A Step-by-Step Horse Grooming Guide

Posted by Mary's Tack & Feed on 13th Sep 2023

A Step-by-Step Horse Grooming Guide

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This step-by-step guide on how to groom a horse for beginners is easy-to-follow, making it perfect for novice riders or new horse owners who want a simple grooming plan laid out for them.

By routinely grooming your horse you will learn a lot about your horse. In no time you’ll know the difference between a bump that is normal and a bump that is new. You’ll remember to scratch all their favorite itchy spots and get to know what kind of mood your horse is in from day to day. During grooming, you can also spot-check for any physical issues that might affect your animal’s health and how it will perform during a ride.

Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to groom a horse properly:

Best Tips for Horse Grooming

1. Secure Your Horse for Grooming

Step one for horse grooming at home is to secure your horse before you begin. You don’t want your animal strolling away or moving around excessively. The best way to secure your horse is using a quick-release knot on the lead rope and tying it off or using crossties. If there’s no obvious place to tie your horse, have a trusted helper firmly hang onto the horse by its rope.

2. Remove Dust, Dirt and Mud: The Curry Comb

The first tool you’ll employ is a curry comb. Brush the rubber curry comb in circular motions to remove dust, dirt and mud. Begin with the neck and work your way down the body to break apart patches of dirt and mud. Curry comb brushing will also give your horse a much-appreciated “scratching” in all of those itchy places the horse can’t reach. It’s important to note that curry combs, in most instances, should not be used on sensitive areas, especially around the face and legs.

Best Brushes for Horse Grooming

3. Remove Residual Dust, Dirt and Mud: The Hard Brush

To take the cleaning a step further, after you’ve loosened up the caked-on mud with a curry comb, employ a hard brush. A hard, stiff brush will remove the dislodged dirt the curry comb pulled to the surface of the coat. Brush along the coat in the same manner you did with the curry brush, but with shorter, firmer strokes. You should also avoid using the brush on sensitive areas like the face, although if you apply an exceptionally soft, light-handed technique, you can gently brush around your horse’s legs.

4. How to Use a Soft Brush on Your Horse

A soft brush is the horse-grooming tool for sensitive areas. The soft bristles can be used on the face, legs, spine and other sensitive spots that require a gentler touch. Brush in the direction the coat grows rather than against it. Smaller soft brushes can be used for the face, while larger ones can be brushed along the body.

5. Pick Out the Hooves

Pay attention to your horse’s hooves. By picking out the hooves daily, you’ll help keep your horse in good health and catch problems early. Stand next to the leg you’ll be working on. Slide your hand down the leg. If the horse doesn’t raise its hoof, gently pinch the leg (just above the pastern) to get the horse to lift its leg, giving you access to the hoof.

How to clean horse hooves - picking hooves tips

Once the hoof is up and in hand, take your hoof pick and scrape outward from the heel corners, working your way toward the toe. Never pick or dig into the triangular frog of the hoof.

6. Cleaning the Head and Face

You can clean around ultra-sensitive areas on your horse with a clean damp cloth or sponge. These spots include the eyes, nose and around the dock, or underside, of the tail. Separate washcloths should be used for the face and dock area.

7. Brushing the Mane

Periodically brush out your horse’s mane and tail with a wide-tooth mane and tail brush or comb. Gently work out any kinks and knots in the mane or tail with your fingers before brushing. Begin at the bottom with your brush and work your way upward to complete the whole tail. When working on the tail, keep a hand on your horse’s body, so it knows where you are – and never stand directly behind your animal. Detangling sprays and conditioners can help remove knots gently.

Why Groom Your Horse?

It’s important you know how to groom a horse properly, as well as how tack up a horse. Consistent grooming practices will help you get to know your animal better, adding depth to that special human and horse bond.

Learning how to tack and groom a horse will also help maintain coat health by increasing circulation, along with distributing skin oil for a shinier coat. By choosing the right grooming tools – which will make your job is easier – you can spot otherwise hidden injuries and skin conditions that may require treatment. A clean horse also reduces the amount of dirt that rubs off on tack. Ultimately, working out how to tack and groom a horse lets you grow closer to your four-legged ward, while boosting your horse’s health and well-being at the same time.

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