With Utah’s dry air and still-chilly late winter temperatures, you may have noticed static electricity when grooming or handling your horses. While some animals are relatively tolerant of the occasional minor shock, others can be very reactive.
How can you help prevent the static electricity from passing through your hands to the horse?
Touch metal. By touching anything metal – a pipe rail fence or metal gate – you can help reduce the built-up static charge in your body so that it doesn’t pass on to the horse. Note: no, an aluminum beer can doesn’t really do the trick.
Moisture can help. While it’s still a bit too cold for bathing horses in early March, you can spray on a little water, a light conditioner or a waterless spray-on cleanser. Brush it through your horse’s coat to help reduce that zap of electric shock before you place your hands on him.
Wear natural fabrics. Fleece and other synthetic fabrics are more likely to exacerbate static electricity. If possible, wear sweaters made of wool or cotton and jackets insulated with down. Likewise, putting a fleece cooler on your horse is more likely to build up electricity than is one made of pure wool. Saddle pads and cinches made of natural, breathable wool can also help.
Soften the shock with a dryer sheet. More affordable than replacing all your synthetic apparel, employing a dryer sheet to reduce static electricity is an easy and cheap solution. Run it over your horse’s coat, mane and tail, and on your own hands, too. Find those sheets a bit too fragrant? Try liquid fabric softener instead. Rub a few drops on your hands, or mix a little with warm water to spritz onto the horse when grooming.
Rubber gloves to the rescue. Horses who are extremely sensitive to the uncomfortable shock of static electricity can quickly become hand-shy. In these cases you may want to put on rubber gloves when grooming, or even when riding, until the extra-dry air subsides.
No one wants to shock their horses; with a few easy and inexpensive solutions you can reduce static electricity anytime you handle them.