White Legged Horses

Owning a horse with white legs has its challenges. Horses don’t care if they’re sparkling white, but we people do take pleasure in the beauty of our animals, so much time is spent keeping them clean. It’s not just aesthetics – grooming has many benefits. Tonka is a black and white paint, with crisp delineation between the markings. And yet, this is how I often find him, with dingy yellow-brown stains on his hind legs.

stained horse legs


In his stall, he’s a fairly tidy horse. He doesn’t churn up the manure. But I swear that each night he looks for the biggest pile to use as a cushion for his rear end. In the summer I’m able to wash him off on a daily basis, but in the winter, the water to the outside wash stall is turned off. Yesterday, with the temperature around 60º F, I was able to clean Tonka up. It was too cold to give him a full bath, but I filled a bucket with hot soapy water (there’s actually horse shampoo designed for use on white horses), scrubbed those white legs thoroughly, then rinsed with warm water. Tonka enjoyed the attention, and I like to think that he’s more comfortable without those stains, which are likely itchy.

wash stall



clean horse


This, of course, is not the end of the story. Earlier in the day, we’d gone on a 4 1/2 mile walk through the woods. Then he had his partial bath. It was warm. I knew exactly what he’d do next. There’s a special area in the center of his paddock which isn’t too rocky.

He made sure that Maggie was busy at her hay net,



because what he was about to do puts him in a vulnerable position. It’s not easy for a 900 pound animal to ease himself down to take a dirt bath.

horse lying down


But, oh, it felt so good!



flat out


When Tonka stood up, he shimmied.

shaking after rolling


But that didn’t shake off the mud. At least I know that the manure stains under that dirt are gone.

dirty horse


This time of year, rolling in a wallow includes getting decorations in the tail.

horse tail


Oh well. White legs on a horse is at best an impermanent condition. What matters is that the horse is happy.

smug horse


  1. Ha ha! That blissful ‘smile’ at the end says it all!
    I expect there was one on the face of the photographer too! ;)

  2. my guernsey girl, donna jay used to ( on purpose!) lay far enough back in her stanchion to reach her pile of you-know-what in the gutter with her tail. and she’d spend the whole night mushing it up then plastering her right side with it. the side i had to milk her from, of course. i tried everything to prevent it – extra straw, chunks, even of straw. nothing helped. i loved her anyway and groomed the rest of her. she was the shiniest cow in the herd, really. it must’ve been good for her.

  3. Little ‘Pig Pens’, all of ’em! His markings really are so crisp and beautiful….even when caked with muck.

  4. The pain is real. My daughter’s POA (Pony of the America) is what they call a “few spot”. He is mostly white/gray, with a “few spots” of black on him. In the winter, he is just a buckskin because he is always a muddy brown. Especially this year, as we are actually getting rain in California! And in the spring, he is a leprechaun, because when he rolls in the grass, he gets a green tinge to him. We go through buckets of Quicksilver!!! Good thing she loves her pony!!!

  5. I love it. Never saw a horse smile like that. And wouldn’t you know the dirt bath comes after the washing up. Who know hens and horses stay clean alike. Happy New Year to you all.

  6. Sweet Tonka! He’s pretty even with the mud. :D (And you would think that the mud would be too cold and ‘gicky’ for rolling, right?)

    I will add white legged dogs to the list. Ryder LOVES to slide stop out of a flat out run. Even on the flat. So green for summer and, now, with all these warm temps and rain, brown from mud. Unfortunately, since he lives in the house, that means a daily wash off after his chasing exercise. *sigh* What we don’t do for our critters! :D

  7. Wonderful post, and you are not the only one who things Tonka is a really Beautiful horse, not only in looks but also his manner, which is mostly down to your handling. Very well done….:)

  8. He is a very handsome boy.
    Good thing he isn’t here he would sink to his belly right. Good grief

  9. OMG, your Tonka horse is absolutely gorgi. He is soooo handsome. Beautiful & shiny coat to him. I don’t know a lot about horses. The smile on his face at the end was priceless. He must have quite the personality.