Got the quarantine blues? Feeling “down” about down time? Waiting for competitions to resume during the COVID-19 outbreak can be hard on both you and your horse. (We see you, shaggy-haired and nodding in agreement as you mosey into the barn in your PJs!)

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However, there’s no time like the present to get a jump on the dazzle for a memorable return to the ring. So start channeling your horse’s inner unicorn now.

“Why bother until the week before that first show?” you ask. As professional grooms will attest, blue-ribbon looks don’t happen overnight. In fact, the most brilliant equine shine begins with daily grooming at home.

Clean Up Your Act

To make things easier on yourself—and to promote your horse’s overall health—first establish a “clean routine.” Brisk daily currying, brushing and combing of the mane and tail not only neaten his appearance, they help stimulate his circulation, thwart skin diseases and distribute oils. Plus, the tidier your horse is kept every day, the easier it will be to bring out his best for show day.

From time to time, he’ll need a good scrub to remove deep-down grime. (Don’t overdo it, however, or you’ll strip his coat of oils. In winter, opt for hot toweling and spot cleaning instead.)

Before getting out the sponge and bucket, take a good, hard look at the shampoo and conditioner you use on your horse. As with human hair, using products that aren’t pH-balanced, or that contain sulfates or parabens, is an invitation to dry, lackluster locks. In addition, harsh soaps cause scurf and dandruff—bad news for a horse’s ultra-sensitive skin.

So when bathing your unicorn … er, horse … be sure to use a gentle shampoo formulated to promote hair and skin health. Then follow up with a nice, thick conditioner on the mane and tail, just as you would with your own hair. Tip: Comb the conditioner through the hair with your fingers to help coat every strand and untangle knots. Then leave on for 15 minutes before rinsing.

ShowSheen 2-in-1 Shampoo

ShowSheen 2-in-1 Shampoo

If you’re in a hurry, a combo product can be a timesaver. But again, make sure the formula is pH-balanced and free of the bad stuff. ShowSheen 2-in-1 Shampoo is a product that cleans thoroughly and conditions with pro-vitamins and silk proteins.

The Brightest Whites

Shocking white blazes and socks that pop help bring home the blue! But last-minute baths won’t always do the trick. Making whites sparkle takes extra maintenance between shows. Invest in a good, “color-safe” whitening product to keep on top of manure and grass stains (we’re looking at you, fetlocks, hocks, and knees).

Bluing and bleach are not only passé, they wreak havoc on the hair and skin. Toss the harsh products in favor of a gentler, bleach-free alternative. Spray it onto those markings, rub into the hair and let soak for five minutes at bath time. (ShowSheen Stain Remover & Whitener with oxygen cleansers and nourishing fruit extracts is a good choice) Tip: Do this regularly to help prevent that ugly yellowing from stubborn, ground-in stains. You can even use a safe whitening product to help brighten light-colored hooves.

All the Shine

The most versatile product in your grooming kit is arguably a good spray hair polish. “But isn’t that only for show day?” you ask.

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Au contraire! Much more than a finishing touch at ringside, products like ShowSheen’s Original Hair Polish and Detangler deserve a place in your everyday routine. A good polish not only adds radiant shine, but acts as a wonderful mane and tail detangler. Sprayed on daily before a gentle comb-out, it will help prevent unruly “rats’ nests” and those unsightly split ends that develop over time (ShowSheen even reduces hair breakage by as much as 40%.)

But that’s not all. A pre-turnout spritz all over your horse’s body will keep dust at bay, make mud and manure stains easier to remove and even help release burrs and stickers. So what’s not to love?

Other benefits:

  • Help combat dry, dull coats in pasture-kept horses by using a polish with pro-vitamins and proteins.
  • For static electricity during blanketing season, try spraying polish on your horse’s coat first (it can help prevent rubs, too).
  • If clipping your horse is a drag, spray polish on his coat and let it dry. The blades will glide effortlessly through his hair, the clippers will stay cooler and you’ll have fewer clipper marks.
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After following your new “clean routine,” your horse will be more than ready for the Big Reveal. Because of your daily diligence, that last pre-show cleanup will be a breeze. A misting of hair polish will help tame flyaways and distribute the shine evenly (spray everywhere except where the saddle sits). It will also add a protective finish to your horse’s gleaming coat, making spot cleaning in between classes that much easier. One wipe with a damp cloth, and you’re set.

So get going—your unicorn awaits!

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