How to Wash Horses Easily
When washing horses if you have all the following items to hand this makes it all very easy and create a wash area where there is good drainage. (We have a sloped concrete hard standing area where the water runs down into the the drain):-
Water and a Hose -(even nicer is warm water……..)The ideal is to have a cold water hose wall mounted for washing horses and a hot water tank which can be switched on if and when required.
If you have a hoselock multi shower head this gives you the option of having different water pressures which can be very useful. We have tried several and have found this one the most robust. It is great for washing muddy hooves before trimming as well as for general yard cleaning.
When not in use keep the hose tap turned off as this prevents undue pressure and water leaking from between the head and hose.
Shampoo – See Grooming Products for different types of shampoo’s.
Sponges – Have at least 2 small and 1 large to hand. Getting larges ones and cutting them in half is often very useful.
Buckets – Have two, one for holding water in and another for rinsing.
Washing Brush – You can get great water brushes which have soft bristles, these and some warm water is often all that is needed for a good clean up.
Sweat Scraper – If you can find the long thin ones which are a bit like a bendy stick, so when you hold both ends together they bend making a loop.
They are more flexible than the traditional curved shaped ones
that are so easily available.
Towels – Small towels for drying your horse. The old traditional toweling nappies that you can still buy at Mothercare are ideal. You get 6 in a packet, they last for years and are as “cheap as chips.”
You can use them to rub dry areas such as:-
- the ears,
- manes and tails
- round the fetlock joints.
If you are doing it outside and are able to pick the warmest part of the day so any sun that there is will help dry them off, all the better.
Work from the top down. Rinsing off any mud first and then use shampoo for any areas that need it.
Some horses may only need their manes, tails and feathers washed and the rest of their body can come up really well from a good groom. It very much depends on the colour of your horse and your living conditions.
The easiest way to wet and wash their manes is with a hose and a soft water brush.
The easiest way to wash their tails is to just immerse them in a bucket of warm soapy water, then rinse them, either with your warm water hose, or a bucket of warm water. If you have neither use your cold water hose. You may need to wash and rinse their tails several times, especially if they are white.
There is no question, if you have warm water it makes it much nicer for you when washing horses.
You could either have a hot water tank fitted with an electrical heating element in it. Then have it on a timer, or just switch it on prior to using it. You can set the temperature to luke warm so it doesn’t get too hot.
A tank approximately 4ft x 2ft will have enough water to wash four horses.
If you do not have this, another option is to buy a stableboy mash boiler. This is a large tank which holds 15 gallons /67 litres of water in it. The hot water is drawn off via it’s own tap. The water in this, heats up very quickly.
A stableboy needs to be kept under cover, not outside. You then are in a position to have buckets of hot water, not nearly as convenient as a hot water tank but it maybe an ideal solution for a small set up, horse yard.
Another option is to install an electric shower.
This is fairly inexpensive, all you need is a water supply and electricity. However, the amount of warm water available is small. By this I mean it provides only a slow stream of water, which, if you have very muddy horses can therefore be a bit slow and frustrating. So although it is an inexpensive way of providing ‘on tap’ hot water in a yard it has it’s drawbacks.
However, for hosing down muddy legs on cold winter days, it is still nicer to use than freezing cold water from a hose.
We initially just had an electric shower in the yard, this has it’s place but due to the above reasons became rather frustrating and slow to use. We still will use it if we have 2-3 horses that just need their legs washing down. But for washing horses a hot water tank is much more versatile and quicker.
A stableboy is a good way of having hot water to hand. It holds quite a lot of hot water and you can fill buckets for manes and tails, it definitely has it’s place.
If cost is not a problem get a good size hot water tank, but if you don’t want to invest in this a stableboy or electric shower may well be the answer.
Having had and tried all three, starting out again I would just invest in a hot water tank and nothing else for washing horses.
After washing horses, sweat scrape and towel dry them where necessary. If this is not enough and you want to dry them off further you can use a thermatex rug. These rugs help draw the water off them and leave them really dry.
On a day to day basis we won’t do any of this, but when we are aiming to look clean mud free in the winter, for hunting or otherwise, these rugs come into their own.
Once your horse is washed and groomed the only time you may need to use leg bandages would be now, e.g. if you are traveling or have grey horses and wish to keep them clean.
If you use leg bandages, they will stop their legs getting stained from droppings This also goes for tail bandages. Be sure the leg bandages are not too tight.
If you go across country, endurance ride, or hunt in the winter and ride across heavy clay soil here are some solutions to help washing horses and to try and keep under control of all the mud that can adhere to horses. If you are familiar with this problem you will know that the mud can be like glue and cover horses as well as the rider.
To help reduce the amount of mud that sticks to your horse you can use baby oil. You can apply it to their belly and the upper part of their legs and inside their elbow area before riding.
At the end of the day when you are washing horses down the mud will wash off/slide of very easily. The baby oil stops the clay getting embedded into their hair and coat.
Warm water is much easier to use than cold water when washing horses down if you have applied baby oil.