Bathing is useful in several situations. Getting ready for a show or after coming in from the field when the horse is extra dirty are just two reasons. Before I start discussing the WHY and HOWs of bathing, I need to note that if you give your horse a bath frequently it will dry your horses coat out and make him more dull, rather than shiny and clean. There is no substitute for a good, thorough grooming.
- Extra clean for showing
- Good when first starting to groom a horse to get rid of all the nasty scurf and dander that has built up on the coat
- Remove stains and dirty spots on coat, especially on a light horse
- Buckets of warm water
- Shampoo of your choice (use horse shampoo, not people shampoo)
- Body sponge
- Rubber curry comb (or jelly scrubber)
- Sweat scraper
- Towels or cooler if appropriate
HOW to bathe
- It's easiest to rinse horse off with hose, but if you don't have access to a hose with warm water, sponge off entire body getting the horse throughly damp. Start at the hooves then work your way up to the legs then body. I start at the front of the horse as well and work back to the hindquarters.
- Don't forget to wet the mane and tail!
- Squirt a bit of shampoo into your bucket and make sudsy. Sponge this over the horse. Don't be afraid to use a lot. The horse should be pretty sudsy.
- Use the curry comb or jelly scrubber to loose up dirt and work shampoo into a lather
- When shampooing the mane and tail, I tend to use my fingers because I've found that works best. Hey, it works on our hair doesn't it? Pay attention to the base of the tail (super dandruff-y) and the base of the mane. Don't apply conditioner to the mane or tail if they are going to be braided in the near future. It doesn't end well!
- Rinse before moving on to a different section of the horse. It should feel super clean and free of shampoo. You can either rinse with a hose or by squeezing clean water onto horse with a sponge
- Shampoo left on the coat is never a good thing. It makes horses itchy and leaves them sticky, gross and often looking less shiny then when you started. Not ideal.
- When shampooing the horses face, use as little as soap as possible. Most horses don't like this and I've found baby wipes or hot toweling works better. If your horse allows you to bathe its face, then go right ahead. Just proceed with caution.
- White/light coats should use a shampoo afterwards like Quik Silver. Apply full strength and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse afterwards. Repeat as necessary.
- Make sure you use a sweat scraper afterwards to remove all excess water. Use a dry sponge or towels to remove water from legs and face.
- If it's cool out, cover horse in a cooler unless they're totally dry.
- Don't leave unattended. They WILL ROLL! :)
Hot toweling an be used in cold weather when bathing isn't an option or if you're aren't allowed to give a horse a bath for whatever reason. It works really well on getting up the dirt and scurf from those problem areas like the mane, head and croup. You need a bucket of very hot water (the hotter the better!), rubber gloves if you prefer to not burn your hands and a large towel. If you have gloves, put them on first. Dunk the towel into the bucket full of hot water and wring it out until it's almost dry. Rub the towel with one hand into the roots of the coat. The towel should be dry enough to not wet the hair but bring up all the dirt. Continue to move towel around in your hand to clean spots. When the towel gets cooler, place it in the bucket again and repeat. You can hot towel any part of the horses body as long as they are comfortable with you touching it.
If you have any questions, comments or a suggestion for a grooming tip tuesday post, please comment and let me know! :)