If you have a horse with white socks or large white markings, you know the struggle of keeping his chrome polished. (Does it seem like every horse out there with white points loves mud more than anything, or is that just our experience?) We’re bringing you some tips of the trade to polish up his chrome and brighten his white points.
This article is part of our Guide to Grooming Awareness Campaign, brought to you by ShowSheen.
Manure and urine-soaked bedding will stain white points. To reduce the amount of stain-producing material in your horse’s environment, keep stalls and pens clean and fresh by picking them often. Furthermore, you need to remove these kinds of stains from your horse’s coat daily. Infrequent washing or failure to remove dirty spots from manes, tails, and legs can cause semi-permanent dulling of your horse’s white points.
Using a fly sheet or summer turnout sheet can help reduce stains as well. Your horse deserves turn-out time, and this shouldn’t be avoided because he might dirty his white points. Try to reduce staining by removing soiled bedding and using turnout sheets, but read on if the stain has already set in.
Remove stains promptly
Frequent cleaning of white points is the key to keeping stains away. Any time your horse is finished with turnout or exercise and becomes soiled, his white points should be rinsed thoroughly. If rinsing doesn’t remove the soil, wash the points.
Once the stains have occurred on your horse, gentle scrubbing with shampoo and good rinsing helps eliminate them. Be sure to rinse the shampoo completely from your horse’s hair, because residue attracts dirt and will dull the coat.
Try out a stain remover and whitener combo that not only removes stains but nourishes the hair follicle. We like this option from ShowSheen, and find it to be effective.
On white manes and tails, a pre-rinse of household white vinegar can be really helpful in loosening dirt and stains. After wetting the mane and tail, pour vinegar straight from the bottle on the hair and allow it to soak for a few minutes, rinse, then shampoo as usual. You’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll see on your light-colored horse’s tresses.
Vinegar diluted in water can also be used to remove soap residue and help horses to avoid common skin irritants and conditions.
Use gentle products
Use shampoos that are safe, gentle, and formulated for horses. (White vinegar is an exception; you can buy it at any grocery store.)
Instead of bagging your horse’s tail, leave it loose and wash it more often to reduce yellowing and stains. Rinse all traces of shampoo thoroughly out of the mane, tail, and legs to avoid dulling the white. Apply a pre-rinse of white vinegar for several minutes to brighten your horse’s mane and tail.
Avoid using products that have a high alcohol content, promising to keep shavings from sticking to your horse. These types of products can cause tails to become dry and brittle, and that can lead to breakage.
Dry legs thoroughly
It’s important to dry your horse’s pasterns before he’s put away; otherwise, you invite skin issues. Fungal and bacterial skin problems thrive in moist environments, so by eliminating the moisture to the best of your ability, you can avoid such common issues as scratches.
A clean, dry towel works well to absorb moisture around the horse’s legs. While he’s drying, you may wish to have your horse stand on a clean surface, such as a rubber stall mat. If you dry him in a stall, he’s likely to get sawdust or shavings on his damp skin, and those can hold bacteria.
Don’t brush manes and tails when wet, let them dry thoroughly, detangle with your fingers, and then brush with a mane and tail comb. Try out a detangling spray to really work out the knots.
Give that tail a trim
Unless prohibited by your breed or show association, trim your horse’s tail off the ground. By keeping the tail from dragging the ground, you help keep soil out of its ends. The most important benefit of a trimmed tail is to keep the horse from stepping on it. Plus, just as with human hair, removal of split ends is needed periodically.