Commonly overlooked areas when grooming your horse
Horse owners are busy! Jobs, family, traffic, errands, you name it, can cut into valuable barn time. But try and get good grooming in – if nothing else, it’s a great way to bond with your horse, and can alert you to potential issues. Sometimes, though, we “overlook” some key areas…
- The underside of your horse’s head, between his jaw cheeks – This is an area that seldom sees a curry comb, due to its shape. But, your fingernails giving a scratch to one area that horses love to be scratched can tell you if there is grunge, scabs, bugs, etc. You can also run a stiffer brush in this area to help with shedding and cleaning. If your horse is quiet in the cross ties you may be able to unbuckle the throat latch of the halter for a moment, but know that many a horse has backed out of such a situation and headed for higher ground. Or food.
Face cheeks to pinch, love, and inspect.
- The corners of the mouth – this area is often irritated by the bit and can crack, blister, and peel. I suggest always applying a balm here before the bridle goes in, and in applying the balm you can also check for irritations. You should also have a look at the front teeth, they can sometimes get caught on things and break. True story – I know a horse that became a head tosser overnight – finally the owner called the Veterinarian, turns out one of the front teeth was partially ripped out. Ouch!
- The ears. For the most part, ears are “self-cleaning” and need very little intervention. But – daily inspections are helpful for staying ahead of problems. And, it’s good desensitization for your horse. Learn more about ears here.
- The sheath/udders – yes, it’s personal, and yes, it’s necessary. Tumors and goo and scrapes and bugs and scabs love to live here. Check every day and when you need to clean, it’s not a big deal.
Many horses like to have their sheaths scratched, other horses, not so much.
- Under your horse’s tail – the rectum area likes to get dirty, flakey, and icky. And, by doing a check and a clean, you will also never forget to pull that thermometer before you get on.
- In between the butt cheeks – This area loves to get rubs, from warm-weather workouts, to finding the sweet spot on a fence. Clean, and then protect before another ride. You may find sores where the friction of exercise has happened – ouch – and you can treat accordingly.
Oh la la!
- Coronary bands – sometimes, if the hair is not trimmed, you can miss the beginnings of a crack. This is also a very common area for scrapes and cuts. Be sure to use your fingers and eyes to inspect this area!
Keeping the hair trimmed on the coronary band lets you see cracks, scrapes, and scratches easily.
- Elbow area – this area formed by the elbow, the belly, the girth area, and the zillion folds of skin, is very popular for sores and irritations. Tack, sweat, skin, and dirt can create sores, that sometimes can’t be seen. And ticks.
So much skin and hair! Another great place for ticks and grunge to hide.
What forgotten areas did I forget?