Tack n' Talk

Online Equestrian Resource

Freshen up at the barn: Tips to go from horse-mom to dinner-party ready while at the stable

Story by Larissa Cox

You may want to squeeze in a morning ride on your way to work or school, or you may not have time to go home to shower and change before a dinner party.  Whatever the reason, we have all had to freshen up at the barn before. Conditions at the horse stables are often less than ideal for a makeover, and usually, we don’t have a lot of time.  Hopefully these tips will make it easier to make the transition from barn to night out on the town.


I advocate that all riders, regardless of their experience level or discipline should wear helmets while riding.  Horses are unpredictable even when well trained, and riders should keep their heads well protected in case of a fall.  However, helmets can lead to a bad case of “helmet hair”.

Preventative measures against helmet hair:

To keep your helmet smelling fresh, try the Charles Owen Helmet Deodorizer, available here from SmartPak.  You might also want to try a fabric freshener from Febreze.

Before you ride, smooth in about a quarter size amount of leave-in conditioner. My personal favourite is TIGI Bed Head’s Ego Boost Split-End Mender and Leave in Conditioner.  Leave-in conditioner will help with hair frizz, and will make styling easier after wards. It might also be a good idea to wear a bandana while you ride, which can help to absorb moisture, prevent flyaways, and limit the “helmet crease”.

Styling after you ride:

Make your messy helmet hair work for you by turning it into fresh and fun tousled beach hair!

beach hair

Run a small amount of anti-frizz serum through your hair to tame flyaway’s and ease frizz from humidity. A good serum is John Frieda’s Frizz-Ease Hair Serum, as well as Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Weightless Anti Frizz Serum.

To create a soft tousled look, use some texturing spray.  What can be better for a beachy look than a sea salt spray? Try Aquage Sea Salt Spray, scrunch, and go! Try flipping your hair over and lightly spraying your roots for more volume.   Be careful for tangles when using texturizing products however. It’s best to give your hair a comb through before they are applied.

What about a casual chignon at the nape of your neck? Try a small amount of texturing paste like Garnier Fructis Surf Hair Texturizing Cream to run through your hair.  Tousle gently, and gather hair into a ponytail at the nape of the neck. Then twist the hair into a chignon, and secure with bobby pins or another hair elastic.  Don’t worry if the ends stick out a bit – the style is meant to be fresh and less formal.  Use bobby pins to tuck away flat bangs.

messy Chignon

To avoid getting your skin clogged with a mess of foundation, dirt,and sweat, go to the barn with minimal makeup.  Remember to protect your skin with a good sunscreen like Neutrogena’s ULTRA SHEER™ Face Sunscreen SPF 45 or 60.
After riding, cleanse your face using a disposable face cloth like Nivea’s 3 in 1 Face Wipe, or try a waterless cleanser like Mineral Quick Clean from PurMinerals.
When applying makeup use a cosmetic sponge to avoid transferring oils and bacteria from your hands from just working with a horse, to your face. I find any liquid foundation to become messy while I am on the go, so I use a stick foundation like this one from Shiseido.
A tinted moisturizer is good to use as imperfections in application would be less noticeable than with regular liquid foundation,since the tint is usually minimal. It’s enough to give you color, but it won’t weigh you down. Why not use a cheek tint as well instead of power blush? Try this shimmering cheek tint from Avon.  I like mousse blush as well, as it doesn’t require a brush for application.  Try Dream Mousse Blush by Maybelline.


Keep a spare change of clothes in a small duffel bag at the barn.  The best way to prevent them from wrinkling is to keep them rolled up.  If you don’t have room for a duffel bag, why not try a large Ziploc bag?  It will keep the dust off, and give you more space in your tack locker.  It might be wise to keep clothes that could be worn for any occasion, as you might not know when you will be pressed for time at the barn.  Try a simple white blouse, which can either look casual, or paired with the right accessories, elegant.   An A-line skirt or Capri length pants can also swing from casual to more formal, again, depending on the top and accessories.  Speaking of accessories, why not keep some at the barn as well in a travel jewelery pouch like these?  That way, you have more control over your outfit’s look and level of formality.

I hope this guide proved useful for those who often find themselves pressed for time at the barn, as well as for those who never know when they might.

Thanks, happy riding!




  Linda – The Mane Point wrote @

Great ideas!

  Christy in the UK wrote @

cool idea about the hair! My problem is smelling like a horse! I didn’t even think of the febreese though. Good idea!

  noactive wrote @

Freshen up at the barn: Tips to go from horse-mom to dinner-party ready while at the stable .Thanks for nice post.I added to my twitter.

  Kim wrote @

I love your tips– I have a question for you…! I want to get married this summer in my parents’ barn (in the arena), but need to get rid of both the smell and the allergens… do you know how I would even go about such a challenge? Are there some strategies? Services? Should I just find another location…??
I could really use any advise you have to give!

  tackandtalk wrote @

Hi Kim! Yes, having dust and odour at a wedding would be the last thing you want! My first suggestion would be to power-wash every surface in sight before the wedding, and then perhaps vacuum arena walls and ceiling before setting up. I would not suggest sweeping as that may just put dust and allergens around in the air.
Another suggestion is to try dust and allergen reducing products. There are some on the market especially made for arenas and barns. Mag Flakes work on keeping arena dust down:

Alex Milne Associates have products that also work on dust prevention as well as barn odour control: http://www.alexmilne.com/justaddhorses.html

Keeping the barn well ventilated before and during the wedding would help with the barn getting stuffy. Hanging something pleasant smelling like dried lavender around the arena or the guest’s chairs might help with the barn smells as well.

Good luck, and congratulations! Would love to know how it goes!! 🙂

  How To Prevent Cold Weather Dry Skin « Tack n' Talk wrote @

[…] have had so many positive comments on my Tack and Talk article Freshen Up At The Barn: Tips To Go From Horse-mom To Dinner-party Ready While at the Stable, and many questions on what to do about cold weather barn skin, I’ll share what I do to […]

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