I’m going to the AQHA World Championship Show with a fuzzy horse. And that’s okay with me.
When I qualified in July, I vowed Miss Shiney would walk into the gateway of champions in full golden glory. Her white hair billowing from her mane and tail, her body slick and dark as honey, as I sail through the preliminaries all the way to the finals.
As a former all-around exhibitor, I felt confident in my abilities to ensure Shiney, would be, well, shiny walking into the pen in November. I pulled out the tricks of the trade of keeping a horse slick for the winter.
However, I’m four days from competing. As I take off her blanket, I realize my mare will walk into the pen sporting dappled fuzz. (Meanwhile, Miss Shiney’s BFF Luna aka Stroked By Top Prize is as my grandmother might say, “slick as snot”).
I read all the articles, my dad hung lights in her stall, and I spend a few snuggling moments each night as I put Miss Shiney in her “jammies” when the temperature drops below a comfortable degree.
Miss Shiney loves getting turned out to pasture. She spends the warm summer nights in a paddock adjacent to the riding track grazing her worries away. During the day, she retires to her stall, where she naps and munches on hay.
Any time we come home from a horse show, the first thing Miss Shiney does after getting turned out is stop, drop, and roll. She gets dirty too. Sometimes I spend more time brushing her body than I do riding, due to the “dirt cloud” that rises off her back.
Miss Shiney is also a regular attendee to the wash rack.
And let’s be honest. Miss Shiney uses more hair products than I do.
First, is the regular shampoo to get the rest of the dirt out. Second, is the “yellow out” shampoo, because blondes must fight those brassy tones.
Then, she gets the purple shampoo soak, followed by conditioner and detangler.
In all reality, it’s not a big deal to keep Miss Shiney looking bright, at least in the summer. There’s plenty of sunlight and warm temperatures to work in my favor.
However, I don’t have hot water or a heated barn, because historically speaking, I don’t show in the cold months. If I happen to travel to a cold show, a quick brushing coupled with a lick and a promise generally means I’m good to go.
But as summer turned to fall, and fall into what seems like an early winter, the looming AQHA World Championship Show has made regular conversations evolve into playing a game of weather roulette. Questions like, “Is it warm enough today? Will her body hair up if I wash her mane?” How many shades of blonde is her tail? Is that a fuzz I see on her!” have replaced a simple, “Good morning!” or “How was your day, honey?”
The struggle is real. I’ll admit, although the winter months generally mean more stall time, we still try to turn the show horses out during the warmest times of the day, even when it’s chilly.
And to be completely honest, I probably turned her out a time or two when it was a bit too cold. I know I missed blanketing a few of those early nights when the weather was so unpredictable.
And I’m okay with it. Miss Shiney’s fuzz doesn’t define her worth, her abilities, or her value.
It represents an amateur and her family doing it together, at-home. Did we do it all correctly? Probably not.
Did we make the best decisions for us and on behalf of Miss Shiney? We think so.
And besides, Miss Shiney doesn’t know she’s fuzzy. In fact, as of today, Miss Shiney is happy, healthy, sound, and just pretty darn cute with those little fuzzy dapples.
*published exclusively with Barbwire Productions and the American Quarter Horse Association