The curry comb is usually the first grooming tool used. It is used to loosen mud and hair, and also serves to stimulate the production of natural oils in the coat.
There are several different types of curry comb available. This article is designed to help you choose the best curry comb for your particular horse!
Standard rubber curry comb
The rubber curry comb is tough and lasts for years. In fact, it is almost unbreakable. You horse can stand on it, paw it, bite it – and you’ll still be able to use it the next day.
The worst I have had happen is that the strap you slip your hand under parts company with the brush. This does make it a little more difficult to use.
It is also extremely effective at loosening dried mud and dirt. This accumulates within the body of the comb so every few minutes simply wack it against the sole of your shoe (or any other hard surface) to empty it of the collected dust and grime (very satisfying J).
There is a the risk of losing your curry comb as the flat disc-like shape easily burrows under loose soil or bedding. These days you can get curry combs in various colours, which certainly helps, but the old black ones tend to disappear with alarming regularity!
Another issue with the standard curry comb is that it is fairly inflexible, and is not really suitable for the non-fleshy areas such as legs and face. Horses that are particularly sensitive may not enjoy the rubber curry comb even on their body.
Curry mitts are a more recent variation on the curry comb theme. Essentially curry mitts are pimpled rubber gloves, which you slip over your hand to run the affected area.
The curry mitt is a pleasure to use in that you don’t have to hold it. You simply rub your hand over the horse’s coat. Being softer and more flexible it is also able to be used (albeit gently!) on the face and legs. Curry mitts are also very useful for use on the body of overly sensitive horses.
However, the curry mitt far less effective than the rubber curry comb at removing large patches of dried mud. It is also does not actually remove any of the dust, rather just loosens it for subsequent removal by brushing.
And last, but not least, the curry mitt is somewhat less durable than the sturdy rubber curry comb, so might not last as well.
Jelly mitts are similar to curry mitts in that they have a soft, flexible surface with little knobs on it. They have a nice feel to them, and you can get those where the knobs on each side are different, a sort-of 2-in-1 approach.
However, in my opinion jelly mitts are not as good as either of the two above. Some are too soft to be effective, they can be difficult to hold and they disappear almost as effectively as the rubber curry combs!
Metal curry comb
The metal curry comb consists of several rows of short metal teeth, with a handle. The metal curry comb is too harsh to be used directly on your horse as the metal teeth can damage both skin and coat.
Rather, the metal curry comb is used to remove dust and grime from the other brushes, but the rubber curry comb can be used to do this as well.
Using a Curry Comb
When using a curry comb whilst grooming your horse, it should be used in circles on your horses coat. Start at then neck and move down to the body and quarters.
Press firmly when going in the direction of the hair, more lightly when going against the direction of the hair, as if you were giving him a massage. Some horses really enjoy this process and will actually lean into the brush.
Do not scrub backwards and forwards with a curry comb – your horse will find that rather uncomfortable.
Remember to “empty” the rubber curry comb occasionally by banging it against hard surface. You probably won’t need to do anything with a mitt while grooming.
Cleaning Your Curry Combs
It’s a reasonable idea to clean your curry combs occasionally. Being fairly durable items, they can easily be soaked in a bucket of soapy water, and then just left out to dry. The dish washer might not be such a good idea as the heat may cause the rubber to perish.
If your comb or mitt has caked dust which doesn’t easily come off, soak in warm water for a few minutes and then use a kitchen sponge or mild scourer. For really stubborn dirt kitchen cleaning products like Handy Andy or Jiff work well. Just remember to rinse your curry comb well so the chemicals don’t affect the rubber.
Other Curry Combs
There are many, many types of specialised curry combs available. All of them however will be a variation on the above, with some bells and whistles.
For example, you can get face curry combs – similar to the rubber curry comb, but rounder and softer. Then there are magnetic massage curry combs (really?), plastic curry combs (cheaper but not as durable), and smaller curry combs for kids.
You can get coloured ones and patterned ones, even personalised ones J
But don’t be taken in by the hype. Focus on what your requirements are, and choose wisely. Pretty coloured spots won’t look that pretty a few months down the track, and that smooth jelly pad won’t be so well regarded when it doesn’t do the job!
So Which One?
In my view, the good old rubber curry comb is essential. If you’re looking to get only one curry comb, this has to be it. You can always use brushes or rubbers on your horse’s more sensitive areas. But I suggest you look out for a brightly coloured one if possible!
If you’re happy to get two curry combs then by all means add a curry mitt to your collection. It is very useful for knees, hocks, the girth area and particularly the face. My horse always ends up with dried mud between his ears (how??). The curry mitt is the perfect tool for removing this gently.
Good grooming 🙂