Why It’s Time to Prioritise Your Horse Grooming
Think back to Autumn for a moment. Remember that last ride you did in the evening sunlight, the warm air on your face and the dry ground beneath your horse’s feet? Chances are you probably didn’t even realise that it was your last ride of the warm season at the time, and yet now you look back, it seems like forever ago.
Well, dwell no longer. Spring has finally arrived and with that comes dry ground, longer days and more time to get out and about on your horse. And in the weeks leading up to Spring, t’s time to dust off the brushes and start your Spring/Summer grooming regime.
Why Is Horse Grooming Important?
Whether or not you choose to take your horse to show and grooming events, presentation is still important – not just to your horse’s appearance but also to their comfort – all year round. While a long thick mane will have provided your horse with necessary warmth and protection in the Winter, and a quick clean after exercise will have provided enough cleanliness to see them through the Winter, now is the time to take a brush to the mane and consider plaiting it or trimming it in line with the warmer weather and need for ventilation, and to give your horse back the shine its coat deserves.
A deep cleansing rub down is vital for the horse’s health, not least because it gives you a chance to rub away any mud caked on your horse’s mane or hair, but also because it provides the ideal opportunity to conduct an all-over health check on your horse, and examine any other issues or injuries. And most of all, a regular grooming schedule eradicates (or at least severely decreases) the risk of skin and health problems such as chafing, thrush and other skin conditions.
Where To Start
First things first, now that the weather has warmed up enough for you to consider a day trip on your horse (and to actually get outside and wash them down in the first place!), it’s time for a Spring clean – horse style.
Grooming your horse should always start with a complete rub down with a thick brush; combing through the mane and down the length of the body to remove any excess hair or mud.
The horse’s hooves are one of the most important parts of their body, yet are commonly forgotten even as part of a thorough grooming routine. Imagine if we cleaned our entire bodies but left out feet – pretty soon they would smell, look disgusting and probably start to develop some underlying issues that could cause real future problems. Well, a horse is exactly the same, and good hoof care is essential to maintaining a fit and healthy horse throughout both the Summer and Winter months.
The Messy Bit
Like with most animals, once you introduce water everything starts to get a bit messier. It’s important to remember that while regular human shampoo will inevitably do the job and clean your horse up in the short term, these products are not created for animals, and will strip the horses hair of all its natural oils – leaving a dry coat that will lack its natural shine.
There are now some brilliant products on the market that make horse grooming easier than ever, so invest a little in your horse and you’ll find they are much more comfortable – and will look much better – in the long run.
When you start cleaning, pay particular attention to the areas of the body which regularly come into contact with materials, and/or where your horse will sweat the most. Underneath the saddle, for example, is a key area to focus on; as is under the horse and between the legs and their underbelly.
Top Tip: For a quick, homemade cleaning product, mix together one-part vinegar with two-parts water, and rub that all over your horse. The vinegar is a mild detergent that cleans the coat thoroughly and without irritation, making a great at-home remedy should you need one.
What About If My Horse Is Nervous Or Gets Aggravated?
The fact is, some horses – like humans and other animals – don’t like water, or being covered in it. All the soothing words in the world can’t help you if your horse doesn’t take well to being washed – but there are a few tricks you can try that may make the process easier.
- Conduct the bathe in small sections, rather than covering your horse in soapy water all in one go. By breaking it down into more manageable chunks, your horse won’t become as stressed, and you can ensure each section gets a thorough clean down.
- Use a face cloth or old towel around the most sensitive areas. If your horse is prone to kicking or shifting his head away from you during a clean, use a damp cloth instead of soapy water and use gentle strokes to work it into his coat and face. You will probably need to spend a bit of time doing multiple rub downs for your first proper clean of the Spring season, but a clean down followed by a thorough rinse will do the job perfectly.
- Dry her down completely, whether manually or by taking her outside in the sunshine for a bit. A clean horse has an ability to attract mud and muck quicker than anything you could imagine, so delay this as long as you can by making sure your horse is dry before returning them to their stable.
- Sing a song. This one is for you rather than the horse, but will make the whole experience more fun – for the both of you!