Horse Grooming

Horse grooming is another one of my favourite activities. Horse's and ponies need regular cleaning to stay healthy and smart, just as much as human's do and it can be a lot of fun too.

I find it's one of the best way's to get to know your horse or pony and to check if there is anything that need's extra care and attention. All tack gear used should be found in your tack box which should be kept close to, or in the stable area. Here's my regular cleaning routine that dad showed me to groom my pony.

1. Start by picking out the hooves. Facing towards the rear end of the pony, run your hand down the pony's leg. Pick up the hoof, then use a hoof pick to clean it out. The sharp end of the hoof pick should point towards the toe. Take care not to dig into the soft frog as you clean out the grooves on either side.

2. Brush the pony's head with a body brush or face brush. Brush the hairs in the direction they grow. Use firm strokes, putting the weight of your body behind each stroke. Only groom when the coat is dry.

3. Use a dandy brush to remove mud from the pony's body especially where the saddle and bridle will sit.

4. Pick out hay, lumps of mud and tangles from the mane and tail with your fingers, then brush one section at a time with a body brush. My pony used to love it, but take care with some horses. They may have ticklish area's. Learn to read their body language. If they fidgit or flick there ears, a nip or a kick may follow.

5. In cold weather leave at least one rug or blanket on while grooming to ward off the chills.

A hoof pick - removes mud and stones from the feet.

A body brush - has fine bristles. It removes natural oils from a pony's coat, so is mainly used for stabled ponies.

A dandy brush - is a stiff brush that removes dried on mud and sweat.

A mane comb - removes tangles from the mane and tail before plaiting.

A water brush - can be used to clean muddy hooves or to dampen down the mane and tail.

Your grooming kit may be sparten; a dandy brush, a body brush, a hoofpick, or it may be elaborate. However what you have is less important, to how you use it.

Grooming your horse or pony gives you a daily opportunity to check it over and make sure theres no cuts, sores, scrapes, swelling, bruises, or skin problems etc. It's aim is to promote health, prevent disease, maintain condition, and ensure cleanliness.

If you groom thoroughly every time you ride, you may pick up changes in your horse or pony's legs, such as heat in a joint, or a slightly mushy tendon. The attention is mainly given to the coat, skin, mane, tail and feet.

When grooming a stable kept horse or pony, begin by picking out the feet with a hoof pick, working downward from the heel towards the toe, making sure you remove all dirt and checking the condition of the shoes.

When grooming the body begin by using the dandy brush, giving extra attention to the saddle region, the horse's head and the hocks, fetlocks and pasterns.

Then work over the whole body including the mane with the body brush in one hand and the curry comb in the other.

Try using short circular strokes rather than just up and down. Taking precautions in sensitive area's. After a few strokes, clean out any built up dirt. Use a sponge for the eyes and around the nose.

When grooming an outside kept horse or pony it is best not use a body brush over it's body during the winter month's, as it may remove essential oils. Just stick to a dandy brush to take away the caked dirt on it's legs and belly. But make sure the eyes, nose and dock regions are sponged daily.

Grooming kit items

Dandy brush is a stiff brush good for removing caked mud and sweat.

Hoof pick used for picking out mud and stones from the feet

Mane comb removes tangles from the mane and tail before plaiting.

Body brush has fine bristles that removes dust and dandruff from the coat, mane and tail.

Curry comb made from metal or rubber and removes the dirt from a body brush.

Sweat scaper removes sweat or water after washing horse down.

Water brush used on mane, tail and feet when dampened.