The Best Horse Shampoo – How Do You Choose?

Looking to wash your horse? There are an alarming number of horse shampoo products on the market- natural shampoos, colour enhancing shampoos, coat nourishing shampoos, skin treatment shampoos, non-foaming shampoos … even waterless shampoos. How on earth can you tell which is the best horse shampoo?


horse washingWhat Does Your Horse Want?

A good place to start is to know something about your particular horse’s requirements. Then consider the options available.

Sensitive Skin

Many horses have a sensitive skin. In fact, horses as a whole tend to have sensitive skins. So if you have a horse who reacts easily to topical agents, you might want to look for an all natural shampoo, possibly containing a soothing agent such as aloe vera or oatmeal.

Dry Skin

If your horse has dry skin try not to use shampoo too often. Even the mildest of them will strip the natural oils from the coat and skin, and could make the skin condition worse. In many cases you may not need a shampoo at all – a good rinse can often remove much of the dirt and grime. However, if you feel you really do need to use a shampoo, then choose one suitable for sensitive skins.

Skin Irritation

If your horse is suffering from some sort of skin eruption or irritation, for example rain scald, you will need to be especially careful about what you apply. Look for a medicated shampoo with an antibacterial/antifungal and preferably anti-inflammatory action.

Colour Enhancer

If you are washing for the cosmetic effect in preparation for the show ring, then consider a colour enhancing shampoo. These are particularly effective for light and very dark coloured horses.

Colour enhancing shampoos work in a variety of ways. Some contain dyes which enhance coat colour. Contrary to what many people think, shampoos for grey horses do not contain a bleaching agent. Some include an optical brightener – a substance absorbed by the hair which ca uses the hair to reflect more light, making it appear brighter or shinier. Others contain a blueing agent, which under the influence of natural light appear whiter.

Home Made Horse Shampoo

Many people prefer to make their own shampoo. It is somewhat cheaper (especially if you have several horses) and you know exactly what’s in it. Here is a simple recipe if you’re interested:

250ml castile soap (available from Amazon) or other olive oil based soap

250ml water

125ml aloe vera gel

The above forms your basic natural, homemade horse shampoo. For the medicated touch add 15 – 20 drops tea tree oil. Other essential oils such as wild orange, lavender or rosemary can be added if desired.


If you are washing mane and tail as well as coat you may want to invest in a conditioner. Like human hair, horse hair will tend to matt and tangle after washing, and a good conditioner will really help to get the tangles out.  Like shampoos there are a large number to choose from, but many horse shampoos have matching conditioner which will complement the action of the shampoo.

Washing Your Horse

Having kitted yourself out with a suitable shampoo and conditioner it’s time to do the deed. Choose a warm day, wear old clothes and make sure your horse is relaxed and comfortable. Check out this article if you’re looking for some direction on how to wash your horse.


Any thoughts on the topic of equine shampoo? If you have any recommendations, questions  or comments on the above, please leave a comment below. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can 🙂


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