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Groom Like A Pro: Experts Share Horse Grooming Secrets

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I work for a training facility that specializes in showing horses in halter, which means appearance is everything! We attend close to 20 shows each year between March and October in many states, often taking 15 or more animals to each show. At the National level, classes can contain 60+ animals so you'd better believe that small details can make a huge difference in how you place!

Most of our animals are client owned, but we do campaign some that are owned by us as well. Here is some insight into some of the grooming that we start our show season off with:

  1. Preparation: We want our animals in the barn around 3 months before our first show to begin conditioning with a balanced diet as well as an exercise program. Each one of the 30+ animals in training with us gets a feeding program tailored to their unique needs, so we need this time to decide what they need in their diet to bring out their best and have time for the results to shine through.
  2. Nutrition: Our animals are shown with a clipped coat, because of this it is especially important to have a rich hair color and conditioned skin! To get a great hair coat on our animals we start with supplements that contain key nutrients such as Manna Pro's Sho.Glo. It really puts on a shine on coats even when clipped close for showing. Applying a hair coat conditioner such as Corona Detangler & Shine regularly will also help keep the hair coat rich in color, and soft to the touch. 
  3. Clipping: Around a month before the first show we clip the animals with a #10 blade. This allows us to check the body condition and check for any fungus or horse skin problems. Some animals can grow several inches of thick hair so it can be hard to tell exactly how much weight an animal is carrying. Doing this early gives us time to adjust feed or address any issues.Corona Fung-A-Way is a great product for clearing up skin. It is very important for us that we not have any blemishes on our animal's skin and hair and we immediately treat any minor scrapes or injuries with Corona Ointment. One of the most important healing steps is to keep an injury soft while it heals and to allow the hair to regrow as quickly as possible and this product really works for us.
  4. Bathing: While I am bathing animals I use this as a time to really get my hands on their skin to feel for any issues, I rub all over, especially into areas that are harder to see such as the underbelly and inside of the legs. You will often find that animals are rubbing the hair off their tails because they have accumulated crud and sand around their udder or sheath area that is causing them to itch. Carefully feel between their hind legs and you'll usually find quite a build up that needs to be gently washed away. Most animals really enjoy this attention, but some can be a little unruly at first until they get used to the sensation.

I also use this time to peel the softened skin of their chestnuts (the scaley patch of hairless skin above the knees and hocks) using my fingernails to gently scrape away the layers. Some animals can build up such a large pad on their chestnut that it can become a hazard that might get caught on things or scratch you when grooming and we find it more visually appealing if they are kept flat with the skin. If you are squeamish about using your fingernails you can use a piece of floss pulled tight with your hands and scrape it up and down over the chestnut.

Many horses also have spur like calluses called ergots at their fetlocks that I will pick off when softened as well. If you are unable to bathe your animals because it is too cold, you can apply Corona ointment to the chestnuts of an animal and peel it away the next day after it has softened. You can also do the same thing around the udder area of your mares if they have gotten a build up of crud, and later wipe away the ointment and softened debris with a paper towel. I also use a steel wool pad to scrub any buildup off the hooves while bathing the animal as well.

Check Out the Corona 2 Step Grooming System!

Step 1: Bathe your horse with  Corona Concentrated Horse Shampoo

  • pH balanced and gentle enough for daily use
  • Lanolin-protein enriched for a stronger mane and tail
  • Over 125 washes per 32 oz. bottle and 400 washes per 3L bottle!
  • Voted the best horse shampoo by the Horse Journal

Step 2: Spritz your horse with Corona Detangler & Shine

  • Acts as a UV barrier to help prevent the sun-bleaching of manes and tails.
  • Quickly loosens tangles and leaves a soft, smooth, and shiny finish.
  • Helps repel dust, dirt, and stains to keep your horse looking its best!

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Happy Grooming! 

Brooke Smith

Brooke Smith

Brooke Smith is a licensed Steward for the American Shetland Pony Club and American Miniature Horse Registry with over 10 years experience in showing and breeding American Paint horses, ponies, and miniatures. She works as a full time groom and splits her time between her ranch in Texas and her fiance's home in London, England.

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