Horse care: Horse grooming tips and advice

ArticleHow to - CareWednesday 02 December 2009
How to Groom a Horse

Grooming a horse may initially seem like a chore but it is an ideal opportunity to bond with your horse. Horse grooming also enables you to check your horse regularly for injuries and issues, whilst also ensuring your it has a perfect shiny coat. By regularly grooming your horse you can increase circulation and muscle tone while keeping your horse looking great. If you own a show horse then grooming is even more important. 

Ensuring your horse is calm during grooming
Horses are intelligent animals and they can sense when you are nervous, therefore it is very important that you are calm and confident throughout. If you stay calm and confident then your horse will too. You should always ensure that you are watching your horse closely whilst grooming. If its nostrils flare or its ears prick back then your horse is most probably agitated meaning you should stop the grooming and give the horse a break to relax. 
A good way to ensure your horse is calm from the off is to allow it to smell all of the grooming brushes before you begin. If your horse begins to show signs of irritation during grooming then allow him to smell the tools again, this will reassure your horse.
Stroke your horse’s head and neck, this will help to build trust between you and your horse. Once your horse knows there is nothing to fear then it will be much more comfortable when being groomed. When horse grooming you should keep some treats nearby, when your horse displays confident behaviour you can give it a treat. You can also use the treats after your horse gets worried but becomes calm enough to continue. 
In order to ensure that your horse stays calm throughout you should keep your hands on it at all times, the sensation of the brush may feel strange, but having your hands on it will calm it and make it feel comfortable. 
Watch out when you are working on the body parts the horse cannot see. If you are out of the horse’s field of vision then your horse will be especially nervous.When brushing the tail stand to the side of the horse, do not leave yourself open to kicking. Once you have finished grooming make a big fuss of your horse, stroke him and give him treats. This will leave your horse with positive memories of grooming and it will feel more confident about the next grooming session. 
By bathing your horse regularly you will control odour. It is very important when you groom your horse that you remove mud and dirt from the coat, and bathing your horse will achieve this. Bathing can also cool down a horse after doing strenuous exercise. You should regularly wash and condition the horse’s mane and tail so that it remains silky and soft. If you want to keep your horse’s coat spotlessly clean after a bath then you can cover up your horse with a sheet or a blanket. 
The grooming process
There are a number of different grooming processes, however, we have gathered together all of our best methods and come up with our ten step grooming process. Here it is:
  1. Use your hoof pick to extract any stones and mud from the hooves.
  2. Brush the horse from front to back with the body or dandy brush.
  3. Using the rubber curry comb brush the horse with a circular motion from neck to hind quarters.
  4. Brush your horse over with the body brush to remove excess dirt. 
  5. Groom your horse’s face with the body brush, making sure you do the ears and underneath the jaw.
  6. Wet the face sponge and wipe over the horse’s eyes, rinse and clean mouth, muzzle and nostrils.
  7. Stand to the side of the horse and using a wet sponge reserved for the dock lift the tail and clean underneath wiping gently round the skin; this is a very important step in horse grooming.
  8. Rinse sponge and wash the perineum. 
  9. Comb through the horse’s mane and tail to remove any caught up straw or dirt. Use a damp water brush to comb the mane downwards, this avoids any stray hairs and achieves a smooth finish.
  10. To complete horse grooming apply a little shine spray to create a glossy finish.
Top Tips
As well as the step by step procedure that you can follow when grooming your horse, we have also gathered together our top ten grooming tips, so without further adieu...
  1. Avoid using the curry comb on bony areas particularly fetlocks and cannon bones.
  2. Dirt free horses experience reduced chafing and cleaner pores so groom your horse before and after a ride so it really is beneficial to perform horse grooming regularly.
  3. Reserve one of the sponges from the horse grooming kit for use on your horse’s face and one for the dock; it is important you keep one sponge separate for this purpose to prevent infection.
  4. Picking and oiling the hooves regularly is a top tip for preventing cracking.
  5. If using a damp water brush on your horse’s mane is not enough try laying a damp towel over the mane for a couple of minutes; this should help to flatten the hair against the neck.
  6. Stiffer and heavier duty combs should be used in the winter when horses have thicker coats. 
  7. In the summer, or on thinner skinned horses, softer brushes should be used.  
  8. Using a very soft brush on your horse’s coat will give a powerful shine to rival any show horse. 
  9. Wiping your horse over with a damp rag after brushing also intensifies shine. 
  10. Make sure when using a curry comb you adopt a circular motion. When using a body brush a flicking technique is more successful in removing dust and dirt. 


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