Keeping your horse clean during the winter months is a real challenge for horse owners. As the days get shorter and colder, horses will naturally grow a thicker coat to keep warm. How you groom your horse will depend on a number of factors, so take a look at our handy hints.
The unclipped horse living out in the field
Even if you don’t ride your horse during the winter, it is still necessary to groom him, as it will give you a chance to have a close look at any issues that a thick winter coat might cover up, such as skin infections, wounds or even weight loss.
It is not advisable to wash an unclipped horse living out during the winter, as this will not only wash out the natural oils but it will be extremely hard to dry him off and will risk him getting a chill.
Remove any rugs he might be wearing in the field and check carefully that there are no signs of rubbing.
A curry comb is ideal to loosen mud and dirt, use a circular motion to massage the skin and distribute the coat’s natural oils, but be careful not to apply too much pressure to the sensitive areas. Use a softer brush for his face.
Keep your horse’s tail trimmed so as to avoid it dragging in the mud and brush his mane and tail frequently, using a detangler to avoid it getting too knotted. You can always wash his tail if the weather permits and towel dry afterwards.
Pick out your horse’s hooves and check the condition of his feet, if in any doubt ask your farrier. If necessary use a hoof product to help with the health of his feet, as he might well be spending a lot of time in wet mud. If you are riding your horse, clean his hooves with warm water and apply some hoof oil.
Check, clean and dry the pastern area carefully, as they can become cracked and sore. Carefully trim any longer hair in this area and use a barrier cream to help prevent any skin issues.
Towels and wet wipes are always useful for the finishing touches.
Be careful to make sure your horse is dried off after exercise. They can often get very hot under their thick winter coat and can continue to sweat even after you have finished riding them.
The clipped horse living in
If your horse is clipped, you will find it far easier to keep your horse well-groomed and cooled off after exercise, but it is essential to ensure he has the correct rugs, both in the stable and in the field to keep him warm and dry during the winter.
It is possible to wash your clipped horse, as long as you have warm water and are able to dry him off quickly afterwards.
If your horse is fully clipped, be careful not to take all his rugs off while grooming. Fold back the rugs and brush in sections, this is known as quartering. Your horse will be more sensitive having been clipped, so be mindful of this while grooming and use a body brush on the short hair.
Rug him with a cotton sheet next to his skin, with his heavier and warmer rugs on top, this will mean that you can easily change and clean the sheet and ensure that he has a clean rug next to his skin.
Keeping yourself clean and tidy during the winter months
Having got your horse looking smart, an easy way for you to keep clean, dry and warm is to wear a pair of waterproof riding trousers or chaps, which can be worn over the top of your riding gear and can be easily removed without getting cold.