We all take care of ourselves in different ways. Whether it's skin moisturizer for the long, hot, and dry summer days or an extra pair of ChapStick, we all use different tools to care for our health and well-being. Shouldn’t we extend the same grace to our equine friends?
Whether your horse is preparing for a show or a race, it’s crucial to provide your trusty steed with exceptional grooming care using solid grooming tools. Don’t know what tools to buy or where to start? Silver Lining Herbs is here to provide a short and sweet overview of the most essential horse grooming tools on the market to ensure your horse receives better care year-round.
Why groom my horse?
“Do I really need to groom my horse regularly?” Many people ask us this when considering their horse’s total care regime.
Consider it this way: if you don’t take a shower for many weeks, you'll start to smell. You’re more likely to pick up diseases, infections, and more (heaven forbid).
The same goes for your horse. If your horse doesn't receive regular care, it'll become sick.
Just as it’s important to remove dirt from your skin from a hard day’s work, your horse deserves the same care.
What happens if I don’t groom my horse?
At best, your horse will just become a little dirtier. At worst, your horse’s health can suffer, and its quality of life can decline.
Unlike humans, horses spend most, if not all of their days, outside. They’re therefore exposed to the elements for nearly all of their waking hours.
Just as we spend long amounts of time outside daily during the summer, we need to take regular showers. If you don’t groom a horse — especially during the winter — a horse’s winter coat can lose natural oils needed to stay healthy and clean.
Without a routine, their sensitive skin might be prone to infection from the remaining dust whipped around from the wind.
How often should I groom my horse?
Having a daily grooming routine — or even a pre or post-ride grooming routine — will help ensure that your horse is at peak performance for shows and races and will keep it ready for whatever life throws at them.
If possible, we recommend grooming your horse before each ride. If this timeline isn't feasible, we recommend grooming and caring for your horse at least once a week to keep your horse clean.
Since most horses live outside, their kin often cleans their tails and manes for them. How you groom your horse will depend on the type of environment it lives in, as well as how active your horse is.
If your horse tends to spend a great deal of time indoors where their tail and mane are not subject to weather — and your horse doesn’t have access to its peers to help stay clean — then your horse's healthcare routines may look a bit different.
As long as you have the right equipment, taking care of your horse will be a breeze.
Key equipment for grooming a horse
Just like we use a comb, toothbrush, and shampoo, a horse also needs tender love and care to care for all their sensitive areas.
Before creating a grooming routine for your horse, ensure that you have the following horse care and grooming tools:
Metal or rubber curry comb
Mane brush or comb
If you’re wondering what the purpose is of each horse grooming tool, we’ll explain each in detail.
A metal or rubber curry comb
This short-toothed comb comes in all different shapes and sizes. Whether metal or rubber, both comb types can help brush against the horse’s hair to loosen any hair, dirt, or other chunks of debris.
This essential grooming tool can help dislodge particles from the horse’s skin and other key parts of the body. While it may loosen or jostle dirt and debris from your horse’s skin, make sure not to use it on your horse’s legs or head, as the legs and head are more sensitive to pressure and force.
A hard-bristled brush may be more up to the task of brushing dirt free from a horse’s head.
Unlike a curry comb, a stiff brush is a horse grooming tool that can deal with more detailed debris cleaning. This brush is great for combing through less chunky pieces of debris that burrow their way into your poor horse’s mane.
The stiff bristles and hard brush help remove dirt, hair, and other pieces of dirt from the horse’s mane and tail — as well as other body parts. Add some water to the brush’s bristles to help untangle loose hair from your horse’s shiny mane.
Taking the time to add water will make grooming your horse much easier for both you and your trusted steed.
If a curry comb helps push out large chunks of debris, and if a hard brush sifts through the debris that is not quite as large, then a soft brush helps clear the remaining pieces of dust that cloud a horse’s coat.
The softer bristles help remove grease from the horse’s coat, and the brushing motion helps relax the horse. In general, we recommend rubbing the soft brush against a metal curry comb to help remove any remaining dust after grooming your horse. Rubbing the brush against the comb will ensure that the dust won’t make its way back onto your horse’s coat.
A mane brush or comb
The mane and tail of a horse often are subject to the most bacteria and particles in the air. Since the horse’s tail is so close to all the dirt near the ground, every horse owner will want to have this tool in their arsenal of horse care tools.
This brush is used to help ensure that none of the horse’s hair becomes tangled or plastered together from dirt. These combs are also great for styling.
If you don’t happen to have this brush or comb, a body brush will also suffice. Make sure to use wide circular motions to gently brush away dead hair from your horse’s tail or their mane.
Keep in mind, a body brush is no replacement for a mane brush — especially for styling for, say, a horse race or show.
Crucial for humans, and crucial for horses, sponges can be used on stable horses, race horses, or multiple horses at the same time. Use a sponge on a horse’s body each time you groom them.
The sponge is used to clean around more delicate areas of the horse, such as a horse’s eyes or face. Apply water and soap, and gently squeeze the soapy, lathery mixture around the horse’s face, while moving in gentle small motions.
We suggest using a smaller sponge for their face, their groin area, or around a horse’s feet, as these areas can be more sensitive to the touch.
Also called a stable rubber, these grooming towels are wonderful for polishing off a horse’s coat after a deep cleaning. Think of a stable rubber similar to the tool used to shine shoes. In our analogy, instead of shoes, you’ll trade in loafers for your horse’s mane and tail (and your horse's happy smile after a thorough cleaning).
A stable rubber can also be used post-races and performances to remove sweat. If you don’t have access to a grooming mitt, a sweat scraper will also work perfectly fine when it comes to cleaning your horse’s body for sweat.
Just make sure to be careful around sensitive areas — such as the horse’s ears — as this area requires gentle care.
We go to the barber on a regular basis to cut out loose ends from our hair. Our horse’s deserve the same thoughtful treatment. Shedding blades are used to manage hair growth much like a human hairbrush and scissors are used to maintain the health of human hair.
These horse grooming tools are used to rid loose hairs from a horse’s body. This tool is often used after the peak of winter — a time when your horse’s mane endures the brunt of the elements — to rejuvenate and make your horse’s hair healthy and fresh.
Just make sure to avoid sensitive areas such as a horse’s legs, as these areas are bony and can cause discomfort to your loveable equine friend.
A hoof pick
Your horse’s feet often take a real beating. Whether they’re racing next to other horses, kicking up dust, or performing on stage, in addition to a sweat scraper, it’s crucial to have a hoof pick as part of your grooming kit.
Along with metal curry combs, a hoof pick is one of the most important grooming tools to have on hand. This hooked tool helps break up dirt, stones, mud, and heavy debris that lodges itself in a horse’s hooves.
We recommend cleaning out your horse’s feet before and after each ride with a hook pick. Doing so ensures your horse will not start limping or walking with an awkward gait — or worse yet prevent lameness as a result of dirt-filled horse hooves.
Excellent horse grooming starts with health in mind
You may have all the best grooming tools on hand — a metal comb, a pulling comb, a mane comb, or more. Despite having the best tools, the tools are only as good as the owner who uses them.
The best groomers are those that care for a horse’s entire well-being — body, mind, and spirit included.
If you have questions or want to learn more about what Silver Lining Herbs can do for your horse this season, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Short on time? Feel free to check out any of our learning resources to discover how to care for your horse’s total health and well-being. Until then, be well.