Winter horse grooming dilemma: caked-on mud.


Winter has many challenges, with the top horse grooming challenge number one being mud and furry winter coats. Or mud and any winter coat. Or just mud. It’s very difficult to persuade your horse to avoid all mud during rolling sessions. So the next best thing to do is some prevention and then some cleanup of any caked on mud.


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Tips for preventing caked on mud from painting your horse:


  • Use sheets or blankets if your horse goes outside. This creates a barrier between the earth and your horse. If it rains, you also have a dry horse that can be saddled up instead of a soaked horse that shouldn’t be tacked up. Your horse doesn’t have to live in a blanket, only during the high-risk mud rolling times. I understand that some of us prefer not to use blankets and sheets. And that’s fine, too, your arms will be stronger by the time spring rolls around.


  • Clipped horses quickly shed caked-on mud – and again, clipping isn’t for every horse and rider combo. But – a clipped and blanketed horse in winter is easier to groom, better for his skin if you ride (sweat – hair – dust – chaffing situations are common), helps to prevent him from overheating during exercise, and saves time during cooling out. Up to you.


Here’s the Complete Guide to Horse Clipping with tons of vids, too.


  • Make sure your horse is super oily. Curry the snot out of him, use shine products till the cows come home, feed lots of correctly balanced fatty acids to encourage oil production. You can try some sheen products, or you might prefer to rub your horse down with a grooming oil using one of many oil buffing techniques. This will make your grooming process easier.
For all sorts of oil buffing tips, this article is for you.


I can’t even imagine how Comet would look without a blanket! This is a simple rain sheet, on top of his sparse winter coat, is perfect for mud blocking.


Around the farm 


  • Can you give your horse a dedicated rolling spot so he does not need to wallow like a piggy? Round pens are super for this, as good footing and perhaps a roof keep the area better than most paddocks. Can you give his stall or shelter a make-over with loads of amazing bedding that rival even the grossest mud puddle’s temptation factor? Even a sand pile behind the arena would work. I have even seen some farms that dump a yard or two of horse heaven sand in a paddock’s high spot for rolling. Sand drains well and is loads easier to clean than mud.


  • If you can, find a way to prevent some of the mud around the farm. Good drainage, proper footing, gravel, ground stone paths, gutters, ditches, and crossing fingers can improve the mud to not mud ratio. More mud management tips can be found here!


Tips for removing mud from your horse:


  • Break up big chunks with your hands. Dry mud is easier.




Grooming gloves are awesome, they stop all of the dust and mud from getting under your nails, and you have instant feedback about what feels good to your horse.



  • I also can’t say enough good things about a good vacuum, either the horse variety or the shop vac type.



Don’t reach for the WD40 – please!


  • I have read some things online about this horse grooming mud predicament and using garage and kitchen products, and have been mostly horrified and somewhat intrigued about some of it.


  • Crisco is not an option. WD 40 is not an option (EVER). Cooking oils are not an option. Here’s why – these things are designed for toilets, car engines, and kitchens. Or, you can skip the kitchen supplies and give a warm bath. If you don’t have a way to do a safe and comfortable bath in the winter, elbow grease it is.




I won’t sugarcoat this at all – it’s going to be a long day of brushing and grooming to get this mud off.







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