White Lies -
Erase Tough Urine, Manure and Tack Stains

By Ruthann Smith
© 2008, Ruthann Smith, All rights reserved.
Originally Published in Equine Journal


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Bright Coat

Would you rather have a bright coat without residue that is super shiny and silky without being slippery? How about big fluffy tails that are easier to maintain? Achieving this can require less products and time while yielding richer coats.

Whitening products typically make horses get dirtier. Yes, you heard it here. It sounds crazy, but on some level you might already know. Does it seem your grey is always dirty? This may be true, and the norm, but not necessary.

Consider this prevailing cycle – most shampoos and stain removers strip natural oils from the coat. Whitening products tend to be the worst. You see it – they lose their shine. Coats are not silk; hair is porous and thirsty. Therefore, the hair grabs onto everything and stains penetrate. So, the horse gets washed again. The hair might be white for a moment, but harsh shampoos, not pH balanced for horses, leave hair more prone to soil, feeding the cycle. Incidentally, anti- bacterial soaps do not kill fungus. They just dry out the skin and leave it more vulnerable and in need of constant care. Plus, dry skin is defenseless against irritants such as fungus, scratches, itching and bugs. Plus, popular whitening shampoos come in liters, so it is difficult to compare prices to gallons. Truth is, they are expensive.

Next, people often use detanglers or shine agents (also costly), with the idea that it helps hair stay manageable and clean. The impact is generally one of two: either the silicon-based spray locks in the stain, makes tails fall heavy and lacquers hair to suffocate it, eventually making it brittle leading to breakage; or an oily substance is applied for shine, which attracts sun and dirt that dry out the coat. It also acts as a barrier, keeping yellow stains in.

Conventional morning spot wash routines also make for more work. The idea is a good one: no cold hoses to tighten muscles or soften feet. But, we have established that drying out the coat is a culprit for perpetually green greys. Alcohol is very drying and most stain sprays parch coats. You see it in the resulting yellow shadow. The dust-on mask baby powder is a carcinogen; I'd rather do without.

There is a better way. It is easier, cheaper, conserves resources and saves time. Here is the proven paradigm for easier to maintain greys and whites:

  1. Curry often. It is the best way to bring oils to the surface and exfoliate to release them. Currying will make the skin more resilient and hair stronger. That means: less itching, scratches, blanket and boot rubs. Currying also promotes soundness. Pay attention and address soreness, knots, heat and swelling promptly to deal with minor problems instead of debilitating ones. Currying daily, before and after work, is pivotal to soundness and top turnout.
  2. Pick stalls. Clean is clean. In the long run, the easiest and most cost-effective practice is to bed deep and pick often. No manure means no stains. I like to take out really wet areas during night check as well. A damp bed promotes aches and thrush.
  3. Choose shampoo carefully. Use one pH balanced for horses, that has no sodium chloride (salt!), is rich in aloe and uses only medical-grade tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is nature's best antiseptic and anti-fungal. However, it is a compound, so can vary greatly in quality. You want the fine grade that is very gentle and effective. If the shampoo is all-in-one, it should be conditioning as well. That is, it actually fortifies instead of just covering hair. So, greys will glisten and you need not use detanglers.
  4. Spot wash with an enzyme. This will instantly dissolve stains by breaking the bond between live and dead protein; the hair and anything else. New stains bead up and can be wiped right off. So as not to dilute the solution, when old stains are dry, douse hair with enzymatic spray and let sit. When the enzyme dries, it dies. Keep area damp so it can break down the silicone shield and stain that may be deep in the hair.  Lucky Braids Whitener/Dry Wash offers a LOVE LOVE Guarantee or your money back.
  5. Use an all-in-one shampoo on tails. The conditioner makes tails easier to comb wet. Also, comb wet (twist, grip bottom and work way up, always combing from very bottom), and pick daily. If the hair is sticking and bathing is out, spray with enzyme and wipe clean. No detangler or heavy conditioners should be needed. And, no fake tails should be needed. Again, there is nothing like the real thing. If you do use fake tails, care for them as you would a live tail: good shampoo, comb wet and hang dry. In this way, tails are volumized and resist tangles.  Lucky Braids All-In-One Shampoo is proven best, easiest and most cost-effective.
  6. Ringside care. Even on muddy days, you can enter the ring clean and bright. Tie up the tail to school. Then, use an enzyme to spray and wipe clean at the in-gate. That is, as long as it does not interfere with the horse's mindset.
  7. Remember: impurities do not readily stick to healthy hair. Plus, healthy hair has a deeply layered, coppery sheen. There is nothing like the real thing. Spray-on shines are just that: superficial. No matter how much you use, the coat will not be a show-stopper. If hair is healthy, the sheen is rich. Plus, you won't need all the extra “stuff.”

I understand these practices are not yet the norm. But, think about it – conventional care results in endless grooming, scraggly tails and skin disease. So, give it a go. I am confident you'll be delighted to enjoy such rich and agreeable coats.


Bio Pic

Ruthann Smith has spent a lifetime studying sound horsemanship- both as a groom for top international horses and as a renowned braider. Quietly twisting manes atop a ladder, she watched and learned in some of the best stables in the world.

As her passion for great grooming grew, Ruthann became focused on researching, collecting and sharing the best practices of the world’s keenest horsemen. Ultimately, Ruthann used her vast experience to develop exceptional equine grooming products to help raise the bar of horsemanship.

The knowledge she dispenses and the products Ruthann developed solve age-old grooming issues. Making quality horse care easier, they have received the highest honors in the equine industry*. Her Lucky Braids for Top Turnout coat care and braiding products are the best, most versatile, cost-effective and easiest solutions available on the market today.

Now Ruthann offers her LOVE, LOVE Guarantee. If not totally thrilled with a product she developed, Ruthann will refund you in full, regardless of where you purchased it.

It’s her life’s mission to empower horses by educating, motivating and equipping their people to be true horsemen. You can access Ruthann’s tips at: The Grooming Resource on LuckyBraids.com, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and her Horsemanship Clinics.

*After testing 350 products, Lucky Braids All-In-One Horse Shampoo was named product of the year by Horse Journal, the “Consumer Reports” of the industry. They also named Lucky Braids Shampoo and Top Pick for greys and whites. Lucky Braids specialized braiding yarn also got stellar reviews.