How to Bathe a Horse

Because I would like to offer a tutorial, in order to share what I know, I bring you, “How to Bathe a Horse.”  Although this blog is primarily sewing focused, my sewing skills are not quite up to par to be teaching much or offering advice just yet.  So I will share something with you that I know a little more about–my first love, horses.

On Saturday, temperatures reached 88 degrees.  I had planned to go riding, but it was a bit too warm for my liking, so I bathed horses instead.  Bathing horses is not like bathing a dog or cat.  There’s none of that “wet dog” smell, and none of the rolling and shaking all over the house afterwards that my dog is prone to do.  I rather like bathing horses.

Let me introduce you to Flash, Paige and Doc.
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These three retired quarter horses do not belong to me, but I am privileged to enjoy their company in my spare time.

With all the sunshine we’ve had lately, their winter coats have shedded, leaving a nice thin coat of hair underneath the dirt and remnants of winter.  Saturday was the perfect day to wash away the winter residue and properly welcome spring.

I tied the horses under a bit of shade and bathed them one at a time.

To begin, I turned the water on, making sure the end of the hose was not pointing at myself or the horses.  I don’t like to be surprised with water, and horses don’t either.  Once everybody can see and hear the water, begin by wetting the horse’s legs first.
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Hose water is typically cool, so it’s best to gradually work up the horse’s leg, letting him get used to the water temperature, and then drenching the rest of his body.  I don’t generally wash the horse’s head because most horses don’t like water running all over their head.  You can certainly wash their head using a sponge or low hose pressure, but I chose not to.  For a most pleasant experience, respect your horse and what he’s comfortable with.  If the horse is nervous, stop and wait till he relaxes and is comfortable with the water before proceeding.
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Get one side completely wet and then apply the shampoo.  I do one side at a time so that he doesn’t start to dry off  before I finish rinsing the soap off.  I used Orvus concentrate and spread  a small amount across the upper body, letting it mix with the water and spread downward.
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With the winter coat still hanging around, I used a rubber curry comb to spread the soap and help work up the loose hair.  Look at all the dirty suds.
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I used the curry comb on his upper body where he has layers of fat and muscle.  For his legs, be more gentle and use a sponge or your hands to spread the soap and work up the loose hair and dirt to the surface.  For his mane and tail, be sure the long hair is thoroughly wet and work the shampoo in with your hands.  Then rinse thoroughly with water, once again starting at the bottom of his leg to let him adjust to the water temperature and working up to the top of his body.  Rinse the soap off, from the top down to the ground.
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Repeat on his other side: water, soap, water.  And make sure to rinse off any soap that may have crossed over his back to the opposite side.  Once the soap, dirt and loose hair have all been washed away, use a squeegee to remove the excess water, scraping with the direction of the horse’s natural hair pattern (in other words, don’t brush against his hair;  take the path of least resistance and go with the natural hair pattern).

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Only use the squeegee on his upper body, not on his legs, and let the sun do the rest!

Here are a few shots of Doc’s bath–the soap showed so well against his black coat.

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While their coats dried, I sprayed some “Showsheen” detangler in their manes and tails, then brushed them out.  For the tail (and longer manes) start at the ends and brush out tangles, working up the tail a little at a time.

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Use a regular hair brush–combs tend to rip more hair out than a brush.  This pink brush is a cheap Forever21 model–I had bought a hair brush from a feed store (for about twice the price) and it broke the first time I used it.  Hair brushes for human hair seem to be better made.
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I like to brush their faces with a soft dandy brush, and also brush off any leftover loose hair on their bodies once dry.
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Then stand back and admire the way the sun glistens off their shiny coats.

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And then it was back to the pasture for the horses, to enjoy spring’s bounty.
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If you have a horse, has he/she had a bath yet this spring?  What do you do when the temperature reaches 88+ degrees?
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12 comments

  1. Oh lucky you! The chestnut with the blaze is gorgeous, but the black is superb all nice and clean…did they enjoy it or could you imagine them sighing under sufference?!

  2. What an interesting post! We just watched “Buck” (fabulous documentary about the horse whisperer) last night so I have horses on the brain. They’ve always scared me a bit so I have great respect for your courage in bathing them.

  3. I do not have a horse but it was very interesting reading your post. Like you said, we know lots about sewing but it’s always interesting to hear/read about their other hobbies

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