Your travel grooming tools are much like your own travel toiletry kit; you’ll need most of the things you use at home, but they need to be compact and portable.
And like your own travel kit, it’s best to have a separate travel grooming kit for your horse. Then it’ll be all packed up and ready to go when you embark on your equine adventure.
Here’s a handy grooming-tool checklist.
[ ] Grooming tote. Select a sturdy tote with a good handle that fits well in your truck or trailer’s tack area. One good tote is the Husky Bucket Jockey (www.huskeytoolbags.com). It’sa hardware-store tool caddy, but makes a great on-the-go grooming kit. It sits over standard five-gallon bucket and has pockets for your grooming tools.
[ ] Small currycomb. Use a good currying tool to dislodge loose hair, dirt, and dried sweat from your horse’s haircoat. Curries include circular metal combs, round rubber brushes, and pumice-stone shedders.
[ ] Stiff brush. A quality stiff brush sweeps away the dirt and hair loosened with the curry. Natural fibers and synthetic bristles both work well.
[ ] Soft brush. A soft brush is mandatory for grooming your horse’s face, which is too delicate for a stiff brush. A soft brush also removes a fine layer of dust on the haircoat.
[ ] Mane-and-tail brush. A plastic brush designed for combing manes and tails removes knots, burrs, and trail debris.
[ ] Sweat scraper. Choose sturdy metal over a plastic model to squeegee off excess sweat and post-bath water.
[ ] Hoof pick. A hoof pick is mandatory. Pick out your horse’s hooves before, during, and after your ride.
[ ] Clean towels. Use clean towels towipe down your horse after grooming, and to remove dust from your tack before and after the ride. One good towel is the Fast Drying Towel from Discovery Trekking (www.discoverytrekking.com).
[ ] Rubber bands. Small rubber bands for braiding are essential for summertime riding. Help keep your horse cool by braiding his mane in sections. This will allow evaporative air to reach both sides of his neck. If he has a long tail, put it in a loose braid before riding to keep it off the ground and out of the brush. Take the braid down at night so he can swish away flying pests.
[ ] Fly spray. Pack fly spray to help keep your horse safe from biting pests in camp and on the trail. Buy an empty spray bottle just big enough for your trip, and pour your usual fly spray from the large spray bottle into the smaller one.
[ ] Sponge. Use a natural sponge to cool your horse and clean him up after your ride. During your rides, attach the sponge to your saddle with baling twine. When you come to a stream, soak the sponge, then squeeze the water onto your horse’s neck and chest to cool him.
Give your horse a good grooming before and after each ride. This will stimulate his skin, help keep him comfortable, and allow you to spot any burrs and/or ticks in his haircoat, and any rocks in his hooves.
· Pick his hooves. Start by picking your horse’s feet to ensure manure, shavings, dirt, and rocks are cleared from his sole and collateral grooves.
· Curry his coat. Use a circular motion to loosen hair and dirt. Pay particular attention to his back and the girth area, where the saddle and cinch rest.
· Brush his haircoat. Go over your horse’s entire body with the stiff brush to remove hair and dirt loosened by the curry. Follow with a soft brush.
· Brush his mane and tail. Brush your horse’s mane and tail last, removing burrs and other trail debris.
· Apply fly spray. Finish with a generous application of fly spray. Focus on your horse’s front legs, chest, and belly.
Audrey Pavia (www.audreypavia.com) is a freelance writer based in Norco, California. She's the author of Trail Riding: A Complete Guide (Howell Book House) and Horse Health & Nutrition for Dummies (Wiley). Pavia rides competitive trail with her 9-year-old Spanish Mustang, Milagro.