I went over all the grooming tools last week. This week I'm going to describe a basic grooming. I've found this is best after exercise, when the horse is relaxed and a little tired. If you're riding the horse, I pull him out of his stall and start with light brushing. I just get the majority of the dirt off with a plain black rubber curry followed up by a hard brush in the areas that will be affected by tack or leg protection. After the ride when the horse is fully cooled, put the horse back in his stall and let him hang out, chew on some hay and get a drink while you clean tack and put everything away.
With yearlings to start, I use a mane and tail brush. We brush our yearling manes and tails every day and they are kept completely tangle free. On a regular horse, I start with the curry comb. This is probably the most important step to getting your horse clean and shiny. Currying loosens up all the dirt and dander and gives the horse a nice massage. I tend to use a lot of different curries for different purposes. I generally start with a black rubber curry type and use it in a circular or side to side motion all over the horses body. It depends on the horse though. Some horses need softer curries, while others can tolerate hard curries. Always use a rubber mitt or special face curry on the legs or face. If the horse is extra sweaty and you're unable to bathe or hose off, using wintergreen rubbing alcohol on a towel will remove all the dirt from that area. I try not to use alcohol regularly because I feel like it would dry out the coat. If the sweat has dried already, using one of the plastic Shed Flowers in a circular motion works well. If the horse is shedding a lot, the Grooma Grooma can be used now to lift all the loose hair off. In certain severe circumstances, I will use a dry microfiber or hand towel after currying. It helps pick up a lot of the gross dirt and dander you just lifted that sometimes just refuses to be brushed off the coat any other way. Curries also need to be check every few weeks or months depending on how many you groom a day to make sure the rubber has not worn down too far. A curry that is worn will not clean nearly as effectively.
Next, use a hard/dandy brush. Grooming is a vigorous process! When using the hard brush, use short, flicking strokes. There should be dirt flying off your horse. If it isn't, you either didn't curry enough to lift the dirt or you aren't brushing hard enough. Use the hard brush in the direction of the hair growth all over the body. Keep listening to your horse because some tolerate this better than others. Digby hates being hard brushed but most of the yearlings I groom actually seem to enjoy this part. Use the hard brush on legs and face if the horse tolerates it but with lighter strokes then on the body. Like I said before, don't forget key areas like the elbows, pasterns and base of mane.
Next, use a body brush in the direction of the hair growth. This is a very important step. This brush will pick up all the dander and dirt that was lifted by the curry and what's left over from the hard brush. Your brush WILL get dirty quickly if you're grooming correctly so make sure you clean it by wiping it on a towel or using a metal curry every few strokes. This brush can be used on any body part, including the legs and face. I try to avoid using it on the legs because they tend to get pretty clean with the hard brush only. The body brush is also good for that oh so hard to banish dust/dirt on the top of their hindquarters. If you need to keep your grooming tools budget to a minimum, buying a high quality body brush will benefit you best in the long run out of any other grooming tool.
Use a sponge, warm damp towel or baby wipes next to clean out ears, nose and around the eyes. I occasionally use a baby wipe to clean their bridle path if it just didn't seem to get clean while brushing. Use another towel or sponge to clean behind the tail and near the sheath or udder.
I generally will use the mane and tail brush now. I don't brush out the tails on riding horses often. I think leaving them alone tends to make them the thickest and longest. I will brush out forelocks and manes though. Use a silicone spray (Show Sheen, etc) to detangle if you do not have time to pick out the knots by hand. Whatever method you use, you need to be careful not to break hairs. Manes and tails take a looong time to grow in! After that, I hoof pick. I won't go into details about hoof picking because it is fairly straight forward. Refer to the USPC Manual if you have questions about hoof picking.
As a finishing touch, I rub the horse down with a hand towel. You can also use your hands as the oils from your skin help the horses coat. I use white towels so I can see if there was any dirt left. I do not necessarily use the same towel on the same horse every day. When it's dirty, I launder it. I know people who use the same towel after every grooming on the same horse, every day. The towel helps distribute the oils back onto the coat. It definitely works but I think using a new, clean towel works fine as well. Use the towel in circular motions, ending with brushing the hair in the correct direction. Rub the horse for as long as you have time, as this toweling really helps get them shiny.
That's all for this week! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them for me! I'll be gone for work until the 8th so there won't be a grooming tip tuesday next week, nor will you be hearing any Digby updates. :( I promise to update you as soon as I get back!