How to Introduce Your horse to Bathing

When training or just playing with your horses, it’s fun to begin each session with a simple trick such as the Smile. This seems to gets the horse in the mood to interact. Manna Pro Bite Sized Nuggets are just the right size to train with. Lady C is partial to the peppermint flavor.


Lady C is a very polite, accomplished trick horse that’s been trained using treats for over 14 years. It’s possible to train a horse to do almost anything with kindness, motivation…like treats…and a proven method.


Tips To Get Started


  • If your horse isn't used to bathing, take it slow to create understanding and a rewarding  experience that’s fun for both of you.  

  • BE sure to use a high quality shampoo and conditioner and even if you have a show horse, you won’t want to bathe her too often as it can strip the oils from the hair and skin. My favorite shampoo is made by Corona. It’s ph balanced so it's gentle on the skin and it really brightens her coat, especially the white spots and her tail. It leaves a natural and healthy-looking shine.                             
  • The optimum atmospheric temperature for horses is between 44 and 77 degrees F Its HOT here in Texas so cool water is perfect. If you’re in a cooler climate or your water comes from a well be sure to introduce it to the horse’s body slowly. Really cold water can be quite a shock on a warm body!  

  • To conserve water and be gentle with your horse, use a bucket and a sponge or soft brush. You’ll want to brush her well before bathing especially if she’s muddy. 

  • Most shampoos can be diluted slightly and mixed in the bucket and still be effective. In fact, Corona shampoo is designed to be used that way.

  • Dirty hair is especially fragile so finger comb manes and tails to lessen the breakage. Start at the ends of a few strands and separate the hairs with your fingers until tangles are removed. 


Here we go!


Start with light spray on the lower legs to get her used to the water then move up higher very slowly. If she tolerates that well you can wet the underside of her neck and chest and move on to 

larger areas of the body.


Before starting to lather up the whole body, wash her face. I always use a sponge on her face and no soap at all. Just too easy to get it in her eyes. I don’t like to be sprayed in the face and a lot of horses don’t either which is why it’s just easier for me to use the sponge. Try not to get water in her eyes or ears.


You may need to re-wet the mane before going on. When it is nice and wet, scrub base of the mane with your fingers or the sponge and let it soak while you start the tail. It’s important to get the base of the mane really clean so as not to restrict new growth. Let the mane soak with the shampoo mixture while you begin on the tail.


I like to dip the entire tail in the bucket and swish it around. As it is soaking, I gently wash the upper part with the sponge. It’s important to wash the tail bone for the same reason that we took extra care on the base of the mane, to maximize new growth. A dirty tail bone may feel itchy to the horse and promote tail rubbing.


Well you guessed it, time to wash the privates. You may want to accustom your horse to this before you teach her to be bathed. You’ll need to wash her bottom and her teats and if you have a gelding, as much of his sheath area as he will allow. I use plain water on privates.


Ready to Rinse


Now proceed to rinsing off the shampoo. Rinse until the water running off is cool and all the soap is removed.


You’ll want to scrape the water off because it holds heat next to the horse’s skin. If you don’t have a sweat scraper just use your hand laid out flat.


Towel dry and let her dry in the sun or hand graze. I prefer to use spray on conditioner when the coat is completely dry. Don’t apply conditioner or any type of product that feels slick to the horse’s back. If you ride her in the next day or so, residue can make the saddle pad slip or even irritate the skin under the blanket.


I’m always tempted to use a sheet or cooling blanket to keep my horse clean but don’t do it if it's really hot outside. Sheets trap in heat and can make the horse really uncomfortable. 


Bathing your horse can be a fun experience for both of you. Just bathe him or her as you would a human baby, gently and with attention to detail.


For lots of training tips visit You’ll also find coupons there for savings on horse treats!