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How to Make Your Horse's Coat Shine

A shiny coat is the sign of a healthy and happy horse. Dull horse coats can result from nutritional deficiencies in your horse's diet, from worms and parasites, and from a lack of regular grooming. Whether you have a show to prepare for or you just want your horse to have a healthy, beautiful coat every day, this can be assured with care and attention to your horse’s needs.

Part One of Four:
Washing and Grooming Your Horse

  1. 1
    Use clean tools. Before washing your horse, soak all brushes (including mane and tail brushes and combs) in warm water with a small amount of dishwashing detergent. Rinse well and let dry in the sun.[1]
  2. 2
    Groom your horse regularly. Salt from sweat may dull the coat's color and irritate skin if the horse is not groomed properly.[2] Brushing your horse removes dry skin and dead hairs while distributing oils throughout the coat.[3]
    • Use some elbow grease. Nothing replaces hard work. When you consistently care for your horse and tend to regular care, it shows.[4]
  3. 3
    Keep baths to a minimum. Frequent soapy baths can leave the coat dry and dull and strip the natural oils.[5] While there's no "rule" to bathing frequency, know that a rinse can be useful for washing off sweat or dirt. Consider a bath before a show or if your horse is covered in mood.
    • Monitor dandruff as one way to gauge an appropriate bathing schedule. Dandruff can be an indicator that you are bathing your horse either too frequently or not frequently enough. Without frequent and thorough bathing, horses commonly develop dandruff buildup. Excessive bathing can strip the natural oils of the coat and also lead to dandruff. [6]
  4. 4
    Rinse the coat thoroughly. When bathing your horse, rinse as many times as necessary until no soap runs off, as soap residue can lead to a dull coat. Any residue can affect the horse's skin or damage the naturally occurring oils.[7]

Part Two of Four:
Addressing Adequate Nutrition

  1. 1
    Ensure that your horse eats a balanced diet. Good nutrition includes adequate protein and fatty acids, depending on your horse's activity level and medical needs. Grazing horses need appropriate nutrition as well. Talk to your equine nutritionist to provide you with professional advice.[8]
  2. 2
    Add supplements to your horse's diet. Supplementing can be a great way to add additional nutrition to your horse's diet when used as directed. Discuss any deficiencies with your veterinarian and create a supplement plan. Common ingredients in skin supplements include Vitamin A, B vitamins, Biotin, Methionine, Lysine, Zinc, Fatty acids, Vitamin E.[9]
  3. 3
    Add oils to your horse’s diet. A dull coat can stem from a deficiency in fatty acids such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 in your horse’s diet. Many people choose to add regular vegetable oil to the horse's diet. [10] Use as directed.

Part Three of Four:
Assessing Your Horse's Health

  1. 1
    Determine whether your horse needs worming. Worms can cause your horse to experience rough and dull coat, lethargy, extended belly, and slowed growth in young horses.[11] Pay attention to any of these symptoms and talk to your veterinarian to ward off parasites.
    • Monitoring parasite eggs in the fecal count is the best way to detect parasites and worms. Your veterinarian can help you develop an effective deworming program to fit your horse's needs.[12]
    • Grazing horses experience less parasites than stabled horses due to less confined conditions. If you stable your horse, make sure clean conditions are maintained.[13]
  2. 2
    Assess for an underlying health condition. If your horse's coat condition has changed, it may be due to problems with health that may require medical attention from your veterinarian.
    • A fungus infection may contribute to shedding matted or clumped hair. Some common symptoms of a fungus infection include weight loss, colic, diarrhea, and nasal drip.[14]
    • Some glandular conditions can cause the skin to become dry, resulting in a dull, brittle hair coat. Discuss any concerns you have with your veterinarian.[15]
  3. 3
    Address allergies. Allergies are unpleasant for the horse and can contribute to problems with the horse's coat. Talk to your veterinarian about ways to treat your horse's allergies.[16]

Part Four of Four:
Showing Your Horse

  1. 1
    Apply silicon after bathing. Silicon enhances the look of the horse's coat. Carefully spray silicon everywhere except the saddle area. Coating the legs and tail will ensure that dirt will not stick.[17] Additional products exist to enhance a coat's shine.
  2. 2
    Use a dryer sheet to collect dust. A dryer sheet will collect any last-minute dust around the face. Carefully brush the dryer sheet throughout the face with your hand, being careful to not displace any hair. Do this right before entering the warm-up ring.[18]
  3. 3
    Apply baby powder or corn starch to the legs. Adding powder to the legs will help the legs stand out and can improve the overall appearance of the horse. Apply powder on show day.[19]

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Which oils can I use to make my horses coat shine?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • You can usually purchase sprays and oils at a local feed store or some sort of an equine shop. Common brands are Show Sheen, Main and Tail, and Cowboy Magic.
    Thanks! 9 1
  • How do I get out my horse's winter coat fast?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Before winter starts, use a sheet to lie down the hair. Use it when it gets cooler, and then put a winter blanket on top. Continue to do this until it gets warmer and your horse starts to lose some of its winter hair. Use the curry comb regularly, and use it in the direction of the horse's coat.
    Thanks! 9 1
  • Can the dryer sheet be scented?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, the scent does not affect horses. It doesn't matter if the dryer sheet is scented or not.
    Thanks! 6 1
  • How can I make a fluffy pony show ready without clipping her?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Try using a wire brush. A wire brush will keep her fluffy while detangling her coat.
    Thanks! 5 1
  • Could I give my horse olive oil instead of vegetable oil?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • I recommend you use pure coconut oil. The healthy properties in the other oils are mostly lost in the refining process.
    Thanks! 12 8
  • Why use silicone if it dries out hair?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Lots of people like it for shows to give the horse a good shine. You can wash it off after the class or show.
    Thanks! 5 2
  • Does vinegar make a horse's coat shiny?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Yes, but vinegar can also be bad for their skin. Consult a specialist for further information and advice.
    Thanks! 3 2
  • Can I use corn oil instead of vegetable oil?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Coconut oil is good for making your horses coat healthy and shiny, so it is recommended over corn oil or vegetable oil.
    Thanks! 1 0
  • I'm having trouble trying to remember the order of the brushes. Any tips?
    Answered by wikiHow Contributor
    • Start with the hardest brush and work your way to the softest. Curry comb is harder than the hard brush which is harder than the soft brush.
    Thanks! 3 4
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  • Use supplements as directed and do not overfeed supplements containing iodine or selenium as these can be toxic at high doses.
    2 Helpful?  1
  • Do not apply shine products near the saddle area or around reins as this causes them to become slippery.
    2 Helpful?  0
  • To avoid burning your horse, abstain from using oils near the eyes or muzzle on sunny days.
    4 Helpful?  0

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Expert Review By:

Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons

This version of How to Make Your Horse's Coat Shine was reviewed by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS on October 15, 2015.

51 votes - 96%
Co-authors: 10
Views: 58,720
Categories: Horse Grooming

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