Today's guest post is written by Joe Hargreaves, he grew up riding and has always had a passion for the equestrian lifestyle. He recently started own website about horse riding equipment.
Regular horse grooming is essential, both for the health of the horse and for your relationship with him. It is a time for bonding, when he knows it will be just the two of you together, and it enables you to get a sense of his happiness and well being, or if there is anything troubling him. If you do it right, both you and your horse will enjoy your grooming sessions and look forward to them.
There are several reasons why regular grooming is important, the obvious one of course being the health of your horse. Even removing the mud will prevent skin problems, and picking his feet with a hoof pick will prevent thrush, and avoid abscesses developing from stones being left in. The circular motion of brushing with a curry comb over the whole body really stimulates circulation and blood flow, which not only reduces swellings and promotes healing, but brings up the natural oils in his coat.
Along with this, grooming is important because it enables you to assess his physical health and his emotional state. You should run your hands over the whole horse every time you groom, so that you get to know the normal feel of his skin. This means you can quickly pick up any problem, such as a lump, scratch or cut that wasn't there before.
Apart from this, regularly running your hands over your horse is part of communicating with him -- horses are very sensitive to touch. Not only your hands, but your voice and your body language will have an effect on him and strengthen the bond between you. This will work both ways, and enable you to become increasingly sensitive to how he is feeling as well, so that you can pick up on anything that needs attention. This type of hands-on grooming is especially valuable for young or nervous horses, and helps them to build up trust.
As well as regular horse grooming, it is equally important to carry out regular cleaning of tack, or horse riding equipment. It is particularly necessary to clean any part of the equipment which has contact with the horse, including horse saddles, saddle pads and girth, and of course the bit. All these items of equipment get dirty very quickly when you are out riding, and failing to clean them regularly will not only cause discomfort to the horse, but can result in sores and ulcers.
You can clean saddle pads by hanging them up and whacking them with a stick several times, to remove the loose hair and dirt, and then brushing the side that is next to the horse's skin with a horse brush or
rubber curry comb. Vacuums can also be useful for sucking off the loose dirt and hair. As well as being important for the horse's comfort, regular cleaning of the horse riding equipment is important for preserving the leather, and helping to keep it more supple and weatherproof.
Regular horse grooming has benefits for you as well as the horse -- it is a great means of exercise, and improves your muscle strength. You have to remember grooming is only part of the overall care of your horse, and a good balanced diet is also very important to ensure he has a gleaming coat. Keeping all these things in mind means that you and your horse will benefit each other, and have a long and happy relationship.