Why is good grooming important?
Regular grooming contributes to the well being of the horse and lets you detect the slightest injury. As the skin is the key to protecting the horse's body from external damage (insects, bacteria, etc.), it is essential to preserve it.
This daily moment of attention is important as it is also an opportunity for the rider to spend some quality time with their horse. All the more so for club riders who are not always familiar with their horses, grooming allows you to make initial contact and become better acquainted.
It is best to start grooming the horse by using the curry comb (made of plastic, rubber or iron) which removes dust and gets rid of any trapped dirt. Curry combs are used in a circular motion on fleshy areas (neck, belly, croup), avoiding bony and sensitive areas (head, withers, limbs). If your horse has a thick coat (especially in winter if not clipped), "American" curry combs can be particularly effective.
Next we use a dandy brush (stiff-bristled brush). This is used to remove excess dust from the horse's body. Contrary to the curry comb, it is used following the direction of hair growth starting from the neck, then the back, the belly and finally the croup.
The body brush (a soft brush often made of silk or nylon) then completes the grooming process by removing any remaining dust on the horse. The body brush is used in the same direction as the dandy brush, from the head to the croup.
* To remove dust from your brushes or curry combs, rub them against a hard surface (wooden fence, stable door, floor, etc.).
* A soft cloth (or "stable rubber") provides an added extra for maximum shine on the horse's coat.
* For a shinier coat, you can spray polish on your horse's coat or spray it on a brush if your horse is afraid of spray. Take care not to apply it to your horse's back as it may cause your saddle cloth to slide backwards.
* Remember to wash your brushes occasionally with soap and water to remove dirt that builds up over time from grooming.
Small stones can become trapped beneath the horse's hooves, which can cause pain. Particular attention must be paid to picking out the feet and it should be carried out before and after work. This measure will also enable you to detect any abnormalities or injuries.
How to pick out feet ?
To get the horse to lift its feet, stand next to the horse. Slide your hand from the neck down the length of the leg. A trained horse will understand and will lift its foot. To make it easier, you can hold the foot by the pastern. Do not hesitate to talk to your horse by asking them for their foot using your voice.
The hoof pick will then enable you to remove anything stuck under the hoof, whilst taking care not to stick your hoof pick into the frog (the centre of the foot).
* If your horse is leaning with their body weight on your side, you can lightly push them so that they transfer their body weight to the other side. It will then be much simpler to take the foot asked for.
* If your horse does not easily give their foot, you can make it easier by taking hold of the feathers (the hairs over the pastern).
Mane and tail care
Using detangler (which often also adds shine) on the mane and the tail will help you to detangle them more easily. Polish and detangler is usually in a spray format and is applied directly to the mane and tail. Take care as some horses may be afraid of the spray; it can be applied with a cloth or brush instead.
For horses with sparse or brittle mane and tail hair, you can detangle it by hand so as not to weaken it further.
If you have time, you can shampoo your horse's tail, which will make the hair silkier.
* Avoid using detangler if you are going to plait or braid your horse.