Winter grooming and your horses well being

Well, it's that time of the year again, rolling into winter. The time all us horse owners dread. But, have you stopped to think about how your horse might feel? Perhaps stabled for 24 hours a day, due to the decreasing amount of grazing available? Not riden as much because their human has less time on their hands due to the winter chores? Less contact with their equine pals? Less stimulation?

This is where grooming plays such an important part in your horses well being.

How many of us, myself included, only have 10 minutes to groom because we have yard jobs to do? Perhaps we all need to try and make a little more time to groom our horses and interact with them?

So what are the benefits of grooming your horse?

Well, you have the obvious one of appearance, but appearance doesn't necessarily mean clean. With so many coat preparations on the market it is quite easy to make your horse shine with that show ring bling, but is his or her coat and skin healthy? Possibly not.

I am seeing, and hearing of, an ever increasing amount of horses with skin problems and I do wonder if some of these problems can be put down to poor coat maintenance. So, how about grooming your horse, rather than spraying something onto its coat? I'm not saying all coat preparations are bad and I use some of them myself, but I don't think its good to spray layer upon layer of synthetic materials onto your horses coat.

A good groom several times a week, cleaning down to the skin, to remove dirt, scurf and grease, is essential for coat cleanliness and skin health. Grooming also stimulates the production of beneficial natural oils, and distributes these oils through the coat.

Grooming your horse increases blood circulation. This is very important if your horse is stood in for 24 hours a day. A really good grooming will also help with muscle tone.

Interacting with your horse during the winter months is really important especially if they get little or no contact with their horsey pals. Take over the job of your horses field buddy and give them a really good scratch, massage, groom. Bonus points if they groom you back!!

This is a really good time for you to check your horse over. Grooming on a regular basis will mean that you will learn where every little lump and bump is, so when you spot something new during your grooming session, you can take appropriate action. Has your horse suddenly become tetchy when grooming a certain area, when they have not done that before? Is it a sign something is not quite right?

'Time out' for you and your horse. Grooming is relaxing for both you and your horse. 30 minutes spent a couple times a week to give your horse a pamper is not a waste of anyones time. Time spent clearing our head as well as theirs. This is essential bonding time and lets face it, when we are grooming them, most of us are chatting to them, telling them our woes. How about we make them feel good in return for listening to our ramblings? This is mutual bonding time and is so important. Grooming is also an excellent way of de-sensitising nervous and young horses, and getting them used to being touched and handled.

Grooming is such an important part of horse management and is so often overlooked. So get those brushes out and brush away those winter blues!