How do I know what shampoo is right for my horse?
It’s really tempting to buy horse supplies and grooming products based on smell and color, because obviously we want our horses to smell like roses. (Reality check here - they prefer to smell like dirt and stuff, but I’m pretty sure shampoo that smells like dirt won’t be a best seller…) But there are so many choices - how do you buy the right one? And one twist thrown in here - most shampoo bottles don’t have ingredients listed…but let’s try and figure this out anyway.
The best place to start is to figure out what you need your horse’s shampoo to actually do. Does your horse shampoo need to:
- Remove stains
- Create shine
- Brighten white
- Counteract sun bleaching
- Soothe irritated skin
- Support healthy skin
- Help with dry skin
Then you can begin to narrow down the choices. If you have a shampoo that’s a gold standard, but you want to branch out, have fun shopping and know that shampoos for horses are likely more exciting than shampoos for people.
For stain removal:
You might try a dry shampoo or a spot cleaner. These are designed to treat a stain, not the whole horse. The bonus is that they are no rinse, you can use them in the winter, one bottle lasts a really long time. I find that a thorough curry combing before pairing a spot remover with a hot steamy towel will lift 99.9% of stains. No need to shampoo the whole horse!
For shine creating:
Look for a product with mild, gentle, shiny words. It likely won’t be the tough stain removing version or the heavy duty shampoo. Remember that oils and shine are your horse’s way to block stains, so keeping as much oil on your horse is ideal. A milder shampoo does the trick. Avoid words like turbo, detergent, mega strong on bottles. (hahaha)
For brightening whites:
A horse shampoo that’s typically blue or purple does the trick here. These shampoos use color to balance out the dingy yellow tones of white and gray horses. It’s a play on light, and can really make your horse’s chrome pop. Sometimes, they are super drying, so use sparingly. Also work extra hard with curry comb action and shine sprays after a bath to help put some oily protection back on your horse. I personally consider these “special occasion” shampoos.
Shampoo colors to match your horse. #horsespaday
For counteracting sun bleaching:
Another great time to bust out the mild shampoo here. The goal is to remove the salt, but leave shine and oil to prevent future sun bleaching. You can also find handy shampoos that are tinted to match your horse (even palominos!) which will add some color back in. Battling sun bleaching can be a marathon, not a sprint, so think overall skin and coat health. For more on sun bleaching, this article is for you.
To soothe irritated skin:
Herbal ingredients such as lemongrass and tea tree oil are known to be soothing to skin. Again, these are going to be on the milder end of shampoos, so they can support healthy skin and natural oil protection. Be sure to spot try if your horse is super sensitive, and really that goes for any shampoo or product on a horse. It’s similar to doing a patch test if you have ever colored your own hair. Also remember that any skin infection can have a multitude of causes (bacterial, fungal, allergic, mites/lice) so your Vet should be involved from the beginning.
To support healthy skin:
I can basically just cut and paste the above paragraph here. Many horses dance that fine line between a super wonderful coat and chaos breaking loose on the skin. Some of the herbal and essential oil infused shampoos help keep your horse on the healthy side of things. Again, involve your Veterinarian if even a mild breeze makes your horse’s skin react.
Ingredients can help you pick the right shampoo.
To help with dry skin:
Oatmeal is an ingredient to look for here, as are some of the herbal and essential oil shampoos. Also add in extra curry comb sessions, and have your Vet make sure your horse has a balanced diet. For super dry skin, your Vet may find that mites or some sort of skin infection is the case here, also.
Please please please have fun with bathing your horse, and avoid using people products and detergents at all costs! We have a different pH from horses, so our shampoos are not designed for our horse friends. Also, detergents are for laundry - not living, breathing creatures! For more on reasons to never use detergents and cleaners on horses, this article explains it all.
Whatever your horse needs, be sure to send me some before and after pictures. #frommudtoshine