Updated 8/26/15, Originally Posted 4/8/15
So many tools…hoof picks, dandy brushes, body brushes, curry combs, shedding blades and vacuums. What’s a girl to do?
Here is a basic guide on how to get a horse ready to ride. We’re not talking competition grooming, we’re not even talking nice-restaurant clean, but we are talking clean enough and thorough enough for everyday use. The necessities.
The Three H’s are: Hoof, Hair, Heart
Hoof: Arguably the most important thing to do when grooming your horse. It should be done often. As often as you can. Not only are you taking care of your horses feet you are . . .
Heart: Meaning Heart Girth or the area where the saddle and girth are going to go. Don’t give your horse a saddle sore by not grooming this area thoroughly. That sucks. And you won’t be able to ride him for a while while the sore heals.
Hair: Mane, Tail, Fetlock, Forelock
Once again, picking hooves is arguably the most important thing to do when grooming. Why? Because. First of all, there could be a rock in that hoof that could cause the horse pain. And most other problems of the hoof can be prevented by simply picking out the hooves regularly. What kind of problems? Infections causing decay.
Don’t forget to smell your hoof pick. I know this is gross but do it anyway. You will smell rot, decay and infection right away. They smell horrible, not just like horse poop which many of us horse people kinda like the smell of. Wanna know the basics of picking the hoof? Simple, get the stuff out of it. If what you’re picking is attached, leave it. If it’s not attached, get it out. Click here for a more complete explanation.
Heart (girth, back and body)
You can spend all day cleaning a horse’s coat, but the most important part of it when riding is the part where the saddle pad and girth are going to rub. If you leave any crusties in their coat then put a saddle on them and ride them around a while, you might end up with a saddle sore. Yuck. Look at this:
Don’t be that guy. Don’t cause an unneeded sore just ’cause you didn’t want to take your time and get the horse clean enough to ride. Take a moment, check these few things, then saddle.
- Use a curry comb first. Tons of different kinds of curry combs but they all do the same thing.
They loosen up the crusted on dirt so you can then get if off when another type of brush, a dandy brush or body brush. This is my fav curry comb, it’s cheap and not incredibly hard but hard enough to get super crusties. I know in this video below I’m not using the above mentioned curry comb. I know it. This is my runner up. It’s a Large Soft Rubber Curry Comb.
- Use circular motions like so:
- You may need a harder curry comb like this:
Use this by pulling it across the grain of the hair like so:
- Make sure you get the rectangular area between the withers and the coupling and halfway down the barrel of the horse’s body. ON BOTH SIDES!
- Then MAKE SURE YOU GET THE GIRTH. ALL THE WAY UNDER. THIS IS WHAT I MEAN BY ALL THE WAY UNDER:
- Use a body brush. This is my favorite. It’s not too hard and not too soft. It’s just right.
- Use flicking motions like this to get the dust off:
- When you have all the dust off the areas I said were most important–remember that rectangle and the girth? Now feel all of it. ALWAYS FEEL IT WITH YOUR BARE HAND. If you feel everywhere you’ve brushed and you don’t feel any crusties, you’ve done a good job. But chances are you’ll have missed something. Give those spots some more attention before moving on and saddling your horse.
- Use a hair brush. But use a heavy duty one. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve snapped a plastic brush in some natty dreads. Here’s a good one:
Make sure you start small. Start on the bottom, then work your way up through the mane like this:
- When you work on a tail, stand to the side of the horse and bring the tail around to you. DON’T STAND DIRECTLY BEHIND THE HORSE. Do it like this please:Again, start at the bottom.
- Last you can get the forelock and fetlocks. Just do me a favor: go slow. Don’t jab a brush at an unsuspecting horse’s face or feet. Show it to them first, move in slowly, let them smell it first and slowly bring it in. Don’t force it. Take your time.
Done. Now you have successfully groomed a horse and it is ready for saddling and riding. Don’t you feel good about yourself? Well, you should.