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Archive for the ‘Grooming’ Category

Winter Clip

The shorter days and longer, cooler nights of fall trigger a change in your horse’s hair growth. In temperate climates, in August or September, horses begin shedding their short summer hair and replacing it with longer winter hair. The fluffy coat characteristic of horses turned out in the northern states and Canada is usually completely grown in by November. For the horse turned out for the winter, the natural coat is an ideal form of protection, as the long hair traps a layer of warm air next to the body, which acts as insulation. During cold temperatures, piloerector muscles make the hair stand up, which increases the coat’s insulating potential.

 

To help you with your winter grooming, visit our book store where we have a BUY ONE and GET TWO FREE book sale. Here are some books that might be of interest.

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Click here to see all the books ……….

http://www.horsekeeping.com/horse_books/used/used-horse/horse-books-used.htm

http://www.horsekeeping.com/horse_books/book_barn.htm

 

Ear Clip

Certain places on a horse’s body have extra hair for a reason. The ears, for example, grow extra hair both inside and outside in the fall to keep them warm during the winter. If you need to tidy up your horse’s ears for the winter, just clip them flush and maybe tweak the outline. 

However, long winter hair can create difficulties for you if you intend to ride your horse actively during the winter. If you do plan to keep your horse in work throughout the winter, you should consider one of the following: blanketing, clipping, or a combination of clipping and blanketing.

Blanketing. To minimize the density of the winter coat your horse grows in the fall, you can begin blanketing him in August and using lights (see November Reproduction Roundup) so that his body receives the signal that only short to medium hairs are required to replace the summer coat. Of course, once you begin blanketing, you will need to continue blanketing your horse all winter.

Visit our Tack Barn where we have items that are new and used once for photo shoots - all at very low prices.

Click on this photo to visit our Tack Barn where we have items that are new and used once for photo shoots – all at very low prices.

Body clip. In areas with moderate to severe winters where horses grow a substantial winter coat, you may need to use a type of body clip to minimize grooming and cooling-out time. If you choose a conservative clip and your winter is mild, you may be able to turn out a clipped horse without blanketing him. In most wintry states, however, it is necessary to blanket a clipped horse.

Body clipping will allow you to work your horse vigorously during the winter. Clipped horses sweat less, and what sweat there is will be able to dry more quickly. The clipped horse can be cooled out much more effectively and safely than the unclipped horse. Also, the clipped horse is tidy in appearance and relatively easy to keep clean, an important factor in the non-bath months.

Body clipping won’t appreciably improve the appearance of an unhealthy horse — such a horse will just have a bad short coat instead of a bad long coat. But the healthy horse in active work can benefit greatly from a winter clip.

Types of Clips

There are three basic types of body clips, each with many variations and styles: the full clip, the hunter clip, and the trace clip. The full body clip consists of shortening the hair on the entire horse, including the head and legs. Immediately after a full body clip, most horses, especially bays and chestnuts, appear to be a lighter color.

The (field) hunter clip. This is essentially a full body clip, except that long hair is left on the legs and saddle area. For protection when working in snowy fields, the winter hair remains on the legs from the elbows and stifles down to the coronary bands. In addition, a patch the shape of the saddle pad is also left so that the horse’s back is less prone to chill after work.

The trace clip. This was originally designed for harness horses that worked in the winter. The hair is clipped in the areas where a horse sweats: the throat, chest floor, belly, inner thighs, and under the tail. A conservative trace clip may involve removing a strip of hair 8 to 10 inches wide from the throat under the belly to the anus. The basic trace clip can be embellished with sharp geometric designs and circles so it fits the needs of a more aggressive exercise program.

clipper Tips.

Before you bring your horse in the barn for his clip, be sure your clippers are in working order and that you have several sets of sharp blades on hand.

In very general terms, there are two types of clippers: heavy duty and light duty. The heavy duty clippers are suitable for body and leg clipping. They are designed to be used for extended periods of time because they cool while they are being used. Light duty clippers are suitable for small jobs, such as trimming the muzzle, throat, ears, and bridle path, and perhaps a touch up on the legs. If you use light duty clippers for removing heavy winter hair, not only will the blades quickly become dull, but the motor may overheat and burn out as well.

For most of the body work, heavy duty clippers with a wide head work best. Small clippers are necessary for the legs, head, and tight areas such as the elbows. The clippers for the body work should be outfitted with #10 or #15 blades, which cut hair to about a quarter inch. Never use a surgical blade (#30 or #40) for a body clip, as it would remove the hair right down to the skin.

Body Clipping Basics

Here are some guidelines for the first time you clip a horse.

Take the time to outline a plan. Mentally go through each step of the procedure to be sure you will have everything on hand that you need. Budget enough time for the job. Figure about two to three hours to clip a horse.

Approach the task with patience. If you get frazzled or hurried, your clip will show it. It helps if you are experienced at clipping, but if it is your first time doing a body clip, ask a knowledgeable friend to coach you through the tough spots.

Everyone stay calm. A calm, experienced horse will make your first clipping job easier. However, if you must clip a young or nervous horse, check with your veterinarian for his or her recommendations for an appropriate tranquilizer.

Cleanliness is a virtue. Be sure the horse is very clean before you begin clipping. Dirt can dull clipper blades very quickly. If bathing is possible, wash the horse the day before clipping and let him dry unblanketed. If it is too cold for bathing, thoroughly groom the horse using a rubber curry and vacuum so that the clean hair stands out from the body when you are finished.

Braid the mane and wrap the tail. This will keep them out of the way while you are clipping.

Clipping Procedure

Begin clipping on the shoulder or the barrel with the large-headed clippers. To get a consistent clip, hold the clippers with the blades flat against the horse’s body for the entire session.

Aim the clipper head directly against the hair growth. You will probably be surprised at how many times the hair growth changes direction on the horse’s body.

Using short strokes rather than long strokes results in fewer “tracks,” or residual clipper lines.

As you clip, keep the blades clean and cool. With the clippers running, dip just the tips of the clipper teeth into a commercially prepared blade wash or kerosene. This will cut any oily or dirty residue that has built up on the blades. With the blades pointed toward the floor, shake the excess fluid off the blades before tipping them upright to resume.

If you notice that the sound of the motor changes, it may be that the blades need to be lubricated. Refer to your owner’s manual. Some models require oiling. Others recommend a spray lubricant be used directly on the blades. The lubricant cools the blades and removes small dirt particles, thereby further reducing friction.

Keep the air intake screen clear of hair, or the motor will not cool properly. If the clippers overheat, you must stop using them until they cool. Hot clippers not only can hurt your horse, but the motor can burn up irreparably.

Once you finish clipping the fleshy body parts such as the shoulders, chest, barrel, belly, and thighs, use small clippers on the extremities such as the legs and head.

When you are finished, thoroughly clean your clippers before putting them away. Leaving hair, sweat, and scurf on the blades can result in rusted blades that will not clip well the next time you want to use them.

Finally, curry your horse vigorously, vacuum him, and rub some oil or conditioner into his coat. Groom the clipped horse daily to restore the oil and shine to his coat.

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Ten Skin Ailments to Avoid

Here is a brief primer on some of the most common skin problems that might plague a horse.

Rain rot is caused by Dermatophilus, an infectious microorganism from the soil that eagerly becomes established in skin cracks under a dirty hair coat during rainy weather. The painful, tight scabs that form on the horse’s neck, shoulders, back, and rump make him uncomfortable and unusable and require medication and bathing.

Seborrhea is a skin disease caused by a malfunction in sebum production and function, resulting in flaky skin.

Ringworm is a fungal infection affecting the skin and hair, characterized by round, crusty patches with hair loss. It is easily spread between horses via tack and grooming tools.

Photosensitivity of the skin (usually under white hair) can result from components of certain plants (ingested). The skin becomes red, then sloughs off.

Warts, most commonly on the muzzle of a young horse, are caused by the equine papillomavirus. As a horse matures, he develops immunity to the virus and the warts disappear. The same virus also causes aural plaque, a scaly condition inside the ear, which can become painful if flies are allowed to bite and feed inside the ears.

Sarcoids are common skin tumors with unknown cause. There are several types, mostly occurring around the head or the site of an old injury.

Thrush is a fungal infection of the hoof that thrives in moist, dirty environments.

Scratches (also known as grease heel) is a common term that refers to a general localized skin inflammation found on the lower legs of horses. The thick, chronic sores at the heels and rear of the pastern can be quite painful. Scratches are linked to an opportunistic fungus, but can be complicated by bacterial infection.

Ticks cause crusty scabs and can be disease carriers. Check the mane and tail carefully throughout spring and summer. Use rubber gloves or tweezers to remove ticks, which can carry Lyme disease that can also affect humans (see July Vet Clinic). Be sure to remove the entire tick. If the head is left in, it can cause a painful infection.

Lice are not common in horses unless they are poorly kept and crowded. Then lice can spread rapidly through a group. You’d find the nits (eggs) or the lice themselves along the midline of the horse, such as in the mane and tail head.

 

Take advantage of our Book Sale. Buy One and Get TWO FREE on this page. New books are being added weekly in both categories.

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Here are a few added this week:

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If you have a question about horse care, facilities, horse behavior or training, perhaps your questions has already been asked and answered on my Horse Information Roundup.
There you can browse by categories such as Hoof Care, Riding and Mounted Training or Horse Clothing just to name a few………

OR you can use the Horsekeeping search tool at the top of the page to type in a word or phrase and that will create a list of articles that contain that subject.

To get more in depth information, you can browse through my complete books list. Here is the complete chronology of my books and DVDs

and here is a place where you can look for books by category – the Book Barn.

Cherry Hill

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Hi Cherry,

This past fall with the start of the dry weather I started shocking my horse when I would touch him or brush, which caused him to jump and me to jump as well.  It even happened one day when I kissed him on the nose.
When I started to blanket him during the cold weather in December, every time I took/ take his blanket off there is a large amount of static electricity, so he now jumps from his blanket being taken off also.  I have resorted to rubbing him with dryer sheets, as I slowly peel off his blanket and use Static Guard on his blanket right after I remove it.
This is a wonderful horse, who is now jumpy when I touch or give him treats with my open hand and to date we have not shocked one another in about 6 weeks, any suggestions on how to get his confidence back?
Thank you, Bridget

Hi Bridget

During dry weather, when you vigorously groom a horse or remove his blanket, static electricity can make a loud snap and cause a stinging zap that can make a horse blanket shy or spooky to your touch.

When a horse’s hair coat is very dry and fluffy, it is more likely to zap. Natural oils insulate the hair shafts and cut down on zapping – that’s one reason I minimizing bathing (which removes natural oils) and why I emphasize currying which stimulates the production of oil and distributes it to the ends of the hairs.

I’ve also found that various blanket and sheet materials work differently in different climates. Here in semi-arid Colorado, certain nylon sheets and blankets with nylon or fleece linings generate more static electricity than cotton sheets or blankets with wool linings. But this can vary according to the temperature and humidity in YOUR barn.

No matter what blanket or sheet I use, when removing it, I DON’T slide it across the horse’s hair coat, which could create static electricity. Instead, I lift the blanket UP and off. To avoid a zap at the moment I separate the blanket from the horse – I do it one handed. I remove the blanket with one hand and keep my other hand free of the horse’s body and the blanket. That way, I don’t complete an electrical circuit and my horse doesn’t get zapped.

I have a short video clip on my DVD “101 Horsekeeping Tips” that shows that.

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Hi Cherry,

just wondered if you have any ideas how to stop out yearling miniature horse filly to stop bucking and kicking out at us. We own 6 other miniatures and have never had this problem . We have her for 6 months now, and still she does it. We cant stand behind her to brush her tail, nor adjust her rug leg straps etc. She is out on grass with the others and as soon as we go to bring her in, she spins and lashes out with her rear legs. She also hates to be tied and gets very thick and starts pawing the ground etc.
Sara

Hi Sara,

Young fillies of that age are beginning to experience their estrous cycle for the first time. Because of that, some are more explosive, irritable and protective, especially of their hindquarters and activities related to their rear end, such as you say brushing her tail and adjusting her leg straps.

There are many articles related to your questions on my Horse Information Roundup. I will mention a few, but you should go there and search your questions.

Reference article: How to Tell if a Mare is in Heat

A horse like that needs a super thorough handling and sacking out program to show her that touching and activities behind her are nothing to fear. This is a good time to nip this tendency in the bud – otherwise the horse could carry the bad habits for life.

Reference Articles:

Sacking Out

Teaching the Young Horse to Tie

Tying Problems

I recommend you read my latest book, What Every Horse Should Know:

Respect Patience Partnership

No Fear of People or Things

No Fear of Restriction or Restraint.

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When my dear hubby Richard built my scriptorium (the cottage where I write) he put in lots and lots of bookshelves…..that was, well, I don’t want to say HOW many years ago but a long time !!

The shelves are now overflowing and its time to downsize my collection.

Most of the books are new or like new. Many have never been opened. Some are current titles and others are vintage and out of print. I’ll be adding a handful every week or so, so keep an eye on Used Horse Books.

Likewise, Richard is also going through his video and DVD collection.

We hope you find something you need or have been looking for.

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Hi Cherry,

When I brought my horses in from winter pasture, they had burrs in their manes, forelocks and even in their tails. Is there an easy way to get them out? Bob

Burrs Looking for a Forelock

Hi Bob,

Horse Handling and Grooming by Cherry HillThe best way to get them out is to use baby oil. It is a fairly inexpensive product if you buy a generic brand at a discount store. Squirt it on the forelock and mane where the burdock burrs tend to wad up in the hair when a horse puts his head down to graze where burdock grows. Then with a pair of leather gloves on your hands (leather will protect your fingers from the burrs better than cloth and the leather won’t mind the oil) grab a glob of burrs with both hands and rub back and forth against each other like you were out on a trail ride and had to scrub your shirt in the creek. The back and forth motion breaks up the burrs into smaller pieces and pretty soon you’ll be able to start fingering through the hair to get the pieces to drop out.

There are several excellent “detangler” products on the market for horses but they cost quite a bit.

Horsekeeping On A Small AcreageTo prevent burrs from getting in there in the first place, take a walk in your pasture in late summer and early fall. We do this carrying a couple of old feed sacks and some brush clippers with us and lop off the tops of any burdock plants we see. Over the years by doing this, we have eradicated MOST of the burdock from our pastures.

Remove Burdock Plants from your Pasture while they are still Green !

 

In the meantime, you can routinely apply a detangler during burdock season or you can use a hair conditioner product. Shampoo the horses mane, forelock and tail. Rinse very well. Then apply the conditioner. Work it in well, let is sit on the hair for a couple of minutes to really soak in and then rinse thoroughly. A conditioned tail will be less apt to hold burrs and it will be easier for you to remove the few that do attach.

Hope this helps.Cherry Hill horse trainer and author of 30 books and DVDs

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My two sisters live in Texas and even though neither of them are riders, they both have used the phrase “rode hard and put up wet” when they are describing someone who is working too hard and not taking enough time off.

The urban definition has me picturing some overworked city dweller commuting an hour or more to her job, putting in 8-10 hours of repetitious work, then the long commute home during rush hour traffic. Too exhausted to cook or eat, she collapses in her recliner still in the clothes she wore to work.


The phrase, as we horsemen know, was borrowed from the negative description of a rider working a horse to near exhaustion, then jerking the saddle off and turning the sweaty horse out with no grooming. Of course none of us do that but we might be guilty of not taking the time necessary to cool down a horse properly after work.

A cool down is especially important in the cold weather that seems to be blanketing the entire country. I’m hearing 4 degrees in Florida tonight?

When a horse that has grown any sort of winter hair coat is worked hard, he sweats more, has trouble cooling out and drying off so and is set up for chills, muscle stiffness, and overall blahs.

Some things to think about:

Use a quarter sheet to protect the hindquarters during work.

Consider a body clip and blanketing.

Use a body wash or brace to remove sweat before cooling and grooming.

Use a cooler when hand walking a horse to cool him out.

Have a great ride and take care of that good horse,

 

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For the Horse Who Has Everything

©  2010 Cherry Hill
www.horsekeeping.com

Is there is a special horse on your Christmas list that you would like to thank in some way for his enjoyable partnership and devotion to duty?  If so, show that you really appreciate him by choosing something that a horse would enjoy.  Pass up the reindeer antlers and choose something from this, a horse’s Christmas wish list.

As you might suspect, with horses, food items top the list.  If you have several horses, you can wish them all happy holidays with a truck load of carrots.  Some farms sell a pick up load for $100 or so delivered.  If you have a cool shady place to store them, they will likely keep until the last one is fed.  Carrots provide a welcome diversion to the horse’s normal ration and can be a healthy reward for good behavior.  Carrots are an excellent sources of carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A. Vitamin A is usually the only vitamin that ever needs to be supplemented in a horse’s diet.  If a horse is not receiving green sun-cured hay, he may not be getting adequate carotene.  If a truck load is not an option, then set aside the $$ to buy large bags of carrots or apples, especially affordable if you belong to a buyer’s club like Sam’s.  If you’re on a tight budget, you’d be surprised at how many perfectly good (for horses) carrots and apples are thrown away by grocery stores every day.  Make friends with your local produce manager and arrange to pick up goodies for your horse regularly.

When the temperature dips, oatmeal makes a healthy and warming breakfast for you.  Likewise, at the barn, during cold weather, your horse might relish a hot grain mash.  It takes a little practice and some testing to see what grains and mash consistency appeal to each horse.  Don’t think of wheat bran as the only choice for a mash.  In fact, wheat bran, fed on a daily basis, can be detrimental since it could add too much phosphorus to your horse’s diet.  There should be no such problem if you only feed wheat bran once a week.  But also experiment with mashes made from rolled oats, sweet feed, cracked corn, barley, shredded beet pulp, a handful of molasses or a pinch of salt, some oil or chopped apples or carrots and you are on your way to satisfying your horse’s culinary pleasures (or at least enjoying the benevolent feeling you get from trying!).

Measure and mix the dry ingredients the night before and bring them to the house in a pail. When you put the water on for your tea the next morning, boil some extra water for the mash. Usually a 4:1 ratio of grains to boiling water is satisfactory for most horses.  It is best to err on the dry side rather than the mushy side.  Stir as you pour the water.  Let the mash steep in a warm place for about thirty minutes, preferably covered so it can steam.  Check the temperature and serve.  Take a mug of hot tea out to the barn for yourself, find a warm corner to sit and then listen to the contented slurpings of your appreciative buddies.  And know that beside the nutritional benefits, a mash during cold weather can provide your horse with the needed moisture he might be reluctant to sip from a cold bucket.

Swirl a candy cane in your horse’s water pail?  This is not just a frivolous holiday act but can have a practical application.  Peppermint oil is one substance that can be used to disguise water for the horse that is often “on the road” and will be offered different types of water to drink. Using an aromatic and tasty substance in his water while he is both at home and away, may be the best gift you give a reluctant drinker.

A tasty treat that doubles as a pacifier for the a horse that is stalled during cold weather is a molasses grain block.  Sold across the country under hundreds of local feed mill labels, these blocks should be considered as an occasional supplement to the horse’s normal diet.  Under most feeding circumstances, they are unnecessary, but horses dearly love them.  Comprised of grain products, molasses and minerals, the forty to fifty pound cubes have a wonderful smell and a texture that entices horses to both lick and chew them.  Similar products are made for sheep and cattle, but contain a synthetic source of protein called urea which horses can’t utilize.  For horses, it is important to purchase the “premium” horse version which contains protein from plant sources, such as soybean meal.  Most horses appear to enjoy these large “candy bar blocks” and, in fact, some horses are determined to finish an entire block all at once.  If your horse falls in this category, you will have to roll the block out of his stall or pen each day and only let him have access to it for a limited period of time.  Be sure he always has adequate water available, as even the small percentage of salt in most of these blocks will increase your horse’s thirst reflex – which is a good thing during cold weather.

Probably the next most popular request on a horse’s wish list is his desire to be allowed to be a horse.  Many horses like nothing better than to nose around a pasture inspecting roots and sticks and tracing recent equine history.  From observations, it seems like a roll in the mud or the snow is hard to beat on the equine list of all time favorite recreational activities.  Contrary to our guidelines, horses see nothing wrong in being dirty or having their manes flop over to both sides of their necks.

Depending on the type of winter management that you follow, you may wish To Groom or Not To Groom.  A pasture horse, left to his natural devices, grows a thick protective coat and further seals his skin from wind and moisture by accumulating a heavy waxy sebum at the base of his hairs. Horses that are turned out for the winter should not be extensively groomed, lest you inadvertently remove your horse’s valuable oily protection.  The best gift for the pastured horse is to let his waxy layer stay intact (no vigorous currying), let his coat be fluffy (not smoothed down by brushing) and to offer him shelter from wet weather or piercing winter winds.

If your horse would be more comfortable with a winter blanket, be sure to choose a waterproof, breathable one that can be easily laundered so you’ll perform that task when necessary.  Read the two articles in the Horse Information Roundup that relate to winter blankets to help you choose and use a winter blanket properly.

The stalled horse that is in work not only appreciates but requires vigorous grooming.  A special Christmas session might include body stropping which is an isotonic muscle exercise.  You can use a cactus cloth or a wisp for the stropping.  It’s a vigorous exercise which includes pounding the large muscle masses of the neck, shoulder and hindquarter with moderate pressure which stimulates circulation and then casting off waste products with a sweeping motion.  Massage your horse’s legs with your hands using a circular motion toward the heart.  Massage your horse’s head with an ear rub for the finale – inside and out ending with a slight pulling as you slide your fingers off the tips of your horse’s ears.  Be forewarned – horses given such a body rub are likely to melt in a puddle!

If the cold weather has kept your horse in and he is lonely, he might appreciate a stall companion.  Some friendships just happen and do not have to be arranged.  Cats, chickens, lambs and dogs have been known to voluntarily take up quarters with a compatible horse. The daily treks and routines of both horse and companion provide interest and comfort for each other.  Pigmy goats and other pets or small livestock can sometimes be successfully transplanted in a lonely horse’s stall.

As we know, the holiday season is not complete without family and friends.  And so it is with equines.  A real treat, especially for a stalled horse, is to be turned out with a favorite (compatible!) companion.  There is nothing quite so joyous as two buddies ripping and tearing in the paddock, playing all the bucking and twisting games that are so important in the horse world.  Even though mutual grooming can mess up a lovely mane, it provides unequaled satisfaction and contentment for a horse that is starved for socialization
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If you feel you must give an actual present to your horse, perhaps an innovative stall toy is the answer.  Designed to wile away the hours and discourage wood chewing and other vices, stall toys can channel pent up energies toward  non-destructive play.  Commercial models are often huge rubber balls but a gallon milk container can works too.  Experiment with hanging the toy from various heights.  Note that if your horse becomes obsessed with playing with a toy, you may see some undesirable changes in the curvature of his neck so monitor how he plays and what height is optimum. A variation on this idea is giving a horse a sturdy beach ball to play with in a small paddock or indoor arena.

Horses are appreciative when we make their work easier and more comfortable.  One way to do this is to make sure he is shod for balance, comfort and safety year round.  A consultation with an equine veterinary specialist or a master farrier may turn up some helpful ideas regarding your horse ‘s shoeing.  Besides checking for proper break-over and flat landing, you may be introduced to new ways to provide safe footing for winter riding.

Another way to make a horse’s work easier is to become a more physically fit and athletic rider. Give your horse the gift of becoming a more effective rider.  Promise to stick with the suppling exercises that help you to mount smoothly and ride more fluidly.  Lose a few pounds to ease his burden.  Strengthen your body and become a working member of the team, not just a passenger.  Make a New Year’s Resolution to take some riding lessons to improve yourself so that you are a better member of your horse-human team.

Finally, let your horse luxuriate in some peace and quiet.  Offer him a comfortable place where he can doze or lay without distracting lights and noises.  Let him sigh and whinny in his sleep and wake when he’s ready.  Peace.

 

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