Its show time!! Well, it will be after I get my horse washed and cleaned up. Why is it, that the harder you try to keep them clean (and grays are the worst), the dirtier they become??
Wel, I can’t answer that. But I can give you a few hints on better washing technique, and how to avoid some of those show day mishaps (or at least how to cope with them).
Here is some equipment I like to have handy on washing day: – hose with adjustable jet, bucket, sponge, dandy brush, comb, body scraper, scissors, gum boots, hair bands (or horse bands), clean dry rugs, skinny hood (if required), vinegar (I will explain) and of course suitable shampoos, conditioners and highlighters.
Here is the procedure I have used for the ‘day before’ show washing of many State and National champions:
- Brush or remove and obvious dirt, grass or twigs from your horse. This includes the tail.
- Make sure your horse is securely tied in a suitable area (cement based washing bays, are great).
- Hose your horse down (use warm water if available), starting with the front legs (giving the horse time to acclimatize to the water) and moving up the shoulder, neck, back legs rump and then barrel and back. Last wash the face, but do so carefully and gently.
- Wash first with shampoo, using the dandy brush in a circular motion. Start with the shoulder; neck and then move down the body and legs (don’t forget the other side!). Also do the tail and mane, which may need to be done twice.
- Scrape off as much shampoo as possible; this will give you a better rinse result. And rinse thoroughly.
- Re shampoo if necessary.
- If using a white highlighting shampoo (the purple/blue stuff for the white/ gray markings) it is best applied at this point. It is fine to use all over the body but make sure you pay close attention to the white areas. You will need to work quickly as it can stain, don’t use too much and rinse of thoroughly.
- I normally find that conditioning the body is a waste of time and makes the coat a bit fluffy, but if you feel the need, do it now.
- Next its time to condition the mane and tail. If you are plaiting/braiding your horse for competition you may want to avoid conditioning too heavily or avoid leaving the conditioner on for long.
- For a tangle free tail, leave the conditioner in for a minute (if you can) and comb the tail, with the conditioner still in it. Then rinse well.
- Here’s where the vinegar comes in. Mix a solution of 1 part vinegar (white) to 5 parts warm water. Use this as a final conditioner and then rinse out. It works really well and removes any left over residue.
- You can now use any colour high lighting treatment (available at good saddlery shops) at this point. I find that the chestnut ones work quite well, especially if the horse has been recently clipped (please note this is not a dye and therefore not illegal to use).
- Do a final rinse and scrape any access water off.
- Towel dry as best as you can, remember the legs!
- Depending on the weather and horse, you maybe able to leave your horse out in the sun for a while.
- Apply a clean dry rug and the skinny hood (make sure the mane and fore lock is lying flat) followed by some warm woolen stable rugs. This will help to dry your horse and keep them warm.
- I have been known to pre warm the under rug in a dryer.
- Plait the tail if require or use a tail bag to help keep it clean (I have had a few too many disasters with tail bags and tend not to use them. But they can work well with some horses).
- Using float boots, bandages or specially made boots, wrap each leg (this is very handy with the horses that have white markings). Don’t put them on too tight. You will be amazed at how clean you can keep your horse by this simple step (although some horses love to pull their boots off during the night).
- Finally, once your horse is very dry, put it away in a clean stable or yard.
Remember the rugs will need changing depending on the weather.
Hopefully you will now have a lovely clean horse to take to the show! But remember that horses will be horses and things don’t always go according to plan.
So take a few wash things with you to the show just in case. Good luck.
Tina Williamson B App Sci (Equine)
Editor of Horse Lover Gifts.
Tina is a professional horse trainer and horse lover. She has a degree in Equine Science and is absolutely passionate about everything Horse.