Head-to-Toe Grooming for Your Horse

Ready to make your horse shine? First, put a halter and lead rope on him, and safely tie him in a comfortable, shady work area. Then follow this method for great grooming results. Your horse will not only look good, he?ll feel good, too.
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Ready to make your horse shine? First, put a halter and lead rope on him, and safely tie him in a comfortable, shady work area. Then follow this method for great grooming results. Your horse will not only look good, he?ll feel good, too.

Ready to make your horse shine? First, put a halter and lead rope on him, and safely tie him in a comfortable, shady work area. Then follow this method for great grooming results. Your horse will not only look good, he'll feel good, too.

Start your grooming with a rubber curry or rubber curry glove. A glove works best on his legs.

Start your grooming with a rubber curry or rubber curry glove. A glove works best on his legs.

Basic Body Grooming
Start with a rubber curry with larger cone-shaped teeth to loosen dirt and old hair. Using a circular motion with overlapping circles, work against the grain of the hair. Mentally divide your horse in half and work one side at a time, so you don't miss any spots. Don't be afraid to put some muscle into it. Try touching your arm lightly, and you'll feel almost ticklish, but if you rub the skin, it has a massaging feel. This is true for your horse, too. However, be gentle on sensitive, bony areas, such as his withers and underbelly.

Start behind your horse's ears and continue down his neck, shoulders, back, belly (particularly the girth area), and hindquarters. Frequently clean your curry by banging it against a hard surface or rinsing it in water.

Switch to your curry glove or mitt, and massage down the front and hind legs.

Now, using a stiff "dandy" or body brush, start behind the ears and follow the same sequence on both sides. This time you will use shorter, firm brush strokes in a "flicking motion" in the direction of the hair. Some horses may be more sensitive to the stiff brush, so you may need to find a softer brush or use less pressure.

Repeat this again with a soft finishing brush, but this time use long, smooth strokes. You'll begin to see a shiny, glossy haircoat. Next, give your horse a good bath.

Starting with your curry glove, massage your horse's face. Most horses enjoy having their faces cleaned and will actually lean into the mitt. Your horse will tell you just how much pressure to apply as you rub in small circles. Follow up with a soft face brush, going with the hair to lay the coat down.

Next, clip an inch-wide bridle path. This allows the bridle to lie comfortably behind your horse's ears without the bulk of excess mane.

To clean your horse's ears, soak a cotton ball thoroughly with mineral oil. Squeeze out the excess, and gently rub up and down inside the ear. Clean only the part you can easily see, and never use anything (cotton swab, Q-tip, etc.) to reach into the ear canal. Don't rub too hard; you can do more harm than good by rubbing the ears raw, leaving a nesting ground for bacteria and ultimately infection. Wipe any remaining oil residue off the ear when finished or it will collect dust/dirt.

Clean your horse's eyes with a water-moistened cotton ball or with a soft, wet washcloth. Don't put anything in the eyes unless recommended by your veterinarian.

A washcloth and a rubber curry glove are handy when you put the finishing touches on your horse's head and face

A washcloth and a rubber curry glove are handy when you put the finishing touches on your horse's head and face

Face Finishes
Starting with your curry glove, massage your horse's face. Most horses enjoy having their faces cleaned and will actually lean into the mitt. Your horse will tell you just how much pressure to apply as you rub in small circles. Follow up with a soft face brush, going with the hair to lay the coat down.

Next, clip an inch-wide bridle path. This allows the bridle to lie comfortably behind your horse's ears without the bulk of excess mane.

Body Finishes
Using a clean towel, go over your horse one more time, starting behind his ears. Rub in large circles, in the direction of his haircoat. This last step takes just a few moments, but it gives your horse a buffed, polished look.

A damp towel is great for touching up white spots or smoothing out a spot of hair that has dried standing up. It's also gentle enough to wipe the sensitive areas that are sometimes neglected during a "quick" grooming. (Avoid baby wipes, as the fragrances and lotions could cause irritation in sensitive-skinned horses.)

Wipe clean the anal area, the soft skin on the bottom side of the tail dock, and the skin between the back legs and a mare's udder or a stallion/gelding's outer sheath area.

Hoof Finish
Pick out your horse's feet. Pry out any packed debris or small stones to gently clear the V-shaped frog, and brush the sole's entire surface. Some hoof picks come with a brush, or you can use a small, stiff brush separately.