Horse sweat and natural oils!


Horse sweat and natural oils (sebum) are not the same, each has its own function.




The natural oils (sebum) that coat your horse’s hair will repel water – the water will bead up.


Differences horse sweat and natural oils


  • Natural oils are the key to a shiny horse!


  • Sweat is created to cool your horse.


  • In the layers of your horse’s skin, he has many glands and follicles that “do things”. Each follicle that your horse has contains one single hair. Each follicle also contains a sebaceous gland, which is responsible for secreting a substance called sebum onto the hair. This sebum is what we call natural oils – the shine maker!


  • Sweat is produced by the sweat gland, which is not attached to the hair follicle. Sweat glands secrete water, salts, and latherin to help your horse cool. Latherin is also responsible for making things foam – which is why a sweaty horse will be foamy after some friction from tack or his own butt cheeks.




Time for some post-ride grooming


Another important distinction between the sebaceous glands that produce shine and the sweat glands is how they react to water.


  • It’s not easy to rinse away the natural oils. For a naturally shiny horse, water will bead on his coat – the oils are repelling the water from your horse. Typically, you need to use a harsh detergent to strip the oils from your horse’s coat.


  • This is, of course, one of the primary reasons to never use laundry products on your horse. And also, your horse is not your sweatpants or your gym towels.


  • It is easy, however, to rinse away sweat. In fact, doing so can help your horse stay dark and avoid becoming sun bleached.


  • You may also notice that your horse looks salty, dull, or crunchy if you allow the sweat to dry on his coat.



This horse is a bit sweaty – and the latherin in the sweat combined with the friction of the tack creates foamy sweat.



  • I will, on occasion and weather permitting, allow small amounts of sweat to dry on my horse. Then I will attack with the sweaty spots with a cactus cloth, and all becomes shiny again.


  • This is because you are brushing off the dried sweat, and also stimulating your horse’s skin to release natural oils. For significant amounts of sweat, I prefer to do a rinse in the wash rack.


All of this begs the question of how to increase the natural oils on your horse’s coat. How to bring up the sebum!


  • You can start with a bunch of grooming, then groom some more. Like really. Groom your arms off. Between grooming gloves and a cactus cloth, you should be good to go.



  • Get a stallion. The testosterone that a stallion has stimulates so much sebum, hence that stallion shine.



For my two favorite sweat removing and natural oil spreading around tools, head to these links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. There is absolutely zero extra charge to you, and any commission that I earn keeps this website going. I’m so grateful for your support!

HandsOn Grooming Gloves – also, use code PEG for some free shipping!

Genuine Cactus Cloth – Natural – 18 X 16-1/2 Standard


Thank you!