Horse Grooming Tools Guide

Courtesy SmartPak 

Many people know the best part of owning a horse is the personal time you get to spend with them grooming before and after you ride. Grooming connects the rider and horse and helps to form a relationship between horse and handler, which can carry over to other aspects of owning a horse and most importantly riding.

While creating and strengthen a bond is important, it’s not the only reason you should take the time to groom your horse. Grooming is very beneficial to their health and well-being. Cleaning your horse before you ride and paying close attention to the areas where your tack goes will prevent chafing and other discomforts for your horse. Another great advantage to daily grooming is that you are massaging the skin and encouraging circulation and thus improving the health of the skin and coat.

Grooming doesn’t just stop at helping your horse’s circulation, either! While grooming, you are getting up close and personal with your horse. You are touching almost every part of his or her body and this helps to decrease the chance of various health problems such as thrush, scratches, and other skin problems.

You might be asking yourself now, what are the best tools for grooming? Here is our breakdown of the different types of grooming tools you can use and what they’re used for:

Curry Comb
A curry comb is usually the first tool that you’ll use in your daily grooming. It is a tool made of rubber or plastic with short “teeth” on one side, that slides onto the hand. The horse is rubbed or “curried” to help loosen dirt, hair, and other detritus, plus stimulate the skin to produce natural oils. Another type of curry to have on hand is a rubber grooming mitt, for those more sensitive skinned horses or for those tricky areas, like a sweaty armpit. Some horses find the hard plastic and pressure of a classic curry comb to be bothersome and may cause them discomfort. The rubber mitt, fits nicely on your hand and are made of a softer rubber. The mitt is covered with smaller, round plastic dots instead of “teeth” on your classic curry. The mitt will give you a closer feel and allow you to add or subtract pressure to your horse’s body, depending on their tolerance.

Dandy or Hard Brush
A dandy or hard brush is usually a stiff-bristled brush that is used to remove the dirt, hair, and other material stirred up by the curry. These brushes are used in the direction of the horse’s hair coat growth, with a slight flick motion. I do not recommend using them on sensitive areas like the face. I also consider medium fiber brushes to be in the same category of the hard brush. Like most brushes you can find option in either a synthetic bristle or natural. I personally prefer a synthetic for my hard brush, it’s easier to clean and takes to really dirty horses better and can easily be rinsed off afterwards, with minimal drying needed.

Soft Brush
This brush is a soft-bristled brush that removes finer particles and dust, adds a shine to the coat and is soothing to the horse. The body brush is generally the last brush I use. I have also heard people refer to this as the finishing brush. I prefer a natural hair opposed to synthetic. Whether you’re looking for natural or synthetic, we have both option on the website.

Face Brush
A face brush is similar to the soft brush, but usually smaller in design and, you guessed it, it’s used on the face. You can use this on the rest of the body too. Do be careful to make sure there is no debris on it because that might irritate parts of your horse’s face.

Hoof Pick
A hoof pick is a hooked tool, usually of metal, with a plastic or wood handle, used to clean the hooves of a horse. Some designs include a small, very stiff brush for removing additional mud or dirt. They range in prices depending on materials and features.

Mane & Tail Brush
There are many variations of mane & tail brushes. For horses with short, pulled manes, I recommend combs with a wide-toothed plastic or metal comb. Tails and long manes can be brushed with either a dandy brush or a suitable human hairbrush. If you plan on using a mane and tail spray, apply that first before brushing. This will help make your brushing gentler. By apply the spray first, it will help the brush nicely glide through those tangles and you eliminate the possibility of ripping hair out.

Coat Conditioners & Detanglers
Today, there’s a number of coat conditioner and detangler products offered for the skin, coat, mane, and tail. Usually in spray form, they add extra gloss, smoothness, or shine to a coat. Some sprays are oil-based, but those can attract dust. More common coat enhancement sprays are oil-free, and are often called “silicone” sprays. These leave the coat very smooth, shiny, and slick. Most are applied to the horse after it has been bathed and dried, though they can be used on a horse that has not been bathed to add a quick gloss and immediate shine. Lastly, they are used as a daily detangler, especially on those long manes and tails. Keep in mind that when you’re using coat spray, you should steer clear of the saddle area, because silicone-based sprays can leave your horse’s coat slick and slippery.

Shedding Blade
Shedding blades are usually made of metal, and have “teeth” on one side. Some are straight, while others are rounded – the style depends on the manufacturer. During shedding season, a metal shedding blade with short, dull teeth is used to remove any loose winter hair. A shedding blade can also be useful for removing caked-on mud. In a pinch, the non-teeth side of the shedding blade can be used as a sweat scraper after baths, too.

Grooming Tote
Whether you choose one that’s made of wood, fabric, or plastic, or one that’s a tote or one that’s a box, your grooming tote is as essential as the brushes you choose. This is where you store and organize all your grooming tools. Most grooming totes offer dividers and separate pockets to help you keep your brushes organized, and they usually have a handle for easy carrying.

Fabric grooming totes are easy to shove into your tack locker or trunk, and can easily be hosed off to keep them clean. In addition, some cloth grooming totes have shoulder straps, which are a great way to free up your hands so that you can carry more things back to the tack room at once.