Horse Breeds at HorseChannel.com

Tips for Bathing Your Horse

Tips to make bathing your horse less of a battle.

By Sharon Biggs | 7/21/2003

Printer Friendly

Tips on how to properly bathe your horseIt's amazing that horses agree to our strange requests—and this includes wearing a flashing Rudolph nose and reindeer ears at Christmas. But every now and then horses draw the line at some sort of human behavior. Baths often fit into this no-go area. While most horses could care less about a shower, others fight it tooth and hoof. If your horse is one of these, he may have started to dread bathing due to bad experiences in the past—a slip and fall in the wash rack or maybe an unenlightened individual sprayed him straight in the face. Or he's just one of those sensitive souls. Whatever his issue, here are some tips to help make bath time a more pleasant experience—for you and your horse.

Attention to Safety

  • Concrete wash racks must be non-skid to avoid falls. If your concrete isn't texturized, put down strong, texturized rubber matting or lining.
  • Have a friend hold your horse, or wrap the lead rope loosely around the wash rack railing. If your rack has cross-ties, make sure they are fitted with panic snaps (panic snaps should ideally be at the pole, not the halter end of the tie). If your horse should pull back, you want to be able to release him as quickly as possible.
  • Watch your hose. Never let your hose get under your horse's feet, particularly the nozzle. If he steps on the nozzle and it breaks, a gush of water could suddenly spray up and startle him. If your horse is afraid of the hose, then it's important to be extra diligent in keeping it off the ground and away from his legs. Overcoming a severe hose fear may require a lot of short sessions, with a great deal of praise and treats. Re-introduce the hose to your horse slowly. If the washrack causes added fear, pick a grassy area. Try spraying his front legs lightly at first, moving up and back as the horse's comfort level increases.

Attention to Comfort

  • Outfit your hose with an adjustable plant sprayer. Look for one that has several adjustments, including one for misting.
  • Start hosing at your horse's legs to allow him to get used to the temperature slowly, like stepping into a pool.
  • Avoid spraying your horse directly in the face. Turn your nozzle to mist, start at his cheek and very slowly play the hose down along his face. Use a damp sponge to clean his ears and poll.
  • Purchase a heating coil. You can heat a bucket of water and use it for your rinse water. The warm water will help relax your horse and make for a more pleasant experience.
  • Be ready with an anti-sweat sheet or cooler to keep your horse warm and free of drafts.
  • Reward your horse with treats during and after the bath. If you make the time a pleasant experience he'll begin to look forward to bath time.

Attention to Time

  • Don't wait until a day before the competition to teach your horse about baths. Give him a short wash every day (no longer than five minutes); it doesn't have to be the works, you can wash his legs or tail. You can increase the time as he gets comfortable.

Read on for more grooming tips.

Sharon Biggs is a freelance writer based in England.

Printer Friendly

 Give us your opinion on
Tips for Bathing Your Horse

Submit a Comment   Join Club
Earn 1,000 points! What's this?
Reader Comments

Frances    somewhere, WA

6/29/2014 9:38:38 PM

hey roger, sorry this is rather late, I know it has been a while since you posted here.
I might have an idea that could help. In your comment you mentioned that you could not even rub fly spray or water on her, first you need to desensitize her to rags. If you have no trouble with grooming after you are done bunch a rag together and rub it over her body, be careful around especially ticklish area such as the stomach. Work your way to where you can rub the rag any where and then gently dampen the rag and work up from there.
Another thing you can try is gaining her trust, she was neglected and needs a strong leader to show her that that is not going to happen again. work on lots of ground work and vocal commands and, if she lets you, work on some under saddle maneuvers, soon she will learn to trust your judgment and allow you to introduce scary things like a bath.
final suggestion, try introduce her to scary object like small plastic bags and things like that, once she gets used to things like that, bathing will be much easier.
hope this helps!

roger    laurelville, OH

4/25/2014 8:51:01 PM

hello, i liked your artical on bathing a horse BUT; i have an ARABIAN MARE THAT IS 17 YRS. OLD AND I RESCUED HER FROM A NEIGHBOR THAT BARELY FED HER LET ALONE BATHED HER.. ; MY PROBLEM IS THAT I CAN NOT EVEN WASH HER WITH A WARM CLOTH OR ANYTHING AT ALL WITH OUT HER TRYING TO KILL ME OR HERSELF..SHE IS ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED OF WATER NO MATER HOW I TRY TO WASH OR BATHE HER....DO YOU OR ANY OF YOUR READERS HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS AS TO HOW I CAN HANDLE THIS SITUATION? I'VE TRIED EVERYTHING THAT I CAN THINK OF ! I EVEN LEFT HER OUT IN THE RAIN TO SHOW HER THAT THE WATER IS NOT GOING TO HURT HER AND STILL, I CANT GET HER TO LET ME WASH HER!... I CANT EVEN SPRAY OR WIPE ON A FLY DETERRENT TO KEEP THE FLYS OFF HER WITHOUT A TREMENDOUS FIGHT....PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN!!!THANK YOU ROGER

Kylie    N/A, CT

8/18/2013 3:14:42 PM

This will be very helpful!!!

jennifer    cheyenne, WY

3/21/2012 7:27:05 PM

cool article!ilove it!im gonna use those awesome tips!im looking forward to summer when i can wash my horse, fred more often on really hot days! thanks for the info!

View Current Comments


Top Products