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Tips for Horse Bathing

Regular, vigorous currying and brushing will keep your horse clean and shiny, but at times, perhaps in preparation for a show or special event, you'll want to give your horse a bath for that extra-clean shine. Horse bathing can eliminate a buildup of salts on the skin that result from sweating and become a source of irritation. Alternatively, baths can be drying to a horse's coat if given too frequently or if too much shampoo is used. Of course, you'll want to bathe your horse only when temperatures are warm enough to make the experience comfortable and healthful, and you'll need the right tools to do a good job.

Assembling a Horse Bathing Kit
Here is a list of suggestions for tools you might like for horse bathing. Store them in a big wash bucket to create a convenient bathing kit.

Sponges - Choose a large sponge for washing your horse's body, and two smaller ones for your horse's face and genitals. You can use synthetic sponges or natural sea sponges. If you use liniment or body braces after working your horse, add a sponge for use only with that product. To avoid spreading contagions, don't share sponges between horses.

Sweat scraper - From simple aluminum to bright colored plastic and in many ergonomically innovative designs, a sweat scraper is an indispensable tool for removing excess water from your wet horse. Its use speeds the drying process.

Mitt - For gentle scrubbing on exceptionally dirty areas, use a mitt or Tail Tamers Jelly Scrubber. Mitts can be made of soft rubber, plastic, sheepskin or a variety of other materials. Some mitts can perform double-duty and be useful for removing sweat stains and for loosening the dirt on a horse's legs during regular grooming.

Shampoos - A wide variety designed for use on horses are available in all sorts of formulas. You'll find one to suit your individual taste as well as the needs of your horse. Take into account your horse's skin sensitivity and surface coat condition. You may want to rely on a shampoo that contains natural ingredients, one that has herbs to relieve soreness or one that targets stains or dry skin.

Medicated shampoos - Formulated with active ingredients to treat certain skin conditions, such as scratches and dermatitis. Be sure to follow the instructions for medicated shampoos closely for the best results. Before using a medicated shampoo, our product advisors recommend that you consult your veterinarian to be sure that you are addressing your horse's health concern appropriately.

Color enhancers - These are shampoos with additives that help to bring out your horse's natural coat color. Color enhancers are popular with people who are preparing their horses for a show. If you choose to use a color enhancer, be sure that you select one to match your horse's coat color.

Conditioners- Some shampoos can be drying to a horse's skin and hair by removing the natural oils. Conditioners can help to restore some of the moisture that may be lost during the shampooing process.

Hair polish - Often used on a mane, tail and certain parts of the horse just after it is bathed, particularly if the horse needs to look its best for an event the next day. Hair polish, particularly those that contain silicone, bonds to the individual hairs to help create shine, reject staining and repel dust. Because it makes the horse's hair slippery, it is imperative to avoid coating areas where tack is worn.

Have a cooler or an Irish knit sheet available to put on your horse after his bath, along with a towel or two to dry his legs. You can use a bucket to wash and rinse your horse, or if you plan to use a hose, be sure to fit it with a nozzle that has a spray setting.

Use warm water to bathe your horse. If your barn or show ground does not have warm running water, consider using a water heater. Lightweight and easy to use, these will do a great job at heating up a bucket of water quickly, but should not be left unattended as they will bring water to a boil.

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