What is better than going to the barn and seeing your horse standing in the stall, shining like new money, mane perfectly pulled and laying beautifully on your horses’ neck, dapples everywhere just talking to you saying , look at me, tail free of tangles, almost reaching the floor, thick and wavy. Not to mention your horses forelock is where it should be, not too long or too short, and no dirt or dust on your horses nose and that shining look in your best buddies eyes. Wow!!!…Hah, GET REAL. These things happen only after many weeks or months of constant serious grooming and elbow grease. A proper balanced diet as well as a regimented exercise program with a minimal amount of stress are contributing factors to a beautiful coat on your horse. Breeding will come into play but with hard work, a brilliant coat can be achieved. Successful, well groomed horses are very pampered animals. Of course they do have a price to pay, they must do what it is that is asked of them and do it well if they wish to continue this pampered way of life. Doesn’t matter whether you have a western pleasure horse, jumping horse or dressage horse, or even a racehorse, performance horses have a job to do and they will always be expected to have positive results from their performances. Nothing in life is free, not even for them.
So, let’s get down to business. First you will need a grooming box. Most of them today are made so you can sit them over the top of a board such as a fence board. You need at least one curry comb, preferably two of them, a fairly soft bendable one and you can get curry combs that look like they have small cones sticking out of a round base with a band to put your hand into on the other side.
Next you will need a regular size soft brush, a regular size harder brush and a very soft regular size brush. You will need a smaller hard brush for brushing out the horses feet after you have picked them out. You will need a hoof pick, a mane pulling comb and a tail brush. Last you will need a few good rub rags. You will need a large spray bottle that will be used for a detangler for the tail. Old timers would not let us use anything but a hard brush on tails as you want to try and keep the tail as long as possible for swatting flies and gnats. If you are careful you can do a good job using a comb and detangler. Some eye wash in your box is probably not a bad idea, a good hoof care product and maybe an anti-thrush product. Last you should keep some type of wound care product in your box for easy access too (check out my latest blog).
After your horse has had a bath (complete details on bathing in recent blog “Giving Your Horse A Bath From Nose To Tail“) and is now completely dry, take your softer curry comb, stand in front of your horse after you have either tied him or her in the stall with a tie chain, (tie chains are not necessarily made of chain, there are rope, elastic or other varieties), or have your horse in cross ties either in a barn or outside on a wash rack. If you are right handed, use your left hand and hold the nose band of the halter lightly, and curry your horse between the eyes, very gently, currying is usually done in a circular motion, continue up towards the ears. Now down both sides of the cheeks. Start on the left side of the horse, if you wish you can change to your other curry comb. Continue from behind of the ear, again in circular motions, straight down the neck, onto the chest. You should gently curry between the front legs and over their chest. Do this all the way down the whole side of the horse, (the curry is not for their legs but there is a soft rubber glove type of curry that is much better for horses who are shedding this type would be ok for the legs), under the stomach, close to the spine but not directly on the spine, over the horses rump, around to the tail down to the hock. Now you need to start on the other side of the horse behind the right ear and do exactly the same. You will know if you are currying too hard because the horse will keep moving away from you or will drop his or her back down low trying to get away from the curry comb, adjust to a lighter touch. Next, take your regular size soft and regular size harder brush. Gently start brushing at the forehead, up between the ears, behind the ears making sure to move the halter back cleaning under the crown piece of the halter very well. Using the brush in your left hand, on the left side of the horse, and your brush in your right hand, alternate strokes from top to bottom covering all areas again working your way all the way back to the tail. You will use these brushes to brush their legs all the way down to the hoof. Go to the other side using the same alternating strokes with soft and harder regular brushes. Now, starting again at the front of your horses head, use the soft regular brush and your rub rag. Do exactly the same alternating strokes except that you can sometime use the rub rag in circular motions with your right hand giving your left hand a little break. Grab your comb, comb forelock, mane and then tail using the detangler if you get a lot of resistance or excessive knotting, starting at the bottom of the tail working upwards. Now it is time to perform the very important picking of the horses feet with your hoof pick and your small hard brush. Stand by the horses left leg facing the back of the horse, asking your horse for his or her front foot by running your hand down usually the inside of their leg. This is a taught behavior to give you their foot and practice makes perfect. After you teach this to a horse and with regular practice of this important procedure, most horses have no problem with being obliging. As they pick up their foot, use your left hand to hold the front of their foot, using your right hand, as you face the point of the pick towards the ground, run the pick on either side of their frog and clean out any unnecessary stones, manure or other things you know do not belong there. Still holding the foot with your left hand, grab your small harder brush with your right hand, brush out the bottom of the horses foot in a downward motion. Put that foot down, run your hand, as you are bent over, on the outside of the other leg and do the same.Continue to the back of the horse, stand by his or her hind leg, start up high, running your left hand across the rump and down the inside of the left hind leg, asking kindly for their foot, clean and brush the foot and then ask for the right hind foot, you know the deal. Job well done, stand back as you will be able to see a difference. By grooming your horse in this manner on a daily basis, it will bring you great satisfaction as you will really be able to see the difference, and your horse just might give you a smile.