How to Brush a Horse

fluffy Poppy
She’s so fluffy.

When I was in 4-H, back in the day, I won a first place ribbon for my demonstration on how to brush a horse. This makes me an expert right? Well, maybe not, but I’m sure willing to share what I know and have learned about grooming a horse.

Sandy and me on our way to the 4-H grooming demonstration.
Sandy and me on our way to the 4-H grooming demonstration.

I think it’s good practice to brush a horse every day. Yeah, I know, I can’t always do that either.

Let’s start out at the beginning of the brushing, in the spring.

Spring Brushing:

It’s that time of year again when the shedding starts. Right now my horse is all fluffy. Pretty cute really. It’ll be weeks of currying hair off in bunches and let it blow away in the breeze. My arms get tired with stroke after stroke of the comb and it seems there’s as much hair there as when I started twenty minutes earlier.

My metal curry comb.
My metal curry comb.

I use the metal curry comb and start at the top of her neck and brush with the flow of hair. I go down her neck and to her back and side. I curry under her belly and around the flank and butt. My horse is pretty quiet and not touchy in these areas, but some horses are, so keep that in mind and brush accordingly.

When one side is done I go to the other side and do the same.

My arms may be about worn out and my mouth full of hair, but I look at my horse and she’s drowsing and content. I see she’s enjoying the attention.

Poppy started shedding a couple weeks or so back. It was still in February. She has done this before. At another barn, I had her at the owner had told me that she was the first one to start shedding. It was about the same time of the year, mid-February. There were about fifteen other horses there and none were shedding yet. This seems to be normal for her.

I blog more about shedding here.

Daily Brushing:

After all the shedding is done it’s a matter of maintaining. I brush like I mention above. Start at the top of the neck and work down using the softer brush that gets the dirt off and makes the coat shiny. Don’t forget under the belly and down the legs.

I use a softer bristle to brush down her legs. There’s usually dirt to knock off here too.

For around her face, I also use the soft brush and a towel to wipe away the eye gunk that accumulates.

Carefully brushing her face.
Carefully brushing her face.

I started using one of those cheap thick shower combs for people as a mane and tail comb. Works great and seems to be stronger than a regular horse mane and tail comb. I work it through her mane and tail as gently as possible. There are products that help with tangles that I’ll mention later in this blog.

This is pretty basics of how to brush a horse. There is more when you want to shampoo your horse and use other tools to hurry up the shedding process.

Grooming Equipment:

What are some of the essential grooming tools for the styling horse in your life? I’ve listed some here. I’ve also read it’s best if each horse has their own brushes and such. It keeps from any infections getting started and spreading.

In my grooming kit, I have the metal curry comb. There is also a hard rubber curry that is nice to use.

A variety of brushes with soft or brisker bristles and other grooming supplies are available at Shop under their Health Care tab.


As I mentioned a couple towels are good to have handy. One for wiping the eyes and around the face and another for other parts of the body. Don’t interchange these towels. You don’t want to get sweat from one part of the horse’s body into his eyes.

I already mentioned the mane and tail comb. My horse has such an unruly mane, but I comb it anyway. Part of it goes on one side and part on the other side.

A massage mitt is something I have not used but sounds great. When the horse is shed out and slick and shiny going over his body with this mitt feels good and gives him a finished look not to mention the contact feels like when we get a massage.


Can’t forget the hooves. Without the horse’s hooves being well taken care of there is no horse to ride.

A hoof pick scrapes out the rocks and dirt. Some picks have some stiff wire bristles attached so as to sweep away any remaining muck. A visit from the farrier every six to eight weeks is suggested to keep hooves trimmed.

A hoof pick and my shower comb for the mane and tail.
A hoof pick and my shower comb for the mane and tail.

My horse is barefoot so I don’t worry about shoes. There is a lot of pro and con on whether a horse should be shod or not. For me personally, I like the idea of my horse being barefoot and not having nails driven into her hooves. She is doing great without shoes too.

Shampoos and Detanglers:

There are good shampoos on the market, mild ones are best. Go easy on the baths so as not make the skin flaky. A scrub mitt is handy to use while bathing your horse. A sweat scraper can be used to scape away the water. The scraper is like a barber’s straight razor, only bigger and not sharp. The horse also has his own mane and tail conditioner to spray on and leave it to help get those snarls out.


Clipping your horse every so often is a way to keep your horse neat and sharp looking. Clipping helps keep the chin hairs from getting caught in the bridle straps or halter. The clippers make a nice bridle path between your horse’s ears where the headstall of the bridle sits. Some trimming around the fetlocks will spruce your horse’s look too.

Some research should be done on what clippers to buy so you get what you need to do the job. For general clipping, a light to medium size clipper will probably do fine. There are different size blades ranging from 3 ¾ to 40. The bigger the size blades are, the finer the cut.

Brush Tote:

When you have purchased all the tools you want, you’ll need a place to keep them. Preferably a tote that will hold everything and be easy to carry around. There are many on the market.

This is my tote for brushes and curry comb and such.
This is my tote for brushes and curry comb and such.

Be sure and stop in at  Shop for all your grooming supplies.

Still not all shed out, but looking better.
Still not all shed out, but looking better.

Thank you for stopping by my hitching post. Please leave a comment or ask a question. I’ll answer as best as I can.

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