Whether you show your horse or not, there are few things more pleasing than a well groomed, shiny horse. Besides from making your steed looking like a million bucks, grooming is an excellent way to bond and relax with your horse. Grooming can even be a meditative experience and opportunity to hone your horse sense.
Remember, your horses’ appearance is the result of several factors, most importantly a well-balanced diet and lifestyle that includes space to move and contact with other horses. Your horse is a herd animal after all.
1) Make it Joyful
Grooming should never feel like doing a chore. If you are doing it right, it should be a joyful experience for both you and your horse. Take note of how your horse feels about the experience. Is your horse calm and relaxed? If not, what can you do to change it?
2) Use the Right Tools
- You don’t need anything fancy; the basics will do.
- Take good care of your tools and keep them clean.
- Avoid using the same brush on different horses.
- Keep your tools in a convenient holder that makes them easy to carry and use.
Creating a routine for your grooming practice has several benefits.
By creating a pattern, we know exactly what needs to be done next. This creates confidence.
Following a pattern ensures that each area of the horse is covered on both sides. The best pattern to follow is the hair of the horse. Starting behind the ears and following the natural direction of the hair, progressively working your way towards the legs and rear. Repeat this pattern with the various brushes in the same order each time.
Use your left and right hand equally. Don’t just brush both sides of the horse with the brush in the same hand. Practicing with both hands will ensure you use your body symmetrically. This, in turn, will benefit your riding.
Once your routine is as automatic as riding a bike, you free up some processing power to focus on other stuff. So, as you move through the grooming routine, start observing each muscle as you work. How does it look? Feel the muscle with your hand and start becoming familiar with your horse’s muscle. Over time, this will develop your feel. You will be able to feel when your horse is stiff, sore or relaxed.
While grooming, you have the opportunity to observe your horse mindfully. Make the most of it and remember to enjoy just being with your horse.
Till next time, may the Horse be with you!