Summer horse grooming tips
Summer is coming – and that means it’s time to change up your horse grooming routine. Yes it’s hot, yes there are flies, yes there are horse shows, and yes there is extra sweat. Totally manageable. Promise. Time for some summer horse grooming tricks.
Summer horse grooming – manes and tails.
- Your horse’s mane has a few functions, from insect and fly control to looking good for horse shows to giving you something to hold onto. In the summer, you may want to do a few things to make your horse more comfortable. Lots of options.
- You can roach your horse’s mane. YES, I said it – hog that sucker and find the ticks easier. If your horse’s mane is also generally unruly and it bothers you to no end, this will help. I also think a roached mane is cooler for your horse if you use a fly sheet that goes up the neck.
Roached or hogged manes work for some horses.
- If you don’t want to go extreme with a roaching, go for thinning your horse’s mane to lighten things up but keep some fly protection. Depending on the horse, I will either pull the mane to thin it, or I will consider using one of those solo combs that can thin the hair without pulling.
- You can also decide that your horse’s mane shall live in some nice loose braids. This helps with air flow and keeping things tidy.
- If your horse goes to shows in the summer, thin and shorten the mane so braids or bands are even and uniform.
- You have a few things to think about as warm weather hits for your horse’s tail.
- It’s usually time to ditch the tail bag so your horse’s natural fly swatter can be free.
- If you are headed to a horse show, consider banging your horse’s tail, unless you have a hunter in which case keep it that way that it comes out of your horse.
- Be on the lookout for any tail rubbing from ticks, flies, no-see-ums that cause sweet itch, pinworms, or dirty sheaths and udders.
- Under your horse’s tail is a great place for sweat to collect into itchiness and dullness, and you might even find that the extra soft skin between but cheeks is starting to rub sores. My go-to for rubs is the body glide stuff for runners for the skin between butt cheeks, around girths, and on rubs from fly sheets.
- More tail swishing means more tangles and things stuck in them. Daily care, like brushing or picking, is best. For maximum ease of removing tangles and wind knots and burrs, make sure your horse’s tail is clean and slick. Detanglers and grooming oils are great to use.
Quick video about stain removal – same technique as winter stain removal, just easier.
Touch up your horse’s flyaway hair
- Grooming in the summer for legs, ears, bridle paths, and other things that can be touched up with clippers gives your horse a clean, crisp look.
- Every horse is going to be different here, so pick and choose what works best for your horse with respect to clipping and trimming in the summer.
- For ears – some show horses have the edges and insides of their ears trimmed. It’s optional for the show ring, and if you go this route your horse needs a fly mask with ears all the time. You may elect to just trim the edges of the ears, and leave the insides fuzzy and hairy. This can help with fly protection.
- Or just leave your horse’s ears au natural. You still need to feel the insides of your horse’s ears daily to discover ticks, scabs, cuts, sores, etc.
I love a bridle path!
- For legs – it’s a similar situation to ears. Clip for shows if you like, but have sun and bug protection. You can’t go wrong with fly boots.
- Depending on your horse’s turnout routine, how wet things are, and how likely he is to get scratches, I suggest keeping the fetlocks and lower legs tidy if you are not clipping for horse shows. Shorter hair is easier to keep clean, you can find scabs easily, and everything dries faster if he’s been out on damp or dewy grass.
- And again, that whole tick thing.
- I’m always about the bridle path, unless your horse has the mere memory of a mane. Bridle paths allow your horse’s bridle to lay flat against his head with even pressure. A mane under the bridle creates a bit of a lump.
Summer grooming – coat care for your horse.
- Your horse’s coat care in summer boils down to a few things – is he shed out and comfortable, is he true to color without any sun bleaching, and is he protected from the sun and bugs?
- Show horses are often body clipped in the summer. If you have a horse that has any remnants of a thicker coat due to Cushing’s (PPID) or he just needs some help staying cool, clip him! This goes double a horse with anhidrosis if he needs any smidgen of help not overheating.
- The sun bleaching thing is another thing to get ahead of during warmer weather. This is part salty sweaty wet horse in the sun, and part nutrition. There is evidence that copper deficiencies contribute to sun bleaching. Be sure to rinse super sweaty horses, or let them cool and dry in the shade and buff them out with a cactus cloth. Use a color-correcting shampoo to touch up if you are headed to a show or you just want some of the bleaching covered.
Protect the skin
- I am all about bug and fly protection for your horse’s summer coat – and a light-colored fly sheet is my favorite tool to get this done. This also keeps a bit of mud and dirt off your horse. Bonus!
- Sunburn is another issue to address, either with sunscreen that’s chock full of zinc oxide or fly clothing like masks and sheets, or some combo of both. And just because your horse’s white parts are not clipped, doesn’t mean he won’t get sunburned. Be especially careful with any pink skin under a white mane, too.
- Your horse’s skin is also likely to get rubs and blisters when there’s moisture or sweat and friction. Fly masks can rub, girths can rub, really anything that touches your horse can rub the hair away and even open the skin. I use a body glide stick designed for runners and hikers to avoid all rubs by creating a slippery film on your horse.
- If your horse’s legs get eaten by bugs, attacked by scratches or dermatitis, need help to stop the stomping, use socks on your horse’s legs.
Silver Whinnys by Sox for Horses solves so many issues!
Summer horse grooming – hoof care.
- There are a few summer hoof issues to be wary of. One is super hard ground, as can happen in some climates if there’s not a lot of rain and the earth is just packed and baked to a crisp. Just as with frozen earth, hard ground is not forgiving on your horse’s hooves and joints.
- Use care when riding on hard ground, and give your horse mats to stand on if he’s outside all the time. Watch for hoof bruises and sore feet and cracks.
- One more thing that can lead to cracks and loose horseshoes and general bad hoof feelings? Stomping legs. Squash the stomping with fly boots or silver socks.
- And double-check that your fly control plan is attacking all stages of the fly life cycle. Use predators, clean all of the poop up many times a day, set fly traps, and keep your horse free of manure stains that attract flies.
- The flip side of this is a super wet summer. Hooves that go from wet to wet to wet and then maybe to dry can get cracks, loose horseshoes, thrush, and other hoof ailments. Fantastic, right? Be vigilant about checking horseshoe nails and keeping your nose peeled for thrush.
- Hooves also grow a bit faster in the summer, so your Farrier might need to come out more often.
Have a great summer!
You can pick up some mane grooming tools here. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, and this does not cost you anything extra! You can help support this website, which I greatly appreciate!
HandsOn Grooming Gloves – also, use code PEG for some free shipping!
Genuine Cactus Cloth – Natural – 18 X 16-1/2 Standard This is much better for stain removal and spreading natural oils around.
JT Tough-1 Fold Up Thinning Knife – my favorite mane blade for making a mane even!
Solocomb By Dh Animal Products – for thinning the mane without pulling.
Wahl Professional Animal Bravura Lithium Clipper – this includes the 5 in 1 blade that goes from a #9 to a #40. Perfect for designs!