A gray horse who naturally lays and rolls in the mud with a winter coat is a top grooming challenge. Winter grooming tips that work well for him will work for any horse. Sarah, at SLO Sage and Spur Ranch, together with her daughter Emma, demonstrate several key winter grooming tips on a gray horse that you can employ with your horse.
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Step One: Curry the Horse
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Traditionally, horsemen have used the curry comb in a circular motion to first loosen the dirt and hair from the horse’s coat. The hard, unforgiving metal curry comb has given way to the rubber version which still loosens the dirt and hair, but is easier on the horse’s skin and body.
There are other curry options that work well all over the horse, including the bony legs and even appropriate for the face.
Epona Tiger’s Tongue Horse Groomer – flexible to work around the contours of the horse’s body, and soft enough for the horse’s legs, joints and face. Use this tool dry or wet. This sponge is also useful for shedding horses out.
Hands-On Grooming Gloves – Great for shedding and getting shampoo into the coat, and ideal for picking out a horse’s tail. Flexible and tactile to offer massage while grooming and easily works on legs, joints and face. Use dry or wet.
Need an extra hand with shedding? The SleekEZ shedding tool is Sarah’s go-to for helping her horses shed out.
Step 2: Brush the Loosened Dirt and Hair off
Using a stiffer body brush to flick the loose dander and hair off the horse is the next grooming step after currying the horse.
Follow that up with a natural horse hair brush to get the medium level dirt brushed off.
Finish with a soft finishing brush to get the final dust off the horse’s coat and bring out the shine.
Step 3: Pick out Hooves
In addition to picking out your horse’s hooves before your ride, treat the hooves for thrush or white line disease. Here is a great thrush treatment option complete with a hoof pick.
Step 4: Brush out the Mane and Tail
Starting from the bottom of the tail start brushing out the knots and continuing to the base. Spray the tail and mane with Sarah’s favorite customized mix of Showsheen, White Vinegar and Pink Conditioner.
Here’s the “Pink Spray” recipe:
Pour ingredients into an empty spray bottle. Shake well and spray.
Step 5: Top off with a Customized Finishing Spray
The same “Pink Spray” used for the mane and tail (above) is now used to get the really fine dust off the coat and to leave a protective sheen. Spray the horse with “Pink Spray” and towel-off lightly for a dust-free shine.
Step 6: Deal with the Winter Grooming Challenges : Mud and Green Spots, plus Crusty legs
Yes, lucky you, your gray horse shows the green/manure spots and the mud-mess especially well. A gray, furry winter coat makes these grooming headaches even more challenging. Sarah has a quick, effective way to work these stains loose.
Spot cleaning is especially useful in the winter, when a full bath is not possible due to cold weather.
Using a tiger’s tongue sponge put a mix of ivory soap (great for loosening the crud) and a purple brightening shampoo on the wet sponge. Scrub the dirty spot(s) then rinse off just that area
Geldings and stallions may develop crusty cannons on the front of the back legs, mares may get yellow staining on the inside of the back legs.
With either your hands, a grooming glove or a Tiger’s Tongue sponge apply Ivory soap and/or betadine scrub on these areas. Scrub to break down the waxy crud. The Betadine scrub will deal with any bacteria that may get out of hand.
Step 7. Apply Cooler to Keep Horse Warm
Cool outside temperatures may make a wet horse shiver, even one who has been spot cleaned. Let you horse dry and stay warm with a horse cooler blanket.
Winter Grooming Challenges Can Be Met
So even though winter presents more grooming challenges, with heavier coats, wet weather and mud, these challenges can be overcome and will serve your horse well all year long. Sarah and her team at SLO Sage and Spur Ranch are here to help you care for your horse
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Photo credit: Sharon Jantzen Photos
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