8 Ideas for Decorating Your Horse for a Costume Class or Parade

Radoslaw Kozik / Getty Images

Parades and costume classes are a great excuse to have fun and decorate a horse. It's easy to decorate your horse with non-toxic colors, like water paint or drink crystals. This is also an activity that encourages non-riders to interact with a horse in a fun way.

Be certain that anything you use on the hair coat will not harm your horse in any way. Some coloring will stain the hair. Most tempera paint and washable markers will not stain, but food coloring will. So, do some tests before you dye your whole horse a different color. Also, be sure to keep any colorings away from your horse's eyes.

  • 01 of 08

    Decorate a Horse With Color

    Painted horse

    Bethany Clarke / Getty Images News

    You can really have a ‘horse of another color’ by using unsweetened drink crystals. You can dye your grey horses almost entirely. Simply mix up a few packets of unsweetened drink crystals with water and use the solution to paint or pour over your horse.

    This will stain the coat, so don’t do this if you’ve got an important show coming up. If the weather is cold, don’t wet your horse’s hair, or it may get chilled.

  • 02 of 08

    Decorate a Horse With Stencils

    Horse decorated with stencils

     Thowra_uk / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 

    An easy way to add colorful designs to your horse's coat is with paint and stencils. This is easy to do with some non-toxic tempera and a stencil. Simply hold the stencil against your horse, and dab on the paint with a sponge brush. For real flare, add some glitter.

    Set glitter with some hairspray. Is there such thing as non-toxic glow in the dark water paint? Imagine your herd wandering around your paddock at night with glow in the dark stencil designs.

    You can buy premade stencils or make them yourself using the many freely available patterns online.

  • 03 of 08

    Stencils and Patterns Without Paint

    Maple leaf design on Royal Canadian Mounted Police horse.
    Ernest Manewal / Getty Images

    You may recall seeing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police horses with a maple leaf on their haunch. The design looks intricate but is very easy to do with a stencil.

    To decorate your horse without paint, wet the hair and, with a fine-tooth comb, fill in your stencil by brushing the hair the wrong way. After the hair has dried, set it with a quick spritz of hairspray. Some traditional designs are shark's teeth or lightning bolts on the horse’s shoulder, or a checkerboard over their haunches. This trick is sometimes used in the show ring to distract the judge’s eye from less than ideal conformation.

  • 04 of 08

    Decorate a Horse With Blankets and Wraps

    Kentucky Horse Park, The National Horse Center, Parade of Breeds

    Stephen Saks / Getty Images

    You may have colorful wraps and blankets on hand that you can use to add color or become the base for your decorated horse. There is a multitude of things you can attach or paint on a blanket. Why not tie-dye an old cotton cooler for a 'hippy horse'? Use it as the basis for war horses, Arabian costumes, or anything else you can dream up.

    Add color to your horse's legs with multi-colored self-adhesive bandages such as Vetrap or Coban. Be sure not to wrap your horse's too tight, as that can cause injury. You do, however, want them done up so they don't come loose.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Decorate a Horse With Stock Markers

    Woman riding in the woods
    ROMAOSLO / Getty Images

    Stock markers come in several different opaque colors and look like big crayons. They are often used in trail riding competitions to number the horses and to mark cattle. Stock markers are very durable, waterproof and will last for weeks after you apply it.

  • 06 of 08

    Decorate With Symbols

    Symbols Painted on Hide

    Nativestock.com / Marilyn Angel Wynn / Getty Images

    Native North Americans used natural paints on their horses, and the marks they made represented the achievements and exploits of the rider. Just use your fingers to draw geometric shapes and lines or dip your hand in to make handprints with non-toxic water paint.

  • 07 of 08

    Decorate Horse Manes and Tails

    Horse with braided tail, traditional prozession, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Upper Bavaria, Bavaria, Germany
    Daniel Schoenen / Lookphotos / Getty Images

    Of course, you can braid in all sorts of ribbons and yarns, and hang small ornaments from manes and tails. You can also use the drink mix to color mane and tail hairs too. Braiding elastics come in neutral colors to match the color of your horse, or you can buy funky multi-colored elastics.

  • 08 of 08

    Decorate a Horse's Hooves

    Horse with pink glitter hooves

    Steven Depolo / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 

    You can use a product like Twinkle Toes Hoof Glitter for your horse’s hooves, or mix a packet of glitter into a bottle of clear hoof polish. Apply the hoof polish and, before it dries, sprinkle on the glitter. Hoof polish tends to be drying, so only do this for special occasions. You can also use tempera paint on hooves.