Grooming is the never-ending task in every horseperson’s life, so why not make life a little easier? We’ll give you our recommendations on products and techniques we find helpful in keeping our horses looking their best.
After last week’s talk about fungus, you might be interested in how to keep skin and coats healthy and perhaps keep fungus at bay before it starts. Be prepared for common sense answers tied with some tricks and products to apply with a bit of care, attention, and elbow grease.
Managing a horse’s coat starts with its skin, and that is a multilevel problem. The first step in determining how to best manage your horse’s skin and coat is determining what skin type they have. Does your horse have dry skin? Sensitive skin? Though it’s rare, they might even have oily skin. Then there are logistical questions to ask. Are they bathed regularly or classically groomed? The time of year can impact their skin–is the air more dry or moist due to seasonal changes? Are they overweight or underweight? And of course, age can wreak havoc on skin health. Just like those many aisles in the pharmacy devoted to human skin types and products to use on them, horses need a specialized plan of attack for keeping skin healthy. With all of our product recommendations, you’ll want to spot test them on your horse before using them for the first time and make sure there are no adverse reactions.
For Dry Skin
For horses with dry skin, they often be the ones most plagued by fungus along with sensitive skin types. The skin is usually a bit itchy, and the dock of the tail and the mane may be notoriously scaly. There are two main steps in managing horses with dry skin–first, keep bathing to a minimum! Classical grooming has a leg up here on bathing. Just like people with sensitive and dry skin, soap often acts as a drying agent, pulling out the natural oils that help protect the skin. If a bath is necessary (noting that bathing is different from hosing off), a good sensitive and moisturizing soap is your best bet against further irritating the skin. We like Eqyss MicroTek Shampoo for this.
Once the skin becomes dry, keeping it moisturized is an absolute must in order to regain the balance of oils. The second step is managing the really itchy or scaly parts of the body. We recommend MTG (especially the new MTG Plus! with a less bacon-y scent). This heavy-duty moisturizer packs a punch for particularly bad dry skin, but it can be cloying in the pores if used for general skin moisturizing, so make sure to use it only when necessary and only on the spots that really need the intense treatment.
For Dry, Sensitive, or Normal Skin
For normal management of your horse’s skin and coat, there are again two steps. First, GOOD GROOMING! There is nothing more important than a good grooming session to keep skin healthy. Especially in shedding seasons, the skin is going to need a good bit of massage and currying to keep the new cells growing and get the dead skin, hair, and buildup off the body. Ideally, you should groom your horse daily, but practicality demands a simpler option–grooming WELL as often as you can. At least once a week, you should devote a good chunk of time (1 hour is our recommendation) to do a really nice, deep groom, that may or may not include a bath, depending on the season and your horse’s needs.
Secondly, a good moisturizer will keep the skin and coat healthy in-between grooming sessions. We’ve had tremendous luck with the Eqyss line of spray-on skin conditioners or “rehydrants”. We’re particularly fond of the Marigold, but they all seem to work wonders on keeping skin healthy and giving a beautiful luster to coats. Most importantly, these are NOT silicone based sprays like ShowSheen. These sprays moisturize the skin, and improve the health of the cells rather than sit on the surface like silicone. Our sensitive skinned horses have had no problems with the Eqyss line.
With these tips and products, you’ll be well on your way to managing your horse’s skin and coat. The best course of action is to figure out what your horse’s skin needs, and then adjusting your grooming to accommodate it. If you’re local to the greater Columbus area, you can find all these products at our friends over at Equus Now!. Good luck getting your shiny coats for the summer!