Summer Horse Grooming Solutions

By Cat Hill
Brought to you by Shapley’s, the Official Grooming Product Sponsor of Pony Club

Summer! Finally done with shedding and mud. Now is the season for competition, trail rides, and fun. We often think of the summer season as the easy time to care for our four-legged friends, but summer brings a host of its own problems for the dedicated groom. Let’s look at how to care for our horses during the summer riding months, with three of the top grooming problems.

Grooming Problem 1: Sweat
With heat comes sweat. It’s easy to point a hose at a sweaty horse, or to swipe a wet sponge across them. However, it’s vital to remember that horse’s hair is hydrophobic, which means that it will keep water away from the skin. To truly rinse the sweat away, make sure you are vigorously rubbing and currying the coat while you spray. Horses that have gotten very sweaty could use a gentle shampoo. Shapley’s Medi-care shampoo is my go-to for regular cleansing, because it doesn’t dry the coat out but is strong and thorough. It’s also important to carefully rinse the nooks and crannies, the face where the browband sits is often missed, as is the armpits and chest wrinkles.

Grooming Problem 2: Skin Issues
Itchy, flaky skin is another problem that often arises in the heat. The bugs can cause irritated skin, which in turn can make a horse roll excessively, which can dry the skin. The No. 1 solution is using your curry. Nothing can replace a good, rigorous curry session for skin health and helping dissipate the bug bites. Each horse has their own opinion about the proper curry, so listen and try different ones.

Using a vinegar rinse (1 part vinegar to 6 parts water) sponged on the horse every few days can help alleviate the itch caused by bug bites. Dry flaky skin can be helped by a light coat conditioner sprayed on a towel and then rubbed well into the coat. Shapley’s MTG helps prevent tail rubbing when a horse has a dry, itchy dock. It can also help regrow a tail if a horse has itched it off 

Grooming Problem 3: Sunburn
Sunburn can rear its head in the summer, and not just on our shoulders and necks! Horses coats can fade in the sun, and especially the tails can lose their color. First and foremost,  horses’ healthy coat is a reflection of their internal health. A coat that is bleaching out drastically may need to be checked over for internal parasites, stomach ulcers or improper nutrition. If those concerns are laid aside, using a coat enhancing shampoo weekly like Shapley’s Equitone shampoos can do wonders for a sun-bleached or sunburnt coat. White horses with pink skin may need to be kept indoors during the day or wear a UV protective fly sheet.  Often, the peeling scabs on pink nostrils are actually a form of dew poisoning rather than sunburn.

Long summer days are the perfect time to enjoy horses—both riding them and taking care of them.

About Shapley’s — Official USPC Grooming Product Sponsor
Shapley’s has been producing superior equine grooming products for over 85 years, and top riders and horsemen trust Shapley’s for their horse’s health and shine. Learn more at

A version of this article originally appeared in Pony Club News.

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