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Horse grooming expert roundup

A lot of you, especially the ones who are just starting, seem to struggle with their beloved horses’ grooming. Here, we have put together an expert round up tip on how to properly take care of your horses the right way. Experts from around the globe shared with us their core learning points in horse grooming and what they have found to work for them.
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AMIE POWER
www.powerequestrian.com.au
 

Grooming is not just about brushing, washing and cleaning out the feet.  It is about knowing every inch of your horse.  Don't just use a brush on your horse.  My best grooming tip is to touch your horse all over with your bare hands.  If you do this on a regular basis you will feel any changes in your horse’s skin, any new lumps, bump or changes including heat or any muscle damage.  It is important to pick up changes early so as you can address any potential problems or issues.
 
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ANNA TWINNEY
www.reachouttohorses.com

 
Mindful Grooming plays a big role in our interaction with our horse and can be a relaxing moment where we get to know each other through touch, which can be magic if done as a two-way dialogue. Listening to our horse and being aware of how he is feeling about the brushes/tools and the way we're grooming is the key to having a good grooming session. This process should be done before and after riding, and while it is true that it is done so we can detect any bruises or injuries and also maintain a healthy hair coat, there's more to it. Grooming helps us assess our horse to see where he may have ticklish spots and where his favorites are for scratching. 

My best horse grooming tip would be to pay attention to these spots because it will definitely help us earn our horse's trust and respect, and get him to want to be with us.  We can utilize this knowledge to encourage relaxation and we can take this to the next step with our ground work and also into the saddle. For example, if our horse is ticklish around his flanks, we better discover it on the ground so we can be mindful once riding (some riders put their outside leg way too far behind the girth to ask for a canter and this can bother the horse). 

Rewarding our horse by scratching his favorite spots when he's done an exercise correctly can encourage him and help your partnership. It is a better treat than food since it's always there to offer and it won’t encourage undesirable behaviors that can be associated with hand feeding treats.  Horses scratch each other’s withers or rumps with their teeth, but we can offer a variety of different grooming tools for our horse to choose from according to skin sensitivity and likes/dislikes.

While mindful grooming is about meeting our horse and getting to know him, there are some important aspects we need to be mindful of as well: Our horse should only be tied up if he has learned to come off pressure.

When moving around him for grooming, we should be aware of his blind spots (1 meter in front of his head and under his head, over the back, under the belly, along his sides, and behind his tail).

We need to be aware of potential hazards and distractions while we are grooming our horse.  If there is something bothering him that we don’t yet see or hear, we shouldn’t chastise him for swinging his butt to get a better look.  We wouldn’t tell a person they cannot look at something they feel might jeopardize their safety, why would we do this to our horse?

Our words will never speak as loud as our body language, and even more, our energy and the intention behind it that our horse easily reads. If we are not in full awareness with him, he will politely remind us to come back to the present.  Being in the present with our horses helps to keep everyone safe and it lets our horse know that not only do we care about what he has to share with us, but he knows that we are willing and able to listen.  When we take the time to groom our horses well and with the right intention and awareness, the trust-based relationship that results can carry our partnership for years to come.

Be safe out there and don’t forget as you practice mindful grooming to capture the whisper so that your horse need never shout.
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ANNE BATTLE
https://harmonyhorsemanship.com.au

 I think the best Grooming Tip is to let another horse do it.

Horses are herd animals and they know each other best so I have 2 horses now and they share a paddock. They groom each other every day, they have gleaming coats and they seem to really enjoy the process.

I know a lot of people with competition horses separate them just in case they hurt themselves. But that doesn't mean they are happy. They really need to learn horse manners...which they get from having another horse with them and mentally they are happier.

Too many horses have ulcers and separation anxiety issues. So for me I let the horses work out their own "Pecking Order" and they seem to do very well together.

Anyway, all I personally do when I am grooming my horses is I like to find their "G"spots and I rub or scratch their body language tells me when they enjoy it.

I also always give my horses a good brush down before working them & rub horses down and make sure any sweat patches are washed down after I have worked them as well.

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ANNE LOOSVELD
www.equinesupportinternational.com

 

My biggest grooming tip is to make sure your horse is happy and healthy.

Obviously, you can make a coat shine by using show sheen or put hoof oil for shiny hooves, however, a healthy horse shines like a mirror. Because he feels good and healthy.  

Then you might wonder, how do I get my horse to be happy and healthy? Very easy: help him to fulfil its basic needs. We apply the following rules: Lots of movement, roughage preferably all day long, social contact, reduce stress from riding or noise.

As a horse owner, it's important to understand how horses behave in nature so we can better fulfil their needs. Think about it, in nature horses walk 5 to 10 km spread over the day and domesticated horses are kept in the stable with no social contact and often they leave their stables only 1 hour a day.

They are fed three times a day big amounts while their digestive systems and other body systems are designed to eat little bits trough-out the day.

Many problems have their roots in the lack of fulfilling these basic needs such as behavioral problems when training, colic, ulcers, hoof problems and stereotypical behaviors.

Check for yourself if your horse can fully fulfil its basic needs and try to find out if the problems you face with your horse stem from the lack of these basic needs. You won't need show sheen and hoof oil anymore if your horse is fit and healthy!


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ANNE SMITH
https://www.facebook.com/Anne-Smith-Dressage-177463422342335

 

My best grooming tip is, Elbow grease!

 Grooming isn't just running a quick brush over a horse before you saddle. I know with busy lifestyles it is hard to find time to give a horse a good grooming but there are so many benefits to giving your beloved horse a really thorough grooming.

Start with the harder brushes such as curry combs, then Dandy brushes, body brushes and you can finish off with a soft towel or grooming mit.

There are so many benefits to a decent grooming

  1. It gives you a chance to check all over your horse and get to know their body really well. It is then easy to notice anything different such as any injuries.
  2. It gives your horse a lovely massage stimulating their muscle fibers.
  3. It also stimulates the skin and hair follicles and encourages the natural oils to come out in the coat to give them that extra shine!
  4. The obvious reason of removing dirt, grime, dandruff etc. you wouldn't want any chaffing or rubbing under any of the tack areas.
 5. It gives you a wonderful time to bond and form a relationship with your horse. I guarantee both you and your horse will enjoy spending this time together.
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CAROLE HERDER
http://www.cavallo-inc.com

Always remember that grooming is not solely about removing dirt or fashioning a glossy external coat. Be aware that each good stroke of the brush is stimulating blood flow and enhancing circulation. This generates the extra benefit of internal health, as blood provides nutrients and oxygen.

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ELISE CHAND
www.becauseofhorses.com

 

Keeping in mind that I had mostly white or gray horses (Andalusians), anything that helped them shine "white" and not yellow was immensely important -- especially since our national championship took place in an arena with pure-white walls. So if a white horse's coat wasn't sparkling white, it would look terrible against that dang wall!

After investing in a water heater for the barn (horses are impossible to get truly clean with cold water and, more importantly, warm water is so much more comfortable for them), I actually used Dawn dish soap in a bucket of warm, sudsy water with a big, soft sponge to shampoo them really well; on their faces, I used Johnson's Baby Shampoo so it wouldn't bother their eyes.

If I intended to braid their long manes/tails, I wouldn't shampoo either -- sparkling clean manes/tails won't stay in a braid. But if I intended to leave them down, I would condition their manes/tails with Cowboy Magic Conditioner and leave it in a little extra. 

If their coats weren't going pure-white, I used a wonderful human shampoo called Klorane. It's expensive, made in France and available on Amazon, but it is made from pure botanicals and does a wonderful job making pure-white, pure-white (and not blue or purple, like so many shampoos intended for white hair).

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FRAN GRIFFEN
www.hunternaturalhorsemanship.com

 

Bring your horses mind and your mind to a comfortable place before beginning to touch. This means just standing quietly with your horse for 60 seconds at least as you lower your breathing and become aware of the present moment. You may be surprised to see your horse take a breath out too, or get a little sleepy, this is a great preparation before you go about touching him and rubbing his body with the brush.

If the horse becomes agitated at any time, stop and relax again before proceeding, allow the horse to settle and accept your presence and then resume.

 

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HAYLEY RANDLE
https://science.csu.edu.au/schools/animal-vet/staff/profiles/associate-professors/hayley-randle

 

Be aware of the pressure you may be putting your horse under when grooming, especially his/her tickly/sensitive areas.  Approach these areas carefully and try not to let the horse move away from the brush.  Always reward good behavior (verbally/stroking preferable to food). 

 

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JACQUI RIDLEY
www.jacquiridley.com

 

After clipping I always make sure the horses get a warm oil bath to condition their coat.

 

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JEREMY MICHAELS
jeremy.michaels@hotmail.co.uk

 

The importance of developing a bond between horse and rider/handler can never be underestimated. One of the best ways to develop and nurture this bond is through grooming. Spending time with your horse, brushing, talking and generally handling him is time well-spent and is invaluable to develop that trust and understanding between you both.

 

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JOANNE VERIKIOS
www.winninghorsemanship.com


My best horse grooming tip is this: don't underestimate the power of grooming!

Let me explain. When done well, with sensitivity and patience, and when done thoroughly, reaching all areas and taking enough time, grooming is a valuable training and bonding tool.

For your horse, grooming accustoms him or her to being handled in a pleasurable, non-threatening way. Using tactful advance and retreat techniques, you will soon be able to touch him or her all over, including those ticklish areas like ears and flanks. Most horses learn to enjoy being groomed, provided the appropriate tools and brushes are used on the different body parts.

Grooming improves circulation, provides a massage and scratches those itches. It is also possible to get a horse very clean just using brushes and cloths (called stable rubbers). Once a horse accepts you picking up their feet, wiping their eyes and brushing their back, in no time at all you can be leaning across them and then sitting astride them as you groom - which makes the process of starting under saddle so much easier!

For you, you will learn a lot about your horse, including the kind of pressure he or she enjoys and how long (or short) their attention span is. You will get a good workout once you are able to groom in earnest, because thoroughly strapping a horse to get it massaged and gleaming is hard work.

But best of all, you will be spending time hanging out with your horse. After all it is time together, and what you do with it, that forges the strongest bonds.

 

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JOHN DOWNES
https://www.facebook.com/downesequestrian


Working firmly with a curry comb the areas the saddle sits on both before and after a ride.

The reason behind this is that the weight of the equipment and rider plus the compression caused by the girth restricts blood flow into the muscles that are impacted. I feel that this helps protect these vital areas thus protecting the horse from a sore back and aids in the use of the back to enhance movement.

It only means a few extra minutes of extra work but it is well worth while and horses love a firm massage. this puts the horse I feel into a positive mode before the ride. Very often in the industry I observe horses pinning their ears and snapping when girthed, this helps avoid these behaviors.

 

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JULIE-ANNE HUMPHRIES
www.equestrianlessons.com.au

Never brush the tail unless it's washed & conditioned. Dirty skin drops hair very easily, clean skin doesn't. The long tail hairs take many years to grow, so to preserve them, the tail needs to be kept clean and conditioned.

Cutting the tail to a length that doesn't allow it to drag, get stepped on or caught on things will also help keep the tail healthy. This also creates the illusion of a thicker tail.

On show day if a false tail is needed, the clean hairs of a well kept tail will hold secure avoiding the embarrassment of horse losing their falsely in the ring.

 

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KIM WALNES
www.thewayofthehorse.com


My answer to your question would be to consider grooming not just a cleaning job, but quality time with your horse.  A time to check in with them...to truly listen to what they have to say.  It can be the very most important part of your time with your horse.

How to do this?  If you halter your horse first, pause before entering their stall or their space.  Notice how your horse responds.  Does he come to you, or does he face the back of the stall, pin his ears, or just stand there with "sleepy" eyes.  Those eyes can often mean that he is shut down emotionally.  Proceed according to the feedback you get.  Showing your horse that you are truly interested in their point of view/feelings is HUGE.

 If your horse is less than welcoming or indifferent, back away and pay attention to what happens next.  Do not halter until the horse shows interest and brings his head toward the halter.

 Once you are grooming, stop thinking about anything else except your horse.  Truly BE with them.  Remember, HOW you groom is as important as cleaning off dirt/dust.  Think of how you would like someone to brush your own hair. 

If the horse is restive, or active with their head or teeth, they are telling you that what you are doing is uncomfortable or painful to them.  This could be from the type of brush or curry, your technique, or it could be sore muscles or organs. 

Everything the horses do has a reason...they show their anxiety about what is happening or what they might expect to happen through body language.  We tend to be scattered in our thoughts and in a rush to DO an agenda.  Slowing down and moving with awareness can be a real boon to your horse.

 Grooming is also the time to notice where the horse has tight muscles, how their weight is, how their legs/feet feel.  I have found it to be very helpful to run my hands all over every bit of the horse—what I can easily see, and all the bits underneath the horse.  This tactile sense will inform you of any dirt that you might have missed, sore spots, or swelling.

 Seeing grooming as connection time with your horse can really shift your relationship to a greater partnership.  One in which both can hear and respond rather than react to the other.

 

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TRISHA McCAGH
www.animaltalk.com.au


For the best results when grooming your horse is that your horse is relaxed and enjoying the process:

  • Ensure you are relaxed and have plenty of time. (If you are not relaxed then meditate first)
  • Run your hands gently over your horse's body before you commence with the intention of sending calming energy through your hands to your horse
  • Now you have set the scene and your horse has been made ready – slowly and gently proceed with the grooming procedures being sure to take short breaks consistently.

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VICKI ROYCROFT
http://www.vickiroycroft.com.au


Always make sure you have a curry comb (the rubber sort) so you can keep the brushes clean, and to use on your horse in those dirty/areas.

 

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ZOE COADE
www.zoecoade.com


For your years already and to this day I witness people grooming horses because they feel they have to, or they do it quickly to just get them clean.

There is nothing wrong with that per say but if you are going to spend 5 minutes, 20 minutes or even an hour grooming, washing cleaning your horse my biggest tip is to invite the horse to participate.

Show and teach them that this is a good deal for them.

A lot of horses cannot stand still, move and get nervous because they feel it is being done to them rather than for them.

There is no deal for them.

  • Learn how to invite the horse to enjoy the grooming.
  • Listen to where they like to be groomed harder and other areas softer each day.
  • Get to know your horse’s body during the process.
  • Find brushes and tools that suit them personally.
  • Learn a few harmless massage techniques to benefit their wellness and your bonding.
  • Teach them how to stand quietly and lift their hooves on a tap or a click rather than pulling.
  • Don’t just focus on the body; clean and check their eyes, nose and genitals.
  • Take their temperature at least once a week for reference, more is better.

 

For me no matter how short or long my grooming sessions are, as an avid horse lover, I always put their needs first.

Everything else just goes better after that.