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My New Perfume: L'Air du Slop

By Cindy Hale | Monday, February 8, 2010

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As a lifelong horsewoman I’ve figured out how to remove gunk from my clothes. I can get Furacin off a sweatshirt and Thrush Buster off my jeans. I can even coax horse slobber from cashmere. But my cleaning talents are useless against rain soaked muck.

With apologies to horse lovers in other regions who are dealing with record snowfalls, I’m going to take a moment to whine about our weather. We just endured several more days of rain. I’ve stopped worrying that my tack might grow mildew. Instead I wonder just how much time a human body can spend inside a rubberized rain suit before algae starts to sprout. Each time I do climb out of my rain suit I discover that my clothes are nonetheless damp and, worse, reeking of a ghastly odor. It’s not plain ol’ manure smell. Nor is it that rotten egg scent that can waft up from beneath layers of soiled stall bedding. I mean, it is that, but it’s also so much more. Add in the musty scent of decomposing tidbits of alfalfa that have been discarded and then buried in several inches of soggy earth. Plus there’s the stench of dirty horse blankets. You know what I’m talking about. Microscopic particles of that fragrant grime launch through the air and glom onto my skin, hair and clothes each time I re-blanket the horses.

All of these pungent aromas combine to make a most unpleasant scent that permeates the very fibers of my clothes. When I finally peel the offensive garments from my waterlogged skin, I stand in front of my washing machine and try to decide if it’s worth the effort. Should I just chuck the jeans, the long-sleeved t-shirt and the socks? They’ll never be the same again. Like a magician armed with bottles of potions, I can get the muckity mud stains out. But I can’t seem to remove that smell. I fear that after all this rain none of my barn clothes will ever pass the Sniff Test again.

*****

And now, just to illustrate a few hours of getting doused once again with both rain and the complementary odors of a wet stable and wet horses, here are some snapshots:

Life with Horses - My New Perfume: L’Air du Slop
During a brief break in the storm, I got Joey out of his stall and longed him in my paddock. But since he churned up the ground, I had to hurriedly rake it so the rain would run off and into the drain outside the fence. Don’t I look fetching in my Gore-Tex parka? Allegedly it’s waterproof. But it’s certainly not smell proof.

Life with Horses - My New Perfume: L’Air du Slop
Because I only have one box stall, Wally is temporarily stabled in the barn at my parents’ place. For the short drive over there I dumped the parka and pulled on my rubber rain suit. Once there, I saw that my father had installed a rain gutter on the roof over Missy and April’s corrals. But hmmm…. My sister Jill and I pondered just what exactly we were supposed to do with the huge tub of rainwater that had accumulated under the downspout. I mean, it’s not like the grass needs to be watered.

Life with Horses - My New Perfume: L'Air du Slop
Trust me, the horses living outside at my parents all have dry, cozy areas to sleep under their roofs. But they all got to bucking and playing around while Jill and I were trying to longe and clean corrals, so the mud turned into slop in some areas. I tried to dig a canal to drain off the water, but I gave up when the goop literally sucked my muck boots off my feet. Needless to say, I threw away that pair of socks.

As you can see, horsekeeping is not very enjoyable this time of year. I long for a bright, sunny day before I forget what it’s like to wear a tank top and sunscreen. In fact, while Jill was taking that last photo, she noticed an odd reflection on the view screen of the camera. I took a look at it. There was a strange glare in the upper half of the frame. What the heck was causing that glint? Then I realized it was the sun, breaking through the clouds. Oh, grand orb, come back to us! Soon. Before we all grow slime and start to stink.

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My New Perfume: L'Air du Slop

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Reader Comments

sasha    stanford, CA

2/13/2010 1:03:27 PM

yeah, riding and doing horse chores in the rain is uncomfortable, but imagine having to bike three miles in the rain and wind, uphill both ways, just to get to the barn! Yay for being a poor, carless college student. :) We still know its all worth it.

horsewoman    somewhere, OK

2/12/2010 8:52:01 AM

I hate rain!

sabrina    columbia, NJ

2/10/2010 2:41:28 PM

omg... i still dont know which is worse. a load of rain or a load of snow...

CINDY    HORSE CHANNEL, CA

2/9/2010 4:50:53 PM

Bleach? I tried that once and ended up with faded speckles and a loss of vibrant color on my fabulously expensive t-shirts from Target. A good pre-soaking in the laundry basin in water that contains a few drops of bleach does wonders, however, for smelly tennis shoes, ripe with wet barn odors. Then I rinse them out and toss them in the washer. That's the only way I can ever wear them again, and prevent other shoppers from giving me a wide berth at the grocery store.

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