I body clipped Tucker for the second time so far this season on Saturday night, once all the family festivities had come to an end (translation: two days of Marissa getting scolded for getting her niece all hyper, again. The kid likes jumping on the bed, what can I tell you?)
It was way too cold to give Tucker a bath first (especially since we don't have a hot water heater yet at our new place), so I figured I'd just have to rough it and clip him slightly filthy. I went over him with the Shop Vac first, a purchase I highly recommend for getting all the dust and dander out of their coats, as long as you have a horse who will tolerate it. Tucker loves it (must be sort of like a massage?), though we had to practice just standing next to the Shop Vac and eating mints a couple of times first so that he could get used to the noise.
Though the Shop Vac does pull all the dust out of his coat, he still could have used a bath before clipping as his coat was a little oily and dirty at the base. As a result, my blades dulled really quickly and he's covered in tiny little clipper lines, which wouldn't have happened on a freshly bathed clean horse. So, I spent most of the first part of this activity lamenting over the lines all over him (and got this Eagles song stuck in my head as a result) and wishing that he'd magically become cleaner, my blades would magically stay sharper, and this would all look a little more professional.
I took a break to let Tucker hang in his stall for a few minutes and stand in the heated tack room drinking tea, starting to feel really frustated about how badly this clipping job was turning out. I was right in the middle of accusing myself of making my horse look like an 8-year-old's 4-H project when I got an email on my blackberry. It was Nicku at Eye on the Horse, telling me about this. My thoughts instantly turned to that sweet spotted horse and hoping that he'll be okay and that he's not in any pain. I responded with a quick email to let poor Nicku know I'd be thinking about her and her guy and headed back out to finish clipping.
As I was once again left to my own thoughts by the noise of the clippers I realized that I was being ridiculous to be getting this annoyed by lines in his coat that aren't visible from 3 feet away and will disappear in the next 2 weeks. How about a little perspective and being thankful about your happy healthy horse (who incidentally hasn't moved a muscle as you clip away)? I thought about Nicku's wonderful young horse and prayed that he'd be okay and go back to being the little superstar that he is.
As I worked, I went over the familiar scars that I have memorized. The bump on his left hind cannon bone that he got as a yearling, probably rough housing with a stud colt. I remember his leg was the size of a tree stump at first, and I was worried sick. The scar in the folds of skin between his chest and his left front leg, where he got 3 stitches to close up a tiny cut that was making him three-legged hopping-up-and-down lame. Thank God we noticed that cut, we were literally pulling out the x-ray machine and I was sure he had done something serious. The white hairs on his left side, right by his girth, that he got running into the edge of a gate as I led him through. I remember I couldn't understand how he could hurt himself while I was walking beside him and chastising myself for not being more careful. The scar on top of his rump from annoying a mare who reached out over the fence to bite him. He has only himself to blame for that one. The bump that's still going away on the inside of his right front, just below the knee, from this. That one took forever to heal and had me really nervous. And of course, all the scars on his face from the various times he's had stitches, including this one. Those used to really freak me out, but now I've realized it sort of comes with the territory with him. Of course, the time when he managed to scratch his cornea, that was another story.
As I traveled down this memory lane of vet bills and sleepless nights, I thought about how tough it is to see your horse hurting. We love them so much, and they mean so much to us, it's almost too much to bear when they are hurt or unwell, and it's nothing short of devastating when we have to say goodbye. If you follow any horse blog other than this one, you know all about some of the painful and heart-breaking situations that many of my fellow bloggers have found themselves in over the past year. Each time I read about one of these horses and what their owners are going through, it just breaks my heart. I wish there was something more I could do. But then, of course, I realize that I am doing everything I can do, which is to let them know that I'm thinking about them and sending a prayer and positive thoughts their way for the best possible outcome for their horse.