How to paint a horse (temporarily)

If I were to decide that even though I’m old I want to enter the costume class at our local show how would I go about painting my horse (I have a costume idea that requires paint…). I very much want to participate, our numbers are way down for anything and I think the kids would get a kick out of a couple of us “old ladies” getting in the spirit of things…

I need black paint if that matters…

You mean, paint lines on the horse, not dye parts of the horse?

Feed stores sell sticks of wax paint to mark cattle when you treat them, so you can see which and when it was treated.
Those come in all colors, we mostly use orange and green on cattle, but you can buy any color in it and that paint washes easily later, if you don’t just put a whole bunch of it in one spot.
If you do lay it on thick, it scrapes off after letting the wax dry up in a few days.

This may be what they used here:


lines would be fine, Not sure I can track that down in time - I live on an island with few options… I will see what I can get quickly on line. thanks for that idea.

You can soak sidewalk chalk in a bucket of water & then use the wet chalk to “paint.”


You can use non-toxic washable tempera paint… just be aware that it might not completely wash out immediately (I wouldn’t do this if you are showing the next day, for example). I’ve also used a tube of human face paint for smaller areas.

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@wildlifer, I wonder if it would work similarly to draw/paint with chalk on a wet horse? Like for clipping patterns?

@islgrl, I too am looking at doing a costume class at our last show the end of the month more so I can do the costume than the jumper part :laughing:

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Anything marketed for toddlers to use should be safe for consumption. Your local craft store (sometimes even the grocery store) should have them.

Bonus on using the acrylic type paints is they should wash out easily.


Craft paint is easy to wash off. Add a little water so it goes on smoother. Used some to make a gray into a Dalmatian Saturday, she was led by Cruella of course. Most came off that night during turnout, the rest came off during our torrential rains this week. I think I have to do a tiny bit of washing on her legs and she will be back to her normal gray, highlighted with red mud stains. LOL


When I was a kid, we painted my gray horse to look like a zebra for a costume contest. I believe we just used nontoxic water based poster paint. It mostly washed right out except around his girth area, but it came out within a couple washes.

I’m not sure what Gillian Higgins, who did that work, uses for paint, but I do know I’ve seen videos of her using a paint brush. The bodywork course I did used the wet chalk mentioned above, so they were more “drawing” on the horse.

Thanks for that information and that name.

Maybe the OP can now contact her and find out what she uses and how?

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Yes that’s a great idea! It may even be somewhere on the website … I’m just can’t remember because I’m usually more focused on what the paint is showing rather than how to do it! With that said, as a slight derailment, if anyone is interested in anatomy and biomechanics and hasn’t already checked out this site and/or Gillian Higgin’s books, I can’t recommend them highly enough. The visual aspects are obviously super helpful, but Gillian is also one of those gifted teachers who can simultaneously explain something to the layperson while still giving value to the advanced student/professional.

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I would second the soaked chalk as a fairly good horse coloring agent. We soaked the chalk for about an hour before use. We never tried dry chalk on a wet horse.

It does take a bath with shampoo to remove the chalk, cold hosing does not do a good job.

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Found my old picture of the chalk “painted” horse (an Equinology teaching aid painted by the instuctors) These were apparently pretty high quality chalks intended for sidewalk “pros” (vs. 5 year old kids, haha) but I’m sure anything would work for Halloween!


Crayola makes a washable poster paint that works very well for temporary equine use. The 4-Hers always enjoyed scrubbing it off of my old guy almost as much as they enjoyed our actual anatomy lessons…

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My Paint gelding has substaqntial experience as a Painted Paint on the last day of summer camps. Regular tempera paint is from Walmart and elsewhere. We also have used hoof glitter which a number of tack shops sell. Orvus is pretty good at washing it off. Get some cheap brushes and something to put the paint on. You should have someone at their head. His face is off-limits.

Over the years he has looked beautiful with multi-colored handprints and a different hoof colors on each foot. If they use glitter I generally say “paint one leg” so you don’t overwhelm the hooves.

I moved to a new barn last winter and we don’t have many kids. My horse has retired from riding with significant lameness in the left front. He’s 27 but doesn’t act or look his age. I love sharing him and we both love to have fun with kids.

Get some cheap brushes, different sizes. Puddles of different colors on heavy duty paper plates. I bought the paint in Walmart. Stateline has the glitter hoof polish. When I find the photos i’ll post threm.

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Of course you want to enter the costume class, I’m also old, but I’m going for it, which is why I’m spending Saturday night making Death of Rats, which should give anyone who knows the books, the theme!

Good luck finding what you need,post pics of the finished result.

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