They know how to get a horse clean. But do you also know what you can learn from the horses and what cleaning is good for? You might be surprised at what you can achieve with it.
Cleaning before riding
When brushing, we remove dirt, sand, dead hair, and dander from the horse’s coat. We scrape bedding, dung, and stones from his hooves and free his tail and mane from straw and matted hair. The number one reason we groom a horse is for riding. Because where the saddle, belt, and bridle are, the fur must be clean. Otherwise, it could happen that the equipment rubs and hurts the horse. It is therefore important to clean the saddle and girth area particularly thoroughly.
There are other reasons why we not only clean these areas, but the whole horse: When cleaning we can determine whether the horse has tension, bites, or wounds anywhere. We can use the massage effect to prepare the horse’s muscles for riding and we create a bond with the horse. Every horse actually enjoys a well-executed brushing.
That’s what you need – that’s how it works
To loosen up the dirt we use a harrow. This is made of metal or plastic and is guided over the fur in circular movements with light pressure. You can massage harder on the muscled areas of the neck, back, and croup – as hard as the horse would like. Many horses enjoy a slow circle here the most. A so-called spring harrow can do a good job in the case of very heavily encrusted dirt. It is drawn in long strokes over the fur. Next comes the brush – the brush. It is used to get the loosened dust out of the fur. To do this, apply some pressure in the direction of hair growth. After two to four strokes, the hairs of the comb are brushed off with quick movements. This will make it clean again. The harrow is then knocked out on the ground.
What we can learn from horses
Horses don’t groom themselves like cats lick themselves. But they massage each other with their lips and teeth – especially on the neck, withers, back, and croup. This mutual grooming has been found to have a calming effect and builds a bond between horses. You can observe that they sometimes use gentle, sometimes quite strong pressure. The scratched horse shows the partner where it wants to be treated by moving forwards or backward.
The horse shows us how well we clean
That’s why it’s also important for us humans to pay close attention to how the horse reacts to being groomed: if it’s dozing with half-closed eyes or lowering its neck, we’re doing everything right; On the other hand, it slaps its tail, moves to the side, jerks away when touched, puts its ears back or even snaps – we are doing something wrong. Maybe we are too rough or too quick with our cleaning measures, maybe something hurts him.