Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Hogging and Pulling

I read recently in a very popular Stable Management book that hogging 'saves labour'. Well, I know how hard it can be to keep a mane in good condition but if you've not got the time to care for your horse, or cannot find someone who can, then maybe owning a horse is not for you. Horse ownership is not just about riding. It's about caring from top to bottom for your horse. Riding school horses are much better for the owner who has 'no time' as they are ready to be ridden at a moments notice and have staff caring for them that have the time to groom properly. It's all about responsibility.

Many a time I've seen beautiful cobs and warmbloods without manes, standing in fields with little shelter and without that all important mane to keep flies off their eyes and necks. In Winter the mane keeps the upper neck warm and in wild horses goes on both sides of the neck. If you look at it from the horses view, to have a mane on both sides is not only beneficial for protective reasons it also shows the neck muscles are developed evenly. I also find it annoying that people that compete have to have the mane on one side only.

I also see absolutely no reason for taking one of the most beautiful things about a horse and shaving it off...hogging is a fashion statement and not in the best interests of the horse.

The other thing that concerns me is the pulling of manes and tails. Yes, I know you need straight lines to plait and yes it may look better in some peoples eyes but the natural horse is a very beautiful one and why try to 'fix' what isn't broken. It seems all these things we do to horses is human vanity or sloth. Nothing seems to be done for the horses benefit! Mane and tail pulling is an extremely painful thing which is why when most people who do it they do it over a few days or have to twitch the horse because he's bad and won't stand still. Have you ever had the back hairs near your neck pulled out? It can be painful and sore for quite a while afterwards, try it, I'm sure you'll think twice about pulling the hairs again!

I do think once again that shows and judges should try to encourage a more natural approach to such a noble creature and not try to get everyone to look the same....we're not in the cavalry any more. To me a row of horses beautifully plaited in a show class looks more like a row of sore necks from tight knots on top of their crests. Yes it may look pretty to some, but a full, long mane which has been taken care of and regularly groomed is a far more precious and beautiful thing. If everyone started doing it, maybe the judges would have to change their views too!

I have recently noticed a plastic comb called 'The Solocomb', it comes with a blade in it. You comb out the mane, backcomb as close to the roots as possible and then press a 'trigger' on the handle which makes the blade cut the remaining few strands. It has a high-quality blade and doesn't involve hurting your horse, which to me seems a much fairer way of getting the result we want.

One other thing that annoys me a LOT is the cutting or docking of heavy horses tails. I believe in the UK docking horses tails is illegal but not in some countries. You CAN drive a horse with a long tail (I've done it regularly), but if you're worried you can do a big easy plait of it or tie it up. Horse communicate with their tails and use them as fly swatters too so are very necessary.

 This heavy horse has had it's tail partly plaited and tied up...easy peasy, and looks GREAT ;)