Tuesday and Thursday mornings are my “me” time. For those of you who do not have children, you have “me” time, ALL the time. But mine is reserved from 9 am to 12 pm most Tuesdays and Thursdays. This last Thursday, however, it was dreary and wet, and since the outdoor was rained out I decided to clean up some horsey stuff instead. I have so many little cleaning projects I want to accomplish around the barn, including organizing our horse trailer. More on that to come. This morning, though, I decided to tackle a smaller, more pressing cleaning issue.
A couple weeks ago, I noticed Hot Rod had little sores in his armpit area. They went away easily with several days of Vetricyn, but then a few days later my younger gelding, Kona, also developed them. I didn’t recognize them right away, but I knew the scabby patches were not rain rot or ringworm as I’ve dealt with both and know them well. We’re good friends. Not. After a little amateur veterinary research, I believed it to be girth itch, and sharing grooming tools has been the culprit. Hot Rod and Kona use completely different saddles, pads, and cinches, but I do use the same brushes on all my horses. Apparently, girth itch is in the same fungi family as ringworm and is also highly contagious. Keeping your brushes clean and sanitized is an absolute no-brainer in preventing fungi such as ring worm and girth itch.
Here is the best method I’ve found to disinfect your horse brushes:
These are my brushes in all their gnarly, hairy glory. I hate to admit it, but that’s several years worth of hair from many different horses who have made hoof prints on my heart. It’s really kind of sentimental. Okay, maybe it’s just gross.
This one is particularly nasty.
The first step in the process is to try your darnedest to get as much hair out of the brushes as possible. I used a comb to do this, but you can also use a hoof pick. I read in some places to rub softer-bristled brushes up and down against a fence to try and get short hairs and also dander out of the brush.
The next steps are pretty simple. Just fill a clean bucket with water and a splash of bleach. Some sites suggested Lysol, but I already had bleach on hand. I also added Ivory soap. I’m the kind of person who feels like if there aren’t suds, it ain’t workin’. So I added that ingredient just to make myself feel good. I’ll warn you, you have to rinse your brushes really well if you add any type of dish washing soap. Leaving soap on them would not clean the brushes, it would do the opposite.
This part is super important. Notice how in the picture below I left my wood-handled brush out of the water. This disinfecting method is for synthetic brushes only! To clean your natural brushes, you can spray Lysol or a bleach cleaner in to a rag and then wipe the bristles thoroughly. They should not be fully submerged into water, as it would ruin the wood. Also, notice how I put my plastic comb and brush directly into the water as well. Anything that is used to groom a horse should be disinfected routinely, especially when you use them on several horses. Ahem, trainers…That includes curry combs, braiding combs, sweat scrapers, etc.
The recommended time to let your brushes sit in the bleach solution is around 30 min. I, on the other hand, let them sit all afternoon and they were perfectly fine. After they were thoroughly disinfected, I rinsed them really well and laid them in the sun to dry. Voila! Clean brushes means no more girth itch!