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Are you the new owner of a horse struggling with grooming for the first time? Perhaps you’ve groomed horses for years, but have run into a stubborn colt who is giving you fits. Regardless, it’s probably in your best interest to review some of the most important horse grooming concepts and techniques. Below, you’ll find a brief guide to everything you need to know about horse grooming.
Choose The Right Equipment
Many first-time horse groomers fail to recognize how much equipment is necessary to groom a horse properly. Failure to secure the proper equipment could cause physical pain to your horse. It could also increase the risk of infection. You’ll need at least four products to ensure that you groom your horse correctly:
- Hoof pick
- Sponges and rags
- Natural sprays
Know How To Use The Tools
When using a hoof pick, you’ll want to make sure that you start of the heel, picking forward toward the toe. Make sure that you remove any rocks, sticks, or other debris that could be irritating your horse and disrupting its gait. Also, make sure that you pay careful attention to the grooves on the V-shaped portion of the hoof.
You should use currycombs to remove hardened mud before you begin brushing. Modern currycombs are made of soft rubber, and likely feel good for your horse. Using a currycomb could help relax your horse before grooming.
You’ll want to make sure that you have several different brushes at your disposal before you start grooming. Use a dandy brush and apply short, quick flicking motions to your horse’s coat. Doing so should allow you to get a good bit of dirt out of your horse’s coat. Work from the horse’s neck down to its tail, while avoiding brushing the face and legs. After finishing with the dandy brush, use a body brush to work from the face, through the body, down to the legs.
After you’ve finished brushing, you’ll want to use your sponges or rags to wipe around your horse’s eyes and to clean out its nose. Sponges are also useful on your horse’s backside, underneath the tail. After you’ve finished with the sponges, use a wide-tooth comb to work through your horse’s mane and tail.
Once you’re finished with brushing and cleaning, you’ll want to apply natural products to help preserve your horse’s coat. For instance, FAIRY TAILS! Orchid Oil Gloss is an excellent way to help keep your horse’s coat shiny. When grooming, make sure that you also keep an eye out for areas that are irritated. If you notice any irritation, consider applying balms after the fact.
Don’t Be Afraid To Get In There
Too often, many owners new to grooming are afraid that they are going to hurt their horse. They take it easy during the grooming process, believing that applying too much pressure will cause pain to the animal. However, failure to apply pressure could leave behind dirt and bacteria, which could lead to infection. Trust us when we say that an infection is far more painful for your horse than a grooming session.
As a rule of thumb, you should leave a grooming session feeling tired. Good grooming requires effort and hard work. Don’t be afraid to put a bit of muscle and elbow grease into the job. Doing so will remove things such as:
- Dead hair
- Caked-on mud
- Ticks and midges
Furthermore, when applying balms and natural sprays to your horse, be sure to massage them into your horse’s body. Your horse has large muscles. If you’ve ever received a therapeutic massage or used a foam roller, you know how good it can feel to break up knots and stimulate blood flow. You are the person responsible for doing this to your horse when you apply lotions and balms.
But Know Where To Be Careful
Although you can apply pressure to your horse’s body, there are some areas where you’ll want to be gentler. You should be particularly cautious around the face or any areas with hair, including the mane and tail. Horsehair can mat quickly, and many first-time groomers feel that they need to yank through knots with a brush or comb.
However, the best method to help work through matted or knotted hair is with your fingers. Perhaps begin by spraying a detangler or conditioner onto the hair. Use your fingers as a comb. When you reach areas that are particularly knotted, gently massage them with your fingers. If an area is particularly bad, it could be better to cut the knot rather than try to yank it. Brushing your horse’s hair daily could help prevent knots and matting.
Also, make sure that if you use shampoos or conditioners on your horse’s hair, you rinse them out thoroughly. These products are often not intended to be “leave-in” products and can irritate your horse’s skin if applied for too long. Your horse will begin rubbing its tail trying to seek relief, which can result in bald patches.
Consider Other Factors
If you’re having troubles grooming, it may not be your techniques that are causing problems. One of the issues that could impact your horse’s coat is its diet. Be sure you check your horse’s diet and consult your veterinarian to see if anything in its mash could be causing problems. Also, don’t be afraid to add natural herbs to the mash, many of which are known to help a horse’s coat.
What Tips Work For You?
If you have years of experience grooming horses, we want to hear from you! What tips have you found work well during the grooming process? Are there any natural products that you use to help keep your horse’s skin healthy?
Alternatively, if you are a new horse owner struggling with the grooming process, please feel free to share with us the problems that you’re having. At Equi-Spa, we have a community of horse lovers that is quite caring. We’re more than happy to help you solve whatever problems you may be having. Don’t be shy! We look forward to hearing from all of you soon.
Sherie Vermeer is the original founder and creator of the Equi-Spa line of horse care products. A life-long owner, caregiver, trainer and lover of horses, Sherie has been a certified aroma therapist practitioner for both humans and horses for more than two decades. On her ranch in Winterset, Iowa she owns seven horses and completes regularly in Dressage events. Sherie promotes using only natural, non-toxic, gentle products as the main component of her horse care philosophy.