In a natural environment such as horse stables, one does certainly not think about poison. More often than not horse owners are not aware of what the spray, feed or rub on their horses. All the more reason to go all natural with your grooming routine.
Most horses have to tolerate a fair amount of chemical exposure these days. Whether we like it or not, all chemicals have an effect on the metabolism and the health of our horses, regardless of how the horse ingests them. They are exposed to chemicals:
orally (over the mouth)
percutaneously (via the skin)
inhalation (via the airways)
The body has to metabolize all substances in order for them to be eliminated or not to do any damage to the organs. The transformation of harmful substances occurs mainly in the liver, but the skin is the other main factor regarding elimination.
How are we protecting our horses from harmful chemicals? By not exposing them to harmful grooming products for instance. But not only grooming products are a problem, also feed such as grain and hay and even straw can be problematic. We won't cover this in this article, if you are interested, please let me know.
Please remember; the more harmful substances the organs have to deal with, the more harmful to the horse. But what substances are out there, and how can we take better care of our beloved animals?
A summary of pollutants
Mane and tail conditioner, as well as shampoos, contain:
A rare resource with doubtful effects that you will come across as paraffin in grooming products. It is very problematic for the environment, and potentially damaging to the skin. Gels such as vaseline, petroleum jelly, etc., cover and seal the horse’s skin, preventing it from breathing.
Often used as preservatives, manufacturers use Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Isopropylparaben, and Isobutylparaben. The substances are linked to cancer and may have hormonal-like effects on the body.
Silicones are like an impenetrable layer — such as a raincoat — around the mane and tail. Of course, this smoothes the hair and makes it softer and more manageable, but the silicone basically blocks skin and cells. The immune system can’t remove toxins, nor can good substances be absorbed. Furthermore, silicone is not biodegradable and hard to remove - the more you wash your horse with silicone products, the more silicone remains on the body.
Silicone is basically not biodegradable and we don’t yet know about its long-term effects on the environment.
Surfactants / Emulsifier
Surfactants are substances that lower the surface tension of i.e. water, meaning they make the water softer and dirt is removed more easily. Surfactants may act as detergents, wetting and foaming agents or emulsifiers. Natural surfactants are made of natural, raw materials such as animal and vegetable fats or sugars. Synthetic surfactants are based on synthetic raw materials such as Benzene, Olefins or Ethylene Oxide.
Surfactants such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) can dehydrate the skin. Polyethylene glycols (PEG's) cause the skin to become more permeable to toxins and may be allergenic. PEG derivatives are often obtained from potentially carcinogenic (and environmentally harmful) petroleum derivatives.
There are a lot more pollutants. If you are interested in this topic, download our free e-book "Detox for your horse - the right way!" Easily done on our homepage.
Natural Horse Care: Your grooming routine
There is one thing I have learned regarding natural horse care: Dump all the unnecessary chemicals and invest in some good brushes, water buckets, and natural care products.
But how do you know which products are actually harmful? By European law, animal care products are considered chemicals. Human products are different because they are labeled “cosmetics," which brings us to the difference: in chemicals, only the active ingredients have to be declared. Consequently, manufacturers provide only crude warnings, and mostly they are to be found in the small print.
Labeling such as "natural", “natural horse care" etc. are misleading. There are no laws or common regulations regarding these expressions, and manufacturers use them at will — even if a product is made out of synthetic materials only.
That's the reason why it is especially important that you check ingredient labels properly. If there are no declarations on the labels or the manufacturer even refuse to provide proper information about the product, you should be careful.
More often than not, fillers and cheap synthetic materials go into grooming products, and there is no way that any of those substances work as well as their natural counterparts.
Our message here: The more natural the ingredients, the better. Better for us, the animals and the environment. Anyway, the best health care for your horse is a proper grooming routine of 10 minutes brushing a day. You can also read more about this in our free e-book.
Please note: We are in no way condemning chemicals here. If your horse is sick, it may require medical attention. We are aware of that and never deny your horse proper care. We stand for excellent and natural grooming products, without any of the nasty ingredients.
So, how do you take care of your horse? Switched to natural yet? Leave us a comment.