December 18, 2017

Shiny As A New Penny!

Shiny As A New Penny!

Should I Body Shave my Horse? This question was posed to me just the other day by a student. She owns a very fuzzy pony that she wants to get ready for the shows. Shows that are going to be starting in just a few short months. I understand why she would ask this question. Her pony, Tony, is the typical Thelwell pony. Short, stocky, and really hairy. Every time she rides him, poor Tony sweats up a storm. She spends hours walking him dry after each workout. Grooming him has become a nightmare (no pun intended). It is nearly impossible to keep Tony even slightly clean with all that hair. Plus, now that spring has sprung, Tony is shedding like crazy. It looks like someone laid down a chestnut blanket after each grooming session.  Bathing is out of the question unless his owner has a full day of sunshine to bathe, rinse and dry Tony before the cool of night sets in.

            So what’s a pony or horse owner to do? Shaving is simply not a possibility for Tony. His owner does not have the time or money to supply the needed blankets. So what should she do to get Tony ready for shows? The best chance she has of getting Tony show ring ready is this four-step process. But with the proper time and attention, Tony will be looking spiffy in a jiffy!

            First, It’s Elbow Grease Time! Tony the Pony needs comprehensive grooming each and every day. Twice a day is best, before and after his workouts. My school horses are always the first horses to shed out each year. Some are blanketed but most aren’t. However; they are groomed to within an inch of their life nearly every day. All my lesson student’s are required to groom before and after each ride. It is not uncommon for the school horses to be ridden 3-4 times a day. That leads up to 6-8 grooming sessions per horse-per day. Even those who have a really heavy coat will be slick and shiny by the end of March.  So, break out those curry’s, dandy brushes, rags and elbow grease. Tony needs a good grooming each and every day to get all the shedding hair off his body. It will also make his new summer coat grow in short and healthy.

            Second, let’s feed for a great coat! Tony will need a coat supplement. I like to begin feeding good quality coat supplements around late February-early March each year. My personal favorite is Nu-Image, but I’m sure there are plenty of others that will work as well. The proper supplement will give the horse the correct nutrients to grow a healthy, shiny, new summer coat. It will also help the hair grow in the proper color. This is especially important if your horse is black, palomino, buckskin or any color that is difficult to keep from fading. Once the coat is established, you may be able to discontinue feeding the supplement. I have found this method works well at keeping the coat looking excellent well into the summer without lots of added expense. Just doing those two things alone will make a considerable difference in your horse’s coat, but there is more you can do.

            On to step three- Cleanliness is next to Godliness– Bathing your horse will help keep the coat clean and free from stains. However; if you bathe your horse often, be careful of shampoos. If used too frequently, they can be drying to the coat. A dry coat is a dull coat. To keep the coat clean and shiny, rinse the horse with plain water after every workout, weather permitting. Once a week or so, bathe your horse with a mild horse shampoo like Corona or Orvus. Stay away from human shampoo or dish soaps. Both have detergents to remove oil. We want to get out the sweat and dirt, but keep the oil in our horse’s coat. I also reserve the whitening shampoos for the day before the show when my paints need to be really white. When the weather is too cold for a full rinse down, spot clean with warm water and a clean towel. This is really important when your horse is sweaty from a workout. If your horse has lots of white, especially on the legs, keep those areas treated with a product like ShowSheen or LaserSheen. This will help keep those white areas stain free. The same goes for white or light colored tails. Spray the tail after every shampoo to keep tangles and stains at bay. Also, keep the tail in a bag to keep it clean, prevent breakage and encourage growth. Of course, keeping your stall clean will help prevent the stains in the first place. Keep your “Tony” on clean bedding and remove manure as often as possible.

            Finally- Shun the Sun! The last thing that will help keep your horse’s coat in top-notch shape is sun protection. Keep your horse out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Strong sunlight will fade and dull any coat. If you don’t have appropriate shelter a day sheet or fly sheet will do the trick. Make sure the sheet covers the horse’s neck along with the body. If you can’t find one with a neck cover, consider a slinky-type hood as well. If heat is a problem in your area, be sure to buy covers in light colors and breathable material.

            If you follow these tips your horse should have a blindingly shiny coat this year.  We’d love to her what you do to make your horse look shiny and new every year.  Please feel free to share your comments and tips!

Cheryl Rohnke Kronsberg is a Certified Horsemanship Association Master Instructor and Clinic Instructor. She is also a registered AQHA Professional Horseman. Cheryl has been teaching riding and horsemanship for over 30 years. Currently she and her husband own and operate CRK Training Stable in Yorba Linda, CA. We welcome your comments and questions. Please feel free to share this article with your friends, but rights to publish this article are restricted.



  1. I would check the rules governing your shows. What kind of shows are these and is there specific expectation regarding the horses appearance (ie braiding, mane length, etc…)? Are they USEF rated? Could she just do a partial body clip? Is there not anyone who has a blanket she can borrow for a short while? She couldn’t find one used on ebay? If she is showing at USEF rated show, I say find a way to clip! If not, then just go with Cheryl’s suggestions or do partial clip.

    • As stated in the article, clipping and thus blanketing was not an option. Therefore; other ways to improve the coat is the subject of the article. Thanks for your comments. Look for a future blog on clipping!

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