Thursday, March 29, 2012

Blessi Has a Bad Hair Day

Photo by Sherry Wallmark
Blessi (denoting Blessing in Icelandic) and I attended a clinic at Rose-el Stables, Port Orchard, WA to learn the different styles of braids used on a horse's mane and tail. The braiding clinic was interesting. Eight horses and braiders attended the session. One of the attendees was a 5-year old girl who had brought a small ladder to work on her 15 hand horse.

Evie the instructor takes one look at Blessi and says she has never seen a horse who had so much hair. She walks away because she said she needs to think about how to handle that much mane. In the mean time, I am suppose to use the Sticky Goopy Paste (hereafter referred to as SGP) to move the partial left mane to the right side with the rest of Blessi's mane.

The first problem is the SGP comes in a light green, round tin and Blessi is convinced that this is a Granny Smith apple just for him. He tries so many methods to get to the plastic bag with the braiding supplies that we have stuff--crochet hooks, yarn, ribbons, shears--scattered across the arena. It does not help that the SGP has a pleasant, apple scent to it.

The second problem is the SGP just isn't going to do the job. Nothing short of industrial strength glue is going to get the left mane to stay on the right. SGP holds the mane over for about the time of an Apollo countdown--10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1, Reykjavik, we have lift off--as you watch the left hand mane separate from the right side and move back across Blessi's neck. The SGP does get the short 4-inch stray mane hair to stand straight up in the air.

Evie returns in about 10 minutes and I have made no progress. Blessi still has a full right and partial left mane. So Evie decides to do a long French braid across the bottom of Blessi's mane. We can pull in the left mane as we braid.

The third problem is that Blessi has shagged his mane. He has three levels of mane--about 16 inches, 8 inches, and 4 inches--each level has more hair than a normal horse. So we decide to do 2 rows of French braid. Evie shows me how and it looks easy so Evie lets me on my own.

The fourth problem is that Blessi has now discovered that there are real carrots in the supply bag and he redoubles his efforts to claim them. At one point, he gets the bag and we play tug of war with the carrot bag until it bursts. All this time, the little girl's horse is standing perfectly still like an equine angel as the little girl works from her ladder.

The 2-hour clinic is almost over and I have two rows of French braids down Blessi's mane. The other participants are starting to lead their horses around with beautiful braided manes and tails in short French braids, button braids, galloping braids, etc. One young woman has created galloping braids on her bay horse--picture wide braids done every six inches down the mane and then pulled over into overlapping arches. Entwined among the braids are ribbons in shades of purple. The black tail is braided with matching purple ribbons--just a beautiful picture.

Back to Blessi--he looks like Courtney Love on a bad hair day since that 4-inch hair at the top is sticking straight up out at the crest of the mane. Evie has no advice on this so I decide to take a gold and white ribbon and sew down the top of the mane using a back stitch. This works and actually provides a touch of elegance. Blessi now looks like Courtney Love on a really good day--ready for the red carpet or the judge's booth.

Evie and I discuss what to do about the forelock which is almost a 4-inch thick cylinder of hair. Evie suggests that when I have another hour or so I do a single braid and somehow glue the ends in a ball under the braid. There is no time to do anything with Blessi's tail.

The event organizer snaps a picture of Blessi. As I lead Blessi back to the refreshment table for people, all the braids start to come loose and we are back to the Courtney Love bad hair day look. Oh, and that little girl and her horse are adorable as she leads him around in his short French braid with green ribbons.

Note: Blessi has an average or less than average mane for an Icelandic. I think Evie might have had a breakdown if she had tried to work with an Icelandic with a "good" mane for the first time.

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