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Horse Grooming - The Basics You Should Know

Sep 13, 2008
While it might seem that grooming a horse is purely cosmetic, it is in fact an important part of your horse's care. By caring for your horse's coat, you not only make him look better, but make him feel better too. Spending time with him while grooming is also a wonderful way to bond with your horse, letting you get to know him in a mutually enjoyable setting.

For basic grooming you need several different types of brushes. The following are some of the most common brushes:

Curry comb - a plastic or rubber brush with raised bumps on one side and a strap or loop on the back to hold your hand in

Hard brush - a wooden or plastic backed brush with bristles that are hard to the touch and not terribly flexible

Medium brush - a wooden or plastic backed brush with bristles that are firm, yet flexible

Soft brush - a wooden or plastic backed brush with soft, long bristles that are very flexible

Finishing/Dandy brush - a wooden backed brush, oval in shape, with short bristles that are tightly packed to be firm, yet soft to the touch

Hoof pick - a metal hook-shaped implement (looks like a bent screwdriver) designed to remove dirt from the hooves, sometimes has a brush on one end, may have a metal or plastic hand hold

Mane comb - a wide-toothed plastic or metal comb of variable length

Pulling comb - a wide-toothed metal comb, about 4" long and with 1" long teeth

Tail brush - much like a human hair brush

Shedding blade - a long, thin metal bar that is bent back upon itself, one edge smooth, the other serrated

To groom your horse, it is safest to tie him securely either on crossties or in his stall. While you can groom a horse loose in his stall, unless you know the horse well, tying is always safer.

Start with the curry comb. Curry your horse in a circular motion so that the brush strokes follow the direction of the coat. Feel free to use a fair bit of pressure as this acts as a massage for the horse. The curry comb brings all the dirt to the surface and loosens any shedding hair. Rubber curries are best for the summer months, while plastic ones are better for long winter coats. Avoid currying the legs and face as they are more sensitive and need a softer brush.

Next take the medium brush and brush the entire coat in the direction of the hair growth. Use short strokes and flick the brush at the end of each stroke. This dislodges the dirt and removes it from the coat. You can use a hard brush on the legs if necessary to break up any caked on mud, but generally hard brushes are too firm for the rest of the coat.

A medium brush can be used on the face, but most horses prefer a soft brush. The soft brush is used over the horse's entire coat and is used to flick off any remaining dirt and dust. It produces a nice shine and for everyday grooming is the perfect finishing touch. If you are showing, you might want to use a finishing or dandy brush to finish the job.

The mane should be combed out regularly with a mane comb. Pulling combs work well too, but may break more hair than a plastic mane comb. You can comb the tail with a mane comb if you'd like, but many horse owners prefer to use a brush. You can buy specialty brushes for horses, but brushes made for human hair work just as well and often cost less.

Finally, every time you groom, you should pick out the horse's feet. Start out at the point where the frog meets the heel, and clear out the grooves beside the frog. Be sure to clear the grooves thoroughly as stones wedged in the groove can bruise the frog and cause lameness. Then clean the rest of the sole, clearing any dirt packed around the shoes (if any). If your hoof pick has a brush on it, you can use the brush to sweep the rest of the dirt from the hoof.

Horses should be groomed daily if at all possible. If you are riding, it is important to groom both before and after every ride, paying careful attention to the feet. A well groomed horse is a healthy horse. Both you and he will feel better for a good grooming.
About the Author
Lydia K Kelly is a writer for HorseClicks, classifieds of horses for sale Indiana, horses for sale Iowa, horses for sale Kansas and other states. Lydia is also a featured author at www.ArticleKing.com
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