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Your best horse bathing secrets

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  • Your best horse bathing secrets

    Hi all, I have to bathe a couple of my horses today and was thinking about the order I use, ie. tail, mane, body, rinse, repeat. What is your routine. Do you comb the tail out first, or wash, then condition, THEN comb? Any cool tricks you've discovered.

    I've washed them a million times, don't have a ward water wash rack now, which is sooooo much easier. Thanks,,,

  • #2
    I groom the horse first. I never touch the tail with anything other than my fingers, so I pick the tail out by hand.

    Then I rinse the entire horse.

    Next I apply the shampoo with a rubber grooming mitt. Neck, barrel, butt, legs. Then I hit the mane and tail. Finally the face.

    Rinse shampoo off starting with face, then mane, then tail. I apply conditioner to the mane and tail and let it sit while I rinse the body. Then rinse the mane and tail and go back and rinse the entire horse again (except the face) front to back top to bottom. Scrape with sweat scraper, spray coat conditioner, let dry.

    I apply my favorite leave in conditioner to mane and tail then braid them when dry (Mine are all Arabians, so have long full manes-I keep them loosely braided in pony tail braids to avoid tangles)
    Michael: Seems the people who burned me want me for a job.
    Sam: A job? Does it pay?
    Michael: Nah, it's more of a "we'll kill you if you don't do it" type of thing.
    Sam: Oh. I've never liked those.


    • #3
      I have the pleasure of frequent bathing, given that I ride a fleabitten grey with four tall white socks who loves to be dirty [and happens to get turned out all day every day, even in the wet and muddy PNW winters].


      Wet down one side of the body and her tail. Work a coat of regular shampoo through the tail, then start just behind her head with a scrubby and a bucket of sudsy water. Scrub neck to tail, top to bottom, dipping the scrubby back in the soapy water when I'm running out. I do her belly to around the midline.
      Rinse tail and the side I just washed. Wet other side. Put a coat of QuikSilver in the tail and scrub this second side the same way I did the first, except I use some QuikSilver in her mane.
      Rinse everything. (Make sure you go back to the original side to catch shampoo that's drifted over the topline.)
      Conditioner in the tail and a bit in the mane, let that sit while the socks get QuikSilvered. Then rinse everything thoroughly and use a sweat scraper.

      Then everything gets sprayed with some conditioning spray - we use that pink Healthy Haircare stuff. Lots of it in the tail. Unless it's hot and sunny out, she gets a cooler on. Then we braid her tail into a tail bag and shut the door to her paddock so she doesn't go out and roll


      • #4
        Betadine is the best whitener.
        Remove any gold or white gold rings before applying aforementioned Betadine.

        Infusium 23 on the tail and mane when finished bathing. Leave it entirely alone until dry, then finger pick tail. I have a fab paddle brush I use on manes and tails. start at the botom, slowly add an another inch or two as you go

        Do not use people shampoos advertising 'adds body' that creates fuzzy, 'stood up' coats. Cheap baby shampoo or Prell or Suave, etc, works fine.


        • #5
          I don't know about grays, but on darker horses a final rinse with some Pine Sol in a bucket of water takes out all of the soap residue and really makes them shine.

          No way does straight rinsing get rid of all the soap or creme rinse or conditioner. I would also think that any spray on additives (I use Show Sheen) would make the coat duller because silicone products attract dust which will make the coat look dull (and dirty). This is why I only use Show Sheen on the main and tail.

          I am surprised that Betadine makes things look whiter. All it does on my horses (and hands) is make everything orange.
          "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

          Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


          • #6
            I use pretty much the same drill as Catmchorse with two differences:

            Shampoo: Either medicated for skin issues, or Xtreme Show White Shampoo.

            I use plastic beaded exfolliating gloves when bathing the horse. Gets the crud out gently but thoroughly. $1 in local dollar stores.
            "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." Albert Einstein



            • #7
              1. I wet down the horse.

              2. I soap the mane, neck, body, legs and tail with a large sponge. If I am giving the bath the day of the show, I do not wash the mane, just rinse. After I apply the soap, I use a soft plastic scrub on the mane, body and legs. I use my hands to wash the soap on the tail.

              I never soap my horse's face.

              3. I rinse, while using the soft plastic scrubby to help remove the soap from the coat. Rinse mane first and tail last.

              4. I sponge an apple cider vinegar/water solution over the body. Rinse again. The vinegar not only helps give a good shine and removes any left over soap, but makes them smell like a salad.

              7. I will use the rinsed out sponge to "wash" her face. I do not spray her in the face, because I have always been concerned about causing an eye injury.

              6. I use Cowboy Magic in her tail. Her tail will be super shiny and combs out easily.

              I only give soap baths before shows, because soap dries out the coat. I will give a plain apple cider vinegar bath more often.
              When in Doubt, let your horse do the Thinking!


              • #8
                lord helpus, you do have to rinse it


                • #9
                  I wash mane and tail, rinse thoroughly, apply conditioner, then wash one side with rubber scrubby mitt, rinse, wash other side, rinse, then wash head/face and forelock, rinse, then rinse out mane and tail, then rinse entire horse again using scrubby grooming mitt. On my former gray horse, after his mane/tail/entire body was washed with regular shampoo, I'd put on some Quic Silver shampoo, let it sit for a bit, rinse out really well, put conditioner on the mane and tail, then rinse entire horse again as above. I thank God for the beautiful dark bay coat my current horse has lol!


                  • #10
                    A vinegar rinse to make sure every bit of soap is out is a godsend. Try it in your own hair once a week too!


                    • #11
                      I bath usung a cheap non chlorine detergent..........amazing how the shine will come out of your horses coat, makes them beautiful. and no it doesn't dry the skin out, been doing it for years and years and had a chemist friend check it out. The detergent w/o bleach works great!
                      No Worries!


                      • #12
                        My trick is to mix the shampoo according to label directions (dilute it) into a spray bottle. Spray the already moistened horse with shampoo mixture and use soft green groom curry to scrub. Cowboy magic yellow out on any stains or socks. Applying shampoo already diluted makes it much easier to rinse properly.


                        • #13
                          bathing musts at our barn...

                          Half sponges are for face only! that way, hard detergents don't get accidentally on the face. we use whole sponges on the body and half sponges for the face. quarter sponges are for sheathes only. We just cut the sponges into halves and quarters.

                          Only Baby shampoo on the face. Wet with clear water, lather, rinse with clear water.

                          scrub shampoo into the crest and dock then rinse with the hose sprayer buried right into the skin. It floats the dirt and soap up and out of the skin.

                          At the beginning of a bath, if the mare is really grimy, I apply soap to the udder and let it sit to get the udder clean without a lot of scrubbing. I can use a sheath sponge or the end of the wet tail to softly scrub the soapy udder.

                          Rinsing - again, press the hose sprayer right into the hair and the dirt and soap will float up and out of the skin.

                          At the end of the bath, use a wire brush on the softened hoof wall to get some of the stain out.

                          apply conditioner to tail then gently comb the conditioner through the tail. If you have a friend to hold the hose, you can do this while rinsing out the tail.

                          Post bath - Healthy Hair Coat pink stuff or Vetrolin Shine keeps the skin from getting flakey.

                          Frequent baths equals chapped elbows on some horses, rub with a towel after bath and apply pink stuff to prevent flaky skin.

                          Anyone use one of those toilet plunger cuff things that are supposed to keep water from running down your armpit?
                          ...don't sh** where you eat...


                          • #14
                            A tip on spraying a horse's face:

                            My horse is 17+ hands so spongeing his face can be a challenge. I found that if I have a nozzle that has different settings that any horse will tolerate it if I put it on 'mist'.

                            I don't spray the horse in the face, rather, I spray straight up towards the ceiling and let the mist rain down on him. There's hardly a horse alive that hasn't been rained upon in his life and a light mist is hardly offensive to most horses. Mine simply pins his ears slightly and blinks and as he does this, I wipe his eyes with my hands intermittently because I feel bad when he looks all blinky.

                            And yes, I bought my own spray nozzle to take with me to barns that didn't have them.

                            "If you have the time, spend it. If you have a hand, lend it. If you have the money, give it. If you have a heart, share it." by me


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by katarine View Post
                              lord helpus, you do have to rinse it

                              OOPS! Yes, rinse. But I do not rinse it as hard as I rinse other things. I rinse enough to dilute the already diluted Pine Sol. I like the piney smell.

                              Another thing I do -- which I forgot to mention -- to make rinsing easier and more effective:

                              I scrape the horse before rinsing. No point in having soap flowing all over the horse when your goal is to get him clean. Then when I start to rinse, I keep scraping. Only when there is absolutely no soap apparent in the scraped off water do I move on to the next section.

                              I don't even bother doing the stomach until every other part of the body is 100% clean and rinsed and scraped.

                              One trainer I was with put hoof dressing on every horse's hooves before any water hit its body. I don't do that, but neither do I bathe my horses every day now.

                              Re: every day bathing -- I used to think it would dry skin, but then I went into training with Champ and Linda Hough -- nationally known trainers of mega champion conformation hunters. Their horses GLEAMED -- you practically needed sunglasses to look at them.

                              Every horse in the barn got bathed in dishwashing detergent every day.

                              So there goes that myth.
                              "He lives in a cocoon of solipsism"

                              Charles Krauthammer speaking about Trump


                              • #16
                                I noticed no one mentioned the Wash Wand - which is like a sweat scraper and hose sprayer built as one.

                                Where I live we have a lot of sand, which gets rubbed in my horses coats and sits on the skin. I use the wash wand for post ride and hot afternoon rinses, and holding it close to the horse's coat at a 45 degree angle actually pushes a lot of dirt right out. I do this until the water rinses clear.

                                I found I can reduce the number of soapy washes, which may not be harmful but are time consuming. It also makes rinsing SO MUCH FASTER when I do soap up. Again = time saver for me and less water consumed to get the job done.

                                It is also handy for the roots of mane like rainfieldfarm mentioned.

                                I use a rubber scraper at the end. The wash wand is metal and a little harsh for scraping the sensitive areas.


                                • #17
                                  The key to a good bath is that you have to scrub, preferably when you are running the rinse water over the horse. If your horse is not getting clean, it isn't the type of shampoo you are or aren't using, it is the lack of scrubbing!

                                  I use Ivory dishwashing soap and have since I worked for an A barn.

                                  I also use hoof dressing before baths, even just hosing off.


                                  • #18
                                    Stuff I swear by....

                                    Dawn dish soap is OMG amazing at degunking the grimy beasties. It's especially helpful in removing the shiny stuff after shows. and also great on the dogs to get rid of fleas. Used it in the vet clinics I worked for.

                                    Downy fabric softener is also a staple in my show box. Diluted off course but makes hair super soft and shiny, plus it helps repel dirt too.

                                    Dryer sheets are the best at removing lint and stray hairs, plus wonderful to keep static at bay. (I also toss some in my boots too to keep static down and my boot smelling, um, better )

                                    As far as technique on how I bathe? depends on the horse. If I have a horse that loves water, well bathing can take all day. I always groom first, then thoroughly soak everything, especially his woo-hoo! areas. Then since I am a huge believer that more is better, I waste a lot of shampoo- some in the bucket, some on the horse, some on the ground, some on my boots, and then with a very wet scrubby, I scrub/massage the body from neck down. One side. Rinse, Scrub again, Rinse. Then move to the other side.

                                    Mane and tails I do next to last. I don't like a super clean mane (dirty manes are easier to braid) so unless we just came from showing and need to get out the gel and sprays, I lightly scrub the mane and tail. Rinse it then leave in conditioners while I go do sheath and then face.

                                    Since my horse knows I am knee high to an ant, he knows that he can hold his head up and I can't wash his face. So yes, I spray his face, away from his eyes. Then he grimaces at me and makes the scary dead horse face that creeps me out so I stop. Then I take a washcloth with tear free shampoo and wash his face.

                                    I have this super cool lint brush that I got from Walmart for $1 that works as a super soft face scrubber so I scrub his face with that. (he likes to have a dirty face, btw)

                                    Then we proceed to the whole spraying dead horse phase of our bath again until all of the soap is off. Then I go back and wash out conditioner. Then I spray on Downy all over, then rinse that. Put shiny stuff in his tail and MTG his non existent hope-to-be-there-one-day forelock and then we either go drip dry in the sun or get a rub down with the fluffy towel that I always forget at home on bath day if I remember to bring it.

                                    Then afterwards, when he is nice and clean and purty, he goes back in his stall and of course, rolls.....


                                    • #19
                                      I thought this was going to be a "keep your horse clean in the winter" tip thread, with cold weather coming on. I think my horse got his last bath until spring.

                                      The alcohol rub-down works really well. More popular at racing barns...I don't think I've ever seen it done anywhere else but it works wonders and dries fast.

                                      A cactus cloth can be your best friend next to some good curries. Cactus cloths are getting harder to find though. The last time I asked for one at the local tack shop I got a blank stare.

                                      And if/when you do have to spot wash, a chamois cloth (from the car wash section) is great for drying them. Rub, wring out the water, and repeat as necessary.

                                      When it is time for baths, I use either a cheap conditioner with cetyl alcohol as one of the top 2 ingredients, or Dr. Bronner's all natural soap (slightly pricey, but I dilute it). Dawn does work, but it's so danged sudsy it's hard to get it all rinsed. I don't like to use anything with artificial foaming agents. The suds don't do anything but make you think it's really working, and make it take longer to rinse...it's the surfactants that cut the dirt and grime. Whatever I use, it gets backed up with a good dose of elbow grease. I curry and use a semi-stiff brush while I'm scrubbing.

                                      And finally I like to spray healthy haircare (the pink stuff) on during every grooming session...seems to keep them cleaner in between, or at least the dirt comes off easier. I've never had much luck with the dry shampoos.


                                      • #20
                                        My horse can have a nice white tail - I use Spray 'n Wash, let it work for ten minutes and then shampoo twice with Pert Plus. (Learned to use Pert Plus from a Pony Clubber when her pony felt so soft.)

                                        After clipping, we get a bucket of hot water with some baby oil splashed into it and wipe the horse down all over with that. Picks up the dandruff and adds sheen. Polish with a micro-cloth to remove any excess water/oil.
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