Groom for Health
Grooming doesn’t just make your horse look gorgeous; it’s also a genuine health booster. Vigorous grooming promotes circulation, massages muscles, sloughs off dead skin cells, and stimulates the production of beneficial oils. It also enables you to spot emerging lumps, swellings, or skin issues so you can deal with them early for best results. Daily currying can almost completely control some skin conditions, such as cannon bone seborrhea (that thick, grungy skin that can form on the front of the hind legs). Grooming also benefits your horse’s mental health—see “Good for You Both,” at right.
Tools to Use
A good grooming means more than a quick once-over with a dandy brush. Start by giving your horse’s whole body a vigorous currying (using a rubber mitt or soft-rubber curry for his face and legs). If he’s shedding, a shedding tool will prove useful to remove large amounts of hair. Then brush with a stiff brush to clear away debris, finishing up with a soft brush or towel. Your hands alone can also play a vital part in your horse’s daily grooming (at right).
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[LEARN MORE: How grooming, tick removal helped gentle a wild one.]
Good for You Both
Grooming relaxes your horse plus generates feelings of friendship. Mutual grooming among horses (or allogrooming) promotes bonding between equine pairs. When you make the effort to groom your horse in ways he finds especially pleasurable, it can promote his bond with you. Three key tips:
Use Your Hands
Let your fingers discover what your horse enjoys most, including those itchy spots on his tailhead and belly that he can’t reach on his own. Also seek tight muscles that need relaxing. Tip: Rubber grooming gloves or even latex gloves will protect you from any emerging skin conditions.
Attune to Feedback
As you work, pay close attention to your horse’s responses to learn his specific preferences in where and how you groom, rub, and scratch. This mindful “tuning in” is essential to strengthening the connection between you.
Relax Into It
Clear your mind, breathe slowly from your diaphragm, and give yourself over to the task—and it’ll serve as a pleasant mental break for you, too.
[LEARN MORE: Healthy skin, healthy horse.]