Bathing A Horse

Bathing your horse leaves his coat looking shiny and more attractive. A good grooming is necessary before washing because tangles in the mane and tail can get worse bathing.

However, before you start spraying water on your horse”s face, read on.

Horse Bathing Tips

Read through all these basics and check with an expert if you”re not sure about the details.

  • Give a “soap bath” every few days. Soap strips the natural oils from the coat, but these are replenished quickly in a healthy horse.
  • An alternative to bathing with soap may be to give a warm water rinse after any work or riding. If soap isn”t used, a water rinse can be used as often as needed.
  • Shampoos of either the human or animal variety may be used.
  • When bathing, completely lather and rinse one section at a time to prevent the soap from drying on the skin and causing irritation.
  • Dry with a stable rubber, which is a cotton cloth similar to a chamois. This leaves a finishing shine on the coat.
  • After washing, put a cooler on the horse, walk him, then bed him in a clean, draft-free stall. A wet horse has to be kept from drafty places to prevent chills. Better yet, bathe the horse on a warm sunny day.

Water Temperature

If you”re lucky enough to have access to warm water, set the appropriate temperature (lukewarm) and use a shut-off nozzle or valve on the end of the hose. Be sure to let the water run a little each time you turn the water flow back on. This helps ensure that the temperature is once again regulated.

Remember: warm is good; hot is not.

If you have to use cold water to bathe your horse, do it on a sunny day and remember that really cold water can easily surprise a horse. Whether your water is warm or cool, introduce the stream slowly, starting with the legs and working up the body.

Shampooing Your Horse

Choose a shampoo that is mild but effective. Many different types of shampoos are available. The best ones are those with the least amount of fragrance. Avoid scented products for your horse, as some tend to attract insects.

  • Pour 2 to 4 ounces of concentrated shampoo in a bucket and then add water to make a sudsy mixture. Apply the shampoo mixture to your horse with a big sponge.
  • Use a spray bottle (most hold 32 ounces). Use about 2 ounces of shampoo, fill the bottle with water to the half way mark, shake vigorously and add water until the bottle is full. The spray bottle technique works well for the hard to reach areas, such as under the belly and the inside of the rear legs.
  • Distribute the shampoo evenly into the coat. Use sweeping circular motions to loosen the dirt and loose hair.
  • Have a bucket of sudsy water with you when washing the tail. Stand to the side next to the horse”s hip, lift the bucket and submerge the tail. Set the bucket down out of the way. Now you can massage the shampoo evenly through the tail with ease.
  • Don”t rush when shampooing your horse. It”s a great chance to pamper him while you spend time together.

Rinsing Your Horse

Making sure that all of the shampoo gets out of your horse”s coat is just as important as giving him a good shampoo.

If you don”t get all of the shampoo rinsed out of your horse”s coat, the residue can cause the skin to dry out, and become itchy and irritated. If you see any signs of shampoo as you dry your horse, rinse him again. It”s better to take the extra time now than to treat a skin condition later.

Conditioner for Your Horse

Once you”ve thoroughly rinsed your horse, apply conditioner to his coat and mane. Conditioners make the hair smooth and soft, and they can also help remove tangles.

If you choose to apply conditioner to your horse, follow the same steps you would to shampoo. Use a sponge or spray bottle to distribute the conditioner evenly throughout his hair; let it stand for a few minutes, then rinse well.

Rinse Again!

Remember, just as you rinsed out all the shampoo, be sure to rinse out all the conditioner. Your horse has to be squeaky clean! Rinsing out all the products you use will help your horse maintain a beautiful coat and mane, without coat-dulling buildup or skin irritation.

Drying Your Horse

Now that your horse is well rinsed and shampoo free, it”s time to dry him off. Here are some important things to remember when drying your horse:

  • Start by using a sweat scraper to remove most of the water in his coat. These come in aluminum or plastic, and usually cost only a couple of dollars.
  • Always scrape in the direction that the hair grows. Sweat scrapers are great for the fleshy areas, but remember to be gentle over any bony area.
  • If you have one, use an anti-sweat sheet to dry your horse. Sweat sheets are made of a woven cotton material and are designed to “pull” excess water out of the coat quickly.
  • Have plenty of clean towels available for finishing touches on the face, belly and legs. Old hand towels or bath towels make great horse towels and are very handy to have around the tack room.
  • Use a clean finishing brush to smooth the coat.
  • Your horse will probably want to roll when you put him back in his stall or pasture. A clean, wet coat becomes filthy if it”s still damp when he rolls. A small snackcan keep him occupied until he”s dry.
  • Hand walking or grazing in the sunshine helps to speed up the drying process.
  • Don”t trailer your horse while he”s wet. Keep him out of any drafts until he”s completely dry.