Oh. My. Goodness. Dealing with Springtime mud can be a pain.
It never fails. I have a hard day at work, and all I want to come home and ride my horse. I want to forget about everything that happened at work, and have all of the stressful cares replaced with fun, and happy thoughts. I get so excited to go home, and ride.
I have my plan all set out in my head. I will groom Plezant real quick, tack him up and maybe work in the arena for a little bit, and then perhaps go on trail ride before dinner. Yes, I come up with my plan and finalize the details usually as I am pulling into my driveway.
But, when I get home I find Plezant looking like this:
Yep, covered in mud and dirt. And my happy thoughts are replaced with thoughts of a power grooming session. But sometimes, that’s really what I need, as well as Plezant. And I have developed a system that does work most of the time to get rid of all of the ground in dirt quickly. And I thought I would share it with you.
Benefits of Deep Grooming
When the weather gets nice, my horse Plezant doesn’t wear a blanket, or even a sheet. Which means he can get pretty dirty. Even Frisby can get dirty, even though he only has supervised turnouts. So they get to be horses most of the time. They roll, the buck and play. And they get DIRTY.
Sometimes I think this is their way of getting me to spend some extra time brushing and fussing over them. And I’m ok with that.
Daily grooming gives you the opportunity to look over your horse, as well as spend some quality time with him (or her). And brushing, currying and rubbing helps to spread the natural oils of the coat which will give your horse a deep, beautiful glow.
Getting Rid of Mud
If your horse is like mine, and he has the opportunity to et into some mud, he will. And usually at the most inopportune times. Like when you have limited time to ride AND groom. So let me share what I do to get rid of the yuck.
The first thing I do is apply a generous amount of detangler to his tail and mane. I don’t brush the product through. No, I will just allow it to soak in. I have found if I brush the product while it’s wet, it will pull out hair. So I will always start my de-mudding session with a liberal amount of detangler sprayed onto my horse’s mane and tail. And then, I leave it alone.
Curry Curry Curry
The first this I do is grab my curry comb and start scrubbing. Sometimes I have to wear a gaiter over my face because the mud starts flying! Thankfully, I usually have my glasses on so my eyes are protected. And I work from head to tail moving my hand in a circular pattern all the way to the back of my horse, on both sides.
Be careful to stay away from thin areas if skin, which is basically any bony areas.
Next its time to get rid of the mud from the legs, and sometimes even the mane and tail. I use a stiff brush in one hand, and my curry in the other. And I brush the dirt away, focusing on the legs, and the underside of his belly. If your horse is sensitive, you might want to proceed with caution – no need to tickle your horse!
After every brush stroke, I wipe the stiff brush across the curry to bang out the loose dirt. It takes a little bit of practice, but you will soon look like a pro as the brush and curry pass by each other. If there are areas of dirt still stacked up on the rest of his body, I will work through that as well.
I spend a lot of time on the legs with the stiff brush. I find that this type of brush really helps to get through the little clumps of mud without much discomfort for my horse.
Once I have gone over my horse with the stiff brush, I take a step back and look all around him to see if there are any places where there is still built up mud or dirt.
And sometimes I will find it in his mane or tail. By this time, the detangler is usually dry, making it easier for my stiff brush to get through, without ripping out excess hair. But it works great to get through little mud clumps!
Long Bristled Brush
This is where the flick brush comes into use. I have already gotten rid of the clumps of mud by currying, and stiff brushing.
So now I just need to get rid of the dirt and loose hair. Again, I keep my curry in one hand, and the flick brush in the other and I start at the head and work my way back. I go all the way down his legs too. And I pay attention to any areas where there might be a little bit of mud still hanging on. That always seems to happen in at least one or two places.
And when I’m using the flick brush, I use it a little differently. Instead of using the ‘flick action’ of holding the brush they way you would think, I have really good results by holding the brush opposite of how you would think to hold it. It captures the dirt and dust and helps to flick it away from my horses body.
Oh yeah, here is the best part, the finishing brush. This type of brush has thick, short bristles that when used correctly produce a deep shine, and really help to get the little traces of dirt, dust and dander off of your horse. Again, I use the curry comb to remove the dirt from my finishing brush as I work my way down my horses body.
Sometimes I spend a little extra time really brushing deeply with the finishing brush because it produces such an incredible shine on my horse!
Most people seem to pick their horses hooves first during pre-ride grooming, but I like to do it at the end. Most of the dirt and dust will make its way own my horses legs, So I will flick this away. And then I pick out their hooves with a hoof pick/brush. I really love this type of hoof pick because the stiff bristles work really well to get ground in mud off.
Then I run the finishing brush over the legs one more time, and Plezant is good to go.
I will apply a hoof conditioner too, because I like his feet to look well cared for too.
Sometimes You Need to Add Water
Now this is my typical de-mudding routine. But when there is just too much thick mud, then I will decide to give Plezant a bath instead of working through the mud with my brushes. When the mud is caked thick, all over, that is when the hose comes out. Thankfully, this only seems to happen when it’s too muddy to ride anyways!
There are some great products I have found that really cut through the mud with minimal work. But sometimes, I need a little something extra.
Some of the best mud cutters I have found are the Tiger’s Tongue sponge and eZall Total Body Wash. I like this shampoo because it comes in its own container that I just connect to the hose. I don’t have the luxury of having warm water. So I can only wash my horses when it’s warm outside.
I like the eZall spray on shampoo because it works fairly well to get through the caked on mud without me having to apply shampoo, scrub, rinse, repeat. And when the mud is thick, this is a much easier solution than trying to get it off with brushing.
Getting The Mud Off
Ok, so that is my routine for getting the mud off before I ride. And if you are reading this, it may seem like that is a pretty intense grooming session before riding. But I assure you, it isn’t. Even in the worst case scenario with mud, it will take me about 15 minutes to completely groom Plezant before riding. And if there is mud, it is really important to get it off before putting the tack on. I don’t want to miss any clumps because if I do, this could cause a rub, or a sore. Or worse, it could pinch my horse, or cause him to act up while I am in the tack! And that is the last thing I want to have happen.
And sometimes, after a long stressful day at work, it’s nice to have something else to think about, other than work. And I find spending time with my horses, no matter what I am doing gives me joy. Instead of getting frustrated because my horses are dirty, I look at it as an opportunity to make them look, and feel great!