One of the first things I learned, when I started riding lessons years ago, was how to properly groom a horse. This is such an important part of horse care. It not only keeps your horse healthy, but will help to build a stronger connection between you both. Figuring out a schedule of how often you should groom your horse will help to maintain good hygiene.
There are a lot of benefits that come from grooming sessions. It can be some of the most rewarding time you spend with your horse. It will also allow you to get to know your horse and bond in a different way. Let’s take a look at some important factors to consider when determining the frequency of grooming.
How Often You Should Groom Your Horse
How often you groom your horse will vary between those who are in work and horses who are not.
Horses who are in work should be groomed daily before and after each ride.
Grooming before a ride:
- Ensures that the tack sits comfortably on the horse.
- Prevents dirt or mud from rubbing or irritating your horse during your ride.
- Helps establish a partnership with your horse prior to getting on.
- Most horses enjoy the grooming process.
Grooming after a ride:
- Helps ease sweaty, itchy skin
- Breaks up any extra dirt that may surface with sweat
- Is a nice reward for a horse who has just worked in partnership with you.
Daily grooming is best, but at minimum for a horse out of work, you should groom your horse three times per week. Grooming helps you:
Evaluate the overall health of your equine friend, looking for things such as:
- Skin irritations or rain rot
- Swelling in her legs or joints
- Cuts or scrapes that need attention
Many horses find comfort in the grooming process and enjoy that time with their person as well. In between grooming sessions, you should still plan to run hands and eyes over your horse every day to check-in and make sure they are healthy and happy.
Factors That Go Into How Often You Should Groom Your Horse
Some factors to consider how often you should groom your horse include:
- Your horse’s living conditions
- The time of year
- The horse’s level of work
Whether your horse lives outside full time or is stall-kept with regular turnout, making time for grooming is important to evaluate your horse’s overall well-being.
Time of Year
The time of year plays a role in how often you should groom your horse. Depending on where you live, winter and fall very often require more grooming sessions due to wet or muddy conditions.
In the spring, grooming frequency should increase due to shedding of heavy winter hair. A rubber curry comb is certainly helpful in dealing with muddy horses or for horses who are shedding.
Summer brings grimy sweat that needs rinsing or shampooing. Flies should be controlled through the use of fly repellent.
If your horse is in a consistent work program, this also should be factored into how often you should groom your horse. Working muscles need the benefits of grooming, which stimulates blood flow to the skin’s surface and helps ease aches and pains associated with muscle work.
After a riding session, grooming is a welcome reward for tired muscles and gives your horse the opportunity to unwind with you as you care for him.
Importance of Horse Grooming
Most horses thoroughly enjoy the grooming process. In fact, if your horse lives outside or is frequently turned out with other horses, you may sometimes find them grooming one another in affection or play. Not only that, but it is a great way to establish and maintain a strong partnership with your horse.
- Grooming is a great time to teach manners and respect. Your horse should respect your space during grooming and move out of your way by yielding to pressure as you work around him.
- Getting To know Your Horse. Grooming can also help you get to know your horse and what he likes. What are his favorite spots to be rubbed or massaged? Does he have areas that are sensitive and if so, how does he display his displeasure.
- A regular routine of brushing is also good for your horse’s skin and coat. Blood flow is increased and natural oils are brought to the surface which helps to increase shine and luster. As you groom you will learn each feature of your horse’s skin, coat, and hooves, and you will quickly notice any changes or irregularities that may form.
Some changes you should look for include:
- Irritated skin
- Rain rot
- Thrush in the hooves
- Insect bites
- Cuts and scrapes
- Puncture wounds
Pro Tip:Use your hands while grooming.
You might feel heat in a leg or joint that may mean inflammation or infection. As you assess your horse each time you groom. Then you can determine the proper course of treatment for anything that arises. That could mean treating something yourself with an at-home remedy or calling your veterinarian for something that appears more serious.
Tips and Tricks for Grooming Your Horse
As you prepare to groom your horse, here are some important tips and tricks to consider.
Necessary Tack Box Tools
- Rubber Curry Comb: Great for loosening caked-on mud, shedding or loose hairs, or dead skin. It is also great for massaging muscles. Use a rubber curry comb in a circular motion on the fleshy parts of your horse’s body. Avoid the bony parts of the legs, as this would be uncomfortable for the horse.
- Hard Brush: Good for sweeping away the dirt, dust, and hair that was loosened by the rubber curry comb. The hard brush can be used for brushing muddy legs as well.
- Soft Brush: Removes finer dust particles and hair and smoothes the coat. Use on the face or on more sensitive areas of your horse, such as the underside of their belly.
- Hoof Pick: Important for removing dirt, sawdust, or small stones from your horse’s hooves. A horse’s hooves should always be inspected for any foreign objects that may become lodged in the underside of the hoof.
- Sponge or Rag: Handy for rubbing sweaty areas if rinsing is not an option. They are also good for cleaning more delicate areas such as the face, spot cleaning, or wiping on fly spray.
- Mane comb: Great for untangling or pulling unruly manes.
8 Helpful Tips For Grooming Your Horse:
- Use grooming as part of your groundwork training by teaching your horse to respect your space, yield to pressure, and move out of your way.
- Avoid brushing the tail on a day to day basis, so as not to pull out hairs. When it is time to groom the tail for a show, use a wide-tooth comb or soft detangling brush and work from the bottom to the top.
- Commercial coat conditioning sprays work well to help create a brighter shine for show days.
- Only use coat conditioners on areas that will not be wearing tack. Some coat conditioners can make the saddle/ girth area slippery and could cause a dangerous situation when riding if the saddle should slip.
- Grooming is great for you, too! How often you groom your horse also leads to how often you have a good upper body workout.
- Always consider your own safety when grooming your horse. Be mindful of your horse’s expressions and note if he is irritated by something.
- Keep your head and face away from legs when bending down to groom legs or pick hooves.
- Always make sure your horse knows where you are as you move around him to avoid startling him.
How often you groom your horse is an important factor to consider as a horse owner or care taker. Grooming should be a fun daily ritual that you share with your horse. It is essential to your horse’s well being.
Use the time to enjoy the partnership you are building with your horse. Your horse will appreciate your efforts and will respond to you. As you make grooming part of your routine, use the time to train your horse and enjoy her company. The trust that you will build with your horse is one of the biggest rewards that comes with daily grooming.
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