Apr 21, 2020

Four-Star (now Five) Skin Care for Your Horse

Savannah Kilpatrick with one of her charges at Richland Park H.T. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.

This article was originally published to the USEA website on September 11, 2015.

Everyone wants their horse to look like those horses trotting down the jog strip at Kentucky, but it takes a lot to get your horse to have those beautiful white socks and shiny coat. I’ve now done my fair share of jogs and have a couple tricks up my sleeve!

To achieve the perfect white sock, the trick is to basically dye it purple the day before jogs or dressage. Your first bath you should scrub in the Quicksilver whitening shampoo and the next bath you should leave the socks saturated in the shampoo to where they look purple. After letting them soak for approximately five minutes wash them completely off, dry them, then spray them with Show Sheen. The white socks will turn out shiny and sparkling white!

If I am in a hurry and there is a little brown stain on one of the white spots on the horse, I have a home remedy spray that cleans it right out. The spray is a mix of 1/2 Quicksilver whitening shampoo and 1/2 alcohol, and I just spray it directly on the stain and use a towel to scrub it out.

One of the horses that I have had the pleasure of grooming always gets rubs everywhere. I’ve tried everything, and I know others probably have the same problem. I have found that using baby powder on the rubs before putting on tack or blankets keeps it smooth compared to vaseline which makes the affected area raw. After bathing and when the horse is dry I will put hair growth (which you can buy at any drug store) on the rubs. The fact that this system has helped this certain horse means it can help ANY horse!

Now, let's talk about the dreaded hives that none of us can get away from! I swear by the shampoo Cortisoothe (which can be bought from any vet). On a horse who is prone to hives, I use the shampoo twice a week and on the other days, I use apple cider vinegar. With the apple cider vinegar you need to dilute it with water, pour enough in the bucket to where you can still smell it but it looks clear. After hosing your horse off put the apple cider vinegar mixture all over your horse and leave it on. Just sweat scrape your horse off and then dry their legs and the hives should be gone in the next couple days.

Everyone wishes for the beautiful dapples and shine that we see on the horses going down the jog strip, and to achieve this is pretty simple. Just curry your horse twice a day and spray witch hazel on them after they are brushed. Witch hazel can be bought at any drug store, and I put it in a spray bottle and just spray it directly on the horse. I noticed a difference within two weeks after using witch hazel. Using witch hazel for quarter marks also gives the quarter marks a beautiful shine.

This takes me to flaking skin. Ironically enough I’ve come to the conclusion that flakey skin can be caused by the horse being too dry as well as being too oily. If the skin is flaking off black I recommend using oatmeal baby shampoo and not spraying your horse with any type of oily sprays. Apple cider vinegar will really help the black flakey skin as well. If the skin is flaking off white almost like dandruff I recommend using Head and Shoulders shampoo and applying MTG to the affected areas.

I hope these tips will help all of you achieve the perfection of those Rolex horses!

Savannah Kilpatrick was the head groom for Lillian Heard and she groomed at multiple FEI Events including two Kentucky Three-Day Events and the Pau CCI4*. To learn more about the horses that Savannah groomed visit http://www.lillianjheard.com.

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