If you’ve never groomed a horse before, looking at that pile of mysterious looking equipment, brushes and combs can be overwhelming. How do you use these tools and when do you use them? Should you start with your horse’s mane or with his hooves?
While people may all groom their horses a bit differently, there are some steps that should not vary. The first, and most important, step you should take when you are grooming your horse is to be sure he is safely and securely attached to the cross ties. Be sure that your horse’s halter is properly fastened and hook the halter to both cross ties before you pick up any of the equipment.
Now that your horse is secured, it is time to begin the grooming process. If your horse isn’t fond of having his legs picked up, you may want to get the hard part over first, instead of waiting until later, when he will be more impatient. Obviously, if your horse doesn’t want you to pick up his foot, you’re not going to be able to, unless he is thrown off balance a bit. However, most horses are fairly cooperative, since they know from experience that you will be able to get rid of all those painful pebbles.
Simply stand beside your horse so that you are in line with his left shoulder and are facing his back. Run your hand down his leg and he will hopefully lift his foot. If he doesn’t, you will have to lean against his shoulder to throw him off balance and then lift his leg. Be careful not to bend his leg at an odd angle.
Brace the hoof with one hand and use the hoof pick to clean out all of the dirt, pebbles and other debris lodged in the hoof. Remember not to scrape the pick over the frog itself, as this part of the hoof is much more tender and sensitive than the other parts. Repeat this process with the other three hooves.
Now, it is time to remove clods of dirt and loose hair from the horse’s body. To do this, you will use your curry comb. Work in a circular pattern, going from the top of the horse’s neck, down to his chest, over his shoulder, along his back, on his stomach, over his rump and down on to the upper part of his back left leg.
Switch to the right side of your horse and repeat the process. Be especially careful when you use the curry comb on your horse’s sides and stomach. Most horses are very sensitive in these areas. If your horse can’t tolerate the curry comb on his sides and stomach, you may need to use a dandy brush on these areas, instead. If your horse has a lot of mud on his legs, you should use the curry comb or dandy brush on his legs, as well. Again, be very careful, as the legs of a horse are extremely sensitive.
Once the dirt has been pulled to the surface of the horse’s coat by the curry comb, it is time to use the body brush. Repeat the same pattern you used to move the curry comb over his body, and brush in short, brisk movements, with the grain of the horse’s coat. Stop brushing every few strokes to clean the brush with your curry comb.
Once your horse’s coat looks sleek and glossy, it is time to move on to the head. Carefully use the damp sponge to wipe his face, including the inside of his nostrils. Most horse owners also groom the horse’s head with the body brush. If your horse doesn’t like the brush near his head, you can skip this step, as the sponge should keep him clean enough.
Finally, you will need to comb out the horse’s mane and tail. Remember, you should never stand behind your horse. Always lift his tail to the side to comb it, instead.