Monday, December 14, 2009

The Dirt

Monday December 14 2009

Are you one of those who thinks your horse has to be clean? Do you
obsessively brush him to get all the dirt and dust out of his hair? Do you frequently give your horse baths, thinking it's good for him to have a clean shiny coat?

What's the first thing he wants to do after you bathe him? Go straight to the dirt and roll.

I'm not big on brushing horses - never was. Maybe that's because almost all of the Thoroughbred racehorses I groomed on the track did not like it, no matter how soft the brush. (Thin skin?) I was not known for sending a clean horse to the racetrack in the mornings. My trainers were not always pleased with me. The horses didn't enjoy the brushing, so I didn't do it. Why aggravate them?

Stormy will still try to bite me if I take a brush to him. I bathe him once in a while, really just to turn him loose immediately and watch him have a good roll. There's just something humorously satisfying about that.

Here's the real dirt a horseman once told me. The dirt and oils on their coats help protect them from insect bites. When we bathe them, we wash that natural protection off that Nature gave them.

Of course, it doesn't keep all the bugs away, and if we do coat them in insect spray, it's nice to wash that toxic stuff off sometimes, because that's certainly not natural either.

Maybe that's true, and maybe it's not, but I know the horses prefer being dirty to smelling like a human hair salon. It makes us feel good, seeing a shiny coat and smelling a Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Lemon Sage mane and tail, but maybe the horses have a different opinion about that.

Dirt - it does a body good.


  1. Hehe! Great post! My horses hate being brushed, and here I always thought they were weird because everyone else goes on about just spending time with your horse brushing them!
    I get through the brushing part of tacking up pretty quick, and often my mares legs will still be a bit dirty. I find my horses are happier if you just tack up quick and get to work and not linger on the post riding care so they can get back to their pasture!

    How do those obsesivly clean people battle the mud in winter? They would probably have a heart attack at my pasture right now!

    I bath my horses about once a year! In the spring to help them all shed out.

  2. I hate, hate taking a dirty horse to an event, or on a long training ride. I have had more rubs and sore spots come up from the dirt mixing with sweat and gunking against tack, then rubbing. But during the off season, hanging out in the pasture, doing nothing, I don't care how much dirt they have on them.

  3. Along time ago, I decided that my next horse was going to be a dirt colored horse. That way he would always look clean.

  4. You have a very handsome and rare dirt and grey paint! My paint is never clean, unless it rains on her. She is usually a rare palomino paint from all the dust ground in to her white. ;)

  5. Gotta love that dirt! Great shots!

  6. What an amazing shot that first picture is! I am shockingly slack when it comes to brushing my ponies ( though I always pick out feet and brush where the tack will go). And I hardly ever touch the manes and tales - my excuse being that it pulls the hair out, but really I am lazy :)

  7. I'm with you Merri. I rarely bath my animals (horse or dog). I do take a brush to my horses from time to time, but as soon as I'm done they are back out into the mud.

  8. You've got some seriously happy dirty dusty horses....and that's the way it should be.

    Your pictures are breathtaking. The white sandy dust reminds me of water the way it falls off the horses. Beautiful!


    word verification: worrider

    A worried rider?