White tails are easily the bane of any groom’s existence, but it can be so rewarding when you achieve that perfect level of snowy white just in time for the next competition. Lauren Sherrill, head groom for event rider Tamie Smith, shared some of her pro tips for keeping the gray horses in her charge clean, bright and white at all times.
1. Purple shampoo is your best friend.
“I completely slather the dry tail in purple shampoo so that it’s completely purple,” Sherrill said. Purple shampoo is a widely used remedy for stained white or gray horses, and the results prove themselves over and over again with consistent use.
2. Time is on your side.
“If I’m bathing the whole horse, I’ll start with the tail and let it sit while I wash the body,” Sherrill said. “I’ll also put the purple shampoo on any tough stains or areas that are just hard to get white like hocks, fetlocks, knees, all while they are still dry.” Sherrill recommends letting the shampoo sit for about 15 minutes in the dry tail so that it has proper time to attack the manure and other unmentionables that have accumulated since the last wash.
3. Water, water everywhere.
After the shampoo has had time to soak into the tail, Sherrill adds some water to create a nice, thick lather. This will help loosen the dirt and work it out of the tail in preparation for the final rinse.
Sherrill rinses the tails thoroughly, making sure the end product is bright and white, and uses conditioner liberally to preserve the quality of the tail. She also trys to keep the horse indoors until the tail is wet, but uses a good amount of Show Sheen to help repel dirt in case the horse does get turned out wet.
“I try to stay on top of the white tails in the weeks leading up to a show,” Sherrill said. “It’s easier to work with a tail that doesn’t have weeks of build-up on it, but you also need to make sure you’re using plenty of conditioner and coat conditioner after so that you don’t dry the hair out.”