Friday, May 22, 2009

Total Horse Makeover

Whether for show or fun, spring is a great time to jump start your grooming program with a Total Horse Makeover. The basics are the same but, for show, you can get noticed with extra attention to details or, for fun, zip things up with new hair style or accessories. As you can see from the before and after photos, even the best of horses can be helped by some simple grooming steps:
1. Start with a good rub down with a rubber curry comb, avoiding the horse’s face and legs. Working in a circular motion to loosen old winter hair and dirt. If the coat is thick, you may want to try a shedding blade, being careful to not pull hair too hard.
2. Use a brush to remove the excess hair and dirt uncovered by the curry comb. Starting at the top of the neck and working toward the rear of the horse and down.
3. While the horse is dry is a good time to use the clippers to trim muzzle whiskers, ears, bridle path and fetlocks.
4. Pick/Clean your horse’s feet – noting any issues that may need attention by a farrier.
5. Next wet the horse all over (except face) with the spray from a hose using comfortably warm water. If you do not have warm water available from the hose, you can use warm water from a bucket. Start with the front feet and then back so that the horse becomes comfortable with the water. Avoiding the head, work from the neck down and then to the back and down and the rear down. Lastly spray/wash under the body and then the tail.
6. Add shampoo suited for your horse’s coat type and/or color to a bucket and add comfortably warm water to make suds. Using a sponge or brush, dip into the suds and make circular motions with and against the grain of body hair ensuring that you get down to the skin. Again working from the neck to the rear – avoiding the face.
7. You may want to use a different shampoo specifically formulated for mane and tail when you have completed the body shampoo. There are products which can enrich a horse’s tail and mane true color. You can squeeze shampoo directly into mane and tail, working through with your fingers to the roots. If you find dandruff or fungus, be sure to apply a product specifically suited to dealing with the condition before you rinse your horse.
8. Rinse the shampoo off with a hose or sponge from bucket. Again starting with the top of neck and working down and back toward rear, be sure to rinse well around the base of the tail and under the tail/between the legs.
9. Wash face with a sponge or towel that is wrung out – being careful to not get water in eyes. You do not need a lot of shampoo on the face a small amount on the rag will be sufficient. Wipe out the nostril area, lips and ears with water and soft rag.
10. To start drying, use a scraper starting with the neck to rear and scraping down with the grain of the hair.
11. Before your horse is completely dry, spray or wipe on conditioner. Do not apply to saddle area if you are going to ride because it can be slippery.
12. As a finishing touch, wipe a towel over the horse's coat to make it shine.

Extra touches:
1. For relaxation, your horse may appreciate a massage. With your fingers together, start with making small circles along the spine. Start out with light pressure - watching your horse's reaction to ensure that it is not too much. Work from the neck to the rear on each side of the spine and, if you and your horse want to continue, move down the body and to the legs - continuing with the same small circles. To learn more there are a number of good equine massage books available.

2. For show, paint hooves with a hoof blacking product and add a little extra shine product to the muzzle and above eyes.

3. For fun, braid or curl your horse’s mane and tail and add accessories to complete your total horse make over.

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