I am reading a brand new book on natural horsemanship. After enjoying the first few chapters, I got pretty bogged down in the one on grooming. The initial paragraphs bothered me, but then I got to the section on necessary grooming equipment, and the author’s credibility took a sharp turn downhill. One of the musts in his kit was a curry comb. The illustration showed it to be one of the round metal ones.
When I got my first pony, a round metal curry comb was one of the first tools that I bought. I expect I learned to use one when I learned to groom horses at camp as a kid. As an adult, I used it dutifully for a year or so. It seemed similar in concept to the shedding blade I used on my dogs. But when I bought my Norwegian Fjord Horse, I picked up The Fjordhorse Handbook by Carol Rivoire. While there were things she said that I couldn’t endorse, I did appreciate her reasoning around curry combs. “Sometimes you’ll see metal curry combs. These are only good for cleaning your brushes, not for using on the horse. They are much too harsh.” (1)
Rivoire presented a friendly alternative made by a company called Grooma. (An internet search easily brings up places that carry them.) I have found Rivoire’s testimonial to be accurate. “Horses like this one a lot. It costs a bit more than the ordinary curry, but you may want to indulge your horse. The rubber curry removes a lot of dandruff, scurf, and dust… Being massaged with the soft rubber curry is great therapy for the horse. He’ll love you for the pleasure it brings him. It’s also excellent for the health of his skin, and for the benefits to his circulation.” (2) There was no need to tie my ponies when I went to take the picture above, and I got lots of licks and chews in preparation for the photograph!
I’ve found these tools to work well during shedding season, as they grab and hold loose hair which is easily removed in a clump. I have two types: a coarse one for the body and a fine one for the face. The fine one is especially nice for those ‘naughty’ ponies that take pleasure in rolling in the mud in the spring and get it caked everywhere, including tender places.
As I’ve spent more and more time around my ponies, I’ve come to see the wisdom in the observation that equines can feel something as light as a fly on their flank. If their skin is that sensitive, then it behooves us as caretakers to respect that fact. Especially if we are ‘naturally’ oriented, we should be using the idea that the lightest touch on the hair of a horse is communication between us and them. In that context, a metal curry comb is a raging tantrum that just isn’t necessary, especially when there are friendly alternatives.
1) Rivoire, Carol. The Fjordhorse Handbook. Antigonish, Nova Scotia: The Gasket Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd., 1998, p. 86
2) Rivoire, p. 89.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2012