- Clare Long
Proper Grooming and the Grooming Tools I Recommend and Why
(From Clare's article archives, Circa 2010-2015)
Springtime and Horses!
It's all about the grooming:
Grooming, grooming and more grooming.
If this looks familiar:
Then you are doing a great job!
During the Spring shedding months, I find that more energy
will be spent on grooming than riding.
And, in my opinion, this is a good, positive and healthy thing for both horse and human.
Mentally and physically.
Grooming is a fantastic way to bond with your horse, and to make your horse love you.
I usually spend at least a half hour grooming in their paddocks,
no halter, or while I am hand grazing.
Your horse will want to be close to you, to enjoy the experience.
For me, the most important tool is the shedding blade.
I prefer the heavier duty one, to the red flimsy one.
And, I prefer to keep the shedding blade closed, and to use it one handed,
but you might like the open two handed approach more.
Most horses absolutely love this process.
Some, especially the more sensitive types with less coat, can be a bit ticklish.
Please adjust your technique depending on what your horse likes.
If your horse does not like the shedding blade, try the curry comb.
Some horses are so sensitive and 'thin skinned' that they can only
tolerate a soft brush and soft cloth.
If that is the case with your horse, so be it.
Probably, they are the type to not grow much of a winter coat anyway.
Some of these hotter blooded horses, specifically the Arabian or Thoroughbred types,
keep a slick coat all winter long.
If it gets cold in your area, you will probably have to blanket them for warmth,
since they don't naturally grow a coat.
With a thicker, coarser coated horse, I will press as hard as I can, in short strokes.
I start behind their ears, and work my way back towards the tail, pushing the fur back and off.
Be gentler around the flank and soft parts of the belly.
Don't forget to get the neck, under the mane!
The Shedding Blade works great on dried on mud as well.
It will even scrape off adobe clay!
I will scrape and scrape each area, until the loose hair stops coming out.
It is very gratifying to see the piles of hair coming off!
The rubber curry will continue the process,
and is great for their faces and legs.
I prefer the old fashioned, tried and true rubber curry:
Remember, with the curry comb, you use it in a circular fashion.
And again, you can put a lot of elbow grease into it, really, scrub that hair out!
The other benefit of the curry comb is that it stimulates the oils in the skin,
which makes the coat more glossy and shiny.
The key to a horse's heart is grooming
So, in my opinion, those are the two most important pieces of equipment for the shedding process. Those and as much energy and muscle that you can spare per grooming.
Because I typically groom 6-8 horses per day, that is quite a serious workout.
Who needs the gym when you have a horse?
Grooming when your horse is hand grazing is a wonderful way to 'kill two birds with one stone,' and to make a fantastic experience an even yummier one.
How delightful, a horse's favorite things all at once: grooming, quality affection time with their human, and delicious spring grass!
So, if you are short on time, grab the shedding blade and the hoof pick,
and you are good to go.
Enjoy your ride.
If you have the time and the energy, it is great to finish the grooming process.
Next is the Dandy brush, which is a stiff,
usually plastic bristled brush.
The Dandy works well on dried sand and bigger fragments.
Definitely skip the face and the sensitive parts with this stiff brush.
For all you women out there:
I very strongly recommend that you get the smaller brushes.
The larger brushes are more common, but impossible for me to use effectively.
Way too big in my hand, way too heavy.
Try the small ones, you will be very pleasantly surprised at how much easier they are to use for our smaller hands.
Next the Medium brush, usually with natural bristles.
Most horses will let you use the Medium everywhere on their bodies.
Just take it easy on the face and sensitive areas.
In the summer, my 'go to' brushes will be the Medium and the Soft and, of course, always the hoof pick, every day of the year.
Next, I will usually go to the mane and tail brush.
I brush out the forelock and mane every full groom, and the dock of the tail.
My favorite brushes are not the ones that the tack stores sell.
I like the human brushes, with bristles.
You can always find one at the Dollar Store.
Looks like this:
The reason I brush the mane before the soft brush is it always leaves bits of
'this and that' on the horse's neck.
So, lastly, the polishing: Soft brush.
This is the finishing brush, and the only brush that should
technically be used on your horse's face.
The Soft brush is the last of the grooming process, and the 'go to' for summer coats.
They are commonly made of soft, black, natural bristles, and look like this:
Believe it or not, the good hoof picks really, actually are much
better to use, and worth the extra cost.
My favorite is:
The Ultimate Hoof Pick:
The yellow works great, but the blue is more woman's hand size user friendly.
Please do me a favor and try this pick, it will change your grooming
experience profoundly for the better.
Plus, your horse will benefit from having better picked out, cleaner feet.
I realize now that this Springtime grooming post
has morphed into a basic grooming tools post.
I have strong opinions on what should be in every small handed equestrian's brushbox.
Above is a start.
I will add to it another day.
Enjoy your grooming 'workouts' and give your horse an extra pet from me.
I carefully selected the photos for each brush.
Those are the exact ones that I recommend, unless you are a man with big hands.
READ MORE ABOUT GROOMING UNDER