all met Presto? If he has more fur than bites, I consider it a win. Most of them are his own fault too, because he stands there and lets himself be bitten without ever running away. I mean really, what an idiot. But he does always look like a walking punching bag. I gave up on that a long time ago, because he’s a baby horse and that’s life. Bite marks on that kid don’t faze me at all.

He looks totally fine if you stand a little ways away and take dark, semi-blurry pictures.

The barn owner was relatively horrified last month when I said that I was taking Presto to an in-hand show. He was a bit ribby (I mean jesus, y’all should see how much that thing eats but he just grows UP, not out) and huge chunks of him were missing. She was too polite to express her disapproval, but you could see the panic in her eyes. When we came home with a qualifying score and I told her he was going to Championships in September, she made it her personal mission to make him “beautiful” by then. I snickered a little at that, because I’m a bad person, but bless her, if she wants to try to clean up that giramoose I’ll absolutely let her. As long as it doesn’t involve removing ear or nose hair.

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at least it moves pretty good

So he’s been eyeball deep in hay pretty much 24/7, and she upped his fat intake. And to her credit, he has definitely filled out a bit. Of course, he started filling out around this time last year too, once he got past his big spring growth spurt. Still, we’ll give her the credit. The thing that has amused me most is her quest to rid him of bite marks. She is religious about putting ointment on them, but every day he just comes in with more.

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If you look at him long enough I’m pretty sure you’ll start seeing constellations 

When we got back from Coconino he was actually pretty well healed up. He’d just been going out with the other 2yo’s, and they’re like half his size so they don’t really play that hard. One night back with Henry and Dobby and he had so many bite marks the next day, I couldn’t even count them. It’s not like they pick on him really, either… Presto picks on THEM and then stands there and takes their retaliatory wrath.

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Don’t feel sorry for Presto, he followed Dobby around for several minutes trying to bite him before this happened.

So she’s been putting her special ointment on all these marks, to the point where by the time she’s done, he legit looks like an appaloosa. It is endlessly amusing to me, because every day he seems to get more and more spotted. It’s driving her nuts, and it’s making me laugh. She has threatened to remove him from Dobby and Henry’s company if they can’t keep their mouths to themselves. I, of course, don’t give a crap if he goes to Championships covered in bite marks. He’s a 2yo, he goes outside, he plays with other horses… it’s just not a big deal in our world. He’s sorta dark, they kinda blend in. And in our world they WANT the FEH horses to look like they live in a pasture, so it’s a far cry from the perfection required at breed shows.

It is tall but it is narrow

But hey… if he keeps getting dozens of spots of ointment every day, maybe we could broaden our horizons and look into the appaloosa shows. Are giraffaloosas a thing?

10 thoughts on “The Appaloosa

  1. hhaha giraffaloosas! I get where she is coming from – marks of any kind are not cool in the breed shows… My halter horse is living wild this year (how my friend and mentor sees it) to have time to grow and he is covered in bite marks and all kinds of bug bites. My friend is kind of horrified, but he’ll be fine.

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  2. My jumpers show in bonnets for a reason… I hate trimming ears! I probably should at least take scissors to the giants tufts sticking out of their ears though 🙂

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  3. It’s amazing to me how close they can trim those breed horses! I’ve always done muzzles, ears, and fetlocks until I took my showing hiatus. Rio’s definitely happier with his hairy ears and use of his whiskers. I do sometimes trim the ear hair that’s spilling out… it can get really gross. But that’s it. Probably once I show again I’ll have to trim (until we catch up to France I guess?) but until then, au naturale!
    I bet Presto’s gonna have the nicest skin with all that ointment on him all the time. Next time you and barn owner talk about championships, can you get some photos of her face? I’d like to see the horrified look!

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    1. I went to bodyclip a couple minis one time and the owner presented me with a 40 blade to use around their eyes and halfway up the face. That was… interesting. Bald. So bald.

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  4. So funny! Presto looks pretty good with spots, in my simple opinion. 😀

    So where I used to live there was this genuine 3-day event (all levels) that was THE big show of the year. For weeks ahead of time I would demand, implore and cajole my chestnut of the time to keep his opinions to himself until after that show, at least when out in pasture daily with the herd. No politics, no football, no nuthin, no matter what the other horses say. He could tell them what he really thinks on the Monday *after* the Big Show.

    And yet somehow we went up the center line for the dressage test with a big swipe of hair missing from the front of his face, right across his delicate race marking. Not a bite, he managed to knock it off himself, doing something. There are just a lot of seconds elapsing on the journey between A and C, when the judge doesn’t have much to do but stare at the front of the horse … I can only hope that dressage judges actually like signs of a horse living a more natural life in pasture with “friends”. 🙂

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