How To Properly Groom Your Horse

May 19, 2015

Horses are powerful animals, but they are also delicate. Proper grooming is necessary for their health. Being left dirty or sweaty can cause skin problems and chills. Failing to clean the feet properly can lead to serious issues, as horses have four extra “hearts” (frogs) in their feet. Problems with their feet mean problems with their circulatory systems. Horses should have their feet picked and be thoroughly brushed before and after riding.

While proper grooming is vital, it isn’t difficult. All you need is patience and the right tools:

  • a hoof pick
  • a curry comb
  • a hard brush
  • a soft brush
  • a mane comb

To pick your horse’s hoof, stand next to it while facing the same direction as his rear. Gently squeeze his Achilles tendon to make him pick up his foot. When he does, catch it and hold it in one hand, bracing it on your knee if necessary. Using the hoof pick, scrape out any dirt, rocks or other debris you find in the hoof. Don’t be afraid to use some elbow grease, but be aware of the “heart”or frog– the tough, V-shaped pad in the middle of the hoof. This contains an important network of blood vessels. A clean hoof looks like a shallow bowl with an elongated heart in it.

Next, it’s time for brushing.

Use a curry comb first, brushing all of the horse’s surface area in small circles. As with every step, it’s important to use that elbow grease. If you are too delicate, you won’t get the dirt out.

Once you have thoroughly curry-combed the horse, use the hard brush. The hard brush should be used with short downward-moving strokes. The idea is to brush the dirt you’ve loosened with the curry comb onto the floor. Then, with the soft brush, go over the horse to make his hair smooth and shiny.

The cleanliness test is to run a white-gloved hand (or a scrap of white fabric) along the animal’s back and sides. If he’s really clean, you won’t see any dirt. If you do, go back and repeat from the curry comb step. Once he is clean, you can gently comb his mane, starting from the bottom so as not to pull on knots.

Remember to thoroughly groom your horse before and after riding. A well-groomed horse is a healthy one, and a healthy horse is a happy one.

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