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AskHQ: Curry comb conundrum

Q: I have recently heard that plastic curry combs can do damage to horses’ hair, removing its natural oils. Is this true? What should I be using instead?

Asked by Sam Waite

A: Recent research has suggested that cheap plastic curry combs, especially those with sharp teeth, can cause damage to the hair and in some cases even damage the skin of your horse.

The importance of good, high-quality grooming tools is often overlooked, but when our horses get brushed almost every day it seems sensible to make sure that we are using only the best tools on them. If you want to continue using a plastic curry comb, just make sure that the ends are rounded. A good substitute for a plastic curry comb is a rubber curry comb, which can help to remove the loose dirt and hair just like the plastic variety.

The best advice is to watch your horse will he is being brushed. Does he seem to be enjoying the grooming process or finding it uncomfortable? If your horse seems uncomfortable, this is a sign that he is being groomed too hard, that the equipment is not ideal or that he is just very sensitive and needs some help desensitising. If you are still unsure whether your tools are gentle enough, try using the brush on your own arm with the pressure that the brush is used with on your horse. If it’s sore, it’s sore for your horse.

As a final note, it is not uncommon to find yards in South Africa using the metal curry combs to groom horses. This is an absolute no-no! It may be a quick solution to dirt and loose hair build-up, but it is extremely uncomfortable for the horse. Metal curry combs are for the sole purpose of cleaning other brushes. They are never to be used directly on the horse.