How often do you take a shower? Brush your hair? Brush your teeth? Hopefully everyday (or at least a few times a week). Keeping up with personal hygiene is important for staying healthy and feeling good in your skin. Well, the same goes for your horse. The only difference is that horses aren’t too great at grooming themselves, so the responsibility falls to you, the owner.
Grooming is an essential aspect of horse care and ensuring your horse is in optimal shape. Use the grooming tips below to build your routine and keep your horse looking and feeling healthy and beautiful!
Get Yourself Some High-Quality Tools
Like with most projects and tasks, cheap tools are going to do a cheap job. Your horse deserves the best you can give them, so it’s important to invest in good-quality grooming tools. Here are some of the essential supplies you’ll need for your grooming kit:
- Curry comb—loosens/removes dirt and dead hair, improves skin circulation
- Several brushes—at varying levels of stiffness (dandy brush, body brush, polishing brush, for example)
- Grooming glove
- Mane comb
- Sponges or rags for wiping
- Shampoo and conditioner or detangler
- Hoof pick
Be Consistent With Your Routine
If you only groom your horse once a week or once a month, a lot of dirt, hair, and debris is going to build up in their coats in that time between sessions. Your horse will look disheveled and probably not feel too great. Plus, it’ll be harder to remove everything that’s now caked on. That’s why you should aim to groom your horse daily. Even if it’s just a quick brush down and hoof cleaning. It’ll be easier to maintain their coat this way and your horse will feel better and be healthier.
Too much soap or shampoo will actually strip away the natural oils your horse produces to keep their coat shiny. Washing them too often will dry out their coat, making them more vulnerable to skin infections, and make it look dull. Once a week is the maximum amount of bathing you want to do. Daily currying and brushing will be enough to keep them well-groomed in between washes. If your horse gets dirty in between baths, try using baby wipes to spot clean or just rinsing with water.
Put Some Muscle Into Your Brushing
Effective, lasting grooming is hard work. When currying and brushing your horse, you need to apply enough pressure to loosen the dead hair and dirt embedded in their coat. Work in short, swift strokes going in the same direction as the hair. At the end of each stroke, use an upward flick to pull out the shedded hair and dirt underneath.
But Be Gentle With The Mane And Tail
The hairs of your horse’s mane and tail are fragile. They’re very prone to breaking, especially when dirty, so you have to be careful when you clean this type of hair. Use a detangler or conditioner to wash the mane and tail a few times a week. Rinse thoroughly and then comb with your fingers. Some people also use a mane comb or soft-bristled brush after finger-combing.
Don’t Forget About The Hooves
The hooves are a sensitive area for your horse, so it’s important to be cautious when caring for them to avoid injury to either of you. Let your horse know you’re approaching their hoof by gently running your hand down their leg and lightly squeezing at the tendon before lifting. Use a hoof pick to remove rocks, dirt, and other debris, picking from heel to toe. Inspect for any issues, such as bruising, chipping, swelling, overheating, and other potential health problems.
Nutrition Matters Too
In the same way that what we eat can affect our skin, a horse’s diet can affect their coat. A horse’s coat depends on quality nutrients to stay healthy and maintain its shine. Make sure your horse is getting the nutritious food they need every day. If their coat appears to be dulling, even with regular grooming, talk to your vet about supplements that can help.
Courtesy of Deer Creek Structures