Being a responsible horse owner involves grooming your horse.
The kind of grooming I am going to be talking about here is the everyday kind, not the show ring kind.
I am not including the mane, tail, or hooves here. They will also get daily care. But what I would like to focus on is the brushes you will need for the body of the horse.
A large part of my training program is for riders to know how to properly groom a horse.
When you groom a horse, you become familiar with his body.
You will know if there are any bumps, cuts or bruises. You will find any sore spots on his back or legs, and you become more familiar with your horses sensitive spots.
I find out how much leg a horse is going to require me to use by his reaction to grooming.
Some horses like it when you curry them extra hard. Other horses will jump out of their skin if you rub them too hard.
Throughout the grooming process you should watch your horse's expression and his tell tale ears.
A horse will flick his ears back and forth to listen to you. It's when he pins them back and gets wide eyed, then it means trouble.
If he suddenly pops his head in the air, beware.
I always rest my left hand on the horse and groom with my right hand or vice versa.
Our first brush is the rubber curry.
Use this brush first, and groom your horse in a circular motion.
Starting up at the top of the horse’s neck work your way back to his tail. Don't forget his belly! Do not brush the legs or face with this brush because those areas are too sensitive.
The brush pictured above is called a Sof-Touch brush by Grooma.
It is a curry that can be used on the horses legs and face as well as his body. But use it with caution on those areas, very gently. You don't want to injure or frighten your horse. This brush is very soft and made especially for the sensitive areas.
Next, in the series is a stiff bristle brush. This brush should be used to brush away all of the dirt that the rubber curry brought up to the surface. Use this brush in the same areas that were used with the first curry, everywhere excluding the legs and face. Brush in the direction the hair grows.
Always work from front to back, that way the dirt and hair flies to the back, and you brush it off and away from your horse.
The last body brush is a finishing brush.
This brush is for the horse's entire body, legs, and face. A finishing brush is very soft and is used to shine the horse’s coat. It will put the finishing touches on your beautifully groomed horse. Use this brush in the direction the hair grows for the best effect.
When brushing a horse's face be sure to make him feel secure.
I keep my body very close to his face and almost put his face under my arm as I softly brush his face.
You horse’s eyes should close, and he will lower his head for you to brush his face. If he lifts his head, he is feeling insecure. Test where you need to place your hands, and stay where he can see you. Stay to the side of his face and not directly in front of him.
Before you walk away from the horse, if you run your bare hand under his belly, and check behind his tail to make sure that horse is completely clean with no mud or dirt spots, you will have a properly groomed horse.
How long you spend grooming will depend on your horse.
I used to curry my halter horses an hour every day. 30 minutes before our workout, and then another 30 minutes after the workout.
My riding horses the total grooming time would be anywhere from ten to 30 minutes. Depending on the time of year and how clean they were.
One thing that does not change, do it everyday.
These days I'm training more riders than horses, so my riders do most of the grooming. I have to say I very much enjoy grooming; I definitely use that time to bond with a horse.
Remember to watch your horse’s expression as you groom because this is a time that you will learn a lot about your horse.
By following this routine, you will have a happy, healthy, properly groomed horse.