Regular grooming keeps our horse's coats healthy, helps to catch injury or illness and strengthens the bond between horse and human. When winter time comes around some people don't ride as often, especially in areas with harsh weather, which means they might not think to groom their horse on a regular basis. Another added problem with winter is that our horses grow thick coats to keep warm. Unless you clip it can be difficult to thoroughly groom our equine companions or notice scratches.
- A must-have tool for winter grooming sessions is a curry comb. Choose a curry comb that has fingers long enough to reach the skin. Be cautious with metal curry combs. Though some people use them without issue, you must be careful around sensitive areas of the body. Metal shedding blades can be very helpful with caked on mud and also, as the name suggests, are great to help your horse shed his winter coat in spring. Consider investing in an equine vacuum or using a shop vac. This tool is wonderful all season but can be especially helpful in winter and spring when your horse starts shedding. It allows you to keep your barn clean and get everything out of your horse's longer coat.
- A good pair of clippers will help you keep your horse tidy and help prevent injuries. Scratches on the legs, particularly the fetlocks and pasterns, are common in winter and can lead to problems if they aren't discovered and treated. Trimming the longer hair can help prevent this. If you ride often during winter and are worried about your horse overheating, you might want to do a body clip. Trace clips are a happy medium for many horse owners.
- Sometimes brushing and currying alone isn't enough to get your horse clean. If you don't have a full on heated barn and wash rack, you can still give your horse a deep clean. One of the best ways of doing this safely (to prevent your horse getting chilled) is to use a rag and only work on one part of the horse at a time. If it's too cold to completely wet the horse's coat then you can just use a damp rag and hot water. The steam from the rag is a great way to clean without worrying of chills. If you don't have the ability to give a bath or a steam bath you can look into dry shampoos and stain removing products. Most of the time you can simply towel dry your horse but if you're worried about the temperature you can use a blow dryer.
- Thrush can be a common issue during winter, especially in muddy areas. The damp nature of the season can allow bacteria to become a serious problem. The best way to prevent thrush or other hoof issues is to clean our horse's feet every day. Even if you only groom a couple days a week, try to pick out your horse's hooves daily. This is especially important is your horse is on pasture. Those kept in clean, dry stalls are less apt to develop issues. For further thrush prevention, once a week you can apply a thrush product to the hooves.
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