This is quite a touchy topic and every horsey person I’ve talked to about this has a different view. Many actually didn’t know what I was talking about! Others thought that it was a waste of time, and some didn’t have time to do it in their routines. However, others, generally those who have a more traditional view of horse-ing, swore by it. So, I’ve decided to put it to the test.
At the moment, I’m trying to condition my pony ready for the forthcoming show season, although I have missed many of the entry deadlines so I am not holding my breath about showing this season. To be honest, I think she will peak too late for any forthcoming shows. In terms of a routine I have for her, I am riding her four times a week, a number which may increase as she gets fitter over time. I am also working hard to remove the belly that has formed over winter! Currently, she is sponged of stains whenever I feel up to doing it, and is sprayed with hair conditioning spray once a week to keep her coat looking healthy, soft, and shiny. It helps also to repel dust, but if you decide to do something similar you must remember that too much spray can do more bad than good, and can trap dust and dirt in if you are not spraying a clean horse. Also, don’t spray the saddle area, as it can make the saddle slip; trust me, I’ve learned from experience.
Back to the point, I have begun incorporating strapping into my grooming routine to see whether its effect is positive, or even if there is any effect at all. The book “Showing the Ridden Pony” by Caroline Akrill has a whole section on strapping, and she says that:
“Judicious strapping can work wonders. It improves the coat and keeps the pores unblocked, thus promoting healthy skin. It stimulates the circulation, and tones and firms the muscles. A good strapper can pummel off fat, develop muscle, and do much to promote the good top line so necessary in a show animal”
I trust that book, so I am willing to try it if it will reap the benefits Akrill boasts. I am going to try it and check in with you to see if it really works in a month or so.
But how do you strap? Well, Akrill advises that you spend as long as you can a day on strapping. My old yard manager advised that you should first use a dandy brush or a stiff bristled brush to remove any loose hairs and dirt from your pony’s coat. She recommends using a clean body brush to carry out your strapping so that you are not just transferring dust from place to place. A metal curry comb can be used between straps to keep dirt transfer at a minimum; if you don’t have one (I didn’t until recently), anything stiff can be used to pull loose hairs that are stuck in the brush out, such as a shedding blade, which also works.
I’m going to pay special attention to the parts of Pixie that need building up, like her neck and hindquarters. It goes without saying that I will not go near her head (don’t want her to become head-shy) and sensitive areas.
I’m excited to see how it helps!