Grooming Your Horse: A Beginner’s Guide

Whether you’re preparing your horse for a show, getting ready for a lengthy ride across the prairie, or simply looking after its health, proper grooming is of the utmost importance. If you’re a beginner who is just learning the ropes, keep in mind that this isn’t an exact science.

That being said, there are a few things you can do right from the start to make sure your horse is properly taken care of. We’ll give you some good pointers and let you take it from there. Saddle up, partner, and let’s get started!

Use High-Quality Tools

Before you do any work, make sure you’ve got the right equipment. All the talent in the world won’t help you if you’re using an old, broken brush, or a cheap hoof pick. Some of the basic tools include:

  • Curry brush – Use circular motions when applying the curry brush and, of course, be gentle. Avoid bony areas, bellies, and the area between the back legs. These areas can be too sensitive for this tool.
  • Body brush – This is the most common brush. It usually has stiff bristles that remove dirt from the horse’s hair. It is applied all over the body but make sure you keep an eye out for the horse’s reaction. If the brush is too harsh for its skin, you might need to be gentler or change it altogether. Always brush following the hairs, from the head to the tail.
  • Hoof pick – Another essential tool made specifically for cleaning the hooves. You will need to do this daily and be as thorough as possible – pay special attention to the grooves beside the frog.
  • Mane and tail comb – Be extra careful when buying this type of comb. Using a metal tool might damage the hair, especially if you’re being too aggressive. Slowly untangle the hairs with your fingers first and then comb them section by section (not all at once)
  • Water scraper – People often forget about this tool and it’s a huge mistake. It is essential that you remove the excess water from the horse’s skin, be it sweat or regular water, because it clogs the pores and increases heat.

Secure Your Horse

Before you do anything, make sure your horse is tied safely with a leading rope. The experts suggest you use a quick-release rope so, if anything happens, you can untie it in seconds and keep it safe. There are a couple of reasons why you have to tie your horse before starting. First off – your own safety. Horses can sometimes get agitated by the grooming process and react by kicking or biting you. This is even likelier if it doesn’t know you and hasn’t grown accustomed to your touch.

Secondly, horses generally have a tendency to wander off if they’re not tied, making it almost impossible to brush them. Even the slightest distraction is enough for them to set off on a new adventure in a completely random direction. If you tie them to a fence, they won’t mind staying there for the duration of it.

Use Shampoo Sparingly

Some say that you should never use shampoo for washing your horse, others swear by it. The truth is somewhere in between. Your best course of action is to use it every other wash, and of course, make sure you remove excess water with the scraper. The mane, tail, and the coat in general have their own natural lubricants that give them glow and protect them. Too much shampoo can wash that layer off and leave the skin exposed. However, it’s necessary to use it once in a while to get rid of that ingrained dirt.

Be Careful With Trimming

If you’re preparing a horse for a show, you will need to follow strict trimming guidelines that they have. However, if you only want a good racing horse that is free of pests and impurities, keep this in mind:

  • Flies often lay their eggs in the long hairs below the jaw so you should consider trimming them.
  • Don’t cut the hairs around the eyes or the muzzle because they have a tactile function.
  • The same can be said for hairs inside the ears. They are used to fend off insects.
  • Older horses might have belly hair that can be shaved. It has no purpose and doesn’t look good.
  • If it’s a riding horse, you will need to bang its tail to avoid dirt and mud. The preferred length is about six inches.

Take Your Time

Proper grooming is a time-consuming process but a necessary one. If you want your horse to be clean, healthy, and happy, you will need to be thorough and careful. It’s going to take a while, especially if this is your first time, and by the end of it your muscles might be sore. Don’t worry, it gets easier. You’ll be a pro in no time.