One of the most important factors of proper horse care is learning how to correctly groom your horse. Grooming your horse not only helps to keep their coats healthy, but it is also a bonding experience between you and the horse, helping to solidify your relationship.
The following steps will include the basic necessary steps you can follow to properly groom your horse, you can use them as a checklist to ensure you're giving your horse the best care possible.
Firstly, let's look at the supplies you'll need:
Stiff bristled brush
Mane and tail brush
Fly repellant spray
Step 1: Secure your horse using a lead rope and a quick release/ "pony" knot
When grooming your horse, you first need to ensure that your horse is safely secured. The best way to do this is by using a lead rope and tieing a quick-release knot. Once your horse is safely tied, you can begin the grooming.
To learn how to tie a pony knot, take a look at this handy guide made by ponymag.
Step 2: Use the Curry Comb
The first part of grooming the horse should be done with a rubber curry comb (you can get metal curry combs, but they are not advised as they are too sharp and can injure your horse).
The curry comb is usually small, no bigger than the size of your palm and should be rotated in circular motions around your horse to loosen excess dirt and dried mud. Beginning at the neck, slowly work your way around the horse, making sure to cover each side thoroughly. Avoid sensitive areas such as the spine, face, and legs, as these could agitate or hurt your horse.
Step 3: Use your hard brush to remove dirt and mud
Similarly to your curry comb, grab your stiff, bristled brush and work your way around the horse, brushing off dirt and mud. Unlike the curry comb, however, this should be done in short, faster strokes, wiping away the debris that was loosened by the curry comb. Again, avoid sensitive areas with your stiff, bristled brush so as not to hurt your horse.
Step 4: Remove any excess dirt and cover sensitive areas with a soft brush
Using your soft brush, wipe away any dirt that may be on the horse's more sensitive areas, such as the face, legs and ears. Once you've wiped away any dirt from the more sensitive areas, you can use your soft brush to cover your horse's main body once again to ensure any dirt or dust is fully removed.
Step 5: Clean your horses face using a soft washcloth or sponge
Once all the dry dust has been removed from your horse's face, you can then clean it using a soft washcloth or sponge. Make sure to gently clean around your horse's eyes and nose. You should use a different sponge or washcloth to clean around the horse's tail area, also known as the dock area.
It's also important to note that if you plan on grooming multiple horses, you should use different cloths/sponges for each horse. This is important to prevent the spread of any infection or germs that may be present.
Step 6: Use a mane and tail brush to brush the mane and tail (you can also use a wide-toothed comb)
First and foremost, when brushing your horse's tail, DO NOT stand directly behind your horse.
To begin this step, run your fingers through your horse's mane and tail to remove and untangle large knots. If the hair is particularly knotted, you can apply a detangling spray; this will aid in the untangling process and also give your horse's hair a healthy and luscious shine.
Once the main knots have been removed, take a handful of the horse hair and then gently brush it through with the other hand. You can then repeat the process on your horse's tail, but remember to stand to the side and try to keep in contact with your horse so they know you are there.
Step 7: Clean your horse's hooves with a hoof pick
To clean your horse's hoof, you first need to get the leg lifted; now, most horses will be used to this and naturally lift their leg once you run your hand down the back of their leg; if your horse doesn't raise its leg, you can gently squeeze the tendon at the back of the leg. DO NOT do this too hard, as you could hurt the horse.
Once the hoof has been lifted, gently use your hoof pick to scrape the excess dirt, mud, rocks or any other foreign objects from the foot. This should be done carefully, from the heel of the hoof towards the toe, making sure you avoid the frog of the hoof (the sensitive v-shaped part of the hoof).
You should also clean your horse's hooves after every time you have ridden the horse to prevent damage or injury to your horse's feet.
Step 8: Apply a fly-repellent spray
This step isn't always necessary; in winter for example, flies are a lot less of a problem, but in the summer months, you should coat your horse with a fly-repellent spray to help protect them from those pesky bugs.
Do not spray the horse's face with the repellent, and follow the proper usage instructions on the bottle for the best usage.