How To Bond With Your Horse Through Grooming
Every wondering why grooming your horse is so important?
If you’re a horse owner, then you may be well aware of how important it is for your horse to be comfortable with you and welcoming your presence and touch. Establishing a bond with your horse is crucial because if they don’t like you, then you’re going to have a hard time getting them to cooperate when riding them or performing any type of interaction.
Surprisingly, there are owners that don’t feel a close connection with their horse despite feeding them, speaking to them and working with the horse. There are a few factors that may be involved with why that is, but it really all boils down to quality time. If an owner is hardly ever around and has multiple other people interacting with a horse (trainer, farrier, groom, etc.), than the relationship is distant.
To alleviate the problem, you need some face time with your horse and one of the best ways this can be done is by grooming your horse yourself and making sure that they are well taken care of and pampered by you. This carries a lot of mutual benefits. For instance, there’s nothing an owner loves more than riding a clean and healthy horse. For the horse, the effort and time you put into the grooming process strengthens your bond and brings you two closer.
Why Grooming Your Horse Is So Important
Much like how we need to engage in self-care and making sure our own physical and emotional needs are met through bathing, grooming, brushing our teeth and such, horses too need daily care and attention. As a result, it is important to carve out time as an owner and groom your horse. Ideally this should be done every day but investing any amount of time and making it a routine can work wonders in forging a connection between horse and owner.
Grooming brings a great variety of benefits to your horse. The routine brushing and currying helps to massage the horse which stimulates blood circulation on their skin and can help to alleviate fungal and bacterial conditions, not to mention that it also helps release oils that give your horse that beautiful bright shine.
Grooming also provides an opportunity to thoroughly examine your horse to check for any lesions or abnormalities. Most professional horse groomers recommend not to wear gloves during the grooming process because you may miss out on any unexpected bumps or injuries that may be a cause for concern that you would not be able to feel with gloves.
Grooming your horse is best conducted outdoors in the open air if the weather permits you to do so. Grooming inside enclosed spaces may not be very enjoyable for your or your horse because of all the dust that may come about during the process and unpleasant odors.
While quality time is important, that doesn’t mean that grooming has to take hours. A respectable amount of time for a complete grooming session should be around 45 minutes or more to be able to do everything and also establish some good bonding.
Supplies Needed For Grooming Your Horse
Before you can start grooming your horse, it is important to first make sure you have all the necessary tools and supplies handy to make the process convenient and beneficial for you and your horse. While horses have different types of sensitivity and preferences, nearly every good horse grooming toolkit has the following highly recommended items:
- Curry comb (or alternatively, a grooming mitt)
- A hard body brush with stiff bristles
- A hoof pick (for picking out stones, dirt and debris from your horses hooves)
- A plastic comb for the mane and tail
- A medium bristled brush
- A soft bristled brush (also known as a “finishing brush)
- A soft towel or sponge (for wiping sensitive areas of the horse like around their face and privates)
- Horse shampoo (Optionally, you could have a separate shampoo for the body and a shampoo/condition for the mane and tail.)
- A water hose
- Scissors or an electric trimmer
- Hoof ointment
- A horse grooming spray (also known as finishing spray)
When shopping for shampoo for your horse, make sure to purchase a shampoo that is specifically meant for horses as it will carry the proper pH balance to enrich the coat of your horse and sooth their skin.
Finally, for the sake of organization, it is important to have a grooming box or stand to place all your tools in. There are plenty of grooming boxes available on the market that are designed to keep your horse grooming tools organized and handy. There are even convenient ones that come on wheels so you can move it around your horse easily and ones with magnets to keep your metal items securely staying put.
Just make sure not to rush when it comes to selecting a grooming box as you want one that keeps you organized and is mobile enough to easily take with you as you work your way around the horse.
How To Approach Grooming Your Horse: Step By Step
Before you start grooming your horse, be sure to secure your horse in place with cross ties on both sides. Doing this is an important safety precaution as it will keep both you and your horse safe and steadies the horse as your work on them.
During the grooming process, it is important to talk to your horse and stroke him gently throughout the duration to help establish bonding and connection. Grooming your horse should be viewed as an enjoyable chore for both horse and owner and should be one that is done in a gentle loving manner to keep your horse comfortable, calm and at ease.
Lastly, make sure all the tools in your grooming kit are clean as dirty tools and brushes are not helpful for your horse and defeat the purpose of grooming to keep your horse clean.
Step 1: The first thing that should be done is a thoroughly cleaning of your horses hooves. Begin by gently picking up your horse’s foot, turning it over and examining the hoof for any stones, dirt and debris.
If you have not done this before it may be difficult and awkward to try to lift your horse’s leg up to check the hoof. This will take some training and possibly your farrier can help you in techniques to make the process easier.
When you have successfully lifted your horse’s leg up, use a hoof pick to carefully scrape out any dirt and debris that may be lodged inside. Work your way around your horse until every hoof has been cleaned out.
Cleaning your horses hooves is also a good time to check for any injuries or irritations that need to be addressed before they become worse.
Step 2: After the feet have been picked out, you can proceed with bathing your horse. Again, this would be best done with your horse outside in an open area. Take your water hose and wash over your horse’s body, making sure to be respectful when doing so. Some horse’s don’t like to be spraying in the face or behind your ears so get a feel for what your horse is okay with and what they don’t light to establish a tighter connection. Observe their body language and wash them accordingly or else you both may have an unpleasant time.
Wash your horses face using a wet sponge or towel that has been wrung out. When washing the rest of the body, aim towards the tail so their face doesn’t get sprayed. It is also recommended to avoid getting your horses’ feet too wet during bathing as it can soften the hoove and cause them to break down. When bathing, you don’t have to use a water hose all the time, but can sometimes opt for a sponge bath for the sake of protecting the hooves.
Once your horse is wet top to bottom, lather up your horse with a good quality horse shampoo from their shoulders to the tail. Scrub the horse shampoo in with the help of a sponge. If done right, your horse will really enjoy this part of the bath. Use gentle motions to massage your horse.
Once finished, rinse all the shampoo off making sure not to leave any behind as it can become a source of irritation.
Step 3: After the horse has been washed you can then move forward with brushing. Start with the curry comb and run it through your horses body in a firm but controlled fashion. The curry comb will loosen any dust or grime that in within horse’s coat.
After that is done, you can then gradually move through different brushes such as a medium bristles brush to knock off the loosened up debris on your horse and then finish with the soft bristled finishing brush.
While rubbing the skin of the horse use circular movements. You should also guage your horse’s body language to note if you’re being to rough or if the brush may be too irritating to them. As mentioned earlier, brushing the coat can massage the skin and stimulate it so their natural oils come out which will give their coat a healthy sheen.
Step 4: After the main body has been brushed out, move to the mane and tail. Use a special comb or brush to detangle the hairs and if you wish, you can apply a detangler to these areas to help smooth them out. This shouldn’t be as labor intensive as the main body as excessive brushing of the mane and tail can thin out the hair.
Step 5: Finally you can start to finish up by applying any ointment and topical products to your horse. If some hair is out of place, use scissors or an electric trimmer clear it up and have your horse look neat and dapper. A specialized grooming spray should also be applied to finish up as you give your horse a finally run through with a brush to moisturize the coat and have everything looking neat and shiny.
Helpful Tips To Consider When Grooming Your Horse
- Grooming your horse is not just about keeping your horse clean and improving your bond. It’s also a good time to examine the health of your horse to make sure that there are no abnormalities like lumps, inflammation or infections. If these are neglected, your horse’s health could be in jeopardy.
- If you do happen to discover any lesions or infections, you need to immediately consult a veterinarian to check your horse out and provide remedies.
- Be careful while grooming the sensitive areas of your horse because there are chances that a horse that is uncomfortable may begin to squirm and move around and even kick at you.
- After using the grooming tools, make sure to soak them after every use in an antibacterial solution to sanitize them for next time. Neglecting this step and using dirty tools can cause irritation and possible infection to your horse.
Groom Your Horse and Build a Stronger Bond
While some novice owners may think so, riding your horse isn’t always the best way to bond with your horse. While riding is quality time spent with your horse so they can get used to you, grooming is really the most impactful way you can build a strong loving connection with your horse so they respond to you in a positive way and are comfortable being around you.
Taking a break from riding your horse and investing time in grooming can really go a long way in making your horse have more respect and appreciation for you. Grooming should also be a very communicative time. Your voice will go from being strange to being comforting and in turn they will be more cooperative and obedient to you.
Implement the tips and steps in this article and your horse is sure to improve greatly.
Hope you enjoyed our article on horse grooming, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to email or call for help.