Ask the Expert: Grooming a Muddy Horse

A professional groom's tricks for removing mud from your horse.


Muddy Paddock
Q: What is the best way to deal with a muddy horse?

A: Mud on your horse can create a lot of problems. Mud can stain your horse, it may contribute to scratches (aka dew poisoning or greasy heel), and it can be irritating and possibly damaging to your horse’s skin if mud is left under the saddle or girth areas.

Removing mud can be a chore, but there are some tricks to make the job easier. If the mud is dry, it’s a bit easier to remove. Use a pimple mitt, double-sided jelly scrubber, or flexible curry comb combined with some elbow grease to remove caked-on mud from legs, bellies, faces and other sensitive areas. Metal curry combs and shedding blades are also popular choices, but I think they are too hard for sensitive areas and can damage the hairs. Follow up your curry efforts with a stiffer brush to flick the loosened mud away.

For wet or damp mud, your best bet is to hose it off. If that’s not possible because it’s too cold, you can wait for the mud to dry, or you can towel most of it off. After removing as much mud as you can, switch to the hot toweling method to clean what remains. Use very hot water to add steam and heat to a washcloth. Your washcloth should be wrung out well so that it is barely damp but steaming. Work the cloth in circular motions over small areas of your horse. Use a fleece or wool cooler to cover your finished areas to retain the heat and dry the hair.

You can also tackle the mud problem by preventing it. If there’s mud on the ground, toss a waterproof turnout sheet on your horse before he goes out. These can be hosed off in the wash rack if needed.

Liked this article? Here are others on dealing with mud:
Mud Management for Horse Owners
Mud-Related Health Problems

This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!


  1. Well, there’s mud and then there is MUD! Have tried all those tricks, but our heavy clay dries into almost concrete hardness, and the only thing that gets it off is a good bath (they are pasture horses). Also have found that using pliers to break up the big clumps in their manes is a real help before bathing.

  2. I agree with Cheryl. This doesn’t address real muddiness. 3 inches of mud caked onto 4 inches of hairy winter coat. When that dries it’s impossible to simply rub off. I use the metal scraper and can groom for hours and there will still be mud there. Best to wet that thick mud and pull it off in lumps.


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