When we’re first introduced to horses, grooming them is an absolute delight. We relish in every brushstroke like artists to a canvas, and make a mindful effort to foster a positive overall experience. But as time wears on, brushing becomes a chore. Bathing is nothing more than a task to check off our to-do lists, and picking out hooves is a drag. We continue to do these things because it’s our duty as horse caretakers, but we start to rush through them. As this transition happens, our equine companions grow to dread their grooming sessions, merely tolerating the experience instead of enjoying it like they deserve.
If you’ve lost touch with the fun, pleasurable side of grooming, recall why you used to love it! For instance, there’s nothing more endearing than the way your horse’s lip quivers when you brush his “sweet spot” – a sure sign that he’s enjoying the experience. And what about the feeling of companionship you get when he starts to fall asleep as you stroke him? Talk about trust! As his ears soften and he lets out a long, relaxed sigh, there’s no question that he appreciates you and everything you’re doing.
Let’s compare all those positive signs to some common negative ones. Here are a few dead giveaways that he’s uncomfortable during grooming:
Now that you’re able to recognize whether or not your horse enjoys grooming, it’s time to take steps to improve his experience!
Horses are extremely intuitive, which means they know if we’re frustrated, rushed or distracted. Take your time when grooming, and do your best to make each session all about you and your horse. Grooming is a wonderful bonding opportunity that shouldn’t be taken for granted no matter how many times you’ve done it!
Oftentimes it’s not our touch that makes horses uncomfortable during grooming – it’s the tools we use. Consider replacing harsh metal brushes with gentler ones that work well and feel good. High-quality brushes and wipes, like those made of durable rubber, bamboo and hemp, will stand the test of time without sacrificing your horse’s comfort.
The more your groom your horse, the more accustomed he’ll become. Making grooming part of your regular routine also helps you keep on top of his coat, mane and tail, which means less knots, healthier skin, and a more well-kept appearance!
Brushing and primping should be enjoyable for horses, not just tolerable. With the right tools and a positive attitude, you’ll have no trouble turning every grooming session into a pleasant bonding experience that you’ll both look forward to!