Sandy: Horse Chores - Expert how-to for English Riders

Sandy: Horse Chores

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Merlot's newly clean blanket dries on the play set.

Merlot's newly clean blanket dries on the play set.

I'll be running out of clothes to wear by the end of the week and my horse is to blame. Well, not really, but instead of doing human laundry this weekend, I tackled washing his sheet and winter blanket.

For the past few months, the two have graced my front porch, caked with dried mud, manure and urine from 24/7 turnout and sharing a run-in shed with three buddies this winter. I'd neatly tucked the offensive apparel into the porch's far corner so the postman, FedEx man and other visitors couldn't see them—and more importantly—smell them. Last week, after a quick glance in the blankets' direction, I realized they were fast becoming a motel for spiders and stink bugs.

I used to send my horse's blankets out to be washed, but we invested in a front-load washer a few years ago and a side benefit has been the ability to wash bulky items. This is something I don't brag about to nonhorsy friends, though. They'd be horrified if I told them I washed my horse's smelly blankets in the same washing machine I use for my clothes and, worse, those of my 2-year-old daughter.

In my defense, my daughter does have enough clothes to last the week, and I will do a few loads of my clothes before hers. I also comfort myself with the knowledge that I don't have to worry whether or not she is being exposed to enough germs, a problem among children in our antibacterial world these days, according to news reports. We've got that base covered!

So armed with the new horse-blanket wash that promised not to harm the waterproofing, I washed the blanket first and then the sheet, which was so filthy I had to run it through twice. I wouldn't say they came out smelling fresh as a summer breeze, but they were definitely much better than before.

The weather cooperated and I hung them outside to dry. What better place than across the metal patio table and over my daughter's play set—she could still use the swings and slide, so there was no harm in that, was there?

As they dried, I figured I was going to have to wipe the animal hair out of the washing machine anyway, so I did all of my other pet laundry—dog blankets, cat beds, etc. By Sunday night, when I folded my horse's blanket and sheet and put them in a plastic storage bin for the season, I felt a sense of accomplishment.

Then I went upstairs to figure out what to wear to work for the next few days.

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