One of the most common horsey questions I see on social media is “how do I get my horses tail clean?”
There’s heaps of different methods and products however what I’ve found is that it’s not until I’ve truly learnt and understood the hair shaft, the ph levels of a healthy horse and how different products and cleaning methods and their ph levels affect the hair that I’ve had great success with getting hair clean.
For years I’ve owned dirt coloured horses, then last year a little palomino grot magnet joined our family. He uses the excuse that he’s closer to the ground and that’s why his tail gets so filthy so quickly. I’m not buying it however I’m the one who has to try and get it clean.
If you ask my friends they’ll all tell you that I’m a research queen and getting white horse hair clean has become a bit of an infatuation for me.
So I set out to truly understand the hair, the structure of it and how it responds to different products.
The outer layer of a strand of hair is covered in things called cuticles that, when looked at under a microscope, look a bit like lots of fish scales. Dirt and stains gets into the hair shaft so we need to open up those cuticles to get the dirt and stains out.
A healthy horse has a pH level of 7-7.4 (which is different to humans, we are 6.4-6.9). pH balances measure acidity or alkalinity on a range from 0, very acidic, to 14, very alkaline, with 7 as a neutral midpoint.
Alkaline products open up the cuticle and penetrate the cortex of the hair though they can leave the hair dry and prone to breakage. Mildly acidic solutions do the opposite, they flatten the cuticle, making hair shinier and easier to brush.
Stains are trapped within the hair shaft so the first thing that you need to do is to open the cuticles so that you can remove the stains.