Why you shouldn’t skip a grooming session!

Regular grooming doesn’t just keep your horse looking dapper – it enhances his health and wellbeing, has been shown to have a calming effect, offers a regular opportunity for bonding, and so much more.

Regular grooming is an essential component of caring for your horse. Most of us know that the three primary steps are brushing his coat, combing his mane and tail, and taking care of his feet. But do you know the many benefits of these steps, and how you can make the most out of your grooming sessions?

Massage (curry)

Begin with a rubber curry comb. Rub your horse all over in circular motions, being gentle around any injuries or where there is little muscle or fat (avoid the lower limbs). This helps loosen any dirt and dead skin and remove old hair. It also stimulates blood flow, relaxes your horse’s muscles and enhances shine by ultimately helping to make the hair lay flat.

Remove any stubborn dirt (flicking)

If your horse is particularly dirty, use a mud brush (dandy brush) to flick out any packed-on mud clumps. You can also perform this flicking by using a medium bristle brush if you are grooming a particularly sensitive or fine-skinned horse. Flick with hard, short strokes to remove any mud near the skin, eliminate dander and distribute skin oils.

Always start from the neck and move towards the rump in a flicking motion, working in the same direction as the hair growth. You can brush your horse’s face, too, using smaller, softer brushes. Gently brushing your horse’s face stimulates relaxation!

Don’t skip the tail

It is essential to regularly brush out a horse’s tail to keep it beautifully shiny and healthy, while also promoting its growth. Using a comb, begin from the bottom of the tail and gradually work your way up, being extra gentle when working out any tangles. You can use a detangler or tail conditioner if there are tricky mats and tangles.

Just like human heads, horse tails typically lose a certain number of hairs each day (approximately five to ten). If you go too long without brushing your horse’s tail, these loose hairs will accumulate, leading to knots that tug on the base of the tail and ultimately result in more hair loss. So regular brushing will keep her tail thick and luscious!

Grooming the mane

Even the most challenging of horse manes can look more neat, attractive and healthy with some regular grooming.

Firstly, gently brush and comb out any knots. Then, focus on removing any debris using a stiff brush or comb, followed by trimming off any matted or split hairs. If you want to further tame your horse’s mane, you can try using a little beeswax pomade, which helps to make it smoother.

Brushing her main has the same effects as brushing her tail – it keeps knots to a minimum and maintains thickness!

Take care of his hooves

A lot can happen to a horse’s feet between grooming, and it’s essential to keep them clean and healthy.

Be sure to check for stones, wounds, abscesses (in their sole) and thrush of the frogs. Also, while picking his feet, assess the shape of the hoof walls. If his hooves are cracked or dry, it may be necessary to use a hoof moisturiser to improve the condition of the hooves. Using a lanolin-based conditioner on his hooves once a week can help keep them protected and in good, healthy condition.

Treat skin issues and apply a coat conditioner

When grooming your horse, be sure to include any necessary additional care should he develop any skin conditions, the most common of which is called rain rot (bacterial dermatitis). Rain rot causes a horse’s hair to grow brittle and form tufts, then fall out, often leaving areas of skin inflammation where the hair has been lost . If this occurs, use a medicated shampoo and after thoroughly drying the area, apply a topical skin healing cream. Consult a vet if the problem persists.

Some horses naturally have hair that is dry and breaks easily, and using a spray-on conditioner is a great way to solve this issue. It keeps your horse’s coat shiny and bright, and leaves them feeling much more comfortable.

Use this basic grooming guide to keep your horse healthy and comfortable. A good grooming session should take around 45 minutes to an hour, which also doubles as a great time to bond and show affection!

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Emma Williams is a professional writer and pet parent who has written for big publishers including Canadian Dogs Annual, The Telegraph, Home Beautiful and Marriage.com. She enjoys sharing her knowledge on pet health, lifestyle topics and animal behavior.
Having ridden her first pony at the age of three, a continued love of horses sparked Jess' interest in becoming a vet, and she qualified from the Nottingham School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. Jess has worked in equine veterinary practices in Lancashire and North Yorkshire ever since, including undertaking an internship at Rainbow Equine Hospital. She enjoys all aspects of her role in clinical practice, including ambulatory and hospital work, and also has a passion for client communication and education – she regularly runs owner education workshops in her practice in North Yorkshire.