How to groom a horse for beginners

Friday 2nd July, 2021

top tips for new horse owners: Girl reaching out to stoke horses face

Horse grooming can seem like an intimidating job, but it can also be a great way to bond with your horse. Taking care of your horse’s coat, hooves and hair provides an opportunity for you to check for injuries or irritations. Ideally, horses need grooming daily, and certainly before riding. Daily grooming will make the work load seem like less – if you leave your horse for days without a grooming then it’ll take much longer each time.

If you’re a beginner, have no fear – here are our top tips and easy to follow steps for grooming your horse. 

Equipment / Tools

  • Curry comb or grooming mitt
  • Body brush with fairly stiff bristles
  • Mane and tail comb (plastic causes less breakage than metal)
  • Fine soft bristled finishing brush
  • Hoof pick
  • Scissors or clippers (optional)
  • Clean sponge or soft cloth

Keep grooming tools easily accessible in your stables so they’re easily accessible! 

white horse stood in front of bushes

1. Clean Your Horse’s or Pony’s Hooves

This bit can feel tricky, as you don’t want to get kicked. However, with slow and steady movements you should be fine, especially if you pay attention to your horse’s behaviours. Run your hand down the horse’s leg, and squeeze the back of the leg along the tendons just above the ankle and say “up,” “hoof,” or whichever word your horse responds to.

Hold the hoof and (using the hoof pick) pry out any dirt or grit lodged in the sole of the foot. At the same time, check for any injury or signs of thrush or grease heel. Also, take note of any cracks in the wall of the hoof, so you can consult with your farrier as to what should be done. Gently place the foot back down on the ground and continue until all four feet are done.

Brown horse eating hay in front of stables

2. Curry Your Horse

The process of “currying” a horse helps loosen dirt, hair, and other detritus, plus stimulate the skin to produce natural oils. Starting on the left side, use your grooming mitt or curry comb to loosen the dirt in your horse’s coat. Rub all of this out of your horse’s coat.

Curry in circular sweeps all over the horse’s body, but be careful over the bony areas of the shoulders, hips, and legs. If your horse lays their ears back or swishes their tail, they’re you that you’re brushing too hard and they’re uncomfortable. While currying, look for any cuts or tears on the skin. If you find anything, assess the injury to decide if you want to treat it yourself or if you need a vet.

3. Comb out your horse’s mane

Get your horse’s mane to look full and healthy by being gentle and patient as you groom your horse’s mane or tail. Start with a mane comb or brush at the bottom of the strands and brush downward in sections until you can comb easily from the top to the bottom. When brushing the tail, stand to one side and pull the tail gently over to you, making sure you are out of the way should the horse kick.

4. Finish up with a body brush and a finishing brush.

After currying the body to get rid of the coarser dirt, it’s time to go to work with a body brush. A stiff, onger-bristle brush will get rid of what the curry comb missed. With the body brush, brush off the dirt on the surface. Start on one side and move around the horse brushing in sweeping strokes following the direction of the hair growth

Next, use a finishing brush, which has shorter, softer bristles, and helps to bring out the shine on your horse’s coat. The finer bristles help smooth out the body hair and leave your horse looking more finished and glossy.

White and grey horse looking out of stable doorway

5. Make the finishing touches

Now it’s time for the details. With a soft cloth, wipe around the horse’s eyes and muzzle and clean away any dirt.
At this point, check your horse’s eyes. Tearing at the corner of the eye is not uncommon, but take note of excess tearing, redness, or swelling.

Some horses are fussy about having their ears handled, so go slowly and be careful not to pinch or pull hairs. Eventually, your horse may come to love having its ears groomed. When you are done with the face, use the cloth to wipe around the dock and tail head.

Three horses with their faces close together

With all this done, you’ve completed your first grooming session!

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