Your horse’s mane in winter – how to manage the mud!

 

Winter can pose trickier grooming problems than summer, as we often are faced with weather that is not really “bath-friendly”. Couple that with more mud, and you are likely going to end up with a muddy mane and tail. Here are a few ideas on how to manage this particular wintertime problem. 

 

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  • You may want to consider keeping a longer mane in loose braids. At least some of the hairs will be mud-free after a roll!

 

very dirty horse

 

  • Keep the mane knot-free with daily brushing and sparing use of detanglers. You want some help to keep the mane easy to manage, but not so much product that it attracts and holds lots of dirt.

 

  • Consider using a nylon neck cover to protect your horse’s mane. This can’t be used in wet weather. Be warned that it will also squash your horse’s winter coat down, thus inhibiting how he can keep his whole neck warm on his own.

 

 

horse-slinky-hood

And we call him Captain Blueberry!

 

  • Use blankets that have higher necks. This prevents the blanket from rubbing the mane, causing hair loss and knots. This also prevents too much dirt and gunk on the covered part of the mane.

 

  • Detangle the mane with a wide-toothed comb, your fingers, or a brush with not too many bristles. For those days when you have some time, attack the dirty mane in sections of about 1/2 to 1 inch. Section off the mane and use a stiff brush with dense bristles to get the dirt out. Some horse grooming brushes are good for this, so are boar’s hair brushes that you can find in beauty supply shops.

 

  • Consider using a hot, damp towel to clean the sections after you have brushed them out. Pull down the mane, working one section at a time. The towel should not be so wet that water drips out of it. For more on hot toweling, see the video below. Works on his body and his mane!

 

  • On a warmer day, you may be able to get away with shampoo on the mane, just be sure to have a plan of what to do with your horse’s wet neck and shoulders.

 

horse-tail-wash

 

  • For tails, I have found that it’s very easy to do a tail wash in the winter. You need to figure out how to hold the nozzle so that the water points away from your horse to minimize water on his bum. I suggest only washing below the tailbone. This will really minimize the water on his bum, and most of the dirty tail is usually at the bottom anyway. Treat the tailbone hairs as you would a mane.

 

  • Dunking your horse’s tail in a bucket of shampoo and water is the easiest way to wash the bottom of your horse’s tail in winter. Then you can spray the residue out by holding the tail away from his body when rinsing. It’s not perfect, but you may want to try it.

 

mud knot on chestnut horse tail

A mud knot. For use BEFORE the mud.

 

  • You can also do a mud knot for particularly muddy winter days, if your horse is a known roller in the muck. These knots keep your horse’s tail out of the way, and you can even secure them with a few swipes of vet wrap for more mud protection. Directions for mud knots here!

 

 

 

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