Tips and tricks for horse bathing!


Grab your rubber ducky and your shampoo, and get ready to get wet. Here are the usual tools that I get ready to use for bathing my horses:


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  • Small bucket, with a smidge of shampoo (about twice what you would use for yourself is a good place to start.) Add warm or hot water to the bucket with shampoo, so that it’s not ice cold as you are sudsing up.


  • If you want to skip the bucket mess, use a pair of grooming gloves and just put your shampoo directly on the glove. This will let you skip the sponges, too.


These grooming gloves are great for the nitty-gritty areas of your horse. Which is basically his entire body.


  • Your fave shampoo


  • Big sea sponges


  • Soft washcloth(s) or tiny sponges for noses, faces, etc.


  • Towels. I like to use half of a bath towel, any bigger and your horse can step on them as you dry legs, or they drag on the ground as you dry your horse off.


  • Sweat scraper


  • Hoof dressing



Towels are handy for washing faces, it’s not always safe to squirt a horse in the face with the hose.


My horse bathing steps:


**Please pay attention to the weather. Sunny and 60 is not the same as overcast and 60 with a cold breeze. If you have an indoor, heated, covered, hot water wash rack with a solarium to dry, I’ll be right over, the weather doesn’t matter.


  • Before I start, I apply some hoof dressing to keep the water out of my horse’s nail holes. This also seems to help the coronary band from getting flakey if it’s going to be wet for a long time. Can’t prove if this does anything or not, but it makes me feel better.


  • I start by wetting my horse from hooves up. Notice if your horse is flinching as you get his belly wet, you may need to adjust the temp if need be. Keep one finger in the stream to monitor the temp of the water.


  • If I’m using my grooming gloves, I dollop some shampoo on the palm of my hand and pat my horse here and there, then I go to town and swirl it all in.


  • If I’m using a sponge and bucket, I add warm water to the sponge bucket, and using the sea sponge, I apply a layer of suds one side at a time. I’ll work from the top down and let gravity help distribute the suds.


  • Then the remaining suds in the bucket are used to dunk the tail into. You will need a smidge more shampoo for the mane and tailbone.




  • Use your rubber curry, mitt, cactus cloth, or grooming glove to massage and curry the shampoo in.


  • Before you begin the crazy rinsing marathon, grab your sweat scraper and use it as a shampoo scraper. This removes a lot of the suds, and will save you time and water when rinsing.





Rinse the mane first, and then from top down, gravity is your friend.


  • I really like a nozzle with multiple settings, the “fan” or “flat” setting is my favorite, it acts like a squeegee and pushes the dirt and suds out.


  • Rinse the tail before you do the back legs. Inevitably, some of the shampoo will jump ship from the tail to the legs as you rinse.


  • I don’t suggest using a power setting on the nozzle for the mane and tail or anywhere near the head, “shower” setting works well there.




Sweat scrape. If you see bubbles, rinse again.


  • I can’t stress the importance of the rinse. Some residue on your horse can be itchy, and that can lead to rubbing, allergic reactions, dandruff, and sticky hairs.


  • The most critical NEXT part of a shampoo bath is the sweat scraping. This facilitates the drying process, and in the summer can prevent your horse from overheating. Water left on your horse becomes trapped in their coats and heats up quickly. OK – UPDATE ON THIS. Turns out, most of us learned this. New research is telling us that it’s probably just fine to skip sweat scraping, your horse won’t overheat.


  • BUT – he will drip, he will probably be itchier, he will also get MORE dust and dirt glued to him when he rolls if you skip the sweat scraping.


  • AND ONE MORE BUT – If you are rinsing your horse because he is overheated, please call your Vet for specific instructions on how to help him.


As far as tips to keep yourself dry, I got nada. I always get wet. However, depending on weather, I may use a waterproof light jacket, or I may just dry in a millisecond because it’s so hot. I also suggest waterproof shoes, I hate soggy socks.


Your turn!





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