How to Groom your Horse - circa 1900
When I started to research this article, I did not know quite what I would find; I was pleasantly surprised to find the principles are very similar but the practise rather different. See what you think?
Here are some extracts from:- Horses and Stables by Sir F Fitzwygram, BART. Published by Longmans, Green and Co., London, New York and Bombay. 1901.
Reasons of the need of grooming.
The question is often asked, "why does the stabled horse require constant grooming, whilst the same horse turned out into a field does well enough without it?"
The question cannot be answered in the form in which it is put. It is not the fact of living under cover, but the active work and the high feeding of the stabled horse, which necessitates grooming. Cavalry horses in camps, for instance require grooming just as much, and in some respects more than they do in barracks. It is the work and the food, not the shelter, which constitutes the difference between the domesticated animal and the horse in a state of nature.
By work, and especially fast work, the secretions of the glands of the skin are enormously increased. Furthermore, the horse, which is worked hard, must be fed on highly nutritious food; and from this cause also the secretions of the skin are largely increased. Nature must be assisted by artificial means to remove these increased secretions, or the pores of the skin will become clogged and the health will be deteriorated.
Use of the brush in grooming
It is necessary that the skin be cleaned with a good bristle brush, strongly applied and well laid on.
For these purposes rubbing the skin with a wisp or rubber, though it may answer some of the subsidiary uses of grooming, is not sufficient. A wisp, especially a damp wisp, such as is often used, will not clean the skin. It might be supposed rather to plaster in the scurf and dirt. Such rubbing however does produce a certain beneficial, inasmuch as it is generally laid on with a good deal of force; and the friction has undoubtedly a considerable influence in cleaning the skin.
Method of grooming
The thorough cleaning of the skin of the horse is an operation requiring both skill and hard labour. To make his labour effective, and to produce the greatest effect with the least expenditure of power and in the shortest time, the groom should aid his muscular strength with his weight. He should therefore stand well away from the horse, and lean his weight on the brush, which thus used will penetrate the coat more effectually, and with less exertion to the man, than is worked only by his muscular strength.
The principal working on the brush should follow the natural direction of the hair. It will not penetrate it as deeply and thoroughly when worked against it as with it. To remove, however, external dirt or sweat, which may have caked in the coat, it may sometimes be necessary to brush against the hair.
(I hope the author is explaining the use of a body brush, as using a dandy brush in this manner, will hurt the horse. I wonder how may horses in 1901 stood still to be groomed?)
Improper means used to produce short and glossy coats.
Short and glossy coats, as a general rule, indicate good grooming and careful stable management, whilst long dull coats argue the reverse. But we must caution the reader against the practice of some servants of administering tonics and other stimulants, which by artificially exciting the system, produce temporarily a good external appearance, but in the long run are the fruitful parents of disease.
The effect of daily good grooming is readily recognised in the bright clean and healthy appearance of the coat. If the fingers are run through it, no trace of soil will be left on them. On the other hand, if the skin is not clean, the fingers will be soiled and white streaks of dirt and dust will be apparent in the parts through which they have passed.
Every owner ought occasionally at least to run his fingers through the coat of his horse before he mounts, or when he visits his stable after the horse has been cleaned on his return from work. He will also do well to see that the feet are properly washed out in the morning or after exercise. It is in vain to expect that servants, however good they may be at starting, will long continue to give the time and labour required daily to groom horses, as they ought to be groomed, unless the master is able to and does appreciate the result of their labour.