Norman Thelwell was right, of course—and I’d say his wisdom is best followed in these first few days after Mother’s Day!
Many of us have, in fact, been “keeping our own ponies clean” for many years, but as rote as basic grooming may seem by now, there are still little things we can learn to keep our horses that much shinier, healthier, and happier in the days ahead. The new book WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES by pro grooms Cat Hill and Emma Ford is chock full of the kinds of tricks of the trade it takes a lifetime of experience in the barn aisle to acquire. Here are five pro tips they recommend that you might not have tried yet:
1 Pick your horse’s feet out while he is still in his stall to help keep your barn aisle clean and tidy. Do it over a small bucket to prevent mud from falling into the bedding and creating dust.
2 Use a hot towel laid over your horse’s mane to help train his mane to lie flat. Smooth a little beeswax pomade over the mane daily to create a nice, smooth mane.
3 Don’t overgroom the tail. Keep it tangle-free with gentle daily attention from your fingers and/or comb, always starting at the bottom and working your way to the top. On bath days, use a gentle conditioning shampoo, and scrub the dock really well, getting your fingernails into it, to help remove the dead skin and gunk that can build up close to the roots. Never comb a wet tail!
4 While you groom the horse’s body, look for any scratches, bumps, or skin issues. Once he is clean and before you ride, treat any problems you found while grooming. Thermazene or SSD cream is an excellent strong, gentle antibiotic and antifungal that can be used on many minor skin problems. First clean the area with witch hazel on a clean cotton square, then, if necessary, apply the cream.
5 When trying to get a light-colored horse clean, or one with a lot of “chrome,” you may need several baths with whitening agents to get the desired glow. Make sure not to uses these more than two times a week, though, because they can irritate the horse’s skin. Alternate between a gentle shampoo and a whitening agent. Put a very small amount in water, then sponge directly onto “white bits” of the horse, scrub with your fingers, and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. (Note: More is NOT better, in this case, so don’t be tempted to go longer!) Rinse, rinse some more, and rinse again until the water runs clear.
You can hear more from Cat and Emma, and learn why Horse Radio Network host Glenn the Geek thinks WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES is “The best book on grooming ever! Horse-Husband Approved!” by listening to last week’s Stable Scoop episode. Click the image below to check it out:
WORLD-CLASS GROOMING FOR HORSES is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
CLICK HERE to download a free excerpt or to order your copy.
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of horse books and DVDs, is a small, privately owned company based on a farm in rural Vermont.