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Proper Grooming of Horses

Aug 17, 2007
Grooming is a subject of importance, and the adage that a good grooming is as good as a feed is true.

The dandy brush is used for removing rough mud, and must be used gently on horses with tender skins when they have been clipped.

The body brush does the main work. The groom should stand well back from the horse and lean the weight of his body on to the brush, which should penetrate to the skin. It is worked in the direction that the coat lays. By its action the grease is removed from the skin and the pores rendered more open to exude sweat when work is being done. The brush is kept clean with the curry comb, and this should be the only function of the curry comb in grooming.

The water brush has longer hairs than the body brush. It is used for the mane and tail, and is also admirably adapted for the dry brushing of the head and legs.

A hoof pick is another essential tool which cannot be used too frequently when a horse is in the stable.

A sweat-scraper is useful when a horse is brought in hot or when he comes in very wet.

Straw wisps and hard hay wisps are also used for drying and stimulating the skin and acting as a massage to the muscles.

The stable rubber, which is a great favorite among grooms, is nothing but a duster. It may be used to give a final polish to the coat, but it does not take the place of a body brush, and its excessive use is to be deprecated.

The principal grooming of the day should take place after work, and a thorough grooming will take one man an hour. A brisk grooming gives the skin a healthy-glow in the same way as the brisk rub of a Turkish towel does to a man.

Grooming of this kind diminishes the chance of a horse breaking out into a cold sweat.

The eyes, nostrils and dock should be cleaned with a moist sponge each time the horse is groomed.

Every week the sheath should be cleaned with a sponge and water.

When a horse returns from work the girths should be loosened, the saddle raised and replaced, and the girths again done up slackly. The groom should water the horse, do the other parts and then remove the saddle. By this time the back will have cooled down slowly, regained circulation and be ready for grooming.

Quartering is an abbreviated form of grooming in which the roller is not removed. The eyes, nose and dock are sponged and the rugs turned back so that the quarters and then the forehand can be groomed.

The feet should be picked out at least twice a day, and three times if the horse is bedded on peat or sawdust.

A common vice of grooms is the washing of a horse's legs. This should never be allowed as it is most likely to cause mud fever and cracked heels. When a horse comes in with wet, muddy legs the rough mud should be removed with a straw wisp and the legs loosely bandaged with flannel bandages. When they are thoroughly dry the mud should be brushed out with a dry brush.

As a preventive of mud fever it is advisable to smear the legs and heels with Vaseline before hunting in wet weather.

The shoes should be inspected daily to see that they are tight and should be removed every four weeks at least and replaced or renewed.
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