Rich, glistening coats not only look beautiful, they also indicate inner well-being. Top grooms take great pride in rubbing on their horses not only to make them shiny, but also to improve health and performance.
Proper grooming increases circulation. Show horses are groomed vigorously each day for about 45 minutes before and after work.
Tight bodies are prone to injury. Just as athletes warm up, stretch and get massaged, horses are groomed. A vigorous grooming routine should begin with shorter sessions. Horses may need to get accustomed to deep muscle massages. Here are techniques to optimize your grooming program.
Start with a stiff brush or curry. Use the stiff brush on mud, avoiding the heels, which could cause scratches. Currying is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your horse. Use a flexible rubber curry or mitt. Gently curry bony areas such as shins to ward off crud. On muscular areas, start lightly to draw blood to the area. Then add pressure, following hair growth in a circular motion. Curry from your back rather than wrists to create greater flow. You'll increase circulation in both you and your horse to warm up.
I use a clean brush in each hand, moving from my back. Another technique cleans the brush over a curry with each stroke. Work with medium then soft brushes in a vigorous rhythm with elbow grease.
Stimulate skin to make it more comfortable and resilient. Reduce irritation by wiping skin inside ears, under the tail and between teats daily. Then use a soft brush or towel on the skin to bring out protective oils.
Tone and shine by strapping large muscle groups including the neck, shoulder (not on the bone), and rump (not the kidneys). Use a folded towel to pop muscles rhythmically. This does not feel like a slap, but a light bounce. The muscles anticipate and contract to keep even lay-ups toned.
Rub on the entire body with a folded towel. Use elbow grease, circling with hair growth. Finish with all hair smoothed out as it grows.
Tails and manes grow when the hair flows. Kinky locks are brittle because natural oils can't slide down the shaft to replenish and protect hair. Motion stimulates the oils. This is why we don't leave braids in overnight. Pick tails daily to keep hair clean and organized for shine and fullness.
After you have worked your horse, walk lots and groom again to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness. Sweat left on his coat can parch the coat, leaving skin more sensitive, damaging hair and dulling shine.
Grooming can help you tune into and connect with your horse. Proper techniques will promote well-being to make your horse look, feel and perform best . So, rub on and enjoy!
Ruthann Smith has spent a lifetime studying sound horsemanship- both as a groom for top international horses and as a renowned braider. Quietly twisting manes atop a ladder, she watched and learned in some of the best stables in the world.
As her passion for great grooming grew, Ruthann became focused on researching, collecting and sharing the best practices of the world’s keenest horsemen. Ultimately, Ruthann used her vast experience to develop exceptional equine grooming products to help raise the bar of horsemanship.
The knowledge she dispenses and the products Ruthann developed solve age-old grooming issues. Making quality horse care easier, they have received the highest honors in the equine industry*. Her Lucky Braids for Top Turnout coat care and braiding products are the best, most versatile, cost-effective and easiest solutions available on the market today.
Now Ruthann offers her LOVE, LOVE Guarantee. If not totally thrilled with a product she developed, Ruthann will refund you in full, regardless of where you purchased it.
It’s her life’s mission to empower horses by educating, motivating and equipping their people to be true horsemen. You can access Ruthann’s tips at: The Grooming Resource on LuckyBraids.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and her Horsemanship Clinics.
*After testing 350 products, Lucky Braids All-In-One Horse Shampoo was named product of the year by Horse Journal, the “Consumer Reports” of the industry. They also named Lucky Braids Shampoo and Whitener Spray Top Pick for greys and whites. Lucky Braids specialized braiding yarn also got stellar reviews.