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Grooming Versus Supplements

Grooming is an Art, and In today's world, I have to wonder if it is an ever-improving art or one that is diminishing!  How much time do people spend grooming their horses? Do they know the correct use for all the brushes in the kit?


This came about when someone commented on Rash's coat saying "he has a shiny coat, you must spend a long time grooming him".  My answer "Unfortunately not' I do not have the time I'd like to spend on them, it is all the lovely feed I put into him" So my question is why do we groom and can supplements replace this?


Grooming isn't just about keeping the horse's coat looking shiny, it is all of the following

  • time to check our horse for any injuries that may have occurred.

  • time to develop a bond between horse and rider or handler, find out if the horse has any tickle spots, and what pressure they are more comfortable with, A horse who is sensitive to groom is likely to be sensitive to tack up and ride.

  • Prevent injuries by removing mud and dirt that may cause tack to rub the horse.

  • Improve the horse's circulation meaning grooming can be beneficial for the horse on box rest, in the same way massage helps people on bed rest.


When studying for my exams we learned about the 3 main types of grooming, brushing off, quartering, and a full groom. We are covering more about grooming in my membership group, The Never Run Out Club during July. A quick outline is Brushing off is carried out first thing in the morning and last thing and night as we change horse's rugs and involves picking the feet and has the name suggests a quick brush over, A full groom takes up to 45 minutes and includes 7 stages, the best time to do a full groom is after the horse has been exercised when they are warm and the pores of the skin open. We should be building up a sweat as we groom the horse.

Quartering can refer to grooming the horse a quarter at a time and leaving the rugs on or in the case of this article the quick groom before exercise, here we do slightly more than in a brush-off but not all the steps of a full groom. Do people still spend this time grooming their horse and carry out all 3 different times of grooming? As a horse owner with my horses on DIY I know I am guilty of not spending enough time grooming them, especially during the winter months.


An traditional activity to help the horses coat, which again I am not sure how common this is nowadays, is to hot cloth. This is where hot water and a small amount of soap is used to lift the dirt from the coat, this can be useful for owners who do not have bathing facilities at their yards. 



Horses that are prone to skin conditions such as sweet itch may find less grooming to be more beneficial to them as it helps to maintain the natural oils at a better level. It really is a matter of working with your vet to see what works for your horse.


Another point that may be useful to help with grooming and keeping that nice shiny coat is spraying mane and tail over the horse's back before rugging this can help lift all the dirt, give it a try but make sure you have time to groom the following day. 


Try not to over rug, this can cause the horse to sweat the sweat then dries on the coat and gives you that curly coat. Wet or dirty horses should not be rugged as this can cause the dirt to sit on and rub the skin.


Grooming for the field kept, unrugged horse should be kept to a minimum to keep the oils in the coat.


Grooming can be made easier by clipping the horse, however, careful consideration should be taken on the horse's workload and lifestyle when deciding if to clip and which clip to do.


Supplements that can be fed to help the horse's coat are 

  • Linseed either oil or micronized which can help put a shine on the horse's coat,

  • Nettles which are known to bring out the dapples in horses' coats,

  • Marigolds are a very common herb to help with skin and coat.

  • Any detox herbs will help to improve the horse's coat such as Burdock, Clivers, and Dandelion. All these herbs will help the horse from the inside but for all the reasons mentioned above, we need to help from the outside too.


My answer is no supplements can not replace grooming and vice versa, we need to be looking after the horse from the inside out, just like us we can spend all the money in the world on beauty products but without eating the correct diet and drinking enough water we lose that natural glow and speed up the signs of aging. For our horses giving them the correct feed and supplements with the additions to the grooming we have spoken about above can ensure they have a healthy coat, a bond with the handlers and riders, and stay injury free.


Like to learn more on the grooming methods above? Check out my membership. The Never Run Out Club


Need some advice on which supplements to feed? Drop me an email.  natalie@nvequine.org


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