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Betsy Carter’s Horse Scene: Holiday treats horse and rider will truly savor
THIS CHRISTMAS, give your horse something it really wants. I don’t think it will care about the new polka-dot blanket, plaid leg wraps or leather-lined halter. A horse doesn’t. All it really wants is to feel good, which means finding that special spot where your horse likes to be scratched.
Most horses like to have their chests scratched since they cannot reach that area. Some like to have their forelocks brushed and their ears rubbed.
You could spend a half-hour brushing out your horse’s tail. Most horses will totally relax and doze off while you carefully and slowly separate the clumps of hair and brush out until each rope of hair is fluffy and silky. Continue until you can brush the entire tail from top to bottom.
You should use a regular hairbrush with stiff but flexible bristles because you do not want to hurt the horse, or pull out any tail hair.
Another great Christmas gift is a special food treat. Two cups of diced apples, carrots and bananas, with or without syrup, poured on top of its regular feed is a wonderful Christmas dinner. Or perhaps it would prefer peppermint sticks crumbled on top of its grain. If your horse is not used to eating these treats, you should not surprise it. Horses do not like surprises.
As for gifts to fellow boarders/riders, the best gift requires finding out what really makes others happy.
For instance, perhaps Mary likes a tidy barn. So for her, you could keep your blankets and sheets folded neatly on your stall door.
Or you could remember to clean up the wash stall after you use it, so it’s nice for the next person.
Maybe you could offer to groom for Jane at her next show. That’d be a great treat to have someone there to dust off her boots before entering the ring, pick up a dropped crop or offer her a drink when she comes out of the ring.
Fellow boarder Michelle likes to have a quiet, uneventful ride on her nervous horse. So you could make a note not to do anything distracting within sight or hearing of the riding ring while she and her horse concentrate on their ride. It’s also the safe thing to do.
These are the kinds of gifts to your horse and fellow boarder that are year-round gifts and make for a happy new year.
Betsy Carter can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401; or by fax at 540/373-8455.