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Month: August 2017

Grooming With Kids

Many kids want to learn how to groom horses – but we need to balance the fun of grooming with some simple safety tips so no toes get squashed in the process. Start with a happy and quiet horse, add in a safe space with safe tools, and do a little hands on supervision to help your child be safe around horses.

Make sure the horse is happy!

  • His belly should be full.
  • The horse should be able to see his buddies and not feel isolated.
  • Grooming after your horse exercises is also a good idea, just in case he has some energy to burn off.

Add in a safe space.

  • Use cross ties so that his movement is limited, but he can still see what’s happening around him.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of space between the horse and the walls or edges of the grooming space.
  • Use mounting block to help your child reach the high spots, but only if there’s ample room for the block.
  • Use kid friendly tools that are smaller for a child’s hand. Tools that stay put, like gloves, are also less likely to end up under your horse.

Hands on supervision.

  • Stand on the same side of the horse as your child. If you are on one side, and your child is on the other, a spook will knock one of you down. If you are on the same side, you can keep a hand on your horse to push away if need be.
  • Demonstrate safe techniques. Walk around the front, keep a hand on your horse, brush with the direction of the hair.
  • Use frequent praise for your horse, this sets a good example for your child to respect horses.

Have fun grooming with kids!

How Often Can You Bathe Your Horse?

This is often a tricky question to answer, because it’s not one size fits all. Horses have different grooming routines, different living environments, different access to mud…. But there are a few things to look for that will help you determine if you are over bathing your horse.

Ideally, your horse is super shiny from a naturally oily coat. This is the result of genetics, a good diet, lots of daily grooming with elbow grease, and perhaps a few hair coat products as well. The oil on your horse, called sebum, creates shine, helps with his immune system by coating the skin, and repels stains. A dry and brittle coat is a stain magnet!

photo courtesy of TAG Equine Services

The shampoo you use and how you use it can affect the amount of natural oils your horse has. Harsh shampoos left on for too long strip the hair. Mild shampoos can leave a bit of natural oil on your horse’s skin. If it’s a harsh shampoo, like the stain removal styles, you should go longer between shampoos so the oils can build up.

Consider the reason for bathing your horse. Did he just have a sweaty workout? Then a rinse with the hose or sponge off is fine. Is he head to toe in manure stains and you have a show in two days? Then bust out the shampoo! Does he have one or two smaller stains that can be treated with a cloth and some stain remover? Then that’s your plan.

Also think about his schedule. Is he showing frequently? In which case you likely want to use a milder shampoo more frequently, with extra curry glove sessions in between to bring out the oils. Does he stay at home? Then perhaps only shampoo when it’s really necessary.

What about the horse that looks great except for his mane and tail? Or his legs? It’s ok to do a spot bath in the wash rack when you need to. No use in wasting shampoo or stripping those natural oils if you don’t absolutely have to.

In between baths, keep up the daily grooming routine. A good curry session before a ride makes sure there’s no dirt trapped under the saddle or bridle. This also lets your hands do some checking to be sure his body feels good. After a ride, use your curry gloves again to remove dried sweat, massage your horse’s muscles, and work on distributing those natural oils.

How often do you bathe your horse?

The Horse Hair Shedding Cycle – This explains everything!

As horse owners, we have come to know that spring time is shedding “season” as our horses lose their winter coats in favor of a cooler and sleeker summer coat. But hair is constantly growing and shedding! It’s part of the life cycle of hair – which means year ‘round curry glove action is needed.

The three stages of a hair’s life cycle are anagen, catagen, and telogen. The anagen phase is happening when hair is actively growing. This is a function of time, not length. The length of the anagen phase is set, and it’s up to good nutrition, good grooming habits, and a healthy skin to make the hairs as long as possible during that phase.

Then comes the catagen phase, where the hair and hair follicle just rest. A new hair might be forming to take it’s place, but mainly there’s nothing going on. This phase might last a few weeks.

Lastly, there’s the telogen phase, where the hair falls out in preparation for a new hair to start the anagen phase.

This explains why your horse will lose hair all year long! A nice curry glove session in the heat of summer will loosen and remove those hairs in the telogen phase. Same in the cold of winter. This also applies to the mane and tail, which of course have much longer anagen phases. There is nothing to do to prevent this natural hair loss – it’s just the same and a human finding hair in their hairbrush.

Animals have one other trick up their sleeve when it comes to shedding and growing a new coat – the length of day. Fall shedding season happens as the daylight decreases, triggering the fuzzy winter coat. There are other minor influencing factors, but light is the big one. The same is true in the spring. More daylight tells your horse to ditch his winter coat for something more comfortable!

It’s perfectly normal to have your horse lose hair all year long. If you find that it’s not growing back, that’s a reason to call the Vet for some intervention! Otherwise, enjoy the daily curry glove grooming with your horse.

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