How to hot oil your horse


There’s a lot about winter horse grooming that’s a challenge – the hair, the dry skin, the dull coats, the mud, and the cold! Most of these grooming challenges are easily overcome with a bath, but winter makes this difficult.  You can hot oil your horse, which is oil buffing with hot water. 


Jump to videos and shopping


What is hot oiling you horse anyway?


  • Some clarification first – you don’t really heat the grooming oil up, that seems dangerous. Instead, you will be using the warmth and steam from hot and barely wet cloths to transfer grooming oil to your horse. Hot oiling is fast and convenient to give your horse shine and conditioning without much effort.


  • Grooming oils have the distinct benefit of doing many things – not the least of which is conditioning your horse’s dry winter coat. Then you have the bonus of shine, and a bit of mud and stain repelling.


shiny dark horse outside on the grass



  • The “secret” of using a grooming oil is that you don’t have to use a lot. A small amount goes a long way, and you can adjust how much you use according to how dry your horse’s coat is.

I use a couple of capfuls of grooming oil in about half a gallon of water. 


  • You can also use gobs and gobs of grooming oil for your horse’s mane and tail. If you are doing a deep treatment, you will likely want to use a super mild shampoo to remove the extra.


  • Fair warning – there is a point at which you use too much oil and your horse becomes the bottom of a pizza box. Using a spot remover in the winter or a mild shampoo in warmer weather will take care of any extra oil. Or leave it.


How to hot oil your horse

Gather a few supplies, most of which you probably have at the barn!


  • Some sort of water holding device. A bucket, if you will.
  • Your grooming oil. No. 1 Light is for light conditioning. No. 2 is for heavy-duty oilings, like feathers and super dry tails.
  • Soft rags. Or crunchy ones.


grooming oil with washcloths


  • Hot water. If you have hot water at the barn, great! I use a hot water kettle so I can do things in my grooming stall and the refills are fast.
  • You may want rubber gloves? Your call.
  • A cooler to cover your horse.


Steps to hot oiling your horse in the winter:


  • Start with a clean horse. Or cleanish. The best that you can do. Deep massaging with your grooming gloves, using a vacuum, and even hot toweling your horse will help get him spic and span.


  • Add a few “glugs” of grooming oil to about a half-gallon or so of hot, hot, hot water.


adding grooming oil to a bucket of water



  • Dunk your rag into your oily water concoction, you’ll want to swirl things around. Wring your towel out thoroughly! And wring it again!


  • Wipe your rag on your horse, and cover-up finished areas with a cooler if needed. Your horse should NOT be wet.


  • If you find that you need to add more shine, you can either top off your hot water with a few more glugs of grooming oil, or add a few drops of oil to your damp rag before you swipe it on.


What about using grooming oil on manes and tails and feathers?


  • It’s a lot like using a hot oil treatment of years gone by. You don’t have to use hot oil, but dousing your horse’s tail and mane in grooming oil is a deep conditioning treatment. This can be a total dust magnet, which might be totally fine for a day or two.


  • Using a tail bag is also helpful to let the grooming oil sink in and shavings out.


  • For feathers, a deep treatment with grooming oil creates a surface that tends to cut down on mud clots. The oil also keeps the hair together, making it much harder for mud to reach the skin.


Hi gloss finishing spray used outside on dark horse

Another way to get some conditioning shine on your horse – this is Hi Gloss Finishing Spray


  • Suppose you want to skip all of this and still have the benefits of conditioning and shine? You can use a finishing spray, like Hi Gloss, to achieve mostly the same. Hi Gloss is also a conditioning oil, but much lighter. It comes in a spray can, which makes it totally convenient for the show ring.



How to oil buff your horse with a rag or brush

This is how I hot towel a horse, you can do the exact same with oil instead of a no-rinse shampoo. 




Click these links to shop for horse supplies. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which are not a penny more for you. I couldn’t be more grateful for your support! You can also visit my Amazon storefront here:  PEG storefront.

Shapley's Easy-Out No Rinse Shampoo 32 fl.oz
$16.23 $14.64

Spot removing, deodorizing, dust busting, shine adding spray.

05/13/2024 04:53 pm GMT
Shapley's Hi Shine Shampoo, 1-Gallon
$43.95 $41.87

Other sizes, too! Adds shine with the most gentle formula.

06/12/2024 02:13 am GMT
SHAPLEY'S Medi-Care Med Shampoo W/Tea Tree & Lemon Grass, 32 oz
$18.95 $17.99

The best shampoo for shine and soothing.

06/06/2024 02:03 pm GMT
Shapley's No.1 Light Oil
$19.82 ($0.62 / Fl Oz)

For shine, conditioning, detangling, and stain protection.

06/12/2024 04:38 am GMT
Shapley's No.2 Heavy Oil

For deep conditioning and detangling - coat, mane, and tail.

05/11/2024 02:28 am GMT
06/12/2024 03:08 am GMT
Rubber Latex Waterproof Dishwashing Gloves, 2 Pair Medium Long Cuff
$12.99 $9.99 ($5.00 / Count)

It's fashion and function

06/12/2024 03:12 am GMT
Shapley’s 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo - Whitening Formula

For all colors - to add shine and help lift stains.

05/08/2024 01:18 am GMT
05/28/2024 04:13 pm GMT
Electric Cleaner Co Rapid Groom Horse Vacuum
$605.00 ($605.00 / Count)

It's always satisfying to vacuum your horse!

04/10/2024 01:46 pm GMT


Thank you!