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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

July 7, 2012

The Art of Sponging: Sponging Impaired.

When it comes down to the fine art of sponging my horse, I'm an idiot.

 (disclaimer: some will say I'm an idiot all the time...but that is another topic for another day for non-anonymous posters ☺)

I've tried to defy this logic, but it keeps coming round to bite me.  Let's get down to sponging styles:

You dismount.  In this scenerio you ride your hot steaming horse to a water source and get the *ping ping ping* moment in your head that says this would be a great opportunity to sponge some cool water onto your horse.  It sounds good.  But here is what happens.The sponge is either leashed, buckled, or zipped into a pouch.  In order to retrieve the sponge you pretty much need two hands.  No matter how hard I try I cannot unzip, unpouch, unclip, or unravel the sponge from its attachment apparatus smoothly and efficiently without having the horse a) walk off, or b) step into the water source.  So you either have a horse walking away, or perhaps trotting away in search of the herd, or you are standing in water over your shoes.

You stay on board.  This is my current intelligent but perhaps illogical attempt at sponging.  Just stay up there.  Retrieving a sponge from a zipped up cantle pack is nearly a feat for a contortionist.   I've been unable to effectively contort since my thirties!  So I purchased a leash that has a couple of rings and clips.  I attached it to the back, and found that I don't contort well even if the sponge is not in a cantle bag.  I attached it to the pommel ring which made it handy.  But then dear God!  I had to pitch the thing out into the stream with my horse's eyes nearly bugging outward at this thing bobbing in the creek...(Note to self: always stand upstream while desensitizing for sponging, do not allow the sponge leash thingy to drift between the horse's legs).  It is very exciting when that happens.  It does however present an interesting training opportunity which I fully utilized.  Once desensitized there was the practiced skill of pitching it out, letting it soak with water, pulling it back in like reeling in a great white flopping shark...and then squeezing it onto useful locations on the horse's neck.  The cold water is very cooling to the horse.  (Note to self:  this creates another useful training opportunity as the horse jumps sideways, or walks off as you now have two hands involved in the tangled leash sponge thingy, unless you are an amazon with hands the size of baseball mitts).  So we work that all out, and in the process of pitching it out again... I drop the leash, where upon I get to wade back into the water, and get my feet wet anyway.

The humiliation.  Some clean looking, undisheveled, neatly dressed woman / man rides up to the stream and skillfully sponges "their" horse.  Rider does not dismount, zippers do not get stuck, nor does rider get entangled, or wet.  They'd make a lovely photo opportunity for the Endurance News.  They have mastered the art of sponging.


  1. I love this post; it is so what would happen to me! Everything would get sponged except the horse. Fortunately, with Jesse, all I have to do is stand back and watch her roll in the water source. Tack, what tack? She doesn't care. Once in Yellowstone, she just popped herself down for a roll in a marshy area - with both the tack and ME on her back. We had one of our 'training discussions'!

    I love all your info.
    Bionic Cowgirl

  2. at my last ride, I was sponging from on board and managed to soak my lap just so so that it looked like I peed myself... it was charming

  3. Riding with "the pro" the other day I picked up this valuable tidbit that I plan to execute...

    Instead of cords that go all over she uses a toy dog sized retractable leash to attach to the sponge. I'd imagine you would need to unravel it then toss it, but bring it back in isn't nearly an issue. And stuff on your saddle stays nice and tidy!

    Mastering the art of a dancing wigged-out horse though, that's a battle to still be won!