Tips for a Successful Grooming Routine
Whether you’re preparing for your very first horse show, attending a competition, or grooming your horse who is living its best-retired life, it’s likely that you want your horse to shine. Is grooming something you routinely make time to do, even if you’re not prepping for a show? There are several tips to add to your routine to ensure your horse looks their best. StableSecretary can assist with ensuring time is set aside for your horses to receive adequate grooming.
Benefits of a Grooming Routine
Grooming is a very important aspect of ensuring a healthy horse. Implementing a structured grooming routine will assist your horse’s primary defense system, a.k.a. their skin, to remain healthy. Grooming also stimulates blood circulation, and acts as a muscle massage. Through this process, oils in the skin are distributed to create a lustrous coat. This dedicated time also serves as a way to familiarize yourself with all the conformational-related physical attributes your horse may possess. A general understanding of this will allow you to easily notice when a new scrape, bump, tick, or other abnormality appears. The bond that is established through spending time grooming your horse is irreplaceable and will help to instill a lasting partnership.
What to Incorporate into Your Grooming Routine
- First – Hoof Cleaning – It is always a good idea to begin by cleaning out your horse’s hooves. The hooves absorb all of the concussive shocks from their movement therefore, they are the foundation upon which soundness is based. Good hoof health is imperative to the overall health of the horse. By making this the first step in your grooming routine, you can observe issues that may require further attention or those that may prevent you from riding that day (loose or missing shoe). Run your hand down each of the legs to lift each hoof, feeling for scrapes, heat, or abnormal lumps that may require treatment.
- Second – Curry Combs – Next in your grooming routine, it would be appropriate to curry comb your horse. There are many benefits to currying, including stimulating and massaging the skin and muscles, loosening shedding hair and debris, and spreading those natural skin oils to protect the haircoat and produce shine. Grooming from the head to the tail, it is most efficient to curry in circles against the grain of the hair, avoiding bony areas with curry combs that are hard or inflexible. The face and legs can be curried using a pliable and soft curry, or a rubber mitt.
- Third – Stiff Body Brush – Ideally, you would next use a stiff-bristle body brush. Again, starting at the head and working toward the tail. This should be done in a quick, flicking motion, pushing in the same direction of the hair, and pressing as hard as the horse is comfortable with. While it is true that firmer strokes accomplish more, some horses are sensitive and cannot handle heavy pressure. These stiff-bristled brushes are meant for the neck and body, but can be used with light pressure in sensitive areas like the legs. The more elbow grease put into this technique, the more natural shine your horse will show. A medium or soft bristle brush is also an option for those horses who are more sensitive or ticklish, but this is a appropriate step in your routine grooming process. These brushes would be utilized on the legs and face to remove dirt and loose hair uplifted during currying.
- Fourth – Mane & Tail Brushing – Then you would want to use your fingers or a wide-toothed mane and tail comb to separate the hairs of the mane and tail without breaking them. Using a detangler would be beneficial to assist with ensuring no damage is being done. There is nothing quite like a lustrous and tangle-free tail.
- Lastly – Wipe Their Face – Lastly, you would want to use a clean, damp washcloth to wipe any debris from around the eyes and nostrils. You also may choose to do the same under the tail and rectum. Taking this step cleanses the areas and adds a soft luster.
By implementing this type of basic grooming routine, you are guaranteed great results in a short time. Consistency is key! The results and the other great benefits of routine grooming, make it hard to avoid.
Other Grooming Tips
In addition to the basic grooming routine, several other aspects of grooming could be executed to add to the overall shine of your horse.
- If you have access to a vacuum, once curried, you might choose to vacuum off the debris, followed by a medium-bristle brush. Vacuuming can not only help with simple dirt removal, but it can also assist with the dreaded shedding season by helping to remove shedding hair. While some horses don’t mind the vacuum, others may need to be taught to stand to be vacuumed. This is not a must, but it could be very advantageous to one’s grooming routine.
- Who doesn’t love a bath? Unfortunately for us humans, some horses don’t love a bath, but hopefully, they at least tolerate it. Bathing can be very beneficial to the horse; however, it is not something you want to do every day as it can dry out the horse’s coat. If your horse has been working hard and got dirty and sweaty, you might choose to wash your horse down with fresh water (no shampoo). This will keep their skin and coat free of irritating debris and won’t remove the natural oils. If you are preparing for an event, or have a super dirty horse on your hands, you might choose to bathe with shampoo. How often this is done may depend on the humans preference or the tolerance of the horse.
- Don’t forget about cleaning sheaths and udders, as they need some special attention, too. Sheaths should be cleaned every 6-12 months and udders two to four times per year. Each horse is an individual case, therefore it may vary.
- If you are preparing your horse for a horse show, or have a preference to keep your horse body clipped, or their mane pulled, this also may be a component to your grooming routine. These tasks are ideal to complete in advance when preparing for a show, or they simply can be made a part of your routine grooming schedule. The sleek appearance and prevention of skin issues that body clipping brings forth are just a few of the benefits. Be sure to have your horse clean or bathed and to be prepared with all of the necessary equipment and supplies. Mane pulling is generally discipline specific, giving a more natural appearance to the conformation of the horse. It is best to complete this task after a workout, as the pores of the skin are open from the horse still being warm.
Lastly, it is important to keep an organized grooming kit containing all of the preferred equipment and supplies which you use. Having all of your supplies and tools in one place will make the execution of routine grooming much more time efficient, and by using all of the items in your kit, you will ensure a thorough grooming each time.
Use StableSecretary to Stay Organized
Be sure to utilize StableSecretary’s scheduling tool to keep track of when these tasks are being completed and when they should be scheduled to happen again. Staying organized with record keeping for these tasks will not disappoint. Happy grooming!