There are several reasons to groom your horse, but the most important one is for his well-being. A daily routine is necessary to maintain the health of his skin, coat and hooves. Grooming also allows you to bond with your horse and become familiar with his normal demeanor so you will be able to notice the first sign that something may be amiss.
Before you start to beautify your equine, you’ll need to gather all of your horse grooming supplies. Keep in mind that for health reasons you need a separate grooming kit for each horse to reduce the risk of spreading disease and infection. It's also a good idea to keep all supplies in one location so that you're not scouring your stable every time you need a different brush, comb or hoof pick. If you don’t want to treat yourself to a grooming kit storage box, you could use a tote shopping bag.
Here’s a list of grooming supplies that you’ll need to properly maintain your horse – if I’ve left anything out, let me know!
• Dandy brush
• Body brush
• Rubber curry comb
• Metal curry comb
• Grooming mitt
• Shedding blade
• Sweat scraper
• Mud brush
• Grooming sponge
• Soft face brush
• Hoof brush
• Mane comb
• Bot knife
• Detangler Spray
• Sunscreen – if your horse has any pink bits on his nose!
• Hoof pick with brush
• Hoof oil or dressing
• Hoof oil brush
• Fly repellent spray
• Coat shine spray
You’ll need to wash your grooming tools with an anti-bacterial soap about once a week.
Daily Grooming Routine
Start by tying your horse up and picking his feet out.
Remove his rugs or, if it’s really cold, fold them back over his quarters.
Brush off obvious caked mud and dried sweat using a dandy brush.
Next, take a body brush and metal curry comb and brush your horse thoroughly from head to toe. Use some elbow grease so you really make a difference. Use the curry comb to clean the body brush on every other downward stroke so that the brush doesn’t get a build-up of dirt that then gets spread over your horse!
Give your horse a final polish with a stable rubber and then replace his rugs.
Untie your horse and place his headcollar around his neck, so that you can carefully brush his head with a body brush or face brush. You might find that your horse actually enjoys this and he may appear to nod off to sleep.
Finally, you can use three different sponges to clean your horse's dock, eyes and nose in turn. It’s a good idea to use three different coloured sponges and mark each one clearly with ‘nose’, ‘dock’ and ‘eyes’, so that you don’t forget which one to use on each area!
Always consider the brushes you are using on a clipped horse. Soft ‘flick’ brushes or body brushes work best and it’s best to avoid anything too harsh. Watch your horse’s reaction when grooming, if he becomes unsettled or flinches, then the brush you are using may be too harsh.
Grooming If Your Horse Lives Out
The chances are that if your horse is living in his field all winter, he'll be pretty hairy, which means that if you want to keep him in work, you’re probably going to have to think about giving him a ‘mini’ clip such as a trace clip. Whatever you decide, his coat will still need your daily attention during the winter months.
Brushing your horse too much can reduce the natural oils in his coat, which he’ll need to help protect him from the elements when he’s turned out 24/7. However, you will need to give him a once-over with a dandy brush every day, so you can check him for lumps and bumps.
Don’t use the dandy brush on his mane and tail though as this will cause the hair to split. I’ve found that applying a detangler spray and combing it through the mane and tail every other day not only keeps the hair tangle free, it also helps to stop mud from sticking to it.
You’ll also need to pay careful attention to his legs for signs of mud fever and ensure that you pick out his feet every day, checking for signs of thrush at the same time.