The Subject: Irish Sport Horse with Cushings, 2 months into his fall clip. When in full coat, his hair coat can shame a Shetland (and he used to be turned out with two Shetlands and a Dartmoor Pony, so I know whereof I speak.) Double coated with a wiry topcoat that makes an extremely effective barrier against rain, cold, and any attempts to move it out of the way, and a dense, plush undercoat that has been the Waterloo of many a clipping machine. The mission: part the topcoat to effectively remove dirt and dried sweat from the undercoat, preventing skin funk. Notably, as he was clipped about 2 months ago and has been rugged ears to tail since then, he is not in full coat right now.
What I have: Schimmer (coconut fiber mud brush) and the bay horse set, accumulated in pieces: Parcour, Lipizzaner, Cavalier, Fellglanzburste (Coat Gloss,) and the Diva. Also a pair of Hands On Grooming Gloves, not made by Haas but considered essential by the overgrown pony; and the Posture Prep massaging curry, ditto.
The bay horse set is designed for double-coated horses with the Cavalier being effective at lifting dirt from the undercoat and the Lipizzaner the topcoat; the Parcour then clears all that mess away. None of these brushes are particularly stiff- if you have a mudball, use a curry or get a mud brush first. I have found both of the dirt-lifting brushes to do what they say on the tin. Most particularly, my horse has a persistent dandruffy patch at a hair whorl underneath his mane that I haven’t been effective at clearing up with previous curry/dandy brush efforts, and the combination of Cavalier and Lipizzaner got about 95% of it up. (Nothing is going to totally lift that until it’s warm enough for me to get at it with Head and Shoulders.)
The Coat Gloss brush is an excellent quality horsehair finishing brush that I don’t find to do anything different than any other excellent quality horsehair finishing brush. I like the shorter and very dense bristles- I don’t find a flick brush to be required since the previous brushes in sequence do such a good job at removing dirt from the coat. However, the Diva is unique. This brush has a soft-bristled outer surrounding an inner of Mattes lambswool. I find the mini size to be ideal for brushing ears and faces- it’s also less expensive than the full size. If you already own a shearling grooming mitt you do not need one. If you take your winter gloves off to hand-rub your horse every day in winter, you do not need one. If, like me, you used to own a shearling grooming mitt and then your dog ate it, you should get the Diva brush and keep it away from your dog. My mother reports using the Coat Gloss and Diva brush on my horse’s face in concert: “He was practically purring.”
I had previously used a set of natural-fiber brushes, with the exception of a synthetic mud brush, and I do notice a substantial difference in using horsehair brushes. They promote a better shine. (They made enough of a difference to my horse’s coat appearance in two groomings that two people commented about it and one asked me if I’d just clipped him.) The other thing that sets these brushes apart from what I’ve used in the past is the density of the bristles and that too makes a difference. It’s harder for little dirt particles to escape the brush, so one swipe with a densely-bristled brush replaces two or three with another. The longer bristles on the outer edge of the Cavalier and Lipizzaner are also a good design for parting hairs and getting to the skin. These brushes are all of moderate stiffness (I use the stiff Schimmer as my mud brush) so they are good for a sensitive-skinned horse.
Because my horse is not in full coat right now I can’t say this for certain, but I think that the brushes I have are probably going to be most effective on a moderate to heavy coat and I might want something with a little more oomph if I let him get properly Shetlandy. For instance, I considered the Pony brush, which has stiff horsehair bristles interspersed with brass threads, but thought that was overkill for a horse who gets a partial clip at most. However, they are extremely effective on a moderate double coat including guard hairs.