Horses, just like many other animals, love to groom each other. They use their teeth to scratch each other’s rumps and withers. By watching their behaviors, they show us that scratching feels good on their skin. How much better would a brush feel to them? If there is no other horse around, the horse will try to groom their own body.
Ever seen a stallion roll around in the sand? By rolling around it scratches their itchy spots and brings instant relief. Once they take care of their itch, they shake vigorously to remove any dust and dirt from their coat. While rolling around is easy for the young fillies and stallions, the older horses have a challenging time with self-grooming practices. At Oak Haven, we use exceptional care in grooming our senior horses.
To ensure your beloved equine friend has an exceptional coat, make sure to groom them before and after they are ridden. Grooming helps to remove any tangles in their hair from the saddle or harness. Also, a great deal of sweat and debris can build up on their skin during any exertion, and you can help them to remove it.
Finding health problems can also be easier when you groom daily, which is essential for older horses. Skin infections and cuts can be quickly found when you go over their entire body on a regular basis. Also, many can detect injuries that they might not have seen otherwise. That’s why at Oak Haven, we make sure that daily grooming is part of our routine.
• Grooming Can Provide Training Benefits
Many people find that a grooming ritual also helps with training, and this is especially true when dealing with stallions and the younger horses. When the mating season rolls around, most stallions are collected more than one time each day. They soon learn that when they leave their stall, it is for mating purposes. They make a connection that leaving means that they will mate, and they become quite aggressive in anticipation. Many times, these horses will begin to fight the handlers because they are eager to get to the mare. Consequently, we have found that when the horse is removed once each day for grooming, it does not mean they will cover a mare. Their behavior changes from this procedural act are noticeable.
• The Importance of Using the Right Tools
At Oak Haven, we have discovered that horses, like humans, have differing degrees of skin sensitivity. A metal comb is very satisfactory to some horses, but others will flinch and show their sensitive nature to the vigorous action. Thankfully, there is a wide selection of grooming tools on the market. You can try several styles until you find the one that works best for your equine friend. Here are the most common tools and their uses:
• Hoof Pick
The hooves are a prime location for dirt and debris to become lodged. When these bacteria are not cleaned from the hooves, it can cause thrush. A hoof pick will help to clean out these difficult crevasses and prevent a foul-smelling infection.
• Curry Comb
It can be quite difficult to remove debris that is on the skin or tangled in the hair. A curry comb is a small device that gently swirls the coat to cleanse it. These combs should never be used on the forehead, hocks, or knees as they are way too sensitive. There are many nerve endings in this location, and it can be quite painful. Clean the comb after each use to prevent a build-up of dead hair and dirt.
• Body Brush
This stiff-bristled brush can be used in almost all areas on the horse’s body. While the curry comb loosens the dirt, the body brush removes it. It can also pick up anything that was missed by the other grooming tools. Be careful not to use too much vigor when using this brush as it can cause some sensitivity issues in the older horses. We have found this brush is also good for the mane and tail too.
• Soft Brush
While the soft brush is not designed to loosen debris, it can remove things that the curry comb stirred up. This helps to remove the dirt rather than just moving it around on the horse’s coat. This brush also needs to be often cleaned to help ensure there is no bacteria build-up. Having a dirty brush defeats the whole grooming process.
• Mane and Tail Comb
The mane and tail comb takes practice to use effectively. If the mane is tangled, first use your fingers to pull apart the mat before applying this comb. A hard-bristled brush can also help to remove tangles. Never brush the whole tale at once. Instead, use soft strokes to ensure that less vigor is used that can cause painful pulling of the hair.
• Sweat Scraper
After a vigorous workout, or the horse has had a bath, use the sweat scraper. This useful tool helps with the evaporation and natural body cooling process. When the water is not removed from the horses’ body, it interrupts their natural ability to cool themselves. Never use this scraper on the lower legs or the head. However, it can be used on all other body parts.
• Grooming Cloth
Finally, the last tool you need for appropriate equine care is a grooming cloth. You do not need to buy some expensive fabric as a towel or blanket will work. Just wipe away any dust or debris left behind by any of the brushes or combs. Be sure to get around the eyes and the ears as these areas cannot be brushed.
At Oak Haven, we have found that a well-groomed horse will have natural oils that come to the surface making their coat gleam. Additionally, the mane and tail should always be free of any knots or tangles and ripple in the breeze. Though it takes a little bit of work, a dedicated grooming ritual will make the horse feel great, and their coat looks flawless.