Last Updated on October 1, 2022
Learning how to properly groom a horse is a rite of passage for all budding horse riders, and is a great way to build a unique bond with your horse. Most horses enjoy being groomed and will appreciate the time you spend each day keeping their coats clean and shiny.
Let’s find out everything you need to know about how to properly groom a horse!
Why Do Horses Need Grooming?
Grooming is a natural process for horses and in the wild they will groom themselves and each other. If you keep your horses in a herd in a paddock, you may see them displaying grooming behaviour. Horses will rub and scratch themselves on solid objects, and use their teeth to gently groom each other.
Grooming helps to keep the skin and coat of the horse shiny and healthy, by removing dead hair, dirt, and old skin cells. It also stimulates the circulation of blood, helping to keep the skin healthy.
Most horses appreciate being groomed, and spending time brushing your horse regularly will help you develop a close and affectionate bond. It is also a good opportunity to check your horse over for any cuts, swellings or other signs of ailments.
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How Often Do Horses Need Grooming?
The frequency in which a horse needs grooming will depend on each individual situation. If a horse lives out and is not being ridden regularly, it does not need a full groom everyday. However, it should still be checked over for any injuries and this is a good opportunity to brush off any dirt.
When horses are in regular ridden work, they need grooming more frequently. Any build up a dead hair order underneath the saddle or bridle areas can lead to rubbing and sore skin. A horse should be thoroughly groomed every time it is ridden.
In the spring and fall, a horse may need more frequent grooming. This is because a horse will shed its coat twice a year and will need help to remove excess hair. You will find that your horse self grooms a lot more during these periods, and it is not uncommon to see patches of hair in the field when the horse has rolled.
How To Properly Groom A Horse
When learning how to properly groom a horse, there are several steps and rules that should be followed.
Firstly, even if the horse is dirty, the coat should be dry. Brushing a wet, muddy horse will lead to sore skin. If the horse is wet, it should be left for the coat to dry before grooming commences.
Step 2 – How To Properly Groom A Horse
Next, any loose hair and dirt on the body should be loosened before brushing. The best tool for the job is a rubber curry comb which can be gently rubbed in a circular motion over the coat.
Following this, a dandy brush or body brush can be used to brush away any remaining dirt and bring a shine to the coat. Sensitive horses may not like a thick bristle brush such as a dandy brush. Care must also be taken over sensitive and bony areas such as the face and legs.
If a horse lives outside it is important not to over-groom as this strips out protective oils from the coat. Dirt and loose hair can be brushed away with a dandy brush, but the use of a body brush should be avoided.
Brushing the mane and tail is not essential, but will improve the overall appearance of the horse. The hair of fine-haired horses is more prone to snapping and a soft brush should be used to neaten the tail. For thicker-coated cold blooded breeds, it may be possible to run a comb through the tail.
Finally, every grooming session should include cleaning the hooves. Even if a horse is not groomed daily, the hooves should always be picked out. Each hoof should be lifted in turn, and a hoof pick used to scrape out mud, dirt, and any stones.
Summary – How To Properly Groom A Horse
So, as we have discovered, when learning how to properly groom a horse it is important to take into account the type of coat the horse has, as well as how dirty it is. A horse that lives outside in extreme weather conditions will have very different grooming requirements to one that lives in a milder climate or in a stable. Learning how to properly groom a horse will not only help you keep your horse clean and shiny, but will also help you develop a strong bond with your horse.
We would love to hear your thoughts on how to properly groom a horse! Do you enjoy spending time grooming your horse every day? Or perhaps your horse dislikes being groomed and you got some questions about how to make grooming more pleasurable for your horse? Leave a comment below and we will get back to you!
How do you groom a horse before and after riding?
Before riding, the coat of a horse should be clean and dry, particularly in the areas where the saddle and bridle sit. Any dirt or moisture around these areas will rub and cause the skin to become sore. After riding, any damp or sweaty areas should be gently sponged with clean water.
Where do horses like to be groomed?
All horses are different and have particular areas where they like to be groomed, and areas that they dislike being touched. Most horses particularly like being groomed in areas where they are itchy and they cannot groom themselves easily. This may be along the base of the mane, between the forelegs, or behind the ears.
What brush do you use first when grooming a horse?
When grooming a horse the brushy used first will depend on how dirty the horse is and the type of coat it has. A horse with a thick muddy coat may need a rubber curry comb to loosen dirt and hair. For a finer haired horse with minimal dirt, a softer dandy or body brush may be sufficient.
What does rubbing down a horse mean?
The term rubbing down refers to a vigorous massaging action used on horses. This loosens dead hair and dirt, as well as improving blood supply to the skin.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE