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Keeping White Markings Clean for Show Season

Posted on: October 03, 2023 by Sara Martineau
Paint Horse with bright white markings being ridden in English bridle with green and water in background

The saying goes, “A good horse is never a bad color,” and while that’s absolutely true, it can sometimes be challenging to keep gray or mostly white horses clean during the show season. My horse Waco is a bay tobiano Paint Horse with a lot of chrome, so that means I have a lot of white markings to work with if I want him to look presentable compared to chestnuts and bays, who always seem to look clean no matter what.

I’ve found that for day-to-day grooming there’s no substitute for elbow grease! Since Waco can be sensitive to curry combs and brushes made with hard plastic, the best tools in my grooming tote arsenal are the HandsOn Gloves for Grooming and the Epona Tiger’s Tongue Horse Groomer.

These two products are great for removing stains and ground-in dirt in Waco’s coat and make it easier to flick away any dust, dirt, or debris with a medium-stiff body brush. This process is enough for a schooling session or trail ride where he just needs to be clean enough to be comfortable in his tack and not look like a wild Mustang I just caught and jumped on!

Sara Martineau's Paint Horse Waco covered in mud

When it’s time to get Waco show-ring ready, my grooming process is a bit more involved and includes actual suds, water, and few extra steps that make his white patches really gleam. A whitening shampoo is a must-have for every light-colored horse owner. My personal favorite is Vetrolin White ‘N Brite.

After fully soaking Waco’s coat with water, I mix about a capful of this shampoo with a gallon of water in a bucket and sponge it all over his body. I also apply a quarter-sized dab of concentrated shampoo directly to any tough stains and then let it sit just for a minute before thoroughly rinsing.

I like to use a conditioner as well after shampooing him, as it helps detangle his long mane and tail and gives his skin and coat a silky, moisturized feeling. Equiderma’s Neem Conditioner is at the top of my list for its formula of natural ingredients and pleasant scent.

One of the final steps for achieving the brightest white markings is using a leave-in conditioner—this is a must for repelling stains and keeping Waco’s coat shiny. I love the Carr & Day & Martin Canter Coat Shine; it’s easy to apply and doesn’t make his coat oily. After applying the leave-in conditioner as a stain deterrent, I completely strip and clean his stall on nights before shows. Then, I add more bedding than I normally would to help keep urine spots to a minimum.

After Waco’s coat is completely dry, putting a light sheet on him gives me peace of mind that he’ll at least be somewhat clean the next morning. Just in case we have any overnight or trailer mishaps on the way to a show, I always carry a bottle of ShowSheen Stain Remover & Whitener. This can be sprayed directly onto stains and brushed away once dry, eliminating the need for water.

Keeping Waco’s white markings bright and clean is a time-consuming project, but it’s well worth the effort when I confidently walk into the ring knowing that he’s dazzling white and shiny!

Sara Martineau and Paint Horse Waco competing in a halter class