Healthy Grooming for a Healthy Horse

In this insightful interview with Julie Goodnight, Clinician and Horsemanship expert, she imparts her valuable tips and tricks for grooming horses. As we explore the importance of regular healthy grooming, Julie enlightens us on the bond that strengthens between horse and rider during your regular grooming routine. Beyond the pursuit of a healthy coat, grooming becomes an act of reciprocity, allowing riders to give back to their equine companions.

H&R: What are your best tips and tricks for a horse that doesn’t love grooming?

Julie: My first tip would be to slow down. Use less pressure and consider using natural bristle brushes. It’s also important to consider that the horse may have ulcers or another health concern, so getting them checked by a vet is crucial. Horses with ulcers may show signs of irritability and can be particularly sensitive to touch.

H&R: Why is regular healthy grooming important? Is it just about a healthy coat?

Julie: Regular grooming is not only about maintaining a healthy coat, although that is important to me personally as someone using my horses for media purposes. Grooming time is also bonding time with your horse. It should be pleasurable and enjoyable. As riders, we often take from our horses without giving much back, so grooming is a way to give something back to them.

H&R: That’s a great perspective. And speaking of a healthy coat, could you elaborate on how a horse’s coat can be a symbol of their overall health?

Julie: Certainly. A horse’s coat can change rapidly when they are sick. If a horse is never groomed and spends a lot of time outside in the sun and elements, their coat may appear dull, split, or even sunburned. By regularly grooming and paying attention to the coat, you can notice subtle changes that may indicate underlying health issues. A lack of a healthy sheen or consistent poor coat quality could be a sign that something is wrong and needs further investigation, such as checking for worms or examining the diet.

H&R: Let’s dive into your grooming routine. Does it change throughout the seasons?

Julie: Yes, my grooming routine does change based on the seasons. Living in the Colorado Mountains, we experience cold winters, so I keep my horses that are in training blanketed to prevent a heavy hair coat. During winter, it is too cold to bathe the horses, so we go through a lot of the Miracle Groom! It’s a waterless bathing solution that you can use to help wipe the dirt and sweat off your horse. In the summertime, when the hair coat is thinner, I shift to lighter and softer tools. When I am able to bathe my horses, I prefer the ShowSheen® 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner because it rinses out really easily and leaves their coats soft and clean. Regardless of the season, my routine always involves a head-to-toe massage-type curry, inspecting the horse for any issues, and progressively using softer brushes being sure to not put them away with sweat marks.

H&R: It sounds like a thorough routine. Are there any often-overlooked areas or specific techniques you use during grooming?

Julie: Absolutely. I pay attention to areas that are often overlooked, such as the face, eyes, nose, legs, heels, and buttocks under the tail. I try to avoid over-combing manes and tails to prevent hair breakage and instead use my fingers along with ShowSheen® to remove debris and detangle. Another often overlooked area is the ears, which I clean out using my fingers to massage and remove any buildup. It’s important to remember that grooming is not just about cleaning your horse, it’s time to give back to them and bond with your horse. The horse should enjoy this grooming time, so it’s essential to learn what pressure levels and techniques help them feel relaxed.

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