Not only does grooming your horse help them look beautiful, but it can also help their coat health! Plus, a groomed horse is a happy horse. Whether it’s summertime and you need to clean off all that dirt and sweat after every ride or it’s wintertime and you need to manage that winter coat and potentially less exercise, we have you covered.
We’re passionate about horse grooming and helping you make sure you keep your horse looking and feeling great. From the tips of their ears to the bottom of their hooves, this article will help you understand the importance of regularly grooming your horse for overall coat health.
How Grooming Your Horse Helps Coat Health
When it comes to a horse’s coat, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. A healthy coat indicates overall wellbeing and a high level of care and attention.
Grooming your horse helps with their overall coat health in a number of ways.
First, regular grooming helps spread the skin’s natural oils. Horses have oil glands all over their skin that secrete an oily substance called sebum. This is the same type of substance we find in our hair and skin! Sebum helps to coat the hair follicles and skin to keep it soft and moisturized.
Regular grooming helps spread this sebum out and stimulate its production. This helps bring out their coat’s natural glow. In addition, spreading out these oils can make your horse’s coat softer, help with thermoregulation, and reduce the risk of skin conditions.
In addition to helping disperse your horse’s natural oils, regular grooming also helps your horse’s coat health because it helps protect them from conditions such as rain rot. Rain rot occurs when a horse spends too much time in a dirty, moist environment. If you exercise your horse a lot without cleaning off their sweat and dirt, it could lead to rain rot or other skin conditions.
Benefits of Grooming Your Horse
As you can see, there are many benefits to grooming your horse regularly. In addition to maintaining a healthy coat, here are some other benefits of grooming:
- You can easily access your horse’s overall health as you examine them for their daily grooming. You can spot things like lumps and bumps, rashes, scratches, or swellings. Examine their eyes as well.
- It’s a good time to bond with your horse. Many horses love a good brushing, so take this time to talk with your horse and really spend some quality time together.
- It can act as preventative medicine. As we mentioned, grooming increases blood flow to the skin. In addition, you should regularly massage your horse’s muscles and clean hooves daily with a hoof pick to prevent and keep an eye out for common hoof issues.
- If you don’t have time to ride, grooming your horse can serve as a mini-workout for them and you. Do some leg extensions or lateral neck flexions to get them moving. You can think of this as a little horse yoga! You can even teach your horse tricks during their grooming session.
- Grooming is a great exercise for you, too! You can easily work up a sweat after a good grooming session. That top line isn’t going to brush itself!
- Examining a horse’s eyes for matter or foreign debris and cleaning around their head with a soft towel or rag is important as well on a daily basis.
How Often Should You Groom Your Horse?
Many horse owners often wonder how often they should groom their horse, and the answer is that it depends on the type of grooming you’re talking about.
The Daily Grooming
Ideally, you should groom your horse before and after every ride. By grooming before, you can ensure that the area with the saddle is clean and free of excess dirt that could cause irritation to the skin where tack comes in contact with the horse. After riding, brush your horse and clean their hooves with a hoof pick. Getting into the habit of these small daily routines will be beneficial to your horse’s wellbeing and build a stronger bond with your animal.
The Spot Clean
If you notice that your horse has a few manure spots or stains that need a little extra love, a spot cleaning might be a better bet than whipping out all your cleaning tools or wetting the entire horse. You can use horse-grooming wipes to target problem areas or Vetericyn’s FoamCare shampoo to do a simple spot clean.
The Deep Clean
Of course, sometimes you will need to give your horse a full bath. Whether they got into a muddy mess or you’re preparing for a big show, a full bath addresses every grooming point and is perfect for making them nice and clean allover.
When preparing your horse for a bath, make sure to choose a shampoo that’s specifically made for horses. It’s important to get your horse clean without stripping them of their natural oils. These shampoos are made to protect their skin, nourish their coat, and not cause any irritations. How often you give your horse a bath will depend on your unique circumstances and the horse itself. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- Is it off-season? If it’s off-season, you might be able to get away with a spot clean and blanketing. If you’re preparing for a show or event during the season, a bath might be best.
- What is the weather like? If it’s going to be too cold, you definitely don’t want a wet horse.
- How oily is his coat? Again, we want to maintain these natural oils for overall coat health.
- Should you bathe them with a medicated shampoo? Baths can help heal skin conditions.
Tips For Grooming Your Horse
Now that you know how grooming your horse can help their coat health (in addition to many other benefits), let’s share some tips on grooming your horse. These tips will help you keep your horse happy and healthy.
Groom According To The Season
Different seasons have different grooming requirements. In the summer, you may need to bathe your horse more often because of the increase in dust, pollen, and sweat. Plus, it’s better to groom your horse when it’s warm outside so they can dry comfortably.
In addition, most horses shed during the summer so it’s important to use the right tool, like a hard rubber curry comb or a shedding blade or tool, to aid in the shedding process.
In the winter or off-season, you may want to consider blanketing your horse instead to help keep them more clean. But even then, they will still require the daily grooming as we talked about above. Remove the rug and give your horse a good and thorough grooming to remove all the dead skin cells and hair.
Use The Right Shampoo
One of the most important grooming tips we can give is to choose the right shampoo for your horse. Horses have relatively sensitive coats and skin, so you want to choose a shampoo that is made for them. Whether you’re using a nourishing shampoo or a medicated one, look for one that is designed for the pH balance of a horse’s skin and causes no harm.
CONSIDER A WATERLESS GROOMING SESSION
Oftentimes, your horse won’t need a complete bath and full groom. In fact, it can be better to do smaller treatments more frequently. If you don’t want to wet the entire horse with a full bath, consider sponging, hot toweling, or using horse-grooming wipes. These methods are perfect for spot grooming horses. You may also want to consider using a horse blanket during the winter and fly sheets on warmer days to prevent dirt, insect irritation, or sun-bleaching in the first place.
Feed A Balanced Diet
Just like with humans, beauty starts from within. Feeding your horse a well-balanced diet is one of the most important steps in maintaining a healthy coat. Their diet should be rich in nutrients from a balanced ration, fresh grass and good quality hay. You can also use a fortified feed, micronutrient supplement, or ration balancer to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need, in the correct amounts.
If you really want your horse’s coat to shine, you could also consider additional supplements like vegetable oil, rice bran, biotin, methionine, zinc. It’s a good practice talk to your vet or equine nutritionist before changing your horse’s diet.
Every horse owner wants their animal to have a beautiful, shiny coat and regular grooming can help with this. Not only does a beautiful coat look great, but it’s a signal of overall health and a happy horse. Make sure to groom your horse daily, including giving them a good brushing and hoof cleaning. This will help their coat shine, but it will also help prevent other health conditions like rain rot or equine dermatitis. Plus, regular groomings give you and your horse time to bond!
When you do need to give your horse a full bath, make sure to use a shampoo that is specially formulated for their skin and coat. Look for one that is hypoallergenic, pH balanced, and nourishing. You can use these products as a full-body shampoo or as a spot cleaning treatment.
In addition, make sure that your horse is getting a well-balanced diet full of fresh grass,m when available, and other nutrients. Supplements that contain essential nutrients like biotin, methionine, lysine, and zinc can all help your horse’s coat look its best. Take good care of your horse and they will take good care of you in return!
Courtesy of Vetericyn Animal Wellness