Horse Grooming Kit Checklist: Everything You Need
There's no better way to connect to your horse's spirit than with some quiet time together. Just you, your horse, a brush, and an awareness of the present moment — this time can help form a meaningful, heart-to-heart connection and greater trust. A horse grooming kit can be the key that unlocks the gateway to deepening your bond and showing your horse that you care.
Grooming is a beautiful way to start a relationship with a new mount or help ease anxiety in a young horse. It can also help you connect with an old friend who's been around the trail a few times. And if you don't have time to ride, a good grooming session can show your companion that you haven't forgotten him.
In this guide, we'll walk you through the tools and equipment you'll need to create the ultimate horse grooming kit so you can clean and care for every inch of your equine companion.
Horse Grooming Kit Essentials
A horse grooming kit should contain the essential supplies necessary to care for your horse. These grooming tools include:
- Hoof pick with brush
- Rubber curry comb or mitt
- Body brushes
- Face brush
- Mane and tail brush
- Shampoo, conditioner, and detangler
- Washcloths and sponges
- Sweat scraper
- Clippers and scissors
- Grooming tote, bag, or box
Before delving into the list, keep in mind that every horse/human partnership is different, and so is every grooming set. You might not find a use for every item on this list or you might want to add to it, which is OK.
Hoof Pick With Brush
The hoof pick is used to clean your horse's hooves before and after turning them out or going for a ride. Many riders keep multiple hoof picks with their horse grooming supplies as they're easy to misplace and vital for your horse's safety. Horses often get rocks and other items lodged in their hooves that you must remove to prevent pain and injuries.
The type with a pick on one end and a small brush on the other allows you to be more thorough, removing every last bit of dirt, manure, and mud. This isn't just to make your horse's feet look tidy — it's also for safety.
Proper hoof care helps prevent hoof abscesses and gives you a chance to spot infections or injuries early so that you can call your farrier before anything gets out of hand.
Rubber Curry Comb or Mitt
A good curry comb or mitt is the foundation and beginning of any good grooming session. Many horse lovers prefer a rubber curry comb and a mitt while others use only one. And some like to use two mitts, streamlining the process.
Rubber curry combs and mitts feature short rubber teeth or nubs that loosen debris, help with shedding hair, and gently stimulate circulation. You might also want a rigid plastic or metal curry comb for long winter coats and removing dried mud or manure.
Another curry comb to consider is a rubber massage comb, which usually has longer, wider rubber teeth. These teeth can help remove loose hair, but they also feel lovely on your horse's muscles.
The curry comb will likely be your first step in any grooming session. It helps loosen your horse's coat after being stuck under sweaty saddle pads (especially for larger western saddles) and other horse tack (e.g., girths, horse blankets, or sweaty dressage breastplates). It'll also help loosen mud, dirt, and hair for the dandy brush to sweep away.
Every equestrian usually has different preferences on body brushes and brush sets, and you'll have more options than you can count if you look online. But most people only need three brushes for total horse care:
- Stiff Brush: The stiff brush, also known as a dandy brush, is a grooming kit staple. It features stiff bristles that help whisk away loose hair and dirt after a pass with a curry comb (or a roll in the field). Just be sure not to use a stiff brush on sensitive areas like your horse’s inner legs, knees, head, and stomach.
- Medium-Soft Brush: The medium-soft brush, also known as a medium-stiff brush, is your go-to replacement for a stiff brush if your horse has sensitive or thin skin and cannot tolerate stiff bristles. It's also useful when you don't require the cleaning action of a stiff brush but still want to brush away loose hair and dirt.
- Soft Brush: Also known as a soft body brush or finishing brush, a soft brush is essential. You'll usually use it last in the grooming session to remove fine dust particles. This brush also smooths out your horse's hair, encouraging a natural sheen. It's soft enough to use on the sensitive skin of the inner legs, head, and stomach.
Tune in to what your horse likes and customize your grooming brushes accordingly. Some horses are sensitive or ticklish and prefer softer brushes, some like stiff bristles so you can really dig into the good spots, and others like a mixture of both.
A face brush isn't a must-have for everyone, but it's nice to have. This small, soft brush is designed for delicate areas on your horse's face, muzzle, and ears. Many horses love the light touch of this brush, but others are fine with a soft body brush for their sensitive spots.
A face brush also lets you loosen your horse's coat if he’s sweating under a bridle, halter, or collar.
Mane and Tail Brush
Many horse owners like to use a stiff body brush on manes and tails, as stiff teeth can rip out hair. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's even preferable for daily grooming sessions. But if the hair is tangled, you'll want a mane and tail brush that can remove the knots.
Find a brush with some give, so it's less likely to pull out hairs. A paddle-style human hairbrush often works well for this, but you'll find horse-specific brushes too (often known as tail tamers). You might also want a tail comb on hand for gentle, daily maintenance of the mane and tail.
If your horse is prone to tangling his mane and tail, use a mane and tail brush (paired with a detangler, which we'll cover next) to get out all the tangles. This makes it easier to braid their hair, which can solve the issue while making your equine companion more stylish. Braiding is also a helpful hair care method for horses who rub their tails and manes while trailering.
Shampoo, Conditioner, and Detangler
Every grooming kit should contain all three of these essential stable supplies. A horse’s hair and skin are different from those of a human, so you'll want products that are formulated specifically for horses.
Horse shampoo removes buildup from other products while cleaning dirt and oils. You can use it on your horse’s body, mane, and tail. Conditioner helps prevent tangles and breakage of the mane and tail during brushing, but it’s also good for all-over use if your horse's coat looks a bit dull. Detangler can help you remove knots without ripping out too much of your horse's hair — you can apply it any time you’re working on the mane and tail, not just after a bath.
Some horse lovers like to bathe their horses weekly, some only wash their horses before competitions, and others do it only when necessary. There's no one correct answer, but however often you bathe your horse, you'll want to start with shampoo and then move to conditioner. Then, once your horse's mane and tail are almost dry, apply the detangler.
If your horse has a light-colored coat, you may also want a stain remover — these are usually spray-on products that can help remove specific stains. It's not necessary for horse health care, but it does keep them looking their best. Whenever possible, use natural, gentle products that won’t irritate your horse’s skin. (For a homemade solution, a spray bottle filled with white vinegar can help safely remove stains.)
Note: If you don't have access to a bathing station, portable horse showers allow you to heat the water to make bath time more enjoyable for your best friend.
Washcloths and Sponges
Washcloths and sponges are essential horse grooming supplies, and no grooming kit is complete without them. These versatile tools can help clean the eyes, nose, and dock area during daily grooming sessions and bath time.
Washcloths and sponges also help clean wounds, remove dust, and groom sensitive areas on your horse. You might want to replace these products every year or when they show signs of wear to make sure your horse always has soft, clean cloths and sponges.
Some horse lovers also like keeping towels on hand, so you have something larger when you need it. Towels can make it easier to clean your horse's legs, dry his tail, or show him some love.
A sweat scraper, which is often included on the back of a shedding blade, will help you remove excess water or sweat from your horse. It usually consists of a rubber-edged half-moon scraper made from metal or plastic. If yours has a shedding blade on the other side, you can use it instead of, or in addition to, a curry comb for removing excess hair.
Clippers and Scissors
Scissors are essential for any grooming kit. They remove stubborn tangles, cut vet wrap, open products, remove tags, and offer a wide range of other uses. On the other hand, horse clippers are a must-have for some horse lovers and unnecessary for others.
You can use a trimmer to maintain your horse's bridle path and for any other spots that need a quick shave. Or you can use your clippers for full-body shaving in the summer.
Unless you plan to pay a professional groomer, you'll probably want a kit with clipper guards and extras, which often include scissors. Brands like Oster and Wahl typically have products marketed for humans and others for horses, but there's nothing wrong with using clippers meant for people.
Grooming Tote, Bag, or Box
Finally, you'll need a tote bag or grooming bag to keep everything in your horse grooming kit together. Some prefer to buy a grooming box with wheels, locks, and other bells and whistles. Others prefer to use a backpack, an apron, a 5-gallon bucket with an organizer, or something else entirely.
Whatever you choose, you'll want room for the grooming essentials above as well as any extras you want on hand every time you're with your horse. For example, you might want to keep horse treats, hoof polish, fly spray, liniment gel (e.g., Absorbine), a first-aid kit, or supplements in your grooming tote.
You're Ready to Get Grooming
If you have all of these items in your horse grooming kit, you'll be ready for anything the equine life might throw your way. Feel free to add any horse grooming supplies you want on hand and don't be afraid to skip the things you don't need. That's all part of the horse/human connection.
Remember, most sessions will begin with a curry comb before moving to a stiff, medium, and soft brush, followed by a face brush. You'll also want to pick your horse's hooves, clean up their face if needed, and do a thorough once-over to ensure you don't miss any health care needs.
As you put your horse grooming kit together, we invite you to browse our shop for equipment and supplies. And don't forget to treat yourself to some new gear now and then, too. At Equestrian Co., we offer a selection of women's, men's, and children's clothes, boots, and braces.