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Horsecare 101: How To Keep A Grey or Coloured Clean

I’m sure we’ve all seen those wanted adverts on Facebook with big bold letters reading ‘NO GREYS’. Usually these are equestrians that have experienced the labour of love it takes to keep a grey clean, particularly during the winter months - trust me when I say it’s enough to want to give up horses altogether.

There are some equestrians that just don’t bother, accept that their grey will always be brown/multicoloured and just never enter any shows/events. Sadly, I am not one of these people. If you, like me, are one of the horsemen and women that convinced yourself that ‘greys can’t be that bad surely’, or even worse, one that has already had a grey, swore blind you would never have one again, and then got lulled into a false sense of security by a seller who told you this particular beautiful grey was ‘really clean and tidy’ so you ended up buying it anyway with incredible gusto, then this blog post is for you.

Firstly, let me tell you a bit about my ‘grey’ (inverted commas because she’s actually blue & white, so is technically a coloured, which in my books is even worse than a grey). Sprite is an 11 year old Irish Sports Horse (let’s face it, mostly Draught), who excels at creating ‘artwork’ on her very pink skinned body. Despite my efforts to skip out her stable every hour that she spends in it, I still go to turn out every morning with a sinking feeling that I’m going to find some new and incredibly stubborn poo patches dotted all over her. I usually then proceed to moan about it on my Instagram stories, my only emotional outlet for the grief poo stains cause me. Once, a non-horsey friend asked me why she lies in her own poo. “Surely she can smell it when she’s lying in it? Does she just not realise..?” I proceeded to respond that she definitely does it on purpose; almost proud of her work, she does not appreciate my efforts to scrub it off. Sprite’s previous owners had all but given up, so it’s taken me 8 months of work to get a very matted yellow and brown tail even resembling something white and silky, and to remove any residual stains that had possibly been there for most of Sprite’s life prior to her relatively clean lifestyle now.

So how do I do it? How do I achieve the impossible, and keep Sprite (mostly) clean? My coping mechanism is a strict routine that goes back and forth between bathing Sprite vigorously, and drinking copious amounts of gin. Really though, here are some of my tips for how I keep the disgusting beast slightly less disgusting:

  • If you see a stain, wash it out immediately. I mean right now, go and do it. The longer you leave
    a stain on a grey or coloured horse, the more residue it leaves behind and the harder it is to get
    out. If I see a poo stain of a morning, I usually rinse it out with water immediately, and wash the
    affected area with one of my EcoRider Vegan Shampoo bars. My favourite is lavender because
    it’s particularly soothing, but some days I switch it up with either tea tree or citronella - living the

  • Give your horse an all over bath regularly. Sprite in particular is a very greasy horse, which then
    causes her to be quite itchy, so I like to keep her as clean as possible under her coat to ensure
    her skin stays healthy and her coat therefore stays shiny. This will also help with the poo stains,
    because clean, soft coats make it harder for stains to stick to - I like to call this ‘preventative
    maintenance’. I give Sprite an all over bath roughly once a week, sometimes every other week if
    she’s stayed particularly clean/grease free. Again, my go-to here is the EcoRider Vegan
    Shampoos - Sprite, being mostly pink-skinned, is extremely sensitive to any products with
    parabens and other chemicals, and because I bath her so often (which can remove some
    natural oils that help protect her skin in the first place), I like to make sure I’m using sensible,
    sensitive products that won’t irritate her further.

  • Use a coat conditioner after shampooing. This contributes to my ‘preventative maintenance’,
    helping the coat become almost slippery so that stains slide right off.

  • Field maintenance - I’m very lucky that the yard I’m on has small herds with two allocated
    paddocks each. The paddocks get rotated every three or so weeks, meaning the grass gets a
    good rest and isn’t overgrazed, which really helps stop it getting too muddy or boggy. Obviously
    not everyone has the facilities to do this, but if you do, it does really help prevent mud stains,
    particularly in winter.

  • Stable size - you can’t very often control exactly what happens in a field, but you can in a
    stable. Having a stable that’s the right size for your horse (ie not too small) is important not only
    for their general health and wellbeing, but also to give them enough area to poo in a different
    place that they lie down in. Some horses (like mine) actually like lying in their poo, so you can’t
    always prevent it, but again, every little helps!

  • Stable maintenance - by this, I mean skipping out regularly. Sprite comes in from the field to a
    clean stable with a good size bed of shavings at about 5-6pm. If she does any poos in there
    while I’m still on the yard (making feeds, generally chatting), then I will immediately remove it. I
    also come out at 10pm every single night to skip out (usually one or two poos) before going to
    bed, which has helped massively with keeping Sprite clean overnight, because her routine is to
    lie down shortly after this time. This is only possible for me because I live onsite, so again may
    not always be possible for others, but is the ideal scenario.

I hope that’s helped give grey- and coloured-owners some kind of light at the end of the tunnel - it is actually possible for them to stay roughly clean! It just takes an awful lot of work and dedication, ha. I’d love to hear any other ways that fellow equestrians maintain coat cleanliness, please message me on Instagram if you have any other ideas!

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