By Liv Gude of Professional Equine Grooms, special contributor to Heels Down Magazine
Many of us struggle to keep our horses super clean, mainly because they are dirt-loving, poop-pillow-using, stinky creatures that want to camouflage themselves with the earth. And yet we still keep trying to brush all of that goodness off.
One of the simplest things you can do is to start with clean grooming tools. There’s NO WAY your horse will become clean if you are simply swirling around his hairs with dirty tools.
This radical idea is also super easy to execute; it takes only a few minutes per day and should be done about once per week or so. And, it’s much faster (and cheaper) than going to the store for a whole new set of stuff!
As an added bonus, your brushes are less likely to spread skin infections around if they are regularly cleaned. Yes, grooming brushes can and will spread gross stuff like rain rot around, even horse to horse. You will need:
Bucket with water
Some of your horse’s shampoo
Your collection of dirty grooming tools
A spot to dry your brushes
About 5 minutes or so
BEGIN. Add a drop or two of your horse’s shampoo to some warm water in a bucket. Drop your brushes in, and swirl them around to get the suds going. Stir the water with a sweat scraper if you like.
I typically use my horse’s shampoo here, as it can clean the brushes well and I know my horse will not have an allergic reaction if there is any residue left on the brushes. You can also use a drop or two of chlorhexidine solution or any specialty brush cleaning stuff. No household cleaners should be used. They have warnings about loss of vision and toxicity-related side effects on the labels for a reason.
Here’s where you can exercise creative license. Let the grooming tools marinate then work the soap into the bristles, or work the soap into the bristles before marinating.
Time to rinse.
Shake out your brushes by flicking them around. Then, lay everything out to dry. A patch of dry ground, atop a fence or shelf, or even on a drying rack made for laundry or dishes is fine. Leave the brushes on their sides so the water doesn’t pool at the bristle bottoms and damage the handle. You can dry bristle side down, but then your bristles will take longer to dry and they might be squashed.
In the winter, drying times may be increased and you might find yourself with frozen brushes, so plan according to weather. Do your best to blot dry and then place them in a sunny window inside.
Cleaning your brushes regularly is a great way to stay ahead of the dirt game. Of course we all know that your horse is always going to win this game, but at least now you have a fighting chance.