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brushing in the winter

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  • brushing in the winter

    Many, (many lol) years ago I was told it not a good idea to brush a horse in the winter.
    The idea is that it disturbs the insulating qualities of the skin/hair.

    I hadn't thought about this for a while but it recently came up in a conversation and got me wondering again.

    I understand that a horse will puff its coat to hold air and this helps to keep him warm.

    I also often see snow staying on the back and even melting and freezing there. I never pick it off, (ok I have tried to put my reasons into words but can't do it.)
    Where this snow and ice are the hair is not puffed up, even is fairly chilly temps this hair can be wet, so there is heat rising for sure but the horse doesn't seem to be in discomfort or chilly because of it.
    So, this leads me to wonder if the accumalation of dander or ? does have some insulating properties?


  • #2
    I have always thought brushing my horses to remove caked mud helps them be able to fluff up their coat better to stay warm. It seems to me that caked mud would prevent the coat from fluffing properly. I would think ice would do the same.

    My primary reason for regular grooming in the winter is to promote healthy skin-- one of my horses is very prone to rainrot on her back in the winter. Currying frequently keeps her skin healthier and helps avoid rainrot.


    • #3
      Grooming is always a good idea. I even use extra show sheen in the winter to keep the dirt from sticking and matting the hair down.
      A good curry and brushing of dry hair will always help keep the horse healthier
      chaque pas est fait ensemble


      • Original Poster

        I completely agree with keeping caked mud off but for me that is spring or fall

        Interesting about the rain rot. I am going to try the show shine, the trick there would be to remember to bring it back into the house so it doesn't freeze.
        Last edited by colorfan; Dec. 15, 2012, 10:34 AM. Reason: clarify


        • #5
          I sincerely doubt that there are too many situations where "less clean" is better.

          That said, I am very much guilty, when daylight is limited and comfort is minimal, of simply brushing off the saddle place and girth area, riding, and calling it good. I also will frequently leave dried mud be on the legs if it's mud season--no point in cleaning it all off for an hour only to have the horse go right back out in it. I inspect the legs, clean the feet, and leave the mud at times.
          Click here before you buy.


          • #6
            i do the same lol, delta


            • #7
              I brush more in the winter. My horse's skin gets dry and his coat gets dull with all the blanketing.

              I felt terrible yesterday when I went out. I've been so busy with school this term that it's been close to a month since I brushed him He's had his blanket changed a few times and I've gone out to visit him quickly and give him some treats but that's it. Brought him in yesterday, took off his blanket, and his coat was smushed to his body and dandruffy. I spent an hour currying him - which made it look worse - and rubbing him with a towel.

              (In case anyone wants to jump on me for neglecting my horse: I've set up a half-lease situation with a friend who's going to go out and ride him a few times a week so this won't happen next term.)


              • #8
                If you're guilty of neglect, then so am I. Grooming is great but they don't die from the lack of it. During mud season (Nov-Dec and Mar-May) my idle horses are so grody I sometimes can't stand to look at them!
                Click here before you buy.


                • #9
                  My horses live out so regular grooming is next to impossible. I give them a curry when the rain stops long enough for their coats to dry out, otherwise I just scrape the mud off the best I can with a curry when they are wet. I may try the showsheen trick the next time they are dry.
                  My blog: Crackerdog Farm


                  • #10
                    My professor many moons ago said, "cleanliness is godliness," which applied to all aspects of livestock mgt.


                    • #11
                      What bothers me (and my mare) the most about brushing in the winter is the static! I have to dip the brush lightly in water, or else...
                      When she's filthy, before riding I only groom the saddle, girth, bridle areas, and the legs because she wears hind boots. And I feel a bit guilty, because my instructors were sticklers about good grooming (you'd be sent back to the stables for more grooming until they were satisfied). But now, since no one sees us...so be it.
                      Ottbs - The finish line is only the beginning!


                      • Original Poster

                        otv no neglect noted. I think the looks of the horse bother us more than it affects the horse.

                        I did a google search and found a few sites that recommended not brushing in the winter as it lessened the insulating qualities but none of the articles cited a source for their info.

                        I will continue to remove the blanket and brush as often as the weather allows.


                        • #13
                          I would think that a good curry, which increases and distributes oils, would help the loft. Oils will help with loft, insulation & to some extent keeping wetness from the skin.

                          as others mentioned, you want to make sure the coat isn't matted down with mud (no loft). If they are wearing a blanket I think that lends itself to dandruff or other skin irritations, and they can't get a good scratchy roll going, so curry is even more important.

                          Grooming is about more than cleaning. It gives you a chance to check over whole body, see horse's response as you touch her in various places, etc etc. A vigorous curry can almost be deep massage. I think most of them love the good scritching, and it is great for bonding & all that stuff.

                          That said, Deltawave is right in that they certainly do not die from lack of it.

                          Sophie, I, too, came from where you were sent back to the barn (O THE HORROR AND SHAME) if you horse was not up to spec & I think Marcella & I had the same animal sci teacher Of course, there are times when I can go to town brushing & rubbing & wiping & they will look better, but still be filthy.


                          • #14
                            Mine are blanketed, I curry them everyday- even if it's only a 5 minute process. I do it more to see what's going on under their blankets than I do to keep them clean.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by colorfan View Post
                              I was told it not a good idea to brush a horse in the winter.
                              The idea is that it disturbs the insulating qualities of the skin/hair.
                              Another example of the "if some is good, more is better" fallacy.

                              I keep mine groomed, but on the days I feel it's pointless fruitless and an exercise in futility, I use the dander excuse. Honestly, my horse has shelter and hay in front of him 24/7. He hasn't been cold a moment in his life and if he was it certainly wasn't because he was over-groomed


                              • #16
                                Mine are out 24/7 too and sometimes just a quick once over is all they get. BUT when I'm in a hurry to ride, God Bless the Shop-Vac with brush attachment Five minutes of sucking out the dirt and we're good to go. Plus their coat is totally fluffed & puffed.
                                <>< Sorrow Looks Back. Worry Looks Around. Faith Looks Up! -- Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don't have to sit on it.


                                • #17
                                  I like getting the caked in stuff out -- that seems to me to be the best way to promote loft of the coat. It's been really muddy so far this winter so I also pay extra attention to making sure that there isn't any mud caked up in the longer hair around his joints -- between the front legs and around the armpits, fetlocks/pasterns and crevice above the heel bulbs, etc.


                                  • #18
                                    I do groom the mud off frequently in the winter. Presently, the two retired broodmares and the long yearling are not blanketed. I think it keeps the loft in the coat, and therefore keeps them warmer.

                                    But I no longer use curry combs. I use rectangular mane/tail brushes over the entire body, legs, fetlocks, cheeks, everything. Like these

                                    Those brushes, with the longer, plastic-covered tips, just POWER through the dried mud, and really get down to the skin for woolly winter coats. It must feel better too, as one kind of thin-skinned mare did not care much for currying, but will stand there all day for the mane brush.
                                    "No matter how cynical I get its just not enough to keep up." Lily Tomlin


                                    • #19
                                      I regularly brush my horses in the winter. Particularly after they've gotten wet and their hair dries matted or muddied. I use the mane and tail brush to get down to their skin. I do this primarily so their hair will fluff back up and keep them warm. Also to dry out any moisture trapped near their skin so rain rot doesn't get a chance to set in.
                                      "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


                                      • #20
                                        I use my cactus cloth constantly in the winter. I've never had anything work as effectively on mud/dirt/crud as that.