In most parts of the country, the colder weather is upon us and this weather makes horse grooming a challenge. Mud and manure stains are always an issue, but even more so during the cold, winter weather months. Here are a couple of tips that may help with the winter blues of grooming.
- Common white vinegar is great for removing stubborn manure and urine spots. Rub the vinegar directly onto a clean towel and rub into the stain. Rub, rub, rub the stain out. If the stain is exceptionally stubborn, you may have to repeat the process a few times. This also works well on mane and tail stains.You can also wash your horse's tail in cold water, provided you wash below the tailbone. Use a sponge for the top part of his tail. Because there are no flies to contend with during the winter, you can also braid or bag your horse's tail to help keep it clean.
- Baby wipes can be used on more than babies! These are great to remove stains away around sensitive areas such as eyes, ears, nose and dock. Keep a box in your tack box during the winter.
- When grooming your horse, pay particular attention to the areas around his ears, under his jaw and at the back of his fetlocks. This area is prone to being irritated by the dirt and sweat residue that can lead to winter sores.
- Dry shampoo is great to use during the winter months. I spray directly onto the coat and rub it in with a clean towel against the grain of the hair.
- For a deeper cleaning on dirty horses, steam away stains with hot towels. If you are fortunate to have hot water at your barn, fill a bucket. If only cold water is available, use a portable heating element or kettle to heat the water. Curry your horse's coat prior to using the hot towels. When your water is hot, dip towels into the bucket and wring out excess water leaving the towels damp and not dripping with water. Rub the stains quickly, rotating the towel often. Cover your horse with a cooler to prevent him from getting a chill, but your horse should not be wet, only slightly damp.
- For less than $200, you can purchase a horse vacuum with a variety of attachments. You will need to desensitize your horse to its sound and feel, but once you do, vacuuming is a beneficial addition to brushing and currying a thick winter coat.
Keeping your horse clean during the winter months is challenging, but it's worth the extra effort. Your horse may still be as wooly as a mammoth, but he will be clean and ready for a day's ride.