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