As well as looking great at shows and competitions, a shiny coat is a sign of good health. There are lots of things you can do to make your pony sparkle even more, and impress your yard mates at the same time, too!
Daily grooming is the best way to get your pony’s coat healthy and shiny. As well as getting rid of dirt and dust, it stimulates the production of the natural oils that give his coat its shine. Grooming also encourages blood flow, keeping his skin healthy and in good condition. Once you’ve groomed off any mud, a body brush is the best way to work up a shine with firm, short strokes.
Let any mud dry before you groom your pony. Brushing wet mud pushes it further into his coat and can stain, but dry mud is much easier to flick off.
Squeaky-clean grooming kit
It’s a good idea to give your grooming brushes a clean every month or so – dirty brushes just transfer dirt back onto your pony. To do this…
- squirt a little washing-up liquid into a bucket and fill it with warm water
- one brush at a time, place it into the water and use your fingers to work the soapy mixture into the bristles to get rid of grease and loose hair
- rinse the soap off with clean, warm water and leave the brush to dry bristles-down
- repeat for the rest of your brushes
Use one set of grooming brushes for each pony to stop any skin problems spreading. If you have to share, disinfect the brushes between each use.
As well as making your pony super-itchy, dried sweat can make his coat scurfy and brittle. Get rid of it by sponging off sweaty patches after you’ve ridden or grooming it off when dry. If it’s a warm day, you can hose him or use a no-rinse wash to give him a good cool-down and leave his coat sweat-free.
Wash it off
If your pony’s super-greasy, or you need to get rid of grass or stable stains before a show, giving him a bath will get him looking spotless. Use a shampoo specially made for ponies – it’ll be more gentle on his skin and condition his coat, too. You can use a stain-removing shampoo for really mucky ponies or a soothing one for ponies with dry skin.
Once you’ve rinsed all the shampoo from his coat and removed excess water with a sweat scraper, apply a coat conditioning spray. This stops stains from sticking to his coat and will keep him cleaner for longer. Avoid spraying areas where his tack sits, or it may slip.
- When you’re washing your pony, do his legs last. Mucky water from his tail and body will run down onto his legs, so this stops all your hard work being undone!
- If your pony lives out, it’s best not to wash him too often, as regular shampooing removes the natural oils that waterproof his coat.
- If you don’t have time to do a full wash, use a stain remover spray to spot-clean any stable or grass stains.
As well as keeping your pony’s coat in top condition, caring for his mane and tail will finish off his glam look! You can use a detangler on his tail to remove knots easily. If there’s a really tangled patch, it’s better to work it out with your fingers so you don’t pull out too many hairs, which could thin his tail.
If your pony wears a rug, you might find his mane gets scurfy and greasy. Wash his rug every few weeks to help keep his skin healthy and, when you can, take it off to give his skin time to breathe and to stop hair loss.
If your pony’s mane falls on both sides, plait it loosely over to one side after washing to help train the hairs to lie in the same direction.
Shine from the inside
Good health is key to a shiny coat. If your pony’s coat looks dull, you can talk to a nutritionist for advice on supplements or balancers that might help. There are lots of coat-specific supplements around, but remember it’ll take a while before you see an improvement. A diet for a good-quality coat should include…
- protein Hair, just like hooves, is made from keratin, which is a type of protein. A pony who’s lacking in protein is more likely to have a poor-quality coat
- omega-3 fatty acids These help improve the quality of your pony’s skin and hair, keeping him super-shiny
- vitamins and minerals These are vital for keeping your pony healthy and happy. Vitamins A, B and E in particular are good for a healthy coat and skin, as well as biotin
If you’re getting your fave pony ready for a show, check out our step-by-step guide on plaiting here.