Guest post by Liv from Pro Equine Grooms.
There are a few ways to keep your fuzzy horse clean and groomed in the winter.
The winter coat has great protective properties for horses, but can also trap moisture and grit against the skin, leading to uncomfortable rides under a saddle and possible skin infections.
Your main job for winter grooming is to keep your horse’s skin healthy and free from grit. You will need some time, and some good tools to make this happen.
I avoid any metal curry combs or blades, and use grooming gloves or a deep rubber curry instead.
A stiffer style of grooming brush is also a good idea, something that can reach through a winter coat. You might find that your brushes that work wonders in the summer just can’t cut it in the winter.
If you have a horse vacuum, this will likely be your BFF for cold weather grooming. After thoroughly grooming with gloves or a curry, the vacuum can remove even the most stubborn grit that is stuck to your horse.
Another way to help reduce the amount of dirt and dust that can get stuck between your horse and your saddle is to use sheets and blankets. A super thin sheet can keep the grit out while still letting your horse’s winter coat do it’s job. Find one that’s waterproof.
If you find that your horse is sweating in the winter, consider clipping him. Nothing creates a skin problem faster than a sweaty horse in a winter coat, and you need to spend extra time to get him dry with coolers.
You absolutely don’t have to conform to some specific trace clip pattern, just the parts that are sweaty. If you don’t care to go all the way down, use a clipper with a guard or rake attachment to just take off the top layer of hair. This will make him more comfortable, and likely help you keep him cleaner and healthier.
You can also easily battle stains in the winter. Dry shampoos are one option. These spot stain removers target one area, so you can pick your stain battles. You can also use them on your horse’s mane and tail if needed.
If your horse just needs a total spa day in the winter, consider hot toweling your horse. Using coolers in an enclosed area, you can clean your horse.
Barely damp and very steamy towels can be rubbed on your horse in small sections. Cover up your damp areas with coolers and move on to the next section. This is time consuming, but very helpful for deep grooming a horse in the winter.
If your horse goes “au natural” in the winter, plan some extra grooming time in. This also gives your horse a mice massage, so his muscles will be better warmed up for your wintertime ride. And it counts as “gym time”, too.
Liv Gude was a Professional Groom, starting her grooming career with Olympian Guenter Seidel. After years in the saddle riding hunters, jumpers, reiners, and ultimately dressage horses, her focus switched to growing her expertise as a Groom. Daily care, early detection of illness, lamenesses and overall health and presentation are first and foremost the duties of a Groom. After years grooming, Liv saw the need to bring professional Grooms and horse owners together in a supportive and educational manner. In 2011 she founded proequinegrooms.com, an online resource that provides information about grooming, employment, and horse care. In addition to the website, Liv hosts a recurring podcast about horse care and grooming.