Show Preparation – Bathe That Horse

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Give your horse a bath

It is spring and with it comes horses that are shedding. The show season is ramping up and getting your horse clean and clipped is a priority for the competiton ring. If your horse is like mine they seem to get covered in manure stains over night. Those of you with grey horses, pintos or horses with white markings no amount of brushing will remove the dirt and you may be left with no other alternative to bathing the morning of the show. Nothing turns off a judge more than a dirty horse in the show ring. So, before you braid that mane give your horse a much needed bath.

Get your horse clean – What you need

There are many products available to shampoo and clean your horse but getting a show ring shine isn’t as hard as people may think. With a little elbow grease a run of the mill bay can turn into an A circuit coat.

What you need

  • Buckets 1 for soapy water and 1 for clean water. Some people like to use a hose to spray off a horse but it isn’t necessary.
  • Sponges – 1 for soap and 1 for clean water
  • Hoof oil

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    Rinse your horse well

  • Shampoo
  • Scraper
  • Towels

Getting Started

Before beginning paint the horse’s feet with oil or your favourite hoof treatment to prevent them from drying out from the soap. Bathing can dry the hooves leaving them dry and brittle.

Starting at the left side near the neck. Soak down the neck and shoulder with warm, clear water. Alternatively, spray the horse with appropriate temperature, warm, water from a hose with a ‘shower’ nozzle attachment. Continue along the shoulder and back.

While wet apply a small amount of shampoo to a dampened sponge. Apply the sudsy sponge in circular motions to the wet areas of the horse. If there are stained areas use a gentle scrubbing action with a rubber or plastic curry comb or rubber scrubbing mitt. Creative Commons License photo credit: bcgrote

While washing pay particular attention to the elbows and stomach area. Continue down the legs and use a rubber mitt to remove dirt. Make sure to check areas for any lumps bumps or cuts.

Before the soap is dry, rinse the suds off with clean sponge , warm water either from a bucket or spray shower nozzle and hose. Repeat over the horse’s loins and quarters then repeat on the right hand side of the horse.

To add a bloom to the coat add a 1/4 cup of cider vinegar to the rinse water. This will cut any grease and help remove any soap from the coat. As an added bonus it will help keep flies away.

There are many products to choose from for bathing, but the process is the same you:

  • Wet down the horse
    Using a hose with a shower nozzle on the ‘sprinkle’ setting wet the horse all over with appropriately warm water. Alternatively, and in the name of water conservation, use a bucket and sponge to soak the horse.
  • Apply Shampoo
  • Rinse

If your horse has white areas sprinkle corn starch or baby talcum powder on the area. This will brighten and lighten the areas making them look whiter and brighter. Once the areas are dry take a soft bristled, clean, dry brush and brush the dried corn starch/talcum powder away. The white areas will be noticeably cleaner and whiter.

There are also shampooing products that can be purchased from tack shops and drug stores to help maintain the colour of the hair. Bleaches should be avoided as over use will deteriorate the quality of the hair and often turns hairs a dull yellow colour.

For emmergency clean ups try baby wipes that can be used for quick fixes of grass stains in between classes.

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