Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Basics: Grooming Gear

Grooming is not only a great way to get your horse clean and keep him or her healthy, it is also a way to bond with your horse. As horses are social animals, mutual grooming can help show affection, reinforce social structures and build relationships. Plus, it will give you a chance to find out those spots that your horse can't get to to scratch.

The following are the essentials for cleaning your horse.

Hoof Pick: metal or plastic tool with a pointed end used for picking debris, rocks, glass & nails from underside of hooves. You will want to have an equestrian professional with you to show you how to do this. In essence, you will stand near the leg that you want to pick up but facing the direction of the horse's back end. Next, you will run your hand down the horse's leg. When you get to about the cannon bone, or the space between the horse's "knee" and "ankle," you will squeeze a little to signal the horse that you want that leg. When the horse picks it up, slide your hand under the hoof, so it faces you. There will be two grooves in the hoof, with what is known as the frog (looks a bit like a triangle) in the middle. Do not pick at the frog with the metal part of the hoof pick, but instead remove debris from the frog with fingers or a brush. Work from heel to toe and pick out debris from the grooves.

Curry Comb: a tool made of rubber or plastic with short teeth on one side. Its purpose is to break up dirt clumps and pull loose hair to the surface of the coat. Starting at the top of the neck, work the curry in a circular motion, bringing the dust and debris to the surface. Rubber and metal curry combs shouldn't be used on the horse's face, or any other sensitive areas. Make sure to finish on one side before moving to the other side.

Hard or Dandy Brush: A hard bristled brush used to removed dirt and debris loosened by the curry comb. This brush should not be used on the horse's face, legs, or bony protrusions as it can irritate sensitive areas. Start at the top of the neck with the brush and move over the body, top to bottom, in short flicking motions.
Soft Brush: A soft bristled brush used after the hard brush to get rid of the small particles of dirt and debris that were missed. This brush can be used on the horse's face, legs and bony protrusions as it is softer (der!) than its conterpart, the dandy brush. Following the same path as you did when covering the body with the hard brush, sweep the soft brush in longer strokes.

Comb or Brush: A "hair" brush to comb through the horse's mane and tail. Start at the bottom of the mane or tail and work your way up. Comb out any tangles as gently as possible so as to not break the hair.

And yes, you can make sure all the colors match.....

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