Grooming is an activity that is enjoyable for both you and your horse. It is also a good opportunity to check for injuries. Grooming should be carried out on a daily basis, before and after exercise. 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 to keep your tools organized and handy.
You will need:
· A curry comb or grooming mitt.
· A dandy brush with fairly stiff bristles.
· A mane and tail comb.
· A fine soft bristled body brush.
· A hoof pick.
· 3 clean sponges.
· Grooming spray.
· Hoof ointment if recommended by your farrier.
· Scissors or clippers.
Cleaning out your horse’s hooves is very important. Slide your hand down the left foreleg and squeeze the back of the leg along the tendons just above the pastern and say whatever your horse is trained to respond to. Hold the hoof and with the hoof pick pry out any dirt, manure or other debris 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 about them. Gently place the foot down on the ground and continue until all four feet are done.
Starting on the left side use your curry comb or grooming mitt to loosen the dirt in your horse’s coat. Curry in circular sweeps all over the horse’s 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, so be gentle when grooming these areas. Some horses are more sensitive than others so adjust the pressure on the brush according to what the horse in question seems 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. Whilst currying you should also be looking for any skin lesions or wounds.
Either with a mane comb or your fingers 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 makes this job easier, and cleans, shines and protects the hair.
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 growth. 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.
A body brush will have shorter, softer bristles and may be used on your horse's or pony's face if you don’t have a special brush. Gently whisk away dust from the broader areas on your horse’s 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 smoothly finished. Grooming sprays can provide sun protection, and add shine to your horse’s coat but they are not necessary. 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.
Finally use a damp sponge to wipe around the horse’s eyes and muzzle, ensure a separate sponge is used for each area. Check your horse’s 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. Check ears for lodged seed heads or dirt.