The Never-Ending Quest to Keep a Grey Horse Clean: Tips for Success

My horse of 22 years, Sobrie taught me everything there is to know about keeping a grey horse clean. Photo by Kathy Russell Photography


I believe this to be true: Grey horses know that dirt shows better on them than on their bay counterparts, and they exploit this knowledge on a daily basis.

In the stall. In the paddock. In places that you didn’t think possible. Even when sheeted or blanketed. It’s very hard to keep a grey horse clean all the time.

Over the course of the last two decades, I have never gone without owning a grey horse or pony (I swear, they find me!), and none taught me more than my first horse Sobrie. Even in his older years, he still found the energy to break the cross ties mid-bath and run loose, only to roll in the dirt and promptly return to me, asking for another bath.

I have certainly learned a few tricks over the years, and I’m happy to share them. Here are some tips for keeping your grey horse as shiny white as possible.

Put Your Back into It!

Nothing beats some elbow grease, and I swear by my curry comb. It’s the grooming box’s version of duck tape: It fixes everything. I never begin trying to remove the stains off a grey horse before running a curry comb across its entire body. If you put your back into it, you’ll remove most of the stains, and for the more stubborn ones, the dirt and grime will at least be loosened up. Sometimes, I’ll brush the dirt off and then proceed with a second cycle of currying. I prefer a traditional oval-shaped rubber curry comb best and use smaller, gentler, circular versions for my horses’ legs and face.

Greenspot Remover

Greenspot remover is a fantastic invention, but again, I’ll never apply it before currying and brushing my horse. Sometimes, greenspot remover can leave a yellow tint on your horse’s coat, so before I even get to that point, I’ll scrub the stained area with a damp rag (sometimes I’ll even add some soap). I’ll follow suit with greenspot remover if necessary. I’ve used a lot of different brands over the years, but I really love Sport Horse Essentials’ Waterless Shampoo and Stain Remover. Not only does it work, but it also fights fungus on a horse’s coat and smells good, too!

Whitening Shampoo

While baths can be time consuming, especially when factoring in drying time, they always work. Never arrive at a competition fewer than two hours before showing a grey horse, because extra time should always be allotted for bathing. I mix a whitening shampoo with a base shampoo. Quic Silver Whitening Intensifier and Shampoo has been a staple for many years, and it has worked best for me. Basic dish soap is also a great tool.

Maintain a Short Coat

A short coat is always easier to clean than one with long hair. While this can be difficult in the winter months depending on the climate you’re in, I recommend body clipping your grey horse regularly. In the lead-up to body clipping, I also use my StripHair Gentle Groomer. It is really a miracle-worker; it limits shedding and helps achieve a more manageable coat.

Give a Finishing Touch

At least twice a week, I finish my grooming session with the application of ShowSheen. On a non-grey horse, I’ll only apply in the tail, but with grey horses, I also apply it over their body. ShowSheen gives a great finishing touch and will make your grey horse look particularly shiny, with a soft coat that’s easy to clean.

Always Be Prepared

With ‘grey-t’ power, comes ‘grey-t’ responsibility. A grey horse owner always has their tools handy and is ready to attack stains of any kind. Grey horses will outsmart you and often undo the work you’ve put in with a gracious roll, so in addition to the supplies and elbow grease, a healthy sense of humor is also always a beneficial tool!

About the Author
Catie Staszak is the CEO of Catie Staszak Media, Inc. and the color commentator and journalist for the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League. Catie has announced at show jumping events across the globe; moderated at the 2018 FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland; and is set to be a Chief Officer for Olympic Broadcasting Services at the Tokyo Olympic Games. 

Catie began doing editorial work for The Plaid Horse in early 2020 before growing her role as Show Jumping Content Manager and Co-Host of the Plaidcast in 2021; she loves sharing stories of horsemanship at all levels of the sport. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying time with her “superhero” horse Zantos, whom she shows in the Amateur-Owner jumpers, and her dog/sidekick, Omaha.