Article Archives

Starting your own colt
Colt Starting Quiz
Problem Horses, part 1
Fear Problems, part 2
Bad Actors, part 3
The Cold Backed Horse
Want to Compete?
Bit Basics
Going Places
Common Sense, Horse Sense
Horsemen's Christmas
Rainy Day Training
Try Something Different!
Green Broke
Resolution Time
Going in Circles
Hot Enough for Ya?
Pleasure or Equitation?
Return to Work Carefully
Saving your "Good Stuff"
Holding Western Reins
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Cold Weather Warm Up
Expect the Unexpected, 1
Expect the Unexpected, 2
Bad Attitude
Horse of a Better Color?
Power of Exercise
Importance of the Herd
Bath Time
Even Up
Choosing a Martingale
A Good Night's Sleep
Alternative Therapies, Part One
Alternative Therapies, Part Two
Get the Most out of a Clinic
Blanket or No Blanket?
Does Practice Make Perfect?
A Change of Pace
The Power of Observation
On Line Horse Trading
The Right Horse at the Right Time
Putting On A Show
Weather Or Not
A Lifetime of Stall Cleaning
Water Obstacles
Who's Your Trainer?
Make a Long Day Easier
A Good Place to Start

Day Easier on Humans too
Value of Video

Pass Me the Curry Comb, and a Dust Mask

Okay, I’ll admit I have never been fond of grooming my horses. Unlike most young girls, as a kid I never braided my horse’s mane and tail, put ribbons in his forelock or glittered his hooves. Bathing was only because of one reason; there was a horse show the next day. I generally swiped the mud off, saddled up and rode. Having serious allergies to horse dandruff hasn’t helped matters either.

In a way it is odd that I became interested in showing Pleasure type horses at all, considering that grooming and outfitting is a vital part of presenting a show horse. But, I liked the performance part, and do take pride in turning my horse out well. I just don’t like the fuss that leads up to it.

Some of my horses have had even less fondness of grooming than I do. My mare Bonnie, for instance, was off the track, and had an extreme loathing for anything that smacked of rubber curries or mane combs. She didn’t mind a bath too much as long as water didn’t get on her face, and so I generally hosed her off, weather permitting, after a workout. Thanks to wool coolers, I could even hose her off in cool weather and walk her dry rather than attack with a box of brushes.

The fact remains though, that good grooming benefits the horse way more than just removing the dirt from her coat. Regular, thorough grooming brings out a shine that is hard to duplicate with potions and sprays. It is also, for most horses and their humans, a wonderful way to bond. Horses are a touch animal. In a herd situation, they routinely groom each other, swish flies together, neck-wrestle, nuzzle and otherwise touch each other. Many of our modern horses, especially those that live in stalls and individual pens, lack this constant contact. Twenty minutes of quality grooming can make a lot of difference to a horse that is not getting that normal herd intimacy.

Horses that are fussy about being groomed, such as my mare, often have had bad experiences to blame for it. She was used to having a lip chain or twitch applied whenever someone wanted to get a grooming job done. She was twitched to have her mane pulled, her ears clipped or her face washed … all in the name of expediency. Another horse that we had in the barn hated having his blanket put on, again because as a youngster he was simply man-handled into the blanket instead of someone spending some time getting him used to the process. A little slow, patient work with young horses for these everyday events can make a lifetime of difference.

Many people love to groom their horse and the horse loves to be groomed. It can be a relaxing ritual, a reward for a job well done, or simply a time to enjoy the closeness of horse and human. The goal of the grooming is not always “getting the horse clean enough to ride” as it usually was for me.

I am now trying to change my ways – to teach myself (an old mare) new tricks. For one, I now have a horse who loves to be groomed. From rubber curry comb, stiff brush, soft brush, tail brush, to hooves cleaned, he enjoys every minute of that touch time. So I have been grooming him, making myself take the time to put hands on the horse. I know his itchy spots, the muscles that he likes rubbed, and how his back feels today before I saddle up. His coat looks better than ever, And, I actually am finding myself enjoying the process too. Except that it makes my head stuffy, my eyes water, and I sneeze. Please hand me that dust mask …


Doris Eraldi of Eraldi Training in Potter Valley, specializes in training for all around horsemanship. She can be contacted at 707-743-1337, or by e-mail

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