Saturday, June 30, 2012

Golden Girl

Pangea says, welcome to Hell Texas summer!

Having always had stalled-with-turnout horses up until I turned Gogo out last year, I think I somewhat underestimated how much work it is to try and keep a pastured horse clean. Basically, it is a completely impossible and totally futile task that causes me daily agony and misery. Gogo was always so clean, so sparkly, so brilliantly shiny and colorful, and with SUCH A BEAUTIFUL THICK GLOSSY TAIL ZOMG MY EYES I'M BLIND. This was largely due to the fact that she lived inside in the shade with a fan, and wore a flysheet in the summer whenever she was out.

As for Pangea, with that beautiful, rich, dappled coat? It has vanished with the temperature spike, replaced by a horribly dull, pale, burnt-looking sunbleached mess of washed-out color, crispy and dry as can be. Why? Because when the temperature spiked, she spent every day of her life soaked in sweat, standing out in the blazing sunlight (she chooses not to stand in the shade of her shed or her shady trees), letting the salty grime give her streaky blonde highlights in the areas that she sweats the most. The result? Patches of gold on her neck and back, along with a nice golden stripe down each front leg where the path of sweat runs. And it isn't a nice gold either... it is faded and crispy. No amount of rinsing her sweaty self managed to help prevent the issue. As for her poor tail, she spends so much of her time swatting at flies that it gets coated in sweat as well, and of course snags on everything that it comes in contact with. As a result, it is grimy, tangled, and half torn out. She is also very itchy due to all the sweat, so she grinds dirt into her coat every time she gets too hot - which also tears out more of her tail. Also ALSO, she pees in her tail. I CAN'T WIN.

Basically, my beautifully dappled bay has turned into some sort of weird dun/buckskin hybrid with a rump still full of butt dapples and a front end that doesn't match the rear. She looks horrible... I am truly embarrassed. There's not much that I can do until her coat sheds out and she grows a new one... arghhh!

I have a fly sheet on her for the moment, but it is just as an experiment - I am pretty sure that even the lightest one that I have will be too hot for her. It's a bit too late anyway.... sigh!

Yeesh, how embarrassing. If anyone has tips on keeping a sweaty horse who lives outside from sunbleaching, PLEASE do share! Same goes for keeping a decent tail on a pastured horse as well! Gogo had the same issue last year with her tail and the sunbleaching.... it was awful!

Check it out, I caught her doing a naughty when she was at the pool barn yesterday - I never net hay and elevate it as a rule (not good for TMJs to eat anywhere but off the ground) but when she is there for the day, I net it to keep it from blowing away in the nonstop gale force winds we have going. She, as you can see, was NOT amused by the slow feeder and made several attempts to tear it down (only succeeded once).

Naughty girl.

Sigh... but really, this horrible bleaching-in-sweaty-areas-only issue. Tips?? I'm not suspecting a nutritional issue at this point since it seems so perfectly connected with the sweat and heat and blazing sun, and she was so gleaming and dapply up until two weeks ago, but I'll keep it in mind as a possibility.

The health benefits of 24/7 turnout are obviously massively greater than keeping her stalled and inside, but it is a truthful PITA, and I never realized just how messy it could be - or remembered, I guess... Quincy used to live outside, after all!

EDITED TO ADD: Please, please keep my sweet Mimi in your thoughts... she is in kitty ICU right now with a blazing fever of unknown origin, no appetite for food or water, and strange jerky eye movements. It might be a simple infection that will clear with antibiotics, or it might be something so sinister that we could lose her. Please send good positive vibes our way... I'll just die if something happens to my precious Mimer.


  1. Sending healthy wishes for Mimi!

  2. No tips, only that it's something you live through if you live in Texas :D Don sweats worse than any horse I've ever met, complete with little puddles forming around his hooves if I bring him in and tie him in the barn. I usually just hose his sweaty crispy self off once a day and leave him alone (leaving him especially alone this summer after his liver issues).

    If you rigged a fan up in the shelter would she be smart enough to go stand under it? (Don isn't, even when the draft horses go stand in the stalls during the day, he stays out in the sun and not in the stall or under any nice shady trees).

  3. Yeah, there really isn't much you can do but grin and bear it. I've thankfully never had the issue of bleaching since I live in a cooler climate (colorado--though as of late I'm questioning that logic, what a heat wave!). But I've always always had my horses turned out 24/7. The best way to care for that tail? Don't. Seriously, don't brush it unless you've washed and conditioned it, and even then, only if you have to. If you try to keep it brushed out you will just break hairs and then you'll really have an ugly tail. I've managed to grow some beautiful tails on my boys over the years by washing/brushing the tail only every few months, maaaaybe braiding it loosely (but that never lasts), and otherwise leaving it alone to do it's thing. Gnarly looking on a day-by-day basis, yes, but it will grow (or at least stay the same). If anything I'd just spray it a couple times a week with a leave in conditioner of some sort, regardless of if it's clean or not, just to keep moisture sorta in it.

    Good luck!! Summer can be oh so much fun ;)

  4. Hmmmmmmmmm well, I would be the last person to ask since Skipper went from a beautiful rich black to a bleached ugly mess! Its just the heat, dewd. Just da heat.
    On a more serious note, I hope Mimi recovers quickly.

  5. I have no tips for the bleaching, sorry, I just had to say I had a little giggle at the thought of what your face would look like it you saw my, hairy, un-rugged bleached paddock puffs...

    hope the kitty recovers!

  6. The only thing I can think of is a fly sheet with UV protection. Maybe you could spray sunscreen on her. Paprika might work to darken her coat. I think the recommended feeding is i tbsp per day.

  7. I hope Mimi gets better soon!!

    As for the sun bleaching, I know someone who would dye their horse a few times a summer before shows using over the counter stuff for humans. Seems a little excessive but he did look really pretty.

    I love Cowboy Magic detangler and shine as a leave in tail conditioner, I feel like it leaves their tails as untangled as possible.

  8. Healing thoughts for Mimi.
    I suspect you might just have to chill-the-heck-out about trying to keep Herself immaculate. She lives outside, and really, does it matter as long as she is happy and healthy? Are you going to any events or shows soon?
    And I agree with the advice to leave her tail alone to minimise damage. Chill, dude!

  9. It's hard to chill when I feel strongly that the way you keep and present your horse is a reflection upon your personal character and how you are as a professional. If you show up somewhere with a dirty unkempt horse, it reflects very badly on you. I wouldn't trust a professional who kept their horse looking like this - I'd assume they either don't care about the animal or aren't educated enough to prevent/solve the issue. And I wouldn't want them touching my own horse either.

  10. My gelding is also very bleached out. He isn't crusty so much because he does get some relief from the sun during the day in his stall but he bleached out very badly. I'm interested to here any solutions people might have! :)

    Thoughts for your kitty.

  11. have you tried the spray on sunscreens? I don't know if they get great reviews but it might be worth a shot. could always dye her ;-) I also love Healthy Hair Care for daily conditioning. Maybe that would at least help with the crispiness...

    As for the tail, I used to follow the neglect route but found that leaving it tangled just caused it to get caught on more stuff. So instead I brush it daily, and spray it with show sheen maybe every two weeks, just to keep it a bit slippery. Tail looks infinitely better.

  12. I understand the heat issue. I live in AZ where we have triple digit temps for weeks/months on end. Even though I prefer 24/7 turnout...we do night turnout here in summer months. Nice shady barn during the day. I also use cowboy magic detangler on tails and comb them out as infrequently as possible. Also do a loose braid on tails off and on.
    Be careful w/the haybag. Had one of my geldings get his front leg caught in it trying to paw out the food. Lucky for us both, I was home, and he is the type of horse that will stand there and wait to be rescued.
    Sending healing thoughts to your Mimi.

  13. <3 warm thoughts for Mimi.

    Clip her! Less hair = less sweating. May not make her instantly look prettier, but may make her more comfortable! At least a trace clip. And do an oil treatment when you clip - that will help the hair a lot. IMO the bleaching doesn't look that bad, as most horses have coats that fade in the summer. Sweat stains are a problem, though.

    I'm firmly NOT in the neglect camp when it comes to the tail (or mane), unless all other options are off the table. I don't use that method for myself, so why use on my horse? I think regular bathing, lots of conditioner, applying leave-in stuff between baths, and just being smart about how to brush/pick the tail (you know how to not rip out her hair) is all that is needed.

  14. Here in the Queensland outback I think the climate is similar to Texas, we get up to 45ÂșC in the day and many horses I see here are bleached too (though they do have the good sense to spend much of their time under trees!). I've seen some wearing very very light covers though, sort of a sunscreen type of blanket I guess. They had a metallic sheen and seemed to keep the darker horses cooler, perhaps something like that could be an idea? I think they were a sort of fine net that still allowed sweat evaporation whilst providing high SPF, but don't know any specifics, sorry.

    I'll be thinking of Mimi, don't like the sounds of eye-jerking, I hope that's due to fever rather than the infection being cerebral. xx

  15. As you know, my boys are out 24/7 as well. I don't sheet in weather over about 95 degrees since it just seems to make them hotter, regardless of the brand of fly sheet. Saga is especially crispy and bleached because he sweats sooo much, Cash's spots are now brown instead of black, and even Oberon is looking much lighter. Over the years I've tried sunscreen and various coat conditioners, and the only way I've found to keep them looking shiny is keeping them in during the day, under fans.

    Daily hosing does help some, and feeding a flax supplement or oil also seems to help keep them from drying out as much. Frankly, since there's not much to be done, I've just given up worrying about it. Whether or not that's something you can let yourself do is something else entirely, lol!

  16. I live in Texas and my horse is a red dun QH. Currently he looks like a very very light orange and his hair is all sorts of funky colors. He also sweats a lot but I don't really care about the color. What I do care about is the effect it has on his skin. Here's what I do:
    1) I don't know if you have a whole foods or organic store near you but I'm sure you can order something like it online. I buy the most organic, shea butter, MOISTURIZING shampoo available, no conditioner. If you condition too much, the hair falls out. So scrub scrub scrub with that shampoo about every other day, especially get all the white bits.
    2) Also an organic thing: Castor oil. I know, it sounds weird, but it's the best stuff on earth. I use it for my acne (it gets rid of my acne), I use it for my hair (it thickens and makes my hair glossy) and I use it on my horse. Buddy came with lots of scars and scabs and every time after I give him his organic bath, I get a sponge or slightly wet towel, put castor oil on it and rub it all over his coat. I also rub it into his mane and tail (but I do this about twice or three times a week).

    I think this keeps him pretty healthy. I would try to link a picture but I was gone for three weeks and found that my BO neglected my horse pretty badly so I'm in the process of rehabbing him all over again!

  17. I am swearing by Chia seed lately. It's keeping Laz's coat soo silky. He's out 24/7 and is a dirt pig but he cleans up quickly w/ that seal fur coat. It's either that or the vit/min supplements by CA Trace, those were our two big changes I introduced this past Fall-big results in his coat for sure. It is hard to keep them clean when they roll 2 seconds after a good deep grooming. Ah wells.

  18. There's only one perfect solution that works.... trade your bays for chestnuts LOL! Seriously preventing bleaching in the summer is.... I guess I won't say impossible.... but....

    Paprika is supposed to help, but you have to start it before they bleach and it will test positive at horse shows so you have to take them off a week or so before a show.

    I really don't think she looks bad.... but I grew up in the south so I'm used to bleached out coats lol.

    I really hope your kitty is okay..... :(

    P.S. I think I read something about copper? There's something that is supposed to help coats and hooves, but I can't remember for sure. You should be able to research it online...