Monday, February 21, 2011

Reader Question on Grooming Horses

I received a reader question from Nicole who said she rides sometimes at a rental stables and sometimes on one of her friend's horses and was confused about whenever or not etiquette required grooming the horse both before and after riding.

Well Nicole, nobody ever accused me of having etiquette. I understand that alot of people get their exposure to horses and riding through rental stables and I ain't sure that most rental stables care either. One of our largest animal abuse cases was against a rental stables, which has since been closed down. To be sure, there are rental stables under great management, hope you are riding at one. You could ask the rental stable management what they would like to do regarding before and after riding care. You can also watch your friend when you ride with him/her and see what they do.

Grooming does several things besides just preparing the horse's back for a saddle pad and/or blanket and saddle. It lets you gauge the horse and his behavior, and allows him to get used to you a little as well. It can make any injuries, unseen til now, become apparent. This is a pretty much "must do" before riding. As for cleaning the feet,...sometimes I don't as any packed sand or manure helps cushion the foot when riding. When it has been wet out, I clean the feet prior to riding to expose bacteria to it's natural enemy which is the air.

Sometimes after riding when I put my horses up, I just pick their feet then turn them out. Of course, they roll and usually I'll brush them out later when they have dried. In the hot weather, I'll usually sponge them down after they have cooled off. If I turn them out when they are wet, they will roll and I'll have to brush them out again later.

Brushing their mane and tail to get out kinks and burrs is always a good idea. And really any horse handling you do is good for the horse - the more the better.

As far as washing horses goes,....I think many horses are washed too often, especially if using soap. Too much washing and soap can wash away their natural oil on their skin. Truth be known, my horses get one washing a year,.......maybe. My sponging with just water and the occasional rain is their bath in between visits to the wash rack.

Hope this was the type of answer you were looking for. Safe Journey Nicole.

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