View Full Version : Winter Bathing?

Jan. 8, 2011, 01:47 PM
At what temperature do you decide it's okay to bathe/clean your horse with 'hot' water?
I've heard of steamed towels, not sure if its better than bathing in the cold temps. Also - when do you think its okay to wash a horse's tail.
I live in NW North Carolina where our normal right now is at about 40 degrees. And i am dying to bathe my horse, she is just a lover of mud...even with a blanket on!

Would just love to hear what yall think about bathing, etc.

Thanks :)

Jan. 8, 2011, 02:06 PM
Depends on the horse. Down here in Texas I don't get the snow you guys do but we make up for it in humidity. I've never been a fan of bathing horses in temps less than 50 hot water or not unless I'm dedicated to the hot towel and blankets. I had a plug in electrical blanket I used on Pal mare when I had to get her clean during the cold. Usually it was an attack of the curry comb and spot wash though as I was just convinced she would catch pneumonia if I got her too wet. Never mind she went out and played in the pond when it was 20 degrees out ;). She'd get toweled off and sit under the queen size electrical blanket while munching her dinner. By the time she was ready for bed she was dry and getting hot so I'd undo the blanket and she'd lay down and sleep.

Jan. 8, 2011, 02:09 PM
Are you bathing in a washrack in the barn or outside? If you're outside, I'd say at least 45 and sunny. Inside, with warm water, you're good to go now.

We live in NW Washington, and occasionally will do "birdie baths." We do legs, face and tail, with a cooler on, on sunny, not too windy days.

I pulled my Tbs manes and still need to clip bridle paths, legs, etc. We are going to a show next weekend and will probably wait until we get there on Friday to clean them up. You just never know what the weather is going to be like around here. :)

Oh! We do face (and sometimes neck) on the birdie bath with hot/warm towels. Luckily, I have three bays, so you can never tell when they are dirty!

Good luck!

Jan. 8, 2011, 02:15 PM
If it's not too windy and raw, I will bathe them down to about 40 degrees. I have hot water (endless) and am pretty fast about it--if they're winter-furry I don't delude myself that I can get them sparkling, show-ring clean without spending half an hour or more with the hose on them, so I go for "clean enough" and speedy. :) I cover them up with a polarfleece or something warm and wicking afterwards, and make sure they're squeegeed off as much as possible.

I don't touch tails unless it's the day before a show, ever. I keep them banged a little shorter than usual in the winter so they don't get mud/poop dingleberries in their tails if it's muddy. :dead:

One of the (very, very few) nice things about our winters: once the snow flies, it is pretty darn easy to keep them clean until about late March.

Jan. 8, 2011, 02:41 PM
My horse pretty much does not get bathed from the time she's in blankets 24/7 until the first warm-ish (55+) sunny spring day. But she's a very clean horse; I jokingly call her Teflon-coated. If there was some reason I did need to clean her during the winter, I'd use hot towels.

Jan. 8, 2011, 04:31 PM
I wash my horse's tail regularly in the winter (gray horse!) by filling up a bucket of hot water and dip/dunk the tail in it to get it wet, then lather with shampoo and start dunking to rinse (changing the water in the bucket several times) until it comes clean. Then dry with a towel. I can get the tail pretty clean almost up to the dock and do it without getting him wet and cold. Luckily my horse is a good guy and puts up with me working back there!

Jan. 8, 2011, 05:00 PM
The electric blanket idea is awesome!!! never thought about such a cool idea, i would just be scared of my girl spooking while she had it on and causing some huge up-roar :lol:

Usually i dont bathe until 55 degrees either, but she is just so dirty with almost "dandrif" im not sure exactly... she even has a blanket or more on almost 24/7!

Great Ideas, thanks guys!

Jan. 8, 2011, 05:16 PM
If they're just sort of scurfy and grungy, there's always 30 minutes of currying. :)

Jan. 8, 2011, 05:25 PM
One time, before we had our barn, it was opening hunt weekend and I was assigned to lead the fast field, so I HAD to wash big horsey. It was march and pretty cold, so I got warm buckets with soap, put him into the trailer for cover, washed and then had to hose him off. Then I layered on blankets and walked him dry. It worked like a charm and he never got too cold with the walking.... I would only do that again in an emergency.

It got much easier with a barn - hot water - and body clipping!!!

Jan. 8, 2011, 05:41 PM
Vacuums are great, even a cheap shop vac works. Cowboy magic makes a good spot cleaner or just take biogroom or ivory and make a very dilute spray for poop stains.
My problem is when I need to body clip.
I take the horse trailer out to the barn or haul horses to the house so that I have hot water. I wash in "quarters" and keep the rest covered with a cooler. It's not the best since no running hot water but with a good brushing or currying and lots of scrubbing I get them clean.
I don't wash below 40 degrees. If really sweaty I might wipe down with bigeloil mixed with warm water, cover with cooler. Heck, I already got them soaked with sweat!
Mine are all clipped so dry fast, esp with a cooler.

Jan. 8, 2011, 06:05 PM
I use 50 as my bare bones cut off, usually 60 though. And I have an inside wash rack with hot and cold water, well out of the wind.

If I could get DH to get me a stall heater I would bathe them when it was colder but at air temps less than 50, I get worried, even with warm water.

Jan. 8, 2011, 06:13 PM
When I was actively showing my lotsa-white pinto, she got bathed throughout the winter in any temps above freezing. I had access to a barn with a wash stall free of drafts and hung a heating lamp in front of the stall. Scrubbed, scraped, towelled, coolered, stalled with hay ... clean horse with no chills.

That said, hot toweling can really get a horse squeaky clean, if you are able to spend the time, have plenty of clean towels and keep scalding-hot water on hand. The water must be too hot to safely touch with bare skin; rubber gloves are required. You dunk your towel, wring out until it is just barely wet, and scrub away ... one small spot of horse with one small bit of towel. When the spot is clean, dunk and repeat on a new spot of horse with a new spot of towel. When the towel is dirty, toss it aside and resume with a new one. Expect to have to keep replacing your water so it is hot-hot-hot. I liked to add a bit of Listerine to the hot water to attract the dirt; it's also good to scrub out green manure stains.

I've done this in freezing temps, outdoors in howling winds, or if I lacked a wash stall for some reason. Because you are using so little water, the horse never really gets wet. By the time I was done, the only damp areas would be the last couple of spots I was scrubbing and they would be dry mere minutes later.

Jan. 8, 2011, 07:16 PM
I'll do it to about 40, but our wash stall can be closed up pretty tight (turns into quite the sauna!) and we have lots of hot water. I then bundle the hell out of them.

I'm not wild about bathing when it's cold, so I try not to, but I did bathe the night before Thanksgiving Day hunt (which was canceled! :lol:) and I bathe them after they hunt. Tails I'll do as long as I'm not worried about their tails freezing.

Jan. 8, 2011, 07:33 PM
If you're in the 40's and you have warm water I think you'll be just fine so long as you have a cooler :)

Jan. 9, 2011, 12:29 AM
I washed two weeks ago before second round of clipping, it was just about 50. washed in an outdoor wash rack, hot water, and moved fast. It was a no wind, sunny winter day, mid-day (so the temps weren't dropping as he was drying). I put on an irish knit, topped with a fleece cooler and hand grazed/walked in the sun until he was dry. He never shivered or seemed bothered and was dry within an hour. (then I clipped him!)

Jan. 9, 2011, 08:39 AM
You can use a camp stove to get the water hot, to.

Jan. 10, 2011, 02:03 AM
I make mid-50s my absolute cutoff. Usually, I usually quit around 65- my diva gelding HATES to be cold and acts like I'm killing him even in the hot weather. :rolleyes:

I'm not obsessed with bathing my horses obviously ;), even in the summer they only get a water-bath 99% of the time... leaving in some oil helps give them their (natural) shiny coats.

Jan. 10, 2011, 02:40 AM
I do legs if it's above freezing and they're scruffy but leave my horse inside if it's dry. I did manage to do her tail once this winter (a grey mare and we were going to a clinic-it had to be done) with hot water and a little creativity with the dunking like was posted above. Lucky for me where I board at school has a heated grooming area so when I was done and needed to get her tail dry I could put her in an area that had a warm breeze from the heater and it dried pretty quickly. Since I don't show during the winter (I'm in the midwest, we just try to survive the winter haha) I'm not super concerned about the rest of her body since she has a blanket and tends to be a pretty clean horse except when she's in her stall at shows of course. If I needed to bathe her in the winter I could because of our barn set up and we'd just hang out in the heated area until she was finally dry, but I haven't needed to.

Side note/tip: i was trying to figure our a way to get small batches of hot water because our barn water heater takes a long time to heat up. I grabbed my 'hot pot' from my dorm room that I had to make hot chocolate/ramen noodles etc. before I got my apartment. It is the best thing to have at the barn I swear! They are not very expensive at all and they're really fast to heat up water. I use it every day to soak her beet pulp shreds-it is so much faster to soak them with hot water. So if anyone needs a way to heat up a little water grab one of those-it's so handy to have around the barn, especially if you have an emergency injury or something to clean out!

Jan. 11, 2011, 06:21 PM
This is what you want for heating up water with no hot water tank:


Works great! But I don't bathe under 65 degrees. I might spot clean with a hot towel if my horse lay down in manure in the stall (ick), but usually, I just vacuum and curry all winter.