A proper grooming routine involves more than just knocking the dirt off your horse’s coat before tacking up.

A well-groomed horse is a well-cared-for horse. Learning to groom your horse correctly and following a thorough daily grooming routine can significantly benefit their health and well-being.

Horse owners can also use this time to bond with their horses and check for signs of health problems that might need attention. But if you’re new to caring for a horse, you might not know where to start.

Even if you’re an experienced equestrian, this guide from a former professional groom can help you up your grooming game. While there are plenty of grooming tips and tricks, there are no shortcuts to a well-groomed horse.

This article will also discuss the the tools every horse owner needs in their grooming kit. Keep reading to learn how to keep your horse happy and healthy with a comprehensive, step-by-step grooming guide.

Benefits of Grooming Your Horse

Regular grooming helps your horse look his best. A shiny, gleaming coat is a sign of a healthy horse and a source of pride for any horse owner. But the benefits of grooming your horse are more than skin deep.

Horse Health

Brushing may stimulate blood flow to the skin and spread natural oils throughout the coat. Increased circulation supports skin health, while natural oils condition hair and make your horse shine.

Removing debris from the coat and keeping skin clean also decrease the risk of common skin diseases. Wet, dirty hair provides an ideal environment for bacterial growth.

Regular grooming also allows you to systematically check your horse’s body for early signs of health issues or skin conditions. [1] Catching problems early means you can seek treatment before the condition becomes severe.

Hoof Health

Keeping hooves clean reduces the risk of hoof conditions such as thrush. Picking out hooves is also an ideal time to examine feet for signs of other hoof problems. [2]

Riding

Following a grooming routine before riding is especially important. Tacking up a dirty horse can lead to chafing under equipment, which causes discomfort for your horse during riding.

After a ride, a proper grooming routine allows horse owners to check for rubs or other signs of ill-fitting equipment. Grooming after riding also removes sweat, which can damage your horse’s hair and lead to coat fading.

Bonding

Horses living in a herd naturally groom each other to strengthen social relationships. [#] If your horse does not have access to turnout in a group, he might not have a chance to participate in mutual grooming.

Research shows that imitating natural grooming behaviours can reduce your horse’s heart rate and promote relaxation. [4] These results suggest that grooming can increase the bond between horse and rider.

One study found that horses are sensitive to pet-directed speech from humans during grooming. [5] Other studies show that proper care and management, including grooming, can influence horse-human relationships. [6]

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How Often Should you Groom your Horse?

You should always groom your horse before each ride. Pre-ride grooming avoids tack chafing due to a dirty coat and allows owners to check that their horses are happy and healthy before mounting.

Daily grooming is ideal for monitoring changes in your horse’s health and catching problems as early as possible. However, daily grooming isn’t practical for every horse owner.

On days you don’t have time for an entire grooming session, try to run your hands and eyes over your horse’s body to check for lumps, bumps, cuts, or swellings. Horses that aren’t in work should be groomed at least once weekly to prevent skin and coat issues.

Blanketed horses might not get as dirty, but they still need their blankets removed regularly to check for skin problems developing underneath. For example, blanketing over wet or muddy skin may contribute to rain scald.

While regular grooming promotes the production of natural oils, frequent bathing may strip them from the horse’s coat. Try to avoid bathing your horse with shampoo more than once per week.

Grooming Tools and Brushes

Plenty of grooming products marketed to horse owners claim to improve skin and coat condition. However, these products can’t replace elbow grease and a complete set of basic horse brushes.

Here is a list of essential items every horse owner needs in their grooming