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Vacuuming horses

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  • Vacuuming horses

    Greetings all.

    I know I am probably way out of the loop on this one.

    Heard ages ago that you could vacuum your horse with a Shop Vac.

    Anyone care to expound on this? Do I need special attachements?
    Anything I should be careful with? I do not want to clip this year, and my horses will be yaks.
    "The Friesian syndrome... a mix between Black Beauty disease and DQ Butterfly farting ailment." Alibi_18

  • #2
    Well I use the little 1 gallon Shop Vac on my horse. It has a strap that allows me to carry it on my shoulder. We have an electrical outlet in the grooming stall. I just gradually desensitized her to the sound and the feeling of the suction. She is totally fine with it now. Only took about 6 times to get her to to be OK with it...and about 2 bags of carrots!


    • #3

      I use a big shop vac 5 gallon I think. No special attachments needed. Watch for static electricity, a little Showsheen will help. My horses really love to be vacuumed, they really get into it.


      • #4
        Yup, there are one and two gallon shop vacs with shoulder harnesses. Much easier to groom with.
        But if the horse comes in a soaking wet mud caked mess...out comes the big floor model vac, but the hose is long enough that I'm not moving it around except to change sides of the horse.
        Yep, they're noisy. Yep, horses get used to them.
        To get my horses used to them I used a combo of the "slow introduction" coupled with the "get over it" methods. Since I use my shop vac to clean the barn often, I started vacuuming the outside of the stalls and rafters while the horses were in. They'd do the big eyed squeezed against the back wall of the stall thing, but didn't take long for them to come forward again since that's where the hay is. Then left it running in the aisle and led horses in and out of stalls, had to stand (alright, first few times spin around) in the aisle near it, get led by it, etc. Eventually moved to grooming them with it, complete with dancing around the first few times.
        Now am happy as a clam that they did get over it since vacuuming the horses is soooo much easier, better and nicer than trying to curry out and flick away dust from a winter coat. (now the morons even like the leafblower, weirdos) And it's great for wet mud if you have a wet/dry vac. And sweaty horses, sucks the moisture right out of the coats. Or spot washing stains off and drying it immediately by sucking the water back out again. Makes them uber-fluffy too, LOL!
        Someone posted this on this BB before, I saved the link since I plan on buying one:
        For now I just use the hose end and it works just fine. But am betting that attachment works better.
        You jump in the saddle,
        Hold onto the bridle!
        Jump in the line!


        • #5
          I use my floor model house vac that can suck the dog hair right off the dogs

          I put each horse under the overhang attached to the barn, drop the lead rope (I never tie anyone for anything unless we're away from home trail riding), put the long hose attachment on the vacuum and get at it.

          I make it point to NOT vacuum around their heads, or privates

          I use the full brush attachment. Once everyone remembers what the vacuum is doing, they all but fall asleep. I won't let them fall asleep just in case they start dreaming the vacuum is a pack of coyotes coming down off the ridge to eat them

          I certainly do not recommend that vacuum method for flighty horses, horses that are boarded and not used to being handled a few hours daily by their owner, or a person not used handling any horse. It works well with my four and has saved me the cost of a real equine vac


          • #6
            One trick that you can use with the shop vac is to buy extra hoses and connectors (easily available at Home Depot) to keep the vacuum and noise further away from the horse. I also blow instead of vacuum using a reducer on the nozzle end. Curry first and then blow, works quite well and sucking up skin and static not a problem.


            • #7
              I look at the sucking action as a mini myofascial therapy
              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


              • #8
                I bought this last year and LOVE it! The only downside is it can go through bags pretty quickly. But I just take out the bag, shake it over the trash can, and use it again. I'll do that about 5 times before I switch to another bag. It has a shoulder strap so I carry it around with me and we have a retractable electrical cord in the grooming stall so it doesn't get tangled up. I don't think my guy had ever been vacuumed and it only took 2-3 times before he didn't care about it at all. When I pat him after using the vacuum I don't get consumed by clouds of dust! I shopped around and waited for a sale and think I got it for about $140.


                • #9
                  I bought a Eureka house canister style vacuum at K-Mart about 10 years ago, and it works great. Of course I could not vacuum wet mud off, but by the time I got to the barn after the horses were brought in for the evening, my horse went from wet mud to "Adobe Boy". I swear he did it just because he liked being vacuumed!

                  I got a lot of strange looks from the other boarders, mostly because they did not come from show horse backgrounds where vacuums were commonly used. But when they saw that I had a clean horse in a short amount of time, and was not blowing brown dirt of of my nose for hours afterwards. . . they started contemplating getting one of their own.

                  And yes, I still have and use that vacuum, but bags are getting hard to find.
                  There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams


                  • #10
                    After 50 years of sinus problems and 50 years of horses, I went to an allergist and found that there were about 5 things I am allergic to, and guess what?

                    One of them is horses.

                    Another is dogs.

                    So I quit grooming with brush and curry comb and use a shop vac. Hard to believe it, but that was 20 years ago.

                    Get it from Lowes or a similar. Get an extra hose length and a connector. The horse doesn't care whether the hose is long or short, but it makes it a lot easier to clean the horse, especially if he is 17h with a long neck and body.

                    The short hose will mean you have to be constantly moving the canister but the long hose will allow you to move it only when changing sides.

                    The static electricity, at least in my experience, is annoying only in the winter on those low humidity days. So what? It will tickle your fingers a little, but not smack you like the kids trick of dragging his feet on the rug and then touching you. Not like sliding out of your car seat.

                    I never had a horse notice it because it is all along the outside of the hose.

                    One could eliminate it by wrapping a wire around the hose next to the canister and attaching the other end of the wire to a ground, but it is not worth it.

                    As for a horse getting tangled in it, I have never had that problem. Once the horse knows what it is, he will sometimes back into it, but pays no attention to it.

                    I don't have many horses now days, but over the years I have used it on quite a few, so go for it.

                    Get the soft round brush attachment. None of the others will be any good except to clean the tack room floor.


                    Protect your privacy. Replace Google with IXQUICK at www.ixquick.com.

                    If we do not wish to lose our freedom, we must learn to tolerate our
                    neighbor's right to freedom even though he might express that freedom
                    in a manner we consider to be eccentric.


                    • #11
                      I am lucky that I have the big blue horse vacuum. We have had it for over 20 years. The horses seem to love it, even the flightiest ones succumb to it's charms!

                      The most interesting thing I have found is in vacuuming pregnant mares. Once the foal comes they want to be vacuumed too! I guess because the mare likes it when she is carrying the foal, who knows!
                      Kanoe Godby
                      See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.


                      • #12
                        we use a shop vac but it is actually on the floor ABOVE the wash stall..we ran the hose down through the dividing wall of the wash stall and had an electrician wire a switch that controls the outlet the shop vac is plugged into up above...the noise from the vac is almost non existant...everyone loves it


                        • #13
                          and all our horses have learned to LOVE being vacuumed...even those spooky Ayrabs lol


                          • #14
                            I have the orange vacuum that's sold in most horse catalogs for around $200. I did not, however, pay full retail for it. I bought it at a tack sale for $50. It didn't have all the hose attachments, and the bag was full. It was the best $50 I've ever spent on horse grooming supplies. I bought a soft brush attachment that you'd use with a shop vac (round with bristles) and some vacuum bags. Total additional cost: $20.

                            I use it every day from fall to spring because it pull all that dirt that hides under shaggy winter coats to the surface and whisks it away. I, too, have terrible allergies, especially to horses and dust, so fall/winter grooming has always been horrible for me, but no longer with the vacuum. My horse seems to adore the process too. She settles right in with a dangling lower lip. I'm not shy either. I vacuum every part of her, and I'm not shy about it either.

                            It did take a few tries to get her acclimated to the noise and the feel of it. I had my husband vacuum while I fed her treats and soothed her. It didn't take long, though, for her to realize that it feels good and that the roar of the machine won't kill her.

                            I was going to repurpose our small-sized shop vac for her when I found the orange vacuum, and I know people who use their shop vacs for just that purpose. I guess my only quibble with the shop vac would be that unless you use a filter and a bag in it, you're going to get a fair amount of dust blowing out the other side of it. On the other hand, I can't vacuum wet spots with my orange vac, but that's an option with the shop vac.

                            Either way, I'm a big advocate for vacuuming. It's a great grooming option!


                            • #15
                              I bought a $45.00 shop vac (5 gallon) that works as well if not better than a friends old $500 "horse" model. I trained my previous horse to stand quietly for it, and she ended up loving the groom it gave. New horse is still trying to decide if whether he thinks it's going to kill us all. So, I leave it in plain site, massage him with it and occasionally turn it on. So far I can do his shoulders. So hopefully he will learn to love it too. For me it is a great winter grooming tool to get out the deeply embedded dirt and dander. I bought a curry tool attachment through Valley Vet that fits right onto the hose. Sure, it's a tad loud, but really not any more offensive than my two speed clippers, the farrier's forge and hammering or any other barnyard noises. People in my barn love to use it once they see how great it is to groom the dried mud off in 1/2 the time.

                              I haven't run into logistical issues other than making sure I have enough cord. The hose is long enough for me to comfortably reach a 16h horse. With anything around horses, a little common sense goes a long way.

                              Another great thing is you can use it to suck up dirt and bedding that gets onto turnout blankets and I use it to fluff up the wool on my sheepskin lined saddle pads. Also very handy to vacuum out the tack room in my trailer and my grooming totes. Pretty handy tool all around!