By Judy O'Brien Van Put
SULLIVAN COUNTY December 17, 2002 Keeping your horse nice and clean in the winter is a daunting task. Especially with the weather weve had lately, which has varied from icy-cold-below-zero conditions to rain and well above-freezing temperatures that wreak havoc in most barnyards and paddocks.
Horses will be horses, and will roll when the mood strikes them whether in clean, powdery snow or in the mud. Its certainly too cold this time of year to bathe your horse with water and shampoo, but fortunately there is a way to get your horse clean, using Christine Barakats nearly waterless technique, as featured in Decembers Equus magazine.
In just about an hours time, you can remove most of the mud and grime and leave your horse looking nice and clean. The supplies you will need include a clean plastic bucket, a stack of clean towels, rubber gloves, a currycomb, brush, WD-40 lubricant or a product such as Cowboy Magic, waterless shampoo, waterless stain remover or cornstarch. You might also want to use a silicone spray.
Steam clean your horse: Start with your stack of clean towels, and have the water in your bucket almost boiling hot so hot that you cant put your hand in without rubber gloves. (Covering the bucket will keep the water hotter.)
Curry your horse vigorously to get the dirt out from the bottom of the coat, then brush (or vacuum, if you have one) thoroughly to remove as much dust as possible. Then, with your rubber gloves on, dip a towel into the hot water and wring it out thoroughly.
Rub the hot, damp towel in circles over small sections of the coat, working in the opposite direction of the hair growth. Rotate the towel frequently to use clean sections. When the towel cools, dip it in the water and wring it out again. Clean your horse section by section, covering him with a cooler blanket if his coat gets damp. (Try to wring out the towel as much as possible to cut down on dampness.) This hot toweling will take up most of your hour, but it can really make a difference in cleaning a dirty horse!
Mane and Tail treatment: To clean a dirty, tangled mane, pick out any burrs or debris by hand. This is where you can use a quick spray of WD-40 lubricant or Cowboy Magic to help slide burrs and tangles. Then, apply a waterless shampoo according to the directions on the bottle.
When youre finished, squirt the hair with silicone spray and separate the hairs a few at a time by hand. If youre going to braid or band, most silicone sprays will make the hair too slick. In this case, just brush the areas of the mane and tail that are to be styled, or use the hot toweling treatment on the crest and tailbone for a deep cleaning.
Dirty tails can be cleaned in the same way as manes and finished off by using a tail brush.
Spot Cleaning: To clean white socks and stockings, or remove stains from light-colored horses, use a waterless shampoo/coat stain remover.
These can usually be found in tack stores and in catalogues. Most direct you to apply the product followed by vigorous rubbing with a clean towel to remove dirt. If you dont have a waterless shampoo, you can hide light stains with cornstarch by just rubbing the powder into the white areas and brushing out the excess.