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How to Bathe a Horse Fast

Sometimes you just need to get your horse clean – and fast! Whether it’s a pony that rolled in the mud just before loading up for a horse show or a last-minute potential buyer dropping by to see a horse that you have for sale, sometimes you need to get a horse or pony clean when you don’t have the time to give the horse a full bath. What to do to get your horse clean quick? We have a solution.

After showing mostly gray horses for a number of years, I have tons of tips and tricks for grooming light-colored horses, keeping white tails white, etc. In this brief article, I’ll be talking about my “birdbath method” for bathing a horse. It’s perfect for getting a horse much cleaner than typical grooming without the hassle of a full bath. This method is also great for baths in cold winter temperatures- style of bathing a horse or pony allows you to get the horse wet in one section at a time, so both you and the horse can stay dryer longer.

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This method is perfect for touching up white horses n the morning of a show

The “birdbath method” works great for a quick pre-show touchup- it’s perfect for when you’ve given a full bath recently and don’t want to get up quite so early on the morning of the show. It also works well on super dirty horse- even when mud is caked on and dried on your horse, this method quickly takes care of it without the need to curry comb first. It can be done when your horse is in its winter or summer coat – in fact, it is my preferred way to wash a horse when they have their full thick winter fur.

The only downside is that you can expect to get wet – really wet. The method works via a large volume of water being sprayed directly into the fur and scraped off rapidly- this sends water splashing everywhere. But if you can tolerate getting a little wet the results are well worth it.

How it works:

Rather than rinsing the entire horse, then sudsing, then rinsing again, with the birdbath method you’ll be working segment by segment.

You’ll need: 1. better than average water pressure and 2. a really good sweat scraper, I like the curved rubber edge versions best. Very warm water works fastest but work with what you’ve got, cool water is fine as long as your horse is not overheated and it’s not too cold outside.

To Start:

Tie your horse in a secure spot or have someone hold them.

Next, pick one section, for example the shoulder, and place the nozzle of the hose about 12 inches from the horse’s skin. Begin by Spraying the water in the opposite direction that the fur naturally lays in (this raises to the surface dirt that is sitting against the skin). Once the section of fur is fully saturated with water, hold the sweat scraper or squeegee in your opposite hand and squeegee the area.

horse being bathed with stud chain attached to halter

Repeat in quick Succession

Spray the area and then squeegee, spray again, then squeegee, repeat. Similar to how clothing is best washed by intermittent wringing and rewetting, this method quickly lifts and washes away debris and dirt particles from even heavy winter horse coats.

Why it Works:

When you just spray water at your horse, you’re counting on the volume of water to eventually erode away most of the dirt and filth. By becoming more active with your washing, and rhythmically scraping out a large amount of water with a squeegee, you can wash your horse much faster. As the squeegee runs across the horses fur, it squeezes out excess water– taking with it the soil and mud that make a horse or pony’s coat look dull and dirty.

You’ll probably get a little wetter using this method than traditional horse bathing, but I find this method produces a cleaner horse much faster – even on a winter coat!

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