Your horse’s coat is their first defense against the outside environment. It shields their body from infection, from the cold and from the heat. Gentle grooming can improve the coat’s condition, though harsh methods may dull and damage the skin and hair. The tools you choose to use on your horse can change the grooming experience from a special time for bonding to a routine that does more harm than good.
Tools with metal blades can be useful in removing mud and hair, but they can also uncomfortably scrape the skin of sensitive horses and fray the hairs of the coat. With regular use, the coat may appear dull and not lay flat. Microabrasions of the skin can create entry points for bacteria to fester and can encourage skin infections, especially for immunocompromised horses. Brushing a horse with a skin infection then spreads the infection over the body, and can be transferred via the brush to other horses. Instead of risking skin and hair damage, stick with grooming tools that are safe, gentle and easy to sanitize. Wash your brushes regularly to reduce risk of spreading pathogens to your horses.
Shampooing the horse might seem like a great way to keep the coat clean and in good condition, but the type of shampoo you use can actually do your horse more harm than good! Many shampoos will remove the natural oils from your horse’s coat, stripping them of an important protective layer. The natural oils that your horse produces serve to keep the skin moisturized and protected. It is usually best to rinse your horse down with only water, which can easily remove sweat and excess dirt while leaving behind the important oils. When shampoos are needed for stain removal or to treat skin problems, be sure to use products designed for horses that are gentle on their skin!
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