Fri. Oct 18th, 2019

Steps to grooming a horse – the basics

7 min read
Horse grooming kit

Taking the time to properly groom your horse will be beneficial to both you and your horse. It will help strengthen the bone you share with your horse, which in turn, will help with other handling aspects and with riding.

Following the proper steps to grooming a horse will give you a chance to check over your horse for cuts, heat, swelling, lameness and a change in temperament that could be caused by illness. It will also give you a chance to check to make sure your horse doesn’t have a loose horseshoe.

Regular grooming improves the health of the skin and coat and cleans the horse so shaffing doesn’t occur under the tack. It also decreases the chance of health problems such as thrush, scratches, and other skin problems.

Grooming should be done regularly, specially before and after riding. Horse Showmanship is a competition that 40% of your points come from the grooming aspect.

To share or not to share

There is a lot of controversy when it comes to using the same grooming kit for different horses or not. In my opinion, in the case of a private barn with your own horses, it’s OK to use the same kit for different horses, unless one develops a skin disease for example, then I would use a separate set for that one. In a public barn, each horse should have their very own grooming kit.

The grooming kit

I have to tell you, my grooming kit overflows with all sorts of things. From brushes to combs to elastics to roll on bug deterant and much more.

Here is a list of the basic items you should have in your kit. Keep in mind that as you go, you may want to add to this kit. I do, every time I see something I like or want or need.

  • You will need a grooming kit box. This is important to keep everything in that same place and to keep dust and dirt away from your kit when you are not using it. It’s a lot easier to carry around than having a bunch of brushes and combs trying to lead your horse. I’ve seen it!
  • Rubber Currycomb – A tool made of rubber or plastic with short “teeth” on one side that slides onto the hand of the groom.
  • Metal Currycomb – A currycomb made of several rows of short metal teeth, with a handle.
  • Stiff Brislte Brush – A stiff-bristled brush is used to remove the dirt, hair and other material stirred up by the curry.
  • Soft Bruch – A soft bristle brush made of horsehair, goat hair or boar bristles, like human hairbrushes; others are made of soft, synthetic fibers.
  • Dandy Brush – The best quality dandy brushes are made of stiff natural bristles such as rice stems, though they wear out quickly. Plastic-bristled dandy brushes are more common.
  • Grooming rag or Towel -A linen or terrycloth towel or similar type of cloth or sheepskin mitt.
  • Mane Brush or Comb – Horses with short, pulled manes have their manes combed with a wide-toothed plastic or metal comb. Tails and long manes are brushed with either a dandy brush or a suitable human hairbrush.
  • Hoof Pick – A hooked tool, usually of metal.
  • Shedding Comb – In special weather conditions, a metal shedding blade with short, dull teeth is used to remove loose winter hair.
  • Sweat Scrapper – Several styles of sweat scrapers exist to remove sweat after exertion or water after bathing
  • Fly Spray – In the summer, fly spray is often applied to the horse after grooming.
  • Bot Knife – A bot knife generally has a blunt end and curved blade and is used to “shave” off the eggs. A bot brick is a small pumice stone or block of dense styrofoam that will pick up eggs when rubbed on the hair.

Click here to view an 8 item grooming kit from

Step by Step

quick release knot

Step 1 – Secure your horse

Many owners use cross ties to groom their horses, and if your horse has the proper cross tie training, this is completely OK. If you have a little greener horse, I suggest tying to a fence post with a quick release knot in case your horse gets spooked. Tie the lead rope above the height of the horse’s withers.

picking horse hoof

Step 2 – Picking your horse’s hoofs

Stand next to your horse facing his hind and have your hoof pick in the hand the farthest away from your horse. Run your hand down the front of your horse’s leg cupping his hoof with your hand. While you do this, gently lean into your horse. This will tell him to shift his weight to the other side and pick up his foot. Once his foot is up, keep it secured with your hand.

Using the hoof pick, remove all the dirt and rocks starting from the back of the hoof working towards the toe. Pick carefully the grooves on either side of the V-shape known as the frog. Do not dig deep in the grooves or pick at the frog. If you are a beginner and are unsure, ask someone experiences to help or to show you. Do this for all 4 hooves.

the curry comb

Step 3 – Loosen the hair and dirt with the currycomb

Using the currycomb, start behind your horse’s ear and work your way towards the tail. Move the currycomb in small circular motion, with enough pressure to see the dirt and loose hair come to the surface. Always go the opposite direction of the hair growth, and be extremely careful over bony area. Do this on both sides of the horse before continuing to the next step.

dandy brush

Step 4 – Using your Dandy brush

Start on your horse’s neck and again, work your way towards your horse’s tail. Make short and straight flicking motion removing all the dirt and hair that came to the surface when using your currycomb. Do not use this brush on your horse’s head as it is a hard bristle brush. Again, so this on both sides of your horse before continuing to the next step.

Soft Brush

Step 5 – Using the Soft Brush

This brush can be used on every part of your horse, including his face. It is because the soft brush is made of really soft bristle. Use this brush all over your horse to give your horse a softened and shiny coat. Use long, straight strokes going with the hair growth starting at the head and working towards the tail and down his legs. When brushing down the leg, use the flicking motion we talked about in the previous step to remove dirt from his legs because the dandy brush bristles are too harsh for his legs. You can also brush the mane and tail with the soft brush.


Step 6 – Your horse’s face

In this step, you may use a clean soft cloth or a soft sponge. Gently wipe your horse’s eye’s and clean out his nose. Using a different sponge or cloth, clean the dock area beneath the tail. Make sure to be extra soft on these areas as they are extremely sensitive.

mane comb

Step 7 – Brush the mane and tail

In this step, take care of the knots that are in your horse’s mane and tail. Start by separating the worst tangle and with you mane brush or comb, carefully work through them first. Then continue throughout the whole mane and tail by doing small sections at a time and being careful not to pull. If your horse is like mine, she likes to get herself really tangled and I went out and bought a mane and tail detangler spray. Make sure to stand off to the side of your horse when brushing his tail, in case he decides to kick.

Step 8 – Fly spray

This step is optional. Flies are a nuisance to horses. You may want to spray your horse with fly spray to avoid them spreading infection or even biting and causing your horse pain. Spray the solution over the horse being careful to avoid the face.


Shedding comb – helps you to remove your horse’s “winter coat” faster and with less hassle than brushes, rakes, or curry combs. With daily use, this Shedding tool helps to maintain healthier skin and coat, reduce allergens, and stimulate circulation and hair growth. However, it is important to use with care because it can split your horse’s hair and make it dry.

Sweat scrapper – It is used to remove sweat and/or excess hair from larger pets. I use it mostly after a heavy workout or a long ride when my horse is quite sweaty and it’s a little chilly out. It helps dry your horse so he doesn’t catch a chill.

Bot knife – When doing your horse check up at the beginning of your grooming, you may notice little white bots on your horse. The bot knife is used to remove those. Scrape the side of the horse’s skin to remove the eggs without injuring the horse. With daily use during bot fly season, this tool can drastically reduce the number of larvae that are ingested by the horse.

Your horse will thank you

As you can see throughout this post, regular grooming is an important part of owning a horse. Thorough grooming is important for your horse’s health. And face it, we all enjoy lovin on our horses.

I’d love to hear about the different tools you use to groom your horses. Please leave questions or comments below.

Happy Horsin Around

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2 thoughts on “Steps to grooming a horse – the basics

  1. Interesting post, I don’t know there are several steps to groom a horse until reading your post. Thanks for sharing great posts let me have the chance to know better about the horse.

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