How many times have you looked out into the field and watched as horses groom and scratch each other, often amazed at how vigorously they scratch each other. Not only is this a social event but regular grooming is not only for pleasure but more importantly for relaxation. But can you use these same techniques to change your grooming style to create these same health benefits for your horse?
Connective tissue in your horse is either thin and flat such as the fascia between the skin and muscles, or thick and dense like tendons and ligaments. Fascia should glide freely across tissues, muscles, and tendons and the healthier it is as it attaches into the bone or other fascia, the better it can function. With this in mined, cross fiber grooming is a positive change to your regular grooming technique.
When grooming your horse, try to groom him so that he can bend and stretch as you groom. Instead of using a curry comb in the traditional circular motion, try cross fiber massage as it can help break up adhesions and while stimulating circulation, lymphatic drainage and acupuncture points to relax your horse both physically and mentally.
When grooming, use short back and forth strokes about 6 inches in length. Groom lightly at first and feel if the skin is loose over the muscles. Then use the curry to massage deeper into the muscle while watching for signs of relaxation such as licking, chewing, yawning, sighing and bending around. If your horse reacts by flinching as you groom a certain area, don’t ignore that area, but rather groom lighter for a about a minute or so and watch for a positive response, then increase the pressure.
Take your time and observe your horse during your grooming sessions. As the grooming sessions become deeper, use your body to groom and not only your arm and shoulder. This change to your grooming technique can translate into huge benefits for your horse’s posture, performance and health while you turn your pre-ride grooming into a significant conversation with your horse.