To brush your horse, you should have at least three brushes, a curry
comb, and a mane comb. There should be a stiff brush for getting
mud off of your horse's coat, a medium brush for cleanup, and a
soft brush for the face and legs. Use the currycomb first to loosen
any manure or mud buildup on the horse's coat, using circular motions
over his neck, back, belly, and hindquarters. Press firmly, but
not so hard you hurt the horse. This will take a little
practice, and not every horse likes the same amount of pressure.
If your horse has sensitive skin, they may need a lighter touch.
You don't want your strokes to be so light that they tickle your
horse though. Make sure when you're done with the grooming tools
you knock what dirt you can from them so you won't have to do it
the next time you get them out. There is less chance of infection
this way, too, so there is less chance of your horse becoming ill.
Always take care of your tools and the benefits are numerous.
Then use the stiffest brush you have, stroking in motions following
the way the horse's hair grows, to sweep off the majority of the
loosened dirt from the currycomb's work. Once this is done, use
the next brush in line, the medium stiff brush, to clean up whatever
the stiff brush missed. by this time your horse should look pretty
good, but there's still his face and legs to contend with.
Your soft brush should have bristles of horsehair or something equally
soft, because your horse's face is the most delicate part of him.
Make sure you brush around his ears to get off any dried sweat from
the bridle area the last time you rode him, and be careful around
his eyes. Don't poke the bristles into his eyes. Be sure to get
under the halter so you don't miss anything. Also be careful around
his nose, because just inside his nostrils as very sensitive skin.
You can use a damp sponge to clean off any buildup around this area.
brush your horse properly, it's time to pick out his hooves. Chances
are, if he's been out in the field or standing in his stall he's
gotten a buildup of wood shavings or dirt and even rocks in his
hooves. It's up to you to clean it out for him so you can ride.
Start by picking out his right front hoof. Stand on his right side
facing his hindquarters. Run your hand down the inside of his leg
and as you near the bottom, lean into his shoulder a little and
squeeze his leg. This is a signal the you want his to pick up his
hoof. Usually he'll do it. After he gives you his foot, prop it
up on your knee to he doesn't have to hold it up and you'll have
some support and stability. Using the hoof pick in whichever hand
you prefer, put the point facing away from you and stroke downward.
There is a "v" at the middle of the back of his foot that you shouldn't
mess with. This is the frog. Sometimes the horse's frog can be mistaken
for dirt and hay. Be careful of this when you pick your horse's
There is an inverted V that you should pick out, though. make sure
you get under his shoes if he's wearing horseshoes. If there are
any rocks stuck under his hoof, he might come up lame after you've
been riding him for a bit. You need to be sure that you clean out
his hooves completely before and after every time you ride.
Mane and Tail Care
Your horse's mane and tail should be brushed each time you groom.
If your horse is pasture kept, you know from experience how tangled
and full of burrs and sticks they can get! Meticulous care by taking
these things out each time you groom will not only improve your
horse's appearance, but also his health. If he continually rips
his tail out on branches, he won't have much left to swat at the
flies in the summertime! You can get special brushes for your horse's
tail, and also Cowboy Magic, my most recommended tail detangler.
The stuff is amazing - you get a lot for your money, and it lasts
a really long time. You can also use a tail bag to keep your horse's
tail clean and neat.
Rub Cowboy Magic or another detangler through your horse's tail
and then brush it out slowly, beginning at the bottom. Then carefully
separate each strand until your horse's tail is hanging long and
straight and fluffy. At that point you can braid it, band it at
the bottom, and slip the tail bag up over it to keep everything
from getting ruined.
Your horse's mane should not be so long that it looks unkempt. Keep
it short if you show western, or long enough to braid if you show
English. Otherwise there really is no reason other than appearance
to keep your horse's mane long. Long manes are far more difficult
to take care of, and take a lot more time to detangle. Consider
carefully before choosing a mane length - a horse's mane takes about
a year to grow six to eight inches.
When washing your horse, you can use a sweat scraper to scrape off
the excess water. Don't leave it to just drip off; usually this
annoys the horses and makes them kick.
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