I am flat amazed at the mass selection of shampoos and conditioners on the market for horses. There are shelves and shelves of them at every tack shop and feed store. Horses have oil on their skin for a reason. A mild shampoo once every couple of weeks throughout the summer and a mild conditioner for their manes and tails will suffice. If you wash all their oils away, bathing them day in and day out until they are squeaky clean, you are paving the way for skin issues; dry skin, flaky skin, and sunburn. No problem, one might say, there are products on the market for every one of those conditions, shelf after shelf and rows and rows of them. Hose your horse off between shampoos. Use plain water. It works, and chlorinated aside – depending on where you live, it’s natural.

I know of a horse person whose horse started rubbing its tail morning, noon, and night. A pretty tail that would soon look straggly if this continued. Following the old adage that if a horse is rubbing its tail it needed wormed, he wormed it and the tail rubbing continued. Turns out the horse was having a reaction to the conditioner he was putting on its tail, the same conditioner that started the problem and compounded when he kept using more and more of it to try and remedy the condition. When he rinsed it all off and left it off, the tail rubbing ceased.

Diligent grooming is by far the best way to keep your horse clean. Horses love being groomed and it’s good for them. It’s good for us. It’s best to have a separate set of grooming supplies for each horse, but if that’s not possible, wash your brushes routinely with a mild shampoo. Enough said. If there is a contagious skin condition rampant in your barn, follow your veterinarian’s recommendations on how to eradicate it. I know of a very admirable horsewoman that puts all her brushes in a bucket once a week and soaks them in a little vinegar and hot water. On any given day you can pull up to her barn and see the brushes and combs drying on the fence posts in the sun.

MaryAnn Myers is an equestrian, horse trainer, and environmentalist. She is the author of equine novels, “Maple Dale,” “Favored to Win,” “Maple Dale Revisited,” and newly released, “Ellie’s Crows.” She lives with her family on an organic farm in Northeast Ohio, that houses rescue dogs and retirement horses. For more information about MaryAnn Myers visit… http://www.sunrisehorsefarm.com

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