Tips for grooming the sensitive horse!
Some horses are just plain bothered by grooming, to the point of pinning ears, swishing tails, and striking out or trying to bite. First, figure out why your horse is sensitive, and then we can modify our grooming routine.
Use softer grooming tools for the sensitive horse, like sponges and rags.
Bristle stiffness is key here – go super soft…or maybe your horse is telling you to groom with a stiffer brush? Time to experiment.
Some common reasons for hypersensitivity include:
- A thinner skin! Literally! Some breeds, like Thoroughbreds and Arabians are known for thinner skin.
- An underlying injury. Muscle soreness, a spine that is out of alignment, and even an estrus cycle can create very uncomfortable feelings in your horse. Also consider ulcers, saddle fit, kissing spines, and just about every health problem your horse could have. Skin infections can also be painful! Your veterinarian can help you out if you suspect any of these issues.
- A general propensity for drama.
- It may also be YOU that is causing the problem. Fearful horses act out. Perhaps your technique, vibe, tone, or pressure is downright offensive to your horse.
Another great tool for currying sensitive horses are grooming gloves; you get instant feedback on your fingers.
Now we can tackle how to groom your sensitive equine more comfortably.
- Identify the “yes” spots and the “no” spots that your horse will tolerate. Work lightly on a “no” spot, then reward good behavior and work on a “yes” spot. Work slowly and gently, reward often, and take breaks on those “no” spots. This will help if there is an underlying behavior that needs modification. Remember that if you make everything a non-issue, your horse can eventually learn to do the same.
- Remember that working on your horse’s “no” areas requires you to make a change too. Change grooming brush, change technique, change the routine.
Try some different brushes and stuff. Grooming gloves are great for varying the pressure you use and getting into all the itchy places on your horse.
- Consider some new grooming tools. Loosely translated, go shopping!! Or, use what you have around the house to modify what you already own. A curry comb made of a stiffer rubber can be replaced with a pimple mitt or jelly scrubber, or you could even use a washcloth over your existing curry comb. Or toss the curry comb and use a dry sponge or rag. Consider switching from nylon bristles to natural bristles or to a softer natural brush.
The cactus cloth is a great alternative to a curry comb for the sensitive horse, when used gently. Tiger tongue sponges are also handy to try.
Change your approach to grooming the sensitive horse
- Alter how you use your tools. If your horse is acutely sensitive, move slower and with a softer touch. For your brushes, lay them parallel to your horse before you sweep so that the pointy ends of the bristles don’t come into too much contact with your horse.
- OR… consider using more pressure when you groom. I spent a long time being super delicate with one horse I worked with, only to figure out that his protests were him trying to tell me to scratch and rub and curry harder.
- Check again and again for proper tack fit. A horse with tender skin will likely also be sensitive to his tack. Routine and regular saddle fittings are a must, as are soft and smooth saddle pads. Try and avoid pads with too much piping, it can lead to rubs and irritations.
What tips do you have for grooming your sensitive horse?
If you want to order this exact cactus cloth or a pair of grooming gloves, you can order one here. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, and there is ZIPPO extra charge to you. I truly appreciate your support!
HandsOn Grooming Gloves – also, use code PEG for some free shipping!
Genuine Cactus Cloth – Natural – 18 X 16-1/2 Standard This is much better for stain removal and spreading natural oils around.