Grooming’s routine, so routine that many of us just grab the tools that are around, clean and get on to riding. And when we’re at the tack shop, there always seems to be more “fun” things to pick up. But our test horses indicated that attention to the right tools is an absolute necessity. In fact, one might say this was their favorite trial (after the treats trial, anyway).
Mitts come in an astonishing number of styles, shapes and sizes. While most can be used as a curry for sensitive places around the face, ears and lower legs, where curry mitts really shine is giving a bath.
We tried a baker’s dozen of mitts, using them both wet and dry to find out what works and what doesn’t. All the mitts we tried were soft enough to be used for a gentle currying on the bony parts of a horse. Wearing them on your hand like a glove made them easy to maneuver around the hard-to-reach areas. While some of our testers didn’t particularly like using mitts, all of our horses loved them. Apparently, mitts can help even the clumsiest groomer give a soothing massage.
The knitted, cuffed mittens, like the Sisal Mitt from E.B. Rea Co. and the Ultra Scrubby Mitt from Schneiders, were super easy to use, allowing you to bend and curl around ears, eyes, jaws and pasterns. While not designed to dig up deep-down dirt, these mitts were good for dusting off a clean coat and giving you some bonding time with your horse. The looped mitts are also wonderful for easing that itchy saddle sweat mark after a ride.
The flat, open-weave mitts made from spun rubber fibers do a better job than you would expect on a fairly clean horse. They are gentle around bony areas and can be used for quick overall grooming without having to switch to another tool.
The Woven Grooming Mitt from Equestrian International fit even the biggest hands. The Grooma Loopa from Grooma was contoured around the base of the hand for a more secure fit when dunking in and out of the wash bucket, but that made it a little hard to get on for people with really big hands.
The Loofa Curry with Finger Pocket from Schneiders Saddlery was OK, if you don’t like something covering your entire hand, as it had only a slash pocket that basically fit your fingers. Unfortunately, it didn’t stay on as well as we would like.
The big rubber mitts, like the Wonder Glove from Nunn Finer Products and E.B. Rea Co. and the Scrubba Glove from Nunn Finer Products, were heavy and more unwieldy, but they had the added attraction of having rubber nubs and “fingers” to give a deeper-down grooming while still being gentle. They did a decent job on light dirt when used dry and were effective when shampooing.
One of the most popular tools wasn’t actually a mitt at all, but more of an open, double-sided, soft curry you slipped your hand through. These were the Jelly Scrubbers from Tail Tamer Products, and E.B. Rea Co. and the Soft Rubber Jelly Scrubber from Schneiders. These were soft and flexible, allowing you to curl your hand and fingers around almost any part of the horse. With short, tough cone-shaped nubs on one side and fine tiny “hairs” on the other they got high marks from just about everyone. However, they don’t do much on a long winter coat. They’re great for baths, though.
The Rapid Scrub Curry Sponge from Rapid Scrub combines a washing sponge with a perforated rubber curry that has cone-shaped teeth. While it is primarily designed for bathing, it can also be used without the sponge as a dry curry. Check the website before you order, as you can also get it in different firmnesses to suit your horse and specific needs.
We doubt anyone will be displeased with the jelly mitts. These mitts are comfortable and versatile, enjoyed by both man and beast. Of the three we tried, the E.B. Rea and Tail Tamer products are virtually the same in feel, looks and price, so it’s a toss-up. They’re a great choice for everyday currying of summer coats and general “massage” grooming. The Schneiders mitt is about a dollar less, but it’s seems just a tad less soft.
The Rapid Scrub, though a bit pricey comparatively, impressed us as a good tool to have on hand — and it’s well constructed. We like the washing sponge-curry combination to make bathing that much faster and appreciate being able to choose the bristle/nub firmness. It’s really nifty.
For heavier currying, you’re going to need those big, heavy rubber mitts or choose a regular curry, and we’ll have recommendations on those types of curries for you in an upcoming issue.