We are in the middle of winter, and if you, like us, can’t really pack up the trailer and take of south, we have some winter grooming tips for you, so without further a due, here they are. Stay warm!
Mud season and chilly temperatures are upon us and with that, we have to be mindful of our horses grooming and management. Below are some winter grooming tricks and horse care tips to keep your horse happy through the chilly winter.
1. Give em’ a break
The winter is a great time to give your horse vacation time to rest their body after a busy
summer work and show schedule. Top riders give their horses 4-6 weeks off in the
wintertime in turnout with no shoes. This helps the horse have proper physical and mental
rest, helps the frog to grow out, and to let your horse be a horse.
2. Proper blanketing
a) Make sure your horse has enough layers on when the temperatures start to drop. Horses that are stalled at night, stand in a stall and don’t have a chance to move around to keep warm. Be sure your horse has enough hay through the night to keep eating and stay warm.
b) Make sure your blankets have some room in the shoulders so they don’t rub. Invest in a
shoulder guard if your horse starts losing hair at the shoulders. Or for a homemade solution, I like to put an extra wide pillow wrap over the winter or in front of the chest to prevent rubs. In general, I like to order a size up and have “clothes” fit big so their natural coat can “stand up” underneath their clothes to trap the heat close to the body.
c) Consider blankets that come with detachable hoods. Often times, we forget the neck is the most important muscle of the horse that supports their weight. The neck attachment helps your horse stay warm up to their poll.
d) Invest in a quarter sheet for work. There are many different fabrics, but I prefer wool over fleece, as it wicks the sweat away. Take the time to properly warm up and cool down your horse, 15-30 minutes, depending on work.
a) There is some controversy on whether to clip legs in the winter or not. If your horse will be spending more time outside than in, let the hair on his legs grow out. If they will be staying in work, clip legs every few weeks to help keep them dry in mud season and the snow. Be sure to wash/brush mud off to keep the legs clean. Since mud and winter air dry the hooves out, use the Hoof Therapy Restorative & Protective Serum to keep hooves elastic.
b) If you are lucky enough to have a horse vacuum, be sure to curry your horse well and
vacuum the dirt off. Vacuums really help pull grime out, help exfoliate the skin, and act as a
pseudo-massage as you move across the horse’s body. If your horse is nervous about the
vacuum, go slow. Take the time to get them used to the noise. A pair of ear plugs to start
c) You can give your horse a hot towel bath to keep them clean. Drench a towel in a bucket of warm water, vinegar, and EcoLicious So Fresh and So Green Shampoo. Wring it out and rub the horse’s coat vigorously. Then rub with the grain of the coat to smooth it out. Use a light colored towel to see how much dirt you wipe off your horse’s coat. Use a dry towel with the grain to dry the coat thoroughly. Finish with a spritz of Gloss Enhancing Coat Tonic. A helpful hot towel video can be found here.
6. Clipping styles
a) If your horse is having a nice break for the winter, you can let their coat grow out. This will give them an extra layer of warmth and you won’t need as many blankets.
b) Helpful clipping patterns can be found here. If your horse is staying in work through the winter, I like the Hunter Clip or a Blanket Clip, to keep them warm in low temperatures, but clipped enough so their coats dry quickly after work. I like to clip the entire face, as most horses tends to get sweaty around the ears and where the bridle sits and I think it gives them a tidier look.
7. For the Rider
Winter air is dry and harsh on skin! The Hey Sugar Lip Silk, Hey Sugar Nourishing Body
Butter, and Hands On Therapeutic Barn Hand Repair Lotion are full of silk, cacao, jojoba,
banana, avocado, and shea butter. They leave skin nourished and silky smooth. Rider products can be shopped here.
EcoLicious Grooming Guru
Kiira M. Lizza, 26, grew up as a working student for Olympian Nona Garson in New Jersey, USA. She attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY where she played polo and rode on the competitive IHSA team. After graduating with a degree in Management and Business, Kiira went on to work for equestrian luminaries Anne Kursinski, Amanda Steege, and Leslie Burr-Howard. Kiira is an amateur rider with a full-time job in NYC and spends evenings/weekends riding and focusing on becoming a better horsewoman with plans to ride professionally one day.