Friday, January 6, 2012

Memoirs: A Horse Girl's Grooming Kit

I am not sure which came first, the paddock boots or the brushes, but either way they were funded by saving my weekly allowance for many months.  The exact time escapes me, but I was probably less than ten years old.  In fact, I cannot remember going to the barn without my sturdy container of grooming supplies, and the rectangular grip of the plastic handle.  It did not matter that I did not own a horse.  I had a box full of brushes, one of each kind, hoof picks, and a couple mane combs, which accompanied me to the barn like my tool kit.

"The horses are losing their winter coats?  No problem.  I brought my shedding blade."

"Oh, you lost your hoof pick?  Here, you can borrow my spare." 

I would never dream of taking a riding lesson without cleaning my pony's feet first.  Extra hoof picks were essential, as was the lesson in responsibility.  "The horse always comes first," was the horsemanship philosophy drilled into me in the early years.

I came to really appreciate having my own grooming kit.  Practically speaking, I did not have to worry about looking around for a curry comb or soft brush, but even more importantly, it showed that I was serious about riding.  Unlike most of the other lesson goers, I did not enter horse shows, so I needed something to represent my dedication.  Some girls had ribbons; I had brushes.  And I took excellent care of those brushes.  I used my mother's vacuum to remove loose hair and dust, and I emptied and cleaned the entire grooming box quite regularly, replacing all the grooming tools afterward, tucked in their rightful spots.

There was pride in that grooming kit.

I still have most of the original brushes and they are in working order.  One of them is a short, stiff brush with red bristles.  The handle is wooden.  This brush is the best for grooming legs and thick winter coats.  I have seen one just like it in the barn owner's collection and I know that she likes it, because once she saw me using mine and worried that it was her red brush.  Needless to say, I understood the attachment.  I have had this brush for so long that I would be sad if I misplaced it.  The wood has worn to match my grip perfectly.  It reminds me of an old musical instrument, whose resonance and charm have developed with time.  Harley loves the brush on his forehead and jaw.  Those must be itchy places that only the well-experienced bristles of the red brush can satisfy. 


  1. That's cute. :)

    I found a hoof pick once - the fold back on itself kind. I found it in an old abandoned paddock and I was so proud of it. It proved I was a horse girl because I knew how to use it, how to flick the dirt away from me, not to push it into the frog but to use it in the grooves either side. I had never picked a hoof before in my life but if the need ever arose, I was ready!!

  2. Lisa- I love your companion story. Thanks for contributing to grooming tools nostalgia!

  3. That's hilarious about your BO eying the favorite red brush - I'd have marched over and checked you out myself!

    Once I had finally begged / bugged my parents long enough, they agreed to give me riding lessons. The Christmas holiday occurred during our search for a teacher, so I asked Santa for a grooming kit. I had memorized the pony club manual word for word, so believe you me - Santa got an itemized list. I was so proud of my bucket full of grooming tools, and that I knew how to use each one.

    Thanks for the memories! ;)

  4. Calm, Forward, Straight- With all the girls asking for detailed lists of horse items, I guess Santa must know a thing or two about horse care by now! Thanks for adding your cute anecdote!

  5. Val - that must be a universal idea, the grooming box. I did the same thing with mine. I loved to keep it clean and free of loose hair and dust. When i finally went off to college, I left my tack at home, but I brought my grooming box with me. You just never know when you'll get a call to go riding. And like you, I felt that having my own "tools" meant that I was a serious horse person.

    Even to this day I keep my brush bag clean and organized!


  6. Karen- I always bring a helmet to clinics or barn visits or horse-shopping with someone else, because "you never know if you might get asked to ride" and I am not going to turn down a nice riding opportunity!

    Admittedly, mine is not as meticulous as it used to be!

  7. Cute post. I like that the barn owner was eyeing your brush, just in case... I always try to keep my grooming kit clean and have my favorite brushes too. My green bristled brush with the wooden handle is my favorite. It was Erik's brush and I've just recently started to "allow" Dusty, Blue and Donnie to use it.

    This morning I groomed all three of them before they worked. There's a lot of memories attached to just that one brush. It took me a long time to actually clean Erik's hair out of it.I know that's silly but I'm the sentimental sort.

  8. Grey Horse Matters- I know exactly what you mean. I rode a cute red horse years ago and I can still see some of his hairs trapped in the center of the brush. I do not try too hard to get them free. :)


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