We interrupt this show recap to give you a tail bleaching tutorial! I know you all have been asking for it and my photographer decided he would rather edit jumping photos instead of dressage which is unhelpful for recapping.
Bleaching is really not that difficult, it is just a messy and time consuming process. In fact, if you’ve ever bleached your own hair, you’ll see that the process is exactly the same!
Start with a clean tail Your horses’ tail may be stained brown or red or yellow but you still want to have it clean. Dirt in the tail will give you messy patches where the bleach might not take hold.
Make sure you have all the supplies
For the actual bleaching you will need a bleach and a developer. I like L’Oreal’s Quick Blue and 40 Volume Developer (you can use a lesser volume like 20 or 30 since we are already starting with a “white” tail but I am not taking any chances with getting the tail white!). I also use a product called Red Gold Corrector. It helps keep the bleached hair from turning yellow. I have been told this is optional.You will also need some version of bluing/purple shampoo (any horse or human brand will work). Gloves. A plastic bag. Vet wrap or other tape. If your horse is very dark and already has a white tail, you may want Vaseline to cover his butt hair to keep it from bleaching. I don’t do this with Gus as I only need to bleach the bottom.
Mix the bleach according to the instructions on the bucket
Or, if you are like me, guestimate and mix until you get the consistency you want (liquid but not supper runny so it sticks to the tail). If you are using the Red Gold Corrector, this is where you want to put it in. I usually put in 20-30 drops depending on how much bleach I am using.
Apply bleach to the tail Cover all parts of the tail that you want to turn white. I didn’t get the bleach quite as liquefied as I would have liked but it still works. Make sure you get every strand covered (and are wearing gloves!).
Wrap up tail and wait Put a bag around the tail and tape it up so that your horse doesn’t flick bleach all over himself. Wash off any excess bleach that may have gotten on your own arms or your horse’s legs. It shouldn’t have been on long enough to work at this point but you definitely don’t want to leave it!Wait around 30 minutes for the bleach to set. The longer you let it set the whiter it will be. If you interrupt it prematurely, you will get a yellow blond color, not white!
Wash out bleach When you take the bag off the tail, you will notice a lot of heat coming from the tail. This is good, this means the bleach is working! YAY! Take your hose and wash out all the bleach with hot* water. You will be surprised at how soft the tail feels when the bleach is out of it… I always am!
Wash tail with purple shampoo
When my husband was taking photos for me he stopped me at this point and said “his tail is still yellow!” Well, yes it is. In my case this is because I did not leave the bleach all the way in (see what happens in Step 5) and also because I hadn’t washed it again. Even if you leave the bleach in for the full time, you may still be shocked to see that the tail is yellow. Don’t worry though! Just apply that purple shampoo, wait as long as you can physically stand it (seriously, I leave purple shampoo in the tail for 20-30 minutes) and then wash it all out with hot water.
Enjoy everyone complimenting you on how white your gray horse’s tail is! Photo from previous bleaching due to me not being patient with leaving the bleach in.
*When I say hot water, I do mean make it as hot as you and your horse can safely tolerate. Hot water is the secret weapon for keeping white things white.
Stable View is one of my new favorite horse trials! I do wish there weren’t so many gnats and that they maybe held it over two days… but otherwise I couldn’t ask for a nicer show.
The grounds and venue were absolutely beautiful. They even had a huge covered arena that provided relief from the rain on Saturday and cover from the sun on Sunday. And if you like XC, well, Stable View’s is one to beat. It is not an easy course. It had big maxed out fences. But it was also a wonderful gallop type course that really let you ride most everything out of stride. The fences were big and pretty but not scary. The whole thing was wonderful.
And the staff and volunteers did such an amazing job. They had water for all breathing creatures available throughout the grounds. Water bottles for the humans, tanks and buckets for the four legged critters. And yes, I may have taken advantage after XC as well…
We managed to come home 6th out of a 19 in a very competitive BNR division. I was beyond thrilled… I didn’t think I had a shot at a ribbon this weekend. But I had wonderful coaching and a wonderful support system and we finished on our dressage score.
More coming in the next few days because I definitely have a LOT more pictures and stories to share (why is Gus’ tail orange? Well… stay tuned!). But I wanted to give a major shout out to how amazing this trial was. If you live within driving distance of this place, I highly recommend!
There wasn’t an offical photographer at the Chatt Hills schooling show a few weeks ago but the photographer that was going to be there for the Connemara show the next day actually got some XC pictures! I am so happy that I have a few since my normal photographer wasn’t there to help me out (how dare he ditch me for a bachelor party!).
These were the last few fences on course so by this time we’re both a little tired. Still, I’m happy with the effort even if it seems we got a little too close to the base of the fence. One step at a time right?
Plus I really think my black/white/orange set up for XC is kind of rocking it right now. Classy yet still bold.
After the schooling show at Chatt, my trainer has been very focused on the free walk for Gus. It’s a very frustrating element for the two of us because we can get great stretch and reach at home but the minute we get in the ring, that goes buh-bye! LT wants us to go to a schooling show and ride in a bunch of tests and, if we have to, throw the test to school that dang walk in the ring. I know she’s right but I’m loath to do it because I don’t like throwing anything. Maybe I’ll have her ride him…
While we aren’t making a lot of progress at the walk, I feel like our trot work is coming along very well. It’s all baby work at this point but I’m super happy with the try I’m getting.
I’ve never had a lot of luck with the stretchy trot but Gus is starting to like the opportunities I give him to reach down and out. We need to still work on the out… okay, we need a lot more out! … but it is coming together one step at a time. Even better, I can actually transition between the medium trot and the stretchy trot without turning Gus into a giraffe.
We have also begun to work on lengthening our trot. I know it’s not needed for eventing dressage for a while (training level?) but it is definitely helping Gus learn to use his hind end and push. LT’s favorite exercise for this is to stay on a 10-15m circle asking for more and more push behind but not letting him out. Then when I feel like I’m riding springs, I let him go down the long side (or diagonal) still pushing for more but just letting that power go forward. It is not easy for Gus or for myself but the few steps we get are fun! And each time we work on it, things get a little better.
It may not look like much now but we’re building the foundation for really great dressage work in the future. At least, I hope we are!
So it is not technically Summer yet but no one has told the south (or really any of America, it seems)! The temps have been rising and the humidity has been climbing and every day this week I’ve gone outside to find my windshield all steamed up. I’m ready to be done with it.
But obviously since I still have many months of this torture, I have to find ways to cope with it. For me, that means riding late at night since I start work at 7 am. Lots of trail rides in the shade. And many many hose downs.
I have also given myself permission to say “it is too hot to ride today” and stay home. If the heat plus the humidity is over 135, I don’t ride unless I have to (shows or lessons). I know the best way to get used to this is to ride in it, but I do not do well with the humidity. I passed out once in hot yoga.