Years ago, a grooming box consisted of a rubber curry with a web strap, a brush of some sort, a metal mane comb and a hoof pick — the Big-Four of standard equine grooming equipment.
Grooming tools, especially curries, have come a long way since then thanks to clever innovations and modern materials. Today the horseman who stops by the tack shop to pick up a new curry will be faced with dozens of designs. And the changes aren’t just marketing ploys. Many of the newer curries are tougher on dirt, easier on sensitive areas and ergonomically designed.
We did a lot of our testing during the cold, wet months of winter. We curried old horses, young horses, fat horses, bony horses, skittish horses and sensitive horses. And we did a lot of muddy horses. We came out with a lot of clean horses and some clear ideas about what works best.
One thing’s for sure: With the broad selection of currying tools available today, a single “curry comb” is no longer the way to go.
There’s no reason to try to make the same curry work for faces, legs, caked-on dirt, deep-down grime and removing bedding from the mane and tail. You’re going to find having the right tool for the job makes things easier on you and more comfortable for your horse.
When it came to knocking off heavy, dried-on dirt, the serious mud knocker was the Striegel Der Gute hard plastic curry from German Equestrian Manufacturers. This tough oval curry had rows of short, hard plastic teeth that effectively dug into the mud. It’s definitely hard, though, so it requires that you use a gentle, caring hand.
The Spiral Metal Curry #15S from Decker Manufacturing is an updated version of the old standard metal curry. Used properly, it chewed away dried mud on the body. It’s also good for shedding out. However, we agree with the manufacturer that you shouldn’t use it on bony or sensitive areas and always carefully.
Rubber curries with long, rubber cone-shaped teeth strip out mud, dirt and loose hair. These curries really cut through heavy dirt. The wide spacing between the teeth allows the dirt to fall through, eliminating the need to continually whack a stall wall to clean them.
The Oster Coarse Curry Comb had a knob-style handle mounted on top that we found awkward to use at first. When we got used to it, however, it really raked down through long winter hair and left our hands feeling less fatigued. It’s an excellent choice.
The giant, round Grooma Original had similar coarse cone teeth, but no handle — just a single indentation on the edge for your finger or thumb. It’s an effective curry if you have a hand big enough to hold onto it. We prefer its smaller version that works just as well but handles better.
The Love N Care Easy Grip Groomer Set lived up to its name. These are great little palm-size rubber curries with indentations around the edge for fingers. They were easy to hold onto and, surprisingly, worked well in either the right or left hand. The coarse version made quick work of heavy dirt. The gentler half was a good choice for sensitive areas, making it a great economic choice, too.
Curries with finer, gentler teeth are the best choices for shorter coats and sensitive areas. Long, thin rubber teeth were blunted at the ends instead of being pointed in a cone shape, adding to the soft feel. These were really nice to use on a horse’s face and legs.
The Oster Fine Curry Comb was a super product that could be used all over the horse’s body — and has that nifty knob handle for those who prefer it — and the Grooma Soft-Touch was liked by our testers. This especially soft curry worked well in every situation, and the horses liked it.
Oval Rubber Curries
The tried-and-true rubber oval curries with web strap handles are classics. The Striegel Der Weiche is a good, standard all-around durable oval curry with a sturdy strap. While it might be a little big for smaller hands, its large size made short work of currying. We loved its softer and nicely flexible feel.
The Decker Manufacturing Black Flexible Curry has a large handle that makes it a great choice for men and for fitting over gloves in the winter. It’s big, sturdy and effective. However, it’s not as flexible as we’d like for sensitive areas.
The Salmon Oval Black Curry EQ11 from Champion Brush is a one-piece curry with the handle molded and a tester favorite. It was soft and flexible and fit the hand like a glove. It gently removed everything from mud and dirt to shedding hair.
One of the biggest hits was the little molded Small Gel Curry #54056GPL from Equestrian International. This small, one-piece curry is molded in clear rubbery material in the shape of a larger, standard black oval rubber curry. It fits on the fingers only for most adults, but it’s just great for working all over the horse’s body, face, lower legs, large muscles, ears — everywhere. You might not want to curry a 1,600-pound warmblood’s entire body with it, but it can’t be beat for the smaller areas.
Hard Plastic Curries
The sarvis curry — a plastic curry with lots of long, thin teeth and a plastic band handle that snaps together — will give your horse’s skin a nice massage, but it also fills up quickly with hair and dirt and can be a bugger to clean. Smacking it against the wall rarely removes all the dirt, let alone all the hair.
Some groomers like using this curry to comb through manes and tails — although it definitely breaks hairs, if that’s a concern — while others just flat don’t like it. It’s also a nice choice for cleaning out brushes. If you’re a sarvis fan, the Vplast Sweden Plastic Curry #EQ12 (Champion Brush) is full size, while the Curry Kinder-Nadeligel from German Equestrian Manufacturers is an attractive mini that’s a great choice for kids.
For gentle currying, you’re going to love the Grooma Sof-Touch tool. If you want a strap, get the Small Gel Curry from Equestrian International. At $2.50, it’s nearly too cute not to get.
For arthritic hands, small hands or anyone who easily fatigues when currying, Oster has the answer with its knobs. In fact, Oster’s fine tooth curry was a definite tester favorite, rivaling Grooma.
For all-around cone-tooth curries, we’re torn between the Curved Rubber Curry from Equestrian International and the Grooma Lil’ Groomer (be sure you get the Lil’ Groomer, not the original, which we found too large to hold comfortably). However, we’ll give the nod to the $2.50 Equestrian International tool for its hand-friendly design.
If you’ve decided you just want to add one curry to your grooming box, we’d go with an oval curry. While the oval Striegel Der Weiche 50881 is an excellent, flexible tool that covers a lot of territory, we give the nod to the Champion/Hill Brush Company Salmon Products oval curry.
This plain “workhorse” curry is just a bit more flexi ble and easier to hold, making it our No. 1 pick.
The best buy is the Love N Care Easy Grip Groomer Set #495 from Nunn Finer Products. For a little more than the price of most other curries in this trial, you get both a long-tooth cone curry for removing heavier dirt and hair and a soft tooth curry for sensitive areas.