love dirty horses

Why I love a dirty horse!


For years and years, I groomed for some Olympians. The motto about grooming was “Every day is the Olympics”. And it was awesome!


The horses were so shiny and dirt-free that you could essentially use them as a plate and eat your lunch off them. The standards were high for turnout and presentation, even a wayward piece of shavings in the mane could make your rider have a cow.

Don’t get me wrong – the horses were allowed to be horses. Every horse was allowed to be turned out to roll, eat grass, and relax. For the hotter and wilder horses that ran like mad in the grass paddocks, their turnout for bucking and farting and rolling was a small sand pen and then hand grazing. For the calmer horses, they would just be free in the large grass paddocks.


Either way, they came back to the stables with grass stains, mud blotches, manure stains, dirt in every crevice, and crusty manes and tails. So the Olympic grooming preparations happened again so that when we tucked them back in their stalls, they were spotless again.


Of course, if my horses lived at the same barn or trailered in for lessons they would be just as ready to go to the Olympics, or at least they would appear ready for the Olympics.


gray horse with big mud spots on the cheek

Migs, NOT Olympics ready.

Horses can be dirty, and maybe they should be!


A dirty horse is not always a health hazard, in fact, there are many benefits to allowing your horse to be dirty. And, it’s a great way to shock and awe your fellow barn mates. Always keep ‘em guessing!



dirty horse after mud rolling while wearing white fly sheet

So lovely. Luckily the strategically placed fly sheet absorbed a lot of this mud.


Why I love a dirty horse


  • They like it. It’s their chosen way to be.


  • Natural bug protection. A coating of dust, mud, dirt creates a natural barrier for bugs. Mud, of course, is the most efficient at bug-repelling, but dust and dirt help, too.


  • Horses get dirty by rolling, which is natural chiropractics for your horse.


  • Rolling is also a way for horses to tell each other which sand pile is theirs.


  • A dirty horse can tell you (and your Veterinarian) a lot about how he feels in his body. If your horse is only dirty on one side, he may be sore somewhere in his body and unwilling to roll on both sides. Same for the horse that’s reluctant to roll, or the horse that’s reluctant to get up.


  • A dirty horse that has been rolling has done a lot of self-shedding. As spring approaches, you may notice that roll spots on the paddocks are often filled with hair! Saves you some elbow grease.


  • A dirty horse is more satisfying to groom. Harder to groom, perhaps taking much longer, but more satisfying for sure.


  • The level of dirty is often quite funny. And if you can’t laugh at your horse, well then, that’s too bad.


  • The level of dirty is often worse in summer when blankets can’t “absorb” some of the dirt. Come late summer, I’m counting the days until I can bust out the blankets!



What are your feelings on a dusty, dirty horse?