When it comes to coat polish choices, we want an easy-to-use spray that multitasks. It helps our budget and packing for shows if one bottle can do it all: polish, detangle, repel dust and remove/deter stains. We want a product to make grooming easier and faster by removing dust with the flick of a soft brush. We also don’t like to soak our horse’s coats with anything, so the less product we can use to produce the desired result, the better. We want the product to enhance our horse’s natural glow, not replace it. And it needs to last.
Some of the products in this trial produced effects that lasted several days, keeping tails untangled, coats soft and grooming simple. Among the longest lasting were Show Sheen, Avocado Mist, Satin Sheen, Miracle Coat, Cowboy Magic Super Body Shine Dust Control Spray, and Silk Prescription. And some products were great multi-taskers: Show Sheen, Miracle Coat, Magic Sheen, and Triple J Coat Sheen.
For stain removal and a truly natural-looking healthy coat that helps make grooming easier, Lucky Braids Whitener is impressive. Despite its name, we found it an excellent grooming aid for any color horse. There’s obviously something to the enzymatic cleaning process it uses, as our test horses’ coats seemed brighter.
Some of the products we used contain citronella, a skin softener that is also effective in helping repel flies. This is why Avon’s Skin-So-Soft, which contains citronella for its skin benefits, earned the anecdotal reputation in equine barns as being an effective gnat repeller. However, just as is the case with Skin-So-Soft, none of the products that included citronella were strong enough to really do much against flies. You’ll still need a fly spray on most summer days.
One thing we really appreciated in the coat polishes was a sunscreen additive, especially for those of us who routinely use coat polishes for their skin- and coat-enhancing effects in our daily grooming. Only W.F. Young/Absorbine was able to give us a specific SPF rating for their product. Their Santa Fe has an SPF 8 rating. However, the only product with sun protection that seemed to make a difference in our trials was Animal HealthCare Labs Inc. Horse Block 45 Coat Saver Sunblock.
While we followed label instructions during our trial to determine a product’s level of effectiveness, we were disappointed with products that seemed cumbersome or time-consuming to use. Many products state on the label that the horse should be bathed first for best results. The problem is that we don’t always want to do that (we were especially unhappy when we found out you need to rinse out Triple J Knot No More Dematting Spray). The bathe-first annoyance was compounded when the label recommends that you use that company’s shampoo as the first step.
Sure, we know using a specific product first isn’t an absolute necessity and it’s somewhat of a sales pitch. And we realize a clean coat is naturally going to be shinier than a dirty coat — with or without spray. Obviously, the product is going to work better on a clean horse. But, in reality, most of us apply the spray to dry horses.
And we want a spray bottle that works well or we don’t want one at all. We’d just as soon buy our own sprayer as struggle with one that doesn’t meet our needs. We don’t need or want a “stream” spray choice for a coat polish. We want a regular mist and a fine mist setting. Honestly, why would you shoot your horse’s coat with a polish set on “stream”' (Practice with a spray bottle full of water so you get good at spraying evenly. It will make a difference in a uniform shine when you give the coat that final brush or wipe.)
When we spray our horse’s coat, we not only want to seethe “shine,” we want to feel it, too. We liked conditioners that left our horse’s coat soft. We appreciated the ones that also seemed to get down to the skin. Avocado Mist was an especially good moisturizing choice for horses that are frequently bathed or suffering from damaged coats or have sensitive skin. Other products that seemed to also moisturize were: VIP Mane and Tail Polish and Detangler, Triple J Knot No More Dematting Spray, and Miracle Coat.
Silk Prescription from Schneiders didn’t do as much for our horse’s coat as we would have hoped, but it was an excellent choice for manes and tails. We especially like that it seems to have a cumulative effect where the longer you use it the less you’ll need each week. It’s also one of two products that you can purchase as a concentrate, if you prefer. Xtreme Design Sheen Hair Polish is the other one.
There are two common complaints about polishes. The first, “silicone dries out my horse’s coat,” is debatable. The fact is, silicone’s been a common ingredient in human hair products for decades, despite the barn gossip that silicone’s bad in a coat polish. The second comment is that polishes can leave the coat too slippery to tack up over. This one’s on the money. Our chart notes which products are acceptable to use under tack. And even then we recommend you test it yourself on your own horse, carefully, before trusting anything under your tack.
Interestingly, and evidence toward the slippery factor, one tester observed that the horses that were in the trial had no bot fly eggs on them while other horses in the same field, but not being used in our trial, were covered with eggs.
While our field trial turned out lots of uses for coat polishes, and which products seem to excel in specific areas, the purpose of the exercise was to find a product that makes our horse’s coat glisten for the show ring. Seven products consistently produced what we consider “maximum” shine: Show Sheen, Cowboy Magic Super Body Shine Dust Control Spray, Satin Sheen, Miracle Coat, RioVista Equine Shine, Shapley’s Hi Gloss, and Shapley’s Magic Sheen.
For sheer show-ring glow, we don’t think you can beat Shapley’s Hi Gloss Finishing Spray. This aerosol-based spray is perfect for just before you enter the ring and our top pick.
If your horse isn’t keen on aerosols, try Miracle Coat or Show Sheen. Both are excellent multi-taskers, but Miracle Coat adds the benefit of being able to spray under your tack.
Finally, at $7.99 for 32 oz. of spray, Fiebing’s Satin Sheen earns best buy.