Nobody is perfect—statement of fact.

We are all guilty of occasionally cutting corners or running out of time and brushing something off with a muttered, “Urgh, it’ll be fine.” That is not the problem that needs to be addressed here.

There are some misdemeanours, however, that make professional grooms twitch. They may seem small to some but once noticed are impossible to ignore. They glare out at you above the shiny glossy coats, sparkling white bits and immaculate rider turnout. These are not just showing offences—these are year round, day-to-day errors.

Take notes people. The blood pressure of the grooms around you depends on it…

1. Ridiculously long bridle paths

Your actual bridle is 1¼ inches wide at most, why did you shave a foot of mane off your horse?! Please tell me you slipped?

2. Clipped tails

Clippers simply have no place near a horse’s tail. It does not look the same! The end result will simply be an even worse bog brush. Plait it, pull it or leave it alone entirely.

Your horse’s tail after clipping. ©Kurt Bauschardt/Flickr CC

3. Blunt cut forelocks

A questionable at best look on a human probably originating from the aliens of the Paris cat walks, please don’t inflict this humiliation on your horse. Do not cut your horse’s forelock horizontally with scissors. Ever.

4. Ill-fitted bridles

The obvious hanging off their face variety, in particular. You may think you are being kind by keeping everything loose but low bits will clang off their teeth and move uncomfortably in the horse’s mouth and flashes so loose they can eat an apple are simply pointless altogether.

Bits so high the horse is in a permanent grimace evoke a similar human response in sympathy. Don’t even get me started on low nosebands and flashes that obstruct the breathing. *fumes silently*

5. Untucked keepers

Your horse looks like a scarecrow! How can all that flapping not be irritating you? It’s simply beyond me!

As an additional point, not threading the straps of rugs back through the other side of the buckle is pure and simple laziness. When your horse disposes of his rug in the field you have only yourself to blame.

6. Muddy stirrup treads

Spotless, glistening tack but muddy stirrup treads—all that effort and you fail at the final hurdle! It only takes a wet rag. You must have had one in your hand when you cleaned the rest of the saddle. Come on, folks.

7. Back to front boot straps

How hard is it to remember to apply the tension when tightening the boot across the front of the legs not across the very tendons you are aiming to protect? The straps point to the back, people. THE BACK.

8. Wonky clip lines

I know some horses—the young, for example and those with very thin skin who twitch constantly—can be a nightmare to clip around the shoulders but with a little patience and perhaps the use of a pair of mini trimmers, it can be sorted. I’m most bemused when I see a clearly bombproof family plod who looks like he’s been attacked with a hedge trimmer. Oh, dear!

9. Matted clumps of ear fluff

This mainly applies to those out at competition where appearance is far more important but it’s this level of attention to detail that really completes the overall tidy picture. Whilst I know clipping out the entire ear is not for everyone, there is no harm in snipping off any protruding straggly bits of hair.

Fact: 9 out of 10 show horses are too embarrassed by ear matted fluff to show their face. ©Tomi Tapio K/Flickr CC

10. Unwashed manes

So you, or your groom, has allegedly bathed your horse, then gone to the trouble to plait said Neddy. Beautiful plaits as well—all neat and evenly spaced. The effect, however, of your hard work is considerably diminished by greasy, grey dirt and dandruff. Worse yet is the ever troublesome white mane where the tell-tale orange mud discolouring at the roots is clearly highlighted in every arrow straight, tidy parting. The lazy bather is rumbled.



Are these petty, aesthetic issues that are of far less importance than the health and welfare of the horse? OF COURSE. Does “good” grooming practices come down to the individual preference of the person? Without a doubt. That said, a large number of these pet peeves can be easily eliminated with a little extra attention to detail.

Don’t let your horse’s beauty and perfect performance be diminished by a crappy grooming job! A better sense of pride can always be found in a job well done. #groomrespect

About the Author

After 10 years working as a competition groom all round the world Becky has now taken a step back to care for ex racehorses part time while she pursues a new career in Equestrian and Adventure sports Journalism.