10 Equine Grooming Habits That You Need To Ditch

BY INTERN GRACE SALMON

Whether we have our sights set on the show ring or lessons at home, most riders share a common goal: to keep their horses looking great. Often times we are so focused on what we can do to improve our grooming routine, but have you ever thought of what not to do when keeping your horses happy, healthy, and looking beautiful? Ditch these grooming habits that you need to drop in order to have your horses looking their best.

1. Not allowing grooming items to dry thoroughly.

Leaving brushes and towels wet or damp can cause bacteria to grow. Bacteria potentially causes all sorts of problems like fungus and dry skin for your horse. Allowing brushes and towels to dry completely will give them a smaller chance of transferring bacteria to your horse’s coat.

2. Not picking out hooves – even on off days.

When mud, manure, and wet shaving are left in hooves for too long, bacteria creeps in and creates thrush. It is important to clean out your horse’s hooves, even on days when they aren’t being ridden, to eliminate any chances of thrush taking over.

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

3. Sharing grooming tools and products.

While we often succumb to the convenience of community grooming supplies, keep in mind that this is one of the easiest ways to spread fungus among horses. While sharing things like detangler is okay, consider keeping a separate set of brushes just for your horse to keep bacteria at bay.

4. Giving your horse a bath too often.

Over bathing your horse causes the natural oils in their coat to be stripped away, not allowing the coat to shine. Too many baths even takes away its natural ability to protect itself from things like insects, bacteria, and fungus.

Photo © Tori Weed

5. Not getting rid of sweat marks.

Eliminating sweat marks is vital to keeping a healthy and beautiful coat. Leftover sweat can cause fungus to grow, or leave skin dry and itchy. If you are in a pinch, rubbing alcohol and a good curry will do the trick.

6. Not washing out ALL of the suds.

When soap suds dry on a horses coat, mane, or tail, it can make the coat dry and itchy – which can lead to them rubbing! This can potentially create bald spots and broken hairs, which often won’t grow back easily.

Photo © Emily Lucibello

7. Brushing tails too often

Brushing your horse’s tail everyday can cause breakage and potentially irreversible damage. Instead, pick any shavings out, put in a good amount of detangler and run your fingers through the tail to eliminate any large knots or tangles. Consider only taking a brush to the tail for shows or clinics.

8. Relying only on external measures.

No matter how well you are grooming your horse, if they do not have the proper nutrients going into their body, they will never be looking their best. Ensuring that they are getting the best food and necessary supplements will give you a good base to build your grooming routine on top of.

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

9. Only putting in the hard work when a show is coming up.

A well groomed horse will look good all year round – not just when going to a show. Consistency is key to keeping them looking beautiful and healthy. It is also important to have a thorough grooming routine in order to know your horse the best you can. When something is not right, you’ll be able to pick up on it right away.

10. Not putting in the extra elbow grease

At the end of the day, having an extensive and thorough grooming routine will be setting you up for success. It is necessary to put time and care into our horses so that they can look their best, while they try their best for us. Putting in the hard work and seeing the results is so satisfying, and your horse will thank you for it!

A perfectly groomed hunter getting a final once over before showing. Photo © Lauren Mauldin

By following this advice about what not to do when grooming your horse, we hope you can easily apply it to your everyday grooming routine, and see the difference!