How do you keep a gray or white horse clean?
Doesn't he seem smug? This is easy to clean if you have the basics - good diets, lots of natural oils, strong arm muscles.
Here's what the Pro's do. We use elbow grease, and a lot of it. We curry alot. We stimulate the horse's natural oils, which act like a stain repellant. We make sure our horses are eating only top quality feeds in a well balanced diet. Diet is the basis of a healthy horse, and a healthy horse will have a wonderful coat. We sometimes shampoo with a blueing shampoo, ususally only before a show. For maintanence shampoos, I prefer a mild version, with or without a touch of blueing. We use a spot remover. We use detanglers to help repel future stains in the mane and tail. For my own gray horse (see above photo) I will shampoo about every 4 weeks. If he gets stained, a curry comb and then wiping with a damp rag usually does the trick. If the stain is gigantic and horrible and *crusty* some help with a spot remover or waterless shampoo is a good idea. A super clean stall helps, also.
It's a marathon, not a sprint!
What I don't do is use harsh detergents like anything designed to clean laundry, car engines, or wood furniture. These dry the hair and skin, making stains more likely to stick around, and sometimes irritiating your horse's skin. I know a lot of folks will make your own blueing stain remover from laundry stuff or use household cleaners. I will never suggest this, these are harsh chemicals that come with warnings and have not been tested on horses as most reputable shampoos and products have. (Here's more about using household cleaners for horses) There are some really great blueing shampoos and spot removers out there designed for horses and not soccer uniforms!
Keeping your horse's hairs clipped will also help keep them clean. For the legs, a rinse with water if they are dirty will usually do the trick. A nozzle with a "fan" setting can be used like a power washer down the legs.
Shampooing too often can strip your horse of natural oils. Stick to rinsing and you may see an increase in those stain repelling oils! Use products as an addition - not a substitution - for grooming.
If you need help with making your horse's coat silky so the stains slide off, you can use a touch of baby oil in a bucket of water sponged on after a bath. (Avoid the saddle area!!) Shine products are also great for creating a coat that stains have a hard time sticking to.
The selective use of horse clothing also helps, appropriate blanket weights in winter and fly sheets in warmer months serve double duty as bug repellents and dirt barriers. In the summer, a light colored fly sheet works wonders to reflect the sun, protect from flies, and keep the dust at bay. Easier grooming for us!
Keeping your horse's stall clean goes a long way to keeping your horse clean. And you may want to go for the barrier method - adding sheets or blankets!
If you have a vacuum, this is also a great way to help keep your gray horse bright. I like to use them after a curry session, when I have lifted up a lot of the dirt.
For any white or gray horse - think marathon!! And yes, there are going to be times you need to sprint - like the morning of a show!! And then some product intervention is totally necessary. By practicing stain removal and good shampooing practices at home, you can be totally prepared for any unexpected stains at the show.
So - what are your tips and tricks for the show ring turnout of a gray or white horse??