Once-Over Grooming

Grooming gives you visual and tactile information about your horse’s health.
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Once-Over Grooming
Grooming gives you visual and tactile information about your horse’s health.| Photo: iStock

As your horse leans into the satisfying feel of the brush and curry, you have an opportunity to do more than clean away dirt, grime, and loose hairs. Grooming also gives you visual and tactile information about your horse’s health, and if done on a daily basis it can help you catch potential health problems early. Familiarize yourself with your horse’s normal vital signs, sensory reactions, and physical characteristics so you can detect when something isn’t quite right.

“Ideally, the grooming area should be well-lit to provide the best view,” says Julie Wilson, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, of Turner Wilson Equine Consulting LLC, in Stillwater, Minn. “The parts (of the horse) most likely overlooked are the ones you may not groom every time due to time constraints, the horse’s behavior, or an ‘inconvenient’ location.” Thus, it helps to formulate a standard pattern that you follow with every grooming, whether you work front to back or bottom to top. If you stick to a routine you’re less likely to overlook an important area.

Once-Over Grooming
Pick out your horse's hooves daily to remove accumulated manure, debris, or stones from feet. | Photo: The Horse Staff
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Written by:

Nancy S. Loving, DVM, owns Loving Equine Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and has a special interest in managing the care of sport horses. Her book, All Horse Systems Go, is a comprehensive veterinary care and conditioning resource in full color that covers all facets of horse care. She has also authored the books Go the Distance as a resource for endurance horse owners, Conformation and Performance, and First Aid for Horse and Rider in addition to many veterinary articles for both horse owner and professional audiences.

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