In honor of springtime in Ohio, I thought I would share this fun little story about life at the barn.
Debra Sue Brice
“Well,” Briella spat several fine brown hairs out of her mouth as she spoke. “I think it’s official.”
“What’s that?” Delaney called from Daisy’s stall. She was trying to maneuver the fluorescent pink halter on her little paint mare who was obviously feeling a bit frisky and obstinate on this brisk March day. The coolness of winter hung heavy in the barn while the sun warmed the outside air.
“Spring has sprung,” Briella chuckled, half sarcastically but mostly because she was covered in more hair than her horse, Maximus. Her ten year old thoroughbred gelding was finally shedding his winter coat, preparing to show the glorious light bay summer fur underneath. Every year it was a sure sign of spring - horse hair everywhere. Literally. The aisle, the water buckets, inside the unmentionables. Everywhere.
Bless his heart, Maximus always stood so patiently in the aisle as Briella groomed him until her arms ached. His upper lip would twitch in sheer satisfaction as he welcomed the deep massage of the curry comb. Sometimes, his eyes would slowly droop as he gently doze off in the crossties while Briella worked her magic on his coat. Needless to say, he thoroughly enjoyed his spa days.
“Ugh,” Delaney grumbled as she dragged Daisy out of her stall. “Look at me!” she exclaimed. “I’m literally covered in horse hair and I haven’t even started grooming her yet!”
Briella looked over at her friend and laughed. “Next time I would recommend not wearing a black hoodie to the barn. I think you have more white hair on you than Daisy does!”
Delany rolled her eyes as she clipped Daisy into the crossties across from Max. The attempt to wipe white hair off her sweatshirt only led to more white hairs littering her hoodie.
“Oh forget it,” she grumbled to herself. Delaney grabbed the bottom of her sweatshirt and rapidly shook it back and forth, hoping the quick movements would release the hairs.
“Oh man,” she moaned. “Now it’s all over my lips!”
“Guess you shouldn’t have worn chapstick today,” Briella laughed yet again at her friend’s poor luck.
This was Delaney’s least favorite time of year. The time where the horses lost their fuzzy winter coats, most of the time in random locations on their bodies leaving strange patches of hair that resembled mange. To the untrained eye, many would think the barn had broken out in some sort of serious skin disease, but equestrians knew all too well the sure signs of spring. Although the end result always revealed a sleek summer body, the endless grooming to get there was quite time consuming.
Both girls worked tirelessly on their horses, giant piles of hair growing on the ground showing they were productively making progress, but looking at their horses was a different story.
“Ugh,” Delaney moaned after five minutes of grooming. “It doesn’t even look like I made a dent on her coat.”
“Honestly, D, it doesn’t,” Briella laughed. “She looks the same as she did when you pulled her out of her stall.”
“Maybe I just need to move south,” Delaney contemplated. “If I move to Florida, Daisy wouldn’t have to grow this winter coat.”
“Yeah,” Briella commented, cleaning out her brush. She threw the clumps of hair on the ground with the rest of the horse hair, the dust from rolling in the mud earlier in the week glittering the air. “But think of how hot it will be in the summer months down there. I don’t think you’ll be able to handle it. I know I certainly couldn’t.”
Delaney cocked her head to the side. “True,” she frowned. “Maybe I should just body shave her next year.”
Delaney was always looking for ways to make her pre-riding routine easier. Who could blame her though. Riding was the fun part of owning a horse while grooming and bathing took up time that could be spent galloping through the woods or jumping cross country fences.
Walking over to her grooming box, Delaney rummaged through the plethora of dirty brushes and grabbed a large pink comb. Carefully picking up Daisy’s tail, she started combing out the long, multi colored snarls. “All I can say is I am definitely looking forward to giving Daisy a bath. She stinks.”
“So does Max. Want to take them outside to hand graze for a little bit?” Briella asked, needing a break and some fresh air.
“Sure, but just for about five minutes. Daisy hasn’t been on any fresh grass yet so I don’t want her getting sick.”
“Max either. We’ll keep it quick,” Briella replied.
Both girls clipped lead lines to their horse’s halters and led them outside. The sun was shining on this brisk, yet warm March afternoon. Birds chirping nearby in the trees signified spring was finally here, even if another snow storm was on the horizon. Strangely enough, four seasons in one day is what you can get when you live in Ohio. Winter in the morning, spring-like weather in the afternoon and summer by evening. If you were lucky, you’d get a little fall mixed in between.
“Oh no, is that what I think it is?” Delaney asked, looking around and swatting her hand.
“Great.” I groaned as I watched her swat away a fly. “I can’t believe the flies are out already. Guess I need to dig out the fly spray from the basement.”
“I’m not sure if Daisy can actually feel one landing on her yet with all this winter hair still attached,” Delaney tousled her horse's mane. Daisy snorted.
Both Max and Daisy gobbled up the short, spring grass as if they would never have an opportunity to eat the delicacy again. They were literally the epitome of the term ‘hungry as a horse.’
Soon, dandelions and crabgrass would fill the pastures where the horses would spend warm sunny days basking in the fresh air and stretching their winter legs. Soon, the pesky little insects would be able to enjoy a feast of horse flesh as they effortlessly zipped through the air. Soon, bathing the winter crud away would be a distant memory. Soon, riding would be more enjoyable without three extra layers. Soon.