Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Current Bane of My Existence - TARWEED

It is summer here in Oregon and with that comes an invasion of what I believe to be the worst plant in existence. It is commonly called tarweed, I'm assuming due to the fact that it has a sticky residue that is tarlike that attaches to anything and everything.
The reason that I am so frustrated with it, is that the horse I have been riding lives out in pasture during the summer and she is absolutely covered with sticky tar. She has it on her nose, on her whiskers, in her mane and tail, and covering her legs. The only part of her body that is unscathed is her back (because she apparently does not try to roll in the stuff). Since she is sticky, when she goes to eat, or roll, or touch anything, the dust and dirt sticks to the sap leaving black, sticky clumps of hair all over her.
Casey's poor, sappy nose
Sticky Casey
When I tried to curry or brush the sap off of Casey, I quickly realized that this stuff was not budging. Instead of cleaning it off I was just brushing loose hair into the sap and creating a bigger mess. Feeling defeated I asked my trainer what to do and she told me that the magical cure was baby oil. So, of course, the next day I came back with baby oil and rags, determined to get the sap off. And it worked, sort of. The baby oil did loosen the hair from the sap, but it took a lot of rubbing and applying more and more baby oil to actually get the sap off of Casey's face. After about half and hour and a quarter of a bottle of baby oil I called it quits and gave up. Casey did look a lot cleaner (if you only looked at her face and ignored the rest of her body) and my intentions were to work on another spot the next day. This is where I went wrong. I assumed that the baby oil would keep the tarweed sap from coating her hair and I was very wrong. When I showed up the next day to work with Casey, she was just as filthy and sap-covered as she was before I even brought the baby oil to the barn. And with the realization that I would only be able to keep her clean if I baby-oiled every day for the rest of the summer I gave up. For now, I am going to ignore the sticky gross hair and just do essential grooming. Luckily, tarweed season ends in a month and then I will spend the time getting all of the sap off of Casey, but for now, it's just not worth it.
My solution - ignore the tarweed and just groom elsewhere
Eden running among the tarweed
Although I am really disliking tarweed right now, there are many benefits to it. It is a keystone species in California, it is a host plant for a type of moth, and it also hosts predatory insects. In addition, Livermore tarplant is a listed as a rare plant that is seriously endangered in California. The message that I take away from this is that even as annoying as a plant can be, it is important to remember that as a horse-person I enjoy riding so much because I love being out in nature, and part of nature is dealing with a tar-covered horse.

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