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5 Steps to Successfully Bathe Your Horse

Posted by Nicola Woodstock on 24th Feb 2016

Whether you need to get your horse competition ready or if they’re a little bit on the whiffy side and in need of a good scrub down; we have some top tips for you to give your four-legged friend a good wash and polish!

A few bits you may need:

Sponges: a large one for the body and a smaller one for the face

Mitt: ideal for scrubbing muddy or sweaty areas

Sweat scraper: for removing excess water from your horse’s coat and helps speed-up drying

Shampoo: choose one that is best suited to your horse’s skin type and the finish you require

Buckets: a couple may be useful: one for clean water, if you don’t have a hose, and one for the shampoo and water mix (as per manufacturer’s instructions)

Step one - prepare

It’s always a good idea to prepare, especially if your horse is somewhat of a nervous nature or isn’t used to this kind of attention. With this in mind, you may need a helping hand to aid calming.

Choosing somewhere with a non-slip surface with access to warm water would be ideal. If you are using buckets, having these ready and within easy reach may make the task easier or if you are using a hose for rinsing, have it ready.

Also, oiling your horse’s hooves first may help to keep water from softening them whilst washing.

Step two – wet your horse

Wetting your horse first will get him accustomed to the water temperature.

Starting with the front legs and working your way up to the shoulders, move to the neck and mane. Next, travel across the back to the flank area and then to the hind legs, belly and groin. Carefully soak the tail whilst standing to the side – we don’t want any accidents! And finally, gently wet his face – try to avoid getting water in the eyes and ears.

Keep an eye on your hose too – you don’t want this being wrapped around his leg.

Step three - shampooing

With the large sponge, apply the shampoo mix to your horse’s body, using the same technique as wetting him – travelling from front to back. Use the mitt on particularly muddy or stained areas and with a touch of shampoo in your hand work into your horse’s mane and tail. If you notice the shampoo drying on your horse’s coat you can rinse that side before continuing. Do use a separate small sponge around the groin area and bottom and remember, too much shampoo can leave the coat dull and dry.

Step four - rinse

Rinse off the shampoo, starting from the side you shampooed first, using clean warm water from a bucket or hose. You may find it useful to use the sweat scraper as you go to help remove suds and excess water. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear.

Step five - dry

Sweat scrape your horse to remove as much water from the coat as possible and carefully towel dry the legs. If you are using a conditioner or hair polish, try to avoid any area where tack will be placed as this may make the hair slippery. A good brush will finish off your horse nicely – neat and tangle-free. If the weather starts to cool, put on a cooler or blanket and take a short stroll to aid drying.

And there you go – a good job well done. Now, you can stand back and marvel at your shiny, clean horse, and put the kettle on – mine’s a strong white with one sugar (and don’t forget the biscuits!).