My horse is slightly yellow. How can I get rid of these stains?
Ah, the yellow horse. Common yellow areas are manes, tails, and bellies of gray and white horses. Sort of an ombre look - from yellow to actual horse color. It’s sort of a mix of what causes this yellowing - urine, manure, dirt, air, your horse’s natural aura, all mixed up into a yellow color on your horse.
Here’s what I know for absolute certainty about a yellow horse:
- It takes time to get that way, so it will take time to undo.
- Avoid going all out on detergents. You will end up with a more brittle hair coat and tail which will just soak up more stains more easily.
- It’s the long game here, folks. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your bright white horse won’t be either.
Tips for stopping the yellow before it starts:
- Use ultra clean and ultra deep bedding if possible. Clean your horse’s habitat as much as possible.
- Let your horse be oily. His natural oils protect the hair and provide a natural barrier to stains. Stripping of oils with harsh shampoos or ultra frequent baths removes these oils.
- When you do shampoo, rinse out thoroughly! And then rinse again! And you can follow with a vinegar rinse if you like.
- For mares, find a way to loosely braid the shorter tail hairs at the top of the tail so that the urine stream doesn’t catch them. You don’t have to braid like you are going into the hunter ring, keep it loose and comfortable. More on that here!
- Keep the tail clean and conditioned. Healthy hairs don’t take stain as easily as brittle and damaged hair.
- Don’t be afraid to bang the tail, if it’s appropriate for your discipline. This removes the super icky stained parts. You might notice a huge difference with just an inch or so. For directions on banging a horse's tail, read this.
How to get that yellow out!
- Curry like there’s no tomorrow. And then curry some more.
- Try lifting stains with a steamy washcloth - if your horse is naturally oils this typically works. You can also add in a spot remover.
- Groom your horse daily. Attend to the stains daily.
- You can use white vinegar to try and remove the stains on the tail and mane. I have read (but not tried) a baking soda paste to remove stains, then rinse with white vinegar. Yes, you are creating a stain removing volcano.
- You can try ketchup - again, I’ve read about it but not tried it. Also know that the smell might make you retch, and you will end up having to shampoo it out.
- You can use blueing shampoos. Use delicately and diligently. Know that most of these just change the color of the stain, the blue/purple blends with the yellow to brighten.
- For pete’s sake - skip the laundry detergents. Your horse’s body and tail is not a pile of socks and skivvies. The harsh chemicals will set you back even further as the brittle results soak up more stain.
- Keep the tail conditioned! You can use a conditioner for horses at bath time, or you can use a spray in conditioner or detangler. You may need to experiment with how much to use, as sometimes too much creates a dirt glue.
- And then curry some more. And then some more.
You can have a non-yellow horse - but it takes time. Keep at it daily and be smart about not stripping your horse’s hair and skin. Happy Grooming!