How do I brush a horse
How to clean your horse properly: The most important steps for a clean and happy horse
Horses can be dirty. They are allowed to wallow in the mud like little pigs and they are also allowed to have soil in their fur. I don't need a squeaky clean horse. But I want my horse to be healthy and most of all I don't want the saddle or pad to rub. It is therefore important to clean horses and clean their hooves daily. But not just somehow, but in such a way that the horse feels comfortable, stays healthy and the natural function of coat and skin are not disturbed.
The great thing about cleaning the horse is that it is fun - unlike the bathroom and kitchen - and that it is not only good for the horse's health, but also for the horse's soul. You can win your horse's heart with proper cleaning and the daily free massage. It is basically your chance to groom and make friends with your horse.
For example, by massaging your horse with a massage and fur brush while brushing. I do that with the Magic Brush - it is, so to speak, the onehit wonder of my cleaning box, because I can groom, massage and brush away fur that has changed. After that I look like a walking fur ball, but the horse is happy and that is the most important thing.
You can find out more about the MAGIC BRUSH HERE
Now I will explain step by step the most important basics about cleaning horses properly and how you can brush your horse happily and healthily.
Why clean every day?
- You can remove coarse dust and dirt
- You can scratch your horse and check it for injuries, ticks, skin diseases and swellings
- You can prevent bacteria and other horse beasts
- Your horse will perceive grooming as grooming and scratching
That is exactly what horses do for each other in the herd. If you scratch and brush properly. Some horses are more sensitive and prefer gentle brushing, some horses want to be brushed and scratched firmly. You can tell the right intensity from the expression on your horse's face.
The three basic cleaning faces:
- Does it let the lower lip hang relaxed and even wiggle it slightly? Then it is deeply relaxed and very satisfied.
- Does it stretch its head up with relish and make pointy lips or even wiggle its upper lip? Then you scratch exactly in the right place and it might be itching right now.
- Does it hit its tail, or even open its ears, or make a sharp, firm mouth? Then it likes the way you clean or where you don't like cleaning that much.
In between there are many nuances. Depending on how extroverted or withdrawn your horse is, it will tell you more or less clearly what it likes and what it dislikes.
The cleaning kit - everything you need:
Of course there are a thousand varieties and brushes. But basically you only need a small selection for your everyday life:
- A curry comb, or for me it's a magic brush
- A grooming brush (= a soft brush)
- A root brush (= a harder brush)
- A hoof scraper (preferably with a brush attached)
- A sponge or damp cloth (for udder and nostrils)
- A lambskin shine brush
- A cuddly brush
- A mane brush or a mane comb (I use the root brush)
Basic information in advance:
If your horse is wet or damp, it should ideally first be dried or dried off, because otherwise you only rub the damp dirt into the fur when you brush. And that's really not the point.
How do I clean my horse properly?
Many say yes that the horse has to be tied to groom. I think it depends on the horse. Personally, I don't tie up my mare while cleaning, I just put the rope around her neck. There are two reasons. On the one hand, I want her to learn to stand by me. On the other hand, it makes it easier for her to leave if she doesn't like the way I clean. However, it also has a disadvantage. If you have a restless or curious horse (Carey belongs to the curious faction), you sometimes have to gently remind the horse not to look for chickens, leaves, grooming or other horses, but to stand still ;-)
In any case, you shouldn't clean in the box, because otherwise dust and hair will fall into the litter and the horse will have dirt and hair flying around near the food.
And I always search the cleaning area before I get my horse. I don't want any wheelbarrows, pitchforks, or other items lying around for the horse to step on. It is also important to always keep a little distance from the other horses. More or less depending on the horse.
Cleaning the horse - step by step
Step 1: Why I don't have a harrow but a magic brush
Many will tell you that the harrow is the first step in cleaning up to remove the coarse dirt. Personally, I only use the harrow to clean my grooming brush while cleaning, because it is too hard for me.
The following applies to the harrow: You may only scrub over muscled areas with the harrow, where skin lies over bones it can cause pain to the horse.
That's why I don't use it. Because a few years ago I found a brush that I like much better for coarse and fine dirt.
I use my Magic Brush for the initial cleaning. The brush takes dirt and dust with it and at the same time massages the horse through the firm but flexible plastic bristles. They are fanned out towards the top, which is why they absorb the dirt quite well. At the same time, they are gentle on the joints and have a kind of acupuncture effect on the skin. That's why you can also use them for the horse's legs.
The nice thing is that it is "Made in Europe" and adheres to strict standards when it comes to production. That is also important. You can see: I'm a fan of the Magic Brush. With me she is in constant use. Because it always comes in a set of three, I take one for the neck, shoulders, back and hindquarters and one for the legs and the third, which is actually intended for the head, I take for myself and my riding pad - AFTER the fur monster named horse me once haired up.
Personally, I only use a cuddly brush for the head because I have a very sensitive horse. You have to ask each horse personally whether they like to be touched on the head and if so, how. My young mare just wants to be touched gently on the head and please not for too long.
The most important dos and don'ts when cleaning horses:
So you start at the neck and slowly brush your way towards the shoulder. Depending on how sensitive your horse is, you can do this with circular movements (cleans faster) or with the direction of growth of the fur (for more sensitive horses). Then over the horse's back and hindquarters. In between you can tap out the brush with your hand and remove the hair. Simply by turning the brush downwards and tapping the side on a hard object.
With my free hand, I always gently stroke the brush while brushing. Most horses like the contact and the gentle touch. So I always stay in contact with the horse, even while I'm brushing.
You will see that the Magic Brush, for example, takes the loose hair with it when you change your coat. You can then turn it over and scrub and massage your horse with the smooth side in circular motions. This also helps a lot when changing fur.
In summer I often wet the brush and then brush it over the fur at the end. Like a welding knife and pretty good at staining grass on white horse fur.
Grooming is also a massage for your horse at the same time. Depending on how hard you apply pressure and how much your horse likes the pressure. By the way, you can also use the Magic Brush to gently clean the legs and ankles because it is flexible. These are very sensitive areas on your horse. Not every brush is allowed to go there. Because the skin is right over the bones.
Please don't go there with a harrow. Your horse is just very sensitive there.
Important: No matter which brush you use - if you brush areas where only thin layers of skin are over the bones or on the horse's legs, you have to brush more gently than on muscled areas. Then there are also horses that are particularly sensitive to the stomach or inner thighs. Brush more gently there too. Otherwise you would hurt the horse.
So, you've now removed the rough dirt and dust. Then comes step 2.
Step 2: They grab the root brush (for me also the Magic Brush)
You can use it to gently brush your horse's legs. You can also examine the legs closely.
- Does your horse have any swelling?
- Warm spots?
- Small injuries or maybe even ticks?
You can check all of this while you brush away the adhesions and coarse dirt. The fetlocks are also very important. Depending on the hairiness of your horse, parasites tend to collect there. It's warm and cozy in such a fetlock.
Why is the root brush called a root brush? Because they used to be used around the house to scrub root vegetables clean. This way, larger earth crusts were easily removed. And as you know, you often have them on your horse too.
As I said, the Magic Brush replaces the root brush on my legs. I like to use my root brush to brush the mane hair.
Step 3: You grab the grooming brush (a soft brush)
Now that your horse no longer looks like an aardvark thanks to the magic brush and root brush, you can still make it shine by removing the dust with the grooming brush. To do this, take the grooming brush in your right hand and the harrow in your left hand. With the grooming brush you run over the fur in the direction of growth and can then wipe it off the harrow and knock out the harrow in between. Always brush in the direction of hair growth.
I pay particular attention to the position of the saddle and the belt when cleaning. Nothing can be left there. Otherwise it could rub when riding. So please clean particularly carefully.
Why is the grooming brush called a grooming brush? This comes from the Latin (Carduus = thistle), because the grooming brush, like a thistle, has many long, but also flexible bristles.
Step 4: the horse's head
Now the cuddly brush is used. It is only used for the head. Call me picky, but I think that a brush that is used on the horse's head and around the horse's eyes has no business on the rest of the horse's body. Especially "further back ...".
But be careful - not all horses like to be touched by the head. Some like it, some don't, some don't at first. The head is something personal. Imagine that someone suddenly wants to touch you in the face. You may not know the person that well yet. You wouldn't want that either. If your horse doesn't really want to be touched by the head, you can only do what is absolutely necessary and gradually expand it and get used to it.
To do this, you can loosen the halter and hang it around your horse's neck. Then you can clean the fur on the head with the cuddly brush. Always in the direction of growth of the fur. It is very important that you clean thoroughly wherever the bridle will later lie so that nothing can rub. Since I only use the cuddly brush on my head, I also gently run it over my eyes from top to bottom. The horse then closes its eyes and really enjoys. If there is Schmodder on the eye, you can take it so gently without dragging the horse around in the eye. But only with a very soft, cuddly brush. Please do not clean the nostrils with the cuddle brush. But with a damp cloth or sponge. You can also just use a damp rag on your eyes and then your nostrils. Then wash the cloth carefully for the next time.
Ideally, you should use lukewarm water without soap. To gently wipe out the eyes, then the nostrils and crevices. Just have a bucket of warm water ready.
You can dare to tackle the tail and udder with another sponge. But make sure that you don't mix up the sponges and that you always wash between the individual body parts. More on that in a moment.
Step 5: scratch hooves
Now it's the turn of the hooves. You can warn your horse in advance and gently run your hand down on his leg. I then keep tapping my mare's fur directly above the hoof until she lifts the hoof. Little by little the horses will then know what you want and, depending on the horse's character, will even lift the hoof on their own. It is important not to push and push and pull, but to wait for the horse to shift its weight onto the other hoof. Then it can stand securely when you have its hoof in hand. If it wobbles, it is almost always not meant badly, but it may not have a good balance or any problems. For example, I don't lift the hoof that high and see how the horse reacts. Especially with young horses it is often a growth or balance problem and sometimes the horse is in pain and therefore does not want to give up the hoof. So always ask gently but firmly and also listen to the horse.
First you drive the hoof pick through the grooves. The remaining dirt can then be removed from the hoof with the brush. You always have to be careful with the frog because it is very soft horn. There are nerves underneath.
And finally, calmly put the hoof down again and say “thank you” to the horse. Then put it down again slowly and gently and do not “drop” the hoof on the ground.
For me it is not a matter of course that the horse stands on three legs as a flight animal, while it gives me its hoof and thus its security in my hand. That's why I always thank you when the horse has dutifully given the hoof.
Step 6: make the mane and tail look pretty
The mane and tail are important to your horse because they are proper insect curtains and fly swatters. By blowing in the wind, they drive away the insects. That's why I think it's important to let the horse keep its mane hair. Nature has thought of giving the horse a mane. I don't believe in cutting the mane short or curling it. The latter in particular can be really painful for the horse.
It is best to "read" the mane and tail so as not to pull out too much hair from your horse. In other words: You lovingly fudge out each hair one by one until the tail is pretty and loose again. I do this every couple of weeks.
Otherwise I grab my maintenance spray and spray it on the mane and tail. Then I take either the mane comb or my mane brush (I use a soft root brush for this) and pick out straw and hay and coarse dirt. Then brush gently over the mane and tail.
Read the tail correctly: You grab a few tail hairs and always pull two or three hairs out of the tail band. This way you can separate all your hair without pulling the tail. It takes time and you shouldn't be under time pressure. But it makes a really nice tail.
Brush the tail properly: You take your care spray - for me the Sensitive Spray from Magic Brush, because: only natural ingredients without silicones (you can find more about natural care HERE in an interview) - and spray the tail with it. Then you start at the bottom because it is easy on the tail hair. You wrap the tail around your hand once and brush the tips. As soon as they are nice and fluffy, you can brush gently from top to bottom.
Step 7: udder or tube
Yes, there is also that with your horse. And you have to keep this in mind if you want to clean your horse properly. I have a second rag in my cleaning bag for this. I then wet it, wring it out lightly and clean my mare's udder every few weeks. Such a greasy substance can collect between the teats. And the horse can't reach it. If your mare knows you and trusts you, then she will probably even be delighted when you are down there. Most mares like it a lot. But please be gentle and careful. The udder is really sensitive.
If you are really nice, you can massage your horse's favorite spots again.In the case of Carey, for example, this is the hindquarters and the area between the shoulder and the withers.
Finally - clean the horse properly
Can you take the lambskin shine brush again and run it over the horse's skin. This is how you then take away the hair and dust that was kicked up by the brushing.
But never forget that every horse is different. One of them may love to be cleaned and you can always add cuddles, massage moments and eternal fun brushing in between. Some horses are impatient and only just find cleaning them okay. You can then hurry up and only clean the important areas, such as the saddle position, the belt position or on the head.
For example, some horses don't like being touched by the ears. So you have to be careful and first find out if your horse is okay if you touch it there. Nevertheless, it is good if horses allow it or you can teach your horse to do it, because insects also like to collect in the ears, which can be annoying or uncomfortable for your horse. Ticks or small flies. You can then remove them for your horse.
Last point to clean the horse properly: The hygiene
In addition to cleaning your horse, you also need to clean your brushes regularly. Because otherwise grease, dust and dirt collect in the brushes and that in turn is a real highlight for bacteria and fungi or mites.
There are plastic brushes like the Magic Brush - you can simply put them in your washing machine without detergent. To do this, pack them in a cloth bag and wash them once at 60 degrees. From 60 degrees you kill the bacteria and fungi - so you don't need any antibacterial chemicals and still have sparkling clean brushes. It works great - I've tried it several times.
The brushes with real hair bristles have to be hand washed lukewarm and then left to dry in the sun. Preferably with curd soap. Since I'm a vegetarian and there is a great selection of vegan brushes, I don't have any real hair bristles as far as possible - only with the cuddly brush. Goat hair and the lambskin shine brush.
What do you pay attention to when cleaning? And what does your horse particularly like? Write me a comment! I look forward to your stories about you and your horse!
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