10-Step Guide to Brushing Your Horse Like a Pro

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Are you nervous about brushing a horse for the first time because you just don’t know what to do?

Then you’d want to check this amazing grooming guide that we’ve prepared for first-time owners

Just keep on reading.

We’ll have your horse looking gorgeous in no time!

10 Steps for Brushing a Horse

Do you know why proper grooming is so important for horses?

Brushing removes excess dirt and debris from the coat and keeps it healthy and shiny.

It also promotes blood circulation and releases natural oils that protect the coat from wind and 

More importantly, regular grooming helps you bond with your horse and establish trust.

It also helps you detect any external injuries, wounds, or sores that a horse might have so that you can act on time.

Brushing a horse might seem like a complicated task, especially for people who’ve just purchased their first horse.

But it gets easy once you are used to the routine. 

FYI, this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.

#1 Gather Your Grooming Tools 

dandy brush

Before we get to the brushing, you should ensure you’ve got all the necessary grooming tools for the task:

#2 Secure Your Horse

Most horses are well-trained to sit still while you groom them, but even the calmest animal might shift at the wrong moment.

That’s why you have to secure your horse to keep them in one place. 

You’ve got two options:

If you’re tying a horse, you should secure the rope above your horse’s withers (the ridge between the shoulder blades).

Specialists recommend using quick-release knots because the horse might get spooked and pull against the rope with all force.

If you can’t release the knot, the horse might break its neck or injury you. 

It’s an excellent idea to keep a Marlinspike in your grooming box to loosen tight knots or cut them in an emergency.

# 3 Clean the Hooves 

At the start of the grooming session, you should clean your horse’s hooves with a hoof pick to remove rocks, debris, and mud.

It’s an important part because a horse can become lame if something stays lodged in the hoof.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Have the hoof pick at arm’s length.
  • Stroke your horse’s coat to put them at ease. You can also talk to your animal to soothe them.   
  • Run your hand along the front leg and squeeze the fetlock to signal the horse that you want them to lift their foot.
  • Start at the heel and move toward the toe, removing embedded stones and other debris. 
  • Don’t forget to clean the grooves, but don’t dig up too deep.
  • Repeat with the other front leg and then move to the hind legs. 

As you can imagine, the most difficult part of the exercise is getting the horse to lift its leg. So, here’s a short video that you can watch.

#4 Use the Curry Comb

Rubber curry combs are for dislodging mud, dirt, and loose hairs from your horse’s coat. 

You should use them before brushing with the other tools:

  • Start from the neck and work your way up to the rump.  
  • Use circular motions and move the comb opposite the hair growth to loosen the debris and dirt.
  • Be careful when you brush your horse around the spine, legs, and other bony areas.

Some horses have “itchy spots,” where they love to be scratched. So, don’t startle if your horse makes a funny face or tries to nip at you. 

Metal curry combs also exist, but some horses have sensitive skin, and metal isn’t suitable for all.  

#5 Groom with the Dandy Brush

Once you’ve loosened the dirt and hairs, it’s time to remove them using the dandy brush (a hard brush):

  • Start from the neck and work towards the tail.
  • Use short, straight motions so that the brush’s bristles can get all the dirt and hairs out. 
  • Don’t use a hard brush on a horse’s sensitive areas, such as legs, face, ears, mane, and tail. 
  • Stop if you hit a sensitive spot. Clean it with a washcloth or a sponge. 
  • Focus on the saddle area if you’re thinking about riding. 

#6 Clean Your Horse with a Body Brush

A soft brush, also known as a body brush, removes any remaining hairs, dust, and debris from a horse’s coat.

Use this brush to clean your horse’s entire body, but be careful when going over the ears, muzzles, and eyes. They’re sensitive areas. 

#7 Wash Your Horse’s Face

Once you’ve brushed your horse, it’s time to clean the nose, eyes, and under the tail. To do that, you need a damp washcloth or a sponge.

Mucus often builds up in these areas because of the moisture, so it’s important not to forget them.

If you’re brushing multiple horses, don’t use the same grooming tools. You can easily spread infections and fungus.

#8 Brush Your Horse’s Tail and Mane

Do you know how uncomfortable tangles are? Not to mention that they mar your horse’s beautiful appearance:

  • Detangle any large mats of hair before you start brushing with your fingers or a brush. Be gentle and consider a detangling spray for stubborn mats and keeping your horse tangle-free.
  • Stand to the side of the horse. Hold the tail/mane in one hand and the tail comb in the other.
  • Start brushing and keep a hand on the horse to keep them calm. You can also talk to your animal to relax them or stroke them. 

#9 Use a Fly Spray

Absorbine UltraShield EX Fly Spray

During the summer, flies can be a nightmare for a horse. Flies not only bite your animal, but they can carry diseases and spread infections. 

So, you should consider fly sprays for horses to keep these nasty insects away at the end of the brushing session.

Since there are plenty of natural and chemical ones available on the market, you can ask your veterinarian for advice if you’re unsure which one to use. 

Just be careful not to spray your horse’s face and that you follow the provided instructions. 

#10 Follow Safety Rules

Grooming a horse can be a pleasant experience for both the rider and the animal.

However, you must follow some safety rules to avoid injuries and accidents:

  • Ensure that your horse is calm before the grooming session and that the animal isn’t in discomfort.
  • Don’t stand behind your horse when you’re grooming them or you risk getting kicked or stepped upon. 
  • Be extra careful when you’re moving around your horse. Your animal might kick and hurt you if they move forward/backward without warning. 
  • Always approach your horse at an angle to avoid surprising them. Call your horse by its name, talk to them, and use your hands to announce where you’re going. 
  • Wear proper boots for working with horses and be ready to move out of the way at any moment. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to brush a horse?

In general, brushing a horse can take around 20 minutes, depending on your experience, how dirty the horse is, and the type of fur. White horses might take longer because dirt is more visible on them. 

How often should you groom your horse?

You should brush your horse every day and before/after each ride. If the horse is sweaty after the ride, you should rinse the animal off or wait for them to dry and brush. Sweat is salty, and if you don’t remove it, your horse might develop skin irritations.

Do horses like being brushes? 

Researches have discovered that not all horses like it when you groom them. That’s probably because hoof picking and detangling mats don’t feel good, and some owners use unpleasant grooming techniques.

Final Thoughts

A regular grooming routine is essential for getting to know your animal and what they like and don’t like.

It shouldn’t feel like a chore or something that you rush through, so take your time and do it right. 

Don’t forget to clean your horse brushes when they get dirty and ensure that your tack is in order before you go for a ride. 

What do you think about our guide on brushing horses? Have you ever brushed a horse? Tell us about your experience in the comment section. 

Grigorina S
Grigorina S

Grigorina grew up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped her into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). She has two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but she also feeds her neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them. Follow her on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM
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