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The Economics of Grooming
Ruthann, Lucky Braids
Bathing horses can be a gross
waste of resources. It can require
inordinate amounts of water, promote
stains, soften hooves, and
cause irritation. Here are the
eco-friendly truths that yield easier
care, healthier coats and lower
Consider these elements:
• Acidity. Shampoo properly
pH balanced for horses, which is
different than humans’ or dishes’,
rinses fast and leaves no
film. Otherwise, pH can cause
pores to clog, attract dust and
promote poor hoof condition.
Standing in water is not a good
idea. So, look for shampoo pH
balanced for horses to save LOTS
of water and time, promote shine
and healthy hooves.
• Sodium Chloride. Most
shampoos use sodium chloride
(salt!) for lather. This strips natural
protective oils, to parch skin
and hair, leaving coats vulnerable
to irritation, skin disease and tail
breakage. Have you ever been
bitten by a bug after a day in the
sun? Itching it hurts! Dry skin is
easily irritated. It’s also thirsty,
grabbing onto everything to get
horses dirty. Shampoo without
sodium chloride makes coats easier
• Fungus. Most medicated
shampoos dry the skin. While
killing an irritant, they leave skin
susceptible, feeding the cycle.
Nature’s best antiseptic is tea
tree oil. Unlike other antiseptics,
it kills the fungus, too. But, there
are many grades of tea tree. Be
careful to use shampoo that
specifies “medical-grade” tea
tree oil. It’s gentle.
• Scratches. The best solution
to scratches is in your daily routine.
Rule #1: Only put bone-dry
legs into a stall. Damp skin is
soft. Bedding makes microabrasions
fungus enters. Hence, crud,
which can cause lameness and a
systemic infection. So bathe heels
gently. Dry thoroughly with a
clean towel. Fans don’t exfoliate
and stimulate natural protective
oils. Towel well.
• Stains. Conventional whitening
shampoos make horses dirty.
Grooms’ hands hurt, so it can’t
be healthy. Stripped hair is
porous and gets dirty fast. A
shampoo that is proper according
to the above elements and saturated
with aloe vera can moisturize
and nourish hair and skin to
promote easy care and greys that
glisten. For spot washing, an
equine enzyme won’t leave the
yellow shadow nor strip the coat.
• Tails. Detanglers are usually
toxic. Plus, they suffocate hair,
making it brittle to break. Truth
is, there is an alternative that is
healthier, easier and more economical.
A shampoo saturated
with aloe vera has a lot of natural
texture. If you use it and comb
the tail wet (always holding and
starting at the bottom). Tails come out naturally big, fluffy and easy to
maintain. The texture of the aloe is volumizing.
Hair wants to separate rather
than fall into ringlets. So daily maintenance
is quick. Itching is reduced. So,
choose lots of aloe over toxic, expensive
and detrimental detanglers.
If the tail gets dust dirt or discharge
and you don’t want to wash the tail,
spray an equine enzyme and just wipe
off impurities. It simply separates the
bond between the live and dead protein;
the hair and anything else. So, an
enzyme is a sound quick fix. Remember
to hold and comb tails wet.
• Manes. The desirability of braiding
dirty manes is a myth. Dirt dries
braiders’ hands and the crest, making
horses itchy. Plus, you should show
clean. Some shampoos make manes slippery
by stripping oil and petroleumbased
ingredients. If you use a healthy
shampoo saturated with aloe, it can be
easier to braid well, reduce itching and
breakage as well as earn the judge’s
• Size matters. Concentrated gallons
are cheaper by far. Plastic is expensive
and wastes resources. So, buying by the your pocket and the earth. Choose a
concentrate instead of paying for
water that has been shipped around.
With a highly concentrated shampoo,
you can fill a half bucket with water
and use just a “glub” or “glub,
glub” of shampoo. Four ounces can
Shampooing is wrought with myth.
Make good choices and you’ll not
only save time and money, problems
will be averted for your horse and the
planet. So, think big picture. The price
does not tell the whole story or even
hint at the true costs. Choose well and
it’s a win-win.
For more tips for these and other
issues, visit The Grooming Resource at
The lack of effective and healthy
grooming products inspired Ruthann
Smith, world-class groom and braider,
to develop the economical and ecofriendly
Lucky Braids™ solutions: All-
In-One Shampoo, Whitener/ Dry Wash
enzymatic spray, Handy Salve and
Braiding DVD/Tool prized by top