When I introduce people to my horses we almost always take the time to groom them. The people like it and the horses do too! One question I always ask people is, “Why do we groom a horse?”
Most people respond by saying to make it look nice which is without a doubt the most noticeable outcome of a grooming session, but maybe there are some other things going on.
I think the most important reason we groom a horse is to get it to trust us, to deepen our connection to it. When we get to the point where we can touch our horse everywhere without it displaying any signs of nervousness we know that we have its trust. When it shows signs of enjoying the grooming we have something more.
Grooming the horse is also a great opportunity to inspect it for injury, visible or otherwise. Horses living in a natural herd environment often end up with cuts and bruises, some of which benefit from treatment. If you live in an area where ticks are an issue, this is an opportunity to find and remove them. If the horse shows sensitivity in any region of the body it may be an indication that there is something going on that bears further investigation.
An Opportunity to practice Mindfulness
Grooming a horse is one of the most mindful things I have ever done. There is so much going on in the moment and almost all of our senses are engaged. The tactile sensation of touching the horse is super compelling and for some of us the smell of horse is very comforting. If you really focus on what you are doing and your connection to the horse this experience becomes a very powerful meditation.
Without a doubt making your horse look pretty is pretty important. I think the horse likes to look good too. But like many things we do in life there is often deeper meaning in seemingly superficial activities.
Now that is something to ponder:)