Grooming (brushing) a horse is an essential part of horse care and bonding.
It helps keep the horse’s coat clean and shiny, stimulates blood flow to the skin, and allows you to check for injuries or other issues.
For a basic kit you don’t need a lot.
- Grooming tote, box or bucket
- Purpose: Organises and stores grooming tools.
- Description: A bag, box, or caddy with compartments to hold various grooming tools. You can also just use a bucket when you don’t have a lot of equipment.
- Curry comb:
- Purpose: Used to loosen dirt, hair, and other debris from your horse’s coat.
- Description: Typically made of rubber or plastic with short teeth. Some are circular, while others are oval-shaped.
- Long brush (or dandy brush):
- Purpose: Helps remove the dirt and debris brought to the surface by the curry comb.
- Description: A brush with stiff bristles, usually made of synthetic material or natural fibres.
- Mane and tail comb or brush:
- Purpose: De-tangles the mane and tail.
- Description: Can be made of plastic, metal, or wood. Brushes are typically wide-toothed to minimise hair breakage.
- Hoof pick:
- Purpose: Cleans the underside of your horse’s hooves, removing dirt, stones, and debris.
- Description: Usually has a metal pick on one end and a brush on the other. It’s always good to have two, in case you lose or break one. You should never ride a horse who’s hooves you haven’t picked, because there can be stones that can cause abscesses. It’s also a good idea to always take a hoof pick with you when going for a trail ride.
- Soft brush (also called a face brush):
- Purpose: Gently cleans your horse’s face.
- Description: A smaller, very soft-bristled brush, specifically designed for the sensitive facial area.
- Sweat scraper (optional but really useful):
- Purpose: Removes excess water or sweat from the horse’s body, especially after washing.
- Description: Typically a curved metal or plastic tool.
- Grooming sponge or towel:
- Purpose: Adds shine to the horse’s coat and can be used to wipe down the face, nose, and eyes.
- Description: A soft cloth, often made of cotton or microfibre or a soft sponge.
Other things you can add to your grooming kit include:
- Body Brush (also called a finishing brush):
- Purpose: Removes finer particles of dust and adds a shine to the coat.
- Description: A brush with long, soft bristles, often made from horsehair or synthetic fibres.
- Shedding scraped/blade:
- Purpose: Helps remove loose hair, especially during shedding season.
- Description: A metal blade with serrated edges, often in a U-shape.
- Fly spray:
- Purpose: Protects the horse from flies and other insects.
- Description: A repellent that can be sprayed or wiped onto the horse.
- De-tangling spray:
- Purpose: Helps in de-tangling the mane and tail, making them easier to brush through.
- Description: A liquid solution that can be sprayed onto the hair.
- Hoof oil or dressing:
- Purpose: Keeps the hooves moisturized and promotes healthy growth.
- Description: A liquid or gel applied to the outer surface of the hoof.
- Blunt-nosed scissors:
- Purpose: Trim mane and tail (dirt or burrs sometimes have to be cut out).
- Description: They look like normal scissors but have a blunt nose that prevents you poking your horse.
- Leg wraps:
- Purpose: To protect and support tendons and ligaments, can also be used to hold cold packs or poultices in place.
- Description: A long strip of fabric, rolled up for ease of use. Can be used with bandage wraps underneath to prevent pressure points.
Caring for your horse grooming tools not only extends their lifespan but also ensures they’re safe and effective for your horse.
You want them to remove dirt and debris, not add more on.
So, after every use, brush and wipe them off. Sometimes it’s enough to bonk the brushes together a few times to clear out the dust.
Once a week or so you can give them a more thorough cleaning, such as washing them and wiping down the bucket you store them in.
If you use a brush on an area with an infection, don’t use it anywhere else and wash/disinfect it right after use.
Just like every person has their own toothbrush, every horse should have their own grooming kit to prevent problems like infections moving from one horse to another.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to brush down your horse.
When you want to groom your horse, you’ll need your horse, their grooming kit and a good place to groom them.
When you start brushing your horse, always begin at the top of the neck and work your way down and backwards.
This way you don’t put dirt on the horse, instead brushing it off.
If your horse is really dirty, you’ll want to give them a wash.
- Tie your horse securely or have someone hold them. Make sure the area is safe, free from obstacles, and the ground is non-slippery.
- I recommend using a safety tie that will not harm your horse in case of a spook.
- Gather your grooming tools.
2. Start with the curry comb:
- This is a rubber or plastic comb with short teeth, perfect for removing dirt and loose hair.
- Use a circular motion, working from the neck to the tail, avoiding sensitive areas like the face, legs, and belly. You can work up a good sweat doing this and most horses love this and try to groom you in return.
- Apply gentle pressure, especially on bony areas.
- Pay extra attention to areas where the saddle and cinch will be.
3. Use the long brush (dandy brush):
- This is a stiff-bristled brush used to remove the dirt brought to the surface by the curry comb.
- Brush in the direction of the hair growth, starting from the head and moving towards the tail.
- Avoid using this brush on the face or other sensitive areas.
- You can now tack up your horse.
4. Use the body brush (finishing brush):
- This brush has softer bristles and is used to remove finer particles of dust and give the coat a shine.
- Use long, smooth strokes, brushing in the direction of the hair.
- You can use this brush on the face, but be gentle and avoid the eyes and ears. Better than the large body brush is to use the small soft face brush on the face.
5. Comb our the mane and tail:
- Use a mane and tail comb or brush to de-tangle the mane and tail.
- Start at the bottom and work your way up to avoid pulling out too much hair.
- If the tail or mane is very tangled, consider using a de-tangling spray.
6. Clean the Hooves:
- Pick up each hoof, using a hoof pick to remove any dirt, stones, or debris from the frog and the sole of the hoof.
- Always work from the heel towards the toe to avoid injury.
- Check that the hooves and shoes look in good condition.
7. Final Touches:
- Wipe the horse’s eyes, nose, and dock area with a clean, damp cloth or sponge.
- If you want, you can use fly spray to protect your horse from insects.
8. Check for Injuries:
- While grooming, it’s a good opportunity to check your horse for any cuts, swellings, or signs of discomfort.
- Check eyes, ears, udders, genitals etc.
- Check legs by running your hand along them to feel for swelling and heat.
When grooming your horse, it’s an excellent opportunity to bond with them and make sure they’re used to being handled everywhere.
Download the free guide!
This step-by-step guide will take you through how to bond with your horse. All you need are your hands and some time.
This is a great technique for checking your horse over for tightness, soreness and injuries hiding in plain sight.
It’s also relaxing fro your horse and will strengthen the bond and trust between you.