If you own a horse, a large percentage of your time is guaranteed to be spent grooming, especially at this time of year when many horses are showing and competing. Grooming is a crucial part of good horse management and needs to happen regularly to keep your horse looking and feeling its best. A consistent approach, alongside plenty of elbow grease, will support the health of the skin and coat and help maintain its appearance.
What are the essential grooming tools?
A metal curry comb - this is a must-have item as it has many uses and is perhaps the most practical grooming tool you will own. Say goodbye to muddy horses and blankets and hello to smooth, clean coats. Invest in a good one and you may never need to buy another.
A hoof pick (with a sturdy brush attached) - should always feature in your grooming kit, along with a good polishing brush. Easily misplaced but inexpensive, it might be worth having a couple of these to your name. Routinely picking your horse’s feet (especially before riding) can help prevent lameness by removing sharp foreign objects that pose a threat to the frog and have the potential to cause bruising.
A wide-bristled mane comb - is another handy tool to help you groom out stubborn matts and tangles and restore the look and condition of unruly manes and tails. For best results, do a section at a time and use a de-tangling spray to make it easier for you.
A dandy brush (or hard brush) and a body brush (soft brush) should also form part of your grooming arsenal. A hard brush is useful for grooming away stubborn dirt and is sturdy enough to be used on the body and legs. Generally speaking, a soft brush is more suitable for use on the head and face and horses will tolerate it much better.
How often should horses be bathed?
- There is no set rule on how little or often a horse should be bathed, but if you are showing or competing your horse, you will probably want to stay on top of it a bit more. To keep the mane and tail clean and tangle-free, consider plaiting it. A coat conditioner will help lift the mud away and may even prevent it adhering to the coat when sprayed on your horse before turnout.
- Some say that too many soapy baths can dry and dull the coat, so find ways to keep your horse clean without too much rinsing. Brushing the coat can actually improve blood circulation and stimulate the body to produce its natural oils.
How do you keep white markings white?
- Maintaining the brilliance of light coats and white markings can be a difficult task, but fortunately there are ways! First of all, try to clip the hair short on the legs so it is easier to manage. Use a blue shampoo once a week to brighten the coat and accentuate the whites, lifting away any dirt that may be dulling it.
How can the tail be maintained?
- Tails and manes are particularly high maintenance, especially if they are really long or weak. Use an effective de-tangling shampoo as often as necessary and then condition, plaiting the hair and leaving it to soak in for a few minutes. Make sure it is thoroughly rinsed out before turning your horse out.
What is VioVet's best piece of grooming advice?
- Grooming your horse is only worth doing if the tools you are using are perfectly clean. There is no point using a brush that is clogged with hair, dried mud and oil, as you'll just be putting this straight back onto your horse. The best way to clean brushes is to put them in the washing machine (with soap) on a gentle cycle and allow them to air dry afterwards. The same applies to blankets and sheets - best washed on a cold cycle to prevent them shrinking - to keep your horse clean and tidy underneath. Combs can simply be wiped clean or rinsed. The Pet Hair Washing Machine Filter Bag offers a practical solution to preventing drain blockages when washing fabric items covered in horse hair. It can also be loaded with dog items including coats, beds and blankets, and is re-usable.
- Improve condition from the inside out by ensuring your horse is getting the right nutrition. A horse that is lacking in vital vitamins and isn't wormed regularly won't have a quality coat no matter how much time you spend grooming. A good skin supplement could be really beneficial to your horse - for more information, give us a call!
If you have any comments or questions on equine grooming, post them below or email me directly: [email protected]
Written by Hannah Dyball