7 grooming tips for summer

7 grooming tips for summer

Whether you’re sprucing your horse up for a show or simply like your horse to look their best, now is a great time to give your horse a thorough groom and remove their winter coat. We discuss the best ways to help your horse gleam.

There’s something very satisfying about giving your horse a good groom. Not only will it leave them looking clean, shiny and ready for the showring, but it also has lots of great health benefits, including increasing circulation, gently massaging muscles and improving the health of the skin and coat. It’s also a brilliant opportunity to bond with your horse and feel for any unusual lumps or bumps that might be hiding under the hair.

An added bonus of grooming in the spring is that it can help unclipped horses shed their winter hair.

For the perfect coat this spring, follow our seven top tips for grooming horses…

Tip 1: Get the kit

Every horse grooming bag should contain a few essential items to be used in the following order:

Hoof pick

Before you start grooming, pick out your horse’s feet to check for wedged stones, and remove any mud and dirt using a hoof pick. A hoof pick with a brush allows you to brush any excess mud from the outside of the hoof.

Curry comb

It’s recommended that you use a rubber or plastic curry comb at the start of each grooming session to remove any dried-on mud, loose hair and scurf. Be gentle on bony and sensitive areas. Used in a circular motion, the curry comb is excellent at helping to lift loose winter hair.

Stiff-bristled brush

This is the next brush to select as it helps to flick away the loose hair and mud that you have lifted with the curry comb. They come in different stiffnesses, and only the softer versions should be used on the sensitive parts of the horse.

Body brush and metal curry comb

Also known as a finishing brush, the body brush is softer than a stiff-bristled brush, and while smoothing out the hair, it encourages a natural shine to the coat. It can also be used on the sensitive head, legs and belly. The metal curry comb is used to clean the body brush - after every few strokes with the body brush, brush it against the metal curry comb to remove dirt and hair so you aren’t brushing it back onto the horse.

Face brush

Even softer than a body brush, a face brush is small and designed for delicate areas on your horse’s face to gently remove dust and dander.

Mane and tail comb

To complete the kit, you’ll need a brush to comb out the mane and tail. Opt for a brush with a bit of give to prevent breaking the hairs. Paddle-style brushes are popular, and if used alongside a detangler spray, you’re on to a winner for the silkiest mane and tail award.

Grooming mitt

Your kit could also include a grooming mitt which you wear on your hand. It has a soft fleece on one side and thatched cactus on the other, and is used to give a final polish after brushing. You can also use the slightly rougher cactus side to help remove dried-on mud from sensitive areas such as the face at the start of your grooming session.

Sponge and cloth

A sponge can be used to clean the eyes and nose, while the cloth can be dipped in warm water and used to remove excess dust on the coat, leaving a smooth, shiny finish. Make sure you ring it out thoroughly first otherwise you’ll end up with a wet coat.

Tip 2: Bath time

Warm, sunny days are the ideal opportunity to give your horse a refreshing bath. After a winter of wearing rugs and rolling in mud, many horses’ coats are left greasy and scruffy, so a good bath will help remove the dirt and oil, and leave your horse fresh and clean.

Choose a suitable shampoo for your horse’s coat and skin – always test new shampoos on the skin first in case of a reaction. If you want to whiten areas, opt for a purple shampoo. Wet them all over with a bucket of water and sponge or hose, and then lather in the shampoo either from a sponge dunked in a bucket with shampoo and water, or by applying the shampoo directly to the sponge. Work into a lather, paying attention to the neck, back and top of the hindquarters.

Rinse thoroughly with clean water and scrape the excess water off using a sweat scraper.

Don’t forget to shampoo the mane and tail, and apply a conditioning spray to work out the knots afterwards.

Tip 3: Trim up

For a tidy, neat finish, you can trim certain areas of your horse depending on the breed and type. If your horse is a native breed and you show them, check with your breed society’s trimming rules before removing any hair.

Do not trim whiskers, as these help the horse navigate their surroundings.

Areas for trimming include:

Bridle path

This is the area where the bridle sits on the top of the horse’s head behind the ears. A neatly trimmed ‘bridle path’ looks smart and tidy and can be more comfortable for your horse. It can be achieved using a pair of trimmers or scissors. It only needs to be as thick as the headpiece of the bridle.


Gently trimming down the edge of the ears with a pair of blunt-ended safety scissors will give a neat finish and a sharp line.

Jaw area

To sharpen up your horse’s head, trim along their jaw line. This is best done using a quiet pair of trimmers, which will give a smooth finish.

Legs and heels

Trimming the backs of the legs, feathers and heels will help to tidy up the look of your horse’s legs. Hairier types such as cobs and natives will have a lot of leg hair and so will need trimming in this area regularly. Depending on how close you want the trim to be, clippers or trimmers can be used on very hairy legs. Trimming leg hair can also be of benefit to horses who suffer from mites or mallanders, but it can also remove the horse’s natural protection from mud, thorns and the sun, so consider your individual horse’s needs before making a decision.

Tip 4: Hot cloth

To complete a groom and leave your horse’s coat smooth and shiny, reach for the hot cloth. This is where you wipe over your horse’s coat with a cloth that has been rinsed in a bucket of hot water (not boiling) with a few drops of a solution of your choice such as oil or a no-rinse shampoo. Hot clothing emphasises a horse’s natural shine while moisturising and conditioning the skin. The heat from the hot water is not only relaxing, but it also helps to lift grease from the skin and remove underlying dirt.

Tip 5: Correct nutrition

A naturally shiny coat is a great reflection of good general health, so ensuring your horse is receiving the correct diet and vitamins and minerals is important. Alongside all the essential vitamins and minerals and trace elements, B vitamins, zinc and copper in particular will help support coat health as will Omegas 3, 6 and 9.

A broad-spectrum balancer will contain the essential ingredients your horse needs to keep their coat healthy. If you feel they are lacking in something, speak to your vet and nutritionist.

Tip 6: Skin health

While grooming, check your horse’s skin over for anything untoward such as lumps and bumps, patches of hair loss or unusual blemishes. Any of these could be a sign your horse is suffering from a skin condition such as mud fever or sarcoids. Ask your vet if you are concerned.

Tip 7: Shed the winter coat

For unclipped horses, winter hair will start shedding in the spring. To help your horse remove their winter hair, use good-old elbow grease to lift and brush the hair out. There are also a plethora of hair shedding tools that you can use to speed up the process. Simply turning your horse out on warmer days without a rug is a great, natural way for the loose hair to fall out, especially during a good roll.

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