Archive for January, 2012
By: Barbara Cox (Larissa’s Mom)
It started as a dream…
I always knew at some point in my life, Larissa would come to me smilingly sweetly and say, “Mommy, I want to learn to ride a horse.” As far as I was concerned, that comment came far too early in Larissa’s young life. What was a mother to do? As a City Slicker, my knowledge was limited to the few trail rides I took as a child, so I did what every mother would do…”I’ll talk to your Dad!” Speaking to Dad proved useless as he totally supported Larissa’s dream. “Why not?” he said…”It would be good for her, she will develop self-discipline and patience…” Panic stricken, I mumbled…”But she’s so young… she was just learning to walk a little while ago!”
So the search was on. Locating a suitable lesson stable wasn’t as easy as I had thought, never mind determining on whether a particular instructor was right for my child, but I pressed on. Larissa was soon enrolled in a summer program and she loved every minute of her day. The summer program lead to weekly group lessons, which lead to private weekly lessons which lead to “Mommy, I want my own horse!”
Twenty years later, one horse lead to four and her dream became a reality. This Mother’s journey has been filled with triumphs and tears and very frustrating trying to understand the complicated national and regional championship points systems!
My evolution of a horse show mom was “I will never use a porta-potty!” “Never” quickly became “only in emergencies” to “just this once” to “only this weekend” to “they have really nice porta-potties here at this show!”
Good show moms also know that working with Dad can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Larissa’s Dad is one of the few great show dads who get up early, drive the truck and trailer, muck out the stall and fill that water bucket. But really, have you ever seen a dad shine a pair of boots or wipe slobber off the face of a bitted horse? No, not really. How many of you have seen horse show moms carrying a bucket, filled with ring side necessities, in one hand, and in the other, the dressage test booklet, show jacket and camera. This mom has learned how to back the horse trailer, clip horse whiskers, lead nervous horses and to make just the perfect horse show bun! Not only that, I am an expert used tack purchaser and horse show photographer. In addition, I can quickly sub in for the pre-show coach, on the ground trainer, horse massage therapist and seamstress! Packing the trailer is now an art form which is admired by all at the barn. At the show itself, my red horse show apron can be spotted from great distances. The apron itself, with its multitude of pockets, holds all the necessary requirements to handle any horse ring emergency…from bottled water, Back’s Rescue Remedy for horse and rider, boot brush, towel, lip balm, leather towelettes, dressage test booklet, horse cookies, emergency sewing kit with extra buttons, camera and backup battery to show clothes hook and hanger. Dad carries the video camera.
The years that Larissa has been in the United Kingdom continuing her education has been very difficult. The barn isn’t the same, the excitement of the show season has come and gone and the two horses remaining at home have been on an extended vacation. However, 2012 is a new year and the anticipation of Larissa’s return home is being met with great excitement and once again the horse mom will carry on…there will be triumphs and tears and there will still be difficulty understanding that championships points system!
As winter sets in, turning your riding arena and paddocks into a sea of snowdrifts, you may not feel like riding and your tack can be at the barn for weeks at a time…untouched. But the winter weather isn’t just difficult on your unprotected skin, your expensive leather equipment is going to need some extra tender loving care as well.
Moisture and mod spores are leather’s worse enemies, often causing quite a great deal of damage. If you do intend to ride during the winter months, keep your saddles and bridles covered – an old terry cloth towel will come in handy if you don’t have a saddle cover. Whenever you see mould, wipe it off with a vinegar and water solution as soon as your notice it. I use products containing beeswax and I massage it in well with my fingers to keep the leather supple and flexible. Also, I always keep a can of Lysol spray handy in my tack cupboard and spray my leather equipment prior to cleaning them. However, below are some handy winter tack care tips that may help keeping that “fur coat” off your tack!
Did you know that glycerin soap, a humectant, holds moisture giving mould a great growing environment. So, during the winter months, you should stop using this form of cleanser. Use a water-based, pH neutral product such as Leather Therapy Wash to remove embedded dirt and organic residue that aids future mould and mildew growth.
Have a good supply of old rags or towels ready that you are prepared to throw away. Please note that washing towels after using them to clean mouldy tack does not remove all the mould spores. Wipe as much surface contamination as you can with the wet towel, then discard. Repeat with a clean wet rag. Be sure to discard the towels in a way that won’t allow spores to spread further. Don’t rinse and reuse the rags/towels as you will never remove all spores on the rags. I use an old toothbrush to clean stitching lines and in-hard-to-clean crevices. Also, I always clean any mouldy tack outside so that spores do not land on another host.
Allow your saddle to naturally dry in a well lit, ventilated area. Do not put a damp saddle away in your tack cupboard. Once your saddle is dry, condition the leather using a pH neutral product. A produce that I often use is Leather Therapy Restorer/Conditioner. Apply with a sponge and use very sparingly as the leather will only absorb what is needed. This conditioner will soak in and disappear, so you won’t need to wipe it off.
Always cover your saddle with either a saddle cover or towel before putting it away.
There is nothing more discouraging than “damage control”. The best way to deal with mould and mildew is to prevent them from invading in the first place. Spending a few minutes on prevention is much less time consuming than the hours in cleaning up the problem.