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Choosing the right shampoo for your horse

Choosing the right shampoo for your horse

I see a lot of posts on various Facebook groups asking for horse shampoo recommendations. There are so many options out there to choose from!

There are a number of factors you can use to help you choose.

  • Price
  • Ingredients
  • Effectiveness
  • Conditioning

Why is it important?

Horses have natural oils on their skin that you don’t want to disrupt. Just like us, horses secrete an oily substance called sebum, which helps protect their mane and maintain healthy skin. This is key to maintaining a healthy, glowing coat. The wrong shampoo can strip these oils and cause more harm than good. This is why it’s important to take the time to sort through the deciding factors and choose the right shampoo for your horse


Horses are expensive enough so we all want something that is value for money. I often see people recommending dishwashing liquid for washing horses because its cheap. Dishwashing liquid is designed to remove grease and oil from dishes. It has NOT been designed for use on horses. Your horse has oils in its coat to help protect the hair and skin. Imagine what something that is designed to be used to remove grease and oil does to your horse’s skin and coat? Would you use it on your own hair and scalp over a period of time? A one off maybe but as your regular shampoo? No? Then why consider using it on your horse.

Buying a bigger bottle is often better value for money. You can help the shampoo go further by the way you use it as well. I like to put a wee squirt on a Blue Tag Oval Plastic Groomer and scrub my horse or use a shampoo brush. I find shampoo goes a lot further using it in this way rather than squirting it straight on the horse.


Ingredients are the number one factor for me when choosing a shampoo.

Like people shampoo, horse shampoo can have a variety of ingredients. Some more beneficial than others. Some more expensive than others. Ingredients will also be an important thing to consider if your horse has allergies or skin conditions. Check the ingredients carefully. No one wants their horse to react to an ingredient they didn’t realise was in the shampoo. Avoid harsh ingredients that will strip the oils from the skin and coat. Like people shampoo, natural ingredients are often, but not always, more expensive. You often get what you pay for so check the ingredients to ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck. Check how much of those ingredients is in the shampoo. The highest contrate is the first ingredient listed and the least the last. Some products like to claim natural ingredients but the amount is so small it is of little use so really just an advertising gimmick.

Some shampoos will also have ingredients to help repel bugs, sooth skin, medication for skin conditions, enhance colour, all sorts of things. Depending on your horse’s needs, these ingredients may factor into your decision making process.

I prefer ingredients that are as natural as possible. The Show Horse 3 in 1 Royal Wash has 98% natural ingredients!


Do you have a horse with white bits or a grey that is prone to staining? You will need to factor this into your choice. There are shampoos available that are designed to make whites white and remove stains effectively.

My whitening goto is the Paetai Cottage Purple Horse Whitening Soap.


You will want something that is going to condition your horse’s coat which will help promote shine, help repel dirt, and help prevent damage from the elements. Some shampoos are a shampoo and conditioner in one or you can get a separate conditioner to use after you have washed.

I like to use HSE Hot Oil after washing. It is a leave on conditioner that will nourish both the hair and the skin.

By choosing your shampoo wisely, your grooming kit won’t be full of half empty bottles of not quite right shampoos which wastes you money!

Choosing a shampoo for your horse

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