The Right Stuff

There is infinite variety when shopping for grooming tools. One can purchase plastic brushes that are designed to fit the hand and are equipped with flexible “fingers” that clean and massage. There are brushes with horsehair bristles, grooming combs with teeth that rotate to help clear tangled manes, portable vacuums that pull dust from the coat, brushes that are designed just for the horse’s face, specially designed bathing gloves, kits that contain everything needed in pulling and braiding manes…the list goes on and on.

And, oh yes, you can still purchase the old-fashioned metal curry comb. Only now, it often is referred to as the reversible shed ring.

  • One of the most popular pieces of grooming equipment today–especially around show barns–is the vacuum. They range in price from under $200 for certain portable vacuums to $500 and up for heavier, more elaborate units with booster power. Electric vacuums are touted as being able to cut grooming time in half as they suck loose hair, external parasites, dust, dandruff, and debris from the horse’s coat. There are a number of brush attachments that come with most vacuums to help you loosen and remove all these contaminants. One unit even has a hose that can be submerged in water to create a whirlpool. Most vacuums also have reversible action so that you can use them as blowers as well as vacuums.
  • Hand brushes come in a variety of styles as well as colors. Some of the softer ones have bristles made of horse hair. Those who champion these brushes claim they are best for bringing natural oils to the surface.
  • There also are a variety of plastic brushes with flexible fingers that massage the skin as they loosen debris. They are made to fit the hand with an easy-hold grip designed to reduce hand fatigue during grooming.
  • A popular grooming tool is the plastic curry comb that contains many fine plastic teeth to help remove dust and dirt and massage the skin. Most of these have a handle that can be adjusted to fit the size of the user’s hand.
  • There also is great variety in the items involved in the bathing process. Sponges, for example, come in all shapes and sizes, and bathing gloves and mitts are available that slide over the hand and are designed to provide a massaging action while scrubbing the horse. Some mitts are designed to be used on either a wet or dry coat–on the dry coat, they are used to wipe away dirt.
  • For those finishing touches, there are polishing mitts (some of them made from sheepskin) that are used to give the coat additional sheen. Special grooming cloths also are on the market. One, manufactured in England and called the “cactus cloth,” is made from hand-woven maguey fibers. It is used to remove sweat marks and grass stains.
  • Even hoof picks are becoming multi-dimensional. One is advertised as being a three-in-one unit. It has a smooth round safety tip for cleaning the frog, a flat tip for cleaning the sole and a wide scraper blade for cleaning the hoof wall. It is available in four bright colors.
  • There are also special brushes for cleaning the hoof and others for applying hoof dressing.
  • There are a variety of mane and tail combs on the market that are designed to do everything from thinning the hair to rendering it shimmering and silky. Some are of metal construction, and many are made of plastic.
  • Also on the market are a wide variety of feed formulas that are designed to add that special sheen to the hair coat.