The Daily Grooming of Working Horses

     This article, and mainly the video, is presenting the daily grooming of horses that was done in most European countries in the military, and most of the professional stables, as well as the racetracks. It should be pointed out that the "rubdown" segment of the daily grooming took at least 15 minutes to insure good massage, which propagates a good blood circulation in the skin and muscles.

    Most people today, especially the amateurs and horseshow people, believe that grooming of horses is only about having them clean, or having them looking nice for some silly clueless horseshow judge, while the main object of this type of daily grooming is an essential part of physical conditioning of the horse. In the professional stables in my days, it was estimated that the daily care for a working horse is about two hours, hence various states had norms for grooms, which in most cases was about four horses for a groom, which is then eight-hour day work. If the groom also exercised horses, like on the racetracks, then the norm in some countries was as little as two horses per person per day, and at maximum four. Of course in the military there was often only one horse per a man, and so in peace time one can only imagine the care these horses used to receive.

   In reality the working horse gets cleaned basically three times per day. There is the brushing off the horse before tacking up or before the daily exercise, then there is the appropriate care after riding or work, and finally there is this daily grooming, which is depicted in the video. In most normal training stables the daily exercising and training of horses gets done in the morning hours, while the daily grooming, as seen here, is commonly practiced in the late afternoon, usually just before feeding. This daily grooming was often referred to as the second daily exercise, very important in the daily conditioning of the horse.

   In this video there are some technical errors in the execution of the grooming on the part of the groom, which will be pointed out in the next video called "The technical and safety aspects of daily grooming". Some of these are not actual errors but rather some of the tasks are presented in such way so the viewer receives better angle of what is being done.

   Notes
   Please do not do this type of grooming on a hot day, lest the poor animal will overheat and break out in sweat. On very hot days it is best just to brush or sponge off the horse if needed, or just leave the animal alone. On the other hand, this daily rubdown is extremely beneficial during the winter, where we will present other ways of rubdowns suitable for the longer coats during the winter months. As in all cases, one needs to exercise a sound judgment, and adjust his handling of the horses to the given situation and environment. Also keep in mind that this daily rubdown also tends to promote the heat cycle in mares, hence in such cases it should be limited in working and performance female horses, especially during the heat.

   The shiny coat of the animal testifies to the animal's good health. If your horse needs some kind of supplement to have shiny coat, it only testifies to two facts. You don't know what you are doing and your animal is not healthy, because just like in people the health of the body reflects in the luster of the hair. Ill people, just like ill horses, lack this luster in their hair. Of course if you pump up the horse with oils or other supplements you are only covering up this sad reality. The use of products like "Show Sheen" only testifies to the horsemanship incompetence of the user.

   Taking care of working horses is work, this is why in the past only the rich owned horses, who then hired people to do all this work. As it is today, many people buy horses, thinking they are just big dogs, hence in most cases they take care of them as dogs, believing that by providing food, water and shelter is sufficient. There is nothing more abusive then locking up a life in some limited space and then, leaving it alone most of its life.

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