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How to Keep Your Nails Beautiful While Working Around Horses

Updated on August 19, 2011
Taken this morning, I last polished these 3 weeks ago!!     Shown: Ulta Salon Formula Nail Lacquer in "Sweetheart Pink"
Taken this morning, I last polished these 3 weeks ago!! Shown: Ulta Salon Formula Nail Lacquer in "Sweetheart Pink"

…or gardening, or doing housework, or regularly doing any task that is tough on your nails!

For years now I’ve been asked how I keep my nails so nice, especially while working with horses in the barn. So here it is, the How-To everybody has been dying to see!

I didn’t always have nice nails. For years I envied my mother's and grandmother’s – long, super thick and strong…gorgeous! No matter how many coats of polish or what brands I used, there I was with short, thin, chipped nails. Very frustrating. So, though you might say it is genetic, I feel my genes only played a small part in the nails I have now. I attribute most of my success to the product I started using.

Same hand pictured less than 2 months ago. Look how much the nails have grown, even with frequent filing!  Same color - I must like it...
Same hand pictured less than 2 months ago. Look how much the nails have grown, even with frequent filing! Same color - I must like it...

A gift that really did keep on giving.

“Merry Christmas!”, a Jewish customer of mine said with a smile, handing me a cute little gift bag. I thought the irony was too funny. I laughed and thanked her as I opened the bag. Little did I know how thankful I would be someday. It was a small gift pack of Nail Tek products. A foundation (or base coat), some hand cream and bottle of Intensive Therapy II, later to become known to me as the most amazing product ever!

With my history of failed attempts, I waited a couple weeks before trying it. Lo and behold, by the beginning of February, I noticed that I actually had a free-edge! My nails were growing at an astronomical rate and were now thicker, stronger and beyond the ends of my fingertips! I was truly shocked and thrilled. I was hooked.

I kept using it even though, at the time, I could only find it in one place – the salon where she worked. It was expensive at $17. Nowadays, I can buy it through Amazon for only about $9. Sometimes, like the link I found for you below, it is Buy One-Get One Free! It is still about $11 per bottle in the stores.

I know you are saying at this point that you just don’t have the time…Yes you do!

Honestly, I don’t have all the extra time in the world to play with my nails. I don’t think anybody really does!

So, here is a run-down of my routine and the products I have since found that compliment my Intensive Therapy II obsession and make my routine very easy and fairly maintenance-free. The leading picture in this hub was just taken today and the polish is 3 weeks old!

My Routine

Once every 2-3 weeks: Remove old polish, push back and trim cuticles, file the tips and apply new polish.

  1. Apply Base Coat. I've been using Loreal Paris, but I still love the Nail Tek Foundation II.
  2. Apply Nail Tek Intensive Therapy II. I followed the directions at the beginning, but have since discovered that I personally only need to use one coat per week.
  3. Go to bed if you need to. These 2 coats dry fast and will be nice and solid by morning. If you don’t have time in the morning to finish, then at least you have something protecting your nails for the day.
  4. Apply 2 coats of color. You don’t have to break the bank! I love N.Y.C. Long Wearing Nail Enamel and my absolute new favorite is Ulta Salon Formula Nail Lacquer. [Pictured here in Sweetheart Pink]
  5. Wait a few minutes. Apply INM Out the Door Fast Drying Top Coat. Another favorite of mine is Creative Dry & Shine, but it is only a dryer, so I use another coat of Intensive Therapy II as my top coat first.
  6. You’re done! It dries fast enough to where you can start doing things carefully within a few minutes and rock solid within about and hour. Just avoid bumping them really hard. If you get a ding, moisten your fingertip and smudge the polish back in place.

Once a week or as needed: File the tips smooth and apply additional coats of Intensive Therapy II or top coat to freshen up the look. Occasionally I will touch up the cuticle area or tips with a tiny bit of color.

My Tips

  • Give it some time. Be patient. They will grow. It will work!
  • Always wear gloves! I keep a rotation of two pairs in the barn - One nicer pair for riding and when those wear old, they become my grooming, leading and barn work gloves.
  • Avoid using your nails as tools to peel stickers, tighten screws, whatever.
  • Keep them polished. If you don’t like color, then at least use the clear base and Intensive Therapy II.
  • Keep lotion near you at all times. Dry hands=dry nails.
  • Stop picking at them and biting them! Colored polish helps disguise nicks and peels and you won’t be so tempted. All I have to do is point out what kind of bacteria you might find in barn dirt. Yum.
  • Finally, DO lots of things with your hands. Exercise your fingers. Don’t be so dainty - worried about breaking a nail. I find they get stronger if you challenge them a little!

Fun Fact:

How thick and strong have my nails really gotten? Well, most people assume they are fake. I rarely get manicures (too expensive, plus I’m picky about the shape and polish application), but when have, the manicurists have had to use the sanders and the heavy-duty files they use for acrylics. I just laugh.

Have fun and enjoy your beautiful new nails and compliments! I do!

© 2011 Megan Carl - Mane Alternative


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    • Suzanne Winfield profile imageAUTHOR

      Megan Carl - Mane Alternative 

      8 years ago from Utah

      Thank you ponygirl. Yeah, us horse people are sure tough on our nails! Grooming, picking feet, tacking, bleaching buckets...even cleaning tack, it is too tempting to dig in those cracks and scrape the dirt jockeys off. You will definitely save money - more to spend on things that matter. Good luck! Let me know how it goes!

    • ponygirl64 profile image


      8 years ago

      Another great and helpful article Suzanne! My nails are horrid. I will give your suggestion a try! If it works,it will save me a lot of money in the Salon.

    • Suzanne Winfield profile imageAUTHOR

      Megan Carl - Mane Alternative 

      8 years ago from Utah

      Hi horsielady. Thanks for reading and voting! I'm glad you liked it. Good Luck. You'll love it!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks Suzanne. Voted awesome. My nails have been short for years. Can't wait to try this!

    • Suzanne Winfield profile imageAUTHOR

      Megan Carl - Mane Alternative 

      8 years ago from Utah

      Thank you, Organic Pet. I'm glad you liked it! I took a look at your website - very cool! And, you're right, customized nutrition is so important to our animals. Welcome to HubPages. I look forward to reading your hubs!

    • profile image

      The Organic Pet 

      8 years ago

      This is a great article...super helpful-


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