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Home First Posted: July 21, 2010
May 23, 2013

Helpful Horse Hints (Tips)

by Debora Johnson

Washing and Showing Your Horse

Grooming for A Show

  • Tea tree oil helps to destroy conditions in which bacteria and fungus thrive. It also has natural cleansing and soothing properties. I buy Tea Tree Shampoo cheaply in Beauty Supply and use it on the horses. It also comes in a generic brand in Beauty Supply.

  • Use a non-rinse shampoo to prevent chill when washing horses in cold weather. It is ideal for clipped horses who need to be kept warm.

  • Warm water open pores. Never wash wet, muddy legs with warm water. This may set your horse up for bacterial infections.

  • For light or white tails use liquid laundry soap (biological). Do not put it on your horse's skin, only on the tail.

  • Vaseline placed on your horse's heel, before cold hosing provides a protective barrier against saturation damage. Sometimes cold hosing is necessary to reduce inflammation.

  • When hosing off your horse, start at the legs, work upward, hose the chest last.

  • Cold hosing is a good way to clean wounds.

  • Try using white cooking vinegar to whiten your horses' mane and tail. Spray it on and rub in.

  • I do not spray my horses in the face. It can cause head shyness in some horses. Instead I use a clean wet rag and gently wipe their faces.

  • A diluted liquid bleach can be used on a white tail. Dip the tail in a cheaply bucket of diluted bleach (cut with water). Leave it on for no more than 5 minutes. Then, hose it off. I do not use this on the skin because it can cause sensitivity in some horses. I use Cowboy Magic on the light skin of my horses. I have never had a problem.
  • To help prevent staining on light horses use a good coat sheen. Don't put it where your saddle sits because it will cause slippage.

  • If you show, carry chalk blocks. Chalk blocks used on light horses will help prevent stains. The chalk can be dusted off easily.

  • As a numbing agent, when pulling your horse's mane, use oil of cloves. Wear plastic gloves and rub it into your horses neck. Leave it in for approximately 5 minutes before pulling mane.

  • A blueing shampoo such as Shimmer Lights or Jhirmack silver can be used on a white horse's mane and tail, too. Just don't leave it on too long because the hair might absorb the bluish tinge. This is more expensive than the above, however, no chance of burning.

  • Pull the mane before your plait it. Wash the mane several days before your show. To make plaiting easier, plait the mane a few days after it has been washed.

  • Spray your horse's legs with a little Mr. Sheen or some other coat sheen before a show. This helps keep the legs stain free.

  • Your horse can have a shiny face for shows. I have been told that mixing sun screen and baby oil (half and half) works.

  • Always have a current copy of your horse's Coggins in your glove compartment. Most shows require this. If you cross state lines it is law.

Clipping Your Horse

Clipping Your Horse

  • Use a tail bandage or protector on your horse while he is being clipped. That way you will not accidentally clip off a chunk of his tail hair.

  • Use cotton wool in your horses ears to prevent him from hearing the buzz of the clippers. Some horses just will not harden off to the buzz sound and are nervous when being clipped.

  • To prevent an uneven clip, first mark your outline with a piece of chalk.

  • Make sure to pick up all clipped hair and dispose of it in the trash. Swallowed hair can cause a horse to colic.

  • Don't clip your horse in his stall. Missed hairs may be eaten by mistake as he nibbles at his bedding. I clip in the aisle of the barn. The horse is in cross ties. Rubber mats make it easy to sweep up all the clipped hair and dispose of it.

Bathing Your Horse

It is important to take careful steps when bathing your horse. The following video shows you how to bath a horse properly.

Bathing Your Horse

Trailering Your Horse

  • Heaviest horse is loaded on the driver's side of the trailer. This makes for more stability of the rig.

  • Made sure to secure your horse with a safety clasp tie and break away halter when trailering. Make sure all doors are secure.

  • Use a head bumper on your horse.

  • Always have a container of water for your horse available when trailering.
  • Carry telephone numbers of mechanics and rescue personnel in case you have trailering problems on the road.
  • US Rider
  • If long distance trailering, take numbers of large animal vets along your route in case of an emergency.

  • If there is only one horse in a two horse trailer, always put the single horse on the driver's side. Again, this makes for more stability.

  • Always check your hitch, chains, coupling, and tires before traveling. I have a check list so that I do not forget anything.

  • Don't ever use a bungy strap to secure your horse in the trailer. If it breaks or springs back it can put out your horse's eye.

  • Use leg wraps or shipping boots on your horse while trailering.

  • If a horse is a nervous traveller, use something like Cool and Calm before travelling. Ask your vet.

  • Always have a copy of your Coggins. It is the law when crossing state lines. Also, most shows require it.
  • Feed your horse on the trailer for a week or so. This may help him associate the trailer with good food, not fear!

Shots and Worming

Home Mixtures

  • Benzyl benzoate Benzyl benzoate Use in Horses is the most common remedy for sweet itch. Dilute it half and half with water or cod liver oil or it will sting. Apply daily to mane and tail.

  • Small amounts of citronella oil mixed with vinegar and water makes an inexpensive, effective fly repellent.

  • Apply an instant ice pack to help reduce the early symptoms of common injuries such as bruised shins and splints.

  • Human midge and mosquito repellents can help protect your horse against flies and sweet itch.

  • Vegetable oil can be used in place of hoof oil.

  • Tea tree oil helps to destroy conditions in which bacteria and fungus thrive. It also has natural cleansing and soothing properties. Tea Tree Shampoo can bought cheaply at a Salley's Beauty Supply or other Beauty Supplier in your area. It comes in generics, as well.

  • Stockholm Tar or Vaseline can be used to prevent thrush. (Check with your vet first)

  • Bread poultices are great for drawing out infections.

  • When clean water is not available cleanse wounds with bottled sterile eye/body wash.

  • A saline solution of 1 tsp. salt to 1 pt. of previously boiled water can be used to clean wounds.

  • Animalintex poultices applied at 38 degreesC (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) draw out infection and promotes healing.

  • Magnetic products are a popular treatment for joint and tendon conditions.

  • Cleaning wounds with neat antiseptic or hydrogen peroxide damage or burn exposed tissue.

  • Ask your bet first, but Frontline, prescribed for dogs, can be applied every few weeks to help prevent sweet itch on your horse.

  • Calamine lotion can soothe sore skin. It can also be mixed with Benzyl Benzoate.

Winter Tips

  • Bandage your horse's legs if your horse feels the cold in his stable in winter. However, make sure that the wraps are not too tight. Loosen them and check your horse several times a day.

  • To prevent snow balls from forming in your horse's hooves pull his shoes, if possible.

  • Spray Pam or use Vaseline under the hoof to reduce snow from packing in winter.

  • If turnout blankets are wet and breathable, they can be left on to dry on your horse. Otherwise, they must be taken off and allowed to dry.

  • A storage heater in the tack room will keep you warm and dry your wet blankets quickly.

  • A ball (soccer, football, basketball) or an empty drink bottle (plastic) placed in the water trough reduces ice formation. Of course, the proper heating element works better.
  • In winter some recommend adding salt to your horse's water to encourage him/her to drink. "As a general rule of thumb, 1 to 2 tablespoons (of table salt) per horse per day can help increase drinking. It's also important to consider the water itself. People often overlook the temperature of the water, and I think that's critical to horses and all livestock. If the water is near freezing, horses and cattle are less likely to aggressively drink. Generally speaking, you want to get that water a bit above freezing, ideally around 45 degrees Fahrenheit, or in our case up here (in Canada) about 4 or 5 degrees Celsius." theHorse.
  • "What's happening (in a gassy horse) is whatever feed is getting to the colon (is producing) a substantial amount of gas. Generally when gas is produced it is because feed is being digested rapidly and the bacterial population in the gut has shifted. Gas is a byproduct of that, so it's really all about the 'bugs' (inside the gut). Helping the Grassy Horse