Begin your daily horse grooming rituals by finding a halter that fits your horse well, being fitted, but not so snug that you can't easily slip two fingers between the noseband and your horses muzzle. The same applies at the headstall behind his ears. You don't want the halter to slip off if he pulls back, but you don't want to strangle him either. Put your halter on your horse, attach your lead rope and find your most comfortable location to groom.
You can choose to tie your horse, or if you're more comfortable, drape the rope over your left arm, near your elbow and begin brushing him on his left, (near), side with a rubber curry brush, starting behind his ears. With short, firm, flipped out strokes, you will progress down your horses neck, along the top of his back, to the top of his tail. This loosens any dirt that may be in his coat. Go back to his shoulder and continue this process along his shoulders and front legs, to his belly and up over his flanks to his hind legs. This should remove any dried mud that's matted into his hair. Most horses love this, it has a tendency to calm them, and the teeth on the rubber curry dig in just enough to stimulate the blood circulation and scratch all those itchy spots that wouldn't otherwise be reached with his teeth.
Curry Comb from a ranch owner, trainer and instructor in this free video. In this video, Kathy Kentala, owever of the Bee Cave Riding Center, demonstrates how to use the curry comb.
Next you will find a stiff bristled body brush to brush away the dust and dirt you have loosened with the rubber curry. You can again, begin behind his ears, brushing away any of the dried on mud or dirt on his cheeks, with this brush. Brushing along his mane, paying particular attention to the dip on his spine just behind his withers, where the saddle would sit. This spot has a tendency to collect dirt, and if it's not removed before a workout, your horse may get saddle sores. Continue with this stiff brush all over his body, under his belly where a cinch or girth would lie, flipping your wrist as you go, to flick the dirt off his coat.
You will use this brush on his legs, hooves, pasterns, and fetlocks. You can use this brush in a back and forth motion along the coronet band to loosen any stuck-on dirt there as well, without irritating your horses sensitive skin. You will groom the insides of the fore and hind legs with this brush, being careful around the teats on a mare, and the sheath on a gelding or stallion. There is fine, short hair in these areas, and any dirt should also be removed from these areas. If you so choose, you can use a softer body brush, or a terry-cloth towel on these sensitive areas to remove debris.
body brush. Sometimes these were called dandy brushes. Learn basic horse grooming from a ranch owner, trainer and instructor in this free video by Kathy Kentala.
After you've gone over your steed with the rubber curry brush and the stiff body brush, you'll need a hoof pick to clean your horses hooves, removing any rocks, mud, manure, or other objects from his hooves. Beginning with the left front hoof, pick it up, and hold it in your left hand, supporting the hoof. Using the pick in your right hand, start at the widest part of the frog, pushing the sharp point of the pick away from you and your horse.
You will soon notice each time you engage in your daily horse grooming rituals, that this process will become easier. Each time you handle your horses hooves; he will become more accepting of you picking up his hooves. For most horses, having a leg snatched out from under them is not fun. Horses are prey animals, and fleeing is their foremost defense. Taking a hoof away from a horse is very threatening to him. Continue with all four hooves, completing his near side first, then his right front, then his right rear. Be sure to not drop his hoof back to the floor where you are finished with a hoof, as this is very uncomfortable for your horse. Set the hoof down. Remember, you're trying to establish daily horse grooming rituals, and if you make him uncomfortable, he won't be so inclined to greet you at the gate tomorrow.
Some people have a tendency to neglect the horses mane, forelock, and tail. These are parts of your horses anatomy, and should be part of your daily horse grooming rituals as well. You can begin on his mane, nearest his ears with a mane and tail comb. Starting at the ends of the hair, comb down the hair shaft, and working your way up to the base of the mane. You will do this the entire length of his neck, until you've combed through his mane. You can keep the combed sections separate from the uncombed hair with cheap plastic clips from any health and beauty aid section of your local shopping store. I've found them to be priceless grooming tools. Pulling on small tangles does not hurt your horse as it would hurt you. The mane has no feeling to it.
However, it's not recommended to pull through the tangles, as it breaks the hair shaft, resulting in a ratty-looking mane. Your best defense in this case is to pull the tangles apart with you comb and your fingers. You might also have good luck using some commercial detangling sprays that you can buy specifically for horses, or for children. Both types work well, however, the childrens version tends to be more cost-effective. These products can also be used on his tail. The tail is a bit different. As it's close to those hind feet, and some horses do not appreciate having their tails combed out. The dock of the tail does have sensation, and it is very sensitive. Henceforth, you will again, begin at the end, (bottom), of the tail and work your way up to the base of the tail. This can be a long and arduous process if your horses tail has been neglected. The same applies to the tail, as does the mane. Pull tangles out with your fingers and comb, separating as you go. This helps keep the combed hair from getting mixed back in with the uncombed hair. After you've combed out his tail and mane, it's time to head for that face. You still have to comb out his forelock, face, and ears.
Some horses love to have their ears cleaned, scratched, and rubbed, while others can do without it. It is important to make cleaning and inspecting your horses ears part of your daily horse grooming rituals. Gnats, flies, ticks, and noseeums can chew horses ears. They do require care, and having him comfortable with you handling his ears will make grooming easier for you both. It's of the utmost importance that you are gentle with the ears, wiping them out with a cotton or terry cloth rag to remove excess dirt and scabs. Applying fly spray to his ears will be much easier and will make him much more comfortable during the summer months when the flying insects are out for blood.
When you are ready to clean up your horses face, it's important to have a soft hand. A horses skin is very sensitive, and is even more sensitive on his face. If you choose to use a body brush to whisk away some of the dirt on his face, it's important to choose one with very soft bristles. A damp towel also works well. Push his forelock aside, and beginning at the top of his head, between his ears, brush, or wipe with the direction of the hair growth. Do not groom against the direction of the hair growth. Do this all over his head, making sure to wipe out the inside corners of his eyes, and also be sure to make wiping his nostrils out, part of your daily horse grooming rituals. As time goes on, your horse will become very accustomed to having your touch on every part of his body. This will aid in him trusting you, and will be reassuring to him. The most important thing to remember is to have fun with your horse and enjoy your daily horse grooming rituals.
Horses tend to look forward to daily horse grooming rituals like this, as it builds their trust in you as their handler or leader, and it re-enforces that you may not just hop on them and ride them each time you catch them. This makes catching your horse much easier on you and on him as well.