If your horse is covered in mud or you are going to take him to a show, you need to give him a bath. As horses are sensitive to cold, it is best to bathe on a sunny day. And if he is sick, bath him only after consulting a veterinarian.
Part 1 of 2: Preparing the Horse for Bath
Step 1. Gather the materials
You will need the right items and tools for the task. The most important ones on the list are horse-specific shampoo and conditioner.
And the tools: a squeegee scraper, a nylon brush, a rubber scraper, a mane brush, and a chamois or towel. You'll also need a water source, of course, and a step if the horse's back is too high for you
Step 2. Tie the horse with a robber loop
Choose a place where the water can drain. Many stables have an area dedicated to horse bathing.
- The robber's return (or escape knot) is the best option because, as it can be undone with a simple tug if the animal panics, it prevents it from hurting itself or damaging the fence where it is tied. It also allows the keeper to stand back while he struggles.
- To learn how to make this knot, read this article.
Step 3. Run the rubber scraper over the horse's body in a circular motion to dislodge dirt and debris stuck in the horse's hair
To remove them, use a nylon brush.
- A rubber (or sometimes plastic) scraper is a brush that encourages blood circulation in the animal's muscles and skin. It is the first item in the horse care routine as it loosens dirt and debris trapped in the fur.
- The nylon (or animal hair) brush has stiff bristles, ideal for cleaning dirt and dirt dislodged by the rubber scraper. It's also great for removing dry mud from the horse's feet and hooves.
Step 4. On the feet, use the nylon brush
Many rubber scrapers are too hard for the sensitive foot pads, so a nylon brush is preferable. Brush from top to bottom, in the direction of hair growth.
Step 5. Run a mane brush over the mane and tail
It is a utensil with wide and well-spaced teeth, which removes dirt and undoes knots. If there is any part that is too tangled, undo the knots with your fingers instead of forcing the comb.
Never stop behind the horse. While you're combing or washing your tail, stop beside the horse and reach out to reach it. That way you'll be out of harm's way if he kicks
Part 2 of 2: Bathing the Horse
Step 1. Wash his face
As this is the most sensitive area of the body, it should be dealt with right at the beginning of the bath. Dip a sponge in warm water and squeeze out the excess. Use it to clean the horse's face, always following the direction in which the hair grows. Be careful not to get water in the eyes, which would irritate the animal.
Never shampoo the horse's face, only plain water. If there's a lot of dirt, rub his face several times until the water runs clean
Step 2. It is best to wet the horse before applying the shampoo
For this, you can use a hose or pass a sponge dipped in water.
- Not every horse likes to be hosed down. To give him time to understand what's going on, start at the base of his feet and slowly work his way toward the torso.
- Do not use a pressure pistol, which would irritate the horse.
Step 3. Clean the anus and genitals
Now is a good time to clean the animal's foreskin (if you're dealing with a male) and anus. Use a cotton swab or clean cloth reserved for this purpose only. Use separate cloths on the anus and foreskin.
- Lather and rinse the penis and foreskin area. Take the opportunity to check for any abnormalities in the genitalia. For more detailed information, read this article.
- As for the anus, use only a damp cloth. If the cloth becomes dirty, fold it over to reveal a clean part and wipe the animal's anus again. Repeat the process until the area is completely clean.
- Stop beside the horse, never behind it, during this step.
Step 4. Shampoo
Now that the animal is damp, pour a coin-sized portion (or the one indicated by the manufacturer) into a wet sponge and rub it into its fur. Depending on the size of the horse, it may be necessary to repeat this process several times. Lather and rinse small areas at a time, as the shampoo can dry out the hair if it's left on for too long.
- Shampoo is not always necessary. If used too often, in fact, it can strip the skin of the natural oils that keep the coat waterproof during the rains.
- If you show the horse in shows and need to shampoo it more than once a month, it may be necessary to leave it in the stable at all times, as it will be less prepared to face the elements.
Step 5. Rinse
If left in contact with the skin, the shampoo will dry and irritate it, in addition to removing the shine from the hair. Hence the importance of rinsing the shampoo well. Pick up a bucket full of clean water and pour it in with a sponge. Repeat until water drops without foaming. Or you can rinse it off with the hose.
Step 6. Dry the horse
Now that the water is coming out clean and there is no more shampoo residue, the horse is ready to be dried.
- An alternative is to pass the squeegee scraper in the direction of hair growth. The squeegee drops the excess water stored in the fur. If you don't have this tool, you can smooth the horse with the outer edge of your hand.
- Another option is to use several clean towels.
- After drying as much as possible, walk the horse in the sun for approximately ten minutes. If the day is cloudy, wear a blanket or a protective cover.
Step 7. Carefully comb the mane
Don't try to undo knots with the horsehair brush - instead, undo them with your fingers and then brush.
Step 8. Wash the tail
This part deserves a lot of attention, especially in light-tailed animals. Since the horse doesn't feel cold in the tail, you can wash it whenever you like. Hold the bucket of shampoo and water in one hand and the tail in the other. Dip it into the bucket as close to the base as possible.
- Shake it inside the bucket, trying to get rid of the dirt. Clean the base of the tail with a sponge dipped in a solution of warm water and shampoo.
- Rinse the tail in several buckets of clean water. Again, use the sponge to rinse the foundation.
- Dry the tail with a towel and let the horse graze in a sunny place until it has finished drying.
- And remember: never stop behind the horse. To avoid kicking, stand beside him and reach out to handle his tail.
- If you have a rubber scraper, rub it on the horse after applying the shampoo. Remember to be careful on your paws.
- If it's the first time you're going to bathe your horse, just use water, as if it resists bathing, you won't have to rinse off the shampoo.
- A haystack will distract the horse while you bathe him.
- If you are preparing the animal for a performance, put it in a clean stall, as horses like to roll around on the floor after bathing.
- Wear clothes that you don't mind getting wet or dirty.
- If the horse was riding, wait for his body to cool down before starting the bath.
- Start from the feet to the trunk, especially if this is the first time the horse has bathed.
- Ask someone to hold the horse.
- If you cannot find specific shampoo for horses, use baby shampoo.
- To avoid causing a thermal shock, start to wet the horse by the hooves.
- On hot days, do not leave the horse wet after bathing, as water is a thermal insulator and prevents the animal from releasing heat. Use a squeegee scraper or towels to make it slightly damp.
- As bathing removes the natural oils from the skin, don't wash the horse too often.
- Be sensible: don't scream or run while handling the animal.
- If the horse is terrified, stop and calm him down. Try again when he's calmer.