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Grooming Tips For Horses

Grooming is an important part of horse care, especially those horses that are used in competition or show. Regular grooming improves the health of the skin and coat, decreases the chances of various health problems such as thrush and other skin problems, and helps to build a relationship between horse and handler. Get your horse show-ready with these helpful grooming tips.

Grooming Tools of the Trade:

  • Curry comb or textured mitt
  • Shedding blade or textured block
  • Stiff-bristled dandy brush
  • Soft, short-bristled body brush
  • Rub rag
  • Hoof pick
  • Hair brush or plastic comb for mane and tail
  • Vacuum cleaner (optional)

Using a Grooming Vacuum on Your Horse

A grooming vacuum can be used on dry horses that have already been curried. Vacuuming in the direction of the hair is most comfortable, but you can go against the grain for dirty spots on tolerant animals. Afterwards, a quick brushing and wipe down will push the hair flat and add some shine.

Protecting Your Grooming Tools and Supplies

Prevent dirt buildup on brushes during grooming by swiping them across a curry comb every few strokes. After each session, rub brushes together to knock off the coarse dirt and hairs. For a monthly deep cleaning, vacuum brush bristles down to the roots. Then soak them for 10 minutes in two gallons of water containing a quarter of a cup of bleach. Rinse, then put them in the sun to dry.

Protect your grooming tools by storing them in a sturdy plastic carrier with a secure lid. Arrange brushes so their bristles won't be flattened; a good technique is to press two brushes together to interlock their bristles.

Bathing Tools of the Trade

  • Rubber currycomb or mitt
  • Hose with adjustable spray attachment
  • Bucket
  • Shampoo
  • Mane and tail conditioner
  • Sponges
  • Scraper, chamois or special synthetic grooming cloth
  • Towels

Bath-Time Tips

Excessive shampoo is difficult to rinse out and can leave skin itchy, so go easy on the soap. Use only about half the amount you think you need. If your horse's coat is lacking natural shine, replenish it by adding a bit of olive oil to a bucket of clean water for his final rinse. Have three sponges handy: a large one for the body, a smaller one for the sheath and other delicate areas, and another small one for the face. If your horse fusses when he's rinsed, keep the face sponge soap-free. Rinse, scrape and rinse again. A splash of white or cider vinegar in the rinse water can help eliminate traces of shampoo and add shine. Outfit him in a cooler and/or walk him until he is dry to prevent pneumonia. A fabric softener sheet works great for preventing frizzies down your horse's tail.

The Benefits of Conditioner

Shampooing removes dirt from the coat, but it also strips natural oils like sebum. Because sebum waterproofs the hairs and keeps them flexible, frequent bathing can leave the coat, mane and tail dry and brittle. Applying a conditioner after washing will help restore the oils and increase the coat's shine. Keep in mind, though, that conditioners leave a mane and tail too slick to braid.