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How to Groom a Horse for Beginners – Super Easy, and Fast

how to groom a horse for beginners

How to groom a horse for beginners. Hmmm… 

If you’re reading this, then odds are you’re learning how to groom your horse as a beginner. Horse grooming is an essential responsibility of an equestrian. As humans, our jobs often require us to be well-groomed.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that our equine friends need to be regularly well-kempt, too in order  to perform at their best. A saddle sitting on a dirty horse can cause sores and discomfort—ouch! Plus, a tangled mane and tail look shabby and prevent hair growth.

But the benefits of grooming a horse are many. Not only does it improve the bond between horse and groomer, but it’s excellent for skin health and improves the horse’s mood. So, it’s safe to say that a healthy horse means a well-groomed horse.

How to Groom a Horse for Beginners – Use These Tools

The following items are what you’re going to need to groom your horse. They’re not listed in any particular order of importance. In fact, all of these tools are important. So don’t stress.  Also, I’ll provide links for where you can buy some of these items.

8 Must-Have Tools for Grooming Your Horse

how to groom a horse for beginners

A curry comb loosens dirt and helps remove mud and hair from the horse’s coat. With this particular rubber curry comb, you can actually brush your horse’s face as well as his full body. It’s ergonomically designed so that it’s easy to grip, but comfortable in your hand.

I recommend Wahl Professional Animal Equine Grooming Rubber Curry Horse Brush. Wahl’s is a reputable hair grooming supplier for animals and humans. They’re also super affordable. You can buy it on Amazon. Here are the other tools you’ll need:

Hard Brush

Soft Brush

Wide-tooth comb

Hoof pick

Hoof conditioner

Tail conditioner and detangler

Horsefly spray

Now, you can buy these tools individually, or you can buy them in one kit.  I highly recommend you buy the kit.

how to groom a horse for beginners

How to Groom a Horse for Beginners – Step 1

First things first – tie up your horse. This step probably seems obvious, but it’s important not to skip even if your horse is great about staying in place. Horses suddenly move their feet and shift their weight, causing issues while grooming. So, to avoid any problems mid-groom, it’s best to tie your horse up.

How to Groom a Horse for Beginners – Step 2

The curry comb, hard brush, soft brush, and a wide-toothed comb are your friends.

A horse is all coat. So the next few steps in the grooming process are brushing. Now, you can add all kinds of brushes to your collection, but you’ll really only need four to get the job done.

The Curry Comb

how to groom a horse for beginners
Wahl Curry Comb/Brush

Old hair, debris, and dirt can get stuck in your horse’s coat, and this is where the curry comb comes into play. Start with very small (palm-size) circular motions from the neck, down each side of the horse. This will begin loosening the mud from the coat. But remember, stay away from the legs, ears, face, and tail with this comb, as these areas are more sensitive.

The Hard Brush

After using the Curry comb to break up all the dirt, it’s time for the Hard brush. Using short but brisk strokes, go over your horse’s coat. You’ll need to avoid the sensitive areas with this brush as well, as it can irritate. The below Wahl Combo Brush combines soft and hard brush in one.

The Soft Brush

Next comes the soft brush. The soft bristles of a soft brush release the horse’s natural oils and provide an overall sheen. It might even be worth investing in a higher-quality brush if you’re looking to achieve that extra slick and smooth appearance.

The Wide-Tooth Comb 

A wide-tooth comb is used for the mane and tail. Some groomers avoid using a comb on their horse’s mane and tail to prevent pulling out hair. However, if using a wide-tooth comb, then keep in mind that it works best when coupled with a detangler.

how to groom a horse for beginners

But there’s more to this step, so here are some other items to keep in mind:

Mane and Tail – It’s Kind of a Big Deal

how to groom a horse for beginners

In addition to a wide-tooth comb, several other items will help ensure beautiful hair. First, a tail conditioner is needed to soften the hair. Make sure to run your hand gently through the tail to help loosen any major knots and kinks.

Next, holding the bottom of the tail, gently begin to comb upwards. The more course the hair, the more tangles there are, and adding an excellent detangler to the mix will help solve this problem.

How to Groom a Horse for Beginners – Step 3

Now we’re getting into a really sensitive area. The horse’s hooves. You really need to be careful. If you don’t have a good relationship with your horse, he may not comply. So read below how to gingerly clean your horse’s hooves. 

Cleaning Hooves – Not As Scary As You Think

This step requires a bit of patience as you’ll need to have your horse lift its legs so that you can pick and condition its hooves. To do this, you’ll first need to establish a positive connection between you and the horse.

Hopefully, you’ve been establishing a positive connection with your horse all along so that he’s not alarmed by what you’re asking him to do.

Next, you’ll want to run your hand slowly down the horse’s leg and gently squeeze its ankles. This lets the horse know that you want it to lift its hooves. Then, using a hoof pick, begin digging out the dirt. Finally, apply a small amount of hoof conditioner depending on how brittle they are.

Keeping the horse’s feet moisturized is vital. Otherwise, the hoof wall will dry up.

How to Groom a Horse for Beginners – Step 4

Now, you say, what about the face? No grooming session is complete without a face wash. Gently wash around your horse’s eyes, face, behind the ears, and dock area (by the tail) using two damp washcloths (one for the front and the other for the behind).

How to Groom a Horse for Beginners – Step 5

Don’t Forget the Horsefly Spray

Last but not least, it’s now time to apply the horsefly spray. Flies are pesky little things, and they can be a nuisance to both the rider and horse. The latter is particularly true during the hot and sticky times of the year.

So, when finished with the grooming process, spray your equine down with some horsefly spray to help prevent your horse from getting bitten. 

Super Important – Never, Ever Stand Behind a Horse!

Whether you are a seasoned rider or a brand-new equestrian, it’s necessary to consider the potential dangers. Always groom your horse from the side and never from behind. A bonus is to touch your equine regularly while tail-grooming as a friendly reminder that you are still nearby.

how to groom a horse for beginners

Now You’re All Set and Ready-to-Go

Now that you have the basic steps in grooming a horse, it’s time to put them into action. It takes practice before getting into a proper grooming routine. But patience is your friend. And in no time, this daunting task will become a soothing therapeutic session for both you and your horse.

By the way, now that your horse is groomed, you’ll want to keep your saddle cleaned too! Don’t know how? Then, read my post, How to Clean a Western Saddle. Was this post helpful to you? Please leave your comments below. I love hearing from my readers.


  • Ceci says:

    Thanks for your article Shalisha. I do have a couple of questions to ask as i am a really noice horse owner.
    1. What issues are caused by a horse suddenly moving their feet and shifting their weight while grooming as you stated?
    2. when is the best time to groom a horse?
    3. How long does it take on average to run each of these 5 grooming steps as I suspect that certain steps will take longer than others.
    Thanks, Ceci

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Ceci. Horses can move for any number of reasons – sudden startling; bored standing in one place; discomfort with being touched. I’d say groom your horse after your ride. It should take up to 20 minutes to groom your horse.

  • Sylvia says:

    Hi Shalisha, Thank you for this very informative article! I have to say that I always loved to groom horses; they look so shiny when they are done. You said to tie up the horse before grooming, and you are so right. I experienced once that a horse kicked me, and it hurt very much. So, it is always better to tie the horse. I didn’t know before because I was just a hobby rider, and it has been a long time since I have groomed a horse. But I still remember that I loved to do this, and the horse enjoyed the care very much. Your articles bring me back to that time. Lovely! 🙂

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Sylvia. Yes, horses are so big, I’ve never taken for granted how dangerous they can be if not careful around them. So sorry you got kicked! I love beautiful shiny horses. The key is consistent grooming. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Julius says:

    Thanks for your great post about how to groom the horse. Indeed, I was quite scared reading about cleaning the hooves -;) I heard stories when that didn’t end up good, so to speak. Do you have any tips for how to calm a horse? Let’s say if the horse doesn’t know you at all. Is this actually something you would recommend, or should we just leave the horse to someone else in that case? Cheers

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Julius. It’s rare that you’d groom a horse you don’t know. Under what circumstance does one groom a horse? Usually horse owners groom their horses. So if you’re a horse owner, you get to know your horse and what freaks them out and what calms them down. Also, horses have different temperaments. Some are more anxious than others. I’d say approach slowly and never from behind. Rub them gently before trying to do anything with a horse – including ride one.

  • Miriam says:

    living in Siena, which is famous for the Palio and its horses, I have seen many barbarians take care of them and groom them with extreme love and care.
    I was able to admire how the horse loves being pampered by a person he trusts, while he does not let himself be touched willingly by others.
    Your advice is very useful and practical, and I like that you have emphasized the importance between the horse and its rider and also safety!

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Miriam. Thank you so much for your feedback. It always makes me feel good when someone from Siena, who is familiar with the Palio, re-affirms the tips in my articles. You know, horses are like humans. They feel comfortable around people who are loving and kind, but flinch from others who are cruel and callous. Thanks again for your comment. Please stop by again.

  • Matt says:

    Hi Shalisha,

    Your article is informative and detailed for those seeking tips to groom a horse, and they are beneficial. The part of cleaning hooves sounds scary to me, so I would love to learn more about building trust with a horse. 🙂 I always love to see horse riders and horses performing a good show, and they must start at a young age to grow with horses together.


    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Matt. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad my article was helpful to you. Yes, hoof picking is sensitive. The horse has to feel comfortable with the person doing the hoof picking. So when approaching that aspect of hoof picking, make sure your horse is at ease. Thanks for stopping by and please come back.

  • I have never known how to take care a horse because horses are a luxury pet in my country. Your article is really interesting. I learned that by grooming a horse, I can build a good relationship with it. I didn’t realize that a horse’s coat can accumulate a lot of dirt, which means we really need to take care of it promptly.

    I’ll give you a good example. I would never clean my cat without the proper tools. I treat our cat like our baby. I’m so lucky my cat trusts me and has patience throughout the cleaning process. When cleaning her, I put half of her body inside a pail of water. Then my wife helps to wash the cat with a wet cloth and shampoo. Unfortunately, my cat, after cleaning, gets serious flux. At the end of the cleaning process, we have to visit a pet doctor to help my cat. Thanks for the tips. I now have the tools I need to help my poor cat.

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Stephen. Thanks for sharing your experience with me about your cat. I guess you could use the same philosophy with your cat when it comes to grooming her. I’m glad you found this article helpful.

  • Kwidzin says:

    Hi there. I’d just like to say thank you for sharing this excellent article with us. I found the article educational, interesting and intriguing. I must admit, equestrian stuff like grooming and the like is a topic I have very little experience with. So thanks for sharing a bunch of interesting facts. 

    I have always presumed that horse riders were very well connected to their horses. So I never imagined that there are a lot of beginner horse riders out there just learning from scratch. I guess they’ve been learning from childhood? Thanks again for sharing.

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Karalyne. Thanks for commenting! I’m glad you found my article educational and interesting. Yes, it’s safe to assume that every horse rider started as a beginner.  When you own a horse, you develop a relationship with it. Hopefully, that relationship is not a contentious one.  

      Not all horse owners are compatible with their horses. It’s best when the horse rider and horse are in sync with each other. The horse has to trust that the owner is not going to hurt it. Once the horse trusts you, he’ll be at ease with you grooming him. Thanks for stopping by. Come again. 

  • Jeremy says:

    I used to participate in a veterans horse riding program here in my hometown before they moved it kind of far away and I can’t really get to it anymore. I miss grooming and riding the horses so much! I know one day soon I will have my own place with room for wonderful horses of my own too, and its good to know where to find awesome grooming supplies so thank you very much!

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Jeremy. Thanks for your comment. I’m so sorry your riding program is no longer available to you. I live in NYC and there was a place called Clairemont Riding Academy. I loved going there on the weekends. But they closed. It was super convenient to get to. So I understand. Yes, that would be a lofty goal to buy a place where you can ride conveniently. I hope you visit again.

  • Claudia says:

    Hello. I love this post because it’s very helpful and practical. I practically live in an apartment, but I love horses and learned how to ride on them when I was about 18 years of age. And if course, because of where I live, I can’t have a horse. Still, if I ever get a chance to have a horse of my own in the future, it’s great to have a person like you to teach a beginner like me. Horses and dogs are human’s best friend. I absolutely love them.

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Claudia. Thank you so much for your comment about my article. I too live in the City and am missing horse riding in Central Park. They used to have a stable called Clairemont Riding Academy in Manhattan. I loved it.  But they went out of business. Still, there are places on Long Island I can go. I tend to like to ride in the Spring, Summer and early Fall.  Winter is too cold and I think cruel to the horse. LOL.  Anyway, please stop by again. 

  • Jannette says:

    I have always wanted a horse and recently I rescued a beautiful Philly but had no way to groom. With your guide, I will be able to groom the beautiful Philly boy now and show him the proper care and love he should have gotten from the start. I really appreciate your guide and am going to share with my social media followers. 

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Jannette. Thank you so much for your comment. I can’t believe people don’t take care of their horses. I’m so happy your rescued yours. Yes, this is a great beginner’s guide to horse grooming. Please share this with your friends and family.  Come by again! 

  • Christine says:

    This is very well explained and it reminded me of the days when I rode horses and I was taught how to groom my horse. I remember how nervous I was the first time I had to clean his hooves, but it went really well. The horse was so wonderful with me! Decades have gone by and I still think of him.
    Yep, never stand behind a horse, they told us that too.
    I didn’t know that grooming a horse can improve his mood. It’s kind of like us, when we come out of the shower we feel great as well 😉

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Christine. Thank you for your comment. I’m glad my post was explained well and that it was helpful to you. Yes, you’re right to be nervous, at least a little, around horses. They are huge animals that weigh a ton! One false or careless move, and you could get trampled, or the horse could fall on you. So, it’s important to exercise prudence around horses, or any large animal (like a cow). Yes, grooming improves the horse’s mood – much like a shower improves mine. I hope you’ll stop by again.

  • Schalk says:

    Shalisha, I like how the process on how to groom your horse is broken up into small steps that can easily be digested and followed. I read some of the other comments here as well and found it very interesting that the recommendation is to groom your horse daily. I never realised it will be required to do so, that often. In my head I was more thinking once a month. Thanks for an interesting read.

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi there Schalk. Thanks for your comment. Imagine this, your horse is outside all of the time, exposed to the elements. You probably either ride him daily, or, at a minimum, you take him out to pasture. You would want to inspect your horse for all kinds of things. But grooming your horse every day, doesn’t mean you have to do all of the steps daily – only some. For instance, you don’t have to pick his hoof daily – unless you’ve taken him out for a ride. After a ride, I’d inspect the horse’s hooves. You never know what rock your horse got wedged in between his hoof. It’s a big commitment to own a horse. And you owe it to your horse to take care of him.

  • Alex Chivers says:

    Hi Shalisha, It makes sense that an animal would like to feel fresh and clean. I know myself the best start to the day I can have is by getting up and washing. I would guess that maybe with Horses they probably are not overly comfortable with being groomed but they must appreciate it afterwards. Also, they must get more used to the process if you are using the same equipment they are used to.

    I think you have explained everything very well. I do wonder though what is your best technique for brushing your horses tail hair without standing behind them?

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Alex. Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comment and your question. Yes, like humans, horses feel better when they’ve been groomed. Imagine how you’d feel if you had mud, dirt, or sand stuck in your hair after a day at a picnic? You’d feel super uncomfortable, right? You can brush your horse’s tail without standing directly behind him. Just step to his side. But whatever you do, never stand behind a horse. If he kicks you, it’s over. Please stop by again.

  • Estelle says:

    Hi Shalisha, this is an excellent step by step guide how to groom your horse!
    You make it sound so easy and enjoyable, I almost want to go and visit the stables.
    I realised this is a specialised action and will take practice to make perfect.
    Thank you for taking us into your beloved world of horse, I enjoy learning more!

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Estelle. Thank you for stopping by and commenting! I’m glad my post was very helpful to you. I’m also glad you are enjoying my posts. I had to explain the process and make it super easy, as this post is for beginners. I don’t want my readers to be intimidated by the process. Horse grooming can be very enjoyable once you get over your fear of the horse and if your horse likes you. It’s important to build a relationship with your horse all along so that, while grooming, when you want to touch him in sensitive areas, like the hooves, your horse will respond positively. Please stop by again.

  • LineCowley says:

    Hi there, this is a very helpful post on a beginners guide to grooming a horse. I have a niece who has just started riding and we were talking about the importance of grooming a horse. Although she does not have her own pony at the moment, she needs to be involved in the grooming and mucking out at the stables where she is riding. 

    This post will show her all the essential grooming equipment she must have, but also why a horse needs to be groomed. I will certainly be sharing this post with the family. Thank you. 

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi there. Thank you so much for your response to my post. I’m glad you found this helpful. By all means, please do share this with your niece. Yes, grooming your horse daily is important. I believe it’s important to teach young riders the importance of horse grooming. You never want your horse to get gnarly. I see horse grooming akin to human bathing, showering, hair combing…etc. You get the picture, right?  Thanks again for stopping by. 

  • Steve says:

    Greatly appreciate your article for us beginners. I do have a couple of questions. How long does it take to groom a horse? I’m sure it varies on the size of the horse and how clean or dirty they are. Is this something done in 15 minutes or is this an hour plus? How often do you groom your horses? Is this a daily chore? Or is this only done when they are in need i.e. they are dirty?

    • Shalisha Alston says:

      Hi Steve. Thanks for your questions.

      Well, the time it takes to groom a horse really depends on how dirty it is. Has the horse been rolling around in mud?  It also depends on how long your horse’s fur is and the color of your horse. If you have a light colored horse, it will take longer for them to get cleaned as dirt will easily show on them.  I’d say, on average, it should take 15 to 20 minutes to groom a horse that hasn’t been rolling around in the mud. 

      As for grooming… I’ll ask you this. How often should you take a shower, wash your hair, and put deodorant on? You do this on a daily basis, right?

      Likewise, you should groom your horse at lease once daily – even if they’re kept indoors. However, hoof picking doesn’t need to be done daily. Hoof picking should be done every few days. But always hoof pick after coming back from rides as you never know what gets stuck in the hoof on the trail.

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