Your horse is amazing. She's beautiful, charming, co-operative. . .well okay maybe that's only in your dreams, but you can take control of the first quality. Once she's beautiful, she won't be able to help but be charming and co-operative right? Well here's hoping.
I'm going to skip right over cleaning your horse's hooves and assume that you've already got her feet spic and span. If not, check out my earlier post, How to Get Your Horse Looking Great from Muzzle to Tail! Part One: the Hoof.
So, picking up your round soft rubber curry comb begin at the point just behind your horse's ears. Begin making small circles, counterclockwise all over her body. This brings all the dandruff, dirt and dead hair to the surface. On the large muscles, really lean into your horse and press hard on that curry if your horse likes it! It's a great massage! On bony areas just rub hard enough to loosen any caked on mud.
Next, take your hard dandy brush and begin in the same spot as you did for currying, and use flicking motions to get all that recently curried dirt off your horse's body (and into your own eyes, nose and mouth)! Avoid the bony parts and focus on the muscles. Travel in the direction of the hair.
Finally, get out your body brush and go over the whole horse with long, smooth strokes. Apply firm pressure. This gets off any remaining dirt and brings the oils to the surface of the coat, giving your horse a nice shine.
Now it's time to fix up that mane and tail! Apply a detangler if the horse seems really knotted, and then with your fingers gently work through all the knots. Start with the ends and work your way up. Work on only a small amount of hair at a time. When tidying the tail stand to one side of the horse, pick up the whole tail and let a few strands at a time come back down to be detangled. Once you've finger combed the hair, go back and use a wide tooth comb or dandy brush to get the remaining knots out. Detangle just as you would your own hair, trying to break as few hairs as you can. If the mane lays on both sides of the neck, or is sticking up, wet it and brush it smooth in the direction you want it to go.
Now the fun stuff! Now that your horse is basically clean and tidy it's time for the 'detailing'.
- wipe out your horse's nose, around his muzzle and his dock with warm water to leave him feeling refreshed. (It goes without saying do his bum last!)
- get a nice soft cloth and go over his whole body. On large muscles, bring your hand down hard and then press hard as you slide your hand along the muscle. It really brings out the shine and it feels good to them. When you are all done, go to the whorl on his flank (the part that has hair going in all directions). Starting at the top, drag the cloth down, and rough up his hair. Then, slide the cloth up again following the directions of the hair. It looks great!
- highlight areas of her face with a bit of baby oil on a cloth, particularly on the muzzle, around the eyes and along prominent bones of the face.
- sprinkle baby powder or cornstarch onto white markings to make them brighter
- apply a coating of hoof polish to give the feet a finished look
- make quarter marks, a checkered pattern on the rump, by dampening the area to receive the treatment. Place a stencil on the area and brush against the direction of the hair. Take the stencil off and spray the area with hair spray. You could use any stencil you want! Some people put gel on the area first. Have fun.
Resist the temptation to trim long whiskers unless your horse is being shown. The whiskers help the horse to sense how close he is to an object (they can't see things directly in front of them). If your horse has hairy old man ears, think twice about trimming the hair, because it helps to filter out noise and dirt! If you must trim some facial hairs, at least leave him with a few long whiskers around his eyes and on his muzzle to help him out a bit!
Enjoy this time with your horse. It's an amazing time to bond with her!
If you have any grooming secrets, I'd love to hear from you!
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