Proper grooming of your horse not only gives you the chance to make your horse look his best, but it’s a great opportunity to give him a good once-over and make sure he’s healthy and ready to work. We sat down with Horse&Rider OnDemand expert and AQHA and NRCHA professional Brad Barkemeyer to get his tips for grooming your horse for success.
1. Start at the Bottom
Brad says he likes to start at the bottom of his horse and work his way up. Pick out their feet and make sure there isn’t any foreign material in their foot. This is also a good time to take note of the condition of your horse’s feet by looking for thrush, cracks, chips, and any other potential issues.
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Next, you can feel your way up their legs checking for any bumps, cuts, or swelling. Then move on to their face, neck, and body. Whether you’re brushing dirt off or just running your hand over their body, this will help you keep track of what their body normally looks like so when something abnormal does come up, you’re aware of it right away.
2. Remember to Curry
Even after you’ve brushed off all the dirt from the top of your horse’s coat, Brad suggests going in with a curry comb to bring out any extra dirt or loose hair. Use the curry comb over his entire body, and make sure to move in the direction his hair grows. It’s normal to see hair start to come off that you didn’t even know was there.
Pay close attention to the area where your cinch will be on your horse. Make sure there isn’t anything stuck to his coat that could become trapped under the cinch and cause discomfort during your ride.
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3. Brush it Out
Another thing Brad says you should always do when brushing a horse’s mane or tail is to start from the bottom. If you start at the top and drag your entire brush through his tail, there’s a good chance you’re going to break and pull some hair out. Plus, this is going to be pretty uncomfortable for your horse.
Start with a small section at the bottom of his tail and work your brush in short quick strokes so you aren’t dragging it all the way through the hair. Once you have your first small section brushed out, start moving your way up his tail until it’s all brushed out. Be sure to condition your horse’s tail regularly and use a leave-in-conditioner to keep the hair strong and healthy.
Note: Brad emphasizes how important it is to keep reminding your horse that he needs to stay out of your space while you’re grooming. Keep mutual respect for each other and don’t let him walk all over you while you’re trying to work.
For an in-depth look at Brad Barkemeyer’s grooming routine, watch this video: