Regular grooming is as important to a horse as it is to a human. Not only does it help him look his best, it promotes good skin and coat health, stimulates circulation and even makes him feel good. What’s not to like?
Let’s start with the basic tools every grooming kit should contain:
- Body brush (soft brush)—a brush with shorter, softer bristles than a dandy brush to bring out the natural shine of horse’s coat.
- Curry comb—a flat rubber or plastic brush with short teeth. Rubber grooming gloves or mitts are a popular substitute.
- Dandy brush—a brush with long, stiff plastic or natural bristles.
- Face Brush—a small brush with very soft bristles for grooming the horse’s sensitive face and ears.
- Hoof pick—a curved metal tool, often made with a hard brush on the back side, that is used to remove stones and packed debris from the sole and around the sensitive frog of the hoof.
- Mane and tail comb or brush—used to detangle a horse’s mane and tail.
- Rub rag—used to help remove dust from a horse’s coat and add one last polish.
- Several washcloths or sponges—for cleaning around the most sensitive areas.
Basic steps in grooming a horse:
- Tie your horse to a spot above shoulder level (using a quick-release knot) to ensure he stays in one place during his grooming.
- Pick each of your horse’s hooves by standing next to each hoof, facing toward the horse’s rear, and running your hand down that leg or tapping on it to ask him to lift his hoof up (sometimes leaning into his body a bit helps). Supporting the upturned hoof with one hand, use the hoof pick in your other hand to carefully remove any matter lodged against the sole around the sensitive frog. Then gently lower the hoof to the ground.
- Curry your horse’s body (avoiding the head, mane, tail and lower legs) by applying gentle pressure to the coat with the curry comb in large, circular motions to loosen dirt and scurf in the coat. Check for wounds as you go!
- Brush away the loosened dirt and scurf with your dandy brush, using short motions in the direction of hair growth.
- Go over your horse’s body once more with a soft or body brush, again moving in the direction of hair growth, to remove the last bits of dirt and scurf, and to add shine. This brush can be used on the horse’s lower legs, as well.
- Brush your horse’s face and ears carefully using a soft brush or face brush, keeping well away from his eyes.
- Using a dampened sponge or washcloth, wipe gently around your horse’s eyes, ears and nose/muzzle. Then, using a separate sponge or washcloth for hygienic reasons, do the same under his tail.
- Comb through your horse’s mane and forelock with either your mane comb or a paddle brush (like a human hairbrush). Then, standing off to the horse’s side and separating the tail hairs with your fingers, carefully comb or brush the tangles out, trying not to break any hair.
- For one last finishing touch, take your rub rag and, using circular motions, rub your horse’s coat until it shines.