Is grooming your horse (or the horse you ride) and taking care of its basic needs a part of your riding routine? I hope so, because simply riding and having someone else do the grooming and basic care means you are missing out on a vital aspect of horsemanship.
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Grooming is a Vital Aspect of Horsemanship
Progressing through the ranks as a Pony Clubber, we were expected to put our horse’s care and needs above our own. At Pony Club camp we didn’t go to dinner until our horse was properly groomed and cared for after our day of riding. We ate after our horse was fed, watered and the poop scooped. Pony Club developed the vital art of horsemanship.
In contrast, there are many equestrians out there who keep their horses at training barns and have everything done for them. They show up for a lesson or for a ride, and their horse is already pulled out, groomed, tacked up, sometimes even warmed up for them, and when they’re done, someone does it all again in their place. Sarah Williams says, “Growing up in the Arabian world, it was common to see my competitors do nothing but get their clothes on while a ‘groom’ got their horse ready and a trainer warmed the horse up or schooled it before the rider got on. I always felt they were missing out.”
Pony Club Developed Horsemanship and Detailed Grooming
Formal Inspection was a part of every Pony Club competition. The judge parted our horse’s mane and tail to inspect the roots. He or she evaluated the cleanliness and condition of our tack, checked the stitching, and noted the shininess of our stirrups, bits and other hardware. There was to be no dust on our boots, and no dust on our horse’s rump. White markings should glow, grey horses should sparkle and other coat colors should glisten. Our saddle pads were clean and fluffed, our own riding clothes neat, clean and fitting properly (especially the helmet). Passing formal inspection was part of the joy of riding in the event.
That was not all…throughout the event our horsemanship was judged and the way we maintained our stable area scrutinized. In fact, our whole team was judged on Stable Management as a whole. We could be good riders on obedient horses, but our team couldn’t win without a good stable management score. All this was to help us see that grooming and horse care was an essential part of riding.
Grooming is an Essential Part of Riding
Grooming is more than simply getting the dirt out of the horse’s coat so the tack won’t irritate the skin. Grooming is communication. You get a sense of how your horse is feeling that day by looking and feeling for bumps and scrapes and issues that may impact your riding. Picking the horses hooves enables you to evaluate the condition of the hooves, the limbs and the overall well-being of the horse before climbing aboard. You might find sore spots, scratches or swelling that usually isn’t there, then evaluate how these issues might impact your horse’s ability to be ridden that day.
Grooming Lets Your Horse Tell You How He is Doing
Grooming gets you up close and personal with how your horse is feeling. Is he pinning his ears more than usual? Is he not wanting to raise a foot to have his hoof picked? Is he turning around and nipping at you or his sides? Does his back give way when you press on it? All these signs could be signals that all is not right with your riding partner.
Grooming is Good for the Horse
Your horse benefits from the stimulation of grooming as the increased blood flow to the skin promotes health. Picking out your horse’s hooves minimizes the occurrence of thrush and catches stones or sticks that could cause problems while you are riding. While you are grooming your horse he learns to trust you and your actions which make riding him even more pleasurable.
Some Riders Don’t Participate in the Grooming Process
I am aware that in some equestrian circles grooming is left for the hired hand. Some show riders show up in their outfits, get a leg up onto a horse, check in with a trainer and go around their course or through their pattern only to jump off and hand the horse back to the hired groom. This turns riders into disconnected people who simply learn to sit and maneuver the animal but have no connection with or appreciation for the magnificent creature. What a waste of an opportunity. A horseman this does not make.
Think you don’t have time to groom? Streamline your grooming routine.
Enjoy grooming your horse. Enjoy the connection pleasure grooming brings to your relationship with such a beautiful, graceful and magnificent creature who willingly becomes your treasured partner.
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Get Into Grooming Your Horse with Some New Grooming Tools
Instead of grabbing the old curry comb try these grooming mitts. These mitts are all the rage these days. Slip your hands into these mitts then rub your horse all over. You feel your horse while removing excess hair and dirt with both hands. This makes currying a breeze. These mitts are also handy when bathing your horse. Easily create suds while getting dirt and loose hair from the coat.
Another new grooming tool is a must-have for all seasons – the Magic Grooming Bristle Brush for Horses removes dirt, sweat, and grime for short summer coats and long winter hair alike with its flexible, closely-packed plastic bristles. Choose your favorite color to match with other equipment.
A great finishing brush will be your most treasured grooming tool. A top-quality body brush brings out the sheen and shine in your horse’s coast. Use Haas Diva top-quality finishing brush after brushing the majority of the hair and dirt away with a dandy brush. This finishing brush features medium stiff bristles which are perfect for loosening dirt and hair while bringing out a shine in the coat.
The simpler the hoof pick the better. The size, weight and shape of this traditional hoof pick design makes it perfect for picking the feet. Clean and simple with no brush to get in the way of your hand while picking the hoof like the hoof picks with the brush end. The open handle allows it to be hung on a hook for easy access or clipped to a belt loop or saddle to have with you where ever you go. A variety of colors provides fun and matching with other equipment.
Personally, I really enjoy grooming my horse and working on the connection I have with both the horses I work with. One thing I do enjoy is taking care of any issues and making sure my horse is comfortable. For example, Carrera is a horse I ride. She has really thin skin so the flies cause little patches of raw areas on her face and lower forelegs. I apply Coat Defense to those areas on her face and front legs when I groom her after a ride. Her skin is looking really good this year.
Just so you know, clicking the above links takes you to the product on the Riding Warehouse site. This makes shopping easy and convenient for you. We do get a little kick-back from items purchased, giving us resources to bring you more stories, but your price stays the same. It’s a win-win! Also for local riders you can order items online and request pick-up – during checkout – at the Riding Warehouse store. Happy Trails!
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