Equestrian Blog

News and thoughts from around the equestrian community

Give your horse a Spring clean!

Coming out of winter your horse is rarely looking his tidiest, whether he is clipped and stable kept, or natural and grass kept. Clipped horses are growing out and often in an in-between stage due to it being too late in the year to re-clip and tidy their coat up. Unclipped horses tend to be hairy and moulting, with most horses having a few stable, grass or mud stains, even those who have full neck rugs seem to manage to get a bit of muck in there somewhere! It’s still too cold for a bath really, unless you’re lucky and have access to warm water and a wash room, but there are other ways you can make your horse look vaguely presentable even if it isn’t show standard. bathing


shedding blade If you have a hairy beastie who’s currently moulting like mad, using a shedding blade to take some of this coat away can work wonders for appearance. These lift any loose hair from the coat, and should be used gently on round areas, avoiding bony bits like the spine and point of hip. This can be done on any moulting horse or pony whether they live in or out, but be cautious using it on more sensitive breeds such as thoroughbreds as they grow less coat and may find the process uncomfortable.

After shedding, going over the coat with a rubber curry comb to bring any dust and dirt to the top of the coat then brushing the dust off with a dandy brush can work wonders for giving a coat extra shine. This also gets some of the staining off them without having to bath.

For mucky legs, if they are muddy wait for them to dry before brushing the mud off. Washing wet mud off can make the legs and heels cracked as it removes the protective oils from the legs. If your horse suffers from mud fever, there are barrier creams to help prevent this which means you can stop antagonising the problem by having to wash the mud off daily. Washing legs occasionally shouldn’t do any harm though, but in winter try to do it without shampoo or soap, just cold water and dry them afterwards with a towel. This will make your horse look slightly more presentable and like someone owns him, even if he doesn’t end up with sparkling white socks. bathing horse's legs

A well kept mane and tail look better too, but regular brushing can easily snap hair which can take up to 2 years to grow back so this isn’t recommended. However, going through manes and tails a few times a week with your fingers or a soft body brush can keep them looking neat without thinning them or damaging the hair. Mane and tail sprays can help keep them detangled and easy to maintain daily as well as shinier and sweet smelling.

pulled mane Natives and Arabs should be kept with a natural mane and tail and untrimmed, but for other breeds a pulled mane and forelock make your horse look far better presented. To pull a mane quickly and neatly, first you should make sure it is tangle free and lay on the side it will be kept on.

The off side is considered correct, however if your horses mane lies neatly and naturally on the near side, this is ok too. Then take the longer underneath hairs in one hand, starting at the poll, and backcomb the other hairs away from them. Wrap them around the comb and pull them out with a sharp tug. This should be done with thin sections and after exercise so the pores on the neck are open and the hairs come out easier. The mane should be about 4-5 inches long after being pulled. If your horse strongly objects to having his mane and forelock pulled, you can get mane thinning combs which give the effect of a pulled mane without the pulling.

To wash a muddy tail in colder weather, get a bucket of warm water and immerse the tail in it, with an assistant holding your horse if he’s unpredictable or you know he’s going to react badly. After a slosh about in the bucket, hold the tail below the dock and spin the tail in circles to dry it off before brushing it. To clean a muddy mane, using a water brush you can wet it slightly and it will appear cleaner when it’s dry, but you shouldn’t soak it as obviously your horse probably won’t appreciate a freezing cold wet neck! Another handy way to clean up your horse's appearance is to do a bit of trimming to tidy up small sections. Trimming whiskers can be done but your horse does use these for feel so it may not be fair to trim those who live out. Trimming beards tidies up the horses head and can be done with small quiet clippers so the horse is unlikely to object. washing tail

As well as this trimming outer ear hair looks neat, being careful not to trim the inner ear hair as your horse uses this hair for protection. Using scissors or trimmers, you can take the wispy bits down a horse's leg off, even if he has heavy feather that you want to keep, you can give the leg a much neater look by trimming down the leg so all the hairs lay straight and the same length.

You can also get dry shampoo for horses, which is a fab winter stain remedy, although it won’t work as well as bathing. Usually you just spray this on, rub it into the stain then brush it out a few minutes later and the stain has usually at least faded. Use of this as well as good daily grooming can help to keep your horse vaguely the colour he is supposed to be, far easier with a bay than coloureds and greys though!

Keeping feet picked and oiled not only keeps them healthier and means you can check for any bacterial infections and problems but also means they enhance your horses’ appearance further.

clean horse All this grooming, shedding, pulling, washing and product applying not only makes your horse appear neater and looking the best he can coming into spring and summer, but also help you make sure you know your horses body, what’s normal and what’s not.

This can help spot rain scald, mud fever and other infections sooner, as well as help you monitor your horses’ weight and mood. This also means that if you show there is less work to be done to get your horse looking show worthy. It’s also great for bonding, and exercise on your part, grooming is hard work!

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