Whether you have a show horse, a racehorse, or none of the above and just want to take the best care of your horse, you’ll need to put together a regular grooming routine. Grooming your horse will not only make their coat shine and promote better health, but it’s also time well spent between you and your animal. Every horse owner has their own routine and favorite horse grooming tools, but these seven essential horse grooming tips should set you on the right path if this is a new experience.
1. Proper Nutrition
If you want your horse to have a shiny and healthy coat, you’ll need to pay close attention to their nutritional intake. A glistening coat comes from the inside, so feed your horse quality food along with any recommended supplements.
Currying your horse is a way to remove dirt and debris from their coat. To do this, you’ll need a curry comb, which is a tool that you use to rub the horse’s coat in a circular motion. Begin on one side of the horse and work your way from the neck to the rump, always being extra careful around bony areas of the body. Once completed, repeat on the other side. After you’ve curried your horse, you can then move on to brushing.
If you show your horse, you might trim or remove some of their hair depending on the horse’s breed and discipline. For example, the bridle path is the section of the horse’s mane just behind its ears. This might be clipped or shaved off, making the bridle lie more comfortably on the horse. Some horses are also clipped during the summer months to remove their winter coat and keep them cooler. If you do decide to clip your horse, make sure that they are as clean as possible before you begin.
4. Bathing vs. Not Bathing
It’s ok to bathe your horse, but you should avoid overdoing it. Too much soapy water and oily shampoos will dry out and dull your horse’s coat. Instead, curry and brush your horse to eliminate dirt and stimulate the underlying skin.
5. Hoof Care
When you care for and clean your horse’s hooves, you’ll want to use extra care to prevent injury to either you or the horse. Run your hand down the horse’s leg and then lightly squeeze their tendon before lifting the hoof. Use a hoof pick to remove rocks and debris, starting at the heel and working towards the toe. Avoid digging too deeply into the hoof and inspect the area for any signs of ill-health. If the hoof is too soft, smells foul, or is black in color, contact your veterinarian for advice.
6. Pre-Show Preparation
If you have a show horse, you’ll need to give your animal some finishing touches, just as if they were sitting in a make-up chair. Adding some strategic items to your toolset can make all the difference. Baby wipes are a popular choice to clean up last minute dirt as are microfiber cloths. Coconut oil or conditioner is also often used to treat a horse’s main and tail.
7. Cleaning and Maintaining Your Brushes
Once you become adept at grooming your horse, you will probably have an entire set of grooming brushes on hand. It’s important that you keep these brushes clean and in top shape so that they will last longer and continue to perform. Once a month, vacuum the brushes down to the roots. After this, soak them in a bucket of water with bleach (approximately 2 gallons of water to one-quarter cup bleach) for about 10 minutes before laying them in the sun to dry.
As you become more accustomed to grooming your horse, you’ll find different processes and products that work best for your needs. For example, some horse owners prefer to use baby wipes while others prefer a microfiber cloth with coconut oil. The care and dedication that you put into grooming your horse will pay dividends both in your horse’s appearance and in the closer relationship between you and your animal.