Grooming a horse is not just a way to keep your horse clean, healthy and hygienic: It’s also a way to bond with your horse and check for any irregularities or diseases. Here’s how to do it properly.
Grooming mitt or curry comb
Mane and tail comb, preferably the plastic kind
Body brush with stiff bristles
Fine, soft-bristled finishing brush
Clean sponge or soft cloth
Use a lead rope and halter to bring your horse to the appropriate place where it can be cleaned.
Tie the rope loosely to a railing to prevent your horse from going anywhere or moving around.
Start with your horse’s face using the fine, soft-bristled brush. Be thorough, let your hand be gentle but firm when cleaning. Avoid getting the brush into the horse’s eyes. Brush the forelock.
Inspect the horse’s eyes and ears to make sure that they don’t have anything in them, ie. a foreign object or signs of swelling, wounds or infection. Make sure to check for any drainage in the horse’s eyes.
Use the body brush with stiff bristles to brush the horse’s body, starting from the neck going downwards to the horse’s rump, belly and legs.
Check for wounds, bumps, swelling, redness or anything that seems out of place or needing treatment.
Use your hands to run them up and down each horse’s leg. Check for swelling.
Spray conditioner or hair detangler for horses on the horse’s mane and tail. Be careful not to get any detangler in the horse’s eyes.
Use the mane and tail comb to comb them out thoroughly.
When using the hoof pick, be careful when raising the horse’s leg as they may end up kicking you. Squeeze the horse’s chestnuts, the horny growth on the horse’s legs to encourage the horse to raise its legs. Start on the left foreleg, before moving to the right foreleg and moving to the hind legs.
Put the hoof in one hand, and use the pick with the other.
Work from heel to toe to prevent accidentally stabbing yourself or causing damage or harm to the horse’s heel. Use a pick only on the metallic part of the hoof.
The frog is the triangular in the middle of the hoof. Use a brush, not a pick, to remove foreign objects from it. If it looks ragged, try to pull and tug it with your fingers. If not, have a specialist trimmer to come and fix it.
Check the frog and the hoof for thrush or smelly areas.
Check if the hoof is generally in good shape. Make sure that there the hoof wall is not too warm.
The sole of the hoof should be concave and hard.
Shake the shoe to check if it hasn’t gone loose. If it has, make sure that a certified farrier fixes it immediately.
Check your horse’s gums, nose discharge and overall temperament of the horse. The gums should be a healthy pink, no discharge and the horse must seem alert.
Spray fly repellant over the entire body, avoiding getting any into the horse’s eyes.
Last but not the least, use this opportunity to talk and bond with your horse. Pat it while you groom, so as not to get too nervous. This is particularly important if the horse is not familiar with you yet.