Cleaning feathers is no light task – at least not if they’re attached to Simon, a 2,000-pound Clydesdale horse. Tod Lyche, a horse trainer from Redmond, Ore., uses a bar of hard-water soap to scrub the long, white hair known as feathers around Simon’s dinner-plate-sized hooves. Oftentimes it takes sulfur soap or vinegar to keep the feathers looking bright. But even trickier than keeping an active horse clean is making sure he holds still during the process.
Clydesdales love a cool bath, “but they start getting antsy if they have to stand for a long time,” says Lyche, squatting behind horse legs that were lathered and shifting with impatience.
Lyche admonishes his horse with a “Simon!” and the horse glances back with wide eyes, knowing full well he is supposed to stand still.
“He’s a typical show horse; always ready to go.”
Clydesdales are full of energy but they also keep an even temper, says Lyche, which is why he loves the breed and has been working with the massive horses since the age of 13.
From Thursday to Sunday, Simon and other Clydesdales will have the opportunity to strut around the Evergreen State Fair arena and show off their impressive statures. They’ll also run drills and maneuver through obstacles, which is certain to ruffle some white feathers.
“By the end of the show, they’ll be dirty again.”