Grooming and personal hygiene can be a minefield of health, cleanliness, and social codes, especially in a field as traditionally fashion-forward as equestrianism. That was true in the Regency, with the elegant equestrian fashions featured in the many sumptuous film adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels. It was true in the Edwardian Era, when red riding outfits for fox hunting were a huge marker of class. It remains true today, with riding boots, jackets, helmets, and ensembles continuing to play a big role in how riders are evaluated
And the same holds true for your horses. At their best, riders and mounts are a perfectly-matched pair. You may be a picture of riding perfection, but if your horse looks like a dingy smelly fly-ridden mess, you’ll likely be left wrinkling your nose – as will the judges in competition. Even if you don’t care about competing in equestrian events, hygiene and grooming is an essential part of taking care of your horse. In order for them to live a happy, healthy life, horses need to be properly groomed, which means you need to have the right grooming equipment on hand.
That’s why these eight items should be in every horse grooming kit.
1. Curry Comb
Brushing your horse’s mane and coat is one of the most important aspects of any horse grooming and hygiene routine. You need to make sure that you get any and all dirt, mud, and grime out of their hair and coat in order to keep them in good health. In order to do that, you need to brush your horse’s mane regularly, and to do that you need to find the right kind of comb for the job.
A curry comb is one of the most important tools in your horse grooming kit, in large part because it can help get rid of all that dirt and grime. When dirt is allowed to collect on a horse’s mane, it can lead to everything from foul odors and skin conditions to larger issues which can cost your horse some of its hair. A curry comb features rigid teeth and a hard back, both of which make it ideal for helping to loosen up and thus remove any dirt and mud which may have become caked onto their hide. Rubbing this comb over your horse’s hide in a circular motion can also help massage it, thereby promoting healthy skin and hair growth.
You can use curry combs all over your horse’s body, though you’ll want to be careful of their underside, which can be a bit more sensitive.
There are two main types of curry combs. Plastic curry combs, otherwise known as sarvis curry combs, tend to be on the less expensive side. True to their name, they feature a tough, thick plastic back and long teeth which are ideal for getting out tough matting, mud, manure stains, and other contaminants on your horse’s coat. They can also be used at bath time to give your horse’s mane and coat a good scrub down.
Rubber curry combs are also quite economical. In contrast to plastic curry combs, whose teeth tend to be on the longer side, these combs tend to feature short teeth which can be good for stimulating circulation, which in turn can help boost hair growth. The smaller size of these brushes may also be welcome for riders with smaller hands.
This option from Partrade is a perfect example of a textbook basic plastic curry comb. It is easy to strap on and control, and the bristles do a good job of getting gunk out of your horse’s hair.
This brush makes use of long, thick, stiff bristles to give your horse a good firm brushing. The stiff bristles are also ideal for getting out tough mud spots. This can be especially useful if your horse lives in an area with a lot of clay soil, which can cake onto your horse’s hide and cause everything from infections and funguses to lameness.
Dandy brushes are meant to be employed in a smooth, flicking motion which can loosen mud and dust. Some horses may find it a bit harsh on their legs, so you’ll want to be gentle. For that reason, a dandy brush should never be used on their face. The bristles themselves are made of either synthetic fibers or coarsened animal hair, while the back is made of either wood or plastic.
This dandy brush, from Equissentials, is thick and soft while offering a smooth stroke. It has a classic wooden back, and does a great job of loosening mud and dust.
3. Medium Brush
This is another brush which is designed to help tackle mud in your horse’s mane and coat, but it is much smoother than a typical dandy brush. It can thus be a great option for those with horses whose skin and coat are especially sensitive.
Le Salon offers a medium brush which fits right in with that description. Their short bristles are ideal for short-haired horses.
Whereas dandy and medium brushes are good for getting mud out of your horse’s coat, soft brushes are good for dealing with your horse’s mane and tail. Your horse’s tail in particular is delicate compared to the hair on the rest of their body, so it needs to be dealt with quite gently. These soft brushes can help you get dust out while soothing the area around your horse’s tail, improving its sheen and appearance.
This soft brush from Oster features an easy-to-grip rubber handle which provides added comfort while brushing. It makes use of natural densely-packed soft bristles to brush your horse’s mane.
5. Horsehair Brush
This example from Quickie makes it easy to brush your horse clean in a hurry. Its soft bristles allow you to groom your horse without yanking out hair or causing discomfort to your horse. The flared design makes it easier to get at dirt which may have collected in hard-to-reach spaces.
6. Hoof Pick
If there is any aspect of your grooming which is as important as your horse’s coat, mane, and tail, it’s their hooves. You wouldn’t want to stand on your feet while battling pain all day, and neither does your horse. Should rocks and other debris get wedged in between their hooves, they can become infected and inflamed, which can be incredibly painful and damage or even eliminate their ability to stand and walk properly.
A horse pick is thus an essential part of any horse grooming kit. The one included here, from Two Winners, features a two-in-one design that makes it that much easier to remove both mud and dirt from your horse’s hooves. The back is made from steel, making the pick durable enough to be used with appropriate force without fear of it snapping.
You don’t want the hoof pick to slip while you’re using it, lest you inadvertently harm your horse. Thankfully, the rubber grip is ergonomic and comfortable, making it easier to hold in cold and wet weather than other hoof picks.
7. Sponges and Cloth
Every horse grooming kit should therefore have at least one sponge or piece of cloth which can be used for “soap and water purposes” in bathing and cleaning off your horse after a long day on the trail. Needless to say, these don’t have to be the fanciest options in the world, and a good old-fashioned horse sponge will do.
That said, you’ll want to make sure that any sponge you purchase, such as this option from Hydra Sponge, is soft enough for use on your horse’s skin while still having enough integrity and durability to last longer than a few washes.
8. Grooming Bag
Last but not least, you’ll need a way to carry around all of those horse grooming tools. A horse grooming bag should be easy to carry, should be large enough to accommodate all of your tools, and should preferably have pockets inside for organization purposes. The sturdy straps make it easy to carry, and the whole thing has an air of plaid chic.
This grooming bag from Kensington Protective Products is nicely sized at 12”x12”x7”. The pockets make storage a snap, sparing you from having to dig around toward the bottom of the bag to try to find the tool you’re looking for. It is made of Textilene fabric, which is mildew resistant while still breathing well enough to avoid getting too hot inside in the summertime. It is also very durable and easy to clean.
Do right by your horse by grooming them in the right way with the best horse grooming kit on the market today.