Grooming your horse is essential all year round, however even more so in the cold, harsh winter months. A lot of people wonder, as an example, whether or not they should clip their horse in the colder weather and, in many ways, this is down to personal circumstances. Here, we bring you 11 winter horse grooming tips to help you keep your horse looking their best all throughout the season.
Use The Correct Brushes
‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ – it’s vital you have the right equipment to support your horses grooming requirements ahead of the winter months. If your horse has been clipped, it will be more sensitive and you should avoid harsh brushes. A clipped horse should be groomed with a soft body brush. However, for an unclipped horse, a curry brush is great at loosening and lifting dirt, whilst also helping distribute the horse’s natural oils. Monitor your horse’s reaction – see if they are enjoying it, their behaviour will serve as a good indication.
You can find all of our brushes in our grooming section here.
Keep Your Brushes Clean
Grooming in winter is hard enough as it is, you’re constantly up against the elements and dirty brushes can’t help clean a horse. Midseason, take your brushes home with you and clean them in a mild soap solution and allow them to air dry indoors overnight.
An equine vacuum can save time, and it can quickly and easily remove dust and dirt from a winter coat, for best results use a curry brush prior to vacuuming. If your horse isn’t familiar with a vacuum, spend time allowing them time to become familiar with the sound and sensation before full use.
These are perfect for using once or twice a week to help thin out a thick winter coat and they’re also great for tackling caked on mud. Use the toothed side of an open shedding blade but be mindful to only do this on the fleshiest area of your horse.
Manure and mud encourage bacteria to breed, so it’s important to keep your horse’s hooves clean by using a hoof pick. Hose off any excess mud and apply hoof grease to keep the hooves in top condition. Poor hoof health can lead to lameness, therefore it’s a good idea to check the shoes are tight throughout the winter.
This allows you to give your horse a deep clean when it’s too cold for a bath. Firstly, use a portable kettle or submersible heater to heat the water and, whilst the water is heating, use a curry brush to lift dirt and debris. Soak the towel in the hot water and wring it out until it’s nearly dry, lastly briskly rub the towel against the grain of the hair, working in small areas and rotating to a clean section of the towel as the dirt is picked up. For the horses face use a small hand towel as it’s likely you will use several bath towels to clean a full horse.
All year round it’s essential that horses receive an adequate amount of exercise. If you have access to an indoor riding area you can ride your horse indoors, however, if not, ride outside if the ground isn’t frozen. If space is limited you can lunge your horse or at the very minimum take your horse for a brisk walk.
To lunge your horse you will need the correct equipment to do so, you can find our lunging and training equipment here.
Use Your Fingertips
Feel your horse with your bare fingertips to check there aren’t any scabs or sores forming, as with a thick winter coat these can be even harder to detect. A winter coat can also hide leg inflammations and common areas where there may be issues are the girth area and the skin folds near the elbows. These areas can sweat a lot and can become prone to bacterial infections.
Reduce The Mud
Who are we kidding? Horses love to roll in the mud! Especially if they have spent a while in the stables. You could either use a coat shine product, to prevent the mud sticking too much, or alternatively, you could use a rug with a full neck, which not only keeps your horse warm but prevents your horse getting totally covered in mud.
Don’t have time to give your horse a hot towel clean? Too cold for to bathe your horse? Spot cleaning your horse is a targeted and effective way of caring for them whatever the weather. Using warm water, a clean sponge, and clean dry towels, cleaning and drying small sections of your horse is an ideal way to keep them clean without giving them a full bath.
Sweat or Water Scraper
This device is used to remove excess water after a bath or excess sweat after a workout and helps to regulate the horse’s temperature. This is important, especially in the winter months, due to the outside temperature being so cold.
Overall, it’s crucial to remember to check your horse over and groom your horse daily. Ensure mud and dirt doesn’t build up, as it will make them harder to groom in the long run and it could potentially cause health problems moving forwards.