30 Grooming Tips to Transform Your Horse

Shiny Horse

1. Ask your vet about adding vegetable oil or an essential Omega-3 fatty acid supplement to your horse’s well-balanced diet for added shine.

2. Sponging your horse’s face clean after exercise helps prevent fungal hair loss.

3. Keep different sized sponges for different duties (face, body, dock) and remember which is used for each task.

4. Hoof picks are cheap. Always use a sharp one to remove rocks and debris, and replace the pick when it no longer does the job easily.

5. Use a tail bag to keep your horse’s tail thick, long and protected. Make sure to wash, condition, detangle and rebraid once a week, securing the tail bag below the tailbone.

6. Spend two minutes every two weeks running your clippers over your horse’s bridlepath and under his jawline.

7. Hoof oils and dressings for health or show are available. If you have a particular concern in mind, such as hooves that crack easily, ask your farrier for product suggestions.

8. Use a detangler and a wide-toothed comb (or your fingers) to gently remove any large snarls from mane and tail.

9. Dark coats often fade or bleach in the sunlight, so provide plenty of shade and consider adding a lightweight fly sheet. Sweat in the coat accelerates the fade, so rinse a sweaty horse before allowing him to bask in the sunshine.

10. Bathe your horse but don’t overdo it—frequent shampooing may actually dull his coat.

11. An equine squeegee, rather than a hard sweat scraper, makes removing water from your horse’s legs and hips easier and kinder.

12. For extra shine on special occasions, spritz your horse’s coat with a sheen product.

13. Regular use of coat polish sprays right after bathing has the added bonus of deterring dust—it slides right off.

14. Horses with pink skin need extra sun protection—use sunscreen on susceptible pink noses!

15. To help protect against skin infections, regularly disinfect grooming brushes and combs.

16. Keep brushes clean as you go: After every few strokes with your body brush, clean the bristles on a metal or rubber curry held in your other hand.

17. Brush from front to back, top to bottom, for the most efficient effort.

18. Curry first in a circular motion to loosen dirt and hair; then use your stiff dandy brush to remove it. A flick of the wrist at the end of your long flat brush stroke helps lift the dust off.

19. Multi-task: use a brush in each hand!

20. Show ring veterans have long known that grooming wipes are ever so handy.

21. If you have a gray horse or one with a lot of chrome, keep some spray-on equine stain remover—created to deal with manure and grass stains—at the ready.

22. As you groom, inspect your horse for injuries, skin irritations or areas of sensitivity. Run your bare hands down his legs to check for heat or swelling.

23. Keep up with routine grooming chores, such as mane pulling, trimming fetlocks, et cetera. That way you’re not overwhelmed with last minute clean-up before a show.

24. If your horse objects to having his mane pulled, try doing a little each day after exercise.

25. Check your horse’s stall or paddock fencing for protruding objects: Wounds lead to blemishes and worse.

26. Let sweat and mud dry before attempting to brush it out. Or, hose your horse off.

27. When braiding, banding, or even training a mane over to one side, use a mane mousse to help get wayward hairs under control.

28. Color enhancing shampoos accentuate your horse’s natural tones and bring out the highlights of his coat.

29. Using oil specifically designed for your horse’s face, rather than baby oil, will collect less dust at the show.

30. Let your horse roll—dirt isn’t permanent.

Read on for more grooming advice.

This article originally appeared in the May 2006 issue of Horse Illustrated. Click here to subscribe.


  1. For Last minute cleanup without those expensive grooming wipes, use baby wipes instead! They are cheaper and do the job just as well if not better. 3.00 for 250 at wal mart.

  2. I loved your tips… it reinforced most of my routine. So, I felt so smart! One more idea: After the final body brushing, I spray show sheen or miracle groom on the body brush – removed dust that static is keeping hostage. Gets that last bit of dust off that makes your horse look dull.

  3. These are great tips but if you have to bathe and it is cold use EZALL shine and go and wipe off with a hot wet towel then dry with a dry towel and they look great. And my friend NEVER combs a mane or tail picks it out with her fingers. They look awesome!

  4. all comments are very helpful…especially about keeping separate sponges for different body parts and never, never share sponges or any grooming tools with friends and their horses.

  5. Pretty good article if you own a show horse. I don’t, but even so he still sheens in the summer. Try a tiny, tiny bit of vegetable oil in the mail and tail for tangles works really well. Very good tips any way. 🙂

  6. Great article, Cowboy Magic products work wonders on mane, tails and coats. Also, Shapley’s products provide extra help to those in the show ring!

  7. some great tips do like the last one though let yout horse roll, one of the best things they can do for getting rid of old oils and hair except on show day of course !!!

  8. these are really good tips but if you have a horse with white socks it can be really frustrating when you can’t get the dirt off in time to go in the ring. I use baby powder on the whites and gently pat the powder and vola no more dirt. chalk on greenspots also work well to

  9. Great tips, except the ‘brush in each hand’ one (#18)
    You wouldn’t be able to put hand on your horse (to feel/prepare for muscle tensing), and it seems like it would be similar to rubbing your stomach and patting your head 😀

  10. I enjoyed this article very much. I was wondering however, what Tips any readers had on whitening a tail and mane? I have tried various ways, but none have the desired effect. Any tips would be appreciated! 🙂

  11. a horse at the barn gets kicked and bitten so badly his skin is pitted and bare. how can i make him good lookin again? do we need to place him solitary for a time? anyone? help? thanks

  12. Thanks 4 the grooming tips i have a paint filly who likes to get dirty these will definantily help me get her lookin pretty b4 a show

  13. Sandy-
    I suggest you definately put your horse in his own pasture or paddock permanently, unless you have another horse he gets along with well, then you can put them together once he is all better.

  14. If your horse gets bitten by horses or flys Try Bag Balm (it really works!) Also try mtg you can use it for mane and tail growth too, (it really works too)! My horse went through a fence and Got all scrapped up And i used those products ANd he is all better now (no scars!) You can find these products @ your nearest TSC.

  15. I didn’t know that sweat accelerates fading. My horse is black and white, so it is really obvious when the black starts to fade.
    I also like the last tip on letting your horse roll 🙂 Mine love rolling in the pasture, and it also helps them to relax!

  16. I do almost all of these. And i pay special attention to keeping the legs clean. I also bring my horse into the round pen AFTER he is done working to roll in the sand 😛 he just loves to roll and he can’t resist that sand!

  17. My mare used to never roll.Then we went for a show and play date at someone else’s house/barn.And that round-pen full of dirt and a whole night to decide what to do with it gave her the idea that rolling was fun…curse you round pens full of dirt!I already knew most of this,but it doesn’t hurt to read up on the simple BUT important things!

  18. I don’t have my horse yet, but I am learning as much as I can. I still have a long way to go and classes to take. This info is great. love the horse college.

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