Horse grooming and proper grooming techniques are integral to horse ownership, and lead to quality time spent with your partner on the ground. Good grooming, with a full range of supplies, will leave your horse with great skin, a shiny coat, and feeling fantastic. Most horses will come to appreciate good grooming as their daily pampering, and the most enjoyable time with their human companion. Grooming also allows a responsible horse owner to know their animal’s body, legs, and feet intimately. This is the best way to notice new lacerations, bumps, and blemishes quickly and immediately, resulting in the most proactive preventative care.
Proper Grooming Starts With Proper Technique
The first thing you need to do when grooming a horse is to use a curry or modified curry to loosen any dead skin cells, and stimulate the skin to produce natural oils, as well as to bring up excess oils and dander from the skin. Most horses love this stimulation - much like many of us love having our scalps massaged. This grooming should be done in circles, all over the body; although the amount of pressure used should be lessened in areas that are more sensitive, like the flank and under the girth. It is the curry that will take off caked mud and heavy dirt when your horse has given himself a mud bath. Heavier curries, that go deeper with longer teeth, are perfect for giving good scratches and massages.
There are specialized curry combs on the market that are intended to massage the horse in different ways. Some of the most popular include ones like the Massage Nuzzler, or the Massage Pin Brush, which can also be used to brush out manes and tails! Often the choice comes down to what your horse likes. If he enjoys a good scratching, he will probably enjoy the type of curries that dig deep and make your horse think you give the best scratches in the world!
If your horse is more sensitive and would rather have a soothing touch, there are curries with rollers to help them relax their muscles with a soft, pleasant pressure. Sensitive horses may also prefer grooming mitts, like the an All Purpose Grooming Mitt, or a Rubber Grooming Mitt, instead of a heavy curry.
The dandy brush is stiffer than most horse brushes. It is often used with the curry to flick away dirt, dander, and oils that the curry comb brings up. These can vary in stiffness, and in size and shape. They should be used in a sweeping motion, in the direction of hair growth, with the curry cleaning the dandy brush after each stroke over the horse. The type of bristles you choose can be a matter of personal preference as well. Natural hair brushes tend to be softer and long lasting, but do not do the deep cleaning that synthetic brushes can do. This can be a good thing - in the winter for horses that live outdoors in colder climates, it is recommended to minimize any deep grooming that removes too many of the natural oils that a horse excretes to keep warm and dry naturally. They are great for horses that do not like to be brushed hard. Natural brushes can also be made with goat hair and even pig bristles. Dandy brushes are the best brushes to use on muddy or dirty legs, as they are soft enough for the bones and vulnerable tendons and ligaments, but sturdy enough that they can work off debris.
Body brushes should be saved as a finishing brush to smooth the coat and remove any excess dust that was brought up by the curry and missed by the dandy brush. They are finer bristled brushes, and softer, so the sensitive horses that do not particularly enjoy grooming with the first two brushes, will often really appreciate the soft, soothing touch of a body brush. The first two brushes can be thought of as the two brushes that do the majority of the hard work, where the body brush is the one that does the final touches. There are more modern materials used to make grooming mitts to do a similar job to the body brush. Grooming mitts, intended for bathing, can also be great to remove dust and shine your horse even after a body brush.
Face brushes are like miniature body brushes that are small, to allow good grooming in all the crevices and contours of the face. Having a simple face brush, such as the Roma Zebra Face Brush, will bring both you and your horse much pleasure. Many horses absolutely love being groomed with a face brush, and will soon start to “help” you use it by nodding and stretching out to encourage what you are doing. See our entire collection of Brushes.
Hoof picks come in different sizes and shapes. Standard hoof picks are perfect for most hoof cleaning jobs. Others have a brush on one side to help whisk away the sand from an arena. In climates where snow and ice can build up under a foot, and cause serious balling, these hoof picks are not sturdy enough, and a more substantial hoof pick is necessary.
In extreme cases where your horse is covered in dirt, debris and caked mud, a shedding blade can be used first, before the curry, to pull off the excess. In shedding season, it is a good idea to start with a shedding blade, like the Equi-Essentials Comfort-Grip Shedding Blade, before going to a curry, and then wear clothing that does not promote the hair sticking to it.