As the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, your horse's hair starts to grow. As all horse owners know, this always presents us with a unique challenge. We still want to ride regularly and keep our horses in training, but a thick winter coat makes horse care a little more involved.
Even when the temperatures are cooler, horses sometimes sweat more than in the warmer months because the coat is simply denser and thicker. They also continue to sweat after exercise because the dense hairs, which are designed for keeping warm, do not allow heat from the inside of the body to pass through to the outside very easily or quickly. That is why the horses do not cool down fast.
After training, horses need to be thoroughly cleaned to remove dirt and sweat. But it is often too cold to wash them. When we wash them, it takes an eternity for them to dry. We also don't want our horse to start freezing. It's too cold outside to wash the horses, even if you have the luxury of warm water in the stable. Because the winter coat is too thick, it takes ages for the horses to dry. But you don't have to put your saddle in storage until spring.
The degree of difficulty you will face depends on how thick your horse's winter coat is. Some horses grow little extra coat in winter. Other horses, especially older ones, grow such a thick winter coat that they begin to resemble mountain goats. Tools such as horse brushes that are specifically designed for winter include a rubber curry comb, a spring curry comb and brushes with coarse bristles. Another great piece of equipment is a thinning brush, which was actually designed for long-haired dogs. This brush removes dander, dirt and dead hair. All of these winter grooming tools are designed to penetrate a thick coat.
It's important to brush your horse thoroughly before riding or any other form of exercise. Sweat and dirt under the coat can cause skin irritation. Additionally, the cleaner your horse is before training, the easier it will be to groom after training. Pay particular attention to the areas around the ears, under the chin, behind the elbows, and in the girth and saddle area. You must also make sure that all equipment is clean. This is the only way to avoid irritation.
Dirt and sweat in the girth area and behind your horse's elbows (above) can cause painful sores if this area is not cleaned thoroughly before and after training. In addition to cleaning the girth area with brushes, it is also recommended to clean this area with warm water and a sponge. Use clear water and a thick, absorbent sponge.
Here are some additional tips that will help you get your horse clean and looking good during the winter:
In the winter months, the goal when cleaning your horse after training should be to get it as clean as possible - and with as little water as possible. If it's not too cold outside and/or you have warm water available to wash it, then do so. Use Cowboy Magic Rosewater Horse Shampoo to remove sweat and dirt from your horse without leaving streaks and without stripping the skin's natural oils. Follow this with Cowboy Magic Rosewater Conditioner to loosen the hair and remove mineral and chemical build-up from the coat. Both products contain panthenol and silk proteins that nourish and moisturise the skin and give a shiny coat. Just like their owners, horses get dry skin in winter!
After bathing, remove as much excess water as possible. To dry your horse quickly, rub it dry with a towel. Let the wet hair stand up instead of straightening it. This will help the hair dry faster.
If you have a sweat rug, use it. The sweat rug helps to wick moisture away from the body. This will also prevent your horse from catching a cold. Stand or move your horse in the sunshine until it is dry. If it is not sunny and warm enough to be outside, bring your horse into the stable to a place where it is protected from draughts. Draughts would give your horse a cold very quickly. If your horse cools down too quickly from washing, keep it moving, walk around with it. This will keep your horse warm and help it dry faster.
Once your horse is dry, spray the coat, mane and tail with Super Bodyshine™. This serves two purposes: it will help repel dust and dirt, making the next grooming easier, and it will help prevent the annoying static that plagues horses during the dry winter months. Finally, brush the coat again with a soft brush.
If it is too cold to wash your horse thoroughly after exercise, or if you don't have warm water, you can always clean the sweaty areas with a damp sponge. If possible, get a bucket of warm water. Squeeze excess water out of the sponge and rub vigorously on the sweaty areas of your horse. Do not apply too much water to your horse. Work in small areas and rub them dry again as best you can. Only then move on to the next section. After cleaning your horse with the sponge, dry it well with a towel. Let the hair stand up until the horse is completely dry. Then spray it with COWBOY MAGIC ® Super Bodyshine ™ and brush the hair smooth.
Another great tool for cleaning your horse before and after exercise is Cowboy Magic Greenspot® Remover. This "shower in a bottle" instantly removes wet or dried sweat. Spray a small amount on the desired area, massage it in with a damp towel to activate the ingredients, then repeat with a dry towel to absorb the dirt, dander and sweat. Greenspot Remover is an all-natural, non-foaming cleanser. It contains silk proteins and panthenol to condition the hair and skin. The shea butter makes your horse shine. Of course, if you want to remove dung stains, this product works wonders.