While grooming trends vary among breeds and disciplines, a shiny horse is a head-turner in any arena. Some horses “bloom” more naturally than others, but there are some steps you can take to bring out the shine in any horse’s coat.
1. Don’t bathe him too often. The deepest shines come from the natural oils produced by your horse’s skin. Bathing too often strips this oil, so while your horse may technically be cleaner, his coat may be left looking dull. Skip the soap when you can, removing dirt with brushes and using only plain water to rinse your horse after a sweaty summer ride.
2. Lay on the elbow grease. Regular, vigorous hand grooming spreads oil throughout your horse’s coat, contributing to shine. Even after visible dirt has been removed, spend another 10 minutes brushing your horse to bring out a sheen. A soft brush works best for this final touch, or you can use a clean hand towel and wipe over your horse in the direction of coat growth using a slight bit of pressure.
3. Feed him right. Good basic nutrition is the foundation of a healthy coat, so ensure your horse is getting the correct amounts of quality feed. From that start you can consider adding a supplement intended to bring out the best in his coat. These supplements typically include some combination of biotin and omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Use a finishing spray. A light spritzing with a “shine” spray can put your horse’s glow over the top. There are many formulations of coat polish to choose from with different ingredients, actions and scents. Some of these sprays can make a horse’s coat slick, however, so be careful when applying it to hair you’ll need to braid later or on areas where tack will sit.
This article first appeared in the July 2017 issue of EQUUS (Volume #378)