by Lesley Ward
Do you know what it takes to keep your horse looking sparkling clean? Find out in this Young Rider grooming kit guide!
Grooming means keeping your horse clean. It is very important that you take the time to clean your horse before and after you ride. If you leave mud and dirt on him, it can make him sore and itchy. You should groom him when you are done riding to get rid of sweat and dirt. Grooming is like a massage for a horse. Just be sure to be careful around sensitive areas like his face, belly and legs.
Remember to disinfect your grooming tools a few times a year in warm, soapy water so you don’t spread germs. If fact, if you are riding more than one horse, it is a good idea to have a grooming kit for each one to keep them healthy. Be sure to rinse your brushes after soaking. Leftover soap can make your horse itchy!
Grooming Box: You’re going to need something to hold all your tools. It can be something as simple as a bucket, or more complex like a wooden grooming box or cloth bucket. Most people use plastic carryalls to hold their brushes—you can pick one up at the local store.
Currycomb or Rubber Mitt: This flexible plastic or rubber brush helps remove dried mud that is caked on your horse’s coat. Be careful when using this tool on a horse’s face and legs, it might be too harsh! Use your hand or another brush to knock the dirt from the bristles or nubs.
Dandy Brush: This is a brush with stiff bristles. Use this brush with short strokes, flicking your wrist, to remove the mud the currycomb loosened. Make sure you rub this brush with your hand or another brush to get the dust out of the bristles.
Body brush: A body brush is a soft brush that can be used everywhere on a horses body. It removes surface dirt the dandy brush left behind. It makes a horse shiny by bringing up natural oils in his coat.
Hoofpick: This is the most important grooming item you can use on your horse. It is a metal or plastic tool with a hook on one end used to remove dirt and pebbles trapped in your horse hooves. You need to pick out your horses feet everyday, even if you are not going to ride. This is to make sure that nothing is stuck in his hoof and hurting him.
Mane Comb: A small metal or plastic comb, this tool is used to get knots out of a horse’s mane. You should also get a people hairbrush to get knots out of the tail. Always start at the bottom of the tail working up so you don’t break a lot of hairs.
Sponges: You should also have two sponges in your kit. One is for the horse’s head, to wipe out his nose and eyes, and the other is for his dock area, just under his tail. Never use just one sponge, this can spread infections. Use different colored sponges so you don’t mix them up.
Hoof Oil: Oil your horse’s feet after you ride, especially in the summer. This will prevent them from cracking and flaking as the weather gets drier.
Clippers: At some point in time you will most likely have to trim your pony, whether it is to make a place for his halter or headstall, to get rid of some excess whiskers or to give him a full body clip in the winter. There are lots of different sizes and styles of clippers out there, each one meant to do a specific job. You won’t need body clippers if you are only trimming his ears, but you will need heavy duty clippers if you’re going to get thru his winter coat! You might want to borrow clippers for a little while to see which kind you really need. You can get small, handheld clippers for as little as 20 dollars!
Bath Time: When your pony is really dirty, you will need to give him a deep-down cleaning with soap and water. There are many types of shampoos available; you just need to find the one that suits your pony’s needs! There are soaps for sensitive skin, soaps made with only natural ingredients and soaps that are specially made for relaxing muscles after a hard work out.
You can use different tools to really work the soap into his coat. You can use a regular curry, a curry that attaches to the end of your hose or even scrubby mitts like you use in the shower. Always remember to rinse him well; leftover soap can make him itchy!
Spray-on Conditioners: If the weather is too cold or you just don’t have the time to give your pony a bath, spray-on coat conditioners might be the answer. These sprays coat each hair on your horse’s body to repel dirt and dust. They are also excellent detanglers for manes and tails.
With these tools in mind, you should have everything you need to keep your pony clean and healthy. Happy grooming!
* This article first appeared in the March/April 2005 issue of Young Rider.