I wrote about this last winter, but I’m doing it again. I have a fix for static shocks at the barn. It has truly changed my relationship with Tonka.
Tonka is a smart horse who makes connections. He hates static shocks. He knows they don’t just happen out of the blue. He knows that they occur under certain conditions. In winter. When his person is removing his blanket. Or patting his neck. Or brushing him. Tonka connects those hated shocks with me. I’d get this face.
Tonka is usually this happy when I’m scratching him. (When a horse twitches their nose to the side like that it’s as if they’re saying Ah! Right there! That’s the spot!
But come winter Tonka would panic if I so much as raised my hand near his shoulder. Then, two years ago, I zapped Tonka while he was in cross-ties. He backpedaled, felt pressure on his poll from the halter, panicked, broke the ties, and flew backwards as if slung out of a slingshot. We were both lucky that neither of us was hurt. It took a lot of patient work on my part to help him to recover from that. It took weeks to get him calm in the section of the barn where that incident happened. If he so much as heard the sound of the crosstie clip, he’d look fearful. We did get to the point where I could tie him. I wanted him to be sane and safe just in case someone does it without my permission. But these days, I ground-tie Tonka. He’s perfect. (But that’s a side story. Read more here.)
I knew that I had to stop zapping my horse. Tonka was never going to get used to it. If anything, his reaction was only going to get more dramatic and dangerous. For him and for me. Besides, it made me sad to have my horse be so fearful that he showed the whites of his eyes when I approached. I researched antistatic sprays. I concocted one. It works.
Here is the formula:
2 cups witch hazel
1 tablespoon aloe vera gel
1 tablespoon glycerin
The witch hazel provides moisture without getting the horse cold and wet. It evaporates quickly. It likely has beneficial properties which is good for the skin. The glycerin helps the witch hazel stay put and to provide extra anti-static lotion. The aloe is soothing.
I spritz this concoction on my brushes. I spritz it on Tonka before currying. I spritz it on my gloves. I spritz it on his tail if it looks flyaway. I haven’t shocked Tonka since using it.
You can spray the undersides of your blankets and quarter sheets with my antistatic spray, however, it’s not long-lasting. Tonka so hated having his blanket removed, that he’d twitch and move away if I reached for the buckles. Now, once a week, I spritz Downy on the insides of his blankets. No more static shocks and Tonka stands calmly while getting dressed and undressed. (I’ve tried other brands but I find their scent too strong.)
There’s a bonus to my antistatic spray. It cleans off stains. In the winter without water! Tonka has white hocks and likes to keep them warm in manure while he naps. Somehow he manages to get his white butt stained, too. Under the blanket.
All I have to do is spray and brush, and he gets this clean. It’s not the same as a whitening shampoo in the summer, but in winter it’ll do.
Also note how shiny clean Tonka looks. This is his cold-weather coat. His doesn’t get too furry, but it does go dull from winter dandruff. My antistatic spray spritzed lightly on him while I groom enables the brushes to get the dirt and dust off. Bonus is that the aloe and glycerin moisturize his coat. Shiny, even in winter!
I hope this helps! Let me know in the comments if you try my antistatic spray.
We usually so wet here that static is not a problem I’ve had. But the other benefits of your spray sound great, so I may try it for those!
For horses that have to deal with wet coats which leads to skin issues, bacteria and fungus, I wonder if the witch hazel will be healing, or at least soothing. Let me know.
Thank you for the recipe! My horse performs airs above the ground when shocked. I love that it’s a natural anti-static. I’ll try the downy too for his blankets.
Hi Laura! Having worked with me, you know that having a calm and trusting horse is a priority 🙂 Can’t have that if they’re leaping up when you touch them! I hope this works for you.
Regular witch hazel, or water based with no alcohol? Asking for a friend. 🙂
The expensive stuff, of course 🙂 No alcohol. Straight witch hazel. Likely the stuff with alcohol would do the trick, but Tonka says it sometimes alcohol stings.
We have a fairly clingy clay in our barn that can turn basically any color horse into a dun once they roll. This spray seem to do a great helping with worse-stained patches.
Great! I have a friend with a horse in Dallas, Texas. I’ve never seen such clingy red clay as she has to deal with.
Terry, thank you so much for writing this. I just shocked my horse horribly a few days ago and now he is scared to death of me. My heart is broken. He is 23 and I have had him 17 years. I love him so much! I am going to try your static recipe. May I ask where you get the glycerin? Thank you so much.
I feel guilty every time I shock Tonka, too. He looks horrified that I would purposefully hurt him. I get all of the ingredients on Amazon.
Oh my goodness! Thank you for writing this article! My horse has recently lost her mind and we could not figure out what it was. I finally connected the dots that it might have something to do with static shock because I do have electric fence. She seems to get really upset and worried at brushing times in fall and even worse during winter months when I have to blanket more often. I decided to Google spooky horses and static and you’re post came up. Great read! Great ideas and thanks so much for sharing! I’m going to try it and I feel pretty sure it will work! God bless!
I don’t touch Tonka in the winter without that spray bottle in my other hand. I honestly think that he knows what it does and it gives him peace of mind.
I’m glad Tonka is back to normal! I’m wondering though, did you also feel the shock? I’m having and issue with my Hemi where he suddenly and randomly becomes afraid of me. I’m not feeling the shock but I’m wondering if he is.
In the winter I sometimes don’t feel the shock through all of my layers – but he sure does! I swear that Tonka understands that I am a safe person when I have my anti-static spray bottle in hand 🙂 Hopefully, you’ll have this easy fix for Hemi, too.