Krissy Singleton gives us a short course on taking your horse from disgusting to dazzling, and keeping him that way.
We have all been there. You spend hours upon hours bathing and grooming your horse the night before the big show. You have a ride time scheduled first thing in the morning, and know that there will be no time for bathing. You take as many precautions as you possibly can and tuck them in for the night, only to arrive at the stall the next morning and discover your worst nightmare. What was once your gleaming diamond-white steed has now turned into a chocolate colored manure and mud coated monster. Your horse is staring up at you with the “It wasn’t me” face. You wonder how this could possibly have happened, and see out of the corner of your eye, just for a moment, a small grin appear on your horse’s face. He senses your frustration, and is loving every minute of it!
I wish I had some magical solution to end all of your white horse woes, some special concoction that would take all of the frustration, resentfulness (and manure stains) away. I suppose if I did I would be a very rich girl by now! What I can offer you are some practical solutions to make your life just a little bit easier next time you bring the filthy beast to a show.
First, get your horse as clean as you can before you start to bathe!
Once the bathing starts, I would recommend using the blue-tinted shampoo products designed for white to medium grays. Be sure to foam up extra well, and if you are concerned about blue tinting, foam until the blue turns white. I have found that for extra-yellow/brown areas like the tail, I apply the shampoo to the tail and leave it as blue as possible for the duration of the bath. I rinse the tail once I have completed the rest of the bathing. In fact, for my mare’s tail, I will apply the shampoo and wait 10-15 minutes before rinsing every day for 3-4 days before the event. Tip: If you happen to have a beauty supply store nearby, you can always buy whitening shampoo there and save yourself some money.
OK, so now that we have a clean horse, how do we keep it that way?
Before you put your horse in his stall, clean the stall as late as you possibly can (long after dinner time) to minimize the number of piles! Make sure your bedding is as fresh and clean as possible.
Now it is time to dress him with his armor; it is going to be in intense battle, so be prepared! I would recommend putting on a show sheet, preferably one with belly bands as this is the area that those sneaky horses always like to get filthy. Since I usually braid the night before, I also put on a slinky hood that covers the face and neck and prevents them from rubbing out braids as well as well as soiling their face and neck area.
Next, I wrap my horse’s legs. She is often prone to stocking up anyhow, so some stable wraps work double duty here. You may or may not decide that this is necessary.
Kiss them good night, apologize for everything you’ve ever done wrong to them, pray, make them promise to stay clean and then bribe them. Tell them that you will give them more carrots than they ever thought imaginable if they are sparkling when you arrive in the morning.
Keep a green spot remover product on hand for touch-up stain removal for when you arrive to your horse’s stall and he has not kept his promise. Be sure not to use too much of this and once you have removed the stain, dry it as much as you can with a clean towel. I once made the mistake of using one of these products all over my horse’s neck. It shampooed out the stain and looked great, but because it was still damp when I went into the ring the dust clung to it like a magnet. It actually looked worse after my test than it did before I cleaned it!
Lastly, discard all those carrots you were going to use to bribe them unless they make it up to you in the ring.
Do that, not this!!
Photos: Top, Samantha Clark. Bottom, Krissy Singleton.