HOW TO OIL & SULFUR THE FEATHERED HORSE
      ~ With step-by-step photos & instructions ~
  Written by: Katrina Miller of Wolf Manor Estate
                    Updated: June 29, 2008 - Updated: Oct 16th, 2008
   Featured Article in the Friesian Blood and Baroque Horse Magazine
                                        Arpil/May Issue 2008 -
www.friesianbloodhorse.com           www.friesianbloodhorseregistry.com
 One day while I was applying the Oil /Sulfur mix on my horses...
I thought about taking pictures of the process and decided that I needed a
page on my website explaining the process. So here you will find a process
of how to Oil & Sulfur a feathered horse - illustrated with pictures.
This process was explained to me by a long time breeder of heavily
feathered breeds when I first got into Feathered breeds. I hope that this will
help others who are either just getting into ownership of the feathered breeds
or just wishing to expand their horse knowledge. Enjoy!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Many times I've noticed posts on Internet bulletin boards from people
wanting to know what oiling and sulfuring is with feathered breeds.  When
one does a search online for help in learning about oiling and sulfuring a
horse and how to do it, not much comes up.  
Several years ago, the few explanations or 'recipes' that I found that were
on actual websites (and not just replies to questions asked on a bulletin board)
was one that instructed to add 2 TBS of sulfur acquired from gardening
centers or local drug stores, mixing it well in a quart of mineral oil, then
squirting it onto the feathers and rubbing in, with a
warning to not use more
than 2 TBS of sulfur as you could burn your horse’s skin.  
This statement is exactly why, when asked about oiling and sulfuring,
I tell others to
make sure that they acquire the feed grade sulfur that is processed
for animal use and to not use sulfur that is processed for gardening and other
applications.
The sulfur processed for animal use is safe to use on your feathered horse and
to my knowledge (through using on my own horses and from what others
have told me), I've never heard of or seen the sulfur processed for animal
use burn the skin of a horse.  
You can order animal feed grade sulfur flour from
your feed store.
Because the feathered horse has abundant feathering on their legs
(unlike light breeds), one needs to take special care in maintaining the 'health' of
the legs and beauty of the feathers.  One of the needs of the feathered horse is
prevention of scratches - which seems to be more prevalent in the feathered
breeds.  
Any search online for an explanation of what scratches are will turn up
definitions explaining the signs and stages of it.  Although researchers are still
speculating on specific causes of this disease, there are some proven methods
and recipes for prevention & relief.  Oiling and sulfuring is one method for
preventing & alleviating scratches that has been passed along by the "old timers"
involved in feathered breeds.
The theory is that the sulfur creates an environment that prevents growth
of the bacteria or fungus that possibly causes scratches.  The mineral oil acts
as an agent to keep the sulfur on the legs of the horse.  The mineral oil also
helps keep the feathers soft and silky, and prevents the feathers from becoming
dry & brittle - helping to prevent "mud burn" or breakage of the feathers.
{Side note to Oiling & Sulfuring: To make this task easier, make sure
your horse is trained to hold his feet still while you work on the
feathers.  Owning a Feathered breed means you'll be working with
their legs in more ways than just for cleaning the hoof and farrier
work. Whether you oil & sulfur your horse or not...it's best to train a
feathered horse to keep their feet still when you want. One way that I
trained mine is to have a cue for them for when I want them to pick
up their feet.  (
Clinton Anderson teaches this technique in his foal
training videos.)  With the front legs it's a squeeze of the chestnut and
with the rear it's a squeeze of their "hock cap".  The verbal
command "foot" is also given at the same time when I want a foot
lifted.  Otherwise a verbal command "stand" is given when I want to
work on their feathers without them moving their feet around, such as
when I need to oil and sulfur them.  It is lot safer & easier for you if
your horse is trained to stand still at your command while you apply
the oil and sulfur.}            
  On this page I have put together pictures and instructions on how to Oil &  Sulfur your Feathered  
Horse with help from my Stallion -Chivalry's Sir Orrick (pictured in the illustrations as a 2 yr old
& a 2 1/2 yr old during & just after he was Oiled & Sulfured).

       During the wet season is when you will really want to oil and sulfur your horses.
How often you oil & sulfur your horse throughout the year will depend on your geographical location.
         You can develop your own schedule with when and how often you oil and sulfur.  
I like to oil and sulfur at least once a month in the Winter (starting the routine after show
season has ended): once a week during "mud season" (Spring as most call it) and then back it off to
once every two weeks.
A month before show season I quit oiling and sulfuring.  For draft horse shows this usually starts
around August.  With drafts now being used more as riding horses, your show season could start
much earlier.
               Geographic location will also play a role in how you mix the oil and sulfur.
Keep in mind that if you live in a moist climate you want a thicker consistency, like that of a
thick milk shake, and in a dryer climate you want a thinner mixture with more oil than sulfur.  
The reason being is that more oil in the mixture will help keep the feathers from drying out and
breaking off in the dryer/hotter climates.   
Following is a list of things you will need to get:  (if you can't find them in horse
supply catalogs or tack shops, ask the owner of your local feed store if they can
order it for you.)

~ Mineral Oil (Animal Feed Grade Only) ~ Do not use art supply or any other
mineral oil ~ see below)
~ Rubber gloves
~ Sulfur (Animal Feed Grade "Flour type" Only)
~Mixing spoon
~ Scoop
~ Bucket or container larger than two gallons
< Mineral Oil: Make sure you get
mineral oil that IS SAFE to use on
Animals.  DO NOT get any other
kind of mineral oil such as from a
paint supply store or auto store. Any
mineral oil you get should be labeled
the same as the one pictured here
which states that it is for animal use
only.
(Click on the thumbnail to view a
larger picture then use your back
button to get back to this page).
< Rubber Gloves: You should wear rubber gloves
while working with and mixing the sulfur.  I like to
use disposable ones as pictured here because it saves
time on clean up.  When you're done, just take them
off and throw them away!  You will save money if
you buy the large quantity boxes at your drug store
or superstore.  Cleaning the mineral oil and sulfur
off the reusable kitchen rubber gloves is time
consuming and not worth the effort in my eyes as
they are cheap.  If you are allergic to latex, make
sure you check the box and get the non-latex rubber
gloves.   (Click on the thumbnail to view a larger
picture then use your back button to get back to this
page).
< Sulfur: Make sure you get ONLY sulfur that is safe for animal
use.  
DO NOT get any other kind of sulfur such as from a
gardening store.
 Sulfur that is sold for gardening is NOT SAFE
to use on animals.
 Check the bag: it states that in the instructions.  
Sulfur you get should be Animal Feed Grade type.  Your local
feed store will order this for you from a cow supply company
/milling company.
Make sure you get the "Flour type" not the
granulated
. It comes in 50 lbs bags and will probably be priced
around $25 U.S.  After opening the sulfur bag, I place the bag into
a heavy gauge plastic garbage bag that is easy to tightly close and
helps keep the sulfur from being spilled.  Store it in a safe,dry
place where children and animals can not get into it.  
SULFUR
IS FLAMMABLE SO MAKE SURE THAT WHEREVER
YOU USE OR STORE IT IS A SAFE PLACE AND WILL
NOT BE CLOSE TO GAS HEATERS, FURNACES, OR
SMOKERS.
 (Click on the thumbnail to view a larger picture
then use your back button to get back to this page).
< Large Mixing Container:  You can use a
bucket, or as pictured here, a large container that
has a hole cut in the top.  I cut a large hole in the
top of the container my soy oil comes in.  These
large oil containers are sold by restaurant supply
companies and are about the size of a 5 gallon
container.  Just make sure whatever container
you use is larger than a two gallon container,
preferably a 3 to 4 gallon container so it will hold
the mix of a gallon of mineral oil and the amount
of sulfur to make a milkshake consistency.(Click
on the thumbnail to view a larger picture then use
your back button to get back to this page).  
< Make sure you have a very well ventilated area
to set up everything in and work in when
preparing your mix.  I like to mix the oil and
sulfur outside.  You can lay plastic down or
newspapers under your container so that any
spills are easily cleaned up.
(Click on the thumbnail to view a larger picture
then use your back button to get back to this page).
< Once again, make sure you have a very well
ventilated area. (
Outside is best ... just make
sure you're in an area where the wind won't
blow sulfur into your face.
) DO NOT breathe in
any sulfur dust and make sure you don't get any
in your eyes while mixing it into the mineral oil.
Avoid touching your face when working with
sulfur.
To be sure there are no accidents, buy an
inexpensive face mask and eye protectors at any
home improvement store.  Prepare and apply
sulfur mix in a safe area.  
Keep it away from
children & animals and as with anything, be
aware of those around you.

Pour One Gallon of Mineral Oil into your
mixing container and begin putting Sulfur into
the Mineral Oil.  
(Click on the thumbnails to view a larger picture
then use your back button to get back to this
page).
< Continue to add sulfur into the
mineral oil (stir and break up any
large lumps with your spoon) until
your mix is the consistency of a
milkshake.  You don't want it to be
runny; you want it thick but not too
thick.
Once it is the consistency of a good
milkshake, you are ready to apply it
to the feathers on your horse.
Don't worry if there are some lumps
in the mix – just squish and mix in the
lumps as you dish up portions of the
mixture to apply on your horse as you
go along.
(Click on the thumbnails to view a
larger picture then use your back
button to get back to this page).
    Make sure your horse's feathers are clean, dry and free of tangles.  Your horse doesn't
necessarily have to be 'sparkling' clean to oil and sulfur.  Your horse's feathers should be clean as
in no mud on them.  Feathers should be dry (do not oil and sulfur wet feathers – however, I've
heard that slightly damp is okay).  Feathers should be brushed out and free of tangles and burrs.
< Scoop out a handful of the oil /
sulfur mix and spread it on your
horse's legs starting at the
knees/hocks and then down the leg.  
Make sure you massage or rub it in
thoroughly so that the oil / sulfur mix
penetrates to the skin.  
I've found that
the horses usually enjoy the leg
massage as you rub the mix in.   

< The picture above shows the
consistency of the mix for a wetter
climate ~ just thick enough so that it
doesn't run down the leg and yet
liquid enough to be able to massage it
into the hair so that it penetrates the
skin.
(Click on the thumbnails to view a
larger picture then use your back
button to get back to this page).
< Continue to apply the Oil / Sulfur
mix to the legs...








< massaging it into the hair and
making sure it penetrates to the skin.
{Side note: If you want to keep the
tail hairs away from the rear legs as
you apply the Mix...braid the tail
up or put it in a tail bag.}




< After making sure that the Oil /
Sulfur mix gets to the skin....coat
the long feather all the way to the
ends with the Oil / Sulfur mix.
(Click on the thumbnails to view a
larger picture then use your back
button to get back to this page).
<This picture shows how the feather
is ruffled up because of the
massaging and rubbing in of the
Oil / Sulfur Mix.


To prevent scratches from starting
MAKE SURE YOU MASSAGE A
GENEROUS AMOUNT OF THE
OIL/ SULFUR MIX DEEP INTO
THE SKIN OF THE BACK OF
THE FETLOCK AND DOWN TO
THE HOOF BULB.  Saturate the
feathers to the skin especially in the
area of the back of the pastern bones
and hoof bulb area.

Oil and sulfur all four legs from the
knees/hocks down, paying special
attention to the back bottom part of
the fetlock/pastern area because this
is where scratches usually begin.


< One gallon of mineral oil mixed
with enough sulfur to make it the
consistency of a milkshake will be
enough to do all four legs on a
well-feathered horse.  As you can see,
Sir Orrick's legs are well saturated
with just using one gallon of mineral
oil mixed with sulfur.
(Click on the thumbnails to view a
larger picture then use your back
button to get back to this page).
< If your horse is not heavily feathered
you could probably get away with not
using a whole gallon of mineral oil to
complete all four legs.  If your horse has
very abundant feathering, you'll
probably need a bit more than a gallon
of mineral oil.(Click on the thumbnails
to view a larger picture then use your
back button to get back to this page).
<This is what your horse's legs/feathers
will look like after walking around a bit.
Your horse’s feathers (depending on
where your horse is turned out) may look
like they are collecting dirt or "staining".  
People have told me that the oil attracts dirt
and debris to the feathers and stains them.  
Although dirt does get on the horse's feathers
after you've applied the oil and sulfur, I
have never had any problems with stains on
my horses.  The oil seems to form a barrier
around the hair shafts and keeps dirt and
such from staining the feathers.  My only
experience has been that my horse's feathers
turn out a brilliant, sparkling white when
cleaned and washed.  From personal
experience I'd say you don't have to worry
because the mineral oil makes it so that the
dirt does not stain the feathers and when you
do wash your horse (which I would not do
for at least 4 to 5 days after applying the
oil and sulfur mix) their feathers will be
sparkling white.
You don't have to wash out the oil and
sulfur. Usually within 3 to 4 days your
horses feather will look normal and you
won't be able to tell you've oiled & sulfured
them. I usually just hose the feather off with
just water after the 7th day & let them dry
before oiling & sulfuring again.  
Washing the feather too much can actually
dry the feather out and cause breakage
because you're stripping the natural oils
from the hair.
On a side note: Check with your barn owner/manager if
you board your horse at someone else's facility.  This is
sulfur and it does have a strong odor.  It also drips from the
feathers as your horse moves in the turnout/stall.  Out of
respect to the barn owner where your horse is boarded, you
should discuss oiling and sulfuring with the owner/manager
regarding when and where you plan to do this prior to
performing the procedure.
~Cleaning yourself up after oiling and sulfuring~
Cleaning up afterwards doesn't have to be a hassle. Although I
always make sure that I wear clothes that don't really matter
when doing this job of oiling and sulfuring, I've never had any
issues with stains coming out of my clothes in the wash.  I did
however, for a time, have issues with trying to wash off the oil
and sulfur that I happened to get on my skin (which will
probably happen).  I previously used regular dish soap to wash
off any oil and sulfur that got on my wrists and arms and found
that it was difficult to use with problematic and disappointing
results.  My husband suggested using a product named GOJO
that is well known to mechanics as a lava soap used to get
motor oil and grease off of mechanics’ hands.  This product
easily removes whatever oil and sulfur that you do happen to
get on your skin.  I highly recommend getting Gojo for cleaning
up afterwards.

(Click on the thumbnails to view a larger picture then use
your back button to get back to this page).
Preventing scratches from developing on your feathered horse means you need to catch
even the smallest sign that your horse may be developing them.  Check the skin under
your horse's feathers frequently!  You should keep your horses oiled and sulfured
during the wet seasons or if your horse is exposed to wet or damp conditions often and
for long periods of time.  However there are times when you won't be oiling and
sulfuring such as show season.  I've found that the product
< EQyss Micro TEK Equine Spray really works!  Whenever I feel even the smallest
bump or scab on my horses, I spray this on the spot and it heals the area.  I do not use
this product with the oil and sulfur.  The only time I've ever applied this was when my
horse’s feathers were clean and not oiled and sulfured.  This product is great to keep
handy during show season when you don't want to be oiling and sulfuring your horse.
(Click on the
thumbnails to view a larger picture then use
your back button to get back to this page).
WARNING NOTE: Some horses may have allergies to sulfur.  Either discuss
oiling and sulfuring with your vet prior to the first application or do a spot
check on your horse to see if any reactions to the sulfur occur before you oil
and sulfur fully the first time.  (Also, if you are allergic to sulfur take care in
keeping it off of your own skin by using elbow-length lined kitchen rubber
gloves.)

(It was brought to my attention recently of one situation where the owner
oiled and sulfured his horse and the horse's legs swelled up in reaction to
the sulfur.  Many horse medications contain sulfur and the owner's vet told
him that he was lucky to have found out that their horse was allergic to
sulfur this way instead of from a prescribed medicine.  I want to thank that
person for letting me know what happened so that I could share the
information on this page to help ensure all our horses’ well-being.)
                         Amy Lasley of Spruce Nubble Farm
{Breeders of Outstanding Green Tree Pythons, Kinkajous, Chinchillas and Gypsy Drum Horses}
                               http://www.sprucenubblefarm.com
kindly formated this pictured tutorial of Oiling & Sulfuring a feathered horse into a PDF
printable page so others can print it off to take outside with them to have the instructions at hand
the first time they oil and sulfur.
           I'm sure I won't be the only one thanking you Amy for doing this!!
    Please click on the link below to download a printable version of this tutorial.

Oiling & Sulfuring article PDF printable format
ALSO VERY IMPORTANT:  RESPECT YOUR FARRIER!!! --MAKE SURE THAT YOUR
HORSE'S FEATHER IS NOT OILED & SULFURED BEFORE YOUR FARRIER COMES
FOR THEIR VISIT!!!
Don't oil & sulfur before your farrier is schedualed to visit. When your farrier handles your horses
feet and legs he/she could get sulfur on their hands and unknowningly touch their face and possibly
get sulfur in their eyes. Not a good thing! Just make sure that your horses feather are clean and free
from sulfur & oil before your farrier works on them.
 When ordering Sulfur...make
sure you get the
Animal Feed
Grade "Flour" type.
..NOT the
Crystal/Granulated type. The
granulated sulfur does not work
well at all for Oiling &
Sulfuring horses.  
Another product that is reputed to work well on alleviating scratches is <Shapley’s
Original M-T-G product.  

(Click on the thumbnail to view a larger picture then use your back
button to get back to this page.)

>>Website for Shapely's >     
http://www.shapleys.com/

I have never used it so I can’t give a first hand account of how good it is.  It is,
however, a product that is noted for providing quick and effective relief from
numerous skin problems since 1938.  I picked up a bottle once in a tack store and
read the back of it to see what was in it and it was basically mineral oil and
sulfur.  This product has been around for 69 years and seems to be the commercial
version of the “Old Timer’s” remedy that this article is about.  
Shapley’s Original M-T-G claims to provide relief from a variety of bacterial and
fungal skin problems such as:
• Rain Rot
• Scratches
• Girth Itch
• Sweet Itch
• Dry Skin
• Tail/Mane Rubbing

A quote from Shapley’s website:  
“In fact, Original M-T-G has proven to work exceptionally well promoting hair
growth.  Users report up to 3 inches of new growth on manes and tails in a single
month.  Original M-T-G creates a healthy environment for the hair follicle,
resulting in maximum growth while keeping the length of the hair shaft soft and
pliable for minimum breakage.  Original M-T-G is a time-tested, user-supported
solution to both skin healing and hair growth in a single bottle.  An oil-based
product that does not require washing or water for application, it is not only easy
to use, but great for cold weather.  Original M-T-G is also safe and effective on
dogs and other animals’ skin problems, such as hot spots, itching and dry skin.”
So if you don’t have the time to go through the whole process of oiling and
sulfuring the old fashioned way as described above, you could go to your local
tractor supply or horse tack shop and pick up a bottle of Shapley’s Original M-T-
G.  
The only thing that I noticed about Original M-T-G is that it is definitely more
mineral oil than sulfur.  For me personally, having to deal with a mud season in
our area, making my own oil and sulfur mix that is a thicker mixture with more
sulfur in it than the Original M-T-G works out better for both me and my horse.  
~References ~
Pictures: Chivalry’s Sir Orrick – Foal date 5-4-2002 – pictures are of him as a 2 ½ year old.  He is a Full Blood
Reg.  Clydesdale Stallion that is also Reg. as a Premium Foundation Drum Horse with the
GCDHA --a Pinto
Draft with the
Pinto Draft Horse Registry --Foundation Drum Horse Certificated with the ADHA & a Sanctioned
Stallion with the Freisian Blood Horse Registry under the Baroque Category.   
Photographer- Katrina Miller
Article: Written by Katrina Miller of Wolf Manor Estate  (A small family-run breeding farm in Vermont that
focuses on Clydesdales, Georgian Grande Horses, Drum Horses & Baroque Horses)
Quotes:
Shapley’s Original M-T-G taken from its website:
http://www.shapleys.com/  Picture credit for the product is
also from the website.  

Contact info:
Katrina Miller
Wolf Manor Estate
www.wolfmanorestate.com
info@wolfmanorestate.com

"COURAGE, VIRTUE & HONOR MEAN EVERYTHING  ....  MONEY & POWER  ....  POWER &
MONEY MEAN NOTHING"
~~SECONDHAND LIONS~~
(Click on the thumbnails to view a
larger picture then use your back
button to get back to this page).