Spring-Groom­ing Check­list

Trail Rider - - SEASONAL GUIDE -

As you em­bark on spring rides, use this groom­ing check­list to help keep your horse happy, healthy, and com­fort­able.

■ Brush his hair-coat. Be­fore you tack up, use a rub­ber curry comb, a stiff brush, and a body brush to re­move dirt and de­bris from your horse’s coat. Make sure he’s es­pe­cially clean where the tack lies; dirt can cause pain­ful chaf­ing when caught be­tween horse and tack.

■ Use wet wipes. Use dis­pos­able wet wipes or clean sponges to clean your horse’s eyes, the un­der­side of his dock (the area at the top of the tail), and the soft skin under his tail.

■ Check his hooves. Care­fully check your horse’s hooves for cracks, chips, and loose shoes. Then use a hoof pick to clean each hoof. Look for any heat, bruis­ing, or thrush in your horse’s feet. If you spot a prob­lem, ad­dress it im­me­di­ately.

■ Brush his mane and tail. Start at the hair ends, and work all the way down to the hair roots. Then ap­ply a lib­eral coat­ing of a de­tan­gling or shine prod­uct, es­pe­cially just at the roots and along the dock of the tail and the base of the mane. This will help re­pel ticks and burrs.

■ Pack groom­ing tools. In your sad­dle­bag, pack a fold­ing hoof pick (the safest to carry), tweez­ers for tick re­moval, a travel pack of wet wipes, roll-on fly spray, and a small plas­tic bot­tle of in­sect re­pel­lent.

■ Check your horse. Stop at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals along the trail, and per­form a quick check-over of your horse and tack. Do a vis­ual and man­ual check for chaf­ing burrs or dirt clumps. Check his hooves, and pick out stones.

■ Cool him out. Fol­low the old adage, “Walk the first mile out and the last mile in.” If you walk the last mile be­fore you reach home, your horse should be cool by the time you ar­rive. If he isn’t, walk him un­til he’s cool.

■ Check him over. Re­move the tack, and check your horse’s hooves for heat, as well as stones and other de­bris. Check for any loose shoe nails. Look for and re­move any ticks and burrs. Re­move any bot eggs (tiny yel­low specks) on your horse’s lower legs with a bot block or bot knife.

■ Re­move sweat. Brush the sweat (wet or dry) out of your horse’s coat to make him more com­fort­able and to bat­tle bit­ing in­sects; some in­sects are at­tracted to sweat. If nec­es­sary, give him a bath. Di­lute the sham­poo in wa­ter be­fore you ap­ply it for ease of rins­ing, work the soap down to the skin, and rinse thor­oughly. — Jes­sica Jahiel, PhD Fold­ing hoof pick avail­able from Two Horse En­ter­prises (www.twohorseen­ter­prises.com).

DUSTY PERIN PHOTO RENÉ E. RI­LEY PHOTO

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