There are many wonderful things about Spring – but trying to keep your horse clean and his skin healthy isn’t one of them.
The list of seasonal challenges includes:
- plenty of rain
- mud everywhere
- remnants of the winter coat trapping dirt, moisture and sweat
- insect irritation, both ticks and flies
Long coats, warm days and lots of moisture keep fresh air, oxygen and sunlight away from the horse’s skin. Dirt trapped deep in the coat irritates and breaks the skin. Organisms can also flourish in this environment.
Exercise, deep grooming and nutritional support for shedding is an integral part of any plan to keep skin healthy at this time https://wp.me/p2WBdh-OL . Nothing beats the job a good grooming vacuum can do so by all means invest in one if you can.
The plus side of warm weather is you can bathe the horse. To prepare, use a curry to remove surface mud and loosen dead hair. If you have a vacuum, use it as the next step. Also carefully go over the skin to identify and remove ticks as well as any scabs you may find to expose the underlying skin to air and cleansing.
An herbal shampoo can offer many unique benefits.
Aloe Vera Juice has emollient properties that help soothe skin. A member of the Lily Family, Aloe Vera has been described in writings dating back to 2100 B.C., and was used across the globe by ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, as well as Indians and Chinese.
Calendula helps ease discomfort caused by temporary skin irritation. This is the common Marigold, whose use dates back at least to the 15th century when the flowers were used topically on skin irritations.
Coconut Oil helps maintain the moisture content of the skin through medium chain fatty acids that protect against moisture loss through the pores on skin. Coconut Oil also supports a normal skin microbiome.
Eucalyptus Essential Oil helps maintain normal skin flora. It is a tree indigenous to Australia.
Jojoba Oil contains natural fatty acids that promote healthy, strong hair, and is packed with vitamins important for hair and skin health.
Lemon Eucalyptus Essential Oil shields and soothes insect bites with emollient and protective support while maintaining normal, healthy skin flora. The lemon eucalyptus grows in temperate and tropical northeastern Australia, and the essential oil is extracted from the leaves and twigs.
Lavender Essential Oil helps reduce oxidative stress. The aromatic evergreen is native to the Mediterranean, was traditionally used to support an intact skin barrier.
Oregon Grape Root supports normal cellular turnover in skin. The holly-like bush is native to Western North America, particularly the mountainous Pacific Northwest.
Rosemary Extract is an astringent that provides antioxidant protection. The evergreen shrub is indigenous to the Mediterranean.
Tea Tree Essential Oil helps soothe and dry temporary skin irritations and helps maintain a normal skin microbiome. Tea Tree Oil has a long history of use by the native Australian population, and was first described in writing in the 1700s.
White Willow Bark has a topical astringent action, and has been used in China and Europe dating back to 400 BC.
You can do touch ups between baths using sprays or salve with the same ingredients.
Spring grooming is definitely a time consuming job but you can cut the work and maximize results with use of the correct topical herbs.
Eleanor Kellon, VMD