Although some people worry about damaging their horse’s coat or skin with shampoo, they really don’t have to be concerned. If the horse’s skin isn’t kept free of buildups of sweat, dirt and shed skin cells, tack can easily cause enough irritation to damage hair and skin. If your horse’s immunity is compromised by age or other disorders, you can often avoid the skin problems that plague them if you’re careful to keep them clean. Then there’s that little issue of our pride and wanting to know that beautiful shine from within can be be easily seen and appreciated.
Bottle Sizes. Of course, you know that larger bottles will save you money. Shampoos have a minimal shelf life of two years. Some will last longer. For example, Lucky Braids, which contains high-quality pharmaceutical grade tea tree oil, will remain effective for five to 10 years (very hot or freezing/cold temperatures will change its consistency, though).
For example, we looked at Corona, which costs 16?? an ounce in a three-liter bottle, compared to 22?? for a quart. Not much difference. But with Lucky Braids you can go from 48?? an ounce at a quart to 25?? an ounce by buying the gallon container.
Two of the products in our trial were concentrates, Corona and Fiebing’s Horse Salon Shampoo and Conditioner. They’ll save you money because you’re not paying for water in the bottle, but you need to remember to use these products sparingly for the best cleaning and conditioning. Overuse of Horse Salon, especially, may result in a sticky coat (not to mention a waste of product).
Our Trial. We bathed our horses in each of these products, and we found they all basically worked well. The main differences we found were when it came to stains and really filthy horses. Some products required a bit more elbow grease than others.
There was a variety in scents, but that’s a personal thing, and we don’t think it should weigh heavier on your decision than our main criteria: Does it clean the horse well and is it gentle’ We believe a shampoo for regular use has to be gentle.
With over 20 shampoos in our trial, we also looked for shampoos that were particularly good at one need or another, such as whitening or skin irritations. Note: Skin bacterial or fungal infections likely need a medicated shampoo. See our article in June 2009.
Remember, too, that a pre-bath brace/liniment rinse will do a good job removing sweat and lessen some of the scrubbing (see liniments in our January 2009 issue). Sore No-More had a combined shampoo-liniment product in this trial that did a great job removing sweat.
Throughout our trial, we watched for shampoos that seemed to be especially good for horses with dry coats. Several products (see chart) did well, but standouts for conditioning were SuperPoo, Corona, Lucky Braids and Xtreme Revitalizing Shampoo.
Aloe Advantage Enhance Clarifying Shampoo did a good job removing residue from old shampoos, fly sprays and the like without being drying to the horse’s coat.
Bottom Line. If you want a shampoo with the ability to also handle minor skin problems, try Lucky Braids or Miracle Coat Premium Shampoo. Both are formulated with herbal ingredients for minor irritations.
They include effective cleaning agents, offer a luxurious lather, and handle tough cleaning jobs well. Both leave a beautiful, easy-to-work with coat, mane and tail.
They finished the field trial in a dead heat for cleaning performance, but Lucky Braids offered somewhat more conditioning. Interestingly, these two products were also the best choices for specifically washing manes and tails.
For a gentle everyday shampoo, we like Absorbine SuperPoo and Corona. Both clean deeply, leave a good shine, rinse well and get the job done with the least amount of effort, even with filthy horses. Corona gets the nod since its concentrated formula means you use less and you’ll save money.
Horse Journal staff article.