Over the decades, I’ve discarded, lost or gave away horse equipment and tack. As my life changed and I felt more hopeless and sad (i.e. the death of Pepper, the problems with Z, the choice of euthanasia for Tristan), I pulled away from investing into my horse equipment.
About 45 days ago I sat down with myself and had a discussion. Was I going to continue doing the very least with Dante because I was feeling down about his health issues or was I going to pull myself out of this slump? Was I going to reclaim my love for horses or truly just let it die away?
Another conversation was acknowledging I needed to return to the place I was when I bought Pepper: excited about my horse – looking at every moment being precious.
I asked myself what did I do with Pepper that I could do with Dante? Of course the answers are about time – I would spend time just being with Pepper, grooming her, playing with her, sitting with her in addition to riding and training her.
Recently, I placed an order for one of my favorite brushes. This was a significant step – because of the reasons I cited above. It’s time to shed the grief and move forward again. For the first time, I have the surplus money to indulge myself if I choose wisely and space out my purchases. This is a huge difference from my time when Pepper came into my life – I had a preschooler and a baby, wasn’t working outside the home, and money was tight.
Finally, now I have the means and time to indulge a bit. And I need to bring my feelings to the party.
Here’s a rather long run down on the grooming equipment I use the most and recommend the highest (once I got started apparently I couldn’t stop):
1.) a Rice Root brush. These stiff bristles make a good “mud” brush to knock off dirt clumps from the horse’s body coat, especially the legs, and is my favorite during winter. They are quite stiff so if you own a horse with sensitive skin this might be only for winter.
Typically this is the first brush to use in your grooming regime until the horse has a thin summer coat and then you switch to the brush below.
2.) Tampico Brush has softer bristles making it soft enough for a thinner summer coat or as a “finishing” brush – the brush used at the end of your grooming session (after the mud brush) to bring up shine. Soft enough for the face.
When I was teaching lessons I bought a complete grooming kit for each horse so there would be no cross contamination if a horse had any sort of disease or infection. When you need to clean and disinfect your brushes check out Brush Therapy!
Last note on brushes: I’m not a fan of any of these popular, nylon bristle brushes unless you are using them for bathing. Nylon bristled brushes are cheap brushes that don’t fit comfortably in the hand and neither do they clean the coat very well. In my experience, nylon brushes have too long bristles making it hard to work out the dirt in the hair and they also lose bristles over time.
3.) Curry comb. There’s a lot of choices and I’ve tried many of them. However, these with the finger points are actually the best on removing hair and dirt with less effort of time and pressure. I use them mostly when the winter coat starts the shedding. Trust me, I taught two summers of horse camps with dozens of kids and many horses, these are the best.
Personally, I prefer the Unigroom brand but that is only available now in the pet stores in the dog area. It also seems they are discontinuing it 😦
4.) Shedding blades should only be used on the thickest of coats (i.e. winter) or to clean the other brush (run the serrated edge over the bristles which knocks out dust and hair). The one that I prefer is the single blade with handles and that has a metal loop which slides off, to open the blade up as a strap.
The multi circles one is way too harsh. If you use help or children, do not let them near this tool – you’ll regret it.
5.) Hoofpicks. Generally, I’ve just used a cheap one but with Dante’s draft-like feet, I’ve recently bought this other Ultimate hoofpick. It has a sharper, wedge sized pick and is extremely sharp! With it, it’s been easier to pull out debris in packed hooves but be careful which direction you go as you can actually cause some damage it’s that sharp!
6.) Thrush spray – PURE Hard Surface Disinfectant is what I highly recommend! This is a clear spray which does not stain, sting or smell. It destroys thrush on contact and is recommended by the natural hoof trimmers. I prefer to buy the gallon jug and then dispense into a smaller spray bottle. However, you can buy a smaller bottle from Office Depot.
I live in a hot area of the US so during the summer we will have at least 30 days where we are above 100 degree F. With Dante’s dark coat that situation is made worse so he sweats almost everyday of late spring, summer and early fall.
For that reason I rinse him off almost every day during the summer and only bath him with shampoo about once a week or twice a month.
I also no longer show so having a squeaky clean horse at all times is not of any consequence to me. Another thing is I believe horses build up a natural oil in their coat which I don’t want to interfere with on a daily basis with shampoo.
The Sweat Scraper that I like the best has a rubber squeegee on it. This sweat scraper really takes out the water from the coat, which means your horse will dry faster. You’ll be amazed at how much more moisture is removed from the coat with this type of scraper!
For bathing, I buy a Water Wand from a garden store. This gives me nice gentle spray and with the long handle I can reach all over the horse without having to get close (i.e. over the back, under the tail, the inside of the legs etc…). I’ve used the hand held pistol sized ones and they are harder to use, and generally don”t give the gentle spray I prefer.
Shampoos: I like to try different brands and I admit that I get seduced by smells. I worked at Petsmart when they still had State Line Tack so had a chance to look through a bunch of different shampoos. What you need to be careful about is a lot of the newer brands today are very thin – lots of water – with nice smells and a high price tag.
Corona is a great brand and is one I keep in my tack room. It gives a lot of lather with just a capful and it washes out really easily, leaving no residue. The price is great.
Vetrolin bath still has that amazing smell! Great price, lathers really well and rinses out great!
For color coats, especially white or black check out the Quic color brands but remember horse coats are really built first from nutrition.
My favorite medicated shampoos include Aloe Advantage Concentrated Shampoo for equines but for some reason this product is getting harder and harder for me to find 😦 Otherwise I just use Farnam’s Aloedine Aloe Vera with Iodine shampoo for fungal infections.
Vetrolin Liniment I use as a Brace after a workout for when I don’t want to shampoo the coat (I like to only wash with shampoo about once a week). To use as a brace, take about 1/4 cup of Liniment and mix to a gallon of water. Use a small flexible bucket to scoop the brace over the horse’s body, don’t rinse off, and just squeegee clean.
Conditioners: I generally only use on mane and tail. I rinse the body off way too often to put product on that would just be wasted.
Healthy HairCare Hair Moisturizer. Smells great, goes on well and rinses out well. Can be used as a leave in conditioner which I always appreciate! Mix with water and use as a spray.
Mane and Tail by Straight Arrow was sooo popular when I was in college! Whoa I’m dating myself! Very economical, easily found and can be used as a leave in conditioner.
Some products I haven’t used yet which I want too is EquiFuse. It’s rather pricey for me and their system seems overally complicated but it does get rave reviews. So I’m planning on ordering the CFS Concentrate Shampoo, the CitaCreme Deep Conditioner (rinse out) and the Gleam conditioner (leave in) for tails and mane.
I’m also getting the BioMane tail bag and hair brush. While the product may be great I’m already feeding Dante a ton of supplements and want to just wait on changing any of that.
I did buy some grooming products from some Instragram accounts last month and that was a mixed bag. While I love the smell of the shampoos, the result is okay. The biggest issue was some of the spray bottles: I like to be able to hold my bottle in my hand and use my fingers to trigger the spray – and this bottle had a wimpy sprayer that quickly broke. Well, I don’t mind helping small businesses out with my money but I won’t be a repeat buyer.