Stephanie is a graduate Pony Clubber, a rock climber, hiker, poet, writing tutor, belly dancer, yoga student, and gymnastics teacher.
Horses love to roll in the dirt, mud, and whatever else they can get into. Grooming should be a part of your daily care routine, as it allows you to check the horse for cuts and other injuries, and it's a wonderful way to spend time with your horse. Always groom your horse before you ride him, especially around the girth and saddle area. Dirt between the horse's skin and the tack can cause girth rubs and saddle sores.
Horse Grooming Supplies You'll Need
A basic grooming kit includes the following:
- hoof pick
- body brush
- soft brush (finishing brush)
- mane and tail comb
- curry comb
Many riders also carry:
- hoof oil
- mane and tail detangler
- sweat scraper
- a shedding brush
5 Steps to Grooming a Horse
Make sure that your horse is safely secured in cross ties, in a safe, clean aisle. Make sure that your grooming kit is far off to the side, and that nothing else is on the ground around the horse's feet.
For each step, start at the horse's neck and move down the body. Begin on the left, and then brush the right side.
1. Use the curry comb to work the dirt and loose hair to the top of the coat.
- Press the curry comb gently in a circular motion.
- Do not use the curry comb on the bony parts of the horse, such as the face or legs.
2. Use the body brush to remove the dirt and excess hair.
- Drag the brush in the direction of the hair.
- With short, quick strokes, catch the dirt, and then at the end of the stoke, turn the brush so that the bristles flick the dirt into the air.
- You can use this brush over most of the horse's body, but some sensitive horses may not like this brush used on their legs or face.
3. Use the soft brush, or finishing brush, to remove any leftover dust from the horse's coat.
- You can use a soft brush on any part of the horse.
- Use it the same as the body brush; follow the direction of the horse's hair with short, quick strokes.
4. Comb the horse's mane and tail.
- Most riders don't comb the horse's mane and tail every time they groom the horse, although it's not a bad idea. If you put off combing the mane and tail, it just takes longer the next time you do comb the mane and tail!
- Always start at the end of the hair and work your way to the roots.
- Never stand directly behind the horse to brush out his tail. Stand next to his rump and bring the tail over to the side to brush it.
- Plastic combs cause less breakage of the hair, but they do not last as long as the metal combs.
5. Pick the horse's feet.
- Picking the horse's feet is one of the most important steps of grooming a horse. See below for how to pick a horse's feet.
How to Pick the Horse's Feet
Because the bottom of the hoof is concave, stones can become trapped and cause bruising on the horse's sole. A stone bruise can cause lameness in the horse, and can sometimes cause abscesses and other problems in the foot.
- To pick the hoof (front legs), stand next to the horse's leg, facing the horse's hindquarters.
- With the hoof pick in one hand, firmly run your thumb and forefinger along each side of the tendons in the forearm.
- Give the horse a verbal command such as "up," and as the horse relaxes his leg, wrap your hands around the front of the fetlock to support the leg.
- Use the hoof pick to remove any dirt or rocks from the hoof. The triangular shape in the center of the foot is called the frog, do not jab this with the hoof pick! Carefully work around the frog.
- Brush the rest of the dirt down to the sole of the hoof.
- Gently lower the hoof back down to the ground.
Repeat on the hooves.
It may be difficult to convince your horse to pick up the hoof. Ask for assistance before getting frustrated, especially with a stubborn pony!
- Many horses are uncomfortable when you brush beneath their belly. As long as you thoroughly brush the girth area, you don't need to brush the horse's stomach every time. However, there are times when will be caked mud under his belly, or he is shedding, and you'll want to carefully brush the area. Watch his back legs closely as you do this, because you may be surprised how flexible your horse is with his back legs!
- Walk in front of the horse, instead of behind the horse.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.