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Bathing Your Horse: Shampooing

Bathing Your Horse: Shampooing

Shampooing your horseWondering how best to bathe your horse? Follow these expert tips.

Adapted from articles in EQUUS by Eliza R.L. McGraw and in Practical Horseman by Sarah Dodds

After you have selected your favorite horse shampoo, here are some basic bathing tips:

Preparation for a Full Bath

First, gather what you’ll need: a hose with an adjustable nozzle, a big tub of water you’ve warmed if there’s no running hot water, two buckets, several big half-moon sponges, an equine shampoo, a rubber mitt, a wooden scraper (gentler than plastic or metal ones), a couple of big towels, and a stepstool or ladder.

If your horse is at all nervous (or you are), recruit a helper  who can hold the lead (attached to a halter with a breakaway top) and soothe him with pats and quiet words.

Wetting Down

1. Wet your horse all over (except for the head). With the hose set on “shower” and the water comfortably warm, work upwards slowly from the front feet and lower legs, always pointing the spray away from his head. (No running hot water? Fill a bucket with warm water and sponge him generously, following the same sequence.)

2. From the neck, go down his back, down his flanks and hind legs, and under his body including the sheath and genital area (fortunately, most horses don’t mind a gentle stream of water here). Finally, lift the tail, spray well around the anus and down between the legs, and then hose down the tail itself.

Using Spray-Away on the horse's tailShampooing

1. Drop a sponge into an empty bucket, adding warm water, then pouring the shampoo on top of the sponge and adding more warm water at the same time to build suds. (Resoak the sponge and add water or shampoo as needed to keep the suds coming.)

2. Using a round-and-round motion, start soaping the neck, then the front legs, back, flanks, under the body (including behind the elbows, between the front legs and the sheath area) and down the hind legs.

3. Around the anus and between the hind legs, use a different sponge reserved for that area, with plenty of water.

4. Dump the tail in the bucket to rewet it. Soap it well and work the soap in thoroughly with your fingers all the way to the end of the tail, adding water to keep it sudsy.

5. Return to the mane and, making sure it’s good and wet, pour a little shampoo directly onto your hands. Using your fingers (and maybe your rubber mitt), work the suds in, right down to the roots. Then go over the whole body again, in the same order, with the mitt, rewetting it frequently and really scrubbing.

Now it’s time for a thorough rinse!

Read more:
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
Braiding Basics
Horse Hoof Care Tips
Equine Massage Therapy
Winter Horse Grooming Tips
Grooming for Show Day

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