The Mysterious Case of Tomato Ketchup and Horse Tails: Fact or Fiction? - Horse Cleaning Masters Of Shampoos ™

Have you ever browsed through Facebook groups dedicated to horse owners and enthusiasts and come across a rather unusual piece of advice? A suggestion that seems so out of place that you can't help but stop scrolling and stare?

If so, chances are you've probably encountered the surprisingly popular recommendation of using tomato ketchup to remove yellow stains from horse tails. 

Yes, you read that right - the same ketchup you'd drizzle on your chips or inside a cheeseburger is being touted as an unconventional horse grooming product. It sounds astonishing and that's precisely why we're delving into this intriguing trend today, to separate fact from fiction and unearth the reality behind this unexpected grooming tip.

Why is Tomato Ketchup Recommended?

The first question that springs to mind when confronted with this bizarre suggestion is - why? What is it about tomato ketchup that makes it a go-to recommendation for horse owners dealing with yellow-stained tails? 

The answer lies in the unique properties of our humble tomato-based condiment. Tomato ketchup is highly acidic, with a typical pH value ranging from 3.5 to 4.5. This acidity is believed to help combat the yellow staining often seen on horsetails. 

The theory is that the acid in the ketchup neutralises the alkaline substances that cause the yellowing, lifting the stains from the hair like lemon juice can brighten blonde human hair as opposed to the vibrant red colour of tomato ketchup, which is often mistaken within Facebook groups as the sole reason ketchup can remove the yellow staining... 

For this, we need to look at the principles of colour theory. In the case of stained white horse tails, the stains often have a yellowish tint. According to colour theory, to neutralise a yellow tone, you would use its complementary colour, purple. This is why whitening shampoos for horses (and for people, like purple shampoos for blonde hair) often have a purple hue - they are designed to counteract yellowish stains and brighten the white colour.

Using red (from tomato ketchup) to neutralise yellow is not entirely accurate according to traditional colour theory because red is not the complementary colour of yellow. The vinegar and citric acid in ketchup, which is acidic, could have some mild bleaching effect on the yellow stains, which might be why some people see results from using ketchup and so it is not the red colour of the ketchup but rather the acidic components it contains that can assist with stain removal.

The Reality of Using Tomato Ketchup on Horse Tails

Let's try to answer the question on everyone's mind - is the tomato ketchup method a fact or a myth? Does it work, or is it just a well-circulated urban legend among horse owners?

In an experiment conducted by Horse Nation, their team tested the tomato ketchup method, scrubbing ketchup into the horse's tail and leaving it for 15 to 30 minutes before rinsing.

The Mysterious Case of Tomato Ketchup and Horse Tails: Fact or Fiction?

Before and after test results performed by Horse Nation

The result? A noticeably but not impressively whiter tail​​. The ketchup wash was described as "disgusting"; mixing with the general grime of a horse's tail and the ketchup together required a follow-up wash with regular shampoo​.

The Mysterious Case of Tomato Ketchup and Horse Tails: Fact or Fiction?

Applying tomato ketchup to horse tail

Furthermore, the process itself was found to be quite unpleasant. The smell of large quantities of ketchup in a barn setting was described as "nauseating" and attracted flies, despite ample amounts of fly spray being applied. Post-ketchup wash, the horse's tail was left with pink lines that didn't easily rinse out and further shampooing was required to try and remove the ketchup stains from the horse's coat. Moreover, the horse's tail was left with tiny bits of tomato peel stuck in it, which proved difficult to remove even with careful combing​​.

The Mysterious Case of Tomato Ketchup and Horse Tails: Fact or Fiction?

Ketchup applied to horse tail

The texture of the tail post-ketchup wash? Despite appearing cleaner, the tail felt brittle and slightly sticky to the touch, even after thorough rinsing. This contrasts with the firm and supple feel when a tail is washed with horse shampoos​​.

The Mysterious Case of Tomato Ketchup and Horse Tails: Fact or Fiction?

Horse tail after ketchup bath

It's important to note that while there are success stories, the efficacy of this method is not universally accepted. Some horse owners argue that while the ketchup may make a cosmetic difference initially, it doesn't provide a long-term solution to the problem of yellow staining.

Furthermore, there's a notable lack of scientific research into this specific use of tomato ketchup. While it's true that acidic solutions can have a bleaching effect and that red can help to counteract yellow, this doesn't necessarily mean that ketchup is the best or most appropriate product for cleaning stained horse tails.

The consensus seems to be that while tomato ketchup might help to a degree, it's not the miracle solution for horse tail staining. At its best, it could be used as a quick fix or a stop-gap measure rather than a regular part of your horse grooming routine.

Whitening Horse Shampoo vs Tomato Ketchup

Now that we've discovered the ketchup theory and its effectiveness, we must bring a game-changer into the mix: Whitening Horse Shampoo! Often referred to as purple shampoo, this product is specifically designed to combat those stubborn stains and give a horse's tail that much-desired whiteness.

Horse Mane And Tail Detangling Products

Bathed with Horse Cleaning Whitening Shampoo

Whitening horse shampoos have been tried, tested and perfected for horse use. Unlike the ketchup experiment, where the results were mixed, and the process less than pleasant, whitening horse shampoo is straightforward and brings quantifiable results each wash!

Our Horse Cleaning Whitening Shampoo is one such product that stands out among horse owners as a game changer. With verified 5-star customer reviews, this whitening horse shampoo is an effective solution for grey and coloured horses. 

Bathed with Horse Cleaning Whitening Shampoo

The highly concentrated stain-busting formula has been designed to neutralise brassy yellow tones whilst revitalising and rejuvenating the horse's hair, thus enhancing the natural coat colour and overall brightness. 

It's not just about the looks, though. Our horse shampoos also contain specifically designed additives to improve the overall horse hair condition and shine of each hair strand resulting in soft and shiny manes, tails and coat hair. 

Bathed with Horse Cleaning Whitening Shampoo

So, why opt for this over the popular tomato ketchup method? Firstly, our whitening horse shampoo's sole purpose is to remove brassy yellow tones! Unlike ketchup, it's designed to clean and brighten a horse's tail without causing unpleasant side effects such as a lingering smell or attracting flies. Furthermore, its formula is targeted at improving the overall condition of the horse hair, going beyond just stain removal.

Bathed with Horse Cleaning Whitening Shampoo

The application process is much cleaner and more efficient. There's no need to pre-wash with a regular shampoo or follow up with a second wash to remove any residue. Instead, a single wash with the Horse Cleaning Whitening Shampoo can deliver the desired results with only a maximum dwell time of 5 minutes! Plus, there's no risk of tomato particles getting stuck in your horse's tail...

Lastly, the whitening shampoo offers value for money. While the cost might initially seem more than a ketchup bottle, considering the amount needed for one wash and the fact that ketchup doesn't produce extraordinary results, a little of the Horse Cleaning whitening shampoo goes a long way in effectively cleaning and brightening your horse's tail for several washes from a single bottle!


While the ketchup method for cleaning horse tails is not entirely without merit, it's perhaps not the wonder solution it's often made out to be. Based on the real-life tests by Horse Nation, the ketchup method seems plausible but not necessarily the most practical or effective choice. 

The story of tomato ketchup as a solution for horse tail staining is fascinating, highlighting the ingenuity of horse owners and their willingness to experiment with unconventional solutions. 

There's no denying that some horse owners have seen a difference after using ketchup on their horse's tails. However, most experiences indicate that this method might not be as miraculous or cost-effective as it initially seems.

Whitening horse shampoos offer more reliable results with less mess and fuss​​ , and whilst the world of horse care is filled with countless remedies and recommendations, some are more unusual than others. The tomato ketchup tip is just one example, offering a quirky and unconventional solution to a common problem. 

Whether you give it a go or stick with more traditional grooming products, it's always fascinating to delve into these unique aspects of horse care. While the tomato ketchup method might seem like a fun and cheap experiment, it falls short in terms of effectiveness, practicality, and overall results. 

So, the next time you hear about the tomato ketchup method, remember there's a far better option out there. Say goodbye to the smell of ketchup and hello to a bright, clean, and perfume-infused fragrant horse tail with Horse Cleaning Masters Of Shampoos - Whitening Horse Shampoo!


Equestrian tipsEquine groomingFact or fictionGrooming tipsHorse blogHorse careHorse cleaningHorse cleaning masters of shampooHorse coat careHorse factsHorse groomingHorse shampooKetchupMane and tail careQuestion and answerTomato ketchupWhitening horse shampoo

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published

Featured products

Pet Hair Removal Cube - Horse Cleaning Masters Of Shampoos ™Pet Hair Removal Cube - Horse Cleaning Masters Of Shampoos ™
Sale price$8.00
Pet Hair Removal Cube
2-in-1 Spray And Detangler Grooming Brush - Horse Cleaning Masters Of Shampoos ™2-in-1 Spray And Detangler Grooming Brush - Horse Cleaning Masters Of Shampoos ™
Sale price$25.00 Regular price$38.00
2-in-1 Spray And Detangler Grooming Brush
Carbon-neutral shipping with Shopify Planet
Carbon neutral shipping on all orders
shipping emissions removed
That's like...
miles driven by an average gasoline-powered car
We fund innovations in...
Direct Air Capture
Bio Oil