We all want our horses to look great, especially at the horse show! Professional equine grooms have the experience advantage and can tell us how to groom your horse like a pro!
Let’s take a look at the most popular professional horse grooming tips on the web. We’ll also discover some excellent horse grooming expertise from a German book full with old-school grooming tips!
Professional Horse Grooming Techniques
Have a Repeatable Grooming Routine!
- Do things in a sequence and lay out a method that incorporates a) checking on the horse’s wellness and b) cleaning your horse with a proven method. Horses like routine and predictability. They will respond by being relaxed and willing during the grooming process. So stick to the routine in your daily grooming!
- Example: Liv from Professional Equine Grooms always starts by taking the horse’s vital signs. An excellent habit to develop, even for the recreational rider!
- Then: Curry, Dandy, Flick, Body, Finish, Mane & Tail, according to Olympic Dressage Groom Lorraine Baker or our basic 4-Step Grooming process, followed by grooming mane and tail and hoof care.
Safety is First for Professional Equine Grooms!
Horses behave to maintain their own safety at all times. This can mean running away, jumping to the side, quickly moving limbs or even kicking in case of a perceived threat. Make sure you keep your horse calm and stay safe by following these pointers:
- Stand to the side – especially when working on legs (a horse’s knee comes up when he stomps a fly – you don’t want his knee knocking your nose!)
- Be careful around sensitive areas on the horse’s body, e.g. don’t use a hard metal curry comb on bony areas or a rough brush on sensitive skin on the belly – this may startle your horse
- Tie a quick-release knot in the horse’s lead rope when tying him up or use cross-ties with a panic release
- Use non-threatening body language and move slowly if you horse gets agitated
Keep Clean Rags Handy! [Tip: Shop Wipes from Costco are great!]
- Need a quick spiffing? Use a damp rag to wipe the body brush after every few strokes to tackle dust and create a quick result right before show time.
- Clean the horse’s ears, eyes, and nose with a clean, damp cloth after your regular grooming routine.
- Use a different cloth to clean around the dock area.
- Quickly wiping down a brushed tail with a damp cloth helps remove remaining dirt and lets the hair lay down nicely for a polished look.
- After combing the mane, flatten it to one side with a damp cloth.
Shavings to the Rescue!
A small bucket of clean shavings can help keep things tidy and even save a muddy day!
- Sprinkle the clean shavings on the ground after picking up droppings or even loose stools to keep the feet clean while you groom. Then easily sweep away the mess after you are done.
- For a mud encrusted horse: Loosen and remove as much mud as possible with your curry. Then dip a dandy brush in to slightly damp clean shavings and brush your horse. Follow up by brushing the shavings out with a flick brush. The shavings should look grayish when they drop to the floor. Flick the coat until clean, then simply sweep up.
- Help a sweaty horse dry off after exercise by rubbing it down with a bunch of clean straw.
- A so-called wisp can be made from straw or hay and used to give your horse that extra bit of shine. (It does take some work, you need to figure out how to create the wisp first, which may take some time to get the hang of it.)
- Alternatively, you can use a towel followed by a cactus cloth, which also provides a similar stimulating massage..
Low-tech Hoof Conditioning – Water does it!
Dry hooves are often a result of standing in bedding, which absorbs moisture or standing in dry lots in the summer time or in warmer climates. All the hoof needs, is moisture.
- Hose the hooves thoroughly with water before you start grooming. Apply hoof conditioner when the hoof is still somewhat moist. In this case, a Vaseline-based product will do the trick to seal in moisture.
- Extremely dry and brittle hooves can be wrapped in wet felt or wool cloths (repurpose old felted sweaters by washing them hot) while you are grooming. Remove when you are done grooming and apply hoof conditioner to the damp hoof.
Last Not Least – Baby Wipes!
- Baby wipes come in handy when you quickly need to clean your own hands, wipe over the horse’s face or touch up the bridle before going to the show ring. They are handier than a damp sponge and remove dirt wherever necessary. If you don’t want to carry around a whole pack of baby wipes, put some in a freezer container and keep it in your grooming kit.
General Pointers for Expert Grooming
- Don’t over do it! 100 strokes per day is the ‘old-school’ rule. You will be surprised how quickly you reach 100 strokes. Count them next time and see how your routine compares to this rule.
- Don’t share your grooming kit with others, who may groom strange horses. If you always groom the same horses with your kit, the microorganisms on your brushes live a happy and healthy life. Lending your brushes to others may introduce pathogens, fungi, or bacteria that cause infections on your horses.
- Clean brushes by scraping them against a curry or comb daily and sticking to a regular cleaning routine. Read “How to Clean Horse Brushes” to learn more. This will keep your tools in top shape for years to come and – a dirty brush cannot clean a horse!
- Think practical and ‘low tech’. For instance, investigate all the wonderful ways that duck tape can improve your groom life.
Now, have fun grooming and share your horse grooming questions with us! We love to hear from you.
As always – Enjoy your horse!
Your Team at HorseHaus