Horse & Rider

The Forgotten Art of Grooming


It’s been some two decades since I was last in a showmanshi­p lineup. I sure loved showing off that fancy black mare I had back then, and I can still smell the Show Sheen and the World Champion Pepi coat conditione­r in the air.

But some 20 years removed from a show-ring career, I still spend about the same amount of time painstakin­gly grooming each horse as I did back then. I’m not really clipping for perfection, but I’m doing even more.

The time I spend grooming each horse—whether I’m going to ride them or not—is as much for me as it is for them. There’s nothing quite like a quiet morning in the dew-soaked pasture with a bucket of grain, surrounded by broodmares and colts, untangling windswept manes, and checking undersides for ticks and other pests.

For the performanc­e horses in the barn, grooming is a chance to check for popped splints, soreness in the withers, inflammati­on in the tendons, and dull hair that might signal the start of ulcers. It’s a time where I’m not asking anything of my horses (save for a bit of patience) and giving back to them, rather than needing them to carry me across an irrigation ditch or through the arena gates.

This issue is dedicated to that process and all its glory. We’ve got solutions for all of your grooming needs, whether you’re getting your horse show-ring ready or not.

But of course, that’s just part of what you’ll find in the pages ahead. Managing Editor Nichole Chirico pens a profile on our cover gal, Alex Bauwens, whose life really is as fascinatin­g as her giant social media presence makes it look. Plus, writer Heidi Melocco takes you to six guest ranches that maximize your time in the saddle while getting some R&R.

You’ve come to count on us for training content that will improve your ride once the grooming is done, and this issue doesn’t disappoint. From world champions like Kelby Phillips to clinicians like Warwick Schiller, our horsemen and -women have something to offer everyone this fall.

Don’t forget: Our website Horseand is updated daily with new training tips, fun reads, and horse-care ideas for your horse life. We really took it seriously when we told you six months ago that we’re dedicating ourselves to delivering you the same amount of content you once received in 12 issues in four. Take a look around, then stop by OnDemand.HorseandRi­ There, you’ll find even more video and problem solving to maximize your precious time with your equine partner.

I want to hear how you think we’re doing, and what you want to see more of. We take the same pride in “grooming” each issue that we do with our horses, and we value your feedback. Don’t hesitate to send an email pinning your ears or nickering for a treat if you see something you want to tell us about!

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