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Choosing a Safe Paint to Use to Decorate Your Horse or Pony

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Did you know that there are some paints that are not safe to use on your horse? Trying to find out exactly which paint or glitter you can use as a horse owner can be a daunting task. Thankfully, there are a number of paint products out there that are harmless for your horse.

What paint is safe to use on horses? Non-toxic paint and glitter are the safest to use on your horse. Tempera, washable paint is most gentle and washes off fairly easy.

There are, however, some kinds of paint products that you should never put on your horse. Understanding the difference and knowing what to look for are the key steps to finding a safe paint or glitter product for your equine friend. 

Getting ready for a parade or event should be an exciting time for both you and your horse. You shouldn’t have to be worried about whether the paint products you have are safe to use. If you follow the tips in this article, you will be prepared to decorate your horse safely, without any concern.

Using Paint and Glitter on Your Hore

If the paint is safe to use on humans, it is going to be safe to use on a horse, however, you will still want to adhere to the precautions on the label. Look for paints that are marked as both non-toxic and washable.

Tempura paint is a highly recommended paint for use on horses as it is both washable and non-toxic. It is frequently used in classrooms but it also serves as a great choice for painting on a horse.

Tail Tamer makes a line of Pony Paints Liquid Grooming Chalk (available on Amazon.com) which are also non-toxic and specifically designed to be used on horses.

They can easily be removed with water or you can let them naturally fade. Many people suggest using face paint if you are letting kids paint horses during a camp. This makes it easy for the kids to use and easy to wash off the horses.

Precautions for Using Glitter Paint

  • Most glitter products are safe, but if they are combined in a liquid, read the label to make sure it is considered non-toxic.
  • Always be careful using any paint or glitter around a horse’s eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Do not use the paint or put any glitter around healing wounds or injuries.
  • Avoid using loose glitter on a horse’s head or neck, as it could fall into their water buckets or on top of their food while they are eating.

Spray Paint for Horses

You should never use commercial spray paints on your horse. These can be toxic if they come in contact with your skin or if they are inhaled, so they will also be toxic for your horse.

There are some spray paints that are designed specifically for horses and help to enhance their natural colors. Shapley’s Show Touch Up Spray (available on Amazon.com) covers scars and natural flaws on horses that are entering into shows.

It comes in a variety of natural horse colors including black, white, chestnut and others. It can be easily washed out with water and shampoo.

Halloween Hair Color Sprays

You can also use the hair color spray paints that stores start selling around Halloween. Be sure to read the label and adhere to the safety guidelines. You can also use it on their mane or tail, but keep in mind, if your horse has white hair, it will take longer to fade.

Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Horses?

Acrylic paint is often labeled as non-toxic, however, it still is not recommended to let it come in contact with a horse’s skin. Depending on the actual color and manufacturer, it also may be dangerous if it is ingested. Certain colors in specific acrylic paint lines are known to cause cancer.

Since there is a possibility for some toxicity in some acrylic paints, many people recommend not using it on horses. If you do use it, do not ever use it on a horse’s head, as there is a chance of ingestion or skin contact.

Some paints are not safe to use on horses and ponies. There are, however, non-toxic options that are suitable whether you are using paint for decor or identification in case of emergency.

It is always better to be safe than sorry. Also, keep in mind that once acrylic paint dries, it is harder to remove than washable paints.

Many artists that handle acrylic paint on a daily basis use protection on their hands to prevent direct skin contact. Since there are a number of non-toxic washable paints on the market, I would recommend not using acrylic paints on horses unless you are 100% sure that is safe to use.

Livestock Paint

Livestock paint is designed for use on animals, but it is usually used for marking them for a specific purpose. For example, some cattle farmers use it just for identification.

This just helps them easily see which cow is which from a distance. It typically comes in markers and spray paint cans.  The colors are bright and easy to see, like orange, white, pink and green.

You can use livestock paint to draw something on your horse, but beware that it does not come off easily and it will be on them for a long time. It is designed to last through the outdoor elements.

Water, along with soap, is often no match for livestock paint. It is safe to use on horses, but you should only use it if you want something to stay on them for a while.

Because this paint is weather-resistant, it makes it a great choice for identifying horses prior to periods of severe weather. If a hurricane or other severely inclement weather is anticipated, spraying your phone number or other identifying information on your livestock with this paint will be better than using any of the washable, temporary paint options.

For severe weather, they have both spray-on and paint stick applicator options. Both are great to have on hand in an emergency kit just in case. Both options should be able to be procured from your local farm supply store and are also conveniently available on Amazon.com.

Different Ways of Applying Paint

There are a few different ways that you can apply paint to your horse’s coat. The easiest method is to simply use your fingers and draw.

Since you should be using safe, non-toxic paint, you don’t have to worry about getting it on your skin. You can also use sponges to apply the paint over a larger surface area. This will help you paint your horse much quicker. A small paintbrush is useful to paint designs as well.  

If you are not artistically inclined, however, you may want to use a stencil. This is the best way to get clean edges and paint something that is recognizable from a long distance.

You can use any kind stencil you want, just keep in mind what event you are attending. If people will be far away from you, maybe you should go with something larger and less detailed. If they will be close to you, perhaps you can go with something a little more intricately detailed.

Removing Horse Body Paint

If you use the correct kind of paint, it should be easy to wash off with soap and water. Some can be easily removed with water alone.

You may need to use a horse brush if the color isn’t coming off as well, but don’t over scrub. If you painted on top of white hair or used dark paints, you may have to wash it a few times over a span of days or let it naturally come out.

Just follow the directions on the label of the specific product that you use and you should be fine.

Be careful about washing any paint off of your horse’s head. Even though the paint you used was non-toxic, it could still get in their eyes or nose and cause irritation.

Leaving Paint On Horses for Prolonged Periods

Most of these non-toxic paints can be left on for a few days. Typically, any rain will wash away most of the paint, however, you can hose them down after the event if you want.

Painting Horses Hooves

You can paint your horse’s hooves, but you want to use something that is safe and easy to remove.  You don’t want to leave it on forever like we do our fingernail polish.

You also want to steer clear of using acrylics or spray paint on your horse’s hooves. Those paints can cause issues within the hoof wall. The hoof wall needs to breath and a thick layer of paint can prevent that from happening.

There are paints designed specifically for hooves. Some of these are just paints that enhance the natural color of the hoof. One such paint is Fiebing’s Hoof Polish (available on Amazon.com), which comes in black or clear and can be easily removed with water.

If you are looking for different colors, there are a number of choices including the Tail Tamers Sparkle and Shine line (also available on Amazon.com). There are multiple hoof polish removers that you can purchase to remove hoof polish after your event.

Some paints are not safe to use on horses and ponies. There are, however, non-toxic options that are suitable whether you are using paint for decor or identification in case of emergency.

Practice Ahead of Big Events

If you have a few weeks before your event, you may want to have a practice painting session. Sometimes the ideas we have in our heads don’t transfer into reality like we hoped.

By practicing beforehand, you can make sure that the products don’t bother your horse and that they work as planned. If you need to, you have plenty of time to change your strategy.

Also, if you have another show or event coming up, keep in mind that the paint or glitter that you use might not completely wash out. This is especially true if you use solid black paint or if you are painting white hair.

Colors adhere more strongly to the white hairs and are always more difficult to wash out.

Final Thoughts

There are a number of safe paints and glitter products that you can use on your horse. The key to picking the one right for you and your equine friend is to simply look for products that are safe and non-toxic for humans. You can also just buy ones that are designed specifically for horses. Either way, as long as you take extra precautions and keep your horse safe, you can decorate them to your heart’s content.

April Lee

I've owned horses for 25 years and have a particular love for gentling wild horses. I write these articles to help others learn more about horses. If you enjoyed the article please take a moment to pin it to Pinterest or share on social media. It really does help! Check out my about page for more detailed information.