As a horse owner, you’re faced with the constant challenge of keeping your horse clean. Whether your horse is running at the track, walking the trails, or working in the field, she is going to get dirty. The only solution is to roll up your sleeves, get the bucket, and prepare for bath time.
However, you don’t want to use just any shampoo on your horse. After all, your horse produces natural oils which are necessary for a healthy coat. The last thing you want to do is create a problem by drying out his skin.
Fortunately, smart companies have developed special shampoos designed to make sure you can get your horse clean and healthy without creating irritated skin.
We created this buying guide to give you an idea of what types of horse shampoos are on the market, how they work, and which one might be the best horse shampoo for your equine friend.
Best Horse Shampoo and Its Uses
Horse shampoo, or equine shampoo, is a lot like the shampoo you use on a daily basis, except it’s specifically designed for horses. What this means is that it’s typically gentler and removes less oil than the shampoos designed for us humans.
Interestingly, some people have grown to prefer using horse shampoo precisely because it’s less harsh! However, we’re not recommending you use horse shampoo. We’re just making the point that dirty jobs don’t always require the toughest solutions.
The reason why horse shampoo needs to be gentler is that horses are particularly prone to damaged, dry, and itchy skin if the wrong shampoo is used.
The formula is designed to provide a thorough clean without stripping away the oils and minerals present on your horse’s skin. These are vital for skin health, so you don’t want to use a shampoo that strips them away.
Another great feature of this product is the spray foam design. This means you waste less product because it doesn’t drip off your hands or your horse very easily. The foam stays in place, so you have time to spray it on, then work it into your horse’s coat.
The spray design also makes it easy to clean hard-to-reach areas because you can just spray it anywhere, even your horse’s belly, and the foam will stay in place without dripping off.
Plus, since you require less shampoo overall, cleanup is much easier. You’re not left with a lot of excess shampoo and residue that just ends up going down the drain.
This product is also made from mostly natural ingredients. The last thing you want to do is start rubbing harsh chemicals or dyes all over your horse’s sensitive skin. Also, this product is Paraben-free, which are substances that are linked to cancer.
- Best For: Easy use
- Brand: Vetericyn
- Volume: 32 ounces
- Dimensions: 11.5 x 3 x 3 inches
- Age Range: All ages
- Heals and prevents skin issues
- Spray foam prevents drip and waste
- Natural ingredients and fresh scent
- Spray applicator makes shampooing easy
- Can be used every day
- Some customers claim it was ineffective at healing rain rot
- Some customers complain of an unfriendly smell
Anyone who owns a horse with a white coat knows how difficult it is to keep his coat looking clean and fresh. For whatever reason, white horses seem to have a toddler’s sensibilities when it comes to keeping clean. Luckily, there are optical brighteners to provide deep cleaning.
The Equine Bright White Horse Shampoo by UltraCruz is a powerful stain remover and whitener that can help get your dirty white or gray horse look brand new, without stripping away his essential natural oils.
This product can fight even the toughest stains including manure, grass, mud, urine, and whatever other filthy mess your equestrian friend finds himself in; and while the stain-removing properties are powerful, the clean is still gentle, giving hair a healthy shine.
The cleaning agent for this product is derived from coconut and palm plant-based oils that are natural, nutritious, and great for both skin and hair.
- Best For: Stain removal
- Brand: UltraCruz
- Volume: 16 fluid ounces
- Dimensions: 8.0 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches
- Whitens coat and removes stubborn stains
- Highlights gold, gray, and white toned horses
- Does not strip away natural oils
- Removes manure, urine, and grass stains
- pH balanced for horses
- Smaller bottle than others on the list
- Includes some chemicals
Sometimes, the issue you’re facing is not a dirty horse, but a sick one. Specifically, horses are prone to skin ailments such as rain scald, rain rot, dermatitis, fungus, ringworm, and other bacteria and microorganisms.
In that case, you’ll want to use a medicated horse shampoo such as the next best horse shampoo on our list; the Happy Horse Medicated Chlorhexidine Shampoo. Made with 2% chlorhexidine gluconate, this product is specially formulated to tackle the skin conditions listed above.
However, this therapeutic shampoo isn’t all about medication. Chlorhexidine gluconate is also an excellent deodorizer and conditioner, giving your horse a nice and pleasant scent after her bath. This means you can kill fungus and odor all at the same time.
This medicated shampoo is also safe for daily use. In this way, it works to prevent skin infections by stopping them before they start. If your horse is particularly prone to fungus or other skin bacteria, this shampoo may be the right choice for you.
- Best For: Healing skin infections
- Brand: Happy Horse
- Volume: 32 fluid ounces
- Dimensions: 10 x 3.2 x 3.2 inches
- Special antibacterial and antifungal agents
- Stops microorganisms and bacteria
- Treats skin conditions such as fungus and rain rot
- Refreshing and pleasant smell
- Mild enough for use on horses of all ages
- Some complaints about difficulty lathering
- Could be more concentrated
The Apricot Oil Brightening & Conditioning Shampoo by Knotty Horse is a great choice if your biggest concern is making sure your horse looks fabulous. This best horse shampoo is specifically formulated to brighten and soften your horse’s coat, giving her a shining glow.
Another benefit of this product is that it promotes new hair growth, strengthens existing hair, and reduces breakage. This hair growth shampoo contains biotin, which is a key vitamin required for hair growth. If you feel your horse’s coat is looking a little thin, this product might be just what you need.
This all-natural shampoo is also a great choice if your horse’s mane has a tendency to get tangled. The special blend of omegas, apricot oil, and vitamins E and A, work to relax and condition your horse’s mane so she always looks beautiful.
Knotty Horse also delivers a great stain remover with this shampoo, capable of removing even the toughest stains on your white, grey, gold, or other light-colored horses.
The apricot oil used in the formula also helps to moisturize and soften skin, as well as hair, so your horse can maintain healthy skin while looking her best.
- Best For: Hair growth
- Brand: Knotty Horse
- Volume: 36 fluid ounces
- Dimensions: 10.8 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches
- Biotin and chamomile formula brightens coat
- Made with apricot oil
- Promotes hair growth
- Natural ingredients only
- Works well on all skin and hair types
- Some complaints about container being half full upon purchase
The big selling point for the Natural Rapport Horse Shampoo & Conditioner is that it features a 5-in-1 formulation, delivering conditioning, detangling, cleansing, moisturizing, and deodorizing all in one product. Use this best horse shampoo if you don’t want to use a separate conditioner.
To get the most out of your shampooing treatment, brush your horse to get rid of excess hair before you apply the shampoo. This way, they will have an extra shiny coat when you finish.
This product is formulated with 98% natural and plant-based ingredients, so it’s safe for your horse and won’t expose her to harmful chemicals or other unnatural ingredients such as phosphates, alcohols, or parabens. Products with these chemicals do far more harm than good when trying to keep your horse clean.
The core of this quality shampoo’s formula comes from coconut and palm oil, both of which are natural ingredients known to promote healthy hair and skin.
The scent for this shampoo is light citrus, so you know your horse will be smelling great after a wash.
- Best For: Multi-purpose cleaner
- Brand: Natural Rapport
- Volume: 16 fluid ounces
- Dimensions: 8.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches
- Made with 98% natural ingredients
- No alcohols, parabens, or other harsh chemicals
- Simple to use
- Rinses away easily
- 5-in-1 formula
- Makes grooming quick and easy
- One customer complained that too much residual is left on hair after shampoo
- One customer complained of a lack of transparency regarding ingredients
Choosing the Best Horse Shampoo For Your Horse’s Needs
When trying to figure out the best horse shampoo for your equestrian companion, there are a couple of factors to keep in mind.
The first thing you want to figure out is the reason you need the shampoo in the first place. There are a few reasons someone might need shampoo for their horse.
Do you need it for basic daily cleaning, to treat a medical condition, or to promote hair growth? Trying to use a gentle daily cleanser to cure nasty fungal infections or other skin disorders is just going to waste your time and money.
Along the same line, don’t try to use an antibacterial shampoo to combat hair loss or repair damaged hair. You will just end up damaging your horse’s hair more than when you started. Focus on what your goal is and choose the shampoo that’s most aligned with what you’re trying to achieve for your horse.
As a general rule, you want to use the minimum effective dose to achieve the results you want. If you can get by with a once-a-week shampoo, that will be healthier than doing a daily shampoo that might lead to dry hair, dry skin, or skin irritation.
However, if your horse is running through mud every day, a daily shampoo might be an absolute necessity. In any case, it will always be better for your horse if you err on the side of too little shampooing rather than too much.
2. Skin Sensitivity
The sensitivity of your horse’s skin is an important factor when choosing a shampoo. Often, we are shampooing our horse for our own benefit (i.e., he is covered in mud or he stinks). Remember, horses (or any other animal) don’t require shampoo in the wild, so you have to be extra careful when choosing a shampoo that will not dry out and damage his skin.
Plus, it’s important to consider the types of skin you’re dealing with. For this reason, it’s best to test a small amount of the shampoo on a section of the horse’s skin so you can see if there’s any allergic reaction. Only then can you know if it’s safe to shampoo the entire horse.
Always consider what you’re getting for your money. Make sure you check the dosage size and the price per ounce to determine whether you’re getting a good value. Just because the product comes in a big bottle, doesn’t mean you’re getting a reasonable price. Check the details to be sure.
Now you should have a basic understanding of the best horse shampoo on the market. As you can see, you no longer need to have a dirty horse. It’s pretty simple to find a good shampoo for horses to keep your equestrian buddy clean, healthy, and smelling great.
We hope this buying guide will help you make the right decision for you and your horse. Good luck!