Horse grooming in the winter – tips and tricks!
Lots of ideas here! And most of them apply to both the unclipped and clipped horses out there. Mainly it’s the same as summer grooming, but you might have more hair to get through, and you definitely have to worry more about sweat. And mud. And your horse drying when he’s all sweaty. And not freezing to death.
- Use barriers to repel dirt. And by this, I mean sheets or blankets and products and also even giving your horse a place to roll that’s NOT mud. Yes, I know. Sheets or blankets squish down a coat, which really only matters for the unclipped horse. But you can easily find an appropriate mud barrier sheet for your unclipped horse to go out in. If only for the purposes of keeping mud off the saddle area.
Blankers are optional! And super helpful for keeping all sorts of mud and dirt away from your horse.
- You can also skip a blanket and use grooming products as a barrier to help the cleaning and stain/mud repelling process. Nothing beats a good sheen product for this very job. You will still need to be ultra diligent about grooming, especially where tack goes.
- Clip where you need to clip. Mostly this boils down to two areas – places that sweat, and places that you need to apply medications. Like the pasterns and fetlocks if you spend your winters fighting scratches. If you are worried that your horse needs some protection, you can clip early so some hair grows back, or clip with a blade, like an 8.5, that leaves more hair. For everything you could ever know about clipping, this page has tons of info.
Let your fingers do the grooming!
- Go deep. Fuzzy winter coats might need tougher bristles on your grooming tools. Definitely get the elbow grease going, and add some different soft, dandy, and hard brushes in. You know, according to what your horse likes. I can never go wrong with grooming gloves.
- Learn to hot towel. This technique is great for spot treatment of stains, deep cleaning, “washing” manes, and more in cold weather. It’s work, but in small batches, your horse can sparkle. Hot toweling video below!
- Make sure your grooming tools sparkle, too. You might be challenged by weather to find the perfect time for cleaning and drying your tools, but it’s worth it. If you have a “show set” that only gets used in warm weather for shows, perhaps steal that from the trailer and use it in winter as a backup set.
This brush is stiffer, and clean! Perfect for winter if your horse is unclipped. The cloth next to the brush is a cactus cloth, a great grooming tool for buffing your horse.
- Sometimes the hardest part of winter grooming is getting the dust out of your horse’s coat and keeping the static away. I use a washcloth that’s been soaked in hot water and wrung out almost dry. I hold it in my left hand, and swipe my dandy brush with it before I use it on my horse. I’ll do this several times to get those last bits of dust off my horse and cut the static.
- I use a spot remover that’s also a deodorizer. Easy Out takes care of stains and removes those lingering odors. A tiny bit goes a long way, and you can even add it to your hot toweling water if you like. For more on stain removal, read this and check out the video below.
- Use coolers. Coolers are a great way to keep your clipped horse covered as you groom before a ride. I will also ride with a cooler to warm up and cool out after a ride. For the unclipped horse, they are a must for drying any sweat after a ride.
And last but not least, move to better weather, get very dark sunglasses, enter a deep state of denial, keep hoping for an early spring.
If you are interested in the Easy Out or cactus cloth I mention above for stain removal, you can find them here on Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, this comes at no additional cost to you! click here: