As summer approaches, and we all turn our attention to matters like showing and clipping, the importance of our horses having a soft and pliable coat becomes more apparent. Aside from that, a clean and well groomed horse is not only better for them, it’s more fun for us with all the compliments that follow when your horse looks like a million bucks!

First, let me put this in context. My horse, Charlie Brown, is a Friesian cross, so he has the long, thick, flowing mane and tail of a Friesian. Think about the horse in the movie Zoro, and you’ve got the right image. I like to keep his tail banged because I like the look of it. His mane doesn’t do so well when it gets pulled to the traditional short length, so we keep it a couple of inches longer. But braiding it means it’s got to be in great shape. Enter Santa Fe Coat Conditioner.

When I took a grooming clinic from Cat Hill and Emma Ford a few years back, they very generously provided us all with a bucket of swag, including some of their most reliable and frequently used grooming products. One of them was a bottle of Santa Fe Coat Conditioner. And boy and I glad to have discovered it! I’ve been using it ever since.

The biggest advantage is that this formula works on both the body coat and the mane/tail hair.  As you know, the texture of these two types of hair can be quite different, and on Charlie’s they certainly are. So finding something that works on both types of hair is a good thing in my book.

Other products tend to coat the hair, and leave a build-up.  Eventually that dulls the coat.  And to add insult to injury, you have to do a full on shampoo bath to get it off.  You can’t just brush it out. Think about applying too much Pledge to your coffee table.  Same end result.  Can you imagine Zoro’s horse with globs of gunk in it?  Eeewww!!!  Santa Fe doesn’t do that.  It seeps in, and conditions the hair from the inside.

So what do you do with it?  Well, I use it both during my pre-ride grooming, and any time I get Charlie’s hair wet.  That could be a complete bath, or a rinse after a ride on a hot day.  Either way, his coat is getting a dose of Santa Fe.

The pre-ride grooming routine gives me a flowing tail, and a pliable mane to grab (just in case).  I try to look my best when I ride (collared shirt, belt, etc.), so I like to let Charlie look his best too.  I find we both ride a little better when we feel good about how we present ourselves.

For the post-bath routine, Santa Fe has an advantage in that you can apply it to either wet or dry horses, with equal effect.  In our case, Charlie’s mane and tail seem to absorb even more when they’re wet.  And when the hair eventually dries, it’s incredibly soft, and less prone to tangling up again.  I’m not bashful about applying it in either instance.  In fact, I like to pretty heavily saturate Charlie’s hair when I use it, and massage it in.  With no build-up to worry about, why not?!

Santa Fe is also a good way to get your horse’s coat softened and in condition for a serious clipping.  If you use it as part of your regular grooming routine, it will keep your horse’s coat soft and pliable.  Of course, make sure he’s clean before you break out the clippers!

While a soft and well conditioned coat isn’t a health issue in the same was as diet or saddle fit, it does have an effect.  If your skin and hair were dry and itchy, you probably wouldn’t like it any more than your horse does when his skin and coat aren’t at their best.  Keeping them well groomed is part of bonding with them, so it’s nice to have something I can do every time.

My one criticism is that Santa Fe only comes in a 32 oz spray bottle.  I wish it came in a gallon size, so I could re-fill my existing spray bottles, but alas, no.  If it does exist, then I haven’t found it.  The 32 oz size will run you about $10-15 (plus or minus $1, depending on where you buy it), so it pays to shop around.  And if you’re in the market for a case, be sure to ask your vendor about quantity discounts before you just throw in an order online.  If you’re on a budget and are looking for a good gift for a horse-loving friend, this would be a good idea.