How to Give a Horse a Bath
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How to Give a Horse a Bath

How to bath a horse. How to wash a horse. How to get a horse ready for a show. How to make a horse look shiny. Bathing tips for horses.

If you have to bath a horse, pony, or donkey, for show, for a photo session, or just to get it clean, you need follow some steps to do it right.

Have your supplies ready, horse shampoo and conditioner, a curry comb, a scraper, and if needed bluing (to whiten white markings) and show sheen. You will also need a hose, and some sponges.

If you want you can exercise the horse first, thus taking any “frisky” attitude out of it, additionally a bath can feel good after working out on a hot day. Never bath a horse on a cool day unless you have some place warm to keep it while it dries off.

The bath should be given on cement, if you do it on dirt, the dirt will turn into mud and will splash up onto the horse. The horse should be tied securely.

horse wash bays

photo source - excellent wash bays suitable for washing horses or other livestock.

Have the water lukewarm and start by wetting the horses front legs with the water. If the horse has never been bathed before you will want to take this slowly, and may find having a helper to be a good idea. Gradually bring the water up the horses legs, and onto the shoulder and they over the back, wet the neck as well but avoid the head. Do the same on the hind legs, bringing the water up to the horse's rump. Wet both sides. Most horses do not like water sprayed on their heads, but if yours likes this, be sure to keep the water out of the ears, and instead wet the head down with a sponge.

Once the horse is wet fill a bucket with water and add shampoo, then turn the hose off. Use the sponge to get the shampoo water onto the horse. At this point if your horse has white socks you can add a small amount of bluing to the shampoo water and sponge it onto the socks of the horse. Scrub the body if the horse with the curry comb, and wash the face with a soapy sponge, being careful not to get water into the ear, you can carefully wash the ears with a less-wet sponge. You will also want to add shampoo directly to the mane and tail and work it through.

Proceed to rinse your horse, if it is nervous you can start by wetting the feet and legs first, otherwise you can start with the neck and work towards the bum, you need to use a curry comb to make sure the water gets into the hair to remove all the shampoo. Rinse the mane and tail as well. Once the horse is rinsed you can apply conditioner to the main and tail. As that needs to sit for a few minutes you can rinse the horses head using fresh water and a clean sponge, remembering the ears. Then rinse the mane and tail.

Use the sweat scraper to remove the excess water, starting at the front of the horse and working towards the back. Do not use the scraper on the legs, use your hand instead as the scraper will hurt over areas where there is less muscle.

If you are going to apply show sheen (a product often used on show horses to make them shiny) you can do so while the horse is still wet, this can go all over, including in the mane and tail. If the horse is to be ridden, you do not want to put the show sheen in the saddle or girth area.

Be sure to dry your horse in a warm area. If it is sunny and warm outside going for a walk is fine but otherwise the horse should be kept indoors until dry.

Note these tips also apply for washing cattle, donkeys, ponies, or goats.

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Comments (4)

Excellent information on this topic as always. Voted up!

Great tips on this feature.

You are well informed with great wisdom with all animals and their care.