Horses are majestic creatures, but they need to be groomed to look their best. Here's how to groom a horse, step by step.
Every equine enthusiast knows that horses are naturally beautiful animals—but a horse's mane, tail, and body still needs to be maintained to keep up its appearance. Still, horse grooming is about more than just looks. A horse's coat must be brushed as an essential part of proper horse care. However, it may be difficult for beginner riders to figure out just how to groom a horse and what supplies are needed.
Proper grooming should become a part of a horse owner's regular routine, whether they are riding for fun or participating in equestrian competitions. Learning the basics of horse care—including picking, currying, and brushing—will keep your horse healthy and happy. Not sure where to start? Follow this step-by-step guide to learn when and how to groom a horse.
How Often Should You Groom Your Horse?
Wild horses naturally help groom each other in their herds, but stabled horses don't always have that option. That's why it's so important for horse owners to take over all grooming needs. A regular grooming routine gives you a chance check for chafing, take note of your horse's weight, and uncover any abnormalities while you look over your horse's body, legs, and face. Brushing and cleaning also helps keep your horse's hair and skin healthy, reducing medical issues and increasing their overall well-being. Plus, it's a great way for you and your horse to bond!
Horse newbies may wonder when they should groom their horse and how often. Many riders make it a habit to groom their horses once a week, but it really depends on how much you ride, what time of year it is, and where your horse spends the majority of their day. For example, if your horse spends a lot of time outside running in fields and playing with other horses, they may not need to be groomed as often as a horse who's usually kept in a stall.
During the winter, be careful not to groom your horse too much. Daily grooming can actually be harmful for your horse if it's not done properly. A horse's coat has natural oils that help keep their coat waterproof and these oils can be stripped by too much brushing, leaving their skin and body exposed to the elements.
What Supplies Do You Need to Groom a Horse?
Before you groom your horse, gather all of your supplies and have them close by. This will save you time (and energy!) so you're not scrambling to find a brush or sponge halfway through the process. Here are the basic tools you'll need in your horse grooming kit:
- Hoof pick
- Curry comb
- Shedding blade
- Stiff brush
- Soft brush
- Mane comb
- Tail brush
- Detangler spray
- Damp sponge
- Sweat scraper
- Hoof oil
How to Groom a Horse, Step by Step
According to US Equestrian, horse owners should follow this step-by-step process for horse grooming:
Clean your horse's hooves.
After you tie up your horse, begin the grooming process by picking its hooves. It's important to get all the particles out of your horse's feet, and this also gives you a chance to check their shoes and make sure there are no cracks. Horses can develop thrush without proper cleaning, so picking their hooves allows you to check for any signs of infection.
Loosen debris with a curry comb.
Next, you should brush your horse with a curry comb. The comb helps relax their muscles while removing any loose hair and dirt that may be stuck in your horse's coat. Use circular motions in the opposite direction of hair growth to let up any debris clinging to your horse. You can also use a shedding blade during this step.
Use a stiff brush.
After currying, go over your horse's entire body with a stiff brush. Some horses don't like the feel of the brush's bristles on sensitive areas, so be careful around your horse's face, belly, and legs. They may also lift their legs to kick while going over their bony areas with a dandy brush.
Smooth over your horse with a soft brush.
When you're finished with the stiff brush, repeat the same process with the soft brush. Be sure to go over the horse's legs, face, and body, brushing in the direction of their hair growth with short strokes. Brushing your horse with a body brush is important for its overall health and allows you to assess how it's doing.
Brush the mane and tail.
Start at the base of the horse's tail and work your way toward the top. You can use a detangler spray to remove stubborn tangles from the horse's loose hair. Be gentle with your horse's mane and tail so you do not pull any hairs out.
Wash your horse's face and body.
After brushing, take a damp rag and wipe down your horse's body, lower legs, and nose. The rag can also be used to wipe around the horse's eyes to remove any dirt or debris. You may want to use a sweat scraper after this step to remove excess water.
Apply hoof oil.
Some farriers recommend applying hoof oil to horses' feet who live in drier climates and hoof hardeners for horses in wetter climates. After you apply the hoof oil, your basic horse grooming session is complete!
What tools do you use to groom your horse? Tell us on our Wide Open Pets Facebook page.