As nature clothed our surroundings with his cold weather, identifying wounds, infections (bacterial & fungal) on the horse’s skin becomes increasingly difficult. The horse's coat increases in length over the winter. This, in turn, makes the horse sweat more under the coat, though it doesn't show. More so, it also becomes harder to notice sores, moisture, dirt trapped under the coat and certain other factors like weight loss. Read on to find some handy tips that will help you properly groom your horse this winter and remember to take out a horse insurance policy.
A regular bath is necessary not just to keep the horse clean but also to check for scratches, sores, and wounds. Use warm water with either the hot towelling or spot cleaning techniques. You can use a mild body wash for a better clean. Work gradually in sections, cleaning each section thoroughly before moving to the next. After the bath, you should dry the horse to avoid a cold and this can be easily done using your hair dryer.
Spot cleaning works in much the same way except it is not as thorough as hot toweling. You can use a sponge or towel and hot water for spot cleaning. Wipe against the grain and work on small areas progressively.
Regular skin inspection and checks should help you observe the horse's skin health. Currying the horse and using your fingertips is an excellent way of checking for infections, sores, scratches and other blemishes. It is also effective in monitoring the weight loss of your horse by feeling around his/her body. Indicators you should look out for include bumps, hair loss, swelling, and clumpy hair. Use a curry comb to brush out the clumpy hair and discern whether it is just the hair or something else
Mud, manure, and dirt provide the perfect breeding ground for infection such as thrush. Make sure to clean your horse's hooves on a daily basis. Take out the mud and dirt and check them for abnormalities, such as sores and inflammation.
Exercise is also an important part of winter grooming to keep the horse both active and healthy. Make sure that you groom your horse first before starting an exercise. An indoor exercise ground would be ideal but if it is unavailable, just ride the horse on the non-frozen ground. If neither of that is available, you could try lunging.
You will need to use longer and harder brushes since the coat grows considerably over the winter. To ease the work, you could consider giving your horse a trim. However, this is a matter of preference and convenience. Trimming the coat will increase the necessity of blanketing. To avoid that, you could trim only the parts that have increased sweating and tendencies to get dirty. Also, make sure that you groom the tail using conditioner and a tail bag.
Winter grooming can be tedious but it should be regular to keep your horse healthy. Use the right tools and equipment while grooming for effectiveness. If you are unfamiliar with a grooming technique, stick with what you know to avoid inflicting harm to the horse. Grooming should be done before and after exercise. Some people reduce the horse's coat for easier grooming but that is all a matter of personal preference. Over reducing the coat is, however, not advised as it leaves the horse more vulnerable to the harsh cold temperatures.