BY JESS CLAWSON
It would be challenging to find an equestrian who has not brushed a horse. Some of us love it and linger over the routine. Some of us make quick work of it to keep the day moving forward. Some of us deal with fussy horses who don’t especially enjoy it. But we all think of the same thing when we think of a horse brush: a wood or plastic oval or rectangle with bristles of varying lengths and textures.
When something is so ubiquitous and uncomplicated in our lives, most of us don’t stop to consider how it could be reimagined, but that is exactly what Mel Mueller did when she created BrushBuster, a paradigm-shifting grooming tool.
Mueller is a lifelong equestrian who grew up riding western until, as an adult, she moved to Georgia with her family. She and her three daughters started taking English lessons. Mueller took to the jumpers and her girls started in the hunters. “I was showing, my three kids were showing,” she says. “If you want to talk about chaos, that’s chaos.”
But Mueller found a way to turn that fun chaos into a great idea that simplified her life. It started when one day a friend couldn’t find a horse brush and so used a dustpan brush to groom her horse. Mueller honed in on that. “I bought a lot of different kinds of dustpan brushes and threw away all the regular brushes. They were easier to use, especially for brushing the horses’ legs and bellies,” she said, “and the kids found them easier to hold.”
She and her daughters used this unconventional grooming tool for awhile. “One day I turned to them and said, why don’t we make one of these? They loved that idea.”
And thus, a new approach to the grooming tool was born. BrushBuster brushes have a handle that makes them easy to hold and perfect for those hard to reach places. Best of all, they combine two tools in one. The original model has a curry comb on one side and a brush on the other.
“I wanted a curry comb that is less offensive to the horses,” Mueller said. In Georgia, she found that the horses were getting cannon crud on their legs, and so she designed a curry comb with thicker rubber that the horses wouldn’t mind on their bodies and that could easily loosen the leg fungus.
She launched BrushBuster at the 2017 Pony Finals but felt the handle wasn’t quite what she wanted. So, she pulled back, redesigned the handle, and relaunched at Pony Finals 2018. This time, she had two styles: the body brush/curry comb model, and a body brush/tail brush model.
The curry comb/body brush combination is perfect for grooming at home or at shows, especially when time is a consideration, as you do not have to continuously swap out brushes. The tail brush version is ideal for taking with you to the ring. “I would be getting my kids’ ponies ready for the jog, and I could just use the body brush side to clean their coat and then run the tail brush through their tail,” she says. “BrushBuster was born at the pony ring.”
BrushBuster is a home-based business that she runs with her daughters (11, 13, and 14). In fact, her kids handle her social media. “They might misspell a word on an Instagram post, but this is something we’re doing together,” Mueller says. “We’re having fun with it.”
Shortly after her 2018 re-launch, Mueller sold her pony, Turbo, to Jennifer Taylor. When she was packing up Turbo’s things to send with him, she included a BrushBuster, and Taylor was an instant convert.
“When I first got the brush as a gift I thought it would be cute for the little kids,” Taylor says. “My son loved that he could brush his pony and the mane and forelock without going back to the box of brushes. Most of all he could groom the entire pony without a step stool! I have little kids that come and now they can brush all the areas they couldn’t reach in the past.”
She finds the brush useful for herself, also. “I’m not super tall so the handle makes it great for reaching tall places. Bonus. It’s also so much nicer and easier to do the belly. I hardly have to get into that sometimes crippling position for us older people. The dust and dirt is also farther away from my face. After a good roll on a warm day after the rain comes, not being covered in dirt when I’m done grooming might just be my favorite part!”
The tail brush itself is well designed. “For me, even though we hardly brush tails in order to preserve them, when I used the mane and tail part on the tail for the first time it didn’t seem to pull the hair out like other brushes,” Taylor says.
BrushBuster brushes are not the traditional brush–they are the reimagining of the grooming tool that all equestrians can appreciate. As Mueller says, “this is what brushes should look like.” To pick out a BrushBuster in your favorite color, visit https://brushbusterusa.com.
The Plaid Horse readers get 10% OFF their BrushBuster order when they use the code “theplaidhorse” on checkout. Get yours today!
About the Author: Jess is a professional historian and educator who lives in northwestern Virginia. They completed their undergraduate degree in English at William & Mary, and did their masters and doctoral work at the University of Florida. Jess is an event rider with a passion for thoroughbreds, and has extensive experience in community organizing around queer identities, racial marginalization, and labor.
Read More from This Author »