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A Note on Sheath Cleaning
As a safeguard against infection, a gelding's sheath should be cleaned on occasion. Check the sheath area for a buildup of grime, odor or swelling, and if these conditions are noted, a cleaning may be in order. These cleanings should be conducted by a knowledgeable horseperson or veterinarian who is equipped to handle negative reactions if the horse resists the procedure, and who knows how to perform the procedure in a safe and healthful way for the horse.

Products to assist with this task include Excalibur Sheath Cleaner and Squeeky Clean Sheath Cleaner; these are designed to gently soften the debris embedded in these areas.

Topical Treatments
A wide assortment of grooming products may be used to supplement your grooming routine regularly or for special occasions.

Mane and Tail Detangler-If you choose to apply a mane and tail detangler, use your fingers to spread the product throughout the hair while separating tangles carefully to prevent breakage. Allow the product to sit on the hair for a few minutes before combing or brushing it for a silky effect. If you plan to braid your horse's mane or forelock, do not put detangler in the hair as it will be less likely to hold a braid. In fact, products such as Quic Braid make hair easier to braid and help to hold braids in place.

Coat Polishes-Coat polishes help repel dust and stains and add shine to your horse's coat. They are most often used after bathing, but can be used after a complete grooming session too. Apply by lightly misting the product directly on the coat, or distribute it using a fleece mitt or terry cloth towel.

Note: If you choose to apply a coat polish that contains silicone, avoid putting it where tack belongs. It can make a horse's hair so slippery that tack will not stay in place.

Spot Removers-Gray, cream and other very light-colored horses sometimes have unsightly stains caused by manure or urine. Stubborn stains that cannot be removed completely with currying and brushing can be erased quickly with the use of spot removers designed specifically for light-colored horses.

Sunscreens-Healthy Haircare Coat Care and Quic Screen Sunscreen are sprays that are intended to protect a horse's coat from sunburn. If your horse has a pink skin on his nose that may become sunburned, consider applying a non-toxic, waterproof sunblock found at your local pharmacy.

Hoof Ointments, Dressings, Oils and Polishes-Many types of hoof treatments are available that provide therapeutic benefits, from helping to harden hooves to treating thrush. Nutritional supplements are also available to help grow stronger hooves. If you have concerns about the health of your horse's hooves, consult your farrier or veterinarian for guidance. Other hoof oils and dressings provide moisture for dry hooves or are used to enhance the look of hooves for special occasions. If you wish to treat your horse's hooves with an oil or polish, apply it at the end of your grooming session to prevent hair and dust from attaching to the wet surface. Allow it to dry before moving your horse.

Removing Bot Fly Eggs
If you see tiny yellow spots sticking to your horse's coat, you're looking at bot fly eggs. The female bot fly usually lays her eggs in clusters on a horse's legs, flanks, chin, shoulders or mane, but they can appear anywhere. Her goal is for the horse to scratch itself-or a pasture buddy-with its teeth and ingest the eggs. Larvae can then mature inside the horse, where it can cause health and digestive problems in its host. To prevent your horse from ingesting bot eggs, remove them promptly using a bot egg knife or a Slick N Easy Grooming Tool.

Metal curry combs
Sometimes, old-style metal curry combs turn up in horse barns. These curries should be used for cleaning your brushes as you work by gently scraping the teeth of the comb against the tips of the bristles.

Winter Grooming Tips:
If your horse wears a blanket, remove it daily to look for skin irritations, kicks and cuts, weight loss, skin infections or other health concerns.

  • Currying is especially important as it distributes the natural oils (sebum) that occur in extra amounts in you horse's skin. This oil helps to provide a "waterproofing" component to the hair.
  • The excess sebum secreted by horses' skin in winter builds up rapidly in brushes and curries, making it difficult to get your horse clean. To make your grooming sessions most effective, sanitize your brushes regularly.
  • If your horse is turned out regularly in snow or mud, consider trimming the hair on the fetlocks and pasterns to reduce the risk of scratches (also called mud fever) developing there.

Sidebar: Does your horse have a dull coat?
If your horse's coat is dull or dry despite regular intensive grooming, consider speaking with your veterinarian. Poor coat condition can be a sign of health problems such as internal parasites, skin infections, allergies or illness. It can also be a sign that your horse isn't eating the right foods for his age and activity level, or isn't getting an appropriate amount of exercise. Lots of good quality forage and an appropriate amount of the right type of feed, along with turnout and exercise, are the best ways to ensure that your horse grows a good coat. Too many soapy baths or baths in which too much shampoo is used can make a horse's coat look dull too. Refer to Tips for Bathing Your Horse for guidelines. Lastly, a freshly clipped coat is usually not shiny either, which is why you should clip your horse several weeks before a special event if you want him to shine in the spotlight.

Tip: Removing Sweat Stains
Elbow grease through currying and brushing is the best way to remove sweat stains from your horse. What better way to reward your horse for working hard for you than to make him comfortable with a rubdown? But in a pinch, you can use a towel that is barely moistened with rubbing alcohol to assist with quickly removing a sweat stain. This method is drying to the skin and hair, making it inadvisable to use every day.

For more assistance or to request a catalog, call 1-800-989-1500 to speak with a Dover Saddlery product advisor, or stop by any of our retail stores. Visit DoverSaddlery.com for a complete store listing and the full product offering.

Related Topics:
A Guide to Grooming Tools
How to Care for Your Brushes
Tips for Bathing Your Horse
How to Body Clip a Horse
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