Out of the many things to do before you ride, grooming is arguably the most important. This is to assure that your horse is not only clean and presentable but comfortable as well. Built-up dirt and sweat can cause things like sores, missing hair, and other skin issues. Here is a step-by-step process to groom your horse:
1. Curry, curry, curry! I cannot stress enough the importance of this first step. Use a rubber curry comb in small circles going against the grain of the hair. This will make all of the dirt and other nasties come to the surface and will allow you to brush them off in the next step. Make sure that you curry the girth area, saddle area, and all of the other “meaty bits” of the horse! By this, I mean the parts of the horse that are clearly more muscular than others. I don’t recommend using a curry comb on a horse’s lower legs, for example, because they are not generally well protected by muscle and fat and this can be uncomfortable for the horse.
2. Hard brush. This brush is going to help you get everything off of your horse that you brought to the surface with the curry comb. Use this brush by going in short, quick strokes with a flick of your wrist at the end. Go in the direction of the horse’s hair, and be sure to stand away from where you’re brushing the dirt off (otherwise you’re going to get dirtier than you probably already are). I will also use the hard brush on my horse’s legs and hooves to remove any caked-on mud.This is where I might do things differently than other people.
3. At this point, I like to brush out my horse’s mane and tail. I say brush because his mane and tail have destroyed many combs. The reason I do this right after hard brushing is because in the next step I like to remove any brush-marks from doing the mane and tail.
4. Time for the soft brush. This brush will not only remove smaller particles of dirt, it will help make your horse shiny and many horses enjoy this part. I like to use my soft brush in longer strokes, again with a flick of the wrist at the end, and like the hard brush you should go with the direction of the hair. This is a brush that you can use anywhere, even if it’s not a “meaty bit”.
5. I like to use a face curry after the soft brush. This is essentially a curry comb designed specifically to be used on the horse’s face, so it is smaller and has much softer rubber bristles than a regular curry comb. The face curry is used the same way as a regular curry: small circles against the direction of the horse’s hair.
6. A further extension of the soft brush would be the face brush, to be used after the face curry or on its own. This is essentially a tiny, extra-soft soft brush specifically made to use on the horse’s face. I like to use this especially around the eyes and the bridle path, again going with the direction of the hair. Some horses really enjoy this, although face-shy horses (like mine) tend not to, but I feel that it’s important to make sure that the whole horse is clean so they can be as comfortable as possible.
7. Depending on the time of year, this is when I will put on fly spray. I like to do this before the last step so that it has time to dry before I put on my tack. I like to use UltraShield Sport because in my experience it lasts through a hard ride, although it is good to apply it afterwards as well. I apply fly spray pretty much everywhere except the face—for this I will spray the fly spray onto a cloth or sponge and apply it that way.
8. The last and most important step is the hoof pick. As the saying goes, no hoof no horse, so don’t ever skip this step. Ask your horse to pick up their foot and pick around the frog, being careful not to pick the frog itself as this is the most sensitive part of the horse’s hoof. Make sure that you get out any rocks or pebbles because those can cause bruising. I like to use a hoof pick with a brush attached so that I can brush out any excess dirt.
Keep in mind that steps 5, 6, and 7 are optional, but it is always beneficial to keep your horse clean and fly spray is pretty essential in the summer for your horse to be comfortable. Remember that a brush will generally only remove particles that are as big or bigger than its bristles, so if you’re looking for an incredible shine you may have to find multiple brushes to suit your needs. There are many, many different kinds of brushes out there, but be sure that you invest in good ones because quality does make a difference. My favorite ones (so far) are Oster brushes; I got the whole set because I like them so much. You can find all of these products at the links down below. Grooming is an important part of being a responsible horse owner so take it seriously; it’s also a really great way to bond with your horse!
First Five Brushes: https://www.osterpro.com/
Hoof Pick: https://www.statelinetack.com/item/plastic-hoof-pick-brush-combo/SLT901729%20BLU/?srccode=GPSLT&gclid=Cj0KCQjw1MXpBRDjARIsAHtdN-04QYjfN4d_sU8krzo3iWpjqwnG7WG3VIhJwqrX46oRUUGfIhG58dYaAnGNEALw_wcB )