Healthy Horse Grooming Tips for Winter
Maintain your horse's health and haircoat
this winter with these cold-weather grooming tips.
Once Mother Nature has clothed your horse in
his winter haircoat, weight loss, wounds and skin infections
are harder to recognize than when his coat was short and
slick. Here are some tips that'll help you uncover--and
prevent--problems through the winter.
Maintain Skin Health
Most winter skin conditions result from a dirty haircoat,
which gives bacteria and fungi a foothold. Keep your horse's
skin healthy by vigorously currying his body daily. In
addition to lifting dirt and skin debris to the surface,
it'll enable you to feel any diminishment in the fat layer
over his ribs, indicating weight loss, and any bumps or
clumpy hair that could signal a wound or skin condition.
(For help in identifying skin problems, refer to "Skin
Invader" in the March 1996 issue of Horse & Rider.)
Insider tip: For
quick and easy dirt removal after currying, spray your
horse's body, mane, tail and legs with a non-silicone
hair-care product, such as Daily Coat Regimen (a new product
by MVP Professional Horse Care Products, 817-851-0277), or
Cowboy Magic (www.cowboymagic.com), then follow with a soft
finish brush or vacuum. (ShopVacs are inexpensive and work
great.) Bonus: The slippery finish will help make dried mud
easy to remove next time.
Treat Your Horse to a Bath
If you have access to a draft-free area, treat your horse to
a weekly hand-wash: Add a splash of Vetrolin (or your
favorite body wash) to a bucket of warm water; apply to one
body section at a time using a dampened sponge; towel dry.
(Note: Not recommended in below-freezing temperatures,
unless you have a heated barn.)
Insider tip: If your barn doesn't have hot water, use
a wand-like bucket heater in a 5-gallon bucket. Most stores
that sell stock-tank heaters carry them or can order one for
Insider tip: Speed the drying process with a human
hair dryer (keep it moving to avoid burning your horse's
skin) or an overhead heat lamp.
Take the Offensive Against Scratches
Scratches are skin inflammations on the back of his
pasterns) Routinely examine your horse's pasterns for signs
of redness and/or scurf, possible precursors to scratches.
Insider tip: After cleaning and thoroughly drying
your horse's lower legs, apply a liberal coating of Desitin
(used to prevent babies from diaper rash) to the back of his
pasterns. The ointment will provide a measure of protection
from water and mud and soothe any existing irritation.
Insider tip: To further prevent scratches, keep
fetlock hair trimmed with a coarse (No. 10) clipping blade.
Let Down His Hair
If your horse wears a tail bag, change it at least every 10
to 14 days, rinsing and reconditioning his tail before
rebagging it. This will help prevent excessive hair breakage
at the top of the bag.
Maintain Hoof Health
Mud/manure-packed hooves provide the ideal environment for
thrush. Clean your horse's feet daily. Once or twice a week,
apply a commercial thrush product, such as Thrushbuster or
Kopertox, as a preventive measure.
Insider tip: Make your own antithrush solution by
mixing one part bleach to two parts water. Be careful not to
get any of these products on your horse's skin (or yours!),
as they can burn.