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The benefits of grooming

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Is grooming one of your favourite ways to spend time with your horse? Well, it may have more benefits than you realise


Giving your horse a thorough groom doesn’t just improve his coat condition – there are lots of other health benefits, too. So, even if your horse comes in from the field squeaky clean, that doesn’t mean you should give your pre-riding brush a miss. Certain holistic grooming approaches extend these benefits even further and, from a scientific approach, explain why grooming is such a vital element of caring for our horses – and shouldn’t be overlooked.

What goes around, comes around

Before you even put a foot in the stirrup, grooming’s a vital way to warm up your horse before riding. Vigorously brushing his body will help promote circulation to the skin, muscles, limbs and joints, helping him feel flexible and healthy.

A grooming method known as the cross fibre technique uses a rubber curry comb in a light, circular motion across the coat to manipulate the tissues on a superficial level, keeping the skin flexible across the muscle layer below. When grooming with deeper pressure, you’re stimulating the muscle fibres and deeper layers of fascia that separate one muscle group from another, as well as affecting the related tendons and tissue.


If you don’t have time to ride, a full grooming session can have lots of benefits. Incorporating lateral neck flexions and leg extensions into your routine will reflect some of the suppleness work you strive for in your schooling.

Muscle in

A post-workout groom has many benefits, too. Aside from removing sweat and debris from under the saddle, it also plays a vital role in carrying away lactic acid build-up and toxins that can cause stiffness and re-oxygenates the muscles, too.

Grooming can also affect your horse’s muscle tone over time as regular brushing stimulates the muscles. The traditional technique of strapping was often used for this purpose – a leather pad or folded towel was used to ‘bang’ the muscles, causing them to contract and develop. This technique isn’t so popular nowadays, but there’s evidence that supports its effectiveness.

Daily check up

Spending time grooming also gives you a better chance of spotting any abnormalities. Look out for lumps, bumps, rashes, swellings, scratches or particular sensitivities as you assess your horse’s body. Picking up these problems sooner rather than later will, in most cases, mean they’re less likely to become a major issue. Getting to know your horse’s norm is just as important, so a daily groom goes far beyond just looking smart.

Rub along

Incorporating some simple elements of equine massage into your grooming routine can be beneficial, whether for daily health or supporting recovery from an injury. Next time your equine body worker visits, ask them to show you some techniques and exercises that would benefit your horse as part of his daily grooming routine. Some owners find their horse benefits from an electric massage pad to help relax tight muscles before exercise or in their downtime.


Massaging the area near an old injury can help break up scar tissue and reduce inflammation.

Did you know?

In a natural environment, horses regulate grooming themselves through rolling, rubbing and mutual grooming. Turning your horse out without a rug or letting him have a roll in the school are a few ways you can replicate this.

Under your skin

The skin is the largest of your horse’s organs, so it’s important to care for it daily. Grooming stimulates the oil glands within his skin, improving thermoregulation and coat health.

Give the brush off

Next time you sigh at the sight of your mud-covered bay or grass-stained grey, remember that your efforts aren’t just for the aesthetics. A daily groom goes a long way and will improve your bond, too.

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