How can I make grooming my furry horse easier in the winter?
You have a lot of options here! First, a clipped horse is an easy grooming job. EASY. But, it’s not for everyone, and this previous article here will shed some light on good reasons to clip, and good reasons to leave the coat on.
In the winter, we have two primary concerns when your horse is unclipped. One is dirt, bacteria, fungi, moisture etc. trapped on the skin by a coat. The second concern is cooling out an unclipped horse. When you have an unclipped coat, you have a great natural barrier to the elements. You also have a way for skin funk, rashes, infections, rain rot, and unseen cuts and scrapes to invade your horse. Add to that moisture from sweat and you are creating a buffet for microscopic creatures to invade. You also have the huge task of cooling out and drying your horse after exercise to avoid skin funk and your horse getting chilled to the bone. It may be time consuming, but I have some tricks for you in the grooming department.
- Get acquainted with a vacuum for horses. Very acquainted. After a super long curry comb session, use a vacuum to get all of the “stuff” you pulled up away from your horse. No amount of flicking a brush can compare to a vacuum.
- Use your fingertips. Your bare naked fingertips. You will need to feel your horse everywhere to make sure scabbies and such are not forming. Also, a winter coat will hide inflammation in legs, so use your hands to examine your horse every single day. Other common areas for winter skin funk are the girth area and the skin folds near the elbow. These areas can sweat a lot and the folds of skin can create a mess.
- You also need to use your hands to examine the ribs - make sure they are not poking out! Many horses have trouble keeping weight in the winter, so monitor this by using your hands.
- Hot toweling. This time consuming method of total body grooming (or touch up grooming) is great for long coats. Hot and damp towels are used to “curry” the horse in small sections at a time. Use a cooler to cover each section as you finish to help dry your horse and keep him from chills. More on hot toweling here!
This is the extent of Comet's winter coat.
- If you have an indoor wash rack with hot water and an indoor solarium for drying, please message me your address and expect me and my horses in a week or so.
- Waterless shampoos. These can be great - and often a tiny amount is all you need! Many are designed to clean spots, not do a whole horse, so read the label carefully. In combination with hot toweling they can be a super way to bring back that “just washed” look for your horse.
- For spot cleaning, you can likely get away with a hot towel on the spot. I am a firm believer that a good diet and overall health (including regular exercise) creates a coat that is easy to clean. You can find more tips on this subject here. In the winter, you will likely be skipping the full shampoo baths, so you have plenty of time for the oils to build up on your horse’s coat. Good for sliding stains away!
How do you like to groom in the winter?