I have recently entered into the world of looking after a grey horse and so thought I would add my thoughts from someone whose horses have had no white on them apart from their faces for the last 15 years.
1) Cow poo, horse poo and rubber arenas stain badly! I recently had a lesson after it had rained in a rubber arena and the horse was pretty black. This sent me into a panic which resulted in me borrowing shampoo to scrub the horse at my trainer’s yard in order to try and remove the stains as much as possible. I still have stains a week later.
2) That brushing a bit of wet mud means you have to change brushes or else you will transfer it all over the body. I have forgotten this several times to start brushing elsewhere and end up with a dirtier horse than I started with. This also applies to sponges and washing off.
3) You will be late for everything. When I started with my grey horse, I allowed normal amounts of cleaning time before having to be somewhere. This has now changed into 30 minutes just for the horse. Even allowing time, I am always late as there is always a spot I have missed or the Russian roulette I play with mud means that when I go to catch her from the field, the horse is covered in mud and needs a bath. Then there is the additional time for wrapping the horse up to stop them getting dirty again.
4) OCD gets abandoned. Following on from the above, I am OCD about turnout. Until now. Slowly my standards have slipped with the reality that stained will do in order to school or hack out. I now have the fun of playing guess the stain and buttercups seem to be the latest cushion for her out in the field.
5) Lotions and potions are a daily reality. With my chestnut, I used to love looking at lotions and potions but the reality was we did not really need anything as any old shampoo would do and baby oil for his tail. I now am the proud owner of chalk, stain remover, two different types of shampoo, tail detangler (baby oil attracts dirt!) and soap flakes. I have spent more in the last month on lotions and potions than in three years with my chestnut. The thing I am saddest about though is no quartermarks. I am a quartermark obsessive along with a pulled tail and they just do not work on a grey horse. I am so sad about this!
6) Stay away from purple spray. I purple sprayed everything in the past if they had a cut. Not anymore! Thank goodness for Hypocare as that is now my go to.
7) Transferring dirt. I seem to have a real strength in this area. Everything now seems like a magnet for transferring dirt – brushing boots, rugs, headcollars, feedbuckets etc. So it now goes like this; I scrub, transfer dirt by accident and scrub again. I had a particular joy the other day of scrubbing the horse the night before, putting it in the stable overnight with a rug and neck cover and coming back to a yellow horse the next day. No idea how that happened and it resulted in yep another bath and scrub.
8) Traffic goes past slower. Hooray a massive benefit for grey horses! I have not had a grey horse before and I notice a massive difference in traffic being more respectful of you. I wear exactly the same levels of high viz, hack in the same areas and ride a horse the same size. The only thing which has changed is the colour of the horse. I am itching to put a unicorn horn on my horses head when I hack out but that may make my traffic issues worse.
9) Grey horses look better in photos. I now understand why you see so many on the front of publications. They just stand out in the photos better. I will never forget spending a season eventing and being missed by the photographer at events on my boring bay horse with no white, including his first novice! You cannot miss me now and I can find myself quicker! The only downside is the rider looks no better!
10) Grey horses stand out. My grey horse is a pretty average mover but I was told she will pick up the marks in the dressage arena because she is attractive (providing she behaves herself of course). She is a magnet for children and adults and when I have gone for a gallop on the beach, I know I am living many peoples dream of galloping a grey horse (slightly stained in places but hey who is looking?!?) into the distance. I just need that unicorn horn now!