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Cleaning out your horse’s hooves is important for several reasons. It is an essential part of a good horse care routine. It’s a step that needs to be done frequently and when done properly will keep your horse healthy and happy and free to trot along without any pain or risk of thrush!
A horse’s hoof has a concave shape along with two clefts alongside the frog, and can therefore, easily pick up debris that may hurt it. While pine cones and twigs are common to find in your horse’s hoof, they aren’t really of much concern. However, if your horse is picking up large rocks or debris like wire or trash that may be littered around, this can cause anything from a mild bruise to a sole puncture and cause tremendous pain.
If your horse suddenly goes lame or has trouble walking, the first thing you should do is check the hooves and clean them out before consulting the veterinarian.
Why hoof cleaning is even more important during wet seasons
When the temperatures drop and the soil turns soft and muddy thanks to rain, snow and sludge, cleaning your horse’s hooves becomes even more important.
Soil and manure left in the hoof creates a moist, dirty environment; the ideal setting for thrush to start and thrive. Keeping the hoof clean may help prevent thrush from even starting. If, however, you aren’t able to avoid it and thrush does set in, be sure to clean it frequently to prevent it from getting worse.
Simple steps for regular hoof cleaning
The first step is to make sure your horse is tied safely before you start cleaning out the hooves. Position yourself on the front near side to avoid getting kicked if your horse gets rowdy. Hold your horses hoof in your less dominant hand and get to work with the hoof pick. Teaching your horse to lift its foot willingly will make the job a whole lot easier and place less stress on the animal.
Working from heel to toe, use your hoof pick to gently but firmly clear any manure, matted hay, mud, and other debris. Use a stiff brush to brush away any bits of dirt. Spray Kiss A Frog Foot Wash over the whole under hoof area and and into the area around the frog. Allow to dry for 2-3 minutes before returning your horse back to the stall.
Along with a healthy diet, and clean living space, hoof cleaning should be part of your daily routine to protect and prevent fungal infections. Especially for horses prone to thrush.
To help strengthen your horses hooves, use Jojoba Hoof Moisturizing Mist a few times per week. This effective conditioner contains hydrating and protecting oils, proteins, and essential oils for darker, stronger, healthier hooves that will be less prone to chipping!
Grooming is one of the most wonderful experiences you can share with your horse. It’s a time to show care and bond, and revel in their shiny coats. Sometimes though, even the most bonded horse and owner can run into grooming problems. This series addresses common horse grooming challenges, and today we are covering tips to help with tail rubbing.
What is tail rubbing?
Tail rubbing is a condition that results from a horse rubbing back and forth on a post or stable wall to relieve itching. Although tail rubbing itself isn’t a bad thing, constant tail rubbing can be a sign of a larger problem. Sometimes horses face an itch so bad, they will rub themselves raw. There is nothing more distressing than seeing your horse rub their beautiful tail bald.
Common causes of tail rubbing and how to relieve them
There are several culprits that could be causing your horse to tail rub and most are easily treatable. Here are some of the most common causes of tail rubbing and how to address them.
One of the easiest culprits to fix is dry and itchy skin. Our Not So Sweet Itch product line helps moisturize the afflicted area and provide soothing relief for itchy spots. Not So Sweet Itch supports healing and new hair growth so your horse will have its beautiful tail back in no time.
Allergic reaction to flies
Flies and gnats can trigger hypersensitivity in your horse, causing an itchy allergic reaction. If you suspect this to be the problem, use Peppermint Summer Protection on the horse’s coat and around their rest area. If you see signs of bites or skin irritation, use The Balm or Lavender Cleansing Spray to help protect the area while it heals naturally.
Dirty sheath or udder
A final cause may be a dirty sheath or udder. Since horses can’t exactly reach these places, they’ll often rub their tail for relief. Make sure to give their sheath or udder a good cleaning with our Sheath and Udder Cleaner. See this earlier post for a guide to intimate cleaning.
What do to in more severe cases
If tail rubbing is severe enough to cause open wounds, sores, and abrasions, you need to speak to your veterinarian. This may be a sign of a parasite infection or similarly more severe issue than those listed above that need immediate attention.
I hole you foind this post helpful, please help share it on social media using the icons above. And come back for the next part of this series where I address bath-time battles.
Grooming is one of my favorite things about being a horse owner. It’s a wonderful time to connect, bond, and show your care. However, sometimes grooming time isn’t all sunshine and roses. Even a master horse groomer can run into challenges and this series aims to address some of these challenges. Today I’d like to address another common issue: tangled tails.
Our horse’s tails are gorgeous, from their silky soft touch to the way they fly in the wind. Since tails are long, it can be easy for them to get tangled. Sadly, removing these tangles can be a painful experience for both horse and groomer. Here’s how to remove those knots and prevent them from developing.
Invest in the right horse grooming tools
Whether your horse’s tail follicles are thick or thin, having the right tools to tackle tangles can save a lot of headaches. I recommend a flat backed brush with widely spaced, soft-tip bristles. Also, a wide tooth comb can be very helpful as well. Next you’ll want to stock up on products designed specifically for mane and tail repair such as Fairy Tails Spray, Fairy Tails Lotion or Fairy Tails Orchid Oil Gloss depending on your preferred application method.
How to battle those tangles
Remember less is always more when it comes to tail brushing. If you pull too hard, you can cause breakage which will lead to more tangles. Be gentle with every stroke. Start with applying Fairy Tails spray or lotion to the tail and massage it gently into the hair follicle. In areas where there are tough tangles, apply a little more to make these areas easier to address.
Take small sections of hair, working from the bottom up and comb out the tangles. When you’ve finished a section separate it from the rest of the tail. Once you’ve worked through all the knots, you’ll want to brush the entire tail. Fairy Tails products add a protective layer of natural essential oils to the follicle and will help prevent the build up of knots in the future.
Some tangle prevention tips
Finally, once you’ve gotten the tail fully groomed there are some things you can do to keep it from developing knots:
Keep the follicle and tail moisturized
Braid the tail if your horse is going to be very active
You can also use a tail bag, though I only recommend these before horse shows because they can be difficult to put on safely and your horse needs their tail to swat flies
If you follow these tips, dealing with tangled tails will be a breeze.
Welcome to my series on horse grooming challenges. In each post, I cover one of the most common challenges I hear from my customers. In this post, I’m going to cover bath-time battles because sometimes ornery horses just don’t want to get a bath. Even professional groomers struggle with bath-time battles sometimes, so don’t worry. It’s definitely something that can be overcome with patience.
Create a sense of relaxation
If you’re facing bath time battles regularly, the first step is to create a place where your horse can feel safe. Start by soothing the horse. I personally love to use gentle massage to promote a sense of calm.
Keep the bathing area safe
Next, you’ll want to make sure the bathing area is safe in case they do react negatively. Start by laying a non-slip mat, and clearing all buckets, shampoo bottles or anything else they may bump into or trip over. If the horse reacts in a cluttered space, this may intensify their fear and ruin the sense of calm you have created.
Next, go very slowly. Start by introducing a gentle spray of the hose on their front legs and hooves. Speak to them in pleasant tones and massage their back. If possible use warm water. Keep the spray low and work up the body. Stay in vision and keep encouraging them with positivity. Next you can apply the shampoo. Our Not So Sweet Itch Shampoo is great for bath-time battles, because its low suds formula makes it easier to control if your horse is feeling uncomfortable. Take your time with the shampoo application, massage it into their coat for an extra pleasant experience. Finally, gently rinse them down.
You can overcome bath time battles, it just takes some extra patience. If your horse really hates bath-time even after you’ve taken all these steps, you can also try using our Grapefruit Coat Refresh for maintenance to reduce the frequency of bathing. It gently cleans your horse, provides a layer of protection from dirt, and nourishes the skin and coat.
I hope you found this post helpful, please be sure to share using the icons above, and come back for the next edition of horse grooming challenges where we’ll be discussing tangled tails.
We’ve all dreamed of having a white horse at some point in our lives. They are absolutely majestic and create a sense of fantasy when you see them galloping through the fields. Though undeniably beautiful, it is not a dream to care for a white coat. White coats are prone to staining, yellowing, and looking dull and dirty. However, there are a few grooming tricks you can do to keep your horse’s coat shiny, bright, and white.
Avoid toxic horse-care products
When looking for shampoos for your white horse, you may come across whitening shampoos. These contain harsh chemicals that are very damaging to your horse’s coat. Many whitening shampoos contain blue or purple bleaching aids that remove stains but also strip the hair of oils and leave the follicle brittle. They can also cause skin dryness and irritation. No matter how stained your horse’s coat, never use one of these shampoos.
How to groom a white horse
Start by investing in a cleansing mitt or a rubber curry so that you can scrub your horse’s coat down to the skin. Use warm water and a gentle shampoo like Not So Sweet Itch Body Wash and really put in some elbow grease to remove any dirt or oil. This will also help stimulate your horse’s natural skin oils which will prevent the build-up of dirt and stains.
Next, clip the coat to remove some of the stained follicles and so dirt can’t build up and cause staining. Then create a protective oil barrier by applying Showcoat Leave-In Conditioner. A light application will do, but you can apply a little more in areas more prone to staining like on the legs near the hooves. Finally, between bathings use Grapefruit Coat Refresh daily to keep the coat fresh and clean so stains don’t build up.
What else you can do
There are a few things beyond grooming you can do that will help prevent staining:
Feed your horse a diet loaded with zinc, copper, biotin, fatty acids, and protein to support hair growth
Consider the selective use of horse clothing on particularly dusty or muddy days
Deep clean your horse’s stall
Try applying lemon, lavender, turmeric, sandalwood, or bergamot essential oils which offer natural brightening and lightening
Follow these tips and you’ll keep your white horse’s coat bright and new! If you have any grooming secrets of your own, please share them in the comments below.
There is nothing more fun than going for a mani-pedi with your friends. For your horse, a mani-pedi can actually be beneficial to their health, especially in the fall and springtime when the combination of wet weather and changing temperatures can see dangerous microbes thrive. At these times, horses may be at risk of picking up a nasty fungus or bacterial infection on their hooves which can cause deterioration of the hoof and pain when standing or walking. To help prevent these issues we recommend a microbe-busting natural hoof soak.
Start with prevention
The best thing to do to prevent these types of infections is to provide regular care for your horse’s hooves during grooming. Start by thoroughly cleaning the hooves with Kiss A Frog Foot Wash. Then add a barrier of protection with our hoof moisturizer Jojoba Hoof Moisturizing Mist. Problems can also be prevented with a combination of a healthy diet and hoof trimming. Talk to your veterinarian if there is a severe or recurring issue.
Natural hoof soaks
If you’ve found that your horse has developed an infection, a hoof soak is a great remedy. There are a lot of hoof soaks on the market made with harsh chemicals which do a great job of killing the microbes. However, you don’t want to just kill the microbes, you also need to promote the growth of new tissue. Not to mention you shouldn’t expose your horses to these harmful toxins.
Here are three natural alternatives:
Apple Cider Vinegar is a wonderful product that has many uses. It is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and is loaded with amino acids that promote tissue regrowth. Mix one-quarter cup of vinegar to one gallon of water. In extreme cases, you can mix 1 cup to one gallon. I always recommend building up to stronger mixtures though.
Tea Tree Essential Oi is also a strong anti-microbial and can help relieve some of the pain of hoof deterioration. Mix 12 drops of tea tree oil with 1 cup of water.
Oregano Essential Oil offers the same benefits as tea tree oil. It’s a little milder smelling, so it’s a great option if your horse doesn’t approve of tea tree oil. Mix 12 drops of with one cup of water.
You can also try mixing the essential oils with vinegar and see how that works. To soak your horse’s hooves you can use a soaking boot or if you can get them to stay still a bucket will work. Soak for 20 minutes to see how your horse reacts. If you need, you can increase the soaking time to 30 minutes.
Massage isn’t just a great way to relieve equine joint and muscle pain, it can also be a wonderful bonding experience for you and your horse. Learning a few effective massage techniques can help relieve tension and pain, reduce anxiety before a show, and just generally help your horse unwind. Adding the soothing power of essential oils can make the massage experience even better.
Here are four techniques to help introduce your horse to the benefits of massage:
Effleurage: The first step in preparing your horse for a massage. Start by placing a few drops of essential oil mixed with a carrier oil such as coconut oil into your hand. Then stroke the muscle you plan to massage with an open palm gently while slowly increasing pressure. This will increase circulation, release endorphins, and help the horse relax.
Petrissage: Start working the muscle by kneading and applying more pressure. This will help release tension that causes soreness. Listen to your horse to see how they respond to the different levels of pressure and the areas you are targeting. If you need, add a little more massage oil.
Tapotement: Use both hands to “tap” along the muscle. This motion relaxes the muscle and further stimulates circulation. This is also the best exercise to help release any toxic build up in your horse’s muscles. This massage is great when paired with a cooling essential oil such as mint or tea tree.
Friction: Use your fingertips to apply deep pressure to an area. Be very careful with friction and closely monitor how your horse is reacting. If you’ve ever had a deep tissue massage, you know that it can get a little painful. Friction helps to break any adhesions in the muscle’s deeper layers.
If you are looking for an massage oil to use, I definitely recommend trying out Equi-Spa Cool Muscle Wash and Cooling Tea Tree Gel. These products were developed with a lot of trial and error to see what essential oils my horse loved and which had the best effect. You can also mix your own oil using a few drops of your horse’s favorite essential oils in a safe carrier oil like coconut oil, jojoba, or grapeseed. I’d love to hear what oils you’ve found are effective, please share in the comments below.
Rain Rot is a type of bacterial infection that can be triggered by prolonged exposure to moisture and rising temperature. Rain Rot can become an issue for horses during wet months of the year, and while most owners will turn to the various chemical potions on the market to help treat it, I prefer a natural approach using essential oils.
Rain Rot is caused by a bacteria that lives dormant in the skin until it is presented with favorable conditions. It can also be caused by biting insects. Rain Rot is easy to recognize on your horse because there will be peeling lesions and bald spots. If you suspect Rain Rot, you should call your veterinarian to diagnose the condition.
Relieving Rain Rot in horses with essential oils
There are many products on the market that can relieve Rain Rot. However, most of them contain ingredients like chemicals and acids. These are not only unhealthy for your horse and you, but they can be painful when applied. A better option is to use essential oils. The best essential oil for bacterial infections of any kind is tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a powerful antiseptic that kills harmful bacteria. Equi-Spa Cooling Tea Tree Gel combines the power of tea tree oil with the soothing pain relief of organic aloe vera.
If your horse doesn’t particularly care for tea tree oil, there are other options you can try that they may like more. Just remember to always mix them with a soothing carrier like aloe vera or coconut oil before applying topically.
All of these oils have antibacterial properties that help address and relieve Rain Rot. Remember when it comes to using essential oils for horses, start slowly by introducing the oil to your horse to gauge their reaction. If they give you the lip curl approval, you’ll be good to go.
Do you tend to show horses that perform at events such as hunter/jumper shows, dressage events, breed shows or westerns? Have you experienced the problem of extreme anxiety in the horse? Believe it or not, aromatherapy may be the answer.
Horses often exhibit high levels of anxiety when attending shows and other events. This response is natural to their temperament, and is something that, if you want to overcome, needs to be acknowledged as an innate behavior that is hard-wired into the horse’s brain.
Horses are prey animals that do not like being separated from their herd, especially in a new place. They are also claustrophobic and do not deal well with small stalls. Show anxiety is stressful to the horse, so finding a strategy to alleviate the issue is very important. And the best way to achieve this starts at home.
How aromatherapy promotes relaxation in show horses
Horses have very sensitive olfactory centers. Smells can trigger both negative and positive associations. Guidance with aromatherapy can help to promote a positive mental state in your show horse. Grooming is one of the most calming and pleasant experiences for a horse, and so adding aromatherapy as part of the grooming process can help them build confidence. Using essential oils as part of the grooming routine in the stall can help condition your horse to have these associations anytime the smell is present, including at a horse show.
Essential oils to try with your show horse
Every horse is unique and will have a different response to different oils. The process to find the most effective oils for your particular horse may take a little trial and error but you can start with these recommendations:
Lavender: The most calming essential oil, helps reduce tension and anxiety. Will soothe and nurture a frazzled horse. If anxiety has gone to the stage of a temper tantrum, you may choose lavender
Sweet Orange: Promotes self assurance and alertness
Basil, Lemon and Cypress: Provide focus and increase the ability to keep your horse’s mind on task
Patchouli: Will provide solid grounding and keep your horse aware
Ylang Ylang: Can help a moody horse relax and alleviate depression as it helps with the release of endorphins in the brain
Clary Sage: Another mood enhancing oil
Geranium: Very calming especially for claustrophobic horses
Vetiver: A calming and grounding oil
Grapefruit: Helps with performance stress
Bergamot: Lifts the spirits
Science or snake oil?
It’s important to acknowledge that, even if you don’t “believe” in the aromatherapy effects described above, the notion that smells can trigger memories or emotions in humans (and by extension all mammals including horses) is undeniable. It’s not about choosing an oil that will promote a particular emotion in your horse, so much as finding the smell that, for each particular horse, matches that emotion. It’s also possible through regular training to condition the horse to associate a certain smell with the positive feelings you want it to feel.
Usually horses are very relaxed during grooming. Not only is it pleasant, the attention they are getting from the leader of the herd, YOU, in view of their pasture-mates indicates a level of importance and helps with confidence. A horse preparing for a show should be groomed daily, to not only condition their coat, mane, tail and hooves, but more importantly to boost their confidence.
This time presents a wonderful opportunity to condition their mind and emotions using aromatherapy.
How to train your horse using aromatherapy
Before you begin grooming, place a few drops of an essential oil onto a wipe and offer it to the horse to smell. If he or she refuses, try another. There is an endless variety of essential oils available so there is no need to force an oil onto the horse. Never put an oil directly in the nose or on the muzzle. This practice “traps” a horse as it cannot escape the smell. Simply let it smell the vapors and once you receive “yes” signals, create a massage oil by adding a few drops of the essential oil to a carrier oil such as coconut oil, and gently rub behind the jaw, poll, crest, and along either side of the spine. You can also add a few drops to around 8oz witch-hazel and gently spray it lightly across the spine or onto a cloth and wipe it onto the back and face.
Complete the grooming process as usual, and finish off by adding the massage oil/spray to the tail brush as you begin the final grooming of its mane and tail.
Doing this every time you groom at home, will rapidly train your horse to associate the smells of the essential oil with the pleasant, relaxing experience of grooming and its home stall. Do this regularly, and just as just as with Pavlov’s dogs, you will be able to stimulate these comforting feelings any time you want.
This means that if the horse shows difficulty or anxiety at a show, all you need to do is bring out the massage oil/spay. The smell will remind him or her of grooming and the safety of their stall, and will quickly calm their nerves.
Aromatherapy for everyone
While the above procedure may be necessary to achieve peak performance out of a professional show horse, the principle of helping to improve the health and well being of your horse through the power of essential oils is something that I apply when developing all the products we offer at Equi-Spa. I use essential oils to ensure that all Equi-Spa products are free from artificial fragrances which may fool our human noses, but not the sensitive olfactory glands of our horses. Essential oils also help me harness the healing power of nature to eliminate the need of potentially toxic preservatives, and other chemicals across our range of all-natural grooming products.