Last Updated on February 23, 2022 by Allison Price
It is common to have to bathe horses during equine events. Have fun! Let’s face facts: Horses love to play in dirt, grass, and manure, especially right before big competitions.
Although it might seem difficult to turn your 1,200-pound, mud-covered beast in to a shining show-ring star, you can.
Horse bathing tips
Begin by gathering your supplies. You will need a hose with an adjustable nozzle, or a large tub if you don’t have running water, as well as a stepstool and a few buckets. Next, gather the following:
- a rubber scrubbing mitt
- At least four large half-moon sponges (one for the body and one for the tail), and one for washing the water. One for drying the legs and any other areas that cannot be scrubbed.
- Shampoo for horses
- A scraper is a tool that can be used to remove material from the surface of the object.
- 2 towels of the same size as a bath towel
- If your horse doesn’t like baths or isn’t able to tie himself, you can hire a helper.
Equine shampoos can be used in the same way as shampoos for humans to treat specific skin conditions, improve colors, whiten and add optical brighteners. It is a good idea to do a patch test on your horse’s skin before you apply a shampoo to his entire body. If your horse’s skin is still reacting after a day of washing, you can continue with normal shampooing.
The skin can also become dry from bathing, which can cause itching and lead to rubbing. A conditioning shampoo (example Mane ’n Tail’s Original, Ultimate Gloss Shampoo) may be helpful. You can also reduce the time that the shampoo stays on his skin. For example, try soaping one side of his body and rinsing the other.
How to wash a horse
Brush your horse’s hair before you go to bath. Next, fill a tub or bucket with warm water. Or spray your hose and verify the temperature. Comfort is the key.
You’ve probably washed cars before and know the importance of pre-rinsing. The same goes for horses, even if they are more like a Mini than Range Rovers. Use a sponge or a hose to thoroughly wash his coat. Begin with his feet, moving upwards and outwards. Tip: Never aim a hose at his head if you are using it.
Next, wash your horse’s underside, including his genital areas and under his tail. Use a gentle stream to do this, as well as the area between the legs. The mane and tail should be soaked last.
How to Bathe a Horse
Let’s get to the lather! Now, make sure to lather! Begin to wash your horse’s coat by grabbing the sponge and moving in a circular motion. Use a separate suds-soaked sponge for the underside of the tail and the area between your hind legs. Next, the mane and tail. The tail should be dipped in the suds-filled bucket. Use the soap to work through the hair, adding water as necessary. Use a small amount of shampoo to scrub your mane. Make sure the shampoo is sufficiently wet to form a lather. Finally, use a mitt to scrub the entire body, making sure you re-wette it frequently and getting the suds into your skin.
How to Rinse Horses
It is just as important to get the soap off your horse’s hair as it is to get it in! Remaining soap residue on your horse’s skin can cause irritation, especially if it is located on the stomach or back.
Use the hose, or the third sponge that has been soaked in warm water. Start rinsing out the suds from the shoulders to the front legs using the sponge. You can continue to wash the neck and mane while avoiding your horse’s head. Next, you will need to rinse the suds out from the underside, legs, back and flanks.
Continue to rinse the tail by lifting it, then rinse between your hind legs. Finally, hose off or sponge the tail and pull the hairs apart using your finger to check for soap suds leftovers.
How to wash a horse’s head
The most difficult part, the head, has been saved for last. Once your horse is used to drinking water on other parts of his body, you can now rinse the sponge with warm water. Now, take your stepstool and scrub the entire face and head, keeping your eyes closed.
To minimize any dripping, take the soapy sponge and gently rub it over your face. Be sure to avoid the eyes. Extra-dirty areas can be scrubbed with the rubber mitt.
Use a sponge to wash the face in warm water. Rinse and continue to wring it. You can give the head and face a final scrub with a wet, but still wrung out sponge. Make sure to wipe the nostrils. After using the sponge, wash it in hot water.
How to condition a horse’s mane and tail
The Original Mane ‘n Tail Conditioner is an exclusive highly concentrated formula with unique actions that helps to maintain and achieve a longer, healthier looking mane and tail.
To keep your horse’s mane and tail healthy and combed easily, now is the time to apply equine conditioner. After towel drying, apply conditioner to the mane and tail. Then, comb it from root to tip for about 15 minutes.
Conditioners should be applied as often as possible to soften hair. The more dry and brittle your hair is, the more conditioner you will need. Particularly for tail hair, nourishing moisturizers such as those in Ultimate Gloss and Mane N’ Tail’s can be beneficial.
How to dry a horse’s tail and mane
Only one person could blow-dry horses! This is not something you can do at home. This task is best done with a sweat scraper. Start by rubbing your horse’s neck, always in the direction of hair-growth. Next, drain any excess water from the body. Next, switch to the fourth sponge (the dry one), to absorb any extra water from your legs.
To towel dry the legs, head, ears, and body, change towels as they become saturated. As your horse air-dries, comb his mane and walk/graze him.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!