Professional Equine Grooms' Liv Gude shows you how little horse grooming tricks, like clipping a bridle path, can make your horse look great in only 10 minutes.
Whether your horse is sporting a full winter coat, shedding out for spring or just appearing a little unkempt, Professional Equine Grooms' Liv Guide can help with a quick equine makeover. With just 10 minutes and little bit of elbow grease, your horse could go from a hairy beast to a well-groomed horse.
First order of business: bridle path. Usually, the bridle path is trimmed regularly, so this should be easy to knock out. If you have never clipped a bridle path before, here are some tips. Grab a friend to hold your horse instead of using cross-ties. Know exactly where your bridle fits your horse because this is the area to clip. Start by clipping a small section then try the bridle on your horse. You can always go longer if needed. Use quiet clippers and work from front to back and back to front. You may find that using a step stool is helpful if you have a taller horse.
While you are trimming near the horse's head, let's next address the wacky ear hair that pokes out. If it isn't show season where you are, the ear hair probably has had some time to grow. I prefer to keep the inner hair exactly where it has grown, but the wispy strands that poke out make me bonkers. Fold the ear and buzz your clippers down the ear where the sides meet.
If you have clipped your horse, you may have also clipped the face. Even if you didn't, there may have been some time for those crazy long "elephant" or "goat" hairs to sprout. Use the clippers in the SAME direction as the hair to buzz them off. You should apply very little pressure. A common location to trim is on the underside in the hollow between the horse's cheeks. This trimming will give his head a more refined look, even if he's covered in a winter coat or shedding out awkwardly.
Now work your way down to the elbows, knees and fetlocks. These areas can be totally crazy with long, stray hairs that can be removed to improve your horse's appearance without clipping the entire area. Use the technique of light pressure with your clippers in the same direction of the hair to trim up the legs.
For the coronary band, you can use scissors to create a clean edge along the hoof. I use scissors for more control, but if your horse is wiggly, keep the scissors far away. No stabbings, please! To minimize wiggles, you can have a helper hold one of your horse's legs up.
If your horse is too wiggly for scissors, you can use clippers instead. Run the clippers upwards over the coronary band and instantly release so that you are only trimming the hairs that come over the hoof. Otherwise, you will have track marks running up the pastern. Don't worry - if you mess up, it grows back!
And ta-dah! A quick spruce up for every season.
Liv Gude is the visionary behind the Professional Equine Grooms website (www.proequinegrooms.com), which she launched last summer after her Facebook page of the same name began to flourish. After many years of grooming full- and part-time, for Olympians, Liv saw the need to bring professional grooms of all disciplines together in a supportive, informative community in an effort to acknowledge them as skilled individuals, deserving of all the rights and respect that other professionals earn. Liv is working hard to find a way for grooms and trainers alike to have affordable health insurance, a luxury not readily found in the horse industry.