Updated: Mar 11
As you see in this picture of my two horses, Cream and Crimson respectively, they love grooming each other, but this is also a form of horse connection between the two.
While we can't pretend to be horses we can try to understand them and why they do what they do. Therefore, grooming can be way more than just grooming!! It can be a form of connection with our horses.
Use this precious time to find out what your horse enjoys, not what "you" think your horse needs, but what your horse knows it needs. Be mindful of their expression, are they relaxed?
Grooming at liberty can be an essential part to your connection and a great time to listen to your horse. When the horse is at liberty they can tell you what they like and don't like. There are always things that have to be done such as: if they got a giant tree branch caught in tail or their hooves need to be cleaned. I call these situations non-negotiables, it's going to get done regardless, but the horse gets to say how it's done. I use positive reinforcement in these situations, then I listen. For instance, my horse Cream has a very difficult time standing on 3 legs so I give her a cue on what is about to happen and she shifts herself to how she's comfortable. It may take 10min or more to do one hoof because I'm constantly letting her put her foot down. And during this time I'm giving an incentive, a favorite treat of hers. Cream really likes walnuts, so I use these for her least favorite activities.
Crimson and Cream both love their mane and tail brushed, this is one our bonding times and to help them relax. A lot of times I sift in different kinds of massage, one that I really like is from Linda Tellington-Jones. I use a detangler so as to make their experience, and mine, more pleasurable. My favorite is Vertrolin Detangler Horse Mane Conditioner, 12-Ounce I also like EQYSS Survivor Super Detangler Shine. I like both, but Vetrolin seems to get out tangles better, but it is thick and I need to carry a rag with me to wipe my hands. The Eqyss Detangler is not so thick, I like this one too!
I like to use a regular hair brush you get at the drug store, if it's small and soft enough I can use It on parts of their body and great to off mud too! Most horses love this Mini Goody Cushion Hair Brush. A bit small for really thick manes and tails. Or A friend of mine swears by the brush Tail Tamers 1000RB Rainbow Paddle Mane and Tail Brush. Lots of horse people swear by it, it's not my favorite though.