How can I keep my dark horse looking shiny and nice?
The plight of the gray horse owner is well known - grass stains, manure spots, general dirtiness that is so obvious on a gray or white horse. Well, the dark horses can be just as tricky to shine up and keep clean. You might not see manure stains, but you will see sun bleaching and a dull coat. Some ideas for keeping your dark horse looking amazing:
- Follow the usual routine for a healthy coat - a balanced diet, lots of curry comb attention, keep the hair’s natural oils.
- Add in your other senses. It’s hard to see manure stains on a dark horse, but you can feel then sometimes, and they appear as dull areas on a horse. You may also smell them. Using a dry shampoo or spot cleaner after a thorough curry comb removes the stain.
- Deal with sweat appropriately. Sunshine and sweat can often lead to a bleached out appearance on your horse. You don’t have to bathe everyday, this might be totally drying out anyway, but take the time to remove sweat with a damp washrag, a light hosing, or a full body rinse. Arrange things around so he dries in the shade if possible.
The ends of manes and tails can become reddish or bleached. You may want to trim the ends, just a tad.
- Keep the ends of the mane and tail trimmed. You don’t need to drastic hair cut here, just keep the tattered and/or bleached ends cut away. And yes, you can cut the mane with scissors, or you may want to just use a man blade to trim off the ends. Tails can be banged for a tidy look, if it’s appropriate for your horse’s discipline.
- Explore some UV protection options for your horse to combat bleaching and fading. Some sprays offer UV protection, and some hoods, fly sheets, bonnets, and fly masks may help as well. It really depends on how these clothing items fit into your horse’s lifestyle.
- Employ the “barrier method” for repelling dirt and bleaching. Fly sheets and blankets do wonders for keeping a horse’s hair coat nice. Not a technique for all horses or all situations, but a physical barrier between your horse and the earth might work. This is especially nice for the messy horse that sleeps in the soft and wet spots.
- Bust out the product. Many horses benefit from a little shine help in the form of a shine spray, but you also have the option of using a shampoo designed to deepen colors. Just as the purple shampoos work on gray horses, these colored shampoos can add a layer of color depth and shine to your horse’s coat.
Grooming products and fly gear can help prevent bleaching out of your horse's dark color.
I should add that these tips work equally well for the red headed chestnut horses out there. For the paint and pinto owners who have both white and dark to deal with, well, I salute you. That is, perhaps, the biggest grooming challenge.