Is your equine companion looking for envious locks that resemble a hair ad? Who doesn’t!
Horse brushes are essential for your grooming kit. Each horse brush plays a vital role in grooming, from soft bristles to help with shine to the popular curry comb to remove excess dirt.
This article looks at the different types of horse brushes, what they do, and how to use them properly. So, forget those embarrassing pet store visits staring at the dreaded brush wall. You’ll be a horse brush expert by the end of this.
So, grab your brushes; it’s time to make bad hair days a thing of the past..ure!
Why Are Horse Brushes Important?
As you’ll find out, there is a large variety of horse brushes to choose from. Each has its purpose to keep your horse looking and feeling good.
Since we ride our equine companions outdoors, it’s no surprise that dirt, mud, and debris make their way into your horse’s coat. Leaving this can have your horse feeling itchy and irritated – and not to mention a fly hotspot!
Brushing your horse keeps the dirt and mud off your horse’s coat, leaving them shiny and happy after a good long ride.
Types of Horse Brushes
Watch our quick explainer video below
Read on below for more details on each horse brush
Toots is holding a rubber curry comb. Good for getting mud off your horse.
If you’ve ever been riding after the rain, you’ll know all about trying to get mud from your horse’s skin. Trust us; it’s not for the faint of heart.
Luckily the curry comb is here to save the day. Featuring short teeth made from plastic, metal, or rubber, the curry comb teeth can reach into horse coats to get the mud out from the bottom up.
A sturdy handle or hand strap allows you to push the brush deep into the coat to pull up the caked mud or dirt. While it might take some elbow grease, you don’t want to leave dried mud on your horse; it is incredibly itchy.
The point of the curry comb is to bring dirt to the coat’s surface, giving you a chance to get it off with another brush. Mud can block the ducts on the skin leading to infection, so brushing your horse is a must after a rainy ride.
What to look for
When purchasing a curry comb, you want to ensure the teeth are long enough to get to the dirt buried in the skin. However, you don’t want a curry comb that’s too long because it can break the skin if you brush too hard.
It’s better to go with a curry comb made from rubber because it’s not too rough and won’t scratch the skin. But it’s still strong enough to really get into the coat to loosen the dirt without causing discomfort.
If you have a sensitive-skinned riding partner, plastic and rubber are your best bet for keeping your companion happy and pain-free.
Feeling the curry comb in person is first prize. If it’s not something you would want dragging along your skin, you can pretty much guarantee your horse won’t enjoy it either.
The curry comb has no hard and fast rules, but pulling metal along a coat caked in dry mud is unpleasant. So, unless you’ve got the conditioner handy to loosen the mud first, stick with rubber!
You may benefit from grooming gloves. Once your horse is calm and lathered up, use the hard nodules on the gloves to massage the dirt in a circular motion. This will loosen the dirt a little before going in with the curry comb.
As Goldilocks will tell you: not too hard, not too soft, but just right.
Dandy Brush (Hard Brush)
The dandy brush, also known as the hard brush, is an essential part of your horse grooming kit. With coarse long bristles that can reach further into the coat, the dandy brush is perfect for the face and legs.
Compared with the curry comb, the dandy brush is coarse but more gentle on the skin. This makes it suitable for more sensitive areas. The curry comb generally isn’t used on the face because it is too harsh.
The dandy brush is usually made from plastic, but organic materials like wood are available for a more traditional look and feel. The only downside is that wood brushes require a bit more upkeep.
What to look for
The dandy brush comes in various shapes, sizes, and coarseness. Selecting the right one for your horse is important to keep things simple. An oversized dandy brush won’t get into the crevices along the legs where mud often hides.
Environment is another consideration. You might not need a coarse dandy brush if your horse lives in a dry environment. Softer bristles will work for the occasional muddy encounter.
A serious roll in the mud requires harder, denser bristles to get down to the skin. A few muddy spots here and there are fine for a softer, finer dandy brush.
Much like us, your horse’s skin gets used to the type of brushes you use. So, if they need a harder dandy brush, work your way up to it, getting the skin used to a stiffer bristle first.
Synthetic dandy brushes might not be the best option for horses with sensitive skin. Look for natural fibres like goat or boar hair. The natural fibres also vary in density and hardness, so a soft goat bristle works for the face, while boar would be for the legs and body.
Natural bristles also help with distributing natural oils evenly, avoiding any clogging. Using a natural bristled dandy brush after a curry comb will have your horse looking spik and span.
While similar in appearance to dandy brushes, the soft brush has much finer and more flexible bristles. The dense bristles work fantastically for picking up any fine dust and dirt trapped within your horse’s coat.
Soft brushes are usually made with soft organic or synthetic bristles. The softness of each brush is different based on the type of material and density of the fibres.
Some have a combination of bristles, allowing you to use a soft brush for various brushing needs. But it’s best to stick with a soft brush that works with your horse’s coat type (see below).
What to look for
If your horse has a thick coat, raking through a soft, bristled brush isn’t going to do very much. So, finding a denser and harder bristled soft brush should do the trick. Whereas if your horse has a thinner and softer coat, a soft-bristled soft brush won’t cause damage to the coat or skin.
Always keep in mind that soft brushes are specifically for aftercare. You won’t use the soft brush to remove large clumps of mud because the force needed will hurt your horse. Instead, you use the soft brush after removing the large clumps using the curry comb and dandy brush.
Wait… Aren’t all horse grooming brushes body brushes?
Indeed. But, the body brush plays a unique role in the grooming process. After using the curry comb, dandy, and soft brush, you use the body brush in circular motions along your horse’s coat. It’s a final sweeping of dirt off the body while massaging natural oils into the skin and coat.
The body brush has short soft bristles attached to an oval-shaped handle with a hand strap. You fit your hand snuggly into the strap and use your body motion to get into gliding the brush along the coat.
Since the bristles are short and soft, you can get in there to work the coat, picking up any forgotten dirt.
What to look for
Like with the other brushes above, you should select the softness of the body brush based on your horse’s coat type and sensitivity.
If you know your horse doesn’t like the grooming process, a harder body brush isn’t going to help them feel more comfortable.
Using a softer body brush at the end is generally a safe bet if you’ve gone through the grooming process with the other brushes. You aren’t trying to actively get into the dirt, but rather brush your horse off of any excess dirt particles.
You should always use a soft body brush anywhere near the face and eyes. But using a face brush is better (more on that below).
There are hundreds of body brush options with natural and synthetic fibres available. Whichever you think is best for your horse should remain soft to the touch.
Once your horse’s body looks soft and clean, it’s time to move on to the mane. The mane brush looks similar to human hair brushes, so don’t mix the two on the hair-washing day!
The real difference is in the sturdiness of the brush. Since your companion’s hair is far more coarse than your own, the brush is much stronger.
Generally, a mane brush is made from metal or plastic bristles, which you select based on what the mane needs.
For example, getting through tough knots requires metal bristles and keeping the mane soft and shiny requires a plastic-bristled mane brush.
The point of the mane brush is to help remove knots and keep the mane tangle-free so air circulates through the strands while riding. This is vital for strong growing hair.
What to look for
If your horse has a long mane, find a mane brush that is large enough to get through bigger sections. While you want to be thorough, you also don’t have three hours to brush through the mane.
It also helps if the brush has wider spaces and bristles as it is gentler on the hair. It’s better to go through one section a few times than trying to force all the hair through tighter bristles. You can risk pulling out the hair around the knot rather than the few stuck strands.
It’s important to pick a mane brush that sits comfortably in your hand. You’ll spend a lot of time grooming and bonding with your horse, so you should feel comfortable too.
Mane and Tail Combs
A mane and tail comb is explicitly made for horse hair. It is usually made from plastic or metal and resembles a human hair comb.
While you might not think the mane and tail comb isn’t necessary after brushing the hair, it’s an integral part of your grooming kit.
If you think of having a knot in your hair, would brushing a matted knot with a soft brush over and over pull all the stands out?
That’s why the comb is so important. It focuses on untangling the knot from the inside out without pulling out the hair around it. You can focus on the knots directly, limiting the damage to the rest of the mane and tale.
A mane and tail comb also keep the hair looking super shiny and Tresemmé advert ready. By separating each strand, all the hairs get attention.
What to look for
The main thing to consider when buying a mane and tale comb is the seams between the teeth. Seams, no matter the material, can slice hairs during combing, so you want to avoid it.
You may want a comb with a wider space between the teeth because it is more gentle on the hair overall. Just remember, if you find a knot, focus on it directly without pulling at the surrounding hair.
Mane and tail combs are generally made of metal or plastic. It is up to you what you think will work best for your horse’s hair type. Most choose a metal comb as it is more sturdy when trying to get those dreaded knots out.
You might need a conditioning spray to avoid hurting your horse if there is a particularly stubborn knot. Also, holding the hair above the knot helps to prevent any pulling from the root.
A face brush is like a small dandy brush. The face brush is shown above with a dandy for scale
Every horse owner knows the face is sensitive. Just like us, you don’t want to brush your horse’s face with a massive hard brush. The bony facial structure will get sore.
A mini soft-bristled brush that can get into the curves of the face without irritating the skin is perfect. It looks the same as the soft brush; it’s just about a third of the size.
It’s a great introductory brush for a pony still getting used to grooming tools. The face brush is small and gentle, building up pony confidence as their grooming gets more intricate.
Plus, the small size makes this the perfect starter brush for little ones to get a feel for what brushing a horse feels like.
What to look for
Also, consider the bristles. You want a face brush to be soft with lots of bristles to sweep away any debris off the face.
How to Clean Horse Brushes
A metal curry comb is ideal for getting hair out of your brushes
Horse brushes are an investment. Like with all things in your grooming kit, you get what you pay for, and the same goes for horse brushes.
You don’t want to spend the money only to throw them away because they’re not well looked after, so cleaning them is essential to maintain longevity and functionality.
Now, let’s wash some brushes:
- Knock as much dirt off as possible: Using your curry comb, run it through your brushes to remove any loose hair or dirt. This will kick up some dust, so it’s better to do it outside.
- Fill a sink or bucket with soapy water: You can use dish soap or horse shampoo to clean horse brushes. Drop the brushes in and leave them to soak for ten minutes.
- Time to rinse: Using a hose or a kitchen sprayer, rinse off each brush individually. You can use your curry comb again to get grime or mud out of the bottom of softer brushes.
- Air dry: Place the brushes facing upward in the sunshine to dry. This can take a while, depending on the thickness of the brush.
Always remember to store your brushes’ front side up to prevent the bristles from getting damaged.
How to Brush a Horse
Watch Vicky teach you how to brush your horse
As you can no doubt tell, brushing your horse is a process, so it’s important that you know what to use and when in the grooming process. Let’s take a look:
- Prep the area: Before you get brushing, find a safe area to tie your horse securely. The area should be big enough for your horse to stand comfortably and for you to move around your horse to work. Keep those brushes within reach to make the process simpler.
Side note: Our guide to tying up horses may come in handy here.
- Curry comb: Grab your curry comb and begin brushing your horse in a circular motion. You can press down quite firmly to get deep enough to remove any built-up dirt. It’s best to start at one end and work your way down your horse’s body so you get everything. But remember to avoid the legs and face with the curry comb.
- Dandy brush: Using quick flicking strokes, use the dandy brush to bring up any loose hair or dust. It’s better to start at the neck, working your way down the horse’s body. You can focus on the legs, under the tail, and the belly.
- Soft brush: Swipe away any loose dirt further in the coat. You can press soft brushes into the coat without causing harm. You should clean off the dust from the brush using your curry comb between every few swipes to prevent dust accumulation on the coat.
- Body brush: Using long sweeping strokes, brush through the coat again to give it a fabulous shiny finish.
- Mane and tail comb: Here’s where you can make your horse’s hair look stunning and shiny. Starting from the bottom, use the comb to work your way up the hair, focusing on removing any knots along the way.
- Face brush: Lastly, it’s time to focus on the face. Using the face brush, gently swipe the brush away from the face. Take care when working around the eyes.
Brushing your horse is a fantastic bonding activity. It’s a time to relax and unwind while making your riding companion look and feel their best. It’s also the perfect time to take note of how your horse is doing and any lumps and bumps along the way.
How often should I clean horse brushes?
Generally, you can get away with doing a deep clean every six months. In between, be sure to remove any loose dirt and debris once it’s dry to prevent the brush from sticking together.
How often should I brush my horse’s coat?
Daily brushing is recommended to keep the coat clean and shiny. If this isn’t possible, then brushing at least three times a week is needed.
What horsebrush do I start with?
The curry comb is the best horse grooming brush to get the process going. It removes large areas of dirt and debris quickly without hurting your horse.