Healthy Horse Grooming Tips For Winter

When the winter wind hits, it's much more difficult to recognize changes in your horse's health. For instance, weight loss and skin infections are much harder to see through his thick winter coat. Much like humans, horses can have sensitive skin. And just as your skin can become pasty and dry in the winter, so can your horse’s. For that reason, it's important to provide your horse with daily grooming and cleansing. Here are five tips that will help to uncover or prevent problems with your horse throughout the coldest months of the year.

Maintain Skin Health

With the winter chill comes the susceptibility to bacteria and fungi. Therefore, it's very important to keep your horse’s skin healthy by vigorously currying his body. This daily routine will enable you to feel any diminishment in the fat layer over his ribs, which is a good indication of fat loss. You also want to feel around for any bumps or clumpy hair that could signal a wound or skin condition. For best results, spray your horse’s body, mane, tail and legs with a non-silicone hair-care product after currying.

Treat Your Horse to a Bath

If you are lucky enough to have a draft-free area in your barn, it's highly recommended to give your horse a weekly hand-wash. Just fill a bucket up with warm water and add your favorite body wash. Start by applying the soapy water to one body section at a time using a dampened sponge. Quickly towel dry to prevent chill. If the air is cold, use a human hair dryer to speed up the drying the process, but keep it moving to avoid burning your horse’s skin.

Take the Offensive Against Scratches

Try to get in the habit of examining your horse’s pasterns for signs of redness. Redness and/or scurf can often lead to scratches. In order to prevent skin inflammation, you can apply a generous amount of Destin (used to prevent diaper rash on babies) to the back of your horse’s pasterns. This ointment will soothe any existing irritation. You should also try to keep fetlock hair trimmed with a coarse clipping blade. This will also help to prevent scratches.

Let Down His Hair

If your horse wears a tail bag, you should make a consistent effort of changing it every ten to 14 days. You should also make an effort to rinse and reconditioning his tail before rebagging it. This process will help to prevent excessive hair breakage. Plus, your horse will thank you for it later.

Maintain Hoff Health

It is extremely important to clean your horse’s feet daily. Mud and manure-packed hooves are provide a breeding ground for thrush. Follow a strict regime of applying a commercial thrush product like Thrushbuster, once or even twice a week. Or, you could make your own antithrush solution by combining one part bleach with two parts water. However, be very careful not to get any of these products on your horse’s skin (or yours for that matter) as they can burn.

Karen Smith is a freelance writer and horse trainer. Karen loves spending time at the stables training and grooming thoroughbreds. Her favorite hobby is to watch horse racing replays online with her husband, Richard.