How can I “wash” my horse’s mane and tail in the winter?  It’s much too cold to use shampoo and the wash rack!


Winter can pose trickier grooming problems than summer, as we often are faced with weather that is not really “bath friendly”.  Couple that with more mud, and you are likely going to end up with a muddy mane and tail.  Here are a few ideas on how to manage this particular winter time problem.


  • You may want to consider keeping a longer mane in loose braids.  At least some of the hairs will be mud free after a roll!  




  • Keep the mane knot free with daily brushing and sparing use of detanglers.  You want some help to keep the mane easy to manage, but not so much product that it attracts and holds lots of dirt.


  • Consider using a nylon neck cover to protect the mane.  This can’t be used in wet weather.  Be warned that it will also squash your horse’s winter coat down, thus inhibiting how he can keep his whole neck warm on his own.  



And we call him Captain Blueberry!


  • Use blankets that have higher necks.  This prevents the blanket from rubbing the mane, causing hair loss and knots.  This also prevents too much dirt and gunk on the covered part of the mane. 


  • Detangle the mane with a wide toothed comb, your fingers, or a brush with not too many bristles.  For those days when you have some time, attack the dirty mane in sections of about  1/2 to 1 inch.  Section off the mane and use a stiff brush with dense bristles to get the dirt out.  Some horse grooming brushes are good for this, so are boar’s hair brushes that you can find in beauty supply shops.  


  • Consider using a hot, damp towel to clean the sections after you have brushed them out.  Pull down the mane, working one section at a time.  The towel should not be so wet that water drips out of it.  


  • On a warmer day, you may be able to get away with shampoo on the mane, just be sure to have a plan of what to do with your horse’s wet neck and shoulders.  



  • For tails, I have found that it’s very easy to do a tail wash in the winter.  You need to figure out how to hold the nozzle so that the water points away from your horse to minimize water on his bum.  I suggest only washing below the tailbone.  This will really minimize the water on his bum.  Treat the tailbone hairs as you would a mane.


What works for you in the winter when it’s too cold to bathe??