Wondering how best to bathe your horse? Follow these expert tips.
After you’ve shampooed your horse, it’s time to rinse!
A Thorough Rinse
1. With the hose (or a fresh sponge and a bucket of clear warm water), go up the front legs to the shoulder.
Keep the spray away from the head as you work down the neck and mane; then do the back, flanks, underside and legs, scraping with your free hand and applying more water until it runs off clear. Be particularly careful about rinsing the back (where soap residue could cause irritation under the saddle) and the stomach (where soapy water collects after running down the flanks). Also check the legs carefully to make sure the pasterns and heels are dirt-free.
2. After lifting the tail and hosing carefully between the hind legs, give the tail a thorough rinsing, checking with your fingers to verify that the tail hair is suds-free all the way to the roots.
3. To dry the horse, first use your scraper, starting on the neck and scraping downward in the direction of the hair, using a little pressure but not enough to be uncomfortable. Go along the mane, down the sides and front of the neck, then the shoulder, along the back (avoiding the spine itself), over the hindquarters, and down and under the barrel and flanks. In that part of the flank where the hair goes different ways, use the scraper in the direction of the hair.
4. Because a scraper would be too hard on the legs, wipe them down with a clean, wrung-out sponge, squeezing it out frequently. Then towel-dry the body, being especially careful to dry the stomach and all the way down the legs. (Damp legs seem to invite bacteria growth.) Then comb the mane and walk the horse to help him air-dry.
Washing the Face
1. Now, with the horse used to bathing, wash his face and head (standing on a stepstool or stepladder). Dunk your “rinse” sponge in fresh water, wring it out, and then go all over the face and head to wet it (being careful not to drip water into his eyes), as well as behind the ears, down the cheeks and under the head.
2. Wring out the soapy sponge and wash behind the ears, down over the cheeks and under the eyes. Then do the same in front of the ears, above the eye and down the nose, taking care that suds don’t get too close to the eyes.
3. If the face is really dirty, go all over the face, the cheeks, behind the ears and under the head with your rubber mitt, also using it in the chin groove and the area between the jawbones. Rinse with a bucket of clean water and a fresh, wrung-out sponge, starting up high and rinsing the sponge frequently as you go.
Dump that bucket, rinse the sponge and squeeze out any remaining suds, refill the bucket, and go over the head one more time to be sure the soap is gone. Rinse and wring out the sponge until it’s as dry as you can get it, going over the head once more and then wiping out the nostril area. (Wash the sponge out well in hot water afterward.)
1. Finish drying the head with a big towel, getting rid of any remaining moisture—including on and around the ears.
2. Finally, with body and face both really dry, put leavein equine conditioner on the horse’s legs, if need be.
3. Use equine conditioner on dry manes and tails.
Simple step-by-step guide
Grooming tips and techniques
Selecting the right shampoo
Basic bathing tips: Shampooing
Basic bathing tips: Rinsing
Keep Your Gray Horse Gleaming
Horse Hoof Care Tips
Equine Massage Therapy
Winter Horse Grooming Tips
Grooming for Show Day
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