Establishing a regular grooming routine for your horse will reap benefits - and give you more than just a clean horse! Here's how you can tackle this task to gain maximum effect....
Why groom?
There are many reasons for grooming a stabled horse.  For a start, there is much pride in riding a well turned out horse, and, just as importantly, grooming helps establish a relationship and bond. It is also nice to do something for your horse without wanting anything back in return - a bit like us enjoying a spa day!

There are health benefits to grooming as it stimulates circulation and helps keep the coat free from parasites and disease.  Do not wear gloves whilst grooming as you need to be able to feel for any unexpected lumps or bumps which may have appeared.  You need to know your horse so you can identify any changes sooner rather than later.

Enjoy & be confident!HA0462Bob Atkins
If the weather permits take the opportunity to groom your horse outside.   You can both enjoy the fresh air and also reduce the amount of dust you are subjecting your horse to.  If he suffers from any respiratory problems avoid grooming indoors.  (See coughing in equines under Veterinary).
A full groom should take around 45 minutes and should be done after exercise when your horse is warm and his pores are open. You are about to have a personal work out too as you need to put some effort into this activity and will get a little warm so you may have to remove some clothing layers!
Always approach your horse with confidence; brush strokes need to be firm (not hard).  Be aware he may have some ticklish spots. Observe your horse while handling him as his face will usually give you fair warning he may be about to bite or kick!  Always ensure your horse knows where you are, to avoid frightening him.

Order of grooming
Start by tying up your horse. If it is chilly, especially if your horse is clipped, make sure he is kept partially covered with a rug.
Tip: If you have a horse who likes to have a nip, tie in pillar reins - ie have a leadrope clipped on each side of the headcollar and tied to a ring on each side of the horse so the horse cannot turn round too far, to either the left or right, to bite.

1. Pick out his feet, removing stones, dirt and any other debris that has found its way in there.  Press down on the frog to check it is not spongy or foul smelling which could indicate thrush. (Read more about thrush under Veterinary, know your horse).  At the same time check all shoes are present and secure and that there are no raised clenches.
HA0798Bob Atkins
2. Taking a dandy brush, using a flicking action, go over the horse's body removing any mud, lifting grease to the surface.  Do not use this brush on the head or any
sensitive areas of your horse's body!  A rubber curry comb or a cactus cloth, for a more sensitive horse, will help remove mud.

3. Starting with a small section of mane at a time, brush from the roots with a body brush to remove grease.  Dealing with the mane first ensures the grease falls on to  the neck and is then removed when you start work on the body.

4. The body brush is then used all over the horse, excluding the head, in small circular strokes.  You will be more effective if you work in a rhythm, cleaning the brush  with a metal or rubber curry comb every two or three strokes.  Tap the curry comb on the floor frequently to remove dust.

5. Once you have finished the body move onto the tail.  Taking small strands brush through the tail, remembering to include the roots, where scurf and grease can build up.

6. Untie your horse and gently, using the body brush, clean his head.  Loosening the headcollar will make it easier to brush the head. 

7. Sponge the eyes, nose and dock, making sure you have a different coloured sponge for each area, ie three sponges in total. It is important you wash the sponge after each eye and nostril to reduce the chance of transferring any infection.
HA0469Bob Atkins
8. Lay the mane with a water brush which should be damp, not dripping wet.

9. To finish wipe the horse over with a damp cloth to remove any dust and give a shine.  Using hot water on the cloth (hot clothing) helps remove dust and is used   immediately after clipping to help the appearance by smoothing the coat and removing blade marks. 

10. Apply oil or a dressing on the hooves.  This is done at the end of grooming to avoid dust settling in the oil and making the hooves look dull.

11. Dampen the tail and apply a tail bandage.  Tail bandages should be left on for no longer than one hour. They should not be too tight and should be applied evenly.

12. If your horse will be wearing a rug give this a quick shake to help remove dust before putting it back on your horse.
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