The skin is the largest organ of your horse’s body. It provides a protective barrier against the environment, regulates temperature, and gives your horse its sense of touch. Besides spending quality bonding time with your horse and the obvious reason to clean your horse before putting tack on, grooming has several lesser-known health benefits. Especially during winter time, when you might not be able to ride as much due to frozen grounds and winter weather conditions, there are plenty of good reasons to continue grooming your horse on a regular basis:
- Vigorous grooming will increase blood circulation and help to encourage blood flow through muscles. Grooming refers to more than just a “quick brush” but rather thoroughly using a rubber curry comb, followed by a dandy brush, followed by a softer body brush.
- Your horse’s skin cells are constantly shed and replaced. Over a cycle of 17 days, dead skin cells will slough away and be replaced with new cells. (A horse with a longer cycle might have flakey skin, just like dandruff in a person). Regular currying will help to remove these dead skin cells and make room for new skin cells.
- Regular currying will also help to stimulate the production of your horse's skin oils. Oil glands secrete an oily substance called sebum into the hair follicles and onto the skin. Sebum is important for keeping the skin soft and pliable. It also gives the hair coat sheen and has antimicrobial properties.
- Grooming your horse daily will help you notice even small injuries like minor scratches, cuts as well as slight swellings in legs and missing or torn nails in horse shoes. That gives you a chance to attend to these issues before they can turn into bigger problems.
- Everyday grooming will help you to get to know your horse better and spot any changes or abnormalities more easily, like noticing if your horse has sore muscles so you can help relax them before your next training.
Tanja Schnuderl is a team member with The Equine Expert LLC, a multi-discipline equine expert witness and consulting firm with expert equestrians offering legal expert witness and consulting services in court cases and legal matters. Tanja is an expert on Barn Management and Horse Behavior. She is the Barn Manager for Moon Rising Farm just outside Washington DC and Principal of Sigma Equine LLC, an equine appraisal business. Tanja grew up in Germany and was a paralegal for many years. For more information on Tanja Schnuderl email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.theequineexpert.com