Science and technology have met and made friends with equine grooming. If you remember the Dark Ages when you grabbed a rusted, metal currycomb and a weathered brush for equine finishing, then you’ll marvel at the wide array of state-of-the art tools that easily put shine on your horses and make maintenance a snap.
Brushes Go Modern, Natural, Colorful
In 2003, body brushes are sporting bright colors, tougher materials and comfortable shapes. Gone are the days of splintering wooden brushes.
Next, think natural. “Natural” is a term used frequently in the halls of brush manufacturers, according to Theresa Vanden Heuvel, equine products sales consultant for Miracle Corp of Australia. Miracle Corp licenses Oxo Good Grips equine grooming tools and purchased Grooma one and a half years ago.
“Consumers are definitely more conscientious, moving to natural products and away from synthetic,” says Vanden Heuvel. “They also want to hold on to brushes…easily.”
Oxo heard the calls and responded with a natural boar bristle brush, ideal for finishing or face, and an ergonomic handle, with Santoprene grip on all brushes, making them easier to hold when wet.
The Grooma line, when it debuted with its Groomer, featured deep-digging “fingers,” and its Sof-Touch and Broadstroke, proffering a gentler massage. Those tools introduced color, too. Grooma also makes “regular” brushes, with a distinctive aqua tone and enhanced grip.
And you can say goodbye to tugging: Owners are snapping up Grooma’s Mane Master to thin and shorten manes and tails. Comparable products include the Lincoln Mane Comb and SoloComb.
Horse owners also like the convenience of having their grooming products packaged in ready-made kits. In response, Decker Manufacturing Company makes a box with a see-through front and a handle, containing eight grooming tools. The company packages the same items in a hunter green duck canvas courier bag “that allows the groomer to unzip the bag, hang it on the trailer’s side and everything’s there,” says executive vice president Marty Fox. Trainers welcome the kit concept for the first-time horse owner.
Decker also has a diverse line of synthetic- and natural-bristled brushes. Decker, like other manufacturers, sells some horsehair brushes—and yes, the hair is usually from deceased equines. “Natural” bristles can also consist of plant fibers.
Synthetic fibers still have their place, too. “Most brushes are more durable with a small percentage of synthetic bristle,” counsels Fox. “That gives them body.”
Harper Brush Works, Inc. manufactures leather-backed Maguire Brushes. These grooming tools are color-coded so the buyer knows “what brush does what.” Seizing on the patriotism trend, Maguire produced its All-American Line of red, white and blue brushes.
Users say the Oster line is easy to grab, smooth and round so the items feel good, reducing hand fatigue.
In short, the list of choices is long. Boarders find it fun to color-coordinate brushes, buckets and aprons, just the way they do wraps and saddle pads. “Gel” or “jelly” products—both combs and brushes—hustle out tack store doors now, as do newer three-hole combs and “jumbo” combs with handles. “Scrubbers,” glove- or mitt-like tools, now come in cotton, sheepskin and cactus, as well as the traditional rubber. Dutch Horsefriend/RC-Brush’s retractable curry, with a twist of handle, dumps hair and dust right off.