As a horse owner, grooming your horse is an important activity to conduct, not just for the sake of keeping them in good condition but to take the time to really bond with them and nurture that relationship. However, if you want to connect well with your horse and make grooming a mutually enjoyable experience, it’s important to have the right tools to work with.
Poorly-designed and low-quality tools can make things uncomfortable for your horse and may make them grow a disdain for the activity and for you. Having the right tools on hand can make grooming easy and hassle-free for you and keep your horse is in good spirits when it’s time to groom.
In this article we will cover the most important grooming tools you should have when developing a grooming kit for your horse. When shopping for grooming tools and supplies, there are a lot of choices out there that it is very easy to get overwhelmed. Grooming kits should not have fancy gimmicks in it and should be kept very simple so if you are looking for the nitty gritty, this guide provides all you need.
The Bare Essentials For Horse Grooming
When it comes to putting together a grooming kit for your horse the bare minimum needed for the horse to be well taken care of is the following:
- Curry comb or grooming mitt.
- Body brushes (preferably stiff, soft and medium bristled)
- Mane and tail comb.
- Hoof pick.
- Sponge or soft cloth.
The above items as an absolute must but there are some supplemental items that could also be helpful such as a grooming spray, an ointment for hooves (prescribed by vet or farrier), and a pair of scissors or an electric trimmer for clipping stray, out of place hairs
Curry combs are an essential grooming tool for horses because they help to loosen dirt and grime, dead hair and other debris as well as provide muscle and skin circulation. Curry combs come in different materials such as a metal, rubber or plastic. The type you choose depends on personal preference and how your horse responds to the comb.
Rubber and plastic curry combs are more highly recommended than metal ones which are not good for horses with skin sensitivity. Rubber combs have small teeth that are soft to the touch while plastic combs can be a little tougher and may be better suited for long winter coats or difficult to remove particles like that of dried up manure or mud stains. Alternatively, you can use a grooming mitt if your horse responds to it better than a curry comb.
Another must for the grooming kit for every horse owner is multiple body brushes. You may be thinking, why not just one brush? Most of us humans may have multiple brushes that we use, so the same is the case for a much larger horse. A horse should have a hard, medium and soft bristled brush because each brush type serves a specific role in keeping the horse’s coat clean, clear and looking great.
The stiff bristled brush is mainly used right after the use of a curry comb to brush away all the loosen dirt and hair from the horse, it is also good for flicking off dried mud off of the horse’s legs and hoof walls. Depending on the type of stiff brush, the bristles may be comprised of synthetic fibers or made out of coarse natural animal hair. If you have a horse that is very sensitive, a super stiff brush may not be a good idea so it’s best to shop around and feel the levels of stiffness of these types of brushes until you find one that suits your horse.
A medium brush is just that, it is softer than a stiff bristled brush but not too soft. These can be very comforting for a horse after running through their body with a stiff brush. In some cases, again depending on the horse, a medium may be a preferred brush over the stiff.
Finally there’s the soft bristled brush that is often called the “finishing brush” since it closes out the body brushing phase of a grooming session. The soft, fine bristles of this brush are positioned very closely together and help to remove fine dust and other particles, leaving the horses hair nice and smooth and bringing out it’s natural shine. Just like the previous brushes, they can very in material and handles so you should choose one that feels comfortable for you to groom and feels comfortable for your horse.
The most important part in a grooming kit for your horse’s well-being is the hoof pick. This is because a hoof pick helps to remove manure, mud, rocks and other debris from a horse’s hooves that could cause discomfort pain and potential infections and disease if not regularly picked out.
Hoof picks come in a wide range of styles: those with brushes for flicking out small particles that are difficult to remove and those that have different handles to make it more comfortable to hold. No matter what type you choose, it’s important to keep a sturdy one in your grooming bag or box, your horse will thank you!
Mane and Tail Comb
A well kept mane and tail completes the look of your horse, so a comb especially made for these parts is another essential item. A comb will help help to undo any tangles or knots from your horse’s mane and tail. Something that can be really useful when utilizing the comb is applying a detangler to the mane and/or tail to make it easier to detangle and to make the hair shine once you’re all finished.
Sponge or Soft Cloth
This item is also necessary to keep wipe your horse’s eyes or nostrils and keep those areas clean as well as their mouths which may be foaming especially after a long ride. You may need multiple for different parts of the body to wipe off sweat and clean up other sensitive areas.
After gathering all these items, you will need a box or tote to hold them all into and this can also be essential as there are different types of grooming boxes out there that can keep you organized and those that are made with long lasting materials.
Getting To Grooming
Once you have all your essential supplies gathered, it is now time to get to using them on your horse. While it is important to have the right tools, it’s doubly important to use them properly so they do their job effectively while keeping your horse calm and comfortable.
1st Step: Pick Out Your Horses Hooves
First things first, after a day of activity, it is important to start grooming with cleaning out all four of your horse’s hooves. This is something that should never be neglected for the health and wellbeing of your horse. Perhaps the toughest part for a first timer is to lift the hooves up.
Start by sliding your hand down your horse’s front leg. Based on the training of a farrier, squeeze the back of the leg gently and give a command to get your horse to lift their leg which they will respond to.
Hold the hoof steadily and use the hoof pick to knock loose any dirt, stones and debris. This is also a good time to check for any injuries or infections. Take note of any issues with the hoof that you can bring up to your farrier and see what the plan of action should be to resolve the problem. After that you can gently place their hoof down and move on to the next hoof until all four hooves have been picked out.
2nd Step: Curry Comb Your Horse
Next, take your curry comb or a grooming mitt and begin to run it through your horse’s hair coat to loosen up dirt, loose hair and other debris. Move the comb in a circular motion vigorously making sure to be gentle around sensitive areas like the shoulder, legs and belly. Observe the body language of your horse as they can indicate that you’re brushing to hard by brushing their tail or making agitated movements.
Currying is also a good time to check the skin of any wounds or skin conditions that may need attention. Depending on the severity to can treat it yourself or contact a vet.
3rd Step: Comb the Mane and Tail
Give your horse a full, beautiful mane and tail by combing their mane and tail. Using either a mane comb or brush, start untangling hairs from the bottom strands and comb downwards. Holding the hair in one hand and brushing with the other is the best way to go. Stand off to the side to avoid the possibility of your horse kicking. This is also a good time to use a grooming spray to aid in detangling hair and taming it so it lays flat.
4th Step: Remove Dirt with Body Brushes
After you’ve gone through their body with a curry comb, now it’s time to brush your horse. Start with a stiff brush to whisk off the debris loosened by the curry comb. Start on one side and use a sweeping motion in the direction your horse’s hair grows. You can then move towards using a brush with medium stiffness. Brushing, as noted earlier, is also a good time to examine your horse for any peculiar marks, cuts or lesions which you should then address.
You can then move on to the finishing brush which will be soft bristled and is gentle enough to be used on your horse’s face, ears and neck area. The fine bristles help get those microscopic dust particles out and smooth out the hair and bring out the shine on the coat of your horse.
Just because it is called the finishing brush doesn’t mean you are totally finished grooming, though.
5th Step: Clean the Horses Eyes, Ears and Muzzle.
You may have done a thoroughly cleaning of your horse’s mane, tail and body but you can’t forget to also clean your horses sensitive areas which also need attention. Take a moist sponge or a soft textured cloth to wipe your horses eye and muzzle and clean off any dirt or debris that may be in these areas. A cloth may be more preferred since these can be more easily thrown in the laundry and reused.
As always, examine these areas for any abnormalities. Start with the eyes, and take note of any excessive tearing up, redness or inflammation. If there is an eye infection, you will need to take action quickly to ensure it doesn’t get worse.
Check the eyes for any dirt or seed heads. Horse’s can be really sensitive when their ears are touches so make sure to proceed with care and go slow and steady, trying not to pinch or pull any of their hairs. The more you do this, your horse may come around to enjoying the attention you give their ears during the grooming process.
6th Step: Finishing Touches
You’re almost at the finish line. When you have got to this point, you should apply finishing touches to ensure your horse looks and feels great and any issues you discovered during the grooming session are addressed. For instance, apply hoof ointment to your horse to keep their hooves moist. Your farrier should make the recommendation of what type of ointment would be best for your horse.
You should also take this time to apply any fly spray if necessary to keep those irritating flying and biting pests off your horse during the day. Sunscreen should also be placed on them if it is particularly sunny and hot. Again, your farrier should be consulted to help you direct you to the right products.
Grooming your horse shouldn’t be seen as a shore but as a time to really bond with your horse and show them that you care. However, you can’t do this unless you have the right products. We hope this helped you in making the right choices on what to have to make sure your horse is groomed with the right tools and in the right way.