Horse Grooming

Grooming is a vital part of the horse’s daily care. It is required both by stabled horses and those kept on grass. Broadly, it can be divided into four areas: grooming the stabled horse; strapping; quartering; grooming the grass-kept horse.

Good grooming is a skill that requires practice and understanding, and it is required for several reasons:

  • 1. To keep the horse clean and to remove waste products from the coat and skin.
  • 2. To stimulate the circulation of blood and lymph and improve muscle tone.
  • 3. To promote health and discourage disease and infection.
  • 4. To improve the appearance of the horse.
  • 5. To ensure that the horse is inspected thoroughly, at least once daily.

Horse grooming should be undertaken by an experienced groom for about forty-five minutes, and to do it correctly it requires the groom to be fit, strong, and agile. The horse should enjoy his grooming and cooperate with the groom. When the weather permits it adds to the enjoyment of both horses and grooms if it can be done outside in the sun. The horse can be tied to a ring in the yard wall or to a fence rail and perhaps be given a hay net.

Whether inside or out, a clean area is required in which to work. A muddy field is unsatisfactory for grooming as is a dirty loose box. The bedding should be put up to one side and the floor swept clean. The groom should wear a shirt, slacks, and sensible boots or shoes. Too many clothes and soft shoes are an obvious disadvantage.

The good groom works in a quiet, confident way, encouraging the horse to be calm and relaxed. Timid or nervous horse handlers tend to make horses nervous too whilst the quiet, confident groom encourages similar qualities in the horse. Shouting and bullying on the part of the groom usually indicate that he is frightened.

Domesticated horses are normally quiet and accept human company but they depend on their speed and quick reactions for their defense. It is important to warn a horse of one’s approach by speaking softly and to avoid taking him by surprise. The horse may, unintentionally, tread on his handler or shy into him when startled. It is therefore necessary for the groom to remain in aba lanced position, able to move easily, when he is working on his horse.

Grooming should start by picking out the feet. If this is done in the same sequence each day, the horse will learn to pick up each foot in sequence as the groom requests. If the horse, initially, is not this cooperative the groom should start with the afore leg, putting a hand on the horse’s shoulder and running it down the shoulder over the elbow and down the back of the leg, taking hold of the tuft of hair at the ergot or the fetlock joint; at the same time the horse must be asked to lift his foot.

This should be done with the hand nearest the horse, and the groom facing the rear. If the horse fails to lift his foot the groom can lean against the horse’s shoulder, which often helps. The foot is lifted forward as it is raised and the horse should be given time to prevalence on three legs before work is started on the foot. To lift the hind foot, the groom, without taking the horse by surprise, should run a hand over the quarter and down the back of the leg over the hock to the fetlock joint. He should ask the horse to lift his foot as he takes it up to the rear.

The hoof pick must be used from the heel to the toe and with care. All dirt and dung must be removed to prevent the formation of thrush. The feet should, once or twice a week, be scrubbed out with warm, soapy water and a stiff brush. Care must be taken motto let water drain back into the heels or the back of the pastern as this may cause chapped or cracked heels.

The foot must then be thoroughly dried and the sole and frog painted with a mild creosote solution to discourage infection. Whilst picking out the feet, the shoes, clenches, heels, and coronet should be inspected. heavy night stains can then be removed from the body and the legs with the dandy brush. This brush must not be used on the head, the mane, or the tail.

The next stage is to use the body brush vigorously all over the horse in small circles against the lie of the coat.

Quartering is done first thing in the morning. It consists of removing the night stains from the horse’s body with the dandy brush and the straw or shavings from his mane and tail with the hands, then picking out his feet and sponging his eyes, nose, and dock. The rugs are not completely removed but folded back, first in front of the girth area and then behind.

The grass-kept horse needs to have his feet picked out at least once it day. His mane and tail should be freed from mud and dirt daily and heavy mud and dirt should be removed from his leg and body with a dandy brush. It should be remembered that the natural oils and greases in the horse’s coat help to keep him warm and protect hint from the elements.

When the grass-kept horse is required to hunt or compete, which requires fairly thorough grooming, some other form of protection must be provided as a substitute for the natural protection that has been removed. Certainly, a New Zealand rug, a field shelter, and extra feed will be necessary, together with facilities to bring him in at night should the weather become very cold.

See more: Horse Food

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