Introduction: How to Groom a Horse Before Riding
This is a basic guide to grooming a horse before riding. Starting with what brushes you need, proper use of each brush, and considering safety at every step. Most horses enjoy getting brushed and it can be a great way to get comfortable being around horses for beginners and it is an experienced rider's starting point to every ride.
The reason we brush horses before riding is to get all of the dirt and extra fur off of their coat so it doesn't irritate them when the saddle is put on their back and they are ridden for extended periods of time. It can also be done to help them shed out in the spring or just to make them look nice.
1 Soft Brush
1 Stiff Brush
1 Hoof pick
1 Curry Comb
1 Mane/Tail Brush
Step 1: Safety
Horses are large animals, and even though they are mostly safe to be around you always have to be aware of what the horse is doing. Horses are easily spooked and if they are scared they can accidentally hit or push you, and because of their size, hurt you without meaning to, so you have to be vigilant of this.
They can also be in a foul mood sometimes to watch for this, you can generally watch their ears because, like cats, they pin their ears when they are angry or mad. If this happens take a step back and see if you can fix what is irritating them, and proceed cautiously whatever the outcome.
Trained horses are generally very peaceful animals, and they very rarely mean you harm. But because of their size and varied temperament from horse to horse, its always a good idea to keep an eye out and be a little cautious, especially if you are interacting with a new horse.
Step 2: Curry Comb
-In this step you will use a curry comb. There are many different varieties of a curry comb but we will be using a round curry with cone shaped teeth, although this could be substituted for a different rubber curry if the exact type used isn't available.
-To use the curry comb, brush the horse in a circular motion using just enough pressure to dislodge the dirt on the horse's coat. This will bring up any dirt and other things that we want to brush off of the horse.
-The curry is to be used starting just behind the head on the neck, over the chest and main body, and all the way to the butt of the horse, as highlighted by the picture. Make sure to get the underside of the stomach, especially right behind the front legs as this is where the girth,the part of the saddle that wraps around the horse to keep the saddle in place, will lie and we don't want any dirt between the girth and the horse as it can be uncomfortable for the horse. Be especially aware when doing this as this is a sensitive area for some horses.
-Do this on both sides making sure to pay special attention to any dirt clumps on the horses fur. Brushing the mane out of the way if it is blocking an area you need to brush.
-If your horse is shedding a lot you may also need to clean the curry out as you go, just check the teeth of the curry every once and a while to make sure it isn't filled with fur.
Step 3: The Stiff an Soft Brushes
-Starting with the stiff brush, use a flicking motion as shown in the video, begin with the neck and work your way across the main body of the horse, the same area as the curry comb.
-Also with the stiff brush you can go over the legs to get the dirt and dust off of them, you could use the curry on their legs too but because of the shape of the legs and the motion of the curry comb it is difficult to get a good result. Using the stiff brush t get the dirt off will produce a better result.
-After finishing with the stiff brush do the same with the soft brush, this will get any of the dirt and dust that is left in the coat that the stiff brush couldn't get. Again use a flicking motion as shown in the video.
- With the soft brush you may also want to brush off the horses face, be careful to avoid the horses eyes and ears, the eyes, for obvious reasons, and some horses don't like their ears being touched. Gently brush off any shedding fur or dirt on their face with the soft brush.
-As with the curry, both of these brushed can accumulate fur and become less effective. Clean them out as you go if they seem to be accumulating to much fur.
Step 4: Cleaning the Hoof
-Cleaning the hoof is an important part of grooming. Horses can get rocks and dirt stuck in their hooves so its important to clean them out before every ride.
-To pick up a horse's foot, run your hand down their shoulder and leg to the last joint before their hoof, and then squeeze lightly just above the joint on the rear of the leg to ask them to pick it up. Then hold the hoof and clean it from there. The back end requires the same procedure as the front. Refer to the video for an example of a front leg and a back leg being picked up.
- Once the leg is up, use the hoof pick to scrape the dirt and rocks out of the hoof and brush the excess off once it's picked out. The picture above shows the area you want to clean. Take care to not hit the frog, the triangle shaped piece of the hoof. It is soft and can be brushed off, but not picked like the rest of the hoof.
Step 5: Mane and Tail (optional)
-The mane and tail don't need to be brushed out each time you ride, but if you have the extra time it is worth doing, as the mane and tail can become tangled if not brushed out occasionally.
- To brush the mane, start at the ends of the hair and slowly make your way up to the ridge of the neck, and then across the whole mane. Making sure to get all of the snags out before brushing more of the hair. This is shown in the video.
- The tail is very similar: start at the end and make your way up to the top of the tail. Because the tail is near the rear of the horse, it is generally a good idea to pull the tail to one side and brush it away from the horses back end. This is a potentially dangerous area because horses have a very strong kick, and can seriously injury you. This is unlikely, but its always good to be cautious. The second video demonstrates this.