How to Maintain the Silky Feather in Clydesdales

Written by gwendolen akard | 13/05/2017
How to Maintain the Silky Feather in Clydesdales
Clydesdales usually have beautiful white hair at the extremities of their legs, called "feathers." (Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images)

The Clydesdale breed may be the most recognisable draft horse breed in the world, after Anheuser-Busch made these massive equines their mascots. However, not all Clydesdales wake up as pristine and clean as their televised counterparts. Between pasture time, lessons and everyday activities, these horses can get pretty grimy. The Clydesdale's distinctive leg feathers can get knotted, muddy, and discoloured. To keep these feathers white and silky, you should follow a daily cleaning regimen for your Clydesdale.

Mix, in a large bucket, 1 gallon of animal-grade mineral oil and enough animal-grade sulphur to make a milkshake consistency. Please note that your horse's feathers should be dry and free of mud before you apply the mixture.

Apply the mixture to your horse's legs with gloved hands. Massage it into the skin from the knees to the fetlock/pastern area.

Rinse off this mixture after several days of turnout and find your horse's feathers to be white and silky. The sulphur prevents "scratches," a common fungal problem, while the mineral oil repels dirt.

Rinse the horse's legs off after exercise. Use lukewarm water in the wintertime and cool water in the summer. This combats stains and the build-up of dirt. Towel or air dry the horse's legs.

Shampoo the fetlock area. Once or twice a week, shampoo and condition the horse's feathers. For extra whiteness, use whitening shampoo, which is usually a leave-in and rinse-out product. These products help repel dirt and keep the feathers soft and silky.

Groom out dirt on a daily basis. Firmly curry up and down the horse's legs with a rubber curry comb. Start at the knees and continue to the top of the hooves, using a circular motion.

Use a stiff body brush to put the hairs back in place. For especially long feathers or bad knots, use a gentle horse hairbrush to do the combing.

Apply sheen products for special days. Applying a show shine spray can make your horse's feathers repel dirt and stay softer longer. These sprays sometimes have whitening agents in them that can get rid of stains at the last minute.


Mix and apply the sulphur in a well-ventilated area and keep the sulphur out of your eyes and mouth.

Tips and warnings

  • Mix and apply the sulphur in a well-ventilated area and keep the sulphur out of your eyes and mouth.

Things you need

  • Towel
  • Horse shampoo
  • Horse conditioner
  • Curry comb
  • Stiff body brush
  • Horse hairbrush
  • Show shine spray
  • Animal-grade sulphur
  • Animal-grade mineral oil
  • Large bucket
  • Rubber gloves

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