Friday, March 1, 2024

Spring Cleaning

With an afternoon of decent weather, I decided to play with the horses at bit. After several months of being cooped up, a spring cleaning was in order.

Horses put on extra hair in the fall for the cold weather that lies ahead of them, called their winter coat. In the spring, they start to shed it.

A good brushing let's you know that spring is on its way. I've often wondered how horses know when to hair up and when to start shedding. I know animals have keen instincts, but their ability to predict the weather I question. One ole boy told me that he thinks it's the change in daylight, both the amount during the day and the angle of the sun, that triggers critters when to hair up and when to shed. I'm with him. That's got a lot more science to it than random hairing up and shedding due to the temperature, which is always inconsistent. 

After a good brush down, I tackled their hooves. 

Picking them cleaning is always the starting point. It feels good to dig the muck out of the frog and clean the growth off their sole. 

Trim while the trimming is good. For me, I like to do it early in the spring. Because I run barefoot, by the time I start doing some serous riding, their hoof will have found it's natural setting place. That's my thinking anyway. 

It's a rasp, not a file! 

A little chamfer around the rim and call it good.

Chief's are easy. 

Mollie's are tougher. 

She's like working with a Percheron. 

Good enough. 

Spring cleaning also allows a guy to do a good physical examination. Mollie tore this chunk open at least a year ago. It's placement on the rear of her ribcage has made it a hard healer. Over the summer I thought it was pretty well healed up. Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, it left a tag that always catches on something and opens it up again. Not sure what to do with it in the long run. 

But for now, dope it. This antibacterial cream is standard issue inside any cowboy's tack shed. 

Just load it up and walk away. 

Everybody's happy!

I've got the bug. We need some moisture, and no doubt cold weather will come and go for a while. But I'm ready to ranch! So are the horses. They like to eat, but they love to work. That's where we come in. Left to themselves they'd be nothing but wild beasts, with terrible feet and a short life span. But with our help, they become horses. Happy campers with skills beyond their wildest imaginations. God really knew what He was doing when He gave us dominion over creation. It's not so that we can lord over it. But so that we can be its steward. If we choose to bring out the best in creation, it will bring out the best in us. That's not just the cowboy way, that's the Catholic Cowboy Way. Let's ranch!


  1. I agree. Daylight is the indicator for hairing up or shedding. Put a horse under lights in a barn and you trick them into not growing a winter coat. Show people do it all the time hence their propensity to putting blankets on them.
    I hold off brushing them until I know the weather has changed. I always feel bad brushing them and then we get a blizzard at the end of April/first part of May and then they stand and shiver. But it must feel better under a saddle pad!! Take care and be safe Fr. Bryce.
    Dave from Colorado

  2. Interesting. Thanks for the confirmation on the light. Yes, cold weather is not over. If I'm not willing to take my long-johns off for another month, I better let the horses keep their coats till then too! Happy spring.


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