This article is part of our Guide to Grooming Awareness Campaign, brought to you by ShowSheen.
Ready to level up your grooming game? We’re bringing you tips from the pros that they swear by, and some tools of the trade to increase that shine and keep his coat healthy. At Horse&Rider we work with well-respected and trusted trainers that are at the top of the Western game. Let’s hear about their simple tips that keep their horses putting the best hoof forward.
Don’t Forgo the Curry Comb
Brad Barkemeyer discusses his simple tips when grooming. Start from the bottom and work up, and don’t forget 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.
When it comes to mane and tail care, Brad also recommends gently brushing from the bottom first, to work out tangles and avoid breakage.
Make it a Daily Routine
For Ranch Riding expert, Bud Lyon, grooming is an important daily routine. Bud says that he wants his horses to look and feel as good as they possibly can, and daily grooming is part of that. One of his favorite tools of the trade is a curry mitt. He uses this to knock loose dirt, sweat, and shavings before his next steps. Bud notes to pay special attention to everywhere the saddle and pad sits, to avoid dermatitis and soreness across the back. Using the curry mitt in circular motions not only cleans the horse, but Bud says it offers a slight massaging action that can help soothe joints and muscles.
If you choose to use a mane and tail brush, Bud says that a wide bristle brush is his preferred choice. It helps to prevent the hair from being pulled out or broken off. Bud is also a proponent of starting from the bottom up when brushing, and likes to hold the hair in his other hand firmly, to avoid pulling.
Mane and Tail Care
Northern Colorado trainer, Cody Crow knows a thing or two about mane and tail care, and shared some simple tips. At his barn, he likes to wash manes and tails once a week, and condition them at the same time. This allows his horses to stay free from knots and tangles, and maintain their length and shine. Cody notes that one of his rules is to let the mane and tail dry completely before brushing through. Brushing a wet mane and tail can cause damage and breakage.
After the mane and tail are dry, Cody goes in with his fingers to gently work out any knots, before using a brush. One trick he’s found effective for tail braids, is to use electrical tape at the bottom of the braid, instead of a rubber band. Cody says that he’s seen less damage and pulling of the tail with this method.
If you’re in a rush but need to get your horse bathed before an event, try a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner to get the job done quicker. And if you don’t have time for weekly mane and tail washes, use an effective detangler formulated for horses, to work through the knots. Find a detangler that can double as a hair polisher to really shine up his coat, and you’ll be in business in no time.
Keep your grooming kit organized and in one place, so you’re not running back and forth for the next tool! Hoof picks, brushes, curry combs, and mane and tail brushes are all things that you should clean regularly as well. Disinfect brushes and curry combs and try to avoid using the same brushes on different horses. You can easily spread contagious skin or fungal conditions between horses, by sharing brushes.
How to Disinfect Brushes
Step 1. Prepare disinfectants. If there is suspicion of a skin condition, bleach is an excellent disinfectant option. For regular cleaning, try a gentle dish soap designed to lift out grease. Use hydrogen peroxide on very dirty small tools, as it’s effective against all microbial organisms, including spores. (It’s limited only by volume because it’s best used directly out of the bottle.)
Step 2. Remove debris. Physically remove all hair and other debris. Use your fingers, or run a comb through the bristles.
Step 3. Scrub. Scrub the brushes with soap and water. If they’re exceptionally dirty, use detergent to loosen caked-on dirt.
Step 4. Soak. Soak the brushes in disinfectant for a half-hour or longer, even if the disinfectant has a shorter effective contact time—that is, the time it needs to be in contact with the organisms to get a good kill. This will ensure the liquid penetrates the brush bristles and difficult-to-reach nooks and crannies.
Step 5. Allow to dry. Remove the brushes from the disinfectant solution, shake them out, and allow them to dry completely before using. Lay the brushes on their sides to protect the bristles, rotating them as necessary.