Whether you are painting a horse for some bonding time, for an anatomy demonstration, as part of a costume, for a horse show or a parade, you want to make sure you are using horse safe paint.
Not every paint is safe or good to use on horses, such as acrylic paint which not only cracks from movement when it dries, but also has toxins and is difficult to get off.
Food coloring may be non-toxic but it is not a good option because it can dye the horse’s coat.
Safe paint you can use on horses would be non-toxic and easily washable, usually water based, like tempera or chalk paint. There are paints specifically branded for animal use as well, but you can use washable paint that is safe for use on humans too.
To make your search for paints to purchase easier I am going to share some available paints safe for use on horses and animals.
But before you start looking at the different paint products listed.
It may help to get an idea of what you want to create on your horse and the colors you are going to need. It will make the process of picking out your paints much quicker and less of a hassle.
If you keep reading past the list of available paints, I am going to share some useful tips for painting your horse, as well as answer questions you may have about painting on horses.
This is going to be fun!
Before we move onward, I just want to cover a few things, because painting your horse is not for every person or horse.
A child definitely should have supervision, for the safety and comfort of both the child and the horse.
Not all horses will enjoy this. I will explain further about this in the answering section about if painting horses is cruel.
Some horses do love the attention, enjoy the painting process, hanging out and relaxing just as they would if they were being brushed, playing the friendly game or getting a gentle massage.
The main thing is to make sure your horse is relaxed, accepting of the process and is willing to just hang out without showing signs of stress.
Horse Paint Products
Here you will find some different paint options available for purchase, including chalk paint, tempora and toxic free washable paints.
Tail Tamers Pony Paints Grooming Chalk for Horses, Lavender Blue Hot Pink Turquoise Red
12 Tips For Body Painting Horses
- You can do a quick test run and try using paint brushes with plain water and see how your horse handles it for a little while, before you decide to go out and buy the paints.
- Paint in the direction of the hair so that the paint stays on top of the coat and doesn’t go underneath, which may make it harder to clean afterwards.
- Draw your horse on a piece of paper with the design and colors you are planning to try to paint on your horse. You can also use a photograph of a horse that is already painted if you are trying to copy the look. Or you can just be spontaneous and make it up as you go.
- For painting your horse you can use your hands and fingers, paint brushes, sponges, stencils, or a spray on application. Stencils are a good option for someone that wants designs that are more crisp and clean.
- Avoid painting near your horses eyes and be extra cautious with paint on the horses face when you are rinsing off the paint so it doesn’t get in your horses eyes or nose.
- If your horse tends to get bored standing around for longer periods of time try tying up a hay net to keep him occupied.
- Make sure the place you are setting up to paint your horse is a relaxed atmosphere without lots of buzz and traffic. This way your horse won’t be as distracted and can have space to relax.
- Set everything up in the area you are going to paint your horse before you bring your horse over, so you are ready to go and your horse doesn’t have to stand tied up longer than necessary.
- Make sure the paints are in a secure location far enough away from the horse so your horse can’t bump into them, step on them, reach them and knock the paints over.
- Don’t saturate the coat with paint because after when you need to wash the paint off it will be much harder to get the paint to come off your horse.
- Make sure when you are painting that you stay alert and aware of your horse and your surroundings. You may get so into your painting that you are not paying attention to these things and that is a recipe for someone getting hurt if your horse was to spook or get nervous.
- Removal of most of these paints can be done with water. However if the paint is not coming out easily, try using a horse brush and soap such as dawn dish soap which has been used by rescues on animals that have had oil in their fur or feathers, because it is gentle on them.
Other Options Aside From Body Painting Your Horse
If you are painting your horse for a costume class or competition but have decided you don’t want to paint your horse whether, the bathing afterward or because your horse won’t stand for it. There is another option.
You can use a sheet with clothes pins to close up the front of the sheet.
So instead of painting your horse you can paint the bed sheet. You need to make sure that the sheets are going to fit your horse, but you can always make adjustments with scissors.
If you were just going to paint your horse for fun and bonding time, you can still give your horse a spa day.
- Give your horse a bath
- Braid their mane
- Add horse glitter gel to mane and tail
- Paint horses hooves
Just some ideas for fun but less mess than painting your horse’s body. Twinkle and Tail Tamer are both companies that make horse glitter gel and colored hoof polish.
Use glitter gel to add some glitz to your horses mane and tail. You can choose from quite a few different colors of glitter to match your horses theme.
Twinkle Glitter Gel- Royal Blue Purple Gold Pink
If you are daring you may go for one of the bright solid color on your horses hooves. But if you want something more subtle you can do one coat of a glitter hoof polish which will only give it a little sparkle, unless you add several coats.
There are also hoof stickers by Shires you can try out if that sounds like something more interesting or easier for you to apply than hoof polish.
Twinkle Toes Glitter Hoof Polish- Multiple Colors Emerald Purple Copper
Twinkle Toes Satin Hoof Polish- Multiple Colors Green Satin
Schneiders Horse 12oz Ultra Hoof Polish Remover
Shires Brand Hoofies Horse Hoof Stickers- Multiple Colors
Is Painting Horses Cruel?
An opinion piece from Horse & Hound explains how upset people are anthropomorphizing horses in regards to them being painted as abuse. Painting horses is meant to be something light hearted and fun not abusive to the animal.
The horse doesn’t feel or think the same way that we do and they are not upset if they have color on them.
However if the horse was put in a paddock with other horses and the horse was fully painted and looked strange to the other horses. I could see that as a potential problem.
Maybe some of the horses might spook or maybe some of the horses would be curious. Who knows how they would react.
Of course some circumstances for painting horses are not ideal and could be considered bad practice, care or a safety hazard. Although horses are dangerous and unpredictable so you can only prevent so much.
Bad practices with painting horses would be:
- Using toxic paint that can hurt the horse.
- Crowding the horse with a bunch of people when the horse is not used to it or finds large crowds stressful.
- Making a horse stand for long periods of time and the horse is showing signs of stress.
- The horse is not enjoying the process and giving signals that they are not enjoying it. Such as horses that are sensitive and don’t even really enjoy grooming unless with soft brushes. Horse may not like the feeling of the wet paint
- Sedating the horse to paint because the horse won’t stand still, as a precaution or doesn’t like it.
Where Can I Buy Horse Safe Paint?
You can find these paints online which I think is the easiest option or you can go to a store such as Micheals, Walmart, Joannes Fabrics for example.
The horse branded paints are available at many tack shops as well.
Why Paint On Horses?
You may want to paint on your horse as part of your costume for a parade or a costume competition. It may be the full horse’s costume is paint, alone or there may be an actual outfit and fabric along with painted details on the horse.
Painting your horse can be fun and is a unique way to spend some extra time with your horse. Horses typically like to be groomed, rubbed and stroked along their coat. It is li.ke playing the friendly game from the 7 games, but with paint brushes
Classes or clinics that are teaching anatomy or biomechanics sometimes paint the individual muscles on the horse or may paint a horse’s skeleton so you have a visual idea of how the horse’s muscles and skeleton move.
Can I Paint A Horse’s Face?
You can paint a horse’s face if the horse is comfortable and tolerant of you doing that. If the horse won’t tolerate face painting well then you should bypass painting your horse’s face.
You want to be really careful not to get the paint in your horse’s eyes, and it is best to just avoid painting near the eyes or the nose.
To Sum Painting On A Horse
- Find a non-toxic washable paint so you are not harming your horse and the paint is easy to wash off.
- Make sure your horse is comfortable with being painted on and standing for the process.
- Have a plan or wing it and have fun! But either way make it easier on yourself and the horse by setting up your area before hand and make sure you are painting your horse in a relaxed calm place.
Would love to hear about your painting experience with your horse in the comments. Have fun and be safe!