Grooming is an activity that is enjoyable for both you and your horse. It is also a good opportunity to check for injuries and irritations. Try to make grooming a daily habit. It is an absolute must before riding. Grit beneath the saddle will be uncomfortable for your horse and could cause sores. Start from the left or right of your horse. These instructions assume you will start on the left side, but as long as you cover the whole horse is does not matter. Have your grooming tools arranged in a safe convenient place. A wide bucket may be cheapest and easiest to put your brushes in, although there are lots of grooming boxes on the market that keep your tools organized and handy.
You will need:
* A curry comb or grooming mitt.
* A body brush with fairly stiff bristles.
* A mane and tail comb.Plastic causes less breakage than metal ones.
* A fine soft bristled finishing brush.
* A hoof pick.
* A clean sponge or soft cloth.
Nice to have:
* Grooming spray.
* Hoof ointment if recommended by your farrier.
* Scissors or clippers.
Dont sit your bucket or box too close to your horse where he could knock it over, or where you might trip over it as you move around your horse. Also have your horse securely and safely tied either with crossties or with a quick release knot.
Clean Your Horse’s or Pony’s Hooves
Cleaning out your horses hooves is very important. Slide your hand down the left foreleg. Squeeze the back of the leg along the tendons just above the pastern and say up or hoofwhatever your horse is trained to respond to. Hold the hoof and with the hoof pick pry out any dirt, manure or anything else lodged in the frog or sole of the foot. Check for any injury and signs of thrush, grease heel, or other problems. Take note of any cracks in the wall of the hoof so you can consult with your farrier as to what should be done. Gently place the foot down on the ground and continue until all four feet are done.
Currying Your Horse or Pony
Starting on the left side use your curry comb or grooming mitt to loosen the dirt in your horses coat. Curry in circular sweeps all over the horses body. Be careful over boney areas of the shoulders, hips and legs. Use a light touch in these areas. Many horses are sensitive about having their bellies and between the back legs brushed. Be careful in these areas to use a light touch. Some horses are more sensitive skinned then others so adjust the pressure on the brush according to what they seem to enjoy. If your horse reacts by laying back his ears, or swishing his tail in agitation, he is telling you that the brushing is too vigorous. As well as currying you will also be looking for any skin lesions or wounds.
Comb Out the Tangles From the Mane and Tail
Either with a mane comb or brush, brush out the mane and tail. Start at the bottom of the strands and brush downwards in sections until you can smoothly comb from the top of the mane or tail, right to the bottom. When brushing the tail, stand to one side and pull the tail gently over to you. This way you are out of the way should the horse kick. A grooming spray that detangles hair is nice to have, and makes brushing out the long stands easier while cleaning, shining and protecting the hair.
Use the Body Brush to Whisk Away Dirt
With the body brush, whisk out the dirt brought to the surface by the curry comb. Start on one side and move around the horse brushing in sweeping strokes following the direction of the hair the way it grows. The body brush is more useful for cleaning the legs than the curry comb. This is a good time to check for lesions and skin irritations on the legs, knees, and pasterns.
Using the Finishing Brush
A finishing brush will have shorter softer bristles and may be used on your horse’s or pony’s face if you dont have a special brush. Gently whisk away dust from the broader areas on your horses face, ears and throat. With sweeping strokes whisk away any dust missed by the body brush. The finer bristles help smooth out the body hair and leave your horse looking more finished. Grooming sprays can provide sun protection, and add shine to your horses coat but they aren’t nessecary. If you plan to ride however, be aware that some products may make the hair slippery and could cause your saddle to shift. Try to avoid application to the saddle area.
Clean the Ears, Eyes, Muzzle and Dock Area
With a damp sponge or soft cloth wipe around the horses eyes and muzzle, and clean away any dirt or chaff. Check your horses eyes. A bit of tearing at the corner of the eye is not uncommon, but take note of excess tearing, redness, or swelling. Wipe around the dock and tail head. Check ears for lodged seed heads or dirt.