A true tail: Shampoo is manely for horses, but humans use it, too PREAKNESS '94

May 20, 1994|By Vida Roberts | Vida Roberts,Sun Fashion Editor

In a Preakness week when Baltimore goes mad for horses, it shouldn't come as a surprise that folks in horse circles are sharing shampoo and grooming products with their four-legged charges.

Makers of equine products figured it out about four years ago when they noticed a run on horse shampoos that was inconsistent with their market estimates. The stuff was being used by humans.

Mane 'n Tail shampoo, made by Straight Arrow, was one of the first to come flying out of the gate, spurred on by tips and stable gossip. Women were willing to gamble on a product that promised them flowing manes like Trigger's.

It's a more crowded field now, with established companies trying to hold on to the lead and new ones coming up on the fad track. Among the newer entries is the Rio Vista brand, developed by Jheri Redding, who built a reputation in the human hair care market with Nexxus and Redken lines. Retired now to his horse ranch, he went to work on prettying horses with shampoo, show coat polish, tail and mane detangler, coat spray, hoof fix and even a color enhancer in shades such as hi-ho silver and golden palomino. Makes a woman dream of pampering in the pastures.

Charlotte Zetlmeisl, who works at Bits and Bridles horse supply shop in Catonsville and keeps a horse in Howard County, says the shop carries a diversity of products, but she uses Mane 'n Tail, as does her horse, her daughter and some of her daughter's friends. She advises horse sense, however, in adjusting instructions and quantities. "Mane 'n Tail directions say to leave the conditioner in. I find you have to rinse it out or it leaves your hair too soft."

At Ray's Feedery and Supply on Ebeneezer Road, owner Raymond Biensach says he and his wife use Rio Vista hair products, and he gets many beauty customers asking for it. "I like it just fine," he says, "and I've got a full head of hair." There have been unconfirmed reports that horse ointments may prevent balding and hair loss. No stampede so far.

Labels need a read. There are horse products that are not FDA-approved for human use, products that are, and human products that claim to be just as effective as horse products. Some are sold exclusively at tack and feed stores; others are available in pharmacies or general merchandise outlets. You need a program.

Some companies even diversify to separate the pampered pets from the high-stakes performers.

At a business-minded racetrack, the bottom line is watched more closely than in pleasure horse country. Farnam Companies tailors Soft 'n Silky grooming products for the glossy show circuit and the more economical Man o' War line for studly, sweaty competitors who are washed more often and run through gallons of shampoo.

Horse talk sometimes leads to interesting beauty and styling hints. Martha Hopkins, owner of Elberton Hill Farms, whose family is comfortable with most things horsy, says, "My daughter used Show Sheen to untangle my 7-month-old granddaughter's hair, and it's as silky as it can be."

Jockey Andrea Seefeldt hasn't tried horse products, but she gets a beauty treatment every time she rides. "I never need an exfoliator," she says, "because I get blasted by sand that's kicked in my face, and it scrubs my skin."

She'll be up on Looming in the No. 9 position in the Preakness. "I tuck all my hair into my helmet, and then I have hat hair," she says. In class company, nobody minds.

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