Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grooming Tip Tuesday - Tools of the Trade

Grooming Tip Tuesday! Tools of the Trade

Before I get into the basics of grooming, I'm going to discuss what brushes I personally use. It's in no particular order, as I'll get into that next week. Again, this is just what I use so by all means test them out on your own horses. Different horses prefer different types of brushes depending on their coat types and if they are thin skinned or not. Grooming should take about 30 minutes. 45 minutes is actually the best but it's a bit unrealistic for the normal person who would probably like to ride, as well as groom their horse in their limited time schedule. You're going to want some container to keep all your brushes in. If you like to see all your items, a grooming tote works best. If you have a place to spread your brushes out, you can use a simple bucket. A grooming bag is also an option. They usually have lots of pockets to keep things semi organized.

Curry Combs

Depending on what kind of horse you have, their coat, and how thin skinned they are, the currys you use will vary. Curry combs are used to loosen up dirt and dandruff and provide the horses skin and muscles with a massage. I use a variety of curries for a variety of different things.

I use a rubber grooming mitt for more sensitive areas like the legs and face, if the horse allows. They're good for shedding and getting off dirt in areas where a horse does not tolerate a normal curry.

I use a plain black rubber curry for general body currying. These are semi flexible and work best with "shark" teeth rather than rounded edges.

I've found that the "grooma groomer" works best for getting up loose hair on horses that are shedding. Most horses really enjoy when you use this on their muscles after exercising hard.

Two of my new favorite curries are the Epona Shed Flower and the Epona Curry Flower. The shed flower works really well on sweat stains (remember some of us can't bathe the horses we're grooming and need to get rid of sweat) and the curry flower works well on really dandruff-y skin. They might be silly because they're in flower shape but they both work well... so I'll over look it.

Hard/Dandy/Stiff brush

I like both synthetic and natural brushes for these. Natural brushes make them shinier in my opinion but if you're buying them yourself, synthetic brushes are often $3 versus $20 for a natural brush. It's up to you. Hard brushes are used in short flicking motion, to lift the dust from the coat. Use very hard and short strokes. You should see dust flying off your horse! You can use these all over except generally the face. Make sure you get the base of the mane and pasterns. These are often overlooked parts and all very important!

Medium/Body brush

This is used to remove all the dirt and dust you just lifted from the coat by currying and the hard brush. The brush should get very dirty quickly as its taking all the dirt and dander from the horses coat. Clean it often by wiping it with a towel or by using a metal curry. Brush horse all over in the direction of the hair growth.

Soft/Finishing Brush

Not entirely necessary but I like using a very soft brush to follow up. I just think it gets the last little bit of dirt up from the coat for a final "polishing". They tend to be made of goat hair or some other super soft material. Use the same way as the medium brush.

Mane and Tail Combs

These can be combs or brushes. The key is to not pull out any hairs. Which ever you prefer, start from the bottom of the mane or tail and work your way up. Detangler (ShowSheen, Vetrolin, Mane and Tail, and Cowboy Magic all make their own detanglers) can be added if you're short on time (like me) or patience. In theory, manes and tails should be worked out by hand but honestly, who has time for that? Pulling combs should be used for pulling only in my opinion but I know people that use them as combs as well.

Hoof Pick

Used for, well, picking out hooves. Remove all dirt and make sure there are no rocks/foreign objects lodged in their shoes. I'm a big fan of the cheap 89 cent hoof pick. There are plenty of fancy, schmancy hoof picks but honestly the cheap ones work just fine. Why waste your money? A hoof pick with a brush is very nice to have and still cheap.


Other things you may want to have around are:
- Scissors (for quick cutting of fetlocks or bridle paths)
- Unscented baby wipes (great for noses, ears and those who dislike their face being brushed... Ahem DIGBY!)
- Towels (We used normal small hand towel sized ones that we buy in bulk at Costco at work. Digby gets microfiber towels that I got from the car parts store. Works well for a rub down and final polish after brushing)
- Baby powder/corn starch (works excellent in getting those white markings blindingly white! Add to marking when it's still wet from being bathed and brush out once dry)
- Blueing shampoo/Quik Silver (a must have for white socks or stockings!)
- Any shampooing items you find necessary (Bathing will dull a coat if you do it often so keep bathing to a minimum. Trust me, your horse will thank you and they can be just as clean without a bath as they can with one if you work at it!)
- Steel wool or brillo pads (work well instead of paying for an expensive hoof brush to remove dirt and other "grossness" from hooves)
- A&D ointment (works wonders on healed cuts to help grow hair back. Do not use on any wounds that have not healed yet)

Recommending Reading

The United States Pony Club Manual 

Braiding Manes and Tails


Grooming to Win (the best book for discipline specific answers)


  1. Jelly Scrubbers are a godsend for the sensitive skinned TB http://www.amazon.com/Other-Rubber-Jelly-Scrubber/dp/B003VV0AAU

    Also good to have a pulling comb and whisker razor http://www.horsetackreview.com/article-display/1743.html

  2. Oh yes, I forgot about jelly scrubbers! I like them for when you're bathing! Definitely gets all the dirt and grossness out.