Introduction: How to Groom Your Horse

Learning how to properly groom your horse is crucial for proper horse maintenance as well as promoting a bonding relationship between the rider and horse. It is important to groom your horse regularly and thoroughly to promote a healthy and durable coat. These instructions include the basic steps necessary to groom your horse and are meant to serve as a checklist for each time you groom your horse.

Supplies (pictured above)
You will need a lead rope, curry comb, hard (stiff) brush, soft brush, mane and tail brush, hoofpick, cloth/washcloth, and fly spray.

Step 1: Use a Lead Rope to Secure Your Horse

Before beginning to groom your horse, you must properly secure the horse using a quick release knot. After making sure the horse is secured, you can then begin to groom your horse.

*Link to how to tie a quick release knot

Step 2: Use the Curry Comb to Loosen Excess Dirt and Mud

Begin using the rubber curry comb in small (about the size of your palm) circular motions to loosen excess dirt and mud. Start at the neck and work your way down each side of the horse. Avoid using the curry comb on the face, spine, and legs of your horse as these areas are sensitive.

*Metal curry combs are available but do not use them. They are harsh and can injure the horse.

Step 3: Use a Hard/stiff Brush to Remove Dirt and Mud

Start at the neck of the horse and work your way towards the rear of the horse with the hard/stiff brush. Use short, brisk strokes to remove the excess dirt and mud that was loosened with the curry comb. Avoid using the hard brush on sensitive areas of the horse including the face, ears, and legs as this can cause discomfort and irritation to the horse.

Step 4: Use a Soft Brush to Remove Any Remaining Dust and to Groom Sensitive Areas

Use the soft brush to remove the last layer of dust from your horse's body. Also, use this brush to groom sensitive areas such as the face and legs. Gently brush the face with a soft brush (smaller soft brushes can be purchased to aid in brushing the face). Next, brush the horse’s entire body with this brush, beginning at the head and working back towards the rump on both sides of the horse.

Step 5: Use a Sponge or Washcloth to Clean Your Horse’s Face

Gently clean around your horse’s eyes and nose with a wet/damp sponge or washcloth. A different sponge or washcloth can be used to clean around the dock area (around the tail) of the horse. It is important to note that if you will be grooming multiple horses, make sure you do not use the same sponge/washcloth. Each horse should have his or her own sponge/washcloth to prevent spreading germs or infection.

*You can also use a separate sponge or cloth to clean the dock area of the horse. Do NOT use the same sponge on the face and the dock.

Step 6: Use a Wide-tooth Comb or Mane and Tail Brush to Brush Out the Mane and Tail

Warning: When performing this step, DO NOT STAND DIRECTLY BEHIND the horse!

First, run your fingers through your horse’s mane and tail to work through any large knots. Take a fist-full of the horse’s mane in one hand and use the other to gently comb through it. When combing out the tail, stand to the side of the horse (NOT DIRECTLY BEHIND the horse) and try to keep a hand or arm touching
the horse so that they know that you are there.

*If needed, detangling spray for horses is available and can be used to aid in detangling a particularly knotted mane or tail. These sprays also make the horse's mane and tail shine and can be used for special occasions.

*Some professional groomers do not use combs in their horse’s hair because the comb sometimes pulls hair out.

Step 7: Use a Hoofpick to Clean Your Horse’s Hooves

First, you must lift your horse's hoof. Most horses will lift their hooves after you run your hand down the back of their legs. If your horse does not lift it's hoof then you can GENTLY squeeze the tendon on the back of the leg. It is important to not squeeze this tendon too hard as it can lead to lameness. After lifting the hoof, use the hoofpick to scrape from the heel of the hoof towards the toe to remove any rocks, dirt, mud, or other foreign objects from your horse’s hoof. Be very careful to avoid scraping the frog of
the hoof with the hoofpick. The frog is a very sensitive V-shaped area of the hoof and if scraped could lead to lameness.

*It is very important that you clean your horse's hooves out before and after riding to prevent injury.

Step 8: Use Fly Spray When Necessary to Protect Your Horse

During the months of the year when flies are present, spraying your horse with fly spray (formulated for horses) at the end of your grooming session can help protect him or her from these pesky insects. Avoid spraying the horse in the face with fly spray and follow the instructions on the bottle for proper use.

*To give your horse’s coat extra shine, you can spray your horse with ShowSheen.

*In the picture above, it looks like the fly spray is directed at the horse's face, but he actually just turned his head so that he could watch me spray the rest of his body.