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Clean Coats & White Markings
Keeping Grass & Manure Stains Off Your Horse
WRITTEN BY: Cheryl Sutor   [August 27, 2000]

Does your horse have a coat with white hair, white leg markings or a blaze that never seems to stay white? In this article, you'll learn all you need to know to keep his beautiful coat or markings sparkling clean!

If your horse's coat or markings end up looking "yellow" or "dirty" like the horse shown to the left, this article is for you! You will soon be able to keep your horse's white coat or markings sparkling HOT, just like the photo shown below/right.

Daily Care:
  • Groom your horse daily with a curry comb and dandy brush. Be sure to use extra elbow grease in areas that tend to collect dirt, grass stains, manure stains, or mud.

  • Clean your horse's stall often. 1-2 times per day is usually sufficient. Be sure to remove all urine spots and manure completely.

  • When your horse is brought in from turnout, immediately check for any grass or manure stains. By removing the dirty areas immediately, you are stopping them from settling and dulling the hair. The longer you allow these stains to sit on your horse's coat, the harder they will be to remove.

  • When bringing your horse in from turnout, and every time you are finished riding, be sure to remove any moisture on his legs (especially around his pasterns and heels) to avoid bacteria growth.

Spot Cleaning:

Spot cleaning is good to do if your horse is generally clean, with only a small grass or manure stain. If you haven't bathed your horse in a while, spot cleaning may leave his coat looking streaky, since the spot-cleaned area will appear much cleaner than the rest of his body. Spot cleaning also works very well for the cold winter months when a full body bath is not an option.
  • Fill a small bucket with warm water.
  • Apply a small amount of shampoo to the stain, and scrub the area clean.
  • Use a clean sponge to rinse the soap from the area.
  • Blot the area dry with a soft, clean towel.

  • If the spot still won't come out, apply Quic Silver (a product that can be found at your local tack shop) full strength to the area and let sit for 2-3 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

Regular Bathing:
Bathing Equipment: Large soft sponge, Mild liquid soap (such as Show Sheen Shampoo) or Orvus Paste (found at your local tack shop), Quic Silver (also found at your local tack shop), Show Sheen, a medium/stiff scrub brush (can be found at local tack shops or grocery stores), and a Sweat Scraper.

In general, horses should not receive a full-body bath more often than once every 2 weeks. Bathing a horse often can damage the coat by stripping the skin of it's natural oils that nourish and protect the coat and skin.

Horse: Saltwater Taffy - Photo © Mark Wolson
  • Fill a large bucket with water and enough shampoo or Orvus Paste to make the water sudsy.
  • Spray your horse's entire body with water from a hose. If the weather is hot, be sure to use cool water, and use warm water when the weather is cool.
  • Use the large, soft sponge to apply and lather the soap/water mixture on the horse's body.
  • Use the scrub brush on areas where there are grass or manure stains, and on areas where dirt tends to collect and settle.
  • Apply shampoo only to the outside of the horse's ears, and be careful not to get any water inside his sensitive ears when you are rinsing him!
  • When cleaning the horse's mane and tail, be sure to scrub the base of the tail very well, and the roots of the mane hair well. If these areas are not washed well, lingering dirt will become very obvious when his mane and tail are braided for a show.
  • Once you have scrubbed the horse clean, rinse his entire body with the hose. Be sure to rinse very well! If any lingering shampoo is allowed to dry on the horse's coat, it may irritate his skin and make it dry and flaky.
  • Apply Quic Silver full-strength to white areas and white markings. Scrub the areas for about one minute. Allow the Quic Silver to sit for 2-3 minutes before rinsing off. Again, be sure to rinse well!
  • For soft, shiny coats, apply a gentle equine conditioner. Rub it into the hair well, let sit for a couple of minutes, then rinse off.
  • Once you are finished rising off your horse, use your sweat scraper to remove excess water. If you see any soap suds while you are using the sweat scraper, you didn't rinse well enough!
  • Finally, walk or graze your horse until he is dry.

  • Show Sheen can be used on the horse's tail, and on white markings to repel dirt and dust. Show Sheen also gives the coat a very nice gleaming shine. Be careful not to apply Show Sheen in the saddle or girth area since it is known to be very slippery...you don't want your saddle slipping while you ride!

On Show Day:

    Equipment needed: Baby powder, water and a clean towel.
For Blazes & Facial Markings:
  • Apply baby powder to white areas with your fingers.
  • Blend the baby powder evenly into the hair, applying more as needed.
  • Using a damp towel, trace around the edges of the white blaze to create a sharp outline.

For Leg Markings:
  • Apply a liberal amount of baby powder to the white markings using your fingers and palms.
  • Blend the baby powder evenly into the hair, applying more as needed.
  • Trot your horse several strides to loosen excess powder.
  • Using a damp towel, trace around the edges of the white markings to create a sharp outline, and to dust off his hooves.

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This article was published on: August 27, 2000. Last updated on: August 27, 2000.