After owning and competing with two show cobs that have their manes hogged and tails pulled (well, I use a rake but the same effect is achieved), I was not quite prepared for the stress levels involved in owning a pony that is expected to sport a long, full mane, forelock and tail.

All was good until Diva began to moult in the spring. She became increasingly itchy and very imaginative in just how she could scratch the parts that itched. I thought her forelock was safe, but no she managed to find somewhere to rub and shortened it by a few inches.

Despite my best efforts – bathing her in soothing shampoo, lots of grooming to remove the dead hair and lashings of Show Sheen spray – I have to confess I failed somewhat. It wasn’t critical but it became clear I needed to find a better way to prevent her from rubbing her mane and tail before she became the world’s first hogged Shetland pony!

A trip to the local tack shop later and I was armed with electric rope and enough insulated rings to screw into the wooden posts of the field’s post and rail fencing. She had discovered that a very easy way to have a good old scratch was to put her head between the bottom and middle rails and rub on the middle rail.

Diva watched my progress carefully, often coming up for a cuddle and to try to steal my tools, before wandering off again. After I had painstakingly screwed all the insulators into the posts and threaded the rope through all the way from the top to the bottom, I realised I had forgotten to bring my knife and so was unable to cut off the surplus. So I trudged up the field muttering darkly to myself about starting at the top instead of the bottom as I went. Just as I got to the gate, I glanced back only to see Diva rubbing her mane off on the very last post! I yelled at her to stop, but though she paused for a moment, she carried on with, I have to say, an air of glee!

Once I returned with my knife and finished the fencing off, I turned the electric energiser on its highest setting and wondered how long it would be before Diva discovered her itching place was off limits.

I am pleased to say that Diva respects the electric fencing and despite being bendy enough to rub her mane with a back hoof, her mane has survived intact! Now that she is growing her winter coat, she is once again getting itchy, but I can relax as the field is fully Diva-proof and her beautiful flowing locks will remain!


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