currycomb n : a square comb with rows of small teeth; used to curry horses
- Finnish: sukia
Horse grooming is hygenic care given to a horse, or a process by which the horse's physical appearance is enhanced for horse shows or other types of competition.
Reasons for groomingHorsemen agree that grooming is an important part of horse care, and proper grooming is essential for horses that are used in competition. Most recommend grooming a horse daily, although this is not always possible. However, regular grooming helps to ensure the horse is healthy and comfortable.
The main reasons for daily grooming include:
- improved health of the skin and coat
- decreases the chance of various health problems such as thrush, scratches, and other skin problems
- cleans the horse, so chafing does not occur under areas of tack
- gives the groom a chance to check the horse's health, such as looking for cuts, heat, swelling, lameness, a change in temperament (such as depression) which could indicate the horse is sick, and look to see if the horse has loose or missing horseshoes
- helps to form a relationship between horse and handler, which can carry over to other handling duties and riding
Horse showmanship is a horse show class that considers quality of grooming for as much as 40% of the total score.
Tools used for groomingThere are several tools that are commonly used when grooming a horse. Proper use and technique helps to ensure the horse remains comfortable during the grooming process, and allows for greater ease in cleaning the animal.
- Curry or Currycomb: A tool made of rubber or plastic with short "teeth" on one side, that slides onto the hand of the groom. It is usually the first tool used in daily grooming. The horse is rubbed or "curried" in a circular motion, which helps to loosen dirt, hair, and other detritus, plus stimulate the skin to produce natural oils. The curry comb is usually used in a circular motion to work loose embedded material. Curries are generally too harsh to be used on the legs or head, though varieties made of softer rubber are available.
- Metal currycomb: a currycomb made of metal, with a handle. They are designed for use on show cattle. There is no reason for a horse owner to buy one. However, some barns have them sitting around and use them for cleaning out softer-bristled brushes. For removing mud and winter hair, as well as for cleaning brushes, a shedding blade (see below) is preferable to a metal curry, and a shedding blade can also do double duty for cleaning out other brushes.
- Dandy brush or Hard brush: A stiff-bristled brush is used to remove the dirt, hair and other material stirred up by the curry. Brushes are used in the direction of the horse's hair coat growth, usually in short strokes from front to back, except at the flanks, where the hair grows in a different pattern. 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. Dandy brushes can usually be used on the legs, but many horses object to a stiff brush being used on the head. Some dandy brushes do double duty as a *Water Brush, dampened in water and used to wet down the mane and tail.
- Body brush or Soft brush: A soft-bristled brush removes finer particles and dust, adds a shine to the coat and is soothing to the horse. A body brush can be used on the head, being careful to avoid the horse's eyes. Some natural body brushes are made of boar bristles, like human hairbrushes, others are made of soft synthetic fibers. The body brush is always the last brush used on the horse.
- Grooming rag or towel, also called a Stable Rubber: A terrycloth towel or other type of cloth can be used to give a final polish to a horse's coat and is also used after riding to help remove sweat.
- Mane brush or comb: Horses with short, pulled manes have their manes combed with a wide-toothed plastic or metal comb. The mane comb is also used for pulling the mane. Tails and long manes are brushed with either a dandy brush or a suitable human hairbrush. Extremely long show-quality manes and tails are often picked out by hand to avoid breaking the hairs.
- Hoof pick: A hooked tool, usually of metal, used to clean the hooves of a horse. Some designs include a small, very stiff brush for removing additional mud or dirt. All four feet of the horse need to be cleaned out before and after riding.