Thursday, April 20, 2017

what does "well groomed" mean to you?

Yesterday was a long day for me in a lot of ways -- mostly spent driving back and forth across the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding environs.

This is certainly the best time of year to take in the Eastern Shore scenery too - all the small flowering trees (dogwoods, cherry blossoms, magnolias - pinks everywhere!) are in full bloom, and the wooded areas are all varying shades of velvety green. Plus all things agriculture are swinging in full force. Lots of pretty things to enjoy!

is he trying to hide behind his hay? or passed the F out after schooling? or both? you decide!
But.... it was still pretty exhausting. And mildly to moderately stressful (esp the rush hour traffic coming home). I wanted nothing more than to just go to the barn, see my pony, and have a nice relaxing ride.

Alas, the delicate princess whacked another leg. Le sigh. He'll probably survive this unthinkable catastrophe (or, alternatively, has already dropped dead simply bc I dared type those words), but it won him at least one evening off work.

say what you want about his body condition. he be shiny tho!
Since I was already out there anyway tho, I stuck around for a while to groom him, feed him his standard "extra" meal (only now packed with bute and SMZs!), plus the whole cold hose - betadine scrub - cold hose - silver spray song and dance that we all know and love so much.

included bc i think he's the cutest. 
For me, a long and satisfying grooming session is composed almost entirely of currying. Especially right now, Charlie is still blowing his winter coat (and looks a bit like an orphan in the process, ugh), so I'm spending a ton of time using the round rubber curry on basically his whole body. But also the hard plastic curry, esp on his legs (thus my discovery of his wound, blargh).

I often use my beloved Horze body brush in tandem with the curries, just to keep flicking off the dust and dander as the curry lifts it. But the lion's share of the work undoubtedly goes to plain old currying. And I routinely spend 40min on it.

apple green hoof pick > apple green jolly horse candy toy thingy
I usually at least give the mane and forelock a couple swipes with the curry comb, and obvi pick out feet every time too bc he's shod all around and gets so much turnout (ie: ample time to pick up rocks and whatnot). Tho I only rarely fully brush out his tail.

And actually, honestly, I'm pretty negligent about all things trimming and clipping. I LOVE the look of freshly tidied up faces, manes, tails, and legs.... but almost never get around to doing it myself. Charlie's mane is kinda an uneven, unkempt disaster. And for a TB, he's got some surprisingly baller feathery fur around his fetlocks lol.... I always mean to clip or trim him up... but never manage to remember.

unruly mane
I also don't really bathe him all that often either. Now that it's warmer out we'll occasionally sponge or hose off after a ride, and I try to work in a little more currying in the process... But the full on shampoo-n-condition baths are mostly limited to show prep.

Charlie seems no worse the wear for it tho. His coat is supremely soft and silky, and he remains ever-huggable (even if he still kinda looks.... like an orphan haha. damn winter coat, when will you be GONE?).

the slow march continues ever on. body condition improving with spring grass.
It made me curious tho. I'm so engrossed in my own grooming routine, but I also know that everyone else has their own little routines too. Or that there are plenty more out there who either don't personally love grooming all that much, or have horses who are particularly disinclined to stand and take it.

Still tho - I'm curious. In your experience, or opinion, what constitutes a "well groomed" horse? And what's your preferred method for getting there? And preferred tools?

Are you like me, spending tons of time currying? Or perhaps bathing plays a bigger role in your routine? Does a sloppy mane or tail immediately detract from the rest of the horse's appearance in your opinion? Or do you believe that the key to that deep glossy or dappled look is pure and simple genetics, and any extraordinary efforts toward grooming or supplementation thereof are wasted?

49 comments:

  1. I am queen of the baths and full body clips. #grayhorseproblems and all that. ;)

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    1. a full clip definitely makes things easier!

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  2. I love a good groom and now that the horses are home I spend more time just doing spa days. I begin with the curry (or if actively shedding a shedding blade then curry), then use a stiff brush. I always comb out the mane but rarely touch the tail for some reason. Both get a spring and fall full on bath but that's the only time soap hits them unless I have a ride coming up. I love the wild look though and figure they have the hair for a reason, plus they live outside, so I don't remove any hair.

    I think grooming is really important and helps find those little problems you may otherwise miss and make worse by riding.

    Charlie's coat is super shiny!!!

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    1. agreed completely on using grooming as a way to really thoroughly check the horse over. charlie's leg wound yesterday could have been easily missed despite its fatness - and in fact i didn't even notice it until i went to brush that leg.

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  3. I call my grooming process "the ritual", because it is just that. I feel it's essential before every ride. I lay out all my curries, brushes, and picks in the order I use them, from left to right, reminds me of a dental assistant & their tray hehe. Takes roughly an hour to complete the ritual depending on how dirty my pony is. But we bond, and it gives me the chance to look him over head to toe. And his coat is one of the best looking at the barn!!

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    1. haha i love that! super methodical ;) and also i always appreciate having a pride-worthy coat among the rest of the horses (esp when a barn mate might nonchalantly pet the horse's neck and immediately exclaim in surprise how soft he is lol)

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  4. Most days I just count it as a win if my boys aren't head to tail mud. But I like spending time with the she's blade. For twister he has to have a pulled mane. Rascal a well brushed out mane. They get hosed a lot in warm weather which helps with dusty coats. Charlie looks very healthy. You're probably not as nedlegent as you feel;)

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    1. ha thanks! i only mean "negligent" in the sense of prettying up things like stray hairs. in all other aspects charlie probably feels a little suffocated by me at times lol

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  5. Most days I just count it as a win if my boys aren't head to tail mud. But I like spending time with the she's blade. For twister he has to have a pulled mane. Rascal a well brushed out mane. They get hosed a lot in warm weather which helps with dusty coats. Charlie looks very healthy. You're probably not as nedlegent as you feel;)

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  6. My grooming time is almost therapeutic for me. It's my "quiet time" where just me and pony hang out. I'm like you in that I curry a lot! I use a bath scrubber mitt (does that thing have an actual name?) because I find it easier than holding a curry comb. I follow up with brushing with 2 brushes at the same time, one soft and one a bit firmer. I alternate strokes between the two. This is great for the actual grooming, but I've always been told that it's also helpful for encouraging/increasing circulation before a ride. I think besides being "me time" grooming also gives me a chance to see what funk Justin has accumulated - boy can get some skin issues faster than you can blink! I'm also kind of a perfectionist, and I go through the mane and tail everyday. When Justin was competing I frequently broke out the clippers to clean up his feet, face and ears. Now I don't bother. As an owner of a grey, bath time comes into play wayyyyy to frequently if he's competing and taking lessons. I don't think I'd bathe very often if I owned a bay!

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    1. omg yes to the "quiet time." even on days when i think i'll just do a quick precursory dust off, i end up getting completely immersed in the process. and it's been such a good way to get to know my new horse.

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  7. I don't curry much. Mikey hated it, and Penn doesn't seem to enjoy it much either. I usually stiff brush off the chunky mud, then soft brush a lot. I find the curry never seems to lift out, only rub in, that annoying small amount of horse dust that's always leftover. I usually ignore it, but sometimes I'll grab a damp sponge and wipe it off. I usually end up hosing down and doing full body liniment when it's warm, so Penn is clean and shiney after every ride anyway (and in winter he's still clean and shiney because body clipping FTW). I do love using a rubber curry for shampooing though (it was the only scrubbing brush that Mikey didn't object to), and I only shampoo for horse shows in the summer. My BO's daughter got me hooked on shampooing and conditioning Penn's tail once or twice a month with human product (and before shows/lessons). Since I've been doing that, his tail seems to have gotten fuller and is growing in better.

    I hate long untidy manes, I think it detracts from the horse. Penn's is currently making me completely batty because it's longer than I like, but needs to be for those floofy braids we all love so much. When we travel for shows or lessons, I trim Penn's dock (tail rake, never pulling), whiskers, bridle path, ears, etc.

    Something new I do on a more regular basis is shaving Penn's white socks, all year round. They're easier to clean that way and dry faster in summer when he's got his bubble wrap on (aka turnout boots lol).

    This got a bit long, sorry! Haha!

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    1. ha see i have the opposite feeling about currying! tho agree that it definitely makes all that dust and dander more obvious - but at least with my brushes it always feels like it's bc the curry is loosening up the dirt and then i can brush it away with the body brush. tho while i'm all about the cheapy curries, i find that quality of the body brush bristles makes the biggest difference in really getting that dander out. my natural hair brush is my new religion in that regard haha, nothing else will do! also tho i do kinda enjoy the occasional tail shampoo - it always looks so good! but then charlie poops all through it on the trailer so..... yea haha

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  8. If I spent that much time currying, Henry would kick me in the face. I usually go over him with the jelly scrubber, then the SleekEZ for shedding season (he's pretty much done shedding now, finally) then my Prinz brush. If I'm in a hurry, just the Prinz. It's the most essential item in my grooming bag, along with the Ultimate Hoof Pick. I definitely always pick feet but almost never touch the mane and tail. I scissor his mane every couple months, do the "eventer tail" with the clippers usually at the same time, and trim his fetlocks and coronary band. I do not ever clip face whiskers or ears.

    Henny isn't a huge fan of grooming so I don't spend a ton of time on it. He's always shiny though!

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    1. ugh yea i get so sad when horses won't at least tolerate a good grooming.... izzy was basically untouchable when i started with her until after our rides, when she would be more relaxed. so before i ride i would basically just dust off the saddle area, then get my deep dive fix later. in time she learned to at least resign herself to her fate.... but i mayyyyy or may not have picked charlie out as my new horse bc watching him get a bath at the adoption facility gave me a strong impression that he'd be totes cool with all my fussing over him lol

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  9. I'm like you - I curry like a madwoman. Especially during shedding season, I spend the majority of my grooming time currying. With several different tools. Right now I'm digging a very large-toothed rubber massage curry all over first, then a smaller round curry to really get the legs and face, then scrape all over with a slick 'n easy block. Then hard brush, soft brush, and sometimes a finishing spritz of marigold spray to take off the last bit of dust.

    I also RARELY bathe with soap. IMHO, if you're doing the work with the curry and hosing off sweat with clean water after riding, the horse doesn't need to be bathed unless there are actual stains to wash off. I do wash white legs frequently to keep them looking nice and fungus-free (Ivory soap FTW!), and I do Dino's tail (shampoo, condition, loads of shine spray/gel detangler) before shows.

    For me, "well-groomed" means acceptable for a show or clinic, and I like my horses to be able to walk into either scenario with minimal effort on my part. So, I keep the mane trimmed/pulled, tail regularly brushed and banged, ears, chin, bridle path, and fetlocks trimmed/clipped (except in the winter.. let's be real I own a yak and he lives outside.), coat spotlessly clean (no dust!) and white markings unstained. Feet are picked out and any heavy mud brushed off. That's pretty much how I like to keep my pony at all times, and I get it done without bathing. I'm old school and I kinda love it. Sully's mom is way more relaxed in her grooming so he always pretty much gets a full spa day when I ride him!

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    1. haha i love the 'old school' grooming too. i think you would have done well at the barn where i learned to ride - the owner/trainer was such a stickler!! she was tricky tricky too. when you'd go up for your lesson, she'd greet her horse (she loved them all so deeply) with face scritches and soft words. and then would turn to you with a half grin / half sneer to show you her finger tips, which would more often than not be covered in reside and grime from rubbing the horse's face. evidence that you had not properly groomed her precious pony to perfection!!

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    2. Ha! That's great! Having horse inspections in college where the barn manager/teacher would run her fingernails through the horses' coats and dock points if she found ANY dust really cemented my intense grooming preferences. I always took pride in acing that part even without bathing my horse!

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    3. LOL that's awesome!! when this trainer would find examples of us scrimping on our grooming, she would threaten to take away the vacuum cleaner too. saying that when she was younger ("back in my day!") they had to get their horses sparkling spotless without the aid of any fancy machines, and she expected us to do likewise!

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  10. My time varies. Right now it's a lot of time becasue they are shedding and managing to find mud to roll in. Once they are on the grass I do a quick brush and a hose off after a ride. However, Carmen is seeming to enjoy her sessions more than before so find myself spending time doing it just as a 'fun' thing. Right now I cannot wait for the first bath of the season because they have a winter's worth of grime in their coats and tails. I rarely clip but will trim up the fetlocks with scissors and bang the tail. I never clip the whiskers but will clean up the face.

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    1. ooh yea that first bath post-winter is a thing of joy haha (as, i'm sure, is the first roll immediately after...). glad to hear Carmen seems to be enjoying the process tho!

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  11. It can definitely be a peaceful process (if your horse enjoys it). I found I have let go of my tidy horse aspirations throughout the winter. When it is too cold for baths or even spot washing, I have learned to ignore the poop stains. Summer is a whole different story though as I know I only have a few short months to enjoy just how pretty wonder pony can be! :)

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    1. ya know, that's fair. in the midst of winter when my horse was blanketed all the time, i really wasn't brushing as vigorously as i am now. i guess it's a function in part of the shedding, but also the beautifying and the slicker sleeker coat that's now exposed more often to the elements?

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  12. The last picture of Charlie really shows such an improvement!!! He looks great!!

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    1. thanks!! i feel like i might not actually be totally ashamed of his thinness this weekend. like, yea he's still thin, and probably will be for a while... but it's not like.... AS BAD lol. now if only we could make that fat leg begone....

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  13. Unfortunately I own one of those horses who has very little patience for extended grooming. I use all the tools each time I groom: SleekEZ (when shedding), Curry Comb, Dandy Brush, Soft Brush, Hoof Pick. But most days I only go over her with each tool briefly. It's really hard to get Kachina to shine in the winter because she lives outside 24/7 and grows yak hair. Grooming is much more satisfying for me in the summer.

    Adding to my clean horse problems is that I own a half white horse who's favorite thing is to roll excessively. Bathing is a must to get her truly white, but the only way to bath at my barn is outside with super cold well water, so it can only really be done in May-September. Even now it's still getting below freezing at night here so I can't bathe. I keep obsessively checking the forecast though because I'm itching to give her a really good spring cleaning!

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    1. ugh yea winter hair is the hardest to deal with, esp when the horse isn't super thrilled about it anyway. here's hoping warmer temps come soon so Miss K can get her bath!

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  14. I noticed such a huge difference in Murray's hair quality last year when I basically stopped currying before rides for a few months (just a quick swipe of the body brush and off we went) because I was always so rushed. His coat was much softer and shinier when I put currying back into the routine, and I felt that his skin was healthier too, but there's no qualitative evaluation of that. Murray doesn't love currying, but will tolerate it over most of his body, and every once in a while will get really in to it. And I also almost never bathe (the horse or myself, honestly).

    Now that I know how much currying helps... I really cringe when I see my friends just brush and then put on shine spray or something. IT'S NOT THE SAME.

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    1. lol i'm with ya on the not bathing all the time thing haha.... but currying? all. the. time. i really feel like it makes such a difference too, like i sometimes think i can even feel the difference just in petting a horse whether it gets curried a lot or not... could be my imagination tho

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  15. I'm weirdly old-school about my curry comb - I've got one of those oval ones that are in all the kits for kids, and by god, that is my curry comb, quit offering me these weird ones, omg. :) If I'm riding, I always hit the mud with a shedding blade, then stiff brush anything particularly dirty or that the shedding blade didn't fully de-mud, then curry/brush/curry/brush body and neck, brush legs, brush face, then pick hooves. And then any "wth is in your hair?" grooming, if needed.

    If I'm not riding... all of the above, plus general detangling/removal of fairy knots and the odd, "it hurts my soul, but I'm... just gonna cut this hair off." I actually rarely bathe out of a combination of lazy, mild aversion from not really being a kid person but still spending 6 years working summer horse camps for my old instructor, and a basic inability to use a hose without getting myself utterly soaked.

    Cessa does have her own special round rubber curry with nice long... fingers? (what do you call the sticky-out-bits? lol)... because someone has an itchy throatlatch 9/10 of the year and my fingernails are NOT up to the amount of scratching she thinks is awesome.

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    1. lol i feel like you and i have very similar thoughts and habits re: grooming. that cheapo plastic curry is my go to, every time. in fact, my current iteration of it is actually cracked and falling apart (one whole quadrant of it fell off.... oops) from all the abuse it gets. and yea. bathing is tough for me too with the whole "who gets more soaked, bather or bathee?" thing

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    2. The handles on mine fall off regularly. I can never decide if that's OK or not, because the handle is a pain... but now my curry is broken. lol

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  16. I think Courage hates grooming about as much as I love it. We compromise--I only use the $0.99 hard plastic curry as absolutely necessary, and then just (slowly, he hates fast brushing) whisk off loose hairs with his $$$ german brushes. Beyond that, he's body clipped and gets bathed as the weather allows. Helps he's naturally pretty tidy.

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    1. naturally pretty tidy goes a long way in my book! isabel was like that too, and charlie's honestly not super far off. it helps!

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  17. Ryon loved being groomed. He would stand completely still and I once had three little boys brushing him simultaneously; I think he was in heaven. The mare is a thin-skinned girl and she does not really appreciate the currying as much, especially not on her legs. I use a shedding block on her as we're trying (still) to get rid of that Michigan coat. I shampoo her in entirety every week and that's when I brush her tail. This will probably get more painful as it gets hotter out but the routine seems to work for now. I'm lucky that my trainer decides she wants to clip all of the horses and I show up and she's clean as a whistle. But honestly, I like fuzzy muzzles and fuzzy ears. I'm ready for the summer coat to come out; I see some dapples peeking through!

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    1. ugh these winter coats always seem to hang on for way too long, i can't wait until charlie's is gone too!

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  18. I run a brush over the coat and legs and pick feet prior to the ride. My major grooming comes after, when I go to town with my curry gloves (these are my most favorite grooming tool, and using them is like giving a post-workout massage). I've read that currying after the workout really distributes the skin's oils and results in a shiny coat (so far, I agree). Sweat marks are rubbed out with a rag or cactus cloth (assuming I don't rinse. If rinsing, I will curry first). After the curry, I do carrot stretches, then run a brush over the coat. All the little owies get cleaned and treated with a salve or aluminum spray. Feet are cleaned again (really a shoe check) and conditioned. Fly spray, mask, and sheet are reapplied. Hand graze and turn out.

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    1. ooooh i have a fun mitt that i love too! it's not rubber, it's more like a scruffy bath mitt, but it's freakin fantastic. i feel like i need to be more careful with sweat spots tho... sometimes i'm a little lazy post-ride, or i feel like the horse is so ready to be done with my shit. but this horse seems like he'll bleach out in the drop of a hat if i'm not careful

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  19. It is definitely curry season! The unfortunate situation with Georgie is that I can clean her all day long and the next day she will be distgusting. She LOVES laying in her urine. So, to be honest, unless I bathe her, I don't worry too much about what she looks like day to day. I do try and bang her tail, pull her mane and get her fetlock feathers under control to make up for the brown spots all over her... And Macy... well, she HATES being groomed. It's a victory every time I don't die. Just trying to brush her legs is a challenge. Luckily she keeps pretty clean so I can curry, body brush, attempt to get all dirt off legs and call it good. She LOVES having her face brushed so we spend some time on that :)

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    1. omg after seeing that mare stare pic you posted of Macy the other day, i have exactly ZERO doubts that grooming her could be.... an experience lol. funny that she loves her face getting brushed tho!

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  20. I love my rubber curry, but I have my fabulous 6 row metal curry for shedding and mud. It works SO much better than the small metal curry. I borrowed a Sleek EZ this week and it was actually quite decent with getting the hair off of App! I may look into getting one of my own now.

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    1. oh nice! i kinda love trying those tools but am never quite convinced that they actually make the shedding happen any faster than it would without. hard to tell i guess! or maybe not, maybe i should try again haha

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  21. My best barn friend and I differ greatly on our definitions for "well groomed". I'm more like you in that I spend a significant amount of time grooming Harley before each ride. He likes it and I don't mind it. He has so much white that is hardly ever actually white but I just cannot leave visible mud on his body- legs, sometimes, but not the rest. I often envy my friend's ability to get a ride in on her pony in like an hour time slot. I could never do that. Maybe I'm just a slow groomer! lol

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  22. Because I own horses with thick manes and tails, I definitely care for those more than their actual coats. I don't groom every day but I really put in the elbow grease when they are shedding. And by elbow grease I mean I bust out my Sleek-E-Z and make them shed out super fast (although you're super lucky because thoroughbreds have the best silky coats).
    I need to figure out a better way to do the wet stuff (like cleaning goopy eyes and dirty noses) because all 3 of my guys are sensitive to flies.
    I very much like to get in and get out when it comes to grooming because I'd rather be riding but on bath days I definitely go all out. With showing in my future I think full blown grooming sessions (and pee stain removal sessions) will happen a lot more often.

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  23. Umm. I basically never use a curry (unless I have to because they got some mud stuck to them). I prefer them shaved so I can just swipe a brush across them and get going. I am really a terrible groomer. I don't even always pick feet.

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  24. Tesla loves grooming: the more time I spend, the better she typically is in the ring: All the brushes have to be soft for this delicate little flower: so I use a jelly scrubber, then all over once with a Tampico brush (from Leister!) and then finish off with a horse hair brush. Tess especially loves her face and ears done - I pull the top of her tail as needed, bang the end, and pick shavings out - I scissor her mane (she doesn't really need pulling), and trim her fetlocks - never touch face whiskers - feet get picked every time, and this winter I've been using a hoof knife to keep her frogs tidy (and the thrush in check!)

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  25. So I'm admittedly quite vain when it comes to my horses and I take a lot of personal pride in how they look. Miles has by far the WORST skin and coat I've ever seen on a horse... and I've groomed quite a few. It sucks because he also HATES grooming, but I've found with the right tools and some persistence this has gotten better.

    Currying is essential -- I like the soft, rubber face curries for the entire body for horses who are sensitive. Rubber mitts are perfect for caked on mud!

    Invest in high-quality brushes: They're expensive, but the Leistner brushes have made a HUGE difference for Miles!

    Spray & Towel: To finish off, I really like to use either Healthy Hair Care Moisturizer spray in winter/spring and Cavalor Star Shine in the summer, followed my a quick towel wipe. It really gets off any excess dust and gets them shiney!

    Clipping: I know it's a pain, but I think an unclipped horse always looks a bit scruffy. It doesn't take long to do whiskers, outside of ears, bridle path and fetlocks. And I never pull manes -- I just trim them with scissors.

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  26. I find that bathing them helps them blow out their coat faster. Granted the last couple years I owned a drought horse who almost never got bathed at home.

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  27. I love a good long grooming session. I like to do a long one once a week and then for lessons and rides during the week it doesn't take as long to clean up

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