Anyone who embarks on horse ownership knows how confusing the multitude of seemingly shine and gloss producing products, spray, shampoos and gels can be that are the staples of any well stocked tack shop or horse/farm supply store.
From detanglers - leave in and leave out - over lotions, potions and even specialized supplements, there is no end on how much money you can spend and how many different products you can apply to your four-legged furry friend in order to produce show-ready shine. Or is there?
When I got started in horses in the 1970's and groomed 5-10 horses every day plus show grooming on weekends, there were two elements that determined how shiny and well groomed your horse would look: your determination and elbow grease and a good quality brush. The End. (Not)
How to groom your horse to shine in 4 easy steps (and without chemicals!):
Shine is the hair's ability to reflect light.
Step 1 - Currying
How to curry your horse:
- Start behind the poll and curry your horse in a circular motion from head over chest, shoulder, back, belly, hind end to hocks.
- Don't work the curry from knee or hock down. We'll get to that later.
- Do this on both sides of the horse.
Your goal: Massage the skin and bring up all the dirt and move it to the surface.
Step 2 - Flicking:
Flicking is a sort of sweeping hand motion in short strokes to further bring up more dust, debris and dander from the horse's skin up to the surface of the coat. It also serves to distribute the oils on the skin over the hair (shine alert!).
To perform this flicking action properly, you need a proper flicking brush. This is a medium stiff brush made of NATURAL materials that does not bind the oils to the brush, but rather distributes them evenly. A (cheap) synthetic brush will bind the oils to the brush, which then in turn bind dirt to the brush which you then reapply to your horse. (Defeating the purpose of grooming.)
Synthetic brushes should be called 'Anti Shine Brushes' for this reason. Cheap plant based brushes will not flick properly. After some time of using them you will find the bristles bent to one side, making it impossible to perform the flicking action.
Please do yourself and your horse a favor and invest in a good-quality dandy brush.
How to use the dandy brush on your horse:
Start behind the poll and brush the horse's coat in the direction of it's growth in a flicking motion in short strokes. This is a movement that resembles the type of sweeping you'd do with a corn broom.
Remember, you are trying to bring up dirt and debris and distribute oils. See how the bristles of the brush in the picture flick elastically? That's what you are looking for.
Brush the whole horse this way on both sides. If desired, follow up with a second brushing with longer strokes, but still flicking.
Your goal: bring up more dust, debris and dander from the horse's skin up to the surface of the coat and distribute the oils on the skin over the hair coat.
Important: This is where your firm curry comes in!
- After every two or three strokes clean the flicking brush on the firm curry by brushing it against the curry.
- Every couple of times knock your firm curry against the wall or ground and see the dirt fall out!
- You will not want this dirt to remain in your brush, otherwise you'll just reapply it to your horse.
- When finished flicking, thoroughly sweep the brush against the curry comb several times to clean the brush before putting it away.
- Make this a habit and you will keep your brush nice and your horse happy!
Step 3 - Brushing:
After you thoroughly curried and 'flicked', you are now ready to brush off the dirt and debris you lifted to the surface with a good softer brush. A real horse brush is a natural bristle brush with a high bristle density. These brushes are usually made of horse hair.
How to groom your horse with a finishing brush:
- Move in the same direction as with the flicking brush, always with the direction of growth.
- Here you don't need to flick, but work in even, long strokes to remove all surfaced dirt from the coat.
- Clean the brush against the firm curry every couple of strokes! This is very important, you don't want to reapply the dirt to a different area of your horse's body.
- Give the horse a second brushing with the finishing brush to create the desired shine.
Step 4 - Bring on the Shine (and natural Magic...!)
How to make your horse shine:
- Again, work in the direction of hair growth. Your goal is to move all fine dust off the surface of the horse's coat and smoothen the hair flat.
- Brush the entire horse, several times if needed, with the goat hair brush.
- Then follow up by wiping with a good amount of pressure in the direction of hair growth, either with a cloth diaper or a lambskin mitten.
Last Step: Stand Back and Enjoy!
- Use a gentle, moisturizing, natural horse shampoo - no harsh chemicals!
- Use a moisturizer or conditioner after shampooing.
- Be careful to rinse out ALL soap residue!
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