Working with horses is a blessing every day. Except during spring and fall when the shedding hair is absolutely everywhere. Performing sports massage on clients means I get dirty, it’s part of the job. But when I am spitting out hair and running to the bathroom to wash out my eyes, it’s a problem.
There are a number of shedding tools on the market. It is hard to know what is best to use. I carry a shedding blaze with me in my grooming bag, but it never seemed to be perfect. More, I was always afraid of accidentally cutting the horses.
My friend, Susan Friedland-Smith of Saddle Seeks Horse posted on her blog about this product called the Hands-On Glove. I was definitely curious. So I made a trip to the tack store to see a pair in person. Most gloves are too large for my small hands, and wouldn’t be worth the effort.
Imagine my surprise when I realized that they come in Junior size! I tried them on and they fit perfectly. So of course, I had to buy them.
What are Hands-On Gloves?
Hands-On Gloves are fitted gloves with scrub nodules on the fingers and palms meant to lift hair and massage the skin. As such, they are intended for bathing, lifting shedding hair, and massage of the skin and coat.
As I mentioned, I am used to getting dirty while massaging horses. No matter how much I curry or brush prior to a session, my hands are in the skin working the muscles where there is always some dirt. But this spring I had a tough session with a cute gray Connemara pony who lives outside. The session was a scene from Edward Scissorhands. You know the one, with hair flying everywhere? Within moments I had a halo of white hairs in my hair, eyes, mouth, and I found it even in my underclothes later on.
All this after I used my shedding blade. Decision made, I drove to the tack store the next day.
The important question is, do they work?
The gloves did a great job picking up dirt and hair and removing it, especially when I used a circular motion. The video below was filmed after I’d curried and brushed the horse. As you can see, the hairs are not thick but coming off easily.
Unfortunately, I had trouble shaking the dirt and hair off as the advertisement touted. So, I used a brush to wipe off the excess before placing it back in my bag. The equine massage session did bring up more hair, but most of it was removed beforehand with the gloves.
After my session, I rinsed the gloves under water and the remaining dirt and hair came right off.
I work with my hands to perform equine sports massage and acupressure on horse and dog clients. I use my sense of touch and ability to read the horse to find and treat muscle spasms, tension, and knots. In doing so without tools, my client and I create a mutual bond and communication through positive touch.
While working on regular clients recently, I chose to add the gloves to see if it made a difference during the massage session. In truth, I found that the nodules were too much for the horses. Aside from using a light circular motion to lift dirt and hair, and increase circulation to the surface of the skin, the horses were too sensitive for deeper pressure with the gloves on. The response was immediate and enough to make me cease use immediately.
Again, I use sports massage and acupressure techniques, so even with a light touch to begin the nodes proved too much for a sensitive horse. When I removed the gloves to continue working, I had a much better reaction and was able to continue the session.
However, I feel that a superficial “petting” that most owners refer to as massage, would be just the thing for most animals. That is if they stay away from sensitive spots like the legs and stifle with the gloves.
Overall, I like the Hands-On Gloves enough to buy another pair in my tack box for Ferrous. They removed dirt and hair, making my session much less dirty than normal and keeping the hair to my hands, saving most of my clothes so I don’t look unkempt visiting barns and clients. I’ll be honest, it’s probably only a matter of time before I buy another pair for my dogs.