How to Bathe a Horse

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With summer quickly approaching and temperatures on the rise, horse owners are more likely to consider giving their horses a bath. But while most horses don’t mind being bathed, some may not be so keen on the idea. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on safely bathing your horse.

Assemble Your Lineup

Your bathing kit should include (but not be limited to) the following products: A rubber curry comb, body wash, horse friendly shampoo (Mane n’ Tail is a classic), bluing shampoo if your horse has white markings, mane and tail conditioner, coat conditioner, mane and tail comb, hoof pick, bucket, sponges, clean rags, dandy brush, and sweat scraper. Old clothes that you don’t mind getting a little soapy are always a plus too!

Find a Slip-Free, Mud-Free Surface

When bathing your horse, find a surface that won’t cause him (or you) to slip or become unsteady once it gets wet. Surfaces that drain water are ideal so that there is nowhere for anyone to take a bad step and no puddles to slip in.


A Team Effort

If at all possible, or if your horse isn’t fond of being tied, enlist a friend to hold him while you give him a bath. Your friend can help keep him calm while you tackle the muddy mess that you used to recognize as your horse. 

Pick His Hooves

Before starting his bath, pick your horse’s hooves and sweep up any debris that may have dislodged while cleaning. Be sure to check for stones and anything else that may cause him discomfort.


Before bringing water into the situation, use your brushes to remove any outer layers of dirt and mud that may be coating your horse. Curry away any loose hair and remove as much dust and bedding as you can to make the bathing process run smoother.

Sweep Sweep Sweep

If you are giving your horse a bath on a surface like a mat or concrete, sweep up anything that has fallen off of your horse during his grooming. This prevents mud or slippery rocks from causing you or your horse to stumble.

Work From the Ground Up

After ensuring the water temperature is comfortable, spray your horse from the ground up. Start by spraying water on his legs to get him used to the feeling of being wet, and then slowly move up his body. Be sure to rinse your horse’s entire body before introducing any bathing products.

Shampoo, Coat Conditioner, and Bluing Shampoo

Shampoo like Mane n’ Tail is used for just that – the mane and the tail. Bluing shampoo is a special shampoo used on the socks and white parts of a horse to help the white hair retain its brightness. Coat conditioner is also just that – a conditioner used on the horse’s body.

Rinse and Scrape

Once your horse has become a walking pile of soap bubbles, rinse him off. His hair will trap water, so once you have removed all conditioner and shampoo, use a sweat scraper to remove any excess water. Removing this water is especially important in colder months and may need to be followed by the addition of a sheet.

Carolina Equine Hospital

Not sure how your horse will react to bath time? Give us a call for some advice! We are open from 8am-5pm, M-F and always have an emergency vet on call for emergencies.

Photography credit to Carlea Fitzgerald Photography