18 of the best horse care tips and tricks for grooming your horse – how to trim the perfect tail, make your own fly spray, get a good line when clipping, and much more…
Top horse care tips and tricks for grooming…
1) Un-fragranced baby wipes, suitable for sensitive skin, are great for wiping pretty much everything!
2) Be super careful when brushing and detangling manes and tails; it’s so easy to pull hairs out and ruin them. Always spray with a conditioner/detangling spray before tackling them (coconut oil mixed with water can work at a push if you don’t have any), and even wash them first if they’re particularly bad. Always start at the ends of the hair, carefully brush out tangles from the bottom and work up in sections, and gently tease knots apart with your fingers
3) When you groom, massage the dock of the tail with a body brush to remove dead skin and dirt, and to stimulate hair growth
4) To keep clean tails clean and tangle free during winter, spray them with a tail sheen/conditioner, braid them and secure with a hair band before turnout. It’ll help stop dirt from sticking and hair getting tangled – be careful not to plait too tight near the dock. Ideally take the braid out at night when they’re stabled, but if you’re pushed for time you can leave them plaited for a few days at a time (don’t plait in summer as they need their tails to swat flies!)
5) Pull mane and tails after exercise when your horse is hot, the pores are more open and the hair should come out easier, and don’t try to pull too much in one go – little and often is much more comfortable for your horse and less of a task for you. If your horse hates having it mane or tail pulled, don’t battle them, just use a solo comb, they’re fantastic!
6) Overly long bridle paths are a big pet hate of mine – before attacking the area with scissors or clippers, put the bridle on and mark where it actually sits, then trim a path very slightly narrower then the headpiece
7) Length of tail – traditionally, hunters have tails trimmed 4” below the hock. Wrapping the tail between and around the hind leg, then lining it up with point of the hock will give you roughly this length. I think sometimes this can look a little short, so I add a couple of inches (it’s always better to cut it too long and go shorter if you need to!)
8) Trimming the tail – this is one of my favourite horse care tips and tricks… watch how the horse hold its tail when they are being ridden, and try to hold the tail at this angle to cut it so it looks straight when they move. I generally find that putting your arm under the dock of their tail works well for most horses. Before trimming make sure the tail has been washed and brushed
9) We all know a horse with a crazy mane that sticks up like a Mohawk or won’t stay on one side – these manes need training! Start by pulling the mane if needed, then give it a good wash, and plait it tightly to one side while it’s wet and secure with plaiting bands. You’ll need to leave the plaits in for a week or two (re-plait any plaits that fall out or start sticking up). When you take the plaits out the main will be crinkly, and may still try to creep up; I tend to dampen the main and comb it through, then put a hood on for a few nights to help flatten it
10) Narrow toothed pet combs are really handy for removing dirt and excess hair, especially in fiddly areas (and some can even work really well for quarter markings too)
11) Tea towels, oven gloves and bath mitts are great for polishing your horse after grooming to achieve a shiny coat
12) Regularly clean your grooming brushes! Dirt and bacteria builds up over time, so aim to give them a clean every 1-2 months. Soak them in a bucket of warm water and washing up liquid for 10-15 minutes, scrape soft brushes on the edge of the bucket, and scrub harder brushes (like rubber curries) with a nail brush, then rinse them out under the tap and set them out to dry on a clean surface with the bristles down.
13) If your horse won’t pick up its feet for you to pick them out, gently pinching their chestnut on the inside of their leg can help encourage them to lift it
14) To get a good line when clipping, mark it out before hand with chalk on dark horses, and charcoal on greys (put the bridle and saddle on as a guide to help draw a line if you are clipping a half head line or saddle patch). Unless you are a seasoned clipping pro, this is one of the best horse care tips and tricks to take some stress out of clipping!
15) To save your horse the shock of a full clip in winter, turn the clippers on near them regularly in summer so they’re desensitised by the time it comes to clip
16) Pink noses are prone to sun burn, and it’s just as bad for horses as it is for us, so protect this area with a specially designed UV protecting full face fly mask, or use a children’s solid stick type water resistant sun block
17) If your horse doesn’t like being sprayed, simply use a gel instead, or spray some into your hand and wipe it on (then wash your hands)
18) Save money by making your own fly spray. A recipe I use is 1/2 litre water, 1/2 litre organic apple cider vinegar, with about ½ a bottle of Avon Skin So Soft, then add a tiny drop of washing up liquid so the oil mixes and 1 teaspoon of organic citronella oil. You can buy these ingredients in bulk and mix them up into empty spray bottles as you go (I like to spray some on myself too when I’m riding, or on the yard – horse flies don’t discriminate!)
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