Just like humans, grooming and looking good starts from the inside. If you feed a horse what they need to be happy and healthy, their coat and skin will hopefully be in reasonably good shape. I am not a nutritionist, but it is worth looking into your horse's diet, to make sure they are getting proper food based on their breeding, performance level, their age, the environment they live in, and the climate(s) that they have to deal with. It goes without saying to make sure that they get all the care they require from their vet and dentist, and that they are wormed regularly.
I formulate, make and sell natural grooming products. I believe that my products add a lovely finishing touch to robust nutrition, overall care and a thorough grooming routine of your horse. However, when it comes to taking a direct approach to making your horse shine, elbow grease is the first line of attack. LOTS of elbow grease. Additionally, taking the time to groom your horse can also be very therapeutic for them. It helps increase their blood circulation, it feels good (unless you have a super sensitive horse of course), and it helps you strengthen your bond with them. Thus hard work, in partnership with the right set of tools and products, can help make your equine show ring ready.
When I say the right set of tools, I don’t just mean the right grooming instruments, but the ones that go a step further and actually fit the size of your hand, and help you get your job done faster and more easily. When you are looking at brushes etc., take the time to hold them in your hand, analyze the types of bristles or teeth they have, and even imitate the motion of grooming. Can I hold this tool easily, or is it too heavy for me? Are the bristles stiff enough to get off the type of mud that gets caked on my horse when he rolls out in field? Will the teeth on this curry comb irritate my horse who has sensitive skin? Of course, the questions you ask will be very different depending on yourself, and your horses needs.
I learned the basics of grooming when I was a child living in England. Every horse had a grooming kit which contained a rubber curry comb, hard brush, soft brush, hoof pick and metal curry comb (for cleaning brushes, not the horse!). These few instruments are tried and true and I use them all pretty much every time I groom a horse. In addition to this I like to have a mane and tail brush, an instrument for shedding (shedding blade, furminator or something else similar), and a clean washcloth for the face. There are also some items I have for bathing, but that’s another topic for another day.
If you work hard grooming your horse, the results will show. Their coat will be healthier and more shiny; their mane and tail more tangle-free. The next step would be to consider grooming products. Grooming products can help enhance the hard work you put in. They can also help solve minor problems.
I put grooming products into two categories. Type one is the kind that gets to the root cause of a problem, type two being that which treat a symptom, but don’t really help solve the underlying issue. Here is an example. A horse has a dull, tangled tail. There are products out there that would really help to improve it’s condition over time (ha insert product plug here, The Simple Equine’s Nourishing Avocado Tail Treatment!), and there are others that would create some shine and help get the tangles out without really doing anything to improve the tail. I myself, prefer the former type of product. I want my horses tail to be healthy and beautiful all of the time. The product I use should aid in helping my horse to have the longest and fullest tail possible, so that they can swat away the flies with ease. The product should also help the strength and condition of each individual hair, which will in turn help to create a more tangle-free tail which is easier and quicker to care for.
So a quick recap - work from the inside out - feed well, provide proper care from the vet and dentist, groom with the right tools and lots of enthusiasm and use grooming products when needed to make your horse look and feel even better.
The short video below will help a person become familiar with horse and equine grooming concepts. We show foundation grooming tools - curry comb, dandy (hard) brush, body (soft) brush, and hoof pick. Start learning now.
This video is not an inclusive video of everything that goes into grooming a horse, it is intended to be an introduction. You may or may not agree with what is shown, but we hope that you will be left with information to consider, mull over, or even agree to disagree about.