When the weather gets warm, we turn to the hose to help us keep our horses cool, clean and happy. After exercise or competition, our horses are continually doused in bath braces or shampooed daily (sometimes twice!). Grey horses and those with lots of chrome get the brunt of it; forever scrubbed to keep them glistening for the show ring.
We often bathe without stopping to pay attention to what we're bathing with. The skin is the largest organ in the body, so understanding what we put on the outside also affects the inside is important. Today, the market is flooded with products competing for top billing in your wash rack. Company claims, fancy packaging and eye catching ads provide us with a reason to purchase but, we must look beyond the marketing to what is inside the bottle.
Here are some helpful tips in selecting a shampoo:
1. Ingredients should be non-toxic and understandable.
If you see a word on an ingredient list that is over 15 letters long and in a seemingly foreign language, you should question it. Look for ingredients that are natural and will not harm your horse.
2. Stay away from sodium laureth sulfate.
Sodium laureth sulfate is an accepted contraction of sodum lauryl ether sulfate (SLES). This, along with sodum lauryl sulfate (SLS), ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) and sodum pareth sulfate (SPS), are detergent surfactants used in many shampoos, soaps, toothpastes and cleaning products on the market. Animals (and people) with sensitive skin often experience irritation when using products containing these ingredients.
3. More suds does NOT equal more clean.
In today's world, we are conditioned to think that when a soap or shampoo foams, it means "clean." This is not true at all. SLS free products will get your horse just as clean without spending 20 minutes wondering whether you got all the suds out of their coat or not. These SLS free products do not strip the hair of natural oils, making dry skin, irritation and a dull hair coat a thing of the past. You won't even need a conditioner!
Not all shampoos are equal and, whether your horse has a history of sensitive skin or not, being a critic of the grooming products you select for your horse is extremely important. You spend a lot of time and effort to get ready for the show ring - make sure your horse looks their best... naturally!