What’s the secret to having a glowing and healthy looking horse?
Shine is what all horse people strive for, but the type of shine you will get will depend on the colour of your horse and the condition of their coat. A black or darker coloured horse will shine differently to a lighter / white coloured horse whose shine will be no less beautiful, just more subtle. Brushing that massages the skin will relax the hair follicles and cause them to flatten; and hair that is smooth and flat will reflect light better.
Anyone who loves their horse looking and feeling their absolute best knows that a regular grooming regime is essential to achieving a shiny coat and to monitoring your horse’s health for any sign of injury or illness. Like all things equestrian care, effective grooming comes down to three things: equipment, technique and knowledge.
Brushes ain’t brushes
Horse brushes and horse grooming kits that are made from natural materials must be your first choice. These brushes provide a thorough clean, are gentle on the skin, and are long-lasting when cared for properly. Horse brush sets provide a convenient collection of brushes designed to accomplish some or all of the horse brushing process.
It’s also good practice not to buy one brush for multiple horses. Would you use someone else’s hair or tooth brush? Customisable brushes can be a good investment where your horse is stabled with several others. This way you will know whose is whose.
The right brush with the right technique for the job
Grooming your horse to shine involves four fundamental steps. Each step requires a focus on technique, use of the correct brush, effort and time. The following steps are provided sequentially so do them in this order to achieve glowing results:
- Aim - to increase the blood circulation of the skin, relax tiny erector muscles that are connected to each hair follicle and gently bring dirt and debris up from the skin.
- Brush - use only high quality curry / dirt buster brushes that are flexible with rounded teeth or bristles that don’t pull out hair or scratch the skin.
- in a circular motion, start behind the poll and curry from head over chest, shoulder, back, belly, hind end to hocks.
- observe your horse for areas it finds very sensitive or very enjoyable. Where your horse likes a specific area, lean into the motion to increase the effect.
- remove dirt by knocking your curry against the floor a few times.
- Aim - to bring up more dust, debris and dander from the horse’s skin to the surface of the coat, to distribute natural skin oils over the hair (which improves shine).
- Brush - only use 100% natural flick or dandy brushes with ‘springy’ bristles that flick back when you push against them.
- start behind the poll and brush with the grain of the horse’s coat. Brush the entirety of the horse this way on both sides.
- your motion should not be too different from the flicking motion you use when using an outdoor broom.
- use short flicking strokes with the movement coming from the wrist.
- Aim - to remove finer dirt, dust and dander particles, smooth the coat and distribute the horse’s skin oils evenly throughout the coat.
- Brush - a natural bristle body brush (you could opt for brushes with a raised edge for additional ‘flicking’).
- brush with the grain of the hair all over the horse’s body in even, long strokes to remove all surfaced dirt.
- give the horse a second brushing if needed.
- cleaning the brush against a rubber curry every few strokes ensures you don’t reapply dirt to different areas of your horse.
- Aim - to remove all fine dust particles from the horse’s coat and smooth down hair for extra shine!
- Brush - you can’t go past a goat hair brush followed by a soft cloth or mitten.
- work with the grain of hair growth and brush the entire horse.
- a second sweep won’t hurt if you and your horse feel inclined.
- a firm wipedown with a soft cloth or mitten to smooth out any last imperfections and further distribute natural oils.
A final word
Active Equine, Australia’s leading online saddlery has all your brush needs covered with a comprehensive range of William Leistner brushes, brush kits and customisable brushes.Unsure about which brush is best suited to the job? Contact us today and we’ll be more than happy to share our experience and point you in the right direction.