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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Time Traveler's Wife (and other tales)

I actually finished The Time Traveler's Wife late on Saturday night. It has been an adventure. If you haven't read it, or seen the film, I would highly recommend it. At the end of each year, I like to pick a 'Book of the Year' from everything I've read, and I was worried I hadn't read anything outstanding enough to qualify and that I'd have to plump for Love In The Time Of Cholera (heaven forbid) but at last here comes a worthy contender. If you've read it, you don't need me to tell you the plot, and if you haven't, there's nothing I can say without spoiling it for you, so take the title and work the rest out for yourself, it'll be well worth it. This book was a treat to read, I can't praise it enough. You have to have your wits about you, though, and think and concentrate all the way through it. No shilly-shallying here.
I am feeling cautious about watching the film now and whether it will spoil it for me, as I've just seen the film of Love In The Time of Cholera and it was awful. I was ironing at the time, and the two experiences together were enough to traumatize me.
Also, when I took the book of The Time Traveler's Wife back to the library, I told the librarians how good it was, and one turned to me and asked, "Have you seen the film?" as if the book alone were not enough. Get thee behind me...
For those of you who don't know, this is the time of year when all horses, to varying degrees, turn into fluffy bears. Your previously sleek encumbent wakes up one morning and looks like a yeti (especially if he's white like mine!)
So the winter dilemma begins. If you ride a horse with his (or indeed, her) winter coat on, they sweat to death after only the minimum of exercise. So, to prevent this, you clip a little, or a lot, of their hair off. This means they cool down really quickly after they've been ridden. This is good. But it also means they will then be cold because you've clipped all their hair off. So you go and buy a nice (expensive) rug and put it on them. It is ridiculous, no matter how you look at it, but a necessity all the same. If you're not riding your horse you don't need to clip it. Nobody pops up to the New Forest ponies, or the Exmoors, brandishing clippers and shouting, "Brace yourselves!" do they?
Anyway, normally I do what's called a 'blanket clip.' This means you clip all the hair off the neck and belly, but leave the hair on their backs. The trouble with Barnaby is that it still leaves him very warm with so much hair still left on, and a rug on top. He hates being too warm and will rip holes in the rug to provide his own ventilation if necessary. This starts to be not funny when you're on the fifth rug that winter.
So I've decided to do a hunter clip. This means you take all the hair off everywhere except a saddle patch and the leg hair. The best way to show you this is to do a before and after photo, so here is Barnaby before I started, all hair on:

Notice the particularly thick hair on his belly just behind his front legs.
This is him after I'd finished clipping:
Now you can notice the extraordinary thing about him. If you look carefully, especially on his neck and chest, you can see that his skin is black. This is very odd, as you can see from the previous photo, his hair is white all over. It's as though he was born a coloured cob but went white over time. Unfortunately we'll never know, but it is a bit peculiar. He was grateful I'd done it, though, and went out to tell his crew.
And in the evening, he was playing a game of tag with me in his stable, which is extraordinary,
1) because he found it funny and
2) because I am honoured that he played with me and not his dad.
I love you, Bardy Lad.
Mrs O.

6 comments:

  1. I read this with interest: A "white" horse is actually a Grey. If the skin has black pigmentation, its a grey. If the eye sclera is pink.and the skin under the hair is pink its an Albino. There is no such thing as a "white" horse.
    About clipping and rugging? I was pleased to see you comment about the Exmoors and the other native breeds not getting clipped. But then they dont get taken by humans and dont get made to do silly things in arenas and carry us around.(in their natural world)
    My point is this, I stopped clipping any of my horses years ago, it didnt seem right to deprive them of a natural coat in the winter, I ride them all, for long and short distances, and until recently, competed with an unclipped horse in the winter at endurance! No problems there.
    However, I regulate there exercise regumen by not over doing it, and allowing substantial cooling down periods.
    This works, after cooling down and drying off, they are groomed, all the salt is brushed off and then the horse is turned out.
    I really dont see the need to cut off the horses hair coat? Or is it convenience for humans?
    BTW, like your cards!

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  2. I loved the Time Traveler's Wife, it was the last book to make me cry. I will not see the movie.

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  3. Cheyenne, please don't think for one moment that I don't know my horse is 'grey'! When we saw the advert for him, it just said 'grey' so I rang up and asked what sort. The owner said, "He's Daz white!" and I've remembered it ever since. My concern with Barnaby is that he's a very 'hot' horse, which is why he rips his rugs off. He also will not stand in the stable to dry off for an hour, even with a wicking rug on, so for his convenience I clip him to cool and dry him as quickly as possible, as he is one of those horses who prefers to conduct his daily business outside, not cooped up in a stable.

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  4. Nice clipping job. I don't clip my boys any more as I have them here in the back yard and can put a cooler on until they dry off, even if it's hours later.

    I used to do trace clips, kind of in between the hunter clip and blanket clip. Worked a treat.

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  5. Greys often have dark skin pigmentation.

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  6. He looks so much fitter once he's clipped! Funny the difference clipping makes to a horse they all seem to look twice as muscley and impressive

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