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Horse Articles :: Horse Grooming Basics
Horse Grooming Basics
One of the nicest ways to bond with your horse is to spend
time grooming him. While sometimes it is ok to just give your
horse a quick dust-off before you ride, every so often you
should spend some extra time with him just getting to know
him as you groom.
So what is involved in grooming anyway? Most people think
of it as merely running a brush over the horse, picking its
feet and leaving it at that. But there is a lot more to good
The first step in a thorough grooming is to curry your horse.
Take a curry comb, either a plastic one or a rubber one, and
use in circular motion that work with the horse's coat. Currying
acts as a massage, easing tense muscles and increasing circulation
to the skin. Every grooming session should start with at least
a brief curry.
You can use the curry comb over any part of the horse's body
that is muscled. That means the entire neck, body and down
the legs to the knees/hocks. Don't be afraid to apply a bit
of pressure as you groom - the horse will enjoy this as it
gives the muscles an invigorating massage.
After the curry comb use a hard bristled brush. The brush
should have some give to the bristles. Some hard brushes are
too hard and are not likely to be comfortable to the horse.
The hard brush should be used in short strokes in the direction
of the hair. If you give the brush a little flick at the end
of each stroke it will pull the dust and dirt off the coat.
The hard brush will lay the horse's coat smooth and flat.
Because of the firmness of the bristles a hard brush should
not be used on the horse's face. It can be used everywhere
else on the horse's body including the legs. A hard brush
is great for getting off caked on mud from the lower legs.
Finally it is time to take a soft brush and dust your horse
down. The soft brush has long, soft bristles that give easily
and are great for flicking off the remaining dust and dirt.
Use long brushstrokes with the hair growth.
The soft brush can be used everywhere on your horse, including
the face. It is a great way to add a finishing touch to the
coat and bring out the shine. Most horses love the soft brush
and have no problem even in sensitive areas.
After caring for the horse's body it is time to care for its
feet. There are two basic kinds of hoofpicks. Basic hoofpicks
are made of metal with a pick on one end and a loop to hold
on to on the other end. These are simple, efficient tools
that cost very little and do a good job. The other type is
plastic with a metal pick that sticks out the end and a small
stiff-bristled brush opposite the pick. A bit more expensive,
this kind of hoofpick has the added benefit of being able
to brush out debris that the pick cannot reach and make a
cleaner hoof overall. Another benefit is the molded handle
that can be more comfortable to hold. Both types of picks
are equally good and it is a matter of personal preference
which type you decide to use.
When picking out the feet, be careful to remove all debris
from the grooves beside the frog. Any stones that are lodged
in there could bruise the horse's foot and cause lameness.
If the horse wears shoes do not try to wedge the hoofpick
between the shoes and the horse's foot as that can loosen
the fit and increase the chance that your horse will loose
The final touch of a good grooming job is to comb out the
mane and tail. While some prefer not to use a comb or brush
on the tail if it is well cared for on a regular basis you
will actually loose less hair in the long run. If you are
not planning to braid the hair you can use a product such
as Show Sheen to detangle the hairs and make combing out easier.
It is truly a matter of personal preference when it comes
to combs and brushes for manes and tails. You can buy special
brushes at the tack shop, make a tail brush out of an old
push broom or use a brush you've purchased at the local pharmacy.
With combs it is important to have one with reasonably wide
spacing between the teeth. The comb should be made of smooth
metal or a resilient plastic which is not brittle or overly
flexible. Plastic combs will lose tines over time and should
be replaced when there are too many gaps to make them useful.
Metal combs often hold up far better.
As you groom make sure that you give your horse lots of extra
attention. A truly thorough grooming job can take up to an
hour. Take your time and enjoy your horse. He will love you
for the extra TLC and your bond will become that much closer.
About the Author
Philippe Wiskell is a writer for HorseClicks, classifieds