Regular grooming is one of the most important responsibilities involved in owning a horse. Grooming a horse improves the condition of its coat and skin and creates an opportunity to bond with the animal. Cleaning a horse’s coat and hooves also provides health benefits by preventing sores and chafing from the saddle and removing dirt and stones from the hooves that may cause lameness. Outside of its direct benefits to a horse’s psychological and physical health, grooming can contribute to success on the show circuit, particularly if owners learn to manicure their horses’ hooves and braid their manes and tails.
A number of specialized tools are required to groom a horse. Owners can acquire grooming supplies through many means, including local retailers and online suppliers. Knowing which tools to purchase will help keep your costs down and avoid multiple shopping trips. Following is a guide to some of the best grooming tools for horses.
Curry Combs and Grooming Prep Items
Rubber curry comb. Covered in rubberized nubs, a rubber curry comb helps to loosen dirt, dead skin, and loose hair from deep within a horse’s coat and bring them to the surface, where they can be brushed off. The brush is most useful on the shoulders, neck, hindquarters, and other large, well-muscled areas of a horse’s body.
Metal curry comb. Traditionally used to help loosen the hair during the shedding of the horse’s winter coat, metal currys are now more commonly used by horse owners to remove dirt and hair from other curry combs and brushes. Horses with more sensitive skin may find the metal curry to be painful, and it does not work well on sensitive or bony areas such as the shoulders, hips, or joints.
Mud brush. Possessing stiff bristles made from synthetic materials or natural fibers,
mud brushes help to remove mud and debris from dirty horses that have mud and dirt caked on their coats.
Rubber grooming glove. A grooming glove’s pebbled texture works similar to a curry comb by removing loose dirt and hair. However, its soft and flexible material works better on the face, legs, and other sensitive areas than the typical curry comb. Owners may also use it at bath time to scrub deep into a horse’s coat.
Horse grooming requires more than one type of brush to ensure the most thorough removal of dirt, dander, and loose hair. Furthermore, some areas of a horse’s body need more careful attention than others, such as the face and joints.
Dandy brush. Generally used after a curry comb to brush away the heaviest layers of dirt, dandy brushes have stiff bristles made of natural animal hair or synthetic fibers. They can also help to remove dried mud from a horse’s legs and to scrape mud off the walls of the hooves. Thin-skinned and sensitive horses may dislike the dandy brush, so owners must be careful in regards to which dandy brush they purchase.
Soft-bristled brush. Soft-bristled brushes work well for sensitive areas of a horse’s body. The brushes have different levels of softness, and owners may use them as finishing brushes, if desired. Additionally, soft brushes also help to clean and remove tangles from the mane and tail.
Face brush. These small brushes have soft bristles that help clean dirt and dander from a horse’s face, and they are gentle enough for use around sensitive areas such as the lips, nostrils, jaw, and eyes. Their small size also allows easy navigation around the contours of the horse’s face.
Body brush. One of the last items used in a grooming session, the body brush removes the finest particles of dirt and dust. The brush also smooths out the hairs to enhances the coat’s natural sheen and to give it a finishing shine.
Hoof, Mane, and Tail Care
Hoof pick. Hoof picks allow owners to clear a horse’s hooves of dirt, stones, manure, and other debris that may become stuck in areas around the horseshoe. A buildup of dirt and rock can become painful and lead to lameness, so owners will want a sturdy hoof pick that they can use on a daily basis.
Hoof oil. Although it is not an essential grooming tool, hoof oils help to protect and polish the hooves.
Wide-tooth comb. Wide-toothed combs help to tidy a horse’s mane and tail, while minimizing hair loss and breakage.
Mane pulling comb. Mane pulling combs help owners comply with breed-specific standards and guidelines for shows, competitions, and sport disciplines. The small comb helps to thin and shorten a horse’s mane by removing longer hairs and ensuring that the mane will lie naturally against the neck.
Tail rake. A tail rakes helps to keep a horse’s tail tidy and clean, although other brushes and finger combing may work just as well or better depending on how easily the hairs break.
Miscellaneous Grooming Supplies
Shedding blade. Used during the shedding season, a shedding blade targets loose hair and caked mud. Its design allows horse owners to remove larger amounts of hair, although the abrasive nature of the teeth may cause discomfort if it is used on sensitive or bony areas. The smooth side also helps to remove sweat and water during bath time.
Shedding stone. Rough and porous, a shedding stone helps to remove loose hair during the shedding season and can also aid in the removal of botfly larvae from an animal’s legs.
Sheepskin mitt. A wool and fleece mitt will help to buff a horse’s coat in order to create a natural sheen.
Sweat scraper. Sweat scrapers are similar to squeegees, but their design is meant for horses rather than windows. They remove sweat from the horse’s coat.
Sponges. Bathing a horse requires several types of sponges to help navigate the animal’s contours and prevent potential cross-contamination. Larger sponges work well for a horse’s body, and smaller ones can be used to help clean the face. Furthermore, separate sponges should be used for the eyes, nose, lips, ears, and genital area.