Before working as the Head Trainer and Facility Manager at Sandy River Equestrian Center in Axton, Virginia, Samantha Burton Henley was the head groom for Olympian David O’Conner. She has mastered grooming tips guaranteed to make a horse stand out from the crowd.
“Good grooming is all about respecting your horse and having them look their best when they come out of the stall,” she said. “If you look the part, you’re halfway there. You might get bucked off in the warmup pen but you’ll still look great in pictures.” We have all been there once! She has traveled all over the world caring for 4-Star and Olympic-level horses for multiple national teams. Here she shares a few of her favorite grooming hacks.
- Scrub-a-dub-dub. A deep-down clean starts with a thorough bath. Samantha’s go-to choice is ShowSheen® 2-In-1 Shampoo & Conditioner. In one easy step, the cleaner and conditioner remove dirt and grime. The sulfate and paraben-free solution make it easy to rinse out the soap leaving behind a smooth, soft coat.
Samantha’s favorite feature: The shampoo works as powerfully as a whitening shampoo. “I’m a sucker for lather—the more the better,” she said. I love it in tails because it doesn’t feel like it pulls any of the oils out.”
There are always those high-maintenance horses that can’t stay clean after a good bath. For those occasions, she always has ShowSheen® Stain Remover & Whitener and ShowSheen® Miracle Groom readily available.
2. Polish and shine. After a good bath, Samantha sprays ShowSheen® Hair Polish & Detangler on the coat while it is still wet. This gives the hair time to soak in the conditioner as it dries and repels dust and dirt.
While she waits for the coat to dry she paints Hooflex® All Natural Dressing & Conditioner onto the hooves. The herbal ingredients include tea tree oil, arnica, comfrey, and avocado oil to help support shiny, healthy hooves and maintain proper moisture balance.
The finishing touch—quarter marks. The decorative design enhances the horse's hindquarters by combing the hair into a checkerboard pattern. Spritzing a bit of ShowSheen® Finishing Mist when the job is done makes them sparkle.
3. Protect against blanket rub. Thoroughbreds with pointy shoulders are notorious for blanket rubs on their shoulders. Samantha applies ShowSheen® to the horse's chest, which eliminates the friction. As an added benefit, the product smooths hair to reduce breakage and reduces static electricity by adding moisture to the coat.
4. Feed ‘em right. Samantha says creating that high-gloss shine starts with taking care of a horse from the inside out. In addition to high-quality hay, grass, and feed, she relies on Absorbine supplements to add the extra sparkle to her glitz. Her teenage school horses have shown to have decreased inflammation and required less maintenance since starting Bute-Less®. “So many people don’t want to pay for supplements but then they can’t figure out why their horse’s coat looks flat and dull,” she said. “The supplements make a huge difference. My horses look phenomenal since I’ve started using Missing Link® Skin & Coat Supplement as well.”
Check out more professional tips and trick from Sam here.