disciplines, grooming is an important part of competition. But
it's even more important as part of your horse's daily routine.
Grooming provides valuable insight into what mood he's in prior
to exercising and training, and gives you the opportunity to
check for any sore or tender spots. It's also a nice change to
"touch base" with each other before you start the day together.
Here are some tips
to make grooming your Miniature Horse friend not only efficient
but a wonderful bonding experience as well.
1. Invest in quality
tools. Although the initial cost is much higher, good tools can
last years with the right care.
2. Size and design
is important. If the tool is not comfortable for you to use,
chances are your grooming session will become short and
infrequent. Some brands are designed for a woman's hand.
3. Understand that
each horse is an individual. Some enjoy a stiffer brush and
pressure while others require softer bristles and a light touch.
4. Be careful with
the mane and tail. Try to avoid breaking these specialized hairs
with tough handling as it can take years for them to grow back
to that length. Don't over-wash. I wash my horse's tail and mane
with shampoo about once a month but don't use any conditioner or
products that might attract dust.
5. Find a routine
that works for you and your horse and stick to it. What becomes
a habit is efficient and soothing to both horse and human.
6. After a workout
or training, if weather permits, hose your horse off. It gets
rid of the sweat that attracts flies and can make the horse
itchy. I use water with no shampoo so I don't strip the good
body oils from the coat. During the colder winter months, you
may want to wash off the legs only, and use the rubber curry and
brush to keep the coat clean. A damp wash cloth works well to
wipe off the face, eyes and behind the ears where miniature
horses often sweat.
bath is an excellent way to moisten the hooves.
7. Spring shedding
requires extra support. To help your horse shed his winter coat,
give him a bath, wait until he is half dry and then proceed with
the rubber curry and brush. The dampness in the coat helps
loosen the hairs better than when the coat is dry. Within a few
weeks you'll find your horse is cooler and has shed a good deal
of his long winter hairs.
Never rush the grooming process, even if you're running late -
it's better to shorten your training time a little. Your
miniature horse with thank you for it.
8. Keep your tools
clean. Clean brushes monthly with a very mild dish soap, rinse
really well and place them bristle side down to dry completely.
Because the brushes will be touching your horse, be sure to use
a mild or natural soap product. You should also consider washing
your harness on a weekly basis.
Developing a good
grooming routine will serve both you and your horse well. While
a beautiful, healthy coat begins on the inside with good
nutrition, grooming maximizes its potential and provides
wonderful emotional benefits for both horse and trainer.
A good daily routine to
Start with a
soft bristle brush for the face. Regular brushes are too
hard for the sensitive face of a miniature horse, so save
those for the legs and body.
If eyes or face
need more cleaning, moisten a wash cloth and gently rub the
places that need attention.
Gently brush the
forelock, mane and tail using a pin cushion type of hair
brush. Start from the bottom of the tail and work your way
up to the dock (in sections if needed). T his breaks the
fewest number of hairs. Remember, horses need their tails to
keep those pesky flies away.
Next comes a
combination technique. It actually takes some practice (like
rubbing your tummy and patting your head). Use circular
motions with a soft rubber curry in one hand, following be a
regular bristle body brush in the other to wipe away the
dust and hair. Be gentle on the under belly and girth area
as these are more sensitive.
out the feet, and you're ready to go.