Bathing a horse not only makes him smell a lot better, but is a good time to strengthen the bond between you and your horse. Any time when you can work with your horse in an activity like bathing or grooming is like a training session. The horse learns that people working around her isn’t so scary after all.
Horses that have had a strenuous workout and are lathered in sweat need a bath in order to cool down. Horses should be bathed before they are clipped. Horses also need to be bathed before they go to a show.
Where to Bathe
If you do not have access to a wash stall, specifically made for bathing horses, then you will have to bathe the horse outside. There is an awful lot of water needed to really give a horse a proper bath. If you cannot get access to a hose, then you need to be as near to a water source as possible. Carting around even half-full buckets of water gets tiring.
You need a place to properly tie the horse. Never bathe a loose horse, even if the horse is in a securely fenced pasture. The sound of the water or any other sudden action may cause him to spook. The horse will also have loads of fun leading you around the pasture as you frantically try to lather her up.
Try to use lukewarm water when possible. Really hot water may burn the horse and cause him to be afraid of ever getting bathed again. Cold water is not desirable in wintertime but may be better than nothing in an emergency.
Tie the horse and give the horse a good rinse. Aim the hose at the ground near the hooves and not at the body of the horse. A sudden blast from a hose will set even the mildest mannered horse into a panic. First rinse the hooves and then slowly go up the legs, over the shoulder, back, hindquarters, then back to the withers and up to the neck. Some horses enjoy a spritz on their foreheads in really hot weather but many do not. Use a sponge to rinse the head.
Use whatever shampoo the vet recommends or whatever you usually use on horses. If you are out of shampoo, just use water. Many shampoos recommend a mixture being done in a bucket and then sponged onto the horse. Some shampoos for skin conditions will recommend direct application. Do what the instructions say.
Don’t expect the horse to get covered in suds. That rarely happens – and if it does, you’ve probably used too much shampoo. Use the sponge to apply the shampoo and rub it in. Then, rinse it off the same way you did the initial rinse of the horse. When the water runs clear off of the horse instead of tinged with brown, the horse is clean.
The horse is now sopping wet. A towel is useless getting the excess moisture off. You need a sweat scraper, which is a metal comb-like device with handles at each end. You use it to scrape off the excess water on the neck, belly and hindquarters. It’s usually too harsh to use on the lower legs. Never use on the head or genitals.
The horse usually needs a fly-sheet, cooler or a blanket, depending on the weather. If the horse has been exercised, she will need to be walked dry before she can be put away. Only let her have three sips of water every fifteen minutes or she may colic.
And yes, horses love to roll in dirt as soon as possible as after you bathe them. It’s not just your horse. Also, it is important that he has a comfortable shelter. Make sure that your horse’s place is also clean. Just like the frog pets DIY paludarium setup class, there are also some guidelines in making the right shelter for your horse.