Ellison is a professional horse trainer and riding instructor. She runs a summer camp program and offers kids a safe introduction to horses.
Thinking About Bathing Your Horse?
As the days lengthen and the amount of daylight increases, horses should shed out their winter fluff fairly quickly if we give them good daily grooming. This is especially true if we use a curry comb to loosen up shedding hair and the shedding blade to get the hair off.
What we are usually left with after a good spring grooming is a very dusty horse. With the weather feeling warmer, it is normal that you would want to give your horse a bath. However, before we do that, we just need to make sure of a few things.
To Bathe or Not to Bathe?
First thing, do you have access to a warm water wash stall? You can safely bathe your horse earlier in the season if you have access to a wash area with warm water.
Our barn does not have a hot water wash stall. Therefore, if we are going to bathe a horse, it is done outside in the grass. It is also done with cold water since that is what comes out of the hose!
When my riders ask me about whether or not it is warm enough to bathe their horses, this is how I answer: Is it warm enough out that you would be comfortable to be hosed down with cold water? If the answer is yes, as long as it is early in the day and the sun is still shining, your horse should be just fine being bathed.
If it is late in the evening, or you think you wouldn't want cold water on you that day, I would opt for grooming instead of bathing. We don't want to risk our horses catching a chill and getting cold or sick.
Generally, I have a rule: If I have to wear a sweatshirt or jacket to be comfortable, then it is too chilly to bathe the horses. Unless, of course, you have a hot water wash stall.
Bathing With Hot Water in a Wash Stall
If you have access to a wash stall with hot water, the main thing is making sure your horse is dry before you put him away. That warm water you washed him with will have him pretty cold quickly if you have to throw him back in the field or stall.
If you are going to give your horse a springtime bath with warm water in a wash stall, just make sure he is nice and dry when you are done. You can rub him down with towels or put a cooler or anti-sweat sheet on him to wick away the moisture. Just remember, once you can feel the horse's coat is dry, you should take the cooler or sheet off. He will get cold again quickly with a wet jacket on.
Summer Will Be Here Before We Know It!
Don't worry, the nice, warm (maybe even hot) weather will be here before we know it, and we will be able to hose down and bathe our horses anytime we want!