Whether you’re gearing up for a competition or just want to clean your horse to maintain his healthy skin, baths are a great way to spend time with your horse and make him look and feel good. While some horses enjoy getting hosed down and lathered up, other horses spook at the feeling of the cool water running down their body.
Want to turn your horse’s bath time into a pleasurable “spa day”? Follow these steps.
[RELATED: HEALTHY SKIN, HEALTHY HORSE]
1. Time it right. You don’t want to take a cold shower on a cold day, and neither does your horse. As the weather warms up, choose to give the bath at the warmest part of the day—bath will feel refreshing to your horse when the temperatures are at the highest. If the weather is still too chilly for a bath, a good grooming session will make him feel just as pampered.
2. Make it comfortable. If your horse is one that doesn’t enjoy baths, start by rinsing his legs and then start to move up his body in small increments. For all horses, avoid spraying water directly in his face—using a sponge will make the experience much more enjoyable, even if your horse does tolerate the spray.
3. Don’t shock. Use warm water if you have access to it. If you must use water from the tap, acclimate your horse to it in phases—even on the hot days. Wet each larger section of his body gently (without a spray nozzle at first), then rub that section vigorously with your hand for a moment to offset the cold feeling. Once his entire body is wet, he’ll have acclimated to the water’s temperature and you can proceed with the spray nozzle and soap.
4. Don’t irritate. Like shampoo for humans, some shampoos for horses are formulated for specific purposes, such as for whitening or for treating skin conditions. For the best results to keep your horse’s skin healthy, skip the dish soap that’s not formulated especially for horses. Look for products without harsh chemicals and with soothing ones.
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5. Spa Massage. Now for the part your horse will definitely love. Use the shampoo and work it into your horse’s wet coat. Take both hands and rub in a massaging motion—the rubber grooming gloves can make the experience even more enjoyable for your horse. Now is a great time to look him over and make sure there aren’t any new bumps or lumps that you weren’t able to notice with a dry, fluffy haircoat. And don’t forget to scratch his favorite itchy spots as you go. All of this relaxes your horse plus promotes feelings of friendship—similar to the way mutual grooming generates bonding between pasture-mates.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Welcome to the TLC blog, sponsored by Manna Pro, where we’ll share tips about the extra, pampering things you can do for your horse…just because you love him. Our pointers will help you foster your horse’s wellbeing by boosting his health…or just making him happy.