Many people assume that regular grooming is only necessary once horses begin shedding their winter coats. But the truth is, grooming offers numerous benefits during the cold months, too! Here’s why:
When the temperature is low, it’s more important than ever to warm up your horse before exercise. The cold results in stiffness, which is uncomfortable and can lead to injuries – something you want to avoid at all costs.
While there are several different ways to warm up your horse, a vigorous grooming session is a great first step. The key is selecting an appropriate tool that tackles two jobs at once – it should get rid of any loose hair and debris, while stimulating his tissues to prepare them for movement. He’ll still need to be walked or lunged before any strenuous activities, but the rubdown will transport more blood to his muscles, increasing his flexibility and body temperature.
It’s not uncommon for horses to be bound to their stalls with limited exercise during the off-season due to bad weather, injury or illness. If your horse is one of the unlucky ones, you’ll want to take steps to increase his circulation, which is vital to his overall well-being. Good circulation decreases the risk of inflammation and promotes healing. When it’s done right, grooming is one of the best and least invasive ways to accomplish this.
With the right tool, grooming is similar to giving a massage. It increases blood flow, relaxes large muscle groups, and helps release tightness in the connective tissues. For horses with limited mobility, these are crucial components of recovery.
Are balls of ice and mud building up on your horse’s belly and legs? Don’t ignore it. Eventually, these hard chunks will start to irritate his skin and potentially even lead to infection. The best way to prevent this from happening is to maintain a regular grooming schedule all season long. As soon as the snow starts to fly, be diligent about removing any buildup on his coat on a daily basis.
Again, the tool you use here is important. Choose a gentle option that will feel good and work well. It shouldn’t scrape your horse’s skin or cause damage to his lush winter coat.
Daily contact with your horse is important for both of you. But when the snow is blowing and your property is covered in a layer of ice, riding might not be in the cards. If that’s the case, you’re likely spending less quality time with your horse – something that can negatively affect his well-being, and yours!
Making grooming a priority during the winter months is a great way to keep the bond with your equine companion strong when riding time is limited. Get the most out of your sessions by remaining present, and be conscious about every brushstroke. Use a grooming tool that he enjoys, and watch as his lips start to quiver!