Thursday, April 22, 2010

Getting White Socks Their Whitest

White socks look lovely when they're perfectly clean, but how can you make your horse's dirty socks look that good and stay that way?
  1. Clip them: Long hair, which in this instance includes summer-length hair, makes it difficult to clean the socks by trapping dirt under a thick pile of hair. Clipping the hair short removes old stains and makes it easier to get every last bit of dirt out. It also prevents dirt from getting trapped in the clean socks during your warm-up. Make sure that you clip them evenly because vertical lines will be quite visible on a very clean sock.
  2. Clean them: Do this on the day of your class to avoid overnight staining (you can wrap the legs to avoid higher stains if you must do it ahead of time). For best results, use a shampoo made specifically for white hair. Wet each sock thoroughly using a hose and then spread a generous amount of shampoo over all of the white. Scrub the shampoo into every inch of each sock using your fingertips, then rinse it off with the hose. Shampooing the socks fairly regularly at home will also keep stains from developing and make it easier to clean them at the show.
  3. Clean them again: Check each sock over after you've rinsed all of the shampoo off. If they're clean, they should look almost pink. Heavily-stained areas will often require a second scrubbing with more shampoo (you only have to re-clean the spots that still look dirty).
  4. Dry them: Use your hands to scrape as much water off as you can (including any water above the socks that could drip down), then take a clean, dry towel and rub them to remove more water.
  5. Keep the horse on clean ground: Try to avoid putting the horse immediately back in its stall. Unless all of the shavings are fresh and the base is hard and clean, there will be some dirt in the stall that can stick to damp legs. If you have a clean cross-tie area, leave the horse there for a few minutes.
  6. Protect them: Just as the socks are at the point of almost being dry, I like to spray them with ShowSheen. I find that this helps to repel dirt and keep the socks white. Make sure that the ShowSheen is dry before the horse goes near any dirt since it will act like water and attract dust when wet.
  7. Optional: Some people like to apply baby powder or cornstarch to the socks to make them look even whiter. I don't feel that this is always necessary if you've done your job and gotten them perfectly clean to begin with, but it's something to think about if you have difficulties with keeping white socks clean while you warm up.


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