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Five Ways Grooming Promotes Healthy Animals

September 6, 2016

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The appearance of a horse’s coat is generally viewed as an indicator of their overall health. Grooming can often detect sudden changes in the coat condition that suggest a need for a veterinarian’s intervention.

Good Coat vs. Poor Coat

A horse in good health will have a coat that is:

  • Smooth
  • Fine
  • Glossy

A horse in poor health will have a coat that is:

  • Dry
  • Coarse
  • Lacking luster and shine


A grooming routine should consist of brushing the body and legs, combing the mane and tail and cleaning the feet. Brushing will help keep a horse free from problems with their hair and skin, and will also provide an opportunity to examine the horse for any new noticeable changes.

The following five ways show how grooming can promote healthy horses.

1. Cuts, Bruises, Swellings

Grooming provides an opportunity to closely evaluate a horse for newly developed abnormalities or conditions. Injuries and wounds often go unnoticed when hidden underneath the hair coat. Regular grooming helps to detect unseen cuts, scratches, bruises and swellings that if left neglected, which can turn into a bigger health issue.

2. Hoof Health

Daily grooming that includes hoof care properly ensures that the hooves are clean and free from any debris, bruising or infection. Shod horses should be checked to safeguard that all shoes are properly secured. Routine cleaning can signal changes in hoof health that may be due to exercise, environmental or diet issues.

3. Stress, Parasites, Immune System

Dandruff is often observed in horses that have not been thoroughly groomed or are bathed too frequently. Dandruff is generally not a health issue; however, when an increase in dandruff is noted in well-cared for horses, the change could indicate stress, parasites or an immune system problem, indicating the need for veterinary care.

4. Seasonal Shedding

A horse’s hair coat is influenced by its breed and its age, but the length of daylight time has an impact on both hair growth in the fall and shedding in the spring. Healthy horses will experience seasonal shedding, and grooming can remove the dead hair. However, the following detected changes in hair growth may signal the need for medical attention:

  • Mats, clumps or a disheveled appearance may indicate a fungal infection.
  • Excessive hair growth that is exceptionally long, coarse, matted and curly may indicate a hirsutism.
  • Excessive hair growth may indicate Cushing’s disease or a growth on the pituitary gland.

5. Pain

Horses enjoy touch and affection. Grooming is an excellent way to nurture and establish a comfortable bond between horse and man. Horses are also good communicators. A horse that pulls away, nips or flinches during grooming may be trying to convey the message that the area is painful. Sensitivity to an area that has never been sensitive before is an indication that a closer examination is warranted.

Important to Note

Some horses do not like being groomed as they find it either too stimulating or painful. Because it is so beneficial, adjustments to a regular grooming routine can be made. For example, lightening the pressure on the brush or changing to a soft-bristled brush or a gel curry comb will help to create a more enjoyable grooming session for these horses.

Grooming is an essential part of horse care. Not only does it strengthen the bond between animal and man, but it also provides the opportunity for early detection of problems which benefits the health of the animal.

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