Grooming is a great way of bonding with your horse as well as checking his whole body daily for any signs of illness or harm.
You’d normally groom your horse once a day. The aim is to make him clean and comfortable. How long you’ll spend grooming just depends on the state of the animal: it can take anything from a quick fifteen minutes to more than half an hour if he’s filthy.
If your horse has been in his stable, he will be thankfully mud-free, but could have a few stains from lying on his droppings; if he’s been out in his field all night or day, he could be covered in either wet or dry mud, which is an entirely different proposition. There is no way around it — grooming is a physical pursuit and the more elbow grease you put in, the better the results will be.
Most people enjoy grooming their horse or pony; those who suspect they might not would be well advised not to invest in a grey.
You’ll soon develop your own grooming routine to suit you both, but the following guide should provide a good starting point.
Make sure your horse is tied up safely in his stable or outside in the yard. As long as the animal is dry, begin with the plastic curry comb and draw circles quite firmly on his torso to release all the dirt caught under the coat.
Then run over his body with the dandy brush, avoiding the legs and being gentle under his belly. After the dandy brush has taken off most of the mud and dirt, you can sweep the body brush over the entire body including the legs, removing any dirt or dust with a vigorous rub. The metal curry comb is to take the hair off the body brush, not off your horse!
A wet, muddy horse will require another approach altogether. You can let him dry off, which is easiest, but if you need to get going, you’d need to give him a proper wash with a bucket of water and some good soap or horse shampoo, either targeting patches of mud or just sloshing the whole bucket over him, if required (outside his stable to save the bedding). Rinse him down with water scraped off with a sweat scraper, then rub him dry with a towel.
Use the hoofpick to pick out your horses’s feet before and after you ride. Standing with your back to his head, from the very top of the leg run your hand down to the hoof, feeling the leg all the way for any cuts or sensitivities.
The horse should lift his hoof and hold it up. Cradle it in your left hand and pick it out with your right when you are to the right of him, and pick out with your left on the other side. Make sure you completely clean the inside of the hoof, including the frog (the triangle at the base), and move around the horse in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction, but try to be consistent every time so he knows what to expect.
Clean your horse’s head with a soft rag and wipe the nose, eyes and mouth with a soft, wet cloth (some people use fragrance-free baby wipes).
You can brush the mane and tail with a body brush – which is quite effective at removing dried mud – you’ll need to wash the tail with soap and water if it’s too muddy to get out with a brush.