There are so many wonderful things that we can learn from the repository of all knowledge we so lovingly call the world wide web. How to properly clip a pony would not be one of them. Well, perhaps it’s not so much that the KNOWLEDGE isn’t there. I mean, the textbook stuff is available, the technical, how-to can be printed out, read and re-read, with pictures even! The THEORY behind a successful trace clip is readily available. Like many things in life, however, the successful clipping of a pony is not about theory. It is pretty much all in the execution.
I had an extra Â½ hour the other day, so I trace clipped the $700 Pony. Bells are going off, aren’t they? You are asking yourself, girlfriend, HALF AN HOUR? And thinking about it logically, even I have to admit that there’s no way that was going to work. I mean, for example, the area of my head is only, what, half a foot by half a foot square, give or take a few inches? And yet I pay some woman a small fortune to waste a good 45 minutes of my life to clip me. The $700 Pony, while only a pony and a trace clip, while only a partial clip, represents a significantly larger surface area than the 36 squares inches, give or take, of my skull.
So what in the heck kind of trace clip can you give a Pony in Â½ an hour? Well, the short answer is not a very good one. For the long answer, keep reading.
Basically, this chapter of the $700 Pony’s life reads pretty much like all the others. Let’s start with, the only time I can get out to the barn is either pre-dawn or post 48 orphan puppy equivalents bedtime. Early, late, either one sucks. I have been putting off trace clipping the pony because (a) I suspect it will take longer than the few minutes I ever have to spare, (b) I suspect I will do a pretty crappy job and I am going to embarrass both myself and the $700 Pony and © because I just hate the way those clipped hairs get under your clothes and make you itch for the next decade.
But there I am, one freezing cold night, at, oh, about 10pm, thinking, it is now or never. While it is true that I will shrivel up and die if I am not in bed by 11, it is also true that if I don’t clip this damn pony she is going to start shedding her winter coat and it will be too late.
So, bracing myself, I grab the clipper, quick waste about four minutes of my precious half and hour reading the directions, plug the puppy in and go at ‘er.
The pony is such a kind, kind soul. It is so shocking to me, particularly given, as I have mentioned, that she is the evil triumvirate of (chestnut) (pony) (mare). I can’t imagine why, but the thing has a kind streak wider than the Mississippi. Now the pony has never been clipped, anywhere, anytime, anyhow. You ask me how I know? Come on. I bought the a completely unbroken pony from a western barn. It is as likely that she has ever been clipped as she is to sit down on the lounge line one day and start reciting her ABCs.
And I, of course, ever the consummate professional have taken careful time and attention to acclimate her to a clipper by (a) clipping her face, (b) clipping her ears, © clipping her bridle path or (d) THINKING about doing all of the above but never actually getting around to it. Anyone answering a ”" c, please go back and read chapters 1-5 and try again. The thing has never seen clippers.
So I turn on the clippers. And, because she is such a NICE pony, the kind of weird alien from another planet NICE chestnut mare pony that I never imagined existed before, she faints. It is not like she is a drama queen, throwing herself to the ground in a fit of vexation. It is more like she sucks in her breath, her eyes roll quietly back into her pony skull, and with a grace and aplomb rarely seen in the equine world, she quietly slips to the ground. In a dead faint.
May G-d strike me dead if I am lying.
With no smelling salts in the immediate vicinity (oh, DARN, what a time to leave my smelling salts at home!) I grab the can of kerosene I was using to, well, whatever the heck it is you do with that stuff when you are clipping, and splashed a little under her nose. Her eyes fluttered open, and she raised her head delicately from the soft bricks of the grooming stall.
You could see the thought bubble forming over her head, “Hm. Now what in the heck happened here?”
I explained to her kind pony self that she needed to keep breathing when I come at her with the clippers and helped her to her feet.
I started the clippers again and you can just repeat the above five paragraphs in their entirety. Twice.
With time ticking away, and my brain threatening to turn into a pumpkin at the ridiculous lateness of the hour, I decided a little negotiation was in order. I indicated the few random patches of hair I had managed to clip out prior to her repeated losses of conciousness and suggested that her friends out on the pony playground were going to tease her something awful if I couldn’t finish what I started.
Then I showed her the really cute Wug I had struggled for weeks to purchase. For the amount of time and effort that went into getting that pony a Wug, I could have flown Isaac Mizrahi over from Paris and had him knit a blanket for her. But I digress.
The point is, I appealed to her better nature, and did, in fact manage to convince her to continue breathing while I clipped. Unfortunately, I was down to only a few conscious miunutes awake myself and finished the job in what can only be described as a ‘hurried’ manner.
She looked okay when I was done. A little tuff-ty here and there, and I really left most of the fur on her underbelly (I mean, it gets COLD out there on the pony playground and a little belly fur won’t hurt anything), and in the dark light of the grooming stall, she looked, well, almost like there was some kind of zebra stripe thing going on with the clipper lines. But, hey, I was pretty sure she’d look better in the bright light of day, so I slipped on her brand spanking new practically made to order Wug and head home to get a good night’s sleep.
The next day was Saturday, and I was actually able to get out during daylight hours. That turned out not to be such a great thing. Sadly, there were lots of people around when the $700 Pony’s new trace clip was revealed.
The eight year old granddaughter of the barn owner, who already knows more about horses than I will know in my lifetime, stopped dead in her tracks when I removed the Wug. The child’s eyes were rolling so far back in her head I thought she was having a seizure. But no, she was just expressing her interest in something she, as she put it, “had never seen before!”
Given that the $700 was in a fancy schmancy hunter barn, I did think it was possible that the young lady had never seen a TRACE clip before, as everything within eyesight looked like it had been waxed, stem to stern.
NO, she shook her head vehemently, “OF COURSE I know what a TRACE clip looks like,” she cried, “but I have never, ever, ever seen a clip like, like, like (she pointed a shaking finger at the poor beleaguered Pony), like THAT before!”
I was appropriately chagrined and embarrassed, not only for me, who was responsible for this clipping travesty, but for the poor, innocent Pony. Turning a flaming shade of red, I ducked my head, mumbled something about the eventing world being TOTALLY different from the hunter/jumper world and got the heck out of Dodge as quick as I could.
The good news, I suppose is that the Pony is much happier working without the burden of her trace hair. She sweats a good deal less and is much more comfortable and looks quite dapper and sporting in her Wug. Sadly, though, we are the laughing stocks of the barn.
And perhaps the unkindest, saddest cut of all? I tried to sneak the trace clip past my trainer/therapist without mentioning it. Not possible. A bit like dying your hair pink and just hoping no one will notice. When I walked the $700 Pony into her indoor, my trainer/therapist stopped dead in her tracks and whistled a low, sad whistle. “Girlfriend,” she asked, “do they LAUGH at you at your barn?”
Yes, honey, they sure do.
Quick update - laptop is still in the shop, so I dashed this off on Mr. RR’s computer. Not even proof read! Hope it’s ok!
Other news - I am taking an on-line WRITING COURSE!! Fiction, no less. Doing GREAT and LOVING it! Writing stuff all NOT HORSE RELATED! Hmmm … maybe there is a futurein all of this after all!