Katrine N., who groomed for top international rider Amy Tryon, graciously shared a goldmine of knowledge with our students last weekend. Topics included mane pulling, tail banging, clipping, and bathing. Students of all ages and experience levels came away with some great new techniques.
First we went over the importance of grooming. For the day-to-day, a thorough grooming is a good visual and physical check of your horse’s condition and helps keep your horse clean and safe. For competitions, grooming is important as good turnout accentuates good movement. Bad turnout is distracting for judges, and things that stick out (cuts, smudges) can even make a horse look uneven. Grooming can also be great quality/bonding time with your horse.
For clipping, even with experienced horses it is important to let them hear and see the clippers, and to allow them to feel some vibrations through your hand or arm, before you start clipping. Catching a horse by surprise with anything sharp is a bad idea.
Proper grooming at the top, or base, of a horse’s tail accentuates hind-end muscling. Pulling and braiding are the strategies most often used, the former on horses of thinner tails and the latter on those with thicker ones.
Mane pulling is more about technique than brute force. Even our youngest and smallest riders learned how to properly pull a mane using a traditional mane pulling comb. Two hands is always best for the actual yank-out – this ensures that some hair is pulled from the roots while other hairs are cut/thinned. This combination is what helps the mane get the proper length and proper thickness from the mane-pull.
A tail’s length will generally reach between the horse’s fetlock and hocks. Oftentimes higher level horses go towards the shorter end, so tails don’t get caught in brush jumps. However, the horse’s hair thickness plays a factor: horses with very thick tails can get an unattractive, blunt look if cut too short. To know where your horse’s tail is carried while moving, have a helper put their arm under the tailbone, like the above picture.
Katrine worked for Laurie Canty Training Stables 10+ years ago, and it’s been a treat to have her at the barn. It was great to get some fabulous info from her and we hope to schedule more clinics soon!