Winter Horse Grooming - Baby it's Cold Outside! - Shine My Horse
Even when the chill of winter sets in, it is still important to keep up with your horse’s grooming. Whether you are headed out for a snowy horseback ride, or trying to clean up a sloppy, muddy horse, those thick winter coats create more challenges for you. And while it’s too cold to bathe, it sure doesn’t stop their coats from attracting every clump of mud and dirt.
Keep your horse's skin healthy by vigorously currying his body daily. In addition to lifting dirt and skin debris to the surface, it will also enable you to feel for anything not right with his body….from bumps or abrasions to diminishment in the fat layer over his ribs indicating weight loss.
Sweat and dirt can get trapped in the thicker winter hair, and that can lead to skin irritations, especially from a saddle. If your horse starts out clean before exercise, he will be that much easier to clean up after. As the horse works, dirt and debris in saddle areas can rub and lead to abrasions or infection. So be sure to pay extra attention to those areas around their ears, under jaws, behind pasterns and elbows, and along the girth and saddle areas.
Tools to keep handy for the winter months include a curry comb, shedding blade, and coarse bristled brushes. Curry combs with longer tines can reach better into the long winter coats. Curry his body to lift dirt and skin debris to the surface, and finish by whisking away the dirt with your brushes. Not only is dirt loosened with the curry, but it massages the skin and distributes his natural oils, making for a healthy coat. Some horses do not care for the metal curry combs, so experiment and see which type works best for you.
Another great tool is a slicker brush, which is actually made to reach through the fur of long-haired dogs.
A shedding blade works to remove any caked on dirt. If the horse is coated in mud, first break up any large chunks with your fingers. The toothed side of an open shedding blade works very well, but you may want to stick with fleshier parts of the horse when using that side. It might be a little too rough to be used on sensitive areas like the hips and withers.
And there is always the option of a grooming vacuum or Shop-Vac. These quickly pull dirt and dust from a thick coat.First curry the horse to loosen up the dirt, and remove it easily with the vacuum. If your horse is not used to a vacuum, you may want to take a few days to get him acclimated to the noise and feel from the vacuum.
One of my favorites is the grooming glove. It will keep your hands clean while grooming, and your horse will enjoy the closeness of the hands on massage type feel, as well as the scratching sensation.
And to finish off, you can also use some hot towels, especially around the face area.
A little extra elbow grease during the winter months will keep your horse clean and happy and ready for a nice trail ride, just be sure you dress for the cold!