Grooming Your Horse
Grooming your horse is an essential task that gives you an opportunity to inspect his body for injury, help prevent sores, stimulate blood circulation, and bond with him. Basically, if you want to keep your horse healthy and happy, you have to groom him every day.
You will need a few basic supplies to groom your horse:
- Body or finishing brush: A brush with soft bristles for use on sensitive areas like the face and legs and for giving your horse’s body a final polish.
- Curry comb: A comb to loosen dirt and hair. Look for one that is round and made from plastic or rubber; metal curry combs can cut your horse’s skin.
- Dandy or stiff brush: A brush to loosen dirt, hair, and caked mud from the coat. Use a stiffer brush in the winter, when your horse will have a thicker coat, and one with softer bristles in the summer, when he will have a thinner coat.
- Hoof pick: An item used to remove rocks and other debris from the hooves.
- Mane comb: A comb for the mane. Plastic or metal combs are best because these will last longer.
- Shedding blade: A serrated metal blade for loosening hair from your horse’s coat.
- Tail brush: This can be either a brush made specifically for a horse or one for human hair. Soft, natural fibers are best.
- Towels: Clean towels have countless uses. They can be ones made for humans, but if so, be sure to make them “horse-only” towels. Wash them regularly.
You can also buy shampoo, conditioner, detangler, and other products that will help you maintain your horse’s beauty. Many of the excellent horse products offered by Farnam will help you keep your horse looking and feeling his best.
You will need a container to store all these items. Buy one with some extra space in case you purchase additional products.
Before You Start
Remove your horse from his stall and bring him to the grooming area, which should either be a separate stall or designated section of the barn. Tie him up so that he doesn’t wander away.
Grooming will get messy, so don’t wear clothes you plan to jump into once you get that callback for an interview. Also, some horses may startle during grooming, so be aware of where you’re standing so that you don’t get kicked.
Start with your curry brush and make gentle circles starting at the jaw to between the eyes, then down the neck to the shoulders to the entire body, and finally to the inner and outer parts of the legs. Don’t forget the withers and back—if your horse is tall, you will need a stepstool to reach these areas.
Next, use your dandy or stiff brush. This will help remove the hair and dirt that currying loosened. Gently start at the face and work your way down the entire length of the body. Brush or comb the mane, too.
After this, your horse should look somewhat respectable. If you have more time, you can work n a finishing polish with a stiff brush. Afterward, rub down your horse with a damp rag to remove any dust from his coat.
To keep your horse looking neat, use electric clippers for the body. Use manual clippers for the face—electric devices may startle your horse if he sees them close to his face.
Face and Mouth Care
Use your brushes to gently clean your horse’s face. Dampen a small towel to wash his face so that you don’t get any shampoo in his eyes. His teeth will grow throughout his life, so you must give him ample time to graze—grass is a natural abrasive that helps grind down a horse’s teeth.
To give your horse a bath, you’ll need a hose that provides both hot and warm water; buckets of lukewarm water for rinsing; Vetrolin Bath Shampoo and Conditioner; a large sponge; a curry comb; a sweat scraper; a mane comb; and some clean, dry towels.
Put your shampoo in a bucket of water. Hose down your horse, then sponge in the shampoo. Next, start at the head, and using your curry comb, work the shampoo into your horse’s coat in gentle circles. Apply the conditioner in the same fashion, rinse, and repeat. When the water washes away clear, use the sweat comb to wipe off as much water as possible. Use the towels to dry your horse.
Clean feet are important to your horse’s health, so keep them free of dirt and rocks. Start with a front leg while standing next to his shoulder. Gently lift it and wrap a hand around his lower leg to support its weight. Use your hoof pick to remove debris—work in downward motions from his heel to toe.
For the hind feet, stand to the side toward the tail. Gently pinch him between the hock and ankle to get him to lift his foot. Support his hoof and clean as before.
After finishing a foot, slowly place it back on the ground—don’t allow your horse to break free of your hold and do this himself. You run the risk of him stepping on your feet.
Mane and Tail Care
Your horse’s mane and tail need to be washed and cleaned, and they can become tangled with knots, so it’s your job to keep everything as clean and detangled as possible. Use Vetrolin Bath Shampoo and Conditioner to create a rich lather, then wash it out with water. Allow the hair to dry, then brush the mane and tail. Do this at least once a week. If you notice knots, use Vetrolin Detangler. Spray it in, and once dry, brush out the knots.