Poor Gus. When it comes to the tail department he's not exactly well-endowed. He suffers the thin-tailed curse of many of his fellow chestnut Weltmeyer descendants - an issue made all the more obvious by just how out of proportion his under-sized tail is to his over-sized body. And because his tail breaks just as easily as it tangles, it's hard to keep it looking sleek and smooth when brushing only serves to make it even thinner.
I know, #FirstWorldProblems, right?
But a problem nonetheless. So when the folks at Equi-Spa contacted me to see if I was interested in trying their products and whether I had any specific grooming concerns, my answers were yes and yes. They suggested two products: Fairy Tails Lotion and Fairy Tails Orchid Oil Gloss and I readily agreed to give them both a try.
*Full disclosure: This is the bit where I have to tell you that the products were provided to me at no charge in order for me to review them. There was no financial consideration and no suggestion that the review should be anything but my own unbiased opinion, based on my own experience and actual results with the products. I don't have a stake in the company and don't personally know any of its owners or employees.
The lotion comes in a regular bottle and is applied by hand. It's thick enough that it doesn't run out of your hands, but thin enough for easy application evenly throughout the tail. I used a generous amount on the first few applications, but with regular use needed less each time. I always applied it to a clean, damp tail after shampooing.
The gloss comes in a spray bottle but is thicker than other sprays I've previously used. It comes out in more of a stream than a spray and doesn't apply quite as evenly as finer sprays. I preferred spraying it into my hands first and then rubbing it into the tail. I tried it on a clean, damp tail but also applied it several times to a dirty, dry tail and it definitely helped to keep the hair smoother and free of tangles between washings. A little goes a long way with this product, making it more economical than I first thought.
I've been using both products for almost a month now and I'm pleasantly surprised. I've tried a variety of lotions and potions on Gus's tail in the past and while most of them do help with detangling, with repeated use they seem to leave the hair either dry and brittle, or a bit sticky. Based on the consistency and initial results, I suspected Fairy Tails would lean towards the sticky side as well, but that hasn't been the case. The more I used it, the more I like it. While the tail doesn't have that silky, slippery feeling that silicone based products create, it has remained smooth and tangle free, even through rainstorms and mud baths. The tail also feels (and perhaps looks?) a little thicker and fuller than it did before, although that may just be wishful thinking on my part.
My only complaint? Both products, but particularly the gloss, are very heavily scented. It's a pleasant floral scent and isn't overwhelming in a barn setting but I quickly discovered that if I didn't wash my hands thoroughly afterwards, my allergies would go into overdrive. That being said, I am allergic to everything and super-sensitive to floral scents, even naturally-derived ones. YMMV.
The verdict: I give Fairy Tails a 4 out of 5 for being easy to use and doing exactly what it promises. At $16 (US) for the lotion and $20 for the gloss, they are comparably priced with other "natural" coat care products. However, since the products aren't available in Canada yet, you have to factor in the exchange rate, shipping costs and any duties which may apply. Once my free samples run out I would definitely order more of the lotion (because it is less scented than the gloss) and would consider trying some of the company's other products, such as the Kiss A Frog foot wash, which claims to protect the hoof from fungal and bacterial issues such as thrush and mud fever.
See for yourself! Bearing in mind that Gus' tail is usually a tangled mess just one day after washing, conditioning and detangling, check out this little video clip on my Instagram. This is him straight from turnout in a muddy, dusty field with no brushing or finger combing before taking the video. It's been about 4 days since I washed his tail or applied any Fairy Tails product and even though it's dirty, it's still smooth, shiny and tangle-free.
If you've me say it once you've probably heard me say it a thousand times: I hate horse shows. Except I don't really. After going to our local CDI as a spectator this past weekend I realized that I just hate showing. I resent the amount of money I spend on doing something I dread. I hate running back and forth to the port-a-potty because my anxiety is in overdrive. I hate that I can't conquer the overwhelming feeling that I might die if I encounter the water truck on the way to the warmup ring (even though my horse has only spooked hard about 5 times in his entire life). I hate that some people take showing so seriously and get worked up over a mistake or a low score as if they were life-or-death issues. At the end of the day we're not doing brain surgery; it's horse dancing.
So why do I show? Because I suck at it. And my mental state makes my horse suck at it. While he seems to enjoy "camping" with his buddies back at the shedrow and watching all the goings-on at the wash racks, he's not particularly enthusiastic about having to perform in the ring. So we'll keep doing it until we both get comfortable enough that getting through a low level test without a major error or meltdown is possible.
But this weekend he got to stay home with an abscess while I enjoyed all the fun of a show with none of the stress. All my past whining about showing negates the many, many good things about it, so here's a quick list of 3 things I love about shows:
1. Dressage shows are for everyone
Many horse sports have a reputation for being elitist, but getting up at 5am to feed or braid has a way of putting everyone on an equal footing. FEI competitors can be found hand-grazing their six-figure mounts next to little kids and their lesson ponies. Want to meet one of your Olympic idols? Sure there was an autograph booth for that, but you're just as likely to meet and chat with one at the manure pile, by the warm-up ring rail, or in the line-up for coffee. I saw competitors of all ages, all shapes and sizes (so confidence boosting for me to see several plus-sized riders looking awesome and riding fantastic tests) and all skill levels. Likewise I saw horses of every breed, size, shape, colour, description, and price point.
2. Dressage shows are inspiring
Unless you're lucky enough to winter in Wellington, or board somewhere with Grand Prix riders, we lower-level riders don't get the chance to see top-level dressage in person nearly often enough. Being able to watch riders warming up and competing at the highest levels is inspiring and educational in and of itself. But so is watching the pros put their young horses through their paces at the lower levels. So is watching an amateur with her self-trained draft cross hold her own against pros on fancy warmbloods in FEI classes. So is watching a rider struggle through a challenging warmup or difficult test, and live to knock it out of the park the next day.
3. Dressage shows are fun
Hands down, the best part of any show is the camaraderie. The dressage community in Canada is small and closely-knit, despite being highly competitive. Shows are a place to reconnect with people you haven't seen since last season, and to meet in real life some you "know" through social media. Everywhere you go there's a small army of family members, friends, barn-mates, and supporters taking off boots, holding horses, giving pep talks, and offering congratulations or condolences. At the end of the day it's not unusual to find small groups gathered outside of each shedrow, often trading war stories and laughs over an adult beverage or two, as their horses contentedly much hay nearby. Dressage may be an individual sport but these moments are a great reminder of our team spirit.
About the author
I'm a middle-aged, overweight, rusty re-rider who refuses to let any of that get in the way of my passion for dressage.