Kenya Animal Welfare Advocacy Network popularly known as (KAWAN) held their annual Animal Grooming day on the 15th of March 2017. Students at the University of Nairobi got to experience the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to grooming animals but most importantly they got to learn. Grooming animals is an important part of animal welfare that majority of us know little about. In the words of one of my esteemed lecturers who once defined animal welfare as “fit and feeling good”, animals that are well groomed are normally healthy and very happy.
The day begun at the large animal unit where students were taught how to groom a horse by the farrier. His years of experience in this sector allowed him to share some of his secrets with the eager to learn students. He showed them how to restrain horses and how to avoid head butts and kicks. His tools of trade included grooming and finishing brushes, curry combs, mane and tail combs as well as the hoof picker and trimmer. He started by hoof picking and trimming of the four hooves. He explained to the students the importance of that step and how it can help to diagnose as well as prevent lameness in horses.
He showed the students how to measure the tail before chopping off the extra hair. He then proceeded to chop the hair a few inches below the hock joint explaining to the students that the height allows the horse to still chase off flies up to the shoulder region ( if it was up to me I would have chopped off the entire length of the horse tail hair and head to the salon, kidding).
The farrier then showed us how to brush the coat of the horse using the grooming brush. This he said, reduced excess hair and removed the hair that had been shed by the horse. After brushing the coat, he went ahead to chop off the mane at the bridle path and the forelock up to a length where the horse could see clearly without having to whip off his forelock. He then allowed the students to wash the horse, and this is where all hell broke loose. The students struggled to keep the horse calm but managed in the end. They finished shampooing the horse, rinsed her and allowed her to bask in the sun.
The students then headed to the University’s small animal clinic for the second part of the day which was on dog grooming. They found Mr. Victor who taught them how to groom the furry fellows. The students were allowed to interact with the dogs and brush their coat before shampooing them and rinsing them off. The dogs seemed to be enjoying the attention from the students. Mr. Victor also demonstrated how to clip their nails.
The day ended with a briefing from the KAWAN club patron and a few of the student organizers of the event. Students learned that grooming plays a huge role towards improving the welfare of animals. It’s also a good way to train the animals as well as create a bond with them.