Pet Keen is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Home > Horses > 7 Lesser Known Benefits of Grooming a Horse

7 Lesser Known Benefits of Grooming a Horse

woman holding the white horse outdoors

Grooming is a regular part of horse care that helps keep their coats looking sleek and healthy by removing loose hair and any dirt and debris they’ve picked up in the pasture or barn. Riders often groom before they saddle up to ensure there’s nothing uncomfortable stuck on their coats that could irritate them during the ride.

Aside from the obvious benefits of grooming your horse, there are also some lesser-known advantages for both the horse and the rider. Keep reading to learn more about why your grooming sessions are so horse shoe divider

The 7 Lesser Known Benefits of Grooming a Horse

1. Promotes Circulation and Lymphatic Drainage

The act of grooming increases blood flow which promotes better circulation throughout the body and assists with lymphatic drainage. This is important for your horse’s overall health and well-being.

Promoting circulation helps the movement of the cells and keeps the oxygen and blood flowing smoothly throughout the body. This aids in immune function, cognitive ability, and proper functioning of the muscles and organs.

The lymphatic system is responsible for removing metabolic waste from the cells and when the natural drainage of this system is enhanced it can relieve swelling, promote healthy immunity, and maintain the natural balance of bodily fluids.

a woman grooming a horse
Image By: Alexa, Pixabay

2. Removes Dead Skin and Spreads Natural Oils

When you groom your horse all over the body, you are not only eliminating loose hairs and reducing shedding, but you are also removing any excess dirt, debris, or external parasites that have chosen your horse as a host. This process also removes any dead skin which will block pores and leave the coat looking dry and dull.

Brushing will also help you evenly distribute the horse’s natural skin oils throughout the body, which will improve the health of both the skin and the coat and leave them looking sleek and well-kept.

3. Provides Muscle Massage

Muscle massage can help break up scar tissue, improve circulation, provide pain relief, and improve motor function. It’s also a great way to help your horse relax at the end of the day. If you don’t already have an established bond with a certain horse and are working on building trust, this is a great way to do so. Regular grooming will naturally provide a certain level of massage all over the body, which your horse will love.

There are equine massage services offered that are helpful for horses, especially those that are ridden in competitions, but regular grooming can also provide a healthy muscle massage. While you could certainly benefit from hiring an equine massage therapist, you can also opt to learn some of these techniques to add to your grooming sessions.

woman and girl grooming the horse
Image Credit: Barbara Olsen, Pexels

4. Great Way to Check for Health Issues

Grooming allows you to come in contact with almost every inch of your horse’s body regularly. You will be familiar with all the ins and outs of each horse and will notice if there is anything out of the ordinary going on with their body.

This can be crucial to their health because it will highlight any potential medical concerns from the very beginning. You will easily be able to recognize areas of swelling, potential skin problems, and newly emerging lumps or bumps.

Thorough, regular grooming will also help you keep ticks and any other external parasites in check because you will be able to see or feel them as you go over the body with a brush or your hands. If there are any sensitive areas on the body, this will give you a heads up, as they will typically flinch if any areas are causing them pain.

5. Encourages Bonding

Grooming is a way to get some quality, one-on-one time together. It’s important not to rush through the process but take your time and focus on the horse. If you want to encourage bonding sessions, you should set aside enough time to do so.

Horses that you have an established relationship with will undoubtedly enjoy your company and happily welcome their grooming sessions.  They may even give you an indication they are ready by asking for a good old-fashioned butt scratch. Grooming can be a relief for horses because you aren’t asking them to do any work.

If you are working to establish a trusting relationship with a new horse, this can be very beneficial. Remember to keep safety in mind and go slow with any horses you’ve never groomed before. If you have a particularly skittish horse, keep them secure and slowly rub and pet all over their body before grabbing for any tools.

Remain calm and use a soothing, loving voice. You may have to take things slowly and work your way up to grooming with certain horses. Always keep an eye out for body language, regardless of how well you know the horse. You never know if they are having pain somewhere, are feeling ticklish, or are having a bad day.

woman brushing the horse while the little girl is holding the leash
Image Credit: Anastasia Shuraeva, Pexels

6. It’s a Workout for the Groomer

Experienced riders are well aware that horseback riding is a workout, but grooming is no cakewalk. It is a pretty intense upper-body workout, especially for the biceps, triceps, and shoulder muscles.

You will also have to engage your legs and glutes by bending over and grooming their bellies and legs. If you are doing any work with the hooves, you’ll definitely fire up those glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Leave it to your horses to keep you in shape – they certainly can!

7. Great for Stress Relief

Not only are you encouraging the human-animal bond by grooming but you’re also providing stress relief for both parties. If you have a nervous horse on your hands, it may take some time before you get comfortable and benefit from the stress relief, but it’ll happen with consistency and dedication.

Horses are very in tune with your energy and emotions. They pick up on way more than most people realize. This can be very heartwarming when you have formed a connection with an animal with this level of sentience. Interacting with horses allows you to leave your problems and worries at the barn door and enter a whole new world that has been proven to help with stress levels.

happy girl holding a brush posing with her horse
Image Credit: Filip Kuran, Pexels

horse shoe divider new do not use

Essential Grooming Tools for Horses

Curry Comb

The curry comb is either circular or oval and features serrated edges. These combs are designed to be worked in a circular motion to remove all the excess dirt, hair, and debris from the coat. Curry combs are either made of steel, plastic, or rubber and are great for promoting circulation and offering a gentle massage.

Dandy Brush

A dandy brush is sometimes referred to as a stiff brush because it has very stiff bristles that are meant to remove anything the curry comb loosened up. These brushes fit well in the hand and are supposed to be used in short, quick flicking motions. Dandy brushes are typically made from coarse animal hairs or synthetic fibers. There are varying levels of stiffness since some horses are more sensitive than others.

guy brushing his horse on the face
Image Credit: Tima Miroshnichenko, Pexels

Body Brush

The body brush is meant for use after you’ve already used the curry comb and the dandy brush. It’s often referred to as a soft brush because it has fine, soft bristles meant for finishing the job. These bristles are close together since they are there to remove the last bits of leftover dirt and debris and leave the hair looking smooth and shiny.

Mane and Tail Brush

Mane and tail brushes are very similar to human hairbrushes and are designed to keep those manes and tails free from tangles and knots. It’s a good idea to keep up on this type of brushing too because getting out tangles is not such a fun experience for you or the horse. You can always keep some grooming spray handy when you need some extra help with detangling.

senior woman grooming the horse
Image Credit: Barbara Olsen, Pexels

Sweat Scraper

When horses spend a lot of time under the saddles, out in the heat, or have just worked up a sweat while riding you will want to have a sweat scraper on hand. This tool is designed to remove any excess sweat or water from the horse’s coat to help them dry off more easily. They work very similarly to a window scraper and are great to use during baths, too.


Sponges are a great thing to have for baths or if your horse needs a quick cool-off on a hot day. They are very gentle and can even be used on the face to help clean off any dirt or mess. We recommend very large sponges that absorb well since you are bathing a significantly large body.

woman brushing the horse's hair
Image Credit: Barbara Olsen, Pexels

Hoof Pick

A hoof pick is a necessity that will help you keep your horses’ hooves as healthy as possible between farrier appointments. A hoof pick should be used daily to help remove any mud, rocks, or any other types of debris that have become stuck in the hooves. There are different styles of hoof picks available but what’s important is that you have a sturdy one that gets those tough jobs done.

How Often Should I Groom My Horse?

The recommended frequency of grooming will vary depending on several factors like living conditions, season, and how often the horse is worked. Horses that are worked daily should also be groomed daily. Grooming should take place both before and after a ride.

Horses that don’t participate in any riding or other work should be groomed at least 3 times per week to keep them clean and comfortable. This also allows you to keep an eye out for any health or skin conditions.

Winter tends to be wetter and muddier and will require more grooming than usual because of all the mess. During the spring horses will be shedding their winter coats so you’ll have to keep up with removing all the loose hair.

It’s a good idea to keep a regular grooming schedule in place for both you and your horses, but sometimes life gets in the way. It’s very important to keep up with the process though because it is an essential part of their care.divider-horse


Grooming is something that must be done regularly for horses. The primary reason is to keep their coat clean and healthy and to prepare for riding but there are plenty of other physical and mental benefits for both the horse and the rider. Most people aren’t aware of these lesser-known secrets but once you realize how beneficial they can be, it may encourage you to take more time and put forth more effort during your grooming sessions.

Featured Image Credit: МаринаДымова, Pixabay

Our vets

Want to talk to a vet online?

Whether you have concerns about your dog, cat, or other pet, trained vets have the answers!

Our vets