You need more than tools to effectively groom a horse; You need patience, attention to detail and a soft touch with a sensitive creature. But...yeah...you also need grooming tools. Here are the top grooming kit picks from the EQUUS editors.
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Laurie Prinz, Editor
Pulling a long thick, mane isn’t fun for anyone involved. And sensitive horses with easier-to-pull manes may still find the process just too painful to tolerate. There’s no need to battle through the discomfort or resort to roaching or trying to make a scissor-cut look natural. Instead, this nifty tool can give a pulled look to the thickest mane in a few painless minutes. Just “rake” it through the mane and it will remove just enough hair to give your horse a tidy look. It also works to thin the undercoat of dogs.
We can debate what makes a hoof pick good, but sometimes the very best pick is the one you have when you need it. This foldable pick slips into a jacket pocket or saddle bag so you'll have it handy whenever an errant rock lodges in your horse’s hoof. You could even clip or tie it to the d-ring of a saddle. Made of sturdy, solid brass, it has a locking mechanism that keeps it open while in use. Not to mention it looks pretty sharp: I’d consider these as holiday gifts for barn buddies.
Call me a traditionalist, but I don’t think you can do much better than a heavy plastic tote like this one for storing your grooming items. Easy to carry from tack room to stall, its open design makes it a snap to find what you’re looking for without digging around and removing everything else. The deep compartments on this tote can easily hold your larger brushes and bottles securely. And plastic totes are so easy to clean when the inevitable grime sets in—just hose them out in the wash stall.
Christine Barakat, Managing Editor
People may look twice when you pull a black fiberglass block out of your grooming kit to help shed out your horse's winter coat, but as loose hair billows quickly piles up around his hooves, they’ll understand. I haven’t used a shedding blade since I discovered these blocks. Just drag the Slick 'N Easy lightly across the coat and it will grab loose hairs to make shedding easy. To “sharpen” the block as it dulls, just drag it across a concrete surface, like the barn aisle. The block also gently removes bot eggs from a horse’s legs and—stay with me here—hard water stains from toilet bowls. I always have one at the barn and one in the house.
I had never heard of a “flick brush” until I was working on a story with Grooming to Win author and horsemanship icon Susan Harris about 15 years ago. She explained how these brushes, also called “sweep” brushes, are a unique subset of the soft brush that have bristles about half and inch longer than those on a standard soft brush. “These are designed to be used to literally flick dirt off the horse,” Harris told me. “You use them with two hands and bear down to make very deep short, flicking strokes. The dust is flicked right up out of the coat.” I bought one the next week and my grooming kit hasn’t been without one since.
I’m old enough to remember when the only curry combs available were either metal ones (for cleaning brushes) or heavy black rubber ovals with concentric circles of teeth. Sure, they got the job done, but weren’t always appreciated by sensitive horses. When “fingered” curries like the Grooma appeared on the scene, currying changed from mud-removal ordeal to blissful massage for these horses. You can find these types of curry combs in a variety of shapes, with fingers of variable length and stiffness, but I like this original.
Lauren Feldman, Digital Editor
The smell of this detangler brings me back to when I was a pre-teen barn rat who washed her horse WAY too much, just to have an excuse to ride around bareback while he dried off. (Sorry for the excessive primping, Dreamer! …And for the time—ok, times—I painted your hooves with pink glitter polish.) It was the very first grooming product I bought for my horse, decades ago, and I’ve been using it ever since. A little bit goes a long way and the shine looks and feels natural, not greasy.
This is one of those products that everyone will ask to borrow, once they get a whiff of how good it smells. Though I’ve only recently discovered Pepi, it’s a cult classic. At shows, people will frequently walk by my recently-spritzed horse and excitedly ask, “Is that Pepi!?” with a nostalgic gleam in their eyes. It’s a fantastic finishing spray that gives coats a natural-looking gloss without collecting dust.
I love my Paint mare’s chrome, but keeping white legs white is tough. Though there’s no substitute for elbow grease when it comes to remedying dingy socks, Vetrolin’s White N’ Brite shampoo gives me a leg up. It magically erases stains of all colors (ugh, mares), and makes her white bits really pop.