Wednesday, October 19, 2016

transformative grooming + Horze body brush review

Charlie is a pleasant horse to groom. He seems to enjoy his spa time in the cross ties and usually stands pretty patiently. Some areas are more ticklish than others, but generally he seems to be pretty OK with the whole grooming process. He might even kinda like it!

This is definitely good news for me, on two fronts:

1: As we all know, I'm basically living out my 12yo daydreams by finally having a pony all of my own. Spending hours brushing his mane and tail is a very critical piece of that little puzzle lol (plus Isabel was always tolerant at best, and moderately hostile at worst, when it came to grooming).

And 2: Wow Charlie's coat was a hot mess when I met him last month.

my three essentials + bonus scritchy mitt
My actual grooming routine has honestly not deviated very much over the years. The standard arsenal includes 3 tools:

- I like a full size old school hard plastic curry comb (the war-torn, battered and bruised black curry in the above shot).
- A body brush with medium bristles (hard to describe exactly what I look for - it's very much a "feel" thing).
- And a basic hoof pick + brush.

Occasionally, other tools find their way into the mix. Like a shedding comb in winter, or that scritchy purple mitt above, that I bought for Isabel but have LOVED for Charlie (great for legs and contoured surfaces that need attention). Or maybe a damp rag for particularly static-y days.

"whatchu doin back there?!?" - Charlie
Usually, tho, it's just those three standard old faithfuls and heaping helpings of elbow grease. I'm a big believer that the best thing we can do for a horse's coat is curry curry curry. Then some vigorous swipes with the body brush, a couple flicks of the hoof pick, and voila! Groomed horse!

In my experience, the hard plastic curries seem to work the best (and are often more palatable for the sensitive skinned beasts, somewhat counter-intuitively bc one might think the softer rubber or jelly curries might be preferred... but again, that has not been my experience. ymmv).

Charlie on day 2 with me
And man. Charlie has needed a LOT of currying. You can sorta kinda see in the above pic, but he was basically covered in those weird tiger stripe sweat marks all over his neck, shoulder and back. It might look like the marks would just brush right off.... but... nope.

Tho they did start disappearing after the first week or so, and his incoming winter coat has all but done away with them. Really, tho, it wasn't a good look at all.

I suspect the source was a lack of focus on invigorating the skin and hair follicles, and by bathing instead of grooming. Or maybe he was basically just out in a field not getting groomed at all for the couple weeks between his last race and when I adopted him? Idk.

do you see the mark? better view here
Another mark that has proven more difficult to eliminate is on his left hind quarter. And I've never seen anything quite like it. There's a strip of flesh from the point of his croup down to almost his stifle where he.... sweats. A lot. If he's sweating anywhere, that strip of flesh is also likely sweating.

It basically has permanent salt crystals crusted onto the skin and hairs. To the point where the section is clearly demarcated by a thinness in his coat. I had seriously hoped that careful and thorough grooming mixed with his winter growth would fill the spot in... but so far no dice.

new favorite brush
On top of those two issues, Charlie also experiences some minor fungal issues. A brief flirtation with rain rot. Some scabs that grew funky and resistant to healing. Weird scaly scabby spots here and there. Nasty flaky armpits. Basically, I've fondly referred to him as my darling bucket of fungus. It's sweet, I know.

So we groom. A LOT. I'm finding that in addition to my beloved hard plastic curry, a new player is emerging as a favorite tool: a Horze body brush with natural mixed boar bristles (basically this model, but minus the "deluxe" crystal strap - mine has a plain strap but these same bristles).

smoother glossier coat
I've always been somewhat aggressively focused on pure functionality, and have never been able to swallow the idea of very expensive brand-name grooming tools. Like, they are attractive to me bc I love both gadgetry and grooming, but I've just never pulled the trigger when the cheaper generic tools have gotten the job done well enough.

And perhaps maybe that's what this Horze brush is - the cheaper-but-still-brand-name knock off of a higher end grooming tool. But whatever. I just gotta say: I LOVE this brush.

I think it's the natural bristles that make the difference, honestly. So perhaps any brush with these type of boar bristles will achieve the same results. Plus this brush has exactly the right combination of bristle length and stiffness, that je ne sais quoi quality we all know and love in our favorite brushes.

Charlie approves
Whatever the case, this brush has been in heavy rotation ever since I brought it home a few months ago. First with Isabel and now with Charlie. And I just really really like it.

Something about how smoothly it glides through the coat. Summer slick or winter fuzzy, this brush easily swipes off all the dust and dander, while leaving the coat feeling glossy and clean. It's oddly satisfying lol.

horse also looks oddly satisfied lol
So we curry curry curry - bringing all the dirt and grime and dander and loose hair up to the surface of Charlie's coat. Then some vigorous swipes and flicks of this body brush. And just a few short weeks later - Charlie's coat is blooming and the winter fuzzies are growing in full and healthy and looking repaired from whatever damage his coat sustained this summer.

This is a great brush. Especially if you're interested in trying out a natural mixed boar bristle brush, but don't want to spend a lot on it. Furthermore - at this cost it would make a great gift or stocking stuffer for your favorite horse buddies!

What are your favorite grooming tools? Do you prefer old fashioned simplicity? Or do you experiment with every new gizmo to hit the shelves? Are you loyal to one brand, or will whatever's in the sale bin work for you?

51 comments:

  1. Great to hear and see what a positive impact you've had on his coat in such a short time. Chuckles looks ace 😍

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha I'm so relieved that his coat is turning the corner!! Isabel had some pretty nice genetics on her side anyway, but I was always a little vain and proud when the barn kids would ooh and ahh over how shiny she always was ;) Charlie has big shoes to fill in that department!

      Delete
  2. For a while, I couldn't justify the cost of Teddy's Tack Trunk brushes (around $40 for a brush? Say whaaaaaat?). But after finally pulled the trigger and using them for a while, I can absolutely attest that they are worth every penny! They're great for sensitive-skinned TBs, and Roger's coat stays shiny whether he's dirty or freshly groomed. Basically, TTT brushes are the gold standard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yea I've heard that from you and others before. Awesome that you are so loyal to that company. Tho I'm still inclined to think the same results can be had for less money.

      Delete
  3. I love my Haas brushes and the one Leistner brush I have. Like you, my favorite is my curry. It's an 'old fashioned' hard curry that I thought Duke would hate, but he absolutely loves it. I also love my witch hazel and AC vinegar. Even at half-yak status, he's still super soft and shiny and actually getting dappled again. Charlie is looking super! Hopefully that strange spot will at the very least shed or clip out once he's got his full winter coat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Duke looked freakin fantastic when I saw you guys so whatever you're doing is working!!! Re: that strange spot, it's actually a thinness in the coat, rather than just weird hair. I had hoped it would fill in bc I doubt it'll clip off... But idk. We will see!

      Delete
  4. Lol unless someone gifts me I cannot imagine spending $40 on a BRUSH. Nope. Don't care if its magical for the OTTBs. I have to agree with Emma here on this one, way too expensive and good ole' elbow grease works wonders.

    I wish B loved to be groomed, but he too is moderately hostile. I know he's sensitive, so I have one of those long toothed rubber curries thats super soft and flexy, but that also means it doesn't get very deep down. Ugh. Then I use a harder bristled (but not too much because god forbid) to swipe away the ground in grime as best as I can, then a super super soft body brush to smooth. In winter I use this body oil that I was recommended by another blogger to help with dandruff and scriff and it really works. Kinda acts like a lotion. In summer its show sheen. The one thing he will tolerate is tail brushing so I finger comb that with cowboy magic every other day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh horses that don't like to be groomed are so tragic. Seriously. I just love grooming so much that even Isabel's typical indifference made me sad lol. It is what it is tho and we make do. Seems like you have a good strategy for B, tho again I would be curious to see if he still dislikes the hard curry as much as the soft jelly (my hypothesis could be wrong but I am ever curious!). At least he likes his tail fussed with tho - that's something. I tend to be in the "neglect" camp for tails but then again there's something so satisfying about a freshly brushed out tail!

      Delete
    2. Well considering he tried to kick me when I used a hard curry I would say he def hates them hahaha *sadness* I haven't tried since that fateful day

      Delete
    3. ughhh booooo B!!!! no kicking Monica!!!!

      Delete
  5. Good work on his coat! I have several curry combs, but my favorite is this cheap heart shaped one I was given. It does the best job.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i honestly kinda love it when the cheapo basic stuff ends up being the most effective!! lol

      Delete
  6. I've heard an old wives tale that if they have a spot that sweats more than the rest of their body, it's an injury site or they're super sore there. I have no idea how true it is, but food for thought

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. innnnneresting. honestly i wouldn't be surprised by either - esp the soreness idea. he is definitely still going through the post-track physical transformation, and will likely continue to do so for months to come. i'm eager to get some body work for him (particularly acupuncture and possibly chiro) so that's maybe a topic worth exploring further.

      Delete
  7. His coat is making HUGE improvements!! Daily hard currying is really just wonderful. I am pretty traditionalist/cheap when it comes to my brushes - I love a good rubber curry (I have a few types, from the classic oval to ones with big 'spikes'), stiff-bristled dandy brush after that, then followed by an oval short-bristled body brush, longer-bristled soft brush, and finish it all off with either a damp rag or a spritz of marigold spray. I do agree that natural bristles do a better job than synthetic, but I haven't gotten around to replacing some of my old-standby plastic bristle brushes yet! Ahhhh I just love grooming. Love. It's my favorite.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. my favorite too!!!! also i love those oval rubber curries for shedding season. they're not my favorite for run-of-the-mill dirtiness, but damn they work great for getting out the loose hair!! also the difference between natural and synthetic bristles has surprised (and impressed!) me. this horze brush may be worth looking into for Mr Dino!

      Delete
  8. First, mad props for the use of demarcated. I'm a vocabulary junkie 😂

    Second, I was not a brush snob until I fell into the TTT/Leistner rabbit hole and now I'm kind of ruined for other brushes lol.

    But my local tack store carries that Horze brush (but with the crystals) and very time I go I'm tempted. I love sparkly things. Maybe I'll get it for my guys at home -- the fancy brushes are with Ruby out at the barn she's boarded at, lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha vocab junkies unite!! and definitely pick up that Horze brush next time you're out. i've heard so many fantastic things about the TTT brushes but the scientist in me wants to see a head to head match up with a cheapo knockoff (that still has the natural bristles). so please - have at it!!

      Delete
    2. Ooooh that might be fun! I could pick a day when one of the horses is equally muddy on both sides and take ridiculous photos. This is going to have to be a thing. And it's currently raining, so one of my horses will be muddy in the near future. I'll try to remember to stop and get the brush on my way home! 😂

      Delete
    3. yasssss!!!! oooh i'm excited to see the comparison!!

      Delete
    4. I was foiled in my efforts to purchase the brush yesterday, but I'm trying again today!

      Delete
  9. I also have brushes from TTT and I LOVE them. one was a gift and the others were more like $20 so I don't know about $40 a brush... I do have others that are winners circle I think? The natural bristles are the big thing I think :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i think you're right about the bristles. most of the natural type bristles i've used in the past have been on the softer and longer side, presumably for putting the finishing touches on. this Horze brush was the first that sorta matched the "feel" i prefer for the body brush that does my heavy lifting. the natural bristles definitely make a big difference tho compared to synthetics with a similar "feel"!

      Delete
    2. @Hillary, "around $40"...aka $32.50 plus shipping.
      http://teddystacktrunk.com/products/leistner-esprit-medium-body-brush

      Delete
  10. I'm not a lover of grooming, I do it because it's necessary but I rarely enjoy it. My absolute favourite tool though is an old school rubber bath mitt. I have yet to find a horse that really objects to it (even the super sensitive "don't-touch-me" baby racehorse), I can get every nook and cranny and it lifts dirt like no tomorrow. An it's cheap! Because I'm with you the TTT brushes are insanely expensive, especially by the time you figure int he exchange and shipping.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. bath mitts really are great, imo - as evidenced by that purple fuzzy thing in the pic above. i will also use a rubber one to brush out saddle and sweat marks while hosing off

      Delete
  11. I love grooming and C hates it. His super fancy brushes make it mildly less offensive to him, but that's it. No currying for me. /tear

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i'm shedding tears for you too :'(

      Delete
  12. I got the TTT and at first I didn't think that they were worth the cost. But now I'm hooked. I do have a cheap purple floppy thingy that I love. Stinker's coat looked like shit post EPM but daily grooming has him looking sleek and shiny again. I think a lot of it is taking the time to do a good grooming every day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. agreed about the power of a solid daily grooming. i'm pretty sure just about any tool used daily to invigorate the skin and promote circulation would lead to a better looking horse and healthier coat

      Delete
  13. Cheap tools for me, but they always leave a shine and Gem doesn't protest. Honestly, I believe it has more to do what you are putting into your horse than what brush you use. Nothing beats good nutrition for a healthy, shiny coat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. very true - good nutrition, and let's be real: solid genetics. grooming definitely plays a role in helping promote a nice shine and keeping this smooth and sleek.... but grooming alone won't grow a nice coat!

      Delete
  14. Yesss, curry all the live long day! I really like that Epona mitt for bathing. It scrubs the dirt out really well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oooh good to know! i honestly don't do a ton of bathing (bc i somehow always manage to end up just as soaked as the horse... womp womp) but now that i have a horse who will actually go into wash stalls that may change!

      Delete
  15. CURRY ALL THE THINGS! I noticed a huge difference in Murray's coat when I stopped currying this spring. I don't ignore it now.

    Re: rain rot. I just heard a podcast (Dressage Radio Show I think) talking to a group in KY that researches rain rot. Turns out it's a bacteria not a fungus (who knew?!?!) and that the best non-medicated treatment is tea tree oil diluted in baby oil/mineral oil (1% dilution, i.e. 1 part tea tree oil to 99 parts baby oil -- I think, I might go look that back up). Better than all the other old wives tales about rain rot (listerine, alcohol, blood of a virgin etc.) So just in case you need it this winter, now you have it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oooh thanks for that! we managed to curtail most of the rain rot with some betadine scrubbing (same story for his funky no-wanna-heal scabs), but it hasn't been totally eradicated. i've heard great things about tea tree oil tho (and have also had good experience with MTG) and actually happen to have a tea tree product in the mail as we speak!

      Delete
    2. I am a big fan of Phytovet CK shampoo for weird skin stuff! It's basically a hardcore antimicrobial/antifungal wash and it is like MAGIC. Plus it smells like berries. Win.

      Delete
  16. I cling religiously to my decades-old grooming set- rubber curry, stiff dandy brush, soft body brush, hoof pick, and mane/tail brush. I did splurge on a super soft HAAS Diva brush that has sheepskin in the middle. All the ponies like it for face brushing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oooh I definitely want to add some sheepskin to my grooming arsenal. Austen has a mitt (from a auto shop actually - the same type they use for buffing lol!) that Pig seems to enjoy

      Delete
  17. The only curry Miles likes is the small, soft face curry... so I get to use that over his entire body lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha he wants to make sure you over maximum surface area with minimally sized tools ;)

      Delete
  18. I have a huge arsenal of grooming tools and products. I have yet to find a soft brush like the one you mentioned that I have fallen in love with, tho.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This one actually isn't particularly soft - it's definitely on the medium side. Honestly I don't much care for the very soft brushes, not sure why. But it really is all about our own feel, since I find we all use different pressures on the brushes anyway lol

      Delete
  19. I still have the same brushes I was given by (read: stole from) my mother when I started picking up my own rides and clients and needed my own set of brushes. They were definitely used then. The only new addition is a brush Val won a few years ago. They probably all need to be cleaned at minimum, but a few potentially replaced...

    My grooming routine is a bit more thorough though: I use a jelly curry all over, a stiff brush for everything that brought up, a medium brush do get all the smaller stuff and smooth things, and then a really soft face brush to get all the hairs laying the same direction and catch any last bits of dust. Then obviously feets get cleaned, and sometimes I'll spray conditioner in his mane and tail but I don't usually brush them to save the hair.

    It definitely takes a few extra minutes, but it gets Val relaxed and I like to spend the time with him. It's the routine he's used to and he likes it, plus it gets him a little more in tune to me, so we stick with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed on a couple counts haha - I love my old and busted stuff and even when I've sought to upgrade I've often ended up going back to the tools I used before (except obvi for the horze brush). And also agreed on using grooming as a tool for helping the horse relax, bonding with him, and generally getting a sense for where he is mentally pre-ride

      Delete
  20. After owning a mostly white horse (Apollo) for so many years, I just don't care that much about grooming... after years and years of trying to get him to look perfect and failing...nope. I do a good once over with a cheapy dandy and rubber curry combo but spend most of my time on the areas the saddle/girth will go and tails. I love tails. I also will spend a little extra on my horses favorite spots (Apollo - legs, Mystic - neck, Henry - booty). Charlie is looking very handsome and well-groomed :D

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have some old horse hair brushes that I love. They work so well. But I actually don't like grooming and will only do the bare minimum. Which is why mine never get to that glorious gleaming state. Winter is really my favorite because they're shaved and wear blankets and I don't have to groom.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I own a bunch of garbage-y, neon colored brushes that do their job (but not above and beyond the call of duty). I am constantly on the fence about the TTT brushes. I'd love them as a gift, but I can't find it in me to buy them. May have to give that Horze brush a try! PS - Charlie is so freaking cute!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I'm on the fence about TTT brushes too. I love natural bristle brushes. I want to try a plastic curry because I've always used rubber.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think I'm going to give the Horze brush a try! Pilgrim HATES being groomed, but he's a grey who likes to roll in the mud so it's inevitable. Thank you for the review!

    ReplyDelete