Polishing up the Old Mare.

FIRST, FOR ALL OF YOU NORTHERN CALIFORNIA READERS:  National Equine Resources Network has a very successful low-cost gelding clinic program working year round throughout California.  NERN is currently looking for facilities in Northern California for their Spring Clinics.  Ideally they want a venue of 10 stalls and a covered area/arena with convenient highway access.  If you know of any facility that would donate their grounds, please let me know.  Many thanks!!  THIS IS A GREAT PROGRAM that takes a proactive stance on the plight of homeless horses.

And… HORSELOVERZ is having a ‘make an offer’ sale on all of their saddles.  I just thought I’d pass this along in case anyone is looking for a saddle that HORSELOVERZ carries.  Seems like fun and potentially a great deal.  Here is the link.

Now back to the blog!


No, not me…

My old mare, Tess.  She probably gets the least attention of the entire herd.

It isn’t because I love her less that she receives the least attention.  It is just because she was pampered for so long in her show career (she used to be HVK Noble Heiress), she’s made it known that if no one ever messed with her again, she’d be OK with it.   And, she is THE QUEEN around the barn so what she says generally goes…

To be honest, I indulge her because she is so well mannered and behaved that she is hard to resist.  She has Hubby wrapped around her little hoof…  I swear she flirts with him.

Tess (seeing Hubby near the barn): Hhhhhheeeehhh  heh heh hey!

Hubby:  Are you referring to me?

Tess:  Oooh yes.  You are sooooo handsome and I really think a cookie from you would be better than a cookie from anyone else.

Hubby:  A cookie from me?

Tess (giving her best Barbara Eden eye bat):  Oh yes, Master!

Hubby:  How many cookies would you like?

Tess: Coming from you, every cookie would be a celebration!

Hubby:  Wow. OK, would you like the whole box of cookies then?

Tess (smiling inside):  If you could…

Hubby (giving Tess everything she wants…): You are the best horse, we communicate so well!

Tess (smiling inside): Oh Yes, Master!

Tess in her glory days. Spit-shined for sure.


I’ve got to shout out for the older horses.

I know that many people think older horses are worthless.  If they cannot hold a job, all they are doing is eating up owners’ finances.

I see it totally differently.

Older horses are so wise.  They’ve been there done that.  They are calm, grateful and introspective.  They thank you.  They appreciate you.

They calm and teach the young horses.  They calm and teach the humans.

And it doesn’t take much to make them happy… It’s like taking Grandma to the mall or for lunch.  The LOVE that you thought of them and they love getting out and they love being with you.  Simple.  The older ones concentrate on what is important…

Companionship, life and appreciation.

It kills me that the older horses are dumped and overlooked often.

(To that point, if you’d like to look after and sponsor an older, abandoned horse, click here.)


OK, well, back to Tess.

She may always be the QUEEN, but she doesn’t always look the part.  Ahem.

Yesterday she appeared rather shabby.

Her coat was filthy and muddy, her eyes had some goop and her mane looked tufty and clumpy.

She was due for a fluff and fold.

So, I brought her in.

Tess last week. Matted, dirty with eye goobers. She doesn't care but...


It is actually quite easy to bring her in.  That is what I love about the older mares.  They create a wide berth.  No one messes with them and everything happens at a slow and steady pace.  In fact, I could swing open the barn gate and sit there – and no other horse would dare to walk through before the QUEEN.  Love that.

So I opened the gate and called to her…

All the other horses:  We’ll come in!   How about us?!

Me:  Teeeee  esssssss.

Tess:  Yes.

Me:  I think you need an overhaul.  Whaddyathink?

Tess:  I think I’m fine.

Me:  Well, your tail is matted, your eyes are goopy and your mane is a mess.

Tess:  And…

Me: C’Mon, let me fix you up…

Tess (walking through the gate, grandly):  If you must.


The Grand Dam Tess entered the barn will full fanfare.  All the other animals scattered as she pranced into poll position.

As with all celebrities, she has barn demands written into her contract…  (I’ve long since agreed to her demands and provide accordingly.)

Tess demands to be tied up in front of the third stall.  She likes to have a clean pile of hay in front of her and she likes to sniff the kitties.

Since Tess is such a good girl all the time, I give her what she wishes – contract or not…  I tie her up by the third stall, I give her all the excess hay from all the bins so she has a nice potpourri of different hay samples and I let the kitties mill about.

Spoiled.  Probably.  I have a hard time denying her anything she wishes… that’s always been her charm.

But, as I sit here, I have to say that guilt might play a part here.  I do have guilt for making her perform for so many years.  Part of me knows that she loved being the center of attention.  Another part of me knows that she will suffer joint and ligament pain for the rest of her life because of the intense and stressful job of showing as a Park horse.

Yes, I spoil her.  She’s no bother and she’s earned it.  Spoiling her is the least I can do.

The barn kitties that she loves to watch


Next, we start the ‘procedure’ of bringing the QUEEN back to her grand dam state.

Since it is too cold to wash her, I use this incredible product called Grapefruit Coat Refresh (if you want some, get it now because they are having a sale).  It is like a dry shampoo without the mess of dry shampoo.  It makes her smell fresh and look clean without a bath – Love it!  All I do is spray it on my brush and then give her a good once-over.

My arsenal.


OK, well, some mares love udder washing and some hate it.

Tess loves it.  I swear she rubs her tail just so I will notice and clean her udder.

‘Nuff said…  (I use this to clean her udders.)

Anyway, if you have a mare who rubs her tail when there are no worms, flies or midges, you might want to make sure her udder is clean.

"That feels good!" face. (It looks like she is eating hay from the bale, but actually, she is raising her head and making that face they make when you are itching a good spot!)


I don’t know about you… but tail detanglers that I’ve tried can be really nasty, gooey and slimy..  I hate it when the tail is so sticky from the detangling that it picks up entire bushes of stray leaves and sticks the next time they walks through the paddock…

I didn’t have a detangler so I used the Grapefruit stuff here and after some tricky finger futzing, I had her tail looking good.

The best part?… I could tell that SHE FELT GREAT because she lifted her tail in that ‘show’ stance.  She felt Foofey.   I loved it!

She is strutting and feeling FOOFEY! I caught her at the tail end of her strut, but she was definitely showing off to the crowd with her tail up!


Sometimes, older horses are more sensitive to dust, flies and the sun.  So, they have constant eye goop.

Tess is that way.  She really needs an eye mask at all times.

And even with an eye mask on all the time, she still gets eye goobers.  So I wash her cheek and apply the gel (from the vet) into her eyes.

Now tell me, what youngster would stand there, without a halter, and let you dissolve the goop and add drops?

Yup.  You gotta love the older ones…

Me:  Let me clean out your eyes there.

Tess:  If you must.

Me:  I must.

Tess:  OK, just get it over with.

Me:  OK, close your eyes.

Tess:  For how long?

Me:  I love you. You are perfect.

Tess:  I know.


I swear.  If you groom them, they will strut.  It may not be an award winning strut, but it will be a strut nonetheless.

And yesterday, Tess strutted out of the barn as if she was THE SHIZZ!

She didn’t get far before she buried her head in the grass, but for those moments, I did see her as she used to be.


I love the old ones…

Here she is, settled down to graze - but you can see that her tail is still held high. She loves being pampered again - even if she won't admit it.


HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

click for Autumn's story...


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HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

5 comments have been posted...

  1. RiderWriter

    I adore old animals, period. There is such wisdom in those clouded eyes, such acceptance, and yes, such LOVE for “their” humans. It kills me that people dump old horses and dogs off at shelters or rescues because they want a new, younger model! (BTW, today is my birthday and I’m glad my hubby doesn’t seem to be interested in trading ME in for a newer, younger model… :-)

    My dog is patient and forebearing when I’m clipping and grooming her, a process that takes a least an hour and a half (Springer Spaniel with tons of coat and full feathering). She’ll start getting a little cranky towards the end, but I know she loves the end result because when she gets down off the table she goes NUTS! Runs in crazy circles and laps around the yard, rolls and prances and looks pleased with herself. She definitely feels good. So I believe you when you say dear Tess knows she’s lookin’ good again and that tail goes up. :-)

  2. dawndi Post author

    From Sherie:
    Oh and in a pinch the sheath and udder cleaner can double as a tail detangler….the glycerin base is a good moisturizer cause it is hydrophilic and it is slick enough till it dries to help detangler.
    BTW…I am working with 2 horsey women biochemists who are perfecting a natural botanical mane and tail detangler that does not contain silicone, (silicone can cause brittleness and breakage with prolonged use) I think I may be close.

  3. Casey O'Connor

    Oh, Dawn! I was already gonna ask if I could copy that little bit before my link into my newletter, then I hit the link and guess what! ?! Love you, and that you ‘get it’ about the older ones! Thanks for the pump! Casey

  4. sharon

    Love when you give a shout out for the older horses, I’ll back you up 100% on the Grapefruit Coat Refresher…love that product! One last time, try Mane & Tail Detangler from Straight Arrow. It’s not sticky & is a spray. I spray it on & let it do it’s job while I groom, then comb thru the mane or tail from the bottom up.

  5. Jody Brittain

    Yes. I love the older ones. Poncho gets Pampered, and Libby too. Even though Libby is a bit younger, she has had her show career, and now she takes care of me and my grand kids. Even Poncho is a sweet old man, and I love them both so much!

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