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Giving A Horse A Bath

Updated on November 21, 2015

Giving A Horse A Bath Can Be Fun!

When it's a really hot day, a fun way for you to cool off with your horse is to give him a bath! Most of the time, you will end up just as wet as your horse plus you'll be nice and cooled off!

Horses have varying degrees of tolerance for baths. Some love it and some will put up a fight every step of the way! Some will move constantly and some will stand there calmly.

One thing that helps with my horse is to have a squeegy tool handy. I have to wipe the water out from under his belly as fast as I can or he gets very agitated and antsy. If I wipe the water off as quickly as I can, he stands much better for a longer time.

Why Do Horses Need Baths?

It can be challenging bathing a horse because they don't all like them but there's a few reasons why they need them.

A cleaner horse will attract less flies. It won't get rid of them but it helps a little when you spray the fly spray on after a bath.

Another very important reason for bathing horses is sweat buildup after a ride. If you don't ever give your horse a bath, they get a thick layer of sweat, dirt, and oils that builds up and will rub under the saddle pad and could cause sores.

If you show, judges don't generally pick the dirty horses to win. They pick the horses that have been well cared for long before a show.

Different Kinds of Shampoo

You can pretty much use any kind of shampoo on your horse. Some people say that you should use specialty horse shampoo because it won't dry their coat and mane out as much but I know plenty of people who always use regular people shampoo, even the cheap stuff, and their horse ends up looking fine. I have one friend who even uses dish soap.

My favorite shampoo to get my horse's white legs clean is Cowboy Magic. I've tried a few others but they haven't worked very well. I normally invest in one bottle of shampoo per year and the one I used last year was terrible. I don't want to say what brand it was but I had a yellow horse with a yellow mane for the whole summer.

Mane 'n Tail Shampoo for Horses

Some people prefer to use the real deal and stick with specially made horse shampoos. I happen to be one of them but in a crunch, I will use people shampoo on my horse.

Mane 'N Tail Combo Deal Shampoo and Conditioner, 32-Ounce
Mane 'N Tail Combo Deal Shampoo and Conditioner, 32-Ounce

Shampoo and Conditioner in one!! This one is the best if you're looking for a general clean and shiny! It lathers up nicely and washes out cleanly. No sudsy build up under the saddle pad.


Is it ever too hot to be hosed off?

I think the most important thing to remember when you've been riding your horse rigorously on a really hot day is that you need to follow a cool down routine. After you've done some light walking, take the horse's tack off and put him in a halter. Let him have a drink and then hose him and scrape the water off. Walk around for a few minutes and then hose him off again and offer another drink. Continue as many times as you need to until your horse has cooled down sufficiently.


The best way to start is to use a curry brush and get out the chunks of loose dirt. Brush your horse down as good as you can. Rub the soap in the best you can and really lather it up or it will take forever to get it out.

Make sure that when you are doing the mane, you really scrub it using your hands. Make sure to get all the way to the center, right along the neck. That will make it much easier to band their mane for a show.

I usually do the tail last. I start at the top and suds it up really well with my hands. As I rinse it from the top, the soap will run down and then you can rub it in a little further down. I keep moving down the tail until I get to the end. You have to be a little careful with their tail or the hair could break.

After I'm done with the tail, I use some Pantene leave in conditioner on the tail and mane. This helps to make it a little shinier and smooth and keeps it from breaking so much.

Right After The Bath

When your horse does really good for a bath, you should reward him some way. You can give him a treat or let him graze in a special spot. Next time, he won't mind his bath so much! The goal is to make it a nice experience for your horse!

If it's a bad experience for the horse, they'll remember and the next bath won't be any easier. My horse still isn't crazy about baths but he tolerates them a little better now.

Lots of Treats to Choose From!

You can also give your horse a special treat after a bath. They'll remember the treat part and be a more willing participant next time around.

Apple Nuggets

Manna Pro 0092954236 Apple Horse Treats, 5-Pound
Manna Pro 0092954236 Apple Horse Treats, 5-Pound

My horses love these way too much!! They are some of their favorite horse treats! I try not to give them too many though because too many horse treats makes horses a little bit goofy. Use them very sparingly. A horse who has done a good job with their bath deserves a nice treat, eventually getting down to a treat every other bath or even every few baths.


How Often is Enough?

There's a lot of opinions on how often to give a bath. Do you think more or less are better?

How often do you give your horse a bath?

See results

Tips and Tricks If You Have A White Horse

I was told at a recent show that in order to get a white horse's legs ready for a show, wait until the day before the show, no sooner, and then shave the legs all the way up. The fur underneath will be nice and white and you won't be able to tell that they were even shaved. They also said to use White and Bright on the horse the day before the show and they'll look nice and bright for the show.

One more trick is to use Ivory bar soap on the white parts. It really does make them look super white! Just rub the bar on the spot that you're cleaning, then use your hand to lather it up. Rinse and you have bright whites!

A few more good products for helping to make your horse shine for a show!

Like I said earlier, Cowboy Magic shampoo is my favorite. It goes on blue so that you know when you've gotten it all out again and it really helps to brighten my horse's mane and tail. It really brings out the white. The spray that I've used works pretty good but sometimes makes more of a mess. Some shows I don't even bother to pull it out.

Charmar Land and Cattle Cowboy Magic Pet Shampoo, Rose
Charmar Land and Cattle Cowboy Magic Pet Shampoo, Rose

This is the one that I use on my white and black horse! It goes on blue so you can see if you've gotten it all out. I tried a different brand this year and it didn't do nearly as good of a job. I will be sticking to Cowboy Magic from now on! It makes my horse shine like a rock star.


As Soon As You Put Your Horse Back Into the Corral

My horse rolls in the mud after baths.  It's okay though because at least the skin underneath gets cleaner.  A week or two before a big show, I will give a bath every few days just to get the dirt underneath the fur out.
My horse rolls in the mud after baths. It's okay though because at least the skin underneath gets cleaner. A week or two before a big show, I will give a bath every few days just to get the dirt underneath the fur out.

Rolling in the Mud

Your horse will roll around in the mud!!! So much for that bath, your horse will be dirty within a few minutes, unless of course you are able to keep him in a stall!!

Even though I know that he will get dirty again right away, I still feel like it's important to bath my horse. It gets the buildup down.

Here Comes the Roll!

It happens every time! A nice roll in the dirt right after the bath. Now I know why people say not to get a white horse if you're going to show. It's hard to keep them white when they spend most of their time in the mud and love rolling around in the grass.

When is it too cold for a bath?

The rule of thumb that I use is that as long as it's a nice day in the 70's (without a really cold wind), a bath is fine. If it's in the 50's or 60's and there's a show the next day, I will only wash the legs with the hose and use warmer water for washing the mane and body if I have to. Then I make sure to scrape as much of the water off as I possibly can to aid in rapid drying.

If you're looking for more horse care information, find a books!

Cherry Hill's Horse Care for Kids: Grooming, Feeding, Behavior, Stable & Pasture, Health Care, Handling & Safety, Enjoying
Cherry Hill's Horse Care for Kids: Grooming, Feeding, Behavior, Stable & Pasture, Health Care, Handling & Safety, Enjoying

This is a great book for kids to help them learn all about taking care of a horse! It includes great information on just about everything horse! Grooming, feeding and handling are just a few things that they can learn about.


How Does Your Horse Behave for Baths?

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    • renee21 profile image

      renee21 2 years ago

      I used to have a horse and he loved his baths. We had to stand with him on a lead in a grassy place to keep him from rolling in the dirt afterward. It was great. I hope to get another horse someday. Great hub!

    • Pat Broker profile image

      Pat Broker 3 years ago from Templeton, CA

      I have a welsh pony who is not real thrilled about having a bath. I haven't had him that long though and he seems to be a little more tolerant every time I do give him a bath.

    • sierradawn lm profile image

      sierradawn lm 4 years ago

      Your horse looks like the welsh pony I had growing up. She is beautiful. My pony used to love baths but unless put in the barn right after she sure would roll in the dirt right after her bath. I love mane & tail shampoo & conditioner and use them on my own hair. I think they are better than people shampoo for people hair. I also use mane & tail on my cats. I enjoyed visiting your lens!

    • profile image

      soaringsis 4 years ago

      Very interesting. I thought everyone always washed their horses. I did not know that horses rolled in the dirt, oh my! Just like my pups after a bath. I enjoyed learning about the care of horses. I do think that horses are beautiful animals.

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Never had my own horse, but when I used to ride at a stables, loved washing down the horse afterwards in the hot weather. The horse seemed to like it too!

    • marijahorvat lm profile image

      marijahorvat lm 5 years ago

      Oh my... I love this lens. :D

    • justmelucy profile image

      justmelucy 5 years ago

      I saw your profile picture on a comment that you made about Lost World and had to come visit. I had a black and white paint growing up a long time ago. I have so many great memories. Yes, Billy enjoyed his bath but he also loved to roll when I turned him out in the evening. Great Lens. New squidlet here.

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 5 years ago

      @UKGhostwriter: You're right.. some places do have wash stalls but the place that I board at doesn't have one so we have to do it outside with the hose. I would love to see one of those hydrotherapy pools, sounds interesting!!!

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 5 years ago

      @hntrssthmpsn: That's a bummer that you can't have horses now! It's a little maddening when you do all that work to get them clean and then they roll like that! Hahaha!! It really makes me wonder sometimes why I even bother.

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 5 years ago

      @Terrie_Schultz: Haha!! It's not so funny the night before a show though :) LOL.. ok, it kind of is I guess.

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Me too!

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 5 years ago

      @Rangoon House: It's fun when it's really hot out and the horse is cooperating.. LOL

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Wish I had a few horses... Love all things equine though!

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 5 years ago

      @WriterJanis2: Thank you!!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Wish I had one. The one pictured here is beautiful.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      My horses used to tolerate baths / showers. It was actually great fun!

    • profile image

      Terrie_Schultz 5 years ago

      I've never had horses, but it's funny that they behave just like dogs, rolling in the dirt after a bath!

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 5 years ago

      Sadly, we've gone from rural to suburban in the last year... no room for horses. My dog, however, rolls in the dirt and mud post-bath just like your horse!

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 5 years ago

      I've seen showers for horses and I've seen enquine hydrotherapy pools!