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Grooming For Glamour - The Basics

By Jeffrey Rolo

Horses possess an inherent beauty that causes horse lovers to stop and take note, but a well-groomed horse is a thing of magnificence that can take almost anyone's breath away. The Grooming For Glamour series of articles will offer advice and options for all areas of horse grooming, whether you are preparing your horse for a show or just providing daily maintenance and care.

A consistent grooming routine can benefit your horse greatly as the time spent grooming will keep your horse cleaner and healthier as well as help develop a horse-owner bond due to the social factor. Many horses actually find the grooming process to be rather refreshing, while others could do without were it up to them. Much like children and baths!

There are four basic tools every horse owner should own for day-to-day horse grooming: a curry comb, a stiff brush (often called a dandy brush), a body brush (sometimes called a finishing brush) and a hoof pick.

Start your grooming process with the rubber curry comb, brushing it in a circular pattern to loosen/uproot dead hair and dirt. Be particularly careful when currying bony regions (such as along the spine) and the legs because although the curry is crafted from rubber it is still tough and can cause discomfort when not used in a gentle manner. Never curry a horse's face; not only is it uncomfortable for the horse, one wrong move can jab a pointed rubber tooth into the horse's eye.

The next step is to pull out your stiff brush and work it along the horse's body in a flicking movement, much like you would do if you swept the kitchen floor. Make sure you follow the "grain" of your horse's hair, because the bristles are stiff and you can cause discomfort if you flick against the grain. Your goal here is to take the dirt and hair you loosened with the curry and flick it into the air, so do not brush a horse down at this stage or you will just pack the dirt back down.

Once your horse has been curried and the loosened dirt/hair has been flicked you will want to finish your horse with a soft bristled brush. This time you are going to brush the horse down normally; the finishing brush is designed to remove any surface dirt that might remain as well as smooth down the hair.

Some people prefer to use a curry glove (a rubber glove with stubs/teeth) instead of the comb, which is fine. Others prefer to use a polishing cloth (one designed for horses, not cars!) in place of a finishing brush, and once again that is fine. There are many utensils available on the market the above are just the basic tools owned by almost every horseman.

During the early spring months horse owners are often tempted to use a shedding blade (a circular metal blade with sharp teeth) to remove the horse's winter coat. Unless your horse has an extraordinarily thick coat, I recommend against using this instrument unless you are very gentle. The metal teeth are very sharp and easily capable of puncturing skin, so caution is essential. Never use a shedding blade along your horse's bony regions, legs or face!

Having finished your horse's body it's now time to pick up his feet and clean them thoroughly with your hoof pick. Congratulations, your basic grooming session is finished! You can either move on to your horse's mane and tail or you can call it a day and treat or snuggle with your horse.



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