Daily Grooming

What you will need:

  • A rag or old face cloth

  • a rubber or plastic curry comb

  • a long stiff bristled dandy brush

  • a fine, soft bristled body brush

  • mane comb

  • baby oil

  • hoof pick

  • lanolin or hoof dressing


Grooming kit neatly stored in a tote bag

Did you know? Most activities with the horse begin on the horse's left "near" side.  This is because most horses are left handed.  We begin grooming on the left side, we saddle and bridle on the left side and we lead and mount on the left side.  This practice is international and across all disciplines, so that you may handle any horse and know that it is accustomed to being led and handled from the left side.  The right side is referred to as the "off" side.

Grooming does more than just make the horse look good. Brushing stimulates circulation in the skin and muscles, which makes the horse feel good. Good grooming also helps prevent saddle sores—in fact there is no excuse for the person who allows a horse to get a saddle sore because of a dirty hair coat, saddle pad, or girth.

Grooming is also the time we check over every inch of our horse for swellings, bites, cut or any other irregularities.  Make sure to look into your horse's eyes - do they look bright and clear? and watch him walk as you lead him into the barn.  This is the time to pick up on lameness, or injury.

Body & Head

Using the Stable Rag

First, remove any visible dirt from the horse's face. Shake the rub rag to remove any dirt. Be careful, as "snapping" the rag may frighten the horse. When moving from one side of the horse to the other, it is better to cross in front of the horse. When you do, watch that the horse does not try to nip you, maybe looking for treats.  Hold the halter as you duck under his head. If you do cross in back, stay close to the horse and hold its tail, or put your hand on his rump as this discourages kicking (usually caused if you surprise a horse from behind).

Using the Curry Comb

Missing Dll Download Now take the rubber or plastic curry comb in your writing hand and begin at the top of the neck on the near (left) side just behind the head. Rub the curry comb in a circular motion. This brings the ground-in dirt to the surface, along with any loose hair or dandruff. Continue this procedure down the neck, chest, shoulder, forearm, withers, back, side, belly, rump, and outside of gaskin. Do not use the curry comb on bony areas or on the flank—horses are often ticklish or sensitive there and may kick out. Proceed to the off (right) side and repeat the procedure. While you groom, keep your other hand on the horse for reassurance.

Using the Stiff (Dandy brush) and Soft (body brush)

Dandy brush Hold the halter with your left hand, and in your right hand hold the soft brush. Begin brushing the face, following the direction of the hair. Be sure to brush the forehead and pay special attention to those areas under the halter. Brush the forelock as well, working the bristles into the roots with a gentle side-to-side motion to dislodge any dirt or dandruff.

Place the dandy brush in your right hand and the soft brush in your left hand. Brush away the dirt that has surfaced from the use of the rubber curry comb, beginning at the top of the neck on the near side. With the short, flicking strokes, remove the dirt from the body with the stiff brush. Follow this action with the soft brush by brushing over the same area. After a while, you will develop a definite rhythm with these brushes.Body brush

Rub the bristles of the two brushes together during the grooming procedure to remove any dirt that has accumulated on them. Do this near the floor, and away from the horse, so that the horse will not be forced to breathe in the dust. Continue brushing down the neck, chest, shoulder, withers, back, side, belly, flank, and rump. When brushing the flank, be sure to carefully brush in the same direction as the hair. Continue this procedure on the off side of the horse. When on the off side, switch brushes so that the dandy brush is now in your left hand and the soft brush is in your right hand. When grooming the off side, be sure to brush the mane with the dandy brush and do not forget the area under the mane as this could lead to sweat and dirt buildup and lead to skin irritation.

When grooming the legs, face the rear of the horse and brush the legs thoroughly with the stiff brush on the outside of the leg and the soft brush on the inside. Remove any dirt from the heels with the soft brush. Do not worry about brushing over the chestnuts (the small horny growths on the inside of the horse's legs). Also, it will not hurt the horse if you peel a loose layer of the chestnut off, nor will it hurt if you leave it alone. However, large chestnuts may be peeled off as they can become unsightly.

Mane and tail

metal mane combThe mane is combed daily with the mane comb to help thin the hair and keep the appearance tidy.  The tail is NOT combed or brushed daily as it takes years for a tail hair to grow its full length and hair are broken easily by unnecessary grooming.  Simply pull out twigs, shavings, straw etc. and untangle with your fingers.

Using the Sponge

Saturate a sponge with clean, warm water and squeeze the excess water from it. Hold the halter with your left hand and the sponge with your right hand. Begin by wiping the face and eyes with the sponge. Wipe the sponge down over the upper lid of the eye to close the eye while removing any crust or dirt from the corners. Rinse the sponge, then wipe out each nostril.

Move to the off side of the horse. Wipe the mane in a downward motion, rinsing the sponge out periodically. Then move around to the near side of the horse, facing the hindquarters (trail a hand along the horse's body as you go). Standing close to the near hind leg, lift the tail with your left hand. With the sponge in your right hand, clean the anal area, the underside of the tail, and between the thighs. This does not have to be a dirty job. If the horse is groomed on a daily basis, these areas stay relatively clean.

Polishing the Coat

The final step in grooming is to use a clean rub rag all over the horse's body. Begin at the head, and rub the coat on the near side of the body briskly. Continue to the off side. Remember to rub in the direction of hair growth, especially on the flanks. The rub rag provides that final sheen to the horse's coat.

For an extra sparkle on race day, use some baby oil or coat conditioner on the rub rag. (Do not saturate the rub rag, just moisten it.) Rub the oil or conditioner in until the horse's coat is smooth and shiny.

Cleaning the hooves

Parts of the foot


1. Frog
2. Clefts of the frog (V-shaped grooves)
4.White line
5.Hoof wall
6.Bulbs of the foot


cleaned hoof- with shoe onStand facing the tail, with your left shoulder next to your horse's left shoulder.  With your left hand at the shoulder, run it down until you are grasping his fetlock.  Lean slightly against his shoulder, at the same time squeezing slightly at the fetlock.  As the horse/pony lifts his foot, grasp it with your left hand under the front of the hoof to give you the best leverage. Do not hold the hoof too high as this will be uncomfortable, especially for a young horse.hoofpick

Watch where you put your feet!  Stand to the side of the horse, so you don't get stepped on.

With your right hand, start cleaning with the hoofpick at the bulb area of the foot.  Carefully and thoroughly remove all dirt from the frog, as this is the most likely place for rocks to get stuck.  Clean around the hoof where the wall and sole meet (the white line).  Small grit may work its wasApplying lanolin to coronet area up into the hoof here and cause abscesses.

Move to the left rear hoof and repeat with your hand on the rump.  Take care not to pull the leg too far back, or the horse may lose his balance and put his foot down suddenly.
Repeat the process, and continue to the other side.
During dry seasons, apply a lanolin  based ointment to the hoof to prevent cracking and to promote even hoof growth.

return to kids fun and learn pages
see Pro Show Grooming
see mane care and braiding


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