Grooming should be an important part of your horse's daily routine.
In addition to removing dirt, hair and a build-up of oil, grooming has a number of benefits, including:
Aiding circulation: a rubber curry comb used in a circular motion all over the body is a great stimulant for blood flow. Increased circulation can help promote healing and reduce swellings.
Helping you map your horse: grooming him daily will allow you to notice any changes, swellings, cuts, heat or unusual lumps and bumps. Even if you haven't got time to give your horse a thorough groom, you should run your hands down the legs every day, feeling for anything that is unusual, such as inflammation or heat.
Promoting healthy skin and coat: a shiny coat comes from the inside out and a balanced diet is essential. But regular, thorough grooming is equally important for keeping the coat looking its best.
Building muscle: incorporating techniques such as strapping will help the muscle tone of both you and your horse! Strapping should be introduced gradually into your routine and only be done on major muscle groupings, such as the topline, shoulder and quarters.
Enhancing your relationship: regular grooming helps develop the bond between you and your horse. This is especially good for young or nervous horses, allowing them to build their trust before you ask anything more of them.
10 grooms' tips for a well-groomed horse
1 “Always start by picking out your horse's feet to check for trapped stones and signs of bruising on the sole,” recommends Liz Burton. “Invest in a few key items, such as a decent body brush, dandy brush and rubber curry comb. It is the time spent grooming and your technique that matters, not how many tools you use.”
2 Keep your kit clean – there is no point in grooming a horse with dirty brushes.
3 Brush your horse after you have ridden, when he is slightly warm. “This is more effective, as the pores are open, so it is easier to lift grease from the coat and remove any loose hairs,” says Louise Gillings, of Quainton Stud in Buckinghamshire.
4 Be efficient. It sounds obvious, but the quicker and longer your brush strokes are, the faster the job gets done.
5 After grooming, add a few drops of baby oil or coat shine to a bucket of hot water, then submerge a clean flannel or towel and wring out until it is barely damp.
“Rub the horse over using a circular motion, paying extra attention to areas that collect grease, such as the crest and rump,” says Heather Shaw, who freelances for showing rider Robert Walker. “Don't forget places like the knees and hocks. Hot clothing a couple of times a week helps keep the coat super-shiny and cuts a few corners when it comes to grooming.”
6 “Don't brush tails every day – they'll just become thin,” says groom Lucy Scott.
7 Spend 10 minutes a week keeping on top of pulling manes and tails, and trimming feathers.
8 Wash your brushes each week in an antibacterial/antifungal wash.
“Brushes are a great source of cross-contamination and can spread things like ringworm, so it is important to factor this into your routine” says Tyler Richards.
9 Don't put a dirty rug on a clean horse. “It can be impractical to wash heavy rugs regularly, so buy a thin summer sheet that can fit in the washing machine and use it under the rug,” advises John Burton. “This will ensure your horse stays dirt-free for longer.”
10 Save time by having a routine, suggests Jo Hitcher. “I have my own routine, which means I can be efficient, leaving time for other jobs like tack cleaning.”
Top Tip: If you have small hands you may find brushes designed for children to use are easier to hold.
This is an extract from an article that was originally published in Horse magazine's July 2012 issue.
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