How to Give a Horse a Bath

Before beginning a bath, you must answer yes to the following questions:

Is your horse desensitized to the hose and spraying water?

Some horse's that have never been bathed may be extremely frightened by the hose and spraying water. Take time to work with your horse before bathing so that it is comfortable with water.

Do you have a properly fitted halter on your horse?

A poorly fit halter is uncomfortable and dangerous. If the halter is too large, it could slip off of the horse if it panics. If the halter is too small, you will have little control over the horse.

Do you have an area to cross tie your horse, or an assistant to hold it?

The safest option when bathing is to have an assistant hold the horse for you. You may, however, have to work alone. If this is the case, cross ties can be used but only for horses that are familiar with the bathing process.

Is the area you are bathing in safe and not slippery when wet?

Un-textured concrete pads are exceedingly slippery when wet and can cause a handler or horse to slip and fall. Textured mats can be placed on concrete pads. The area should have suitable drainage. Standing water makes mud and a mess.

If using crossties, are they equipped with panic straps?

A horse that spooks, when tied, can pull back causing serious injury. Use panic straps on cross ties so the horse can break free if need be.

If you answered yes to the above questions, follow the steps below to bathe your horse:

Brush your horse down lightly. You do not have to groom completely, just use a dandy brush to remove extra dust. Removing the dust will make bathing the horse an easier task.

Turn your hose on and let it run a while. The horse needs time to adjust to the water. Wet the horse down beginning at the hooves and slowly working your way up the legs. Starting at the hooves allows the horse to get used to the water temperature. Be careful not to spray the horse's face. Continue working your way up the horse's body until it is thoroughly wet. Keep your eye on the horse's feet. Most horses feel tickled by the water and sometimes kick out. The horse could accidentally kick, so you must work with caution. Use a sponge to wet the horses face down. Do not soak its face, as dripping water into a horses face is extremely irritating.

Squirt a small amount of equine shampoo on a sponge. Gently work the shampoo into the horse's coat. Scrub a little harder on stained areas. Apply a small amount of shampoo to the face using the sponge so that soap does not drip into the horse's eyes.

Rinse off the horse in the same way you wet it, staring from the hooves and working your way up. Rinse off the horse's face carefully using a sponge. Do not leave the shampoo on the skin as it can cause irritation. You may have to rinse the horse several times in order to remove all of the suds. When the water dripping off the horse is suds-free, you know most of the shampoo is gone. Rub your hands over the horse to check for any shampoo you might have missed.

Use a sweat scraper to scrape excess water from the coat. When scraping do not press down so hard that the horse gets bothered but firm enough to remove the water. Do not use the scraper on the face or legs, only a clean and dry towel.

Lead the horse around to air dry a little bit. The best place to walk your horse is out in the sun. You can even hand graze your horse as it dries. Do not turn your horse outside after bathing as most horses will roll in the mud, ruining your hard work.

Try to bathe your horse as little as possible. Excess bathing dries the skin and strips away natural oils. An occasional bath, however, is well worth the time and effort.