Pointers for proper horse grooming

July 29, 2015

Whether you intend to hitch your horse to a plow or show it in a ring, good grooming is essential to your animal's good health and appearance. With careful, consistent grooming you can build trust with your animal.

Pointers for proper horse grooming

Brushing your horse

A good brushing before every workout prevents painful hard-to-cure skin injuries caused by dirt matted beneath the harness, saddle or other tack. Another brushing is necessary after a hard day's work to remove the sweat and dust.

  • Use a currycomb, a stiff-bristled brush and a brush or comb for the mane and tail
  • Use the currycomb first, gently combing it over the horse's neck and sides to remove dirt caked on the surface. Avoid using it near bony, sensitive areas, such as the legs, where a bump from its metal or rubber ridges would be extremely painful
  • Brush the coat to remove dirt and distribute the natural oils
  • Always brush in the direction in which the hair grows
  • Pay special attention to the lower legs and ankles which can become very dirty; they are sensitive areas that need slow, gentle treatment
  • Wipe the horse's face and then the area beneath its tail with a clean cloth wrung out in warm water
  • A bit of mild soap can be added to the water for washing the tail area if it is particularly dirty, but be sure to rinse the soap off thoroughly
  • Sponges are sometimes used instead of a cloth, but they are more likely to spread disease because they are difficult to sterilize
  • Gently comb or brush the mane and tail
  • When doing the tail, stand beside the horse, not behind where you might be kicked

Caring for your horses' hooves

  • If the horse is confined in a paddock or stall, its hooves should be cleaned daily to remove any manure, debris or stones embedded between the shoe and the frog (the sensitive pad at the back of the foot)
  • Check to be sure the shoes have not worked loose and that the hoof walls are not overgrown
  • Hooves should be trimmed and reshod every six to eight weeks
  • On an unshod horse part of an overgrown hoof can break off unevenly, causing a crack in the hoof
  • A farrier will cut and file the hoof walls to just the right length and shape them before fitting a new set of horseshoes. Never attempt to do this job yourself

Drenching dos and don'ts

  • Horses should be drenched from four to 12 times a year for worm control
  • You can apply paste drenches to the horse yourself, but regular stomach tube drenching by a veterinarian assures a better result
  • Inspect horses regularly for external parasites such as bot-fly eggs. These should be treated in late autumn or after the first frost

When it comes to grooming, it's important to be careful and considerate of your animals. Groom your horsesdaily and talk kindly and quietly to them so they learn to recognize and trust your voice.

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