Grooming a Grass Kept Pony
All healthy ponies at grass have a good natural shine on their coats. When they change their coats (twice a year, once in Spring and again in Autumn), they do not need to be brushed too much. Nature's way is to shed a little then grow a little.
Grooming a Dry Pony
- Sponge the eyes, the nose and under the tail if necessary - but not too much as this may remove the natural grease!
- Pick out each foot.
- Using a water brush wash each foot, getting rid of dry mud and dirt. This is to help you inspect the foot whilst also ensuring a good appearance.
- If you apply oil to the hooves, make sure they are clean and dry first or you might trap dirt and moisture under it, causing decay.
- Use a dandy brush, rubber curry comb or cactus cloth to remove the mud from the body and legs. All the parts where the saddle, girth, martingale and bridle touch must be free from mud and dirt.
- Use a body brush for the mane and tail. Brush them both thoroughly. A dandy brush and comb will damage the hairs of the mane and tail (you should only use a comb when plaiting or trimming).
- Putting on a tail bandage is optional, depending on how soon the pony is going to be ridden. Remember to only wet the tail, not the bandage (see the Applying a Tail Bandage section for more details).
- Wipe the whole pony over in the direction of the hair with a rubber.
- Oil the feet, being careful to do all round the horn and across the bulbs of the heels.
Grooming a Wet Pony
- Use a sweat scraper to get off the worst of the wet on the neck and body.
- With a good handful of straw or hay, rub the pony down removing as much water as possible.
- Never rub against the coat: this will only make the wet permeate against the skin. Always rub in the way the coat lies.
- A saddle must not be put on a wet back so to get the pony really dry, lay some fresh straw or hay all over his back and loins. Put on a sweat rug to keep the straw or hay in place and then strap on a surcingle or roller to prevent the rug from slipping off.
- With a rubber, dry the ears thoroughly. If they are cold, 'pull' them.
- Groom the feet as you would a dry pony.
- Rub down the legs and pasterns with a handful of straw or hay. If they are very muddy, put on loosely a set of stable bandages, with hay, straw, cotton wool or gamgee underneath. The legs will dry quickly.
- Later the mud can be brushed off with a dandy brush.
- Groom the mane and tail, even if they are wet. Wash the tail if it's muddy.
- Give the pony some water and hay or feed and leave him (with the straw and sweat rug on) for about an hour. He should then be dry enough to have any mud brushed off and for you to complete the grooming.
- Do not leave a pony thatched with straw for more than an hour as he may become too hot, start to sweat and become itchy.
- A sweat rug and sacking placed on top of a wet back will not dry it. Everything will stay clammy and wet and the pony may catch a cold. Straw or hay allows the steam and damp air to get away so the pony dries off. There are now some rugs on the market which absorb moisture and allow it to pass through the material.
- Remember when grooming a wet or dry pony, you should always look him over for any hurt and to inspect his feet and shoes.
Little or no grease should be removed as this is the pony's protection against sun, flies, rain and wind.