Sometimes when we need to clean up our horse, it’s just not practical to drag out the hose for a good bath. Perhaps we’re at a show where we don’t have easy access to a wash bay. Or perhaps it’s just too cold outside to drench him. Or perhaps there’s just one spot that needs cleaning.
At times like these, it’s handy to have a waterless shampoo in our grooming kit. Formulated with no need for rinsing, most “dry” shampoos are actually spray-on liquids that are simply rubbed out of the coat with a towel. Great for quick clean-ups, dry shampoos can be especially convenient for removing spot stains.
What We Want
If a product claims to remove stains, we want it to remove the stuff our horses lie down in — manure, urine, grass and mud. If it claims to lift dirt and dander from the coat, we expect to brush our horses afterward without bringing up a dusting of scurf. If it claims to improve the coat’s feel, we expect it to be soft and sleek, with a hint of extra shine. In other words, we expect the product to work. Equally important, however, are several other criteria:
We expect the product to be safe. Since dry shampoos are rinse-free, we assume any traces of the product left on the horse’s skin could be potentially absorbed into his system. So, it’s vital that the product be non-toxic and non-allergenic.
We want to know the ingredients. While we’re more lenient with rinse-off products, dry shampoos basically stay on the horse’s skin, so we want to know what’s in the stuff. If our horse develops hives or seems “off” shortly after we use a new product, we want our veterinarian to be able to scan the ingredients list quickly for a potential irritant. We realize some companies wish to keep their formulas secret, and we respect that. However, we expect at least a phone number on the bottle, where we can quickly reach a knowledgeable representative.
We like the product to be residue-free. Even if a product is safe to leave on our horse’s coat, we still want to easily remove as much of it as possible. That’s why we aren’t all that impressed with products that supposedly “condition” the coat. Why’
For one thing, only good nutrition and regular grooming provide true improvement in coat quality. Any shampoo “conditioning” benefits are on the surface only and temporary, at best. Also, oily or sticky residue left on the coat can hold onto dust and dirt, quickly negating the cleaning action we wanted in the first place.
We prefer a product that’s easy to use. We like bottles that are comfortable to hold, even for people with small hands, and easy to spray, even with gloves on, especially in bone-numbing cold temperatures. We appreciate an adjustable nozzle that includes settings for “Spray,” “Stream” for more accurate aiming, and “Off,” so the product doesn’t drip out if the bottle falls over.
And, frankly, we want a product that doesn’t take too much elbow grease to use. For bathing, many products must be sprayed on thoroughly, wetting the hair, and then massaged deep into the coat, to lift dander and scurf. It takes lots of rubbing and plenty of towels to rub dry a wet, long-haired horse in cold weather, so we want the solution to dry quickly and require minimal saturation to work effectively.
Otherwise, if it dries on the coat without ample rubbing, some products can cause the coat to dry in a rippled pattern, a result that briefly scared one tester into thinking her horse broke out into hives after applying a product.
Absorbine Miracle Groom
Absorbine’s Miracle Groom is designed to clean, condition, shine, detangle and deodorize. It efficiently removed manure, grass and ground-in muck, and it also left the coat silky and clean, without residue.
When used to remove stains on a black-and-white tobiano, the cleaned white areas were noticeably whiter and cleaner than surrounding “uncleaned” white areas. And although the mane felt sticky when wet, it dried soft, light and sleek. However, we would like Absorbine to include all the ingredients in Miracle Groom on the label, as well as a phone number for consumers to call if they have concerns.
Bio-Groom’s formula of surfactant mixtures is enriched with lanolin to help condition hair and skin. The product performed quite well as a stain remover, and its tight circular spray pattern results in little waste. Substantial towel rubbing is required to remove the product after a complete bath, but it results in a soft, shiny and residue-free coat. The bottle is large, requiring some testers to use two hands to apply the product.
Cowboy Magic Green Spot Remover
Cowboy Magic does an excellent job removing stains such as manure and grass, particularly on white legs. The bottle is easy to hold, with finger grips, and the circular spray pattern is fairly small, ideal for a stain- remover product.
However, unless you’re prepared to spend a significant amount of time rubbing the horse dry, we wouldn’t use it as an overall bath product. It left a slightly oily residue on the coat afterward, although since it contains human hair conditioners — including panthenol, silk protein and shea butter — we are less concerned about the residue causing coat damage than we are about it attracting dust.
Equiscentials Coat Cleaner
This product did a good job removing muck and manure stains and is a top pick for these small areas. The label doesn’t indicate its use as a whole-horse bath product, and we’d agree, since it tended to leave a somewhat oily residue and was difficult to rub out.
Hydrophane Bloom & Groom
Bloom & Groom’s bottle is especially easy to hold. However, there’s no “Stream” or “Off” settings on the spray nozzle, which releases a light mist in a relatively large spray pattern. The product didn’t completely remove urine or manure stains, and when used for a bath, it left some sticky residue.
Miracle Coat Waterless Shampoo
Miracle Coat performed well as both a stain remover and a whole-horse bath product. It left almost no residue, despite that you saturate the coat and then massage the product in. Afterward, our horses’ coats felt sleek, soft and clean. It dries slowly, though, so we’d recommend not using it in cold temperatures. The product’s fragrance was light.
Note: The samples we received for testing contained pennyroyal, an herb that can cause abortions in humans. The manufacturer said pennyroyal has been taken out of the formula and that, in any case, its amount was too small to cause problems.
OzOil Winter Wash
With a refreshing peppermint fragrance, OzOil performed adequately for overall baths, leaving little residue, considering its heavy reliance on oils. However, it seemed to smear stains into larger areas on the coat instead of removing them. Also, our testers didn’t particularly care for the bottle shape or nozzle design. There’s no “Off” or “Stream” settings, and the pump mechanism is not as easy to squeeze as other types of spray mechanisms, so our testers’ fingers quickly tired. Finally, its $1.47 per ounce price is hard to swallow, compared to the other choices.
Like its sister products, Quic Silver and Quic Color, Quic Groom is said to have color-enhancing technology in its formula. Our testers were pleased with Quic Groom’s performance, both as a stain remover and whole-horse bath product. After use, we could detect no residue, and the coat felt silky and looked shinier. However, the product has a noticeable odor.
The only truly dry, non-liquid product in the group, Radiance is a finely ground powder made with all-natural vegetable fibers, enriched with biotin and aloe vera. Non-toxic and environmentally safe, its gentle formula makes it especially good for sensitive horses. Our test horses loved the smell and taste of the product, licking it off whenever possible.
To use Radiance, sprinkle it on the spot, rub it in with your fingers, curry well, and then brush it out of the coat. While it worked well at removing stains, particularly manure and muck, it’s messy and the particles can easily becomes airborne while brushing. Still, it left our horses’ coats soft and silky.
We’d skip Radiance for legs since it’s difficult to use without dropping a lots of it on the ground, and we’d probably avoid using it on dark-colored horses, too, as it was difficult to brush all of the powder out, leaving the horse’s coat looking rather dusty.
Since this was the only non-liquid product in our test, we compared it to baking soda, using the same directions as for Radiance — rubbing and currying it into the coat, then brushing out. Caked-on muck came off easily with the baking soda, but on ground-in manure and grass stains, it was no match against Radiance.
Silverado Visual Difference
Visual Difference satisfactorily removed manure, muck and unidentified purple stains. However, we detected a somewhat sticky residue on our horses’ coats after using it for a bath. The bottle is ergonomically designed with finger grips, which is good since the plastic is quite slick. The rectangular-shaped spray pattern provides good coverage while minimizing waste. The several-step directions indicate to work the sprayed-on product into the coat thoroughly, wipe off with a damp towel, then dry with a dry towel, then brush.
Wonder Groom Waterless
Wonder Groom Waterless was the only product where overall evaluations from our testers ranged the full gamut, from poor to fair to good to excellent. Stain-removal results were also a mixed bag.
In addition, the bottle is bottom-heavy, and the sprayer mechanism edges rather uncomfortable. The spray pattern was one of the largest in our test, giving light coverage to a large area, since the spray nozzle only adjusts to “On” or “Off” without a stream option.
For those sensitive to perfumed products, this was the only product that had little detectable fragrance. For the budget consious, it was the least expensive product per ounce in our field trial.
Wonder Groom with Citronella
The primary noticeable difference between this product and the one above is that Wonder Groom with Citronella contains — guess what — citronella, giving the product a fresh minty smell. And although the citronella didn’t keep stable flies away well, this product was substantially better at removing stains than Wonder Groom Waterless. Also, all of our field testers found this product effective as an overall bath product, leaving coats shiny and silky, with no detectable residue.
Our chart (see below) will direct you to the best picks if you’re simply looking for a stain remover only or for something effective for complete waterless baths.
But for overall performance in both categories, Absorbine Miracle Groom is our top pick and Best Buy, despite its lack of listed ingredients. If we couldn’t find Miracle Groom on our store’s shelves, we’d happily reach for Quic Groom, Wonder Groom with Citronella, Bio-Groom Quick-Clean or Miracle Coat. We’d also tuck away Radiance when it’s essential to use a truly dry product.
Also With This Article
Click here to view “Maximize Your Dry Shampoo.”
Click here to view “Different Horses May Bring Different Results With Same Product.”
Click here to view “Dry Shampoos Individual Ratings And Ingredients.”