Winter Weather Beauty Treatment

If you are anything like me, you dread the winter months because of what they do to your horse.  No baths, longer hair, snowy, muddy and messy.  Sometimes just a small beauty treatment can make your winter fuzzball look less like a neglected backyard pet and more like a presentable, well-loved, four-legged friend.

GQ, my handsome guy, doesn’t have the luxury of a stall.  He lives outside all year round and because we get some cold, unpredictable winters, I don’t have the luxury of keeping him clipped and show-ready like I desperately wish I could.  I often find myself telling him, “You look like a hooligan!” and then it gets followed up with a mini winter beauty treatment.  Here are some of the things I do to keep my horse looking presentable during the winter:

Clip those whiskers!  Use your clippers with a light touch to skim off extra long nose whiskers.   Since the hair on his muzzle is a little longer, you don’t want to apply as much pressure as normal or you’ll come away with uneven, goofy looking patches on his nose.   Keeping the clippers moving downwards in the direction of the hair will also reduce your chance of making patches.  Also trim off the long scraggly pieces of his beard under his chin and jaw.  This takes a little more finesse to make look even, but your horse will look so much more put together without 3 inches of hair hanging off his chin and also makes it easier to tighten your nose band for a ride.

Keep a bridle path!  During the winter months when GQ’s coat is long, I use scissors to trim his bridle path.  If your horse does not stand quietly, I do not recommend trying this technique!  I ask him to put his head down, (which is a convenient trick I will address in my next post!) and trim his bridle path until it is even with the coat on either side.  I trim off any obnoxiously long pieces of fuzz and taper it so that there is not a giant divot on his poll where I’ve taken the bridle path down to the skin and left his winter coat long around it.  If you don’t trust your horse to stand nicely for you to use scissors, use your clippers with light pressure and don’t clip all the way to the skin to avoid that divot!

Make that mane even! Since GQ is outside all the time, I don’t want to shorten his mane as much as I would during the show season/warmer months.  However, I still want it to look even and well-maintained.  A long scraggly mane is one of the biggest turn-offs on a horse in my opinion.  Make sure you comb out your horses mane at least once a week and keep it pulled/trimmed to an even level, even if you want to keep it a little longer for some extra warmth. [Make sure to give your horse a good scratch at the crest!  Almost every horse I’ve met gets super itchy there–especially in winter! =D ]

Tidy up the ears! I don’t want to completely expose GQ’s ears to the harsh winter weather, but I do want them to look nice and neat.  To tidy up the ears, I pinch the edges together, which forces the extra long hairs to stick out and I clip those hairs.  It is amazing how such a small action can make your horse look infinitely more presentable.

Whip out the Show Sheen! Actually, any product that says it “conditions” will do.  I actually use Cowboy Magic Super BodyShine because I like the smell a little better than Show Sheen and its a bit cheaper, but they share the same principle: Add shine to your horse’s coat, repel dust and condition the coat.  If your horse wears a blanket, this is especially kind for him because he’ll get pretty static-y and dry under those covers.  Use a spray like one of these to help relieve the static shocks your grooming tools will cause and pull dust out of deep layers of that winter coat.

Cowboy Magic Super Bodyshine

Absorbine Show Sheen

Santa Fe Coat Conditioner

Clean those hooves!  With horse feet, you’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place because lack of moisture in the hot summer months creates problems, but excess moisture in snow and mud can also damage your horse’s feet.  At least once a week, use a stiff brush to get debris off of the hooves and clean them as well as you can.  A lanolin-rich product like Corona can replace some of the nutrients that the excess moisture saps out.  You don’t want to use a sealer though when your horse has been standing in water or mud because you can inadvertently do more harm than good by trapping excess moisture into the hoof.

Corona Ointment (My FAVORITE!!!)

Try some of these tips to keep your horse from looking like a hooligan as you wait out the cold and your horse will look presentable and loved all season long!

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Corona Ointment

If someone were to say to me “What is one product you could not live without in your grooming kit?” I would not even hesitate before replying, “Corona Ointment!”  If you aren’t familiar with this product, I’m going to introduce it to you, because it is one of those products that can be used safely for  a wide variety of ailments in your horse.

Corona Ointment is a multi-purpose ointment which is effective in healing minor cuts and scratches, locking in moisture, easing sunburn and chapping, etc.

It is a lanolin-based product.  Lanolin is great for hair, skin and hooves and is gentle on wounds, which makes it an effective, pain-free option for cuts and scrapes.  Although Corona does actually make a hoof ointment which is very high in lanolin-content to lock moisture in hooves, the regular multi-purpose ointment is also a great product to massage into dry or brittle hooves.

GQ, my horse, has typical Thoroughbred feet.  If you aren’t familiar with TB feet, here is the short explanation: They are HORRID.  TB’s tend to have thin hoof walls which makes holding shoes an adventure and predisposes them to a variety of foot issues.  GQ has to go barefoot in the summer because with the flies he will stomp his shoes off within a day.  When he has bare feet, however, they get very dry and short.  At least once a week, 2 or 3 times if possible, I clean his feet off with a stiff brush and moderately damp towel then I massage Corona into the hoof wall, onto the heels and around the coronet band to lock in moisture and keep his feet from drying and cracking.  I am convinced that the Corona Ointment is the only reason I have not had some major lameness issues from cracks that could have occurred due to his hooves drying out.

My other personal accolade for Corona Ointment comes from last summer.  GQ is quite low on the totem pole in any herd situation.  He was bullied by some other horses and ended up need some stitches over his eye and some TLC for a number of scrapes and cuts.  I used corona on the assortment of cuts he had and he healed very quickly and doesn’t have one single scar from the ordeal.

Now, the only con to Corona is that, being an ointment, it will run a little in hot weather and it will attract dirt and debris to it so it needs to be reapplied more often than some other products.  That being said, it is worth the extra effort for the outcome you will see!

So go out and stock up on Corona and you will be prepared for wide variety of issues your horse may face!