Thank You Scratches

By Terry Golson

After riding, Tonka and I have a routine. He taught it to me.

The bridle comes off


and I rub the corners of his lips. They’re itchy from saliva and sweat.


He also likes the insides of his lips massaged.


Tonka tells me when he’s had enough of that and he indicates where to scratch next.


He’s quite clear about what he likes.


Taking a few minutes to make my horse feel good after a workout is rewarding – and fun – for both of us. Riding your horse starts well before you get in the saddle, and doesn’t end until you’ve left the barn. I try to schedule as much time on the ground with Tonka as in the saddle. Those thank-you scratches are an integral part of our rides.

4 thoughts on “Thank You Scratches

  • Gin

    My mares like to scratch their face on the spare tire mounted on the side of my trailer. So when I get back from a ride and get ready to tie them to unsaddle, I tell them they can scratch just as soon as I get the bridle off and their halter on and tie them. It takes just a couple of times telling them that and showing them and they know what to do. That way they are standing quietly while I take off their bridle, etc.
    I like that last picture of you riding Tonka in the pines.

  • Tracy

    I used to mount the heads of old, stiff push brooms onto corner fence posts in the pasture. Horses would line up to rub their itchy winter coats off on them. Birds would swoop down and pluck the clumps of hair for their nest building. They make rubber strips with ‘fingers’ protruding from them now, which many a shedding horse love. Not to forget the straw ‘whisks’ with which some of the less sensitive skinned breeds love to be strapped. With all the constricting tack we put on our horses, who can blame them!

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