I'll admit it. I have a little bit of an addiction to grooming. I've tried pretty much every product, shortcut, tip out there and here's a list of my top secrets.
1. Cactus cloth: Oh how I love you. As an owner of a gray horse that loves to get dirty, the cactus cloth is a lifesaver. Grass, sweat and manure stains lift SO much easier than attacking them only with a curry and brush. The woven fibers are also great for rubbing a horse's coat and bringing out shine - and the best part is that his handy little cloth costs less than $10.
2. The perfectly pulled mane: I have tried so many different techniques to achieve the perfect mane, but most of the time it just never looked quite right. Finally, I came across this technique from Jason McQueen, who has been a professional groom for some of the bests riders in the world like Eric Lamaze. Here's another tip: Try to pull your horse’s mane after you ride so your horse's pores will be open, making the hairs easier to remove. You can also rub a little Listerine into the base of the mane to desensitize areas to be pulled. I like to pull just a few hairs, a little bit each day, if I need to pull a mane. Finally, if you or your horse objects to mane pulling, try a Solo Rake, Smart Mane Thinner, or thinning shears. Check out this video using the Smart Mane Thinner: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiOiCpycHGA
3. Healthy HairCare Hair Moisturizer: This has been my favorite grooming product since I was a teenager! It's inexpensive, super conditioning, and uses natural ingredients versus drying silicone based sprays like Show Sheen (which I save for horse shows). Spray onto manes, coats, tails then rub in with a soft brush or towel. Use on a wet or dry horse, dirty or clean. Your horse will shine and feel like velvet!
4. Curry: Maybe you're rolling your eyes because this seems like a pretty basic tip, but nothing works better than a little elbow grease. I promise if you curry your horse daily, not only will he appreciate the mini massage but he will gleam. Currying distributes a horse's natural oils which not only makes for a shiny horse, but it also protects the horse's coat. For the horse's face and legs I use a curry mitt, and for everywhere else I can't live without my Jr. Grooma - it's just the right size and is much more effective than the traditional black curry combs. Check it out here.
5. Address your horse's diet and health: Stabilized rice bran or fish oil (or another high quality oil) can be used to boost shine. Some people swear by feeding flaxseed but there have been some concerns that it can affect a horse's hormones.
6. Bathing: Don't bathe your horse too often! And when you do I prefer a natural shampoo like Lucky Braid's Shampoo, Horse Journal product of the year, which won't strip the oils from a horse's coat. Don't forget to completely rinse your horse's coat - leftover shampoo can dull a coat. You can take it a step further and rinse your horse with a bucket of water with a cup of apple cider vinegar which will not only remove any shampoo residue but will also enhance your horse's shine (and repel flies!).
7. Coconut oil: I pretty much use coconut oil for everything...I always have a big jar at the barn. I apply it to my horse's hooves with a small sponge instead of a traditional hoof oil, and I use it on the base of manes and tails to encourage hair growth and moisturize. It's also great for minor cuts and irritations as it has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
8. Just for grays: Be prepared to put in a lot of extra grooming time! If you let stains sit for too many days they'll be harder to remove so I stay on top of things with a stain remover and a microfiber cloth (which I find works better than a normal towel). My favorite stain spray is Cowboy Magic Greenspot Remover. I also keep my horses legs clipped at all times up to the knees/hocks which makes keeping him clean so much easier! For pre-show bathing I use Orvus and/or Quic Silver shampoo which lifts almost any stain!
9. Touch up spray: Love using a bit of Shapley's Touch Up Spray just before I go in the ring at shows. Great for covering any green spots on grays, or scars. However, some people don't like feeling like they are spray painting their horse, so as an alternative you can use some baby powder or cornstarch on any white areas to really brighten them up.
There you have it, those are a few of my favorite secrets. Now you know why my grooming tote weighs over thirty pounds! I would love to hear your grooming tips in the comments section below!
*All my reviews, opinions, and everything expressed here are my own and based on my experience with a product. I am not affiliated with any of the brands in any way.