Grooming your horse before you ride is essential. It removes dust and grime from under your tack which could otherwise cause chafing of your horse’s skin. It ensures his hooves are free of stones and other debris so moving around isn’t painful. And, last but not least, grooming enables you to give your horse a once over. Is he acting normally? Is he walking and moving ok? Does he have any injuries?
Yet, despite those compelling reasons for grooming before you ride, many people don’t bother. One reason for this is that people think it takes too long. If you are trying to squeeze in a ride before the sun goes down, or before you have to rush home and cook or whatever, grooming might seem like a luxury.
But I’m here to tell you – basic grooming need not take much time at all! And the benefits are huge. After all, how awful would you feel if you found you had caused harm to your horse? So grab your basic grooming kit and read on …
5 Step Guide to Grooming
1. Remove the Mud
Does your horse show any signs of dried mud? If not, skip straight to step 2. Otherwise, take your curry comb, and with a circular movement brush from neck, along the body to the quarters on each side. The purpose of this is to break up any dried mud so that it can be brushed off later, and should not take more than 2 minutes.
Don’t use the curry comb on the legs. Removing mud from the legs depends on where it is and how much there is. A little bit of mud here and there can be ignored, provided it won’t end up under any boots you may use. If the mud is in a bad place, or there is a lot of it, simply use your dandy brush to loosen it.
2. Remove the Dust
Using your dandy brush, start again at the top of the neck, and brush with straight, flicking motions in the direction of the hair. If your horse is dusty, you will see little billows of dust being removed from his coat.
Don’t be too fussy about this. All you’re trying to do is remove any excess dust so that it doesn’t turn to mud when your horse sweats.
3. Clean the Face
If your horse’s face looks reasonably clean, then just skip this step (but first make sure there is no dried mud hiding behind the ears or under the throat).
However, if there is any dirt or mud where your bridle will sit then you need to remove it. Use a soft brush such as a body brush. If that doesn’t work you may need to use a dandy brush, but be gentle! This is probably the most time consuming step as you really need to be careful around the face.
4. Check the Girth Area
Another critical step, often missed. Horses often have dried mud on their bellies, and if this is where the girth is going to go, you could end up with a very sore horse.
Simply run your hand along where the girth will go. You will quickly feel and dried mud against the silky soft skin of your horse. Remove it with your dandy brush.
5. Pick Out the Hooves
Another essential step – do not skip this one! Horses often pick up stones or sticks in their hooves. This may not be apparent when just strolling around the paddock, but if you take your horse onto a harder surface it can cause considerable bruising. Your horse may even end up lame or develop an abscess 🙁
Pick up each hoof in turn, and using your hoof pick, scrape out any mud or stones that may be lodged in the underpart of the hoof. Make sure you check the groove on each side of the frog, as well as the rest of the hoof. You needn’t make it squeaky clean – just remove anything that is likely to hurt!
Mane and Tail
If you have the time and inclination you can brush the mane and tail, but I tend to only do this on special occasions as it tends to pull the hair out (unless it is just so dirty it is likely to interfere in some way).
So there you have it. Curry – Dandy – Face – Girth – Hooves.
These 5 steps can be tailored to the amount of time you have available. Lots of time – do the whole horse. Short on time – focus on the areas where your tack will sit. What could be simpler?
Any thoughts on this? How do you groom your horse? Leave me a comment 🙂
Here’s to Quick Grooming!