How To Groom A Horse: Step By StepMarch 13 2016
By The Honest Trainer
Sometimes experienced equestrians forget that even simple things like grooming need to be explained. Enjoy our step-by-step guide on how to groom!
- Step 1: Restraining your horse
Horses can be groomed loose in their stalls or paddocks, but for a beginner it can be dangerous. If the horse is restrained or tied, they are less likely to walk away or step on the person working with them. Whether your horse is in their paddock or stall you will need to put on their halter (head collar) and lead them to cross ties by the lead-rope attached. Cross ties are two ropes that extend from the wall of the stable aisle and attach to the lower side rings of the horse’s halter. Once your horse’s halter is attached to the cross ties, unclip the lead rope and set it aside, so the horse can’t step on it and scare themselves. Now the horse should be safely attached to the wall of the stable aisle and you can begin to groom them.
- Step 2: Hoof Picking
Picking debris out of the horse’s hooves is very important for their overall health and soundness. The horse’s hooves can become packed with mud, rocks and manure and need to be cleaned out daily. If debris is left in the horse’s hooves, they can become unsound from a stone bruise, or acquire a fungus from manure and mud.
- Step 3: Currycomb
The first step to brushing the coat of the horse is the currycomb. The currycomb tool is usually a black rubber circle with soft spikes. This tool is used to loosen debris that is caught in the horse’s coat. The currycomb is used on all body parts of the horse, except their face due to sensitivity. To loosen dirt, rub the currycomb tool in a circular motion, starting at the horse’s neck and moving toward their tails. Be sure to be gentile on the sensitive leg and belly skin. Some hair and dirt will come loose in the coat, which is normal.
- Step 4: Hard Brush
Once the dirt is loosened by the currycomb you will need to remove it with the hard brush. The hard brush is the stiffest brush in your grooming kit. This brush is to be used on all body parts of the horse, except their face due to sensitivity. Start at the top of the horse’s neck and brush backward toward their tail, in the direction the hair grows. Try to remove as much large debris as possible and the rest will be removed with softer brushes.
- Step 5: Medium Brush
The medium brush is the next stiffest brush in your grooming kit. Use the medium brush over the areas that you used the hard brush to remove the remaining debris. The medium brush can also be used on the horse’s face.
- Step 6: Finishing Brush
The finishing brush is the softest body brush in your grooming kit. This brush is used to create a shine on the horse’s coat. Use the brush slowly in the direction the hair grows to bring up the natural oils in the horse’s coat. You can also use a shining spray product to get the coat extra shiny.
- Step 7: Mane and Tail
The horse’s mane can be brushed daily with a wide toothed comb, especially if the hair is kept short. The horse’s tail should only be brushed once in a while with a comb and conditioning spray. This is because too much brushing will lead to hair loss and a thin looking tail.
In traditional fashion the mane should be brushed over the right side of the horse’s neck. Use the comb to pull out any loose debris and knots.
To brush the tail, start with small sections and brush the bottom out first, working your way up. It is recommended to use conditioning spray so that limited hair is pulled out, as it takes a long time to grow back.
- Step 8: Finishing Touches
Now your horse should be clean and ready for tack. There are some extra steps that can be taken if at a show or if desired. Some examples are polishing the hooves with oil, or braiding the horse’s mane or tail.
First, start with the horse’s front left hoof. Stand with your left shoulder against the horse, facing backward. Run your hand down the back of the horse’s leg and they should pick up their hoof for you. If the horse does not pick up their hoof, gently squeeze the tendons on the back of their lower leg. Once the horse picks up their hoof, hold it with your left hand. Use the hoof pick tool with your right hand and pull debris out backward toward the horse’s rear. The horse might lean on your hand for some support, but try not to drop the hoof until you have finished picking. Be careful not to pick the frog of the hoof, which is the fleshy triangle shape part in the center. Once you have cleared all debris, slowly let the hoof go and the horse will step on it. Be careful that your feet are not under the horse’s hoof when you let go, as they will step on you. Repeat this process for the horse’s left hind leg, and then move to the other side. When picking out the right side hooves, put your right shoulder against the horse and face backward. Use your right hand to hold the hoof and your left to use the hoof pick tool.