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close this book Animal traction
close this folder 3. Animal husbandry
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View the document Nutrition
View the document Grooming
View the document Minor medical problems and first aid


Grooming refers to the process of cleaning animals so that their coats are free of dust, dirt, manure and sweat.

Importance of Animal Grooming:

1) At night, animals may lie in manure, water or urine-soaked ground. When this material hardens on the coat (hair), it attracts flies and other insects which are a nuisance to the animal and winch may carry disease. Sometimes this material contains parasites such as hookworm, which can enter the skin and seriously affect the animal's health.

2) When sweat evaporates, it leaves a mat of stiff hair. A harness or yoke rubbing against this mat will pull some of the hair loose and harder clumps of hair will rub against the exposed skin. This results in a burn or raw spot which becomes increasingly tender and finally an open wound. These wounds are called girth sores or yoke galls. They can cause pain which makes animals extremely irritable and hard to handle.

3) Daily grooming results in closer physical contact between owner and animal. This association develops trust between them. The owner learns about the animal's moods, sensitivities, and reactions. The animal becomes familiar with the owner's voice, movements, and commands, and becomes easier to handle.

4) Daily grooming lets the owner take a close look at the animal each day. Minor problems like ticks, scratches, muscle strains, harness sores, and stones in the hoof can be detected and treated before they become serious problems.

To groom animals, a person needs two tools-a curry comb and a brush. A curry comb is an ovalshaped plastic or metal brushing device which is used to loosen sweat, manure and other materials from the animal's coat. The brush is used to remove the materials loosened during currying.

How to Groom an Animal:

1) Cross-tie the animal (see page 64 for method).

2) Put the curry comb in the right hand and the brush in the left. Starting high on the animal's neck, apply the curry using gentle, circular motions. When the neck is curried, use the brush to remove the loosened materials. Use firm strokes and brush in the direction of the natural lay of the coat.

3) Clean one section of the coat at a time. Work front to back, using first the curry, then the brush to clean each section. When the entire first side (including the legs) is finished, go to the opposite side and repeat the process starting high on the neck.

4) Pay special attention to areas where harness touches the animal. Remove all hardened sweat.

5) When currying the legs, be very gentle. Use the edge of the curry to clean the bony structures around the knees, hocks, elbows, and fetlocks.

6) Leave the head until last. Brush it gently. Be sure to loosen the halter and remove any sweat or loose hair caked under it (especially behind the ears and on the muzzle).

7) If the animal moves, kicks, or attempts to reach back and bite, immobilize it by tightening the crossties and lifting one of the legs in the manner described on page 65.

8) Use water to loosen material that is sticky or very hard.

9) Pick up each hoof and check for stones. Remove stones or caked manure with a hoof pick or blunt instrument.

10) Clean the harness. If the harness is caked with sweat and loose hair, it will dig into the animal and cause a sore. Clean the leather with a scraper; then use a sponge and warm water to remove the finer residue. Keep the leather supple by applying vegetable oil or petroleum once a week. The best time to groom an animal is before the working period. This ensures that it will be clean when harnessed and that sores will not occur. It also helps to prepare the animal for harnessing and work by making it attentive to the owner's voice and commands.