Color Shampoos for Horses

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Many of us don’t bathe our horses unless we’re preparing for a show, dealing with a skin ailment or need to remove sweat after a hard work. That’s too bad, because horses do benefit from regular bathing.

A good bath makes a horse more comfortable, helps stop itches and skin conditions before they develop and makes the horse’s coat prettier. Shampoo and water remove tiny skin irritants that even the best currying can’t reach. Plus, it’s a joy to look at a horse with a gleaming, satin coat, especially when the color is rich and lustrous. The shampoos in this trial claim to enhance your horse’s natural coat color, either by bringing out its natural brilliance or actually strengthening its color and hue. We decided to find out how well they actually worked.

Our Trial

Dark and dirty horses met their match with testers determined to see them glisten. We washed our horses in the normal manner, mainly with sponge, hose and bucket. Generally two ounces of shampoo were used and found to be plenty. On a relatively clean horse with the special hose applicator (more about that below), we could use just one ounce. By summer’s end (and after more baths than we can count), we had a barn full of beautifully shiny, lustrous-coated horses and rather bedraggled, damp testers.

Every horse’s coat is unique. You may want to experiment a bit to find the best match for your horse. Our results should guide you to the products that will most likely give the results you seek for your horse’s coat type.

We expect a shampoo to clean thoroughly with a minimum amount of product, rinse easily and be reasonably priced. We also expect the resulting coat to be soft and healthy, not dry. However, in this trial, we were also looking for products that enhanced our horse’s coat color. In other words, it would make our black horse blacker and our gold horse more golden. We also evaluated the products in terms of producing shimmer and shine.

All Wet

We all know working out of a bucket with a sponge gets your horse clean, but it’s hard, wet work. That’s why the Quik Clenz easy-application bottle system won our hearts, although we had to make a few changes to meet our needs.

The shampoo comes with a hose adapter, so you can simply attach the shampoo bottle to the hose and spray the shampoo-water mix directly on the horse, which eliminates sponging on soapy water.

However, we found this method uses up a lot of shampoo, so we decided to place a few ounces of the shampoo in a bottle, fill the remainder of the bottle with water, then shake up the mixture before attaching the hose to the adapter and using it. This gave us a better method of application (the product is available in one-gallon refills, so you can easily use this diluted method if you’d like). The product worked just as well for us using this shampoo-saving system as it did hooking on the whole, full bottle. Unfortunately, the rinse setting on our Quik Clenz didn’t seem to work right, so we just removed the bottle of shampoo for that process.

We appreciate products, like Triple J’s Honey Luster Shampoo, that do the job economically. A little bit of this product went a long way, produced great suds and rinsed easily. The resulting coat was soft, satiny, lustrous and nicely moisturized.

Products that noticeably help moisturize the horse’s coat earned extra praise in our trials. In addition to Triple J, our testers noted better moisturized coats with Lucky Braids Shampoo and Aloe Advantage Dazzle. In fact, Dazzle was a good choice for a dry-haired horse who likes to roll, as it softens the coat and helps keep dirt from clinging after the roll.

Since Lucky Braids Shampoo was recommended for use on both horses and dogs we let our dogs join in the fun, too. This gentle product produced brilliant sheen with what seemed to be light-reflecting coats. The hair texture was moist and flexible. It felt alive, soft and looked naturally satiny. Both horses and dogs glowed with a vibrant, healthy radiance.

The only true color-specific shampoos were Shapley’s Color EquiTone shampoos in black, gold and red tones. All three produced a richer hue, ideal for the show ring. The products smell great (black smelled like licorice).

However, the instructions are a bit scary, advocating gloves and quickly rinsing any white areas that might be contacted. At the end, we had no major problems, as the shampoos didn’t stain any horses or testers, it just stained tester clothing.

The products went further than we suspected from the directions and spread out rather creamy, so don’t expect suds. All three color choices produced a greater depth and radiance, and the effect did seem to increase with each use.

They seem to be skin-friendly choices, so as a chronic ”itchy” black gelding felt so much better after his Black EquiTone bath that he didn’t even roll for two days.

One black test horse started the trial with dull, rusty and coarse hair and finished at the end of the summer with a gorgeous dappled ebony coat. However, he was also receiving internal ”help” (see sidebar, below) in addition to the numerous baths. These products won’t miraculously turn a faded brown coat into a black beauty.

Bottom Line

The only products that visibly enhanced the horse’s actual coat color were the EquiTone products from Shapley’s. You do have to wear the ”right” clothing when you use these products, but if you’re looking to make your black horse blacker, your red more vivid or your gold-toned horses 14 karat, Shapley’s will work. In fact, we saw that repeated use produced more color.

However, we also loved the Lucky Braids Shampoo. This gentle product produced a brilliant sheen, and light seemed to bounce off the finished coat. Coats were left feeling soft, moist and naturally healthy. It’s a wonderful product with noticeable deep-down effects on skin and coat.

But it was the Triple J Honey Luster Shampoo that received high praise from everyone who used it, in terms of both effectiveness and economy, making it our Best Buy. It worked well on all coats, cleaning even the filthiest horse with ease. A little went a long way, and the suds rinsed out easily. Hair was soft, moisturized and satiny, even lustrous.

For a quick-fix, we were torn between the Lucky Braids Whitener And Color Restorer and the Wow Sustained Action Whitener And Color Restorer. We found that when you need to ”spiff” up a horse, a simple spray-on, brush-in, towel-buff session with Wow! gives you a ju st-bathed look, especially on a horse that has a coat of ”summer fly-spray dust.” Lucky Braids Whitener And Color Restorer added definite sparkle, especially on sensitive-skinned horses. Socks and spots were almost luminescent.