Let’s face it; a horse requires a lot of care on a daily basis. The basics that everyone thinks about right away might include feeding, providing water, exercise, and horseshoes. What about grooming? Grooming does a lot more for a horse than just making it look nice. It massages muscles, stimulates healthy blood flow, spreads natural oils through the coat, and allows the handler to bond with the horse and check for any injuries the horse might have.
The Order of The Brushes
There are several horse grooming tools that should be used to groom properly. They should be used in the following order:
- Plastic or rubber curry comb
- Dandy brush
- Body brush
- Finishing brush
These four are the basics and are usually included in a standard grooming kit. They can be used in conjunction with face brushes, mane combs, hoof picks, and shedding blades for a full grooming session.
Curry combs are either made from plastic or rubber. Both types of curry serve the same purpose of loosening encrusted dirt and bringing dust to the surface of the horse’s coat to be removed with other brushes. Plastic curry combs are handy when the horse being groomed has a longer coat. This brush should be used in a downward sweeping motion over the entire body of the horse. Rubber curry combs should be used in a circular motion. It is necessary to use some muscles when currying a horse. Most horses enjoy being brushed and will appreciate the massage. Both varieties of curry combs should only be used above the horse’s legs and never on sensitive areas.
Dandy brushes are a variety of brush with moderately stiff bristles. This brush should be used in a short flicking motion in order to wisk away all of the dirt and debris that was loosened by using the curry comb. This brush should be used over the entire body of the horse and can also be very useful in removing caked on mud from a horse’s legs and belly. Care should be taken to avoid bumping the horse’s legs with the back of the brush. Having an extra dandy brush specifically for use on the horse’s legs can prevent mud from being transferred from the legs to the rest of the body.
The body brush is usually a larger oval shaped brush that is soft to the touch. This brush will sweep away all of the remaining dust from the horse that the dandy brush was not able to flick off. The body brush should be used in long firm strokes following the lay of the horse’s hair.
A final touch to the grooming session can be the use of a finishing brush. This brush will add a beautiful shine to the coat and pick up the very minute particles of dust that remain after completing the use of a body brush.
Combing the Mane and Tail
A horse’s mane and tail grow very slowly so care should be taken to avoid damaging the hairs. Some people prefer to use a mane comb for removing tangles but in order to preserve the beauty of the horse’s hair a dandy brush should be used. It is softer and does not tend to rip out hairs as a comb does. It is not necessary to brush a mane and tail at each grooming session.
Hooves should be inspected for cracks and abscesses each time the horse is groomed. They should be picked out with a hoof pick thoroughly to remove any mud, manure, or rocks that might be trapped around the frog (center “v” shaped area of the foot).
Brushing the Face
Large sized brushes that are intended for use on a horse’s body can be too large to brush the face safely. A small face brush will do the trick. Face brushes can look like miniature curry combs or dandy brushes. When brushing the face of a horse it is important to take extra care around the eyes to avoid getting debris in them or bumping them.
Following correct procedures will ensure that a horse is groomed as effectively as possible each time. The order that the brushes are used is very important because they each serve a purpose at a certain point in the grooming session.