Keeping your horse well groomed is about more than just appearance. Regular grooming provides many essential health benefits like aiding blood circulation and stimulating the secretion of natural oils needed to keep the coat healthy.
It is recommended that horse owners groom their animals daily to keep them at optimum health. However, grooming can be time demanding, and if you don’t board at a serviced livery, it can frequently be overlooked.
To make sure your horse gets the minimum daily attention it needs, follow this 6 step grooming routine to maximise efficiency. All the utensils listed should be a staple part of your tack box.
Step 1 – Hoof Pick (2 minutes)
Work from front to back legs, cleaning out each foot from heel to toe. You can use a hoof pick to do this, directing the point away from you. Any dirt you remove should be swept away afterwards so that your horse doesn’t just tread on it straight after cleaning.
Step 2 – Brush Down (15 mins)
Brush down the coat of your horse from front to rear. First use a curry comb in a circular motion to loosen dirt and hair and then brush down with a body brush. Use firm strokes and be sure to keep your free hand in contact with the animal for reassurance. Be gentle around the bony projections on the neck and don’t whack the brush down in the loin area, where it could cause damage to the kidneys. After brushing wash the body brush to remove debris and grease, and make sure it is dry before using again.
Step 3 – Lay Down (5 mins)
With the horse’s mane carefully combed and brushed out, use a dandy or water brush to ‘lay’ it. This keeps the hair in place and provides a glossy appearance for the horse. You can also thin excess hair from the mane by carefully pulling it out from the underside. Treat the tail in a similar way, although use a soft brush that won’t damage the hairs, and make sure to brush strands out separately while holding up the tail in your other hand.
Step 4 – Wipe Down (2 mins)
Next, clean out your horse’s nose and around the eyes with a damp sponge. Then use a separate sponge to clean out the dock/sheath of geldings. Make sure you wash your sponges after use to stop bacteria and nasties spreading and use different coloured sponges so you don’t get them mixed up.
Step 5 – Buff Up (5 mins – optional)
To give the coat a polished appearance, smoother it with a damp cloth or chamois leather. Rubbing the coat down like this will put a lovely ‘bloom’ on the coat. A piece of jute sacking, a rough string cloth, or a buffer can also be used for similar results.
Step 6 – Oil Up (5 mins – optional)
The final touch, if you so choose, is to apply hoof oil to your horse’s feet. Frequent exposure to damp ground wets the feet and removes natural oil. To help replenish it, oil the hooves using a hoof oil brush. Hold the leg so they won’t kick out and generously apply for a glossy finish. Never use boot polish as it will seal and stop natural oil absorption.
So there you have it. Your quick 6 step guide to horse grooming. In total it should take you about 20-30 minutes daily, but substantially more if you are looking to enter your horse into shows.
To make sure you have all the tools you need, here is your essential list of tack:
- Tack Box
- Metal Curry Comb
- Plastic Curry Comb
- Rubber Curry Comb
- Body Brush
- Dandy Brush
- Stable Rubber
- Hoof Pick
- Hoof Oil
- Hoof Oil Brush
- Sweat Scraper
- Thick-Tooth Comb
- Fine-Tooth Comb