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✨Grooming Secrets for White Horses

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Keeping a white horse looking white can be a challenge. Below are our best tips to keep your white horse white, while still allowing them to live as horses.

Reduce grooming time by controlling your white horse's environment
Reduce grooming time by controlling your white horse’s environment

Keeping Horses Clean through Prevention

The first (and often, most forgotten) way to keep a white horse’s fur brilliantly white is to pay attention to the area the horse lives in.

To keep a white or grey horse clean while, minimize their contact with the following:

  • 🤎 manure
  • 💛 urine
  • ❤️ clay
  • 💚 freshly mowed grass

If this sounds hard, don’t worry! There are reasonable and easy steps you can take to help prevent stains and discoloration from ever reaching a white horse’s coat. Here’s how

1. Add extra shaving to your horse’s stall.

Extra shavings can help absorb urine. If shavings absorb the urine, it can’t transfer to your horse’s white coat or markings when your horse lays down.

Water-permeable stall mats are also a solid strategy for removing urine from a horse’s stall right away.

2. Clean stalls of white and grey horses frequently.

Frequent stall cleaning can also help reduce the opportunity for urine and manure to discolor a coat. If possible, pick up soiled bedding from your horse’s stall more often by increasing the frequency of your horse chore schedule.

3. Reduce contact with clay

Dirt with a high concentration of clay is one of the most difficult stains to remove from the coat of a light-colored horse. Rather than investing your time in endless currying and bathing to remove clay stains from fur, minimize contact with this type of dirt. For horse owners who board their horses and frequently show, you may wish to check the soil in a horse boarding farm’s turnout areas before moving your horse in.

4. Create a Clean(ish) designated space for rolling

Here’s a secret I learned from a lipazzander breeding farm in Eastern Europe, If you can, purchase a truckload of sand and have it dumped in your pasture. Most horses will gravitate like a magnet 🐴🧲 to the sandy spot to roll!

Horses love to roll in sand because it feels good. Instead of staining your white horse, sand will active clean them! Sand prevents grass and mud stains and actually help naturally clean the coat.

Be careful to place the sandpile far from fences and feeding areas. Sand can pose a risk if accidentally ingested, or if it causes the horse to roll too close to a fence.

5. Plan where your horse rolls.

If you are unable to provide a clean, sandy space to roll in the pasture, you can do the same with well-timed turnout in a clean area such as a round pen or arena.

After a ride, untack and allow your horse 5-10 minutes in the round pen or arena before you turn them loose in their pasture. Because horses tend to roll after being untacked, they’ll likely use the time to roll in the relatively clean footing of the arena rather than in fresh mud or grass.

Most horses will roll while sweaty and providing them after-exercise turnout in a clean space may prevent them from running to a mud puddle as soon as they are turned out.

6. Manage grass in Pastures

Although grass can stain coats, grass stains tend to be easier to clean than clay stains. Minimize the transfer of clay-based mud and dirt by caring for the grass in your pastures. According to Pennsylvania State University, rotational grazing can improve the yield and nutrition of your pastures and help your grey, white, or pinto horse stay clean. 1

7. Use Blankets and sheets to prevent stains before shows

Because getting a light-colored horse show-ready can take hours, purchase a lightweight waterproof sheet so you can start show-prep the night before.


Grooming White Horses

Keeping a white horse clean isn’t just about minimizing stains in the first place. Here’s how we get white horses really clean on our farm.

Even with great horse management practices, good grooming practices are essential for getting your horse’s white markings show-ring ready.

8. Use a tinted coat conditioner

One frequently used trick for keeping white coats brilliant is Laundry Bluing, which can be added to an all-over coat conditioner. Keep reading for my recipe for a tinted horse-coat conditioner.

9. Adopt a regular grooming process

Grooming helps stimulate coats to create healthy coats that aren’t too dry or too oily. Healthy coats with healthy oil level resists stains. Use a complete grooming process of currying, brushing, and finishing.

10. Avoid Overexposure to Sunlight and UV Rays

In addition to a risk of horse sunburn, UV light can alter light-colored coats. It’s well known among horse owners that bright sunlight can bleach black horse hair to brown, but did you know that UV can also alter the color of grey and white horse’s coats? A recent study showed that:

All hair types showed a substantial increase in protein loss in water after lamp and sun irradiation. The damaging effect of UVB was about 2-5 times higher than that of UVA plus visible radiation, depending on the hair type. Significant color changes were also observed in every hair type, after lamp and sun irradiation, being more pronounced for the light colored hairs. (Read the study on PubMed

You might think that white fur would not be affected, but white fur can also change after sun exposure- sometimes becoming yellowed. These changes are minor and will not be noticeable on most white or grey horses, but if you are concerned, a UV-blocking lightweight sheet may provide protection from both UV damage and also stains from the horse’s environment.

11. Wrap Tails

Wrapping tails can be a way to keep white tails from hollowing, read more in our article dedicated to keeping white tails looking clean and bright.

A person riding a white horse at a trot.

Show Morning Grooming for Light Colored Horse Coats:

12. Use artificial coat brighteners

Both cornstarch and chalk are old tricks previous generations of horse show competitors that still work today to coverup any mud, urine, or manure spots you can’t shampoo out. When I’m showing our curly horses in competitions or breed demos, I use blocks of chalk designed for livestock sow competitors.

A beautiful white horse running.

How to Make Coat Whitening Spray for White Horses

Fill a spray bottle with diluted leave in conditioner

Add equal amounts of water and leave in conditioner to a 16 oz. spray bottle.

Add laundry bluing to bottle

Add 2-3 drops of laundry bluing (no more than 5 drops in a 16 ounce spray bottle). Be careful not to add to much bluing, as bluing is a dye and can color hair and/or irritate skin if used in too strong of a concentration.

Stir and Spray

Mix the contents of the bottle and spray on your horse’s mane and tail every time you groom to create brighter, whiter coats within days.

Estimated Cost: 10 USD


  • Laundry Bluing
  • Leave in Conditioner


  • Spray Bottle with fine mist setting

I like this spray for our horses because it doesn’t contain silicone and is meant for the entire coat, not just mane and tail.

Final Tips: Getting a White Horse Clean without Water

Getting a white horse really clean without water can be challenging! However, if you’ve got time and elbow grease, it’s possible. Here’s how we get white horses show-ring clean when it’s too cold to bathe a horse.

  1. Curry the Coat. A curry comb is a metal or (more often, these days) plastic tool that looks like a massager. It breaks up dried mud and removes dead hair. Start by using a curry comb to loosen any dirt and debris on the white horse’s coat. Begin at the neck and work your way down to the legs (but be gentle!).
  2. Flick Brush. Although they have fallen out of favor in most barns, we like to use an old-fashioned flick brush. Flick brushes literally flick dirt up and off the horse. (If horses make you sneeze, consider wearing a mask!)
  3. Brush. Use a hard and then a soft brush to gently remove the remaining dirt or debris from the horse’s coat.
  4. Treat stains. If there are any stains on the horse’s coat, use the whitening spray described above or us a dry shampoo designed for white horses. Apply the product to a rag and then rub the stain until it is removed.
  5. Sponge. A little water can go a long way toward removing dust and getting a white horse clean without water. Use a damp sponge or a clean rag to wipe down the horse’s face, ears, and nose.
  6. Polish. Finish this cleaning routine by using a soft towel to lift any surface dust from the horse’s coat and bring out its natural shine.

Remember to always be gentle and patient when cleaning a white horse without water- you don’t want to get kicked or bit! With a little bit (ok, quite a bit!) of effort and the right tools, you can get your white horse clean even if you can’t give it a bath.

Research sources used for this article:

  1. How to Make Rotational Grazing Work on Your Horse Farm. []

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