The bottom line is who on earth wants to stand there brushing a horse for hours when you could be riding it? Read our guide to EFFECTIVE grooming without the fuss.
For starters. Use a hosepipe. Anything from the belly down I think is OK. Anything above that might be a bit harsh. Plus, it’s actually safer as you can clean their belly without getting your head near their hooves. From there on up a quick body brushing works wonders.
Moving to the tail. For any light coloured tails use neat whitening shampoo and rub into the tail dry. Leave for 5 min then wash out with copious amounts of water. Then take human Tesco value conditioner or LOTS of mane and tail conditioner and rub into the tail. In the case of human conditioner this needs washing out. Not only does this clean the tail but it should detangle it as well. If all the knots aren’t out under no circumstances attempt to brush the tail when it is wet – wait till it’s dry as it’s easier.
When it comes to pulling manes do it properly don’t cut them if they need to be plaited. When I was younger I tried it and it doesn’t work – FACT. So don’t for heavens sake go there. If you don’t need to plait cutting does work but it has to be straight which is easier said than done. It’s easier to cut a little too long and then pull the rest to get a better line and fall of mane.
Feet are best scrubbed with a stiff brush –not wire. Hoof oil works well as an instant lift to presentation. Faces or bums can be cleaned with “wet wipes” - the ones designed for babies!!
Fetlocks are best trimmed with a set of hand clippers and not cut too short. Also when you’ve got the clippers out trim the base of the mane that would otherwise be under the saddle. “Coat shine” also works –spray it all over then rub over in direction of coat with hands. Quarter markers can be done with templates and when your plaits are done they can have any stray bits of mane smoothed down with hair gel out your bathroom cabinet.
With plaiting either find someone competent to bribe and muck out for them in return or learn. No short cuts here. Don’t put elastic bands at the bottom of the plaits though as they stop the horse stretching their neck. DO use elastic bands (expensive ones that won’t snap) and don’t even contemplate sewing them.
Also the bottom line is that sparkly clean white numnahs and bandages distract from all manner of sins. Clean travel rugs help as well.
I’m now prepared to face the wrath of the BHS and Pony Club as I’m sure I’ve overlooked some of their golden rules. Gulp.