Our horses need the best care for a healthy, free flowing mane and tail. Grooming sessions are a great time to bond with our beloved equines, but how do we make the best out of them? In our efforts to provide care, we just might end up damaging the hair that we are striving to grow! If this has been your worry, you are in the right place. We are going to provide you with some top groomers techniques to ensure that you are not only bonding with your horse, but that those grooming sessions show the best results.
Let's start from the top:
If your horse does not possess that thick mane gene, you would just have to make do with what they have. We usually assume that our Freisians and Andalusians will have that free flowing mane and long silky tails, but the coveted gene seems to be mostly limited to the baroque breeds. The rest have
to rely on careful care and grooming to ensure that what they have grows to its full potential and looks healthy at all times.
Proper nutrition is key to ensuring that your horse's mane looks nice. If you are not feeding him properly, your beloved animal will have dry and dull looking hair, even with the best or most expensive hair shampoo or conditioner you can find. Your number one priority should be on a balanced diet, which you can supplement with flaxseed, kelp, buckwheat or biotin to encourage healthy hair growth. A properly fed horse not only looks good, but he is also stronger and generally happier.
Looking to help with brittleness and make your horse's hair strong? Go for foods that are rich in silica, for example cleavers.
Red clover, garlic and burdock are great for protecting your horse against itchiness. During winter we cannot wash our horses as often, which may encourage the growth of fungus. As the horse scratches, they end up removing precious strands of hair which may take forever to grow back. If your horse is already itching and losing hair on his mane or tail, go for a betadine bath. Just apply some betadine on the affected area, leave it for a while, then rinse. Make this a routine process for a week or so, but if the symptoms still persist, it would be a good time to call your equine vet just to get to the root of the problem.
How to clean a horse
One huge mistake that most of us make is that we tend to concentrate more on the hair strands than on the roots when shampooing the horse. This only ends up drying the mane and may encourage brittleness. The solution? Work the roots, your horse will appreciate the massage as well! Be very gentle with the strands to avoid breakage.
When using your horse conditioner, the opposite works well. Do not use so much conditioner on the roots to avoid a build up that would irritate your horse. For better looking hair still, you could mix your conditioner with some detangler for an extra sheen. Great horse groomers usually advice against silicone based detanglers due to their drying effect.
Tail washing needs you to be as thorough with the shampoo, then swish the tail into a bucket as you properly rinse the base.
Horse grooming tips
So let's have a serious discussion about horse brushes. Must you really brush your horse? Every single brushing action could pull out the strands that we are fighting so much to protect for a healthy looking mane and tail. Unless you are doing it for a show, keep the brushes at bay.
If however you would need to use a brush, be very careful to avoid pulling strands as you work through the horse mane or tail. A quick tip for choosing the best horse brushes, go for one that is firm enough to do a good job, but is not so hard that it may hurt the animal. At the end of the day, you know your horse's needs so you are better placed when deciding the brush or comb that is well suited to their type of hair and the kind of dirt they are usually exposed to!
Just a quick reminder, horses that are more exposed to the elements may have a harder time growing their long and healthy tresses as opposed to sheltered horses. They would therefore need more intensive care to prevent brittleness and breakage. Another thing, always stand beside the horse when grooming to avoid any injuries from potential kicking. Your horse might have been gentle all his life, but you never know when they would start kicking and its best that your safety came first!
Desensitizing your horse for Trail riding