Work Horse Handbook

excerpted from Horse and Stable Management by William Hislop, C.E. Howell, and E.B. Krantz, originally published in July, 1916

Grooming Work Horses

The serviceability of the work horse may be increased or decreased according to the care which is bestowed upon him. If he is groomed in a perfunctory fashion his efficiency as an animal motor is lessened. On the other hand, if he is well groomed he is snappier and fresher in appearance and is constantly up on the bit. In short, grooming is essential to the health and vigor of the horse.

Horses running on pasture or being roughed through the winter do not require grooming. They do well without it. It is not the fact that a horse is stabled which makes it necessary to groom him, but it is rendered essential by the heavy feeding and hard work done by him. Every highly fed, hard-working horse requires grooming, whether he be kept inside or outside over night.

During the closed season many draft stallions are relegated to a dark box stall and receive practically no grooming and very little exercise, but plenty of feed. This results in serious trouble to their feet, legs, and disposition.

Grooming Work Horses

It is more difficult to keep some horses in a respectable condition than others. The slab-sided, upstanding type of draft horse requires more grooming than the more compact, chunky individual. The latter is usually an easy keeper in other ways than grooming. It is not considered good practice to groom too heavily during shredded time, for the new coat is generally a trifle coarse if the old hair is removed too quickly. All grooming should be done when the horse is especially thorough cleaning and grooming to remove dirt, sweat, and falling hair, otherwise sore shoulders will follow. The primary reasons for grooming are to remove completely:

  1. Dry stable dirt and dust accumulated during work.
  2. Worn-out scales, scurf, or dandruff.
  3. Waste products of the body in the form of perspiration; as oil, a small amount of common salt, and some nitrogen.