Is your horse a real muckraker? Does it like to roll in the dust and prefer to run around camouflaged in sand? Then it loves the innate rolling behavior and you are used to cleaning it frequently. While you’re cleaning your horse, you’re strengthening your bond. The intensive grooming is good for him. Horses appreciate it when their owners take time and groom them sensibly with the right accessories.
Well-groomed horses smell good. They don’t smell dusty or like a stable, but pleasantly aromatic-furry and a bit earthy. They also feel very comfortable and love their “groom” more than anything. This is because intensive grooming goes hand in hand with lots of petting and massages. Most horses and ponies enjoy this. But how do you go about grooming properly? After all, you don’t just want to give your horse a wellness moment, you want to do something good for his health. In our guide, you’ll learn what you need to think about when grooming your horse.
Horse style grooming: rolling
You probably don’t like it much, but your horse thinks rolling in the dirt is absolutely correct. There’s a reason for that: for hoofed animals, it’s grooming. If your horse is heavily sweaty after a ride, he will also like to roll in the mud. If you’ve ever been mudding, you know this: the mud is very cooling. Rolling is an innate behavior and important for the animals.
When they roll, the animals massage their skin. This promotes blood circulation. At the same time, they reliably get rid of mosquitoes and other bugs. Horses and ponies also lose itchy dry sweat and loose fur hairs when they roll in the sand. So rolling is “delousing” and exfoliation plus massage. If your animal grunts comfortably when rolling and snorts when standing up, it literally feels “super comfortable” and is deeply relaxed. A good sign!
After rolling, horses and ponies shake the loose dust out of their coats. They are then clean enough for everyday life on the meadow. But before you saddle your animal, you should clean it thoroughly. After all, many a stubby piece of dirt does get stuck – and that can be unpleasant under the saddle.
Did you know that some horse farms create special rolling areas of sand and fine earth for the animals? This ensures that the four-legged friends can roll around in a relaxing manner even outside the riding arena or indoor arena.
What do you need to clean horses properly?
So we hold: Before saddling your horse is made “Aushfein”. Coat and skin under saddle and bridle should stay healthy.
The following utensils belong in the grooming box:
- Horse grooming brush
- Card brush
- Root brush
- Two different colored sponges
- Hoof scraper
- Mane comb and mane brush
- Soft towel or lambskin glove
- Brush with very soft bristles
Pay attention to the order of grooming!
You always start the grooming ritual with a pleasant massage for your horse. You do this with the curry comb. The rubber brush is intended for the round, muscular parts of your animal’s body, where the coat grows thick. Do not groom bony parts and joints. During the massage you loosen the muscles under the coat and stimulate the blood circulation. At the same time, dust and dirt are loosened from the undercoat.
When grooming, you work through the horse or pony from front to back. You massage your animal with calm, circular movements. Your animal will definitely enjoy this.
After the currycomb, it’s the turn of the card brush. The curry comb has already loosened dust and hair from the undercoat, the card brush now reliably brushes these impurities out of the coat. You can work with both hands: Take the curry comb in one hand and the card brush in the other. Brush your horse thoroughly with the brush in calm and firm strokes from the neck to the croup. The coat, which is somewhat shaggy after grooming, will now become smooth again. In the meantime, always brush out the card brush on the curry comb in order to clean it.
Always follow the direction of growth of the coat with the card brush and never brush against the grain, even at the vertebrae above the flank!
Brush the horse’s head properly: Please be very gentle!
For the head care you need soft brushes. Before you brush out the thin, sensitive fur on the head, remove the sand from the last roll from the face with a clean, soft towel. This is especially important around the eyes.
Not every horse or pony likes it when the thin fur on the head, which lies directly on the bone, is cleaned with the brush. Nevertheless, you should do this gently and lovingly. Because if sand or dust gets caught here, the animal will get chafing under the bridle. Slowly get your horse used to brushing his face. Move calmly and carefully while doing this.
You can reach all parts of the horse’s head if you move the halter carefully. This is because dust and sand can collect underneath as well.
Clean mouth and nostrils
The head also includes the mouth and nostrils – and that’s where the sponges come in. One of the sponges is for the mouth and nostrils, the other one you use to clean the anus of your horse or pony. That’s why the sponges have two different colors: Please never mix them up! Before cleaning the nostrils and mouth, moisten the sponge with fresh water. Clean the nose carefully, because some horses don’t like that at all. Do not force your horse! Maybe he will let you do it next time.
Cleaning the bum
Once you’ve cleaned the head, it’s time to clean the back. Wet the sponge with fresh, clean water. Stand to the side of your horse and grip the tail firmly. Pull it firmly to the side and wipe the sensitive areas from top to bottom with gentle but firm strokes. Don’t be irritated if you need some force: your horse has strong tail muscles.
Now the ears are missing. Horse ears are self-cleaning in a healthy animal. Please never pick around in the ears, just leave them alone inside. Both the small bumps in the auricles (a mixture of lard and dust) and the hair belong in there. Use a soft cloth to remove the dirt on the outside of the ear. What you should definitely do when grooming is to cuddle. Because many horses love that. Some prefer to be scratched between the ears and on the mop of hair, others love to be stroked on the outside of the ears towards the tip of the ear.
Clean your horse’s or pony’s legs with a root brush. The brush is much softer than the curry comb, but gets the dirt out of the coat more reliably than the card brush. You always brush the legs with the stroke, so you move from top to bottom. Be careful when brushing and do not bend under the horse. It is better to stand sideways. If you can’t loosen the dirt with the brush, you can simply give your horse a cool shower with the garden hose after riding.
You clean your horse from front to back and from top to bottom. Once the legs are clean, you still need to clean the hooves. It is important that you do this regularly. Hoof care ensures that your horse is healthy and can run well. Hooves are cared for on a daily basis. Check the underside and outside of each hoof and clean the frog inside the hooves.
Here’s what you should know about hoof care:
Dirt and stone debris should not be allowed to get under the hooves. Clean hooves daily! Check hooves and legs daily for injuries and pressure points! Hooves should be trimmed, rasped and/or clipped every four to eight weeks at the latest. Professionals will show you how to rasp and cut out hooves. Seek advice from a hoof trimmer. He or she will be able to explain the best time to work on the hooves. Clean the stall daily, because the dirt in the stall leads to infections of the hooves. This also applies to the paddock.
How exactly you clean the hooves depends on whether your animal is shod or not. Use the hoof scraper to remove the coarse dirt and stones from the lateral frog furrows and the middle frog furrow. Do this thoroughly. Then clean the bearing wall. Use the brush to get the fine dirt off the hoof. Stubborn dirt can be loosened with soapy water.
Tail and mane care
Grooming your horse’s tail and mane is probably the most fun you’ll have. But you only brush the tail when it’s really necessary. The hairs are sensitive, they break easily. And they grow back very slowly. Before you reach for the brush, you should therefore clean the tail by hand. Pluck hay and straw out of the tail one by one and smooth the strands with your fingers. This is usually sufficient.
If you want to really polish up your horse or pony before a show, you can also wash the tail with a special tail shampoo or use a spray. This will make the hair smoother. Do the same with the mane. But here you may also brush a little more often when grooming. Loosen knots carefully with your fingers.
Grooming horses properly in every season
Depending on the season, some points in horse care change. In spring and autumn, the coat changes, which you can make easier for your horse by regular brushing and grooming. From a healthy skin, the new coat grows easily and protects your horse from the weather conditions associated with each season.
Coat care for horses in summer
Hot summer days are a challenge for the horse. It sweats in the paddock, which attracts flies and mosquitoes and other biting insects. Proper coat care plays an important role in summer, especially because of the prevention of insect bites and eczema. After a day in the pasture, you should give your horse relief by spraying him with cool water. You will use the sweat knife and remove the sweat accumulated in the coat and on the skin and mixed with dust. When temperatures rise above 30 °C, a day in the stable may be a better alternative to free running in the paddock.
Equip your horse with items related to fly protection. Then it is optimally protected against the small pests.
Care of the horse’s coat in winter
Your horse develops a thick winter coat in autumn. The coat protects your animal from the cold. However, the thick fur also causes it to sweat more quickly during exercise. You should not clean your horse with water during the cold season, or only very sparingly. It’s best to use a good spiked curry comb in winter as the most important tool for grooming your dog’s coat. If the coat is very dirty and stuck together, a washing glove is suitable, with which you apply a little lukewarm water to the affected area and remove the dirt with rubbing movements. To dry the coat again, wipe the excess water out of the coat with the sweat knife and then rub the area dry with a towel.
Grooming measures in the guidelines for the assessment of horse housing
The guidelines for the assessment of horse husbandry under animal welfare aspects – published by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection – also comment on grooming measures for horses.
The guidelines emphasize the following important points:
One should not restrict the species-specific grooming behavior of the quadruped by the way it is kept. It is essential for the well-being of your horse that you groom it sensibly. The care of the horse is conducive to the trust between man and animal. You can get young horses used to being around people with proper grooming. You should only cover or shear your horse when it is really necessary. The physiological function of the hair coat must not be disturbed. You must not manipulate hairs with protective functions (such as hairs in the ears) or hairs that are functional parts of organs (such as tactile hairs). When you wash your horse, you must use appropriate products. The natural protective function of the skin and coat must be maintained.
Conclusion: Grooming horses properly
With the right and regular coat, hoof and skin care, you prevent diseases in your horse and create a close bond with your animal. Grooming your four-legged friend is not just about a shiny appearance and healthy-looking coat, but about promoting coat and skin health. With careful grooming, you’ll see any injuries, avoid chafing under the snaffle and saddle, and get an idea of the animal’s skin condition. In addition, brushing and grooming feels like a massage to a horse. Grooming horses properly promotes their well-being and trust between humans and animals.
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