Grooming Like an Old-school Pro.
Horses have been around for a lot longer than our modern conveniences like horse vacuums and show sheen spray. While we can be grateful to have access to these conveniences, not everything we use today is actually helpful or beneficial.
What did experienced stable hands do in the ‘old days’?
Sometimes, it’s the simple ‘old-school’ solution that gets the best result.
“Horses were groomed twice daily, once early in the morning and once in the evening. The tools were simple.”
History of Grooming
Horses were used in different settings throughout human history. ‘Best practices’ in grooming were developed and maintained mostly in the cavalry—as there was a strict need to maintain the horses’ at their best possible health and condition.
Here a tidbit from the history of Fort Scott in Kansas:
Horses were groomed twice daily, once early in the morning and once in the evening. The tools were simple:
- Hoof pick
- Curry comb
- Stiff brush
- Rub rag
Read more about grooming at Fort Scott here.
10 Tips from the Old-school Groom
I extracted these tips from different sources, books and cavalry manuals. Enjoy!
Less Is More
Do we really need all the chemicals and gadgets that fill up our grooming box today?
“There is no value in grooming beyond the point of when the horse is clean.”
Looking at old sources it becomes clear. A few good-quality grooming tools and the right technique (also read “4-Step Grooming“) is enough.
One thing I am happy about: The old metal curry combs—monstrosities that can do more harm than good—have been largely replaced by gentler tools
“The old metal curry combs—monstrosities that can do more harm than good—have been largely replaced by gentler tools.”
- Never wash the fetlock when washing the hoof. If the fetlock got wet, dry it off thoroughly.
- Never trim the hair inside the ears
- Never trim the whiskers around the muzzle and eyes (the horse needs them to assess distances)
Some ‘Do Nots’
While the old school groom had a number of tricks in his bag, there were certain ‘Do Nots’ that made sure the groom would not unintentionally hurt the horse.
Here some examples from various cavalry manuals:
- Do not use a metal curry to curry the entire horse. Only use it to loosen caked-on mud or sweat on muscled parts of the horse’s body. Never use a curry on bony parts or on hairless areas.
- Beyond that, use the metal curry ONLY to clean the brush during and after grooming.
- Do not comb a tail! Only finger-comb, then brush with a medium-stiff root brush.
Get your FREE Old-School Grooming Poster
I like the simple old-school grooming concepts and prefer to groom in this more fun, efficient, and natural way. If you feel the same, you can get my old-school grooming poster “4-Step Grooming” by sending an email with the subject ‘old school grooming‘. I will then send you the pdf, which you can print out and hang up in your barn!
Hope you enjoyed this article. Be in touch with question!
“I like the simple old-school grooming concepts and prefer to groom in this more fun, efficient, and natural way..”