Kara Judge of Dover Saddlery sends us her tips for an effective grooming routine in this guest post!
Regular, thorough grooming is important to maintaining your horse’s health and appearance. It’s also a perfect opportunity to build trust between you and your horse as you attend to him or her from head to tail. Most horses appreciate the gentle attention they receive during grooming. The key to effective grooming is following a methodical and consistent grooming routine so that no aspect of your horse is overlooked. Here are steps you can take:
Step 1: Clean the hooves. Clean out your horse’s hooves with a hoof pick. If you do this first, you can identify any problems that require attention, such as a loose or missing shoe. And as you run your hand down each of your horse’s legs to lift each hoof, you’ll discover any unusual lumps, scrapes or heat that may require treatment that could be applied while you groom your horse. Hooflex® Original Liquid or Hooflex Natural Spray from Absorbine® can be applied to the hoof walls to add moisture.
Step 2: Use a curry. Currying loosens shedding hair and dirt, massages your horse’s skin and muscles and spreads natural skin oils that protect hair and produce shine. Starting at your horse’s upper neck and working toward the tail, use a curry comb in circular motions against the hair growth and only on the fleshiest parts of your horse’s body. Be careful when you curry ticklish areas, such as the flank or belly, as touching these areas can trigger defensive behavior in sensitive horses. Knock collected hair and grease out of your curry by tapping it frequently against the back of a body brush.
Step 3: Brush thoroughly. Follow currying with a stiff-bristled body brush to clear away the heaviest layer of loosened hair and grime. Again work from your horse’s head toward the tail. Use quick, flicking motions and push the brush in the direction of the hair. A firm brush stroke will be most effective, but only push as firmly as your horse will tolerate. If you use a stiff brush on your horse’s legs to remove dried mud, do so carefully and gently. Every few brush strokes, clear debris from the brush by scraping the bristles against the teeth of your curry.
Next use a medium-bristled brush, making sure to brush the backs of the pasterns and points of the hocks to remove dirt that collects there. Remember to clear away debris from the bristles of the brush as you work.
Finish brushing with a soft brush. The fine, closely-spaced bristles of a soft brush capture the smallest dust particles and smooth your horse’s hair, leaving it flat and sleek. Use a soft brush in long, smoothing strokes to optimize natural shine. For shows or special events, use Showsheen Finishing Mist to enhance the sheen of your horse’s coat and repel dust—just avoid applying in any area where tack is placed.
Step 4: Apply mane and tail detangler, as needed. Showsheen Detangler Gel helps tangles slip out of long manes and tail hair. Spread a dab through the hair, then use your finger or a wide-toothed comb to separate the hairs without breaking them. Applying a quality detangler as part of your grooming routine lessens the effort needed next time you go to brush out a mane or tail.
Kara Judge is a buyer for Dover Saddlery, a leading multi-channel retailer of English tack, riding apparel and horse care supplies. When she’s not at Dover, Kara is busy studying dressage and competing with her Half-Arabian mare, Rose Tattoo. Absorbine products are available at DoverSaddlery.com and at Dover Saddlery retail stores.