Feathers...to clip or NOT to clip?...that is the question

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Gwenllian

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Heather.....My Rosie is a heavy-weight cob,(With some Shire in her,I'm sure)though not as heavy weight as she was when I got her 6 months ago.If you can picture this...she is only 14.3 HDS,approx 550 Kg, with 12.5 ins bone. with feathers like I've never seen before.Despite her size and age (5 ish) she is getting reasonably athletic,and proving to be really quite good at dressage.However I have this dilemma with dressage.My dressage trainer, for whom I have a lot of respect, looked at Rosie's feathers, when I bought her....and giggled...."THOSE will have to come off".I have since had an awful lot of comments to this effect,that is...when people have stopped laughing at the prospect of something like ROSIE doing dressage in the first place.My problem is, that I'd like to show Rosie in Cob classes,just locally of course, but more importantly than that, Rosie's education was left quite late and I had to send her away for some schooling.Her manners on the ground were atrocious.She would NOT pick her feet up.She either refused,locked her knees straight or leaned on me.She's now MUCH better,Sian worked very hard on that for me,with good results.However, she's still not perfect, and as I can't bend down for long, because of my dodgy hip, I REALLY need those feathers to help me pick her feet up.
I'm told I really can't go into a Prelim Dressage test, albeit Unaffiliated,with a horse displaying feathers like that!! How serious is this. I have the RDA Regional Dressage Qualifiers in May, and I really DON'T want to trim her feathers. Any comments on this, Heather??
 

fionahogg

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Well Gwenllian I read your post and thought I had to reply! Leave the feathers on! I think that if they are brushed through and not all knotted up then they look lovely ESPECIALLY on a cobby horse! To trim them off for cosmetic reasons if you need them seems, to me, to be daft and rather unnecessary. I can't see that there'll be a problem if the horse is cleanly and neatly presented.

Fiona
 

Mossy

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Jan 9, 2000
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Go for it, feathers and all. A beautifully presented cob type in all its feathered hairy glory doing dressage is a sight for sore eyes and also one in the eye for all those horsey snobs out there. I would love to see a photo of her.

PS Just a muse. Why does fashion dictate that Highlands have to be shown au naturel, not a hair trimmed and tail on the ground regardless of the misery caused by masses of winter coat in May, but cobs shoud be trimmed within an inch of their lives? Take away the labels and they are the same shape horse.

[Edited by Mossy on 20th Jan 2001 at 07:15 PM]
 

Wally

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I say to hell with looks, go for practicality! If a judge is being fair they will look at the ability of horse and rider not looks. If you need those feathers to get a foot in the air, they stay!
 

Maci

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Feathers

I agree with everyone; leave the feathers on! Since she's a cobby horse, and your planning to show her like that, so, these kind of horse's NEED feathers! Well, they don't need them, they just look good in them, and would look awkward without them! Forget about those ideal dressage horse's! If you think Rosie can do it, then she can! Besides, if you leave the feather's on, well brushed and soft, the feather's will make her dressage footwork seem all the more lovelier, and floating like!

Go For It!
Maci :)
 
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Gwenllian

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Feathers

Well, I think that's pretty much IT then, isn't it?? I mean, I knew what I WANTED to do, I just thought that any possibility of EVER doing well in ANY dressage test was completely over, if even a HINT of feather was in sight, the way people were going on... you know...like feathers were a COMPLETE no-no; and I DO need them to get a foot off the ground even, let alone a foot in the air, Wally! Honestly, she's naughty with her feet, but MUCH improved compared with the way she WAS.Well.. thankyou very much one and all! The feathers stay....unless Heather has any very strong feelings on the matter, a judge's point of view and all that!

[Edited by Gwenllian on 21st Jan 2001 at 10:33 AM]
 

Heather

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Mar 28, 1999
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I would say that from a dressage judges point of view, they could give a false impression of movement. If the whole effect of movement is one hairy blur, instead of a crisp rhythmic one, it may be difficult to jduge it correctly. I am not against hairiness in cobs! I like to see a good hairy piebald or skewbald, particularly those with abundant silky feather, in a show class, but not in the dressage arena. I adore Friesian horses, and love to see them with their feather being driven, but when doing dressage displays, the Dutch tend to use white bandages against the black colour of the horse. Bandaging over the feather makes them looks as if they have furry paintbrushes sticking out of the bandages, and I think detracts from the dignity of these magnificent horses when under saddle!

My own show cob is half Percheron half Connemara- she's the one on the front of my video cover. When unclipped and with mane and feathers, you wouldn't give her a second glance. Clipped, hogged and minus feathers, she is a stunningly good looking horse with an exceptionally pretty head- it somehow just gets lost when she is hairy!My Highlands never had much feather, only a very silky tuft in the summer, more in winter, but then mine were riding school and competition ponies and were clipped, so although we didn't remove the actual feather, the wispy hair down the back of the legs was removed with comb and scissors, and I always showed my Highlands with long under jaw hair removed, not whiskers,I hasten to add.Never had any problem with judges.


When it boils down to it, it is purely to taste,but for dressage, for anything other than at the lowest levels, I would trim them off.

Heather
 
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Gwenllian

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Trimming

Thank you Heather. Sorry to be a pain, but can you be a bit more specific about 'lowest levels'?? Prelim perhaps? And do judges object to heavy..and I mean heavy (!) horses doing dressage? It seems that my local 'horseys' seem to look down their noses at Rosie doing dressage, I guess they think it's like having a beefy rugby player learn ballet dancing! I don't think she has HUGE talent, but she's really QUITE good. Do judges feel the same way about that?
 

Maria

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Hi

My girl, Carrie, a coloured Gypsy vanner, sports coarse feathers "au naturel". But I now have her feathers clipped out all year round as she looks more elegant and also its easier to manage. She's prone to greasy heel and it makes life easier for us both if she has her feathers clipped.
But I refuse to have her mane hogged!

She's never going to be a Grand Prix dressage horse - but when she's working well she looks stunnning. She makes people look twice as they don't expect a heavy weight gypsy cob to be doing dressage. A judge I know said that will work to her advantage - it makes them look twice!

With my new trick - a flash noseband - Carrie's suddenly started to cooperate again. She took one of the other livery owners by surprise last month. She couldn't believe the elegant horse working on the bit in trot was my cob! Amazing what a snazzy clip and no feathers can do!

Maria
 

sallym

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No way hogging

I have a (sort of) Welshie Cob D type. She has one full clip in late autumn to keep her reasonably cool through winter. (Warm with her rugs, of course.) She dosn't really have much in the way of feathers (being a mongrel) but they come off for tiyness sake - she looks ridiculous in her 'moon boot' legs! Her main and tail have never been touched - neither cut nor pulled - and she looks marvellous!

Best wishes

Sally

PS she keeps her whiskers too.
 

judyl

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Sorry to put a dampener on things, but in my local area (Surrey and Hampshire) quite a few judges are totally against a cob doing dressage. They seem to judge you against a warmblood movement which of course a cob doesn't have. I once asked a judge if there was anything I could do to improve my test and she just said that there were a lot of other nice horses there. In this area, people are spending lots of money on very well bred horses and then going out and doing Prelim so if you have a cob, forget it. We do very well coming in the top third of a class of around 30ish but to even think of getting placed - no chance!

Also, horses are placed higher even though they have worked with resistance, grinding their teeth, swishing their tail and even kicking out compared to my rhythmic, calm test - but that horse is a warmblood and looks the part.

Despondently,

Judy.
 

Silvia

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Some judges might be predjudiced, but not all. You should have seen the faces of the riders on the big warmbloods when my friend won a recent dressage competition on her stocky little Haflinger! Well worth a laugh.
So go for it, Gwenllian - be it with feathers or without!
 

LindaAd

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Gwenllian, there have been articles in magazines about cobs that won dressage classes, feathers and all, in spite of the feeling against them. Your Horse, I think or Horse and Rider - you could try looking on their websites if they have back issues.

I've competed at the lowest level - that's restricted Prelim classes for novices, and open Prelim too - at our local riding club, and been placed 2nd or 3rd, feathers, short strides and all.

I'd say go for it - later on you can always trim her if you feel it necessary.

I can't make up my mind what to do about my cob, either: he was so smart when I bought him, hogged, trimmed and clipped, but now he's grown the most magnificent feathers. But he's got a very short thick neck, so maybe a mane won't suit him. At the moment it still stands up like a donkey's.

I agree with Mossy: why do we expect cobs to be trimmed but not ponies? After all, not that long ago we'd have expected cobs to be docked too, but no-one would think of docking them - I hope.
 
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