Grooming your horse should be an activity that is enjoyable for both you and your horse. Daily grooming gives you a chance to bond with the horse while monitoring any changes, injuries and infections. It is advisable to make grooming a routine part of your daily activities, even though it may not be the easiest task for the day.
Grooming can be a fun, feel-good experience for your horse, as most horses enjoy the sweeping motion of a brush against their skin. It’s almost like if we had a massage. Grooming must become an integral part though, even more important before and after riding. If avoided this can be uncomfortable for your horse mainly due to the accumulation of grit beneath the saddle which can cause saddle or girth sores. Daily grooming gives you the opportunity to look closely at regular intervals for any new cuts, skin infections or thrush etc. Identifying these earlier on contributes to early care and immediate treatment.
Benefits of regular grooming
While grooming is primarily thought of as actions to assist a horse in maintaining healthy skin and coat, it also reaps other benefits. This action assists in grooming a horse’s behaviour and training. Grooming involves, securing the horse in cross ties or tying them to a hitching rail. This teaches them to stand quietly which is required during several common situations, like when their feet are handled by a farrier and while being saddled upon.
Though as primary caretakers it is your responsibility to understand what individual horse’s needs and preferences are. Being aware of this allows for personalized treatment and grooming techniques to can be implemented.
A condensed description of grooming steps, tools, and techniques have been touched upon below.
Consolidate a grooming kit
Begin by bringing together all the necessary brushes, oils, cleaning solutions, sprays and clippers. Ideally, store these tools together in a box or bucket. Further secure your horse safely by either using cross ties or a quick release knot. Specifically used tools include a curry comb, body brush, mane & tail comb, finishing brush and a soft cloth.
Step 1: Clean the hooves
This is a very important step you will need to start one at a time. Gently squeeze the back of your horse’s leg along the tendons and bring the leg up. Hold onto the hoof, using a hoof pick pry out any dirt or manure clogged in sole of the foot. Always look out for any injury or signs of thrush. If you notice any cracks on the hooves, take note as this needs to be consulted with a farrier.
Step 2: Currying
Start this by using the curry comb to loosen any dirt or grit on your horse’s coat. It is advised to always go in a circular motion sweeping all over the body. Some horses are sensitive around the belly and between back legs, while others can be sensitive skinned so you need to adjust the pressure accordingly. Be gentle and use a light touch to brush in these areas. Also be careful of bony areas. Overall this brushing must be enjoyed by your horse, he will show you signs when in dislike. So make the necessary changes to make it a pleasurable experience for your horse. Watch out for any skin lesions or wounds, which will need further attention.
Step 3: Detangle Mane and Tail
A long flowing, silky mane and tail are a treat for the eyes. Gently brush your horse’s mane and tail with a plastic mane comb. Start from the bottom and slowly move up always brushing downwards. This will unravel all knots and you can see a smooth, healthy mane and tail. You can also use a grooming spray to avoid much tangling between grooming sessions.
Step 4: Body Brush
This is another coat brush, unlike currying where coarse dirt is removed. Body brushing removes anything that was left back after currying. This kind of brush has longer but stiff bristles. You will need to start on one end and brush vigorously in sweeping strokes along the direction of hair growth.
Step 5: Finish Brush
Use this short and soft-haired brush to bring out the shine on your horse’s natural coat. Again with sweeping strokes across the body and also use this brush on the face. The fine bristles on the brush help smoothen the hair and give the horse a soft and glossy finish.
Step 6: Eyes & Ears
Now, you will have to get into the nooks and corners using a soft cloth or a lightly damp sponge. Carefully wipe around the eyes, ears and muzzles cleaning any dirt. Also check the eyes for any rash, infections or redness follow up with a vet if you notice anything unusual. Wipe the dock and tail head using a sponge.
Every horse is unique in its own way. Understand their requirements on pressure, funny or ticklish spots, sensitive skin conditions and sounds. Make this encounter a pleasant and relaxing one for your horse.