There’s been a recent fad or trend that many horse owners have tried called “hand grooming.” No, this doesn’t mean using your hand as opposed to a machine. It means literally using your hand to groom your horse, instead of a brush. We don’t know exactly when hand grooming started becoming popular, and quite frankly, we’re not sure it deserves all the rave.
Advocates of hand grooming tout all the benefits, but when we compared hand grooming to using a traditional horse brush or Curry Comb the added benefits didn’t necessarily out weigh the downside. Hand grooming involves using steady pressure to rub your hands across your horse’s entire body, in the direction of their hair growth. Using this grooming technique, you will become more familiar with the details of your horse’s body. You will also learn where various muscles are, where they meet, and be able to feel signs of trouble like bumps and lumps. Additionally, you’re essentially providing your horse with a gentle body massage (which is good for their circulation). The other benefits of hand grooming, such as removing dirt, increasing the secretion and production of sebum (natural oil), as well as helping to spread those natural oils, can all be gained with the use of brushes and combs as well. In fact, if you use a soft bristle brush it will have a similar effect in terms of a “massage.”
So what’s the downside to hand grooming? TIME!! It takes much longer to groom a horse with your hand than it does with a brush. Plus, as far as removing dirt and getting dried mud off their coat, hand grooming is inferior to using brushes and combs. In an ideal world, we’d say use your hands every now and then for the sake of bonding if nothing else. That hand to skin contact can’t be replaced. From a scientific standpoint, we can’t say for sure that your horse will appreciate that kind of physical contact or the extra time it takes to dish it out, but we know you will.
And that makes it all worth it!