We all know it’s natural for horses to grow thicker coats when the days get shorter and cooler. Extra hair keeps them safe and warm during the winter months. Many of us want to ride and keep our horses exercised, but a thick winter coat makes cleaning into a hassle.
Earlier on in the fall season, when temperatures fluctuate while winter settles in, some horses will sweat more than during the warmer months due to their coat being too thick for current conditions. As colder temperatures occur more frequently, sweating will decrease as the longer hair is more adequate at this time.
Nonetheless, we’re just hitting that stage of difficult hair length and lots of sweat, so we thought we’d bring you some tips on how to manage your horse’s winter coat this year. Check them out below!
Daily Currying and Brushing:
Daily currying and brushing will do wonders for reducing grime that builds up in your horse’s coat. The curry comb works to lift dust and dirt so you can brush it away with a hard or soft brush after. It also stimulates the skin, which improves circulation, too.
Depending on your riding habits, you may want to consider clipping your horse. A complete body clip is generally done if you are showing your horse indoors, and a trace clip or hunter clip for if you want your horse to have a bit of a winter coat for warmth, but also be able cool down faster after a rigorous ride. It is recommended that you get the appropriate blanket for your horse if it has any type of clip.
Get acquainted with a vacuum for horses. After a thorough curry comb session, use a vacuum to get all of the dirt and grime pulled away from your horse. No amount of flicking a brush can compare to using a vacuum, but not all horses will tolerate this.
Tip: Be careful and research proper techniques for vacuuming your horse ahead of time!
If you noticed your horse’s coat gathering dust, you can always use warm water to give a quick sponge bath. Good diet and overall health (including regular exercise) creates a coat that is easy to clean.
For tidier tails:
If your horse goes into winter with a clean tail, you can help keep it that way by using a commercial tail bag. You can also protect it with a braid: divide the hair into three sections, wrap each in a long, narrow strip of torn bed sheet, and then braid the sections together. At the end of the tail, continue braiding the remaining sheets for a few inches, then tie them off in a knot.
Using a shedding blade a few times a week helps to thin out a very thick coat!
You’ve used dry shampoo for your hair, right? Well now there’s also a few pH-balanced easy-use shampoos available for your horse, too. Many are not really “dry,” but they use a spray that sprays on and wipes off easy with a clean towel.
To spot clean your horse with a true dry shampoo, simply rub an organic baby powder into the skin, and then brush or rub away; it will pull the dirt and oil off and make the coat easier to groom.
The fetlocks may trap and accumulate dirt while spending time outdoors. Keeping the fur and hair on the fetlocks trimmed or clipped will keep these areas clean and help reduce the chance of scratches. Scratches (also known as greasy heel or pastern dermatitis, click here to read our feature on Scratches) develops from a combination of wet mud and dry dirt coupled with bacteria, a fungus, or parasites. Keeping your horse’s fetlocks clean and dry significantly reduces the possibility of this condition that can take months to cure.
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